Sunday, April 29, 2007

Day of Rest

Having been raised in an Old World Roman Catholic family, my parents took very seriously the admonition of Sunday being a day of rest.

There were things that we could not do on Sundays, such as use scissors, because using them was considered to be "work."

I distinctly remember talking my mother into allowing me to use scissors and the sewing machine because I considered sewing a blouse that I wanted to wear to school the next day as something "fun" ~ not "work." (Did I really enjoy sewing then?)

Now that I have grown much older, I have come to value maintaining Sunday as a day of rest.

While I do not strictly adhere to devoting the entire day to "rest," Sunday is THE day that I have determined to be a guilt-free day for non-productivity.

Like any other day, Sunday starts off with my feeding the critters and reading the newspaper. What kind of morning would it be without my newspaper? I am simply wired to read. There's no way around that!

However, what comes next is not something that is common to the rest of the week.

After reading the paper (which I may not often finish), I head out to do my usual Sunday routine.

Once I shower and get dressed, I am out the door on my way to church.

But first I stop at the local CVS to drop off the presciptions that need to be filled and to pick up a copy of the Sunday Providence Journal-Bulletin. (Hey! It may have been 26 years since I've lived in Providence; but I am still a Providence girl!)

They all know me by name at the CVS. In fact, the pharmacy techs notice when I miss a Sunday visit or if I show up on a day other than Sunday. They all know the routine: pick up the paper, drop off the meds, and be back after church.

Next stop is the Church of the Good Shepherd ~ my spiritual home.

I make sure I get there early ~ especially on the Sundays when I am scheduled to serve wine as a lay Eucharistic minister.

Pre-church fellowship is just as important as the fellowship that follows the service. Usually one of my fellow parishioners (whom I call "Grumpy" and who calls me "Grouch") and I will share a butt in the boiler room on days when it's cold and outside when days are nice.

If there's a church that's welcoming and affirming, Good Shepherd is it!

After church there's fellowship, where I am one of the last to leave.

Then it's a trip back to the CVS to pick up the paper and meds, and onto Shaw's Supermarket to do my grocery shopping.

Shaw's has these great sales on the weekend ~ lots of "buy one get one free" and "10 for $10."

While I am not one to get suckered into buying things just because they are on sale, Shaw's weekend specials have many of the things that I would normally buy.

Once I am done with Shaw's, I usually go home, unless I need to stop at Denise's Pet Care (where they also know me) to pick up pet food and supplies.

Then ~ homeward bound! Yippee!

Once I get the groceries put away, that's when the serious "Sunday-is-a-day-of-rest" business starts!

At that point, nothing will tear me away from the newspaper!

I will spend the next few hours savoring the pages of the paper, and then playing Zuma on my cell phone until it is time to feed the beasts.

Once everyone's been satiated, it's back to goofing off.

However, after that comes the part that I really need to attend to before I can continue in my blissful and guilt-free goofing off ~ and that is doling out the meds for the following week. With my husband being disabled, there are a lot of pharmaceuticals that need to be doled out.

Because of the foot traffic in our house due to the many friends that Ariana brings into the house, it has become a prudent idea to store all the medications in a safe. And each Sunday night, I need to get to the safe and tap in the combination before I can continue to fulfill my responsibility in making sure that all medication doses are available for the coming week.

It really does not take all that long to do. In fact, I could probably do it in my sleep.

But it's one of those things that I need to make sure that get done.

And I cannot continue in my goofing-off until it is done.

But when it's done, it's clear goof-off sailing ahead!

The rest of the evening and night is mine!

What do I do now?


Wait a minute!

I think I hear Ben and Jerry's Crème Brûlée ice cream calling to me. (It was on sale, you know.)

Hold on, Ben and Jerry!

I'm coming!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Stuck In the Mud

Sometimes getting stuck in the mud is an unavoidable thing.

At times like that, I feel like shouting out, "Kick me please! Kick me in the butt now!"

This whole week has been one of laziness and avoidance.

Oh yeah, I was busy sitting on my belles fesses all week long in front of the computer. But doing what?

I should have been working on my business plan.

But, no.

Instead I was blasting off emails, reading and responding to posts on the two on-line groups that I belong to.

And I could not leave it at that.

Thanks to multiple tabs and the refresh button, I was bouncing back from site to site, commenting on whatever new post popped up.

Why was I doing this instead of maintaining my original intent to complete ~ and submit ~ my business plan and loan application by the end of this month?

I guess I am still dealing with the setback having learned that our tenuous financial situation is not going to be looked up favorably by those in power to make a decision on my small business loan application.

I am still trying to avoid focusing on the obvious outward appearances instead of the outcome I want. The outcome one focuses on is the outcome one will usually get. After all, that is what the Law of Attraction is all about. (Anybody who has seen or read The Secret will know what I am talking about.)

It makes sense.

As a human plopped down in a particular situation, all I can see is what is immediately around me.

It's like being shut inside a small room and not being aware of all the other rooms in the huge mansion. It's not being aware of the beautiful grounds surrounding the mansion. It's not being aware of the roads that take one from the mansion to many other amazing places.

I can only see the four walls around me.

I can only see my immediate situation.

But God, the Universe, or whatever you chose to call the Higher Power, can see much farther and beyond. God can see the infinite possibilities that I cannot.

The key is to have faith that those infinite possibilities do exist ~ just like I have the faith that in one month from now all the trees and shrubs will be covered with green leaves. The weather that I have been waiting for will be here.

It is not up to me to figure out how God is going to bring these infinite possibilities to me. My job is to believe and then get out of my own way when these possibilities finally do cross my path.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Family History Series ~ A Honeymoon to Forget

Jonas and Salomėja did marry. He was 28; and she was a mere 17.

For many years, the only story that I heard of my parents' marriage and supposed honeymoon was that Jonas borrowed the priest's car (an Opel) for him and his new bride to tour the Moselle Wine Route ~ a twisting route that take the traveller through the idyllic wine villages of Germany.

The story goes that during a tour of one of the wineries, the new couple was so over-come by the intoxicating fumes that Jonas wound up driving the car off the road.

It was a serious accident that left Jonas with injuries severe enough to have him hospitalized for an extended period of time. Salomėja did not require the extensive hospitalization that her husband did.

The story further continues with Jonas "unofficially" discharging himself from the hospital upon hearing that the doctors were planning on confining him to a sanatorium due to his extensive brain damage.

For nearly most of my life, this was the "official" story of my parents' honeymoon.

So, imