New Toy

I bought a new computer today. Needless to say, the afternoon and evening have been spent familiarizing myself with it. My husband bought a new tablet at the same time, so he’s been busy with his own new toy.

I remember life without computers. (Actually, I remember life without television, but that’s another post for another day.) My husband and I bought our first computer in 1989. It seemed like a bigger deal in those days. We pored over magazine reviews, asked questions of our friends and colleagues, shopped, shopped and shopped some more before we committed to a “24 months-same-as-cash” agreement on a Macintosh Classic. I think the cost was around $2000, a pretty good chunk of change for a young family.

Neither of us was particularly savvy about technology. I was paranoid that I would push a wrong button and break the computer. One afternoon, the house became very quiet. Any parent knows it’s time to check on the kids when it gets quiet. Imagine my panic when I found my then three-year-old in the spare bedroom, ejecting a diskette from the computer. She seemed to know exactly what she was doing. Of course, nothing was broken. My daughter had acted upon her natural curiosity. The computer was more foolproof than I had thought.

Here I am, several computers later. I decided to replace the laptop I’ve used for the past nine or ten years. This time around it seemed like less of a big deal. After asking a few knowledgeable people their opinions and checking a few websites for reviews, I took a quick shopping trip. By then, all I wanted to do was type on the keyboards of the laptops that had made their way to my “maybe” list. I type a lot. I wanted something comfortable.

The laptop I bought today cost about one-fourth what that Macintosh Classic cost in 1989, and will do much more. Heck, my smart phone will do more. The things a computer can do continue to amaze me.

Of course, I need to tear myself away from the novelty so I can transfer things and get the old laptop ready to donate to Computers for Kids; but I am enjoying my new toy. While I’m still a bit leery of new electronic devices, I’ve become more comfortable with messing around and trying new features. I may remember life without computers, but I don’t think I would want to do without.

new toy pix


What Did Jesus Say?

Now and then I will see a  Facebook post by a modern-day Pharisee who claims “Jesus said this,” or “Jesus said that”, without including the Scripture reference. I’ve been a student of the Bible for forty years, but my response is often, “Really? I don’t remember Him saying that.”

I’ll search the Gospels for the reference. Sometimes the quotation has been cherry-picked out of context, sometimes misquoted. Other times, the quote is just plain revisionist scripture.

These occasions led me to want to better educate myself about what Jesus actually said. Thinking a red-letter edition of the Bible would be helpful, I looked through the several translations and editions we had at home. I found no suitable Bible to use. The only red-letter edition on hand was a small, King James gift Bible I had received as a child. The print was way too small for my 67-year-old eyes. Besides, King James language, although poetic and beautiful, can no longer be considered the vernacular. I needed something I could read and understand.

I went Bible shopping. I was overwhelmed by the wide range of choices, none of which was within my budget. There were large tomes with large print and space for taking notes, small Bibles with too-small print, myriad translations, even a few with the words of Jesus in red.

I also found something called journaling Bibles. These are intended for those who do art work in their Bibles in response to Scripture. Margins are ample, paper is sturdy; some even include drawings to be colored. (I consulted Pinterest. Apparently Bible journaling is quite a fad. It is telling that I found a greater variety of these in the craft store than in the book store, artfully displayed next to specialty “Bible journaling markers” and lettering templates. Someone is making a green killing on these.)

I threw up my hands in frustration and did not buy a new Bible that day. Instead, I bought a pink Bible highlighter–the kind that is erasable and will not bleed through thin paper. I would make my own red-letter edition.

The plan? Using my favorite study Bible, I would read the Gospels as an Advent discipline. As I read, I would highlight Jesus’ words with pink. I am not the most consistent, disciplined student. I have made progress, but Advent was over months ago. Here it is June, and I’ve reached the 16th chapter of Luke. That speaks to my humanness, I suppose.

Not having a deadline to finish has its advantages. I’ve been able to go at my own pace, thinking about what I read. Reading the Christmas story right after Easter gave me a new perspective. I read it not as a routine ritual, but as something to consider in relation to the Resurrection.

The highlighter has also slowed me down. I have focused on Jesus’ words. Even His shortest utterances have a power I had not before realized.

I’m glad I undertook this red-letter project. It continues to teach me much.

Bible pix

Becoming Unstuck

I get stuck sometimes. I suspect it happens to everyone now and then. For me, getting stuck can mean writer’s block, a dull routine, what book to read next, an attitude… My most recent episode of “stuckness” has to do with a quilting project. Becoming unstuck is not easy.

Early in January I got the bug to make a new bedspread. After searching the internet for inspiration, I decided to use up some of my extensive fabric collection by making a jelly roll quilt. For those of you who do not quilt, a jelly roll quilt involves making a large piece of fabric by sewing 2 1/2 inch wide strips of fabric together. It’s a bit more involved than that, but not much. A jelly roll quilt is intended to be a quick and easy project.

I went to my fabric collection, and chose my palette of teal, purple, coral and gold. I did some quick math, cut about 100 strips, and set about to sew them together for the quilt top.

The quilt top grew and grew and grew. As it turns out, my math had overestimated the strips needed by a long shot. (Did I mention, math has never been my strong suit?) I created a much larger expanse of yardage than I needed for my project.

So I decided to get creative. Instead of a simple jelly roll quilt, I cut my created yardage into sections and added areas of white. At that point, I put everything onto the design wall to mull over what I would do to finish the quilt top.

Now what? I usually study the quilt pieces on the wall for a few days. This time the days became weeks which became months. I was stuck.

For me, the hardest part of becoming unstuck is getting started again. It’s as though I’m sitting in the car, key in hand, unable to get the key into the ignition. Over the past several weeks, I’ve attempted several such starts.

A few days ago, I finally ventured into the sewing room with a vision and a plan. I made a bit of progress, sewed a few seams…….and ran out of bobbin thread. That’s when I realized I had no extra spools of the color thread I was using.

Before I could become unstuck, I had to make a trip to the fabric store for thread. What!? Since when did thread cost $5 a spool? Apparently, it’s been a while since I’ve bought thread. Luckily for me, there was a two-for-one sale going on.

Armed with plenty of thread, I’ve been able to make a bit more progress. I’m now piecing the back of the quilt, and I’ve regained my momentum. I’m on my way to getting unstuck. I’ll get there. I just have to keep working at it.

photo unstuck


Today the House of Representatives held a premature vote regarding the American Health Care Act.

They did not wait for the Congressional Budget Office to report on the possible cost and other ramifications of the proposed legislation.

News reports suggest that most (if not all) members of Congress did not even bother to read the entire bill before voting.

The vote was almost entirely a straight party-line vote. Only twenty Republicans voted against the bill, along with all Democrats.

After the vote, they celebrated. Apparently they had beer on hand before the vote even took place.

I think it is safe to say, these members of Congress did not have the best interests of the country in mind when they acted.

Their action was never really about health care, although if the legislation goes forward, many stand to suffer.

No. This was all about winning. Our side versus your side. Republicans versus Democrats. Rich versus Poor. Healthy versus Sick. Us versus Them.

How did we get here? Why are we so divided that we cannot look beyond a label and do what is right? More importantly, how do we fix it? I wish I had the answer.

Today, 217 members of Congress played with our lives when they voted for this bill which was rushed through the process without proper research, thought, or consideration of constituents’ opinions. They acted irresponsibly and out of selfish interest. I support the defeat of every one of those 217 Congressmen and Congresswomen when they come up for reelection in 2018.constitution-62943_640

… about Book Club

I just returned home from a book club meeting. It’s an activity I look forward to each month.

Some might say we use the phrase “book club” loosely. We’re more of a ladies’ literary eating society. Once a month, seven or eight of us, all retired school teachers, get together. The hostess regales us with a delicious luncheon, and we visit about this and that before getting down to the business of discussing what we’ve read over the past month.

Our group decided a couple years ago to take a different direction from traditional book clubs. After getting bogged down with a couple of  books no one enjoyed, we dispensed with the idea of all reading and discussing the same book. Now we all read whatever we want during the month. At book club, each of us reports on her favorites; then we share books around so everyone has a chance to read them.

Some (most) of us are addicted to purchasing new books, so there are always plenty to share around. Today, a couple of the ladies brought multiple tote bags full. If someone can’t find a book she wants to read, she isn’t paying attention.

We visit all afternoon. The discussions are lively, the company pleasant. I never fail to return home with a hefty list of books that I’d like to read. It’s a wonderful way to spend a Free-Reading Friday.


Photo: public domain

Running Away

I ran away from home today. (I do this now and again. I always return.) I am retired, but lately it seems that other people have been scheduling my time for me. This appointment, that social function… It seems to never end. It’s been weeks since I’ve had an entire day with which to do as I please. I was ready to take advantage of the time.

As I got ready to leave the house, I kept finding things that needed to be done. I didn’t want to forget, but I also didn’t want to take the time to write them down, so I started doing each task as I thought of it. I finally told myself, “Gee. If I don’t run away, I’ll never get there.” I shrugged off the guilt trip about the little tasks that I was leaving undone. It was time to leave.

I gathered up my writing tools and headed for my favorite coffee shop. After buying my usual mocha I looked for an empty table. What luck! I scored a seat by the sunny window; a rare find.

My personal rule is that I may and must write until the coffee’s gone. Writing helps me think through things. As I sat in the sun and wrote, I realized the sources of my recent stress: worries about this and that, daily busyness, the current news cycle, Donald Trump. The words flowed from pen to paper. I articulated prayers. The stress began to melt.

I’ve come to think of my running away days as a type of mini-retreat. Going to a neutral quiet spot, away from everyday life, allows me to sort out my thoughts and refresh my mind. (Yes, I know a coffee shop isn’t the quietest place; but there’s a certain anonymity that lets me be quiet within.)

I should run away more often.


Unlocking the World

I ran across the featured picture while I was looking for something else. The quilt in the photo was one of my very first attempts at applique and patchwork years ago. I don’t name all my quilts, but I named this one “Reading Unlocks the World”.

How true that is. I grew up an ordinary kid in an ordinary suburb of Boise, Idaho. When my family traveled, we went one place–to Sacramento to visit relatives. My world was quite small.

Reading indeed unlocked the world for me and allowed me to travel far and wide.

As a youngster I traveled to the Land of Oz, visited a little girl and her grandfather in a small cabin in the Swiss Alps, and trekked along the Oregon Trail.

I met movie stars, Presidents, sports heroes, and Helen Keller. I also met ordinary kids like myself, who taught me how to navigate my growing world.

The adventures have continued throughout my reading life. I cannot imagine a life without reading.

This snowy spring day, I have begun a new journey into the life of Albert Schweitzer via his autobiography, Out of My Life and Thought. I have read many biographies over the years. Somehow I missed this one  until now.

Enjoy your Free-Reading Friday!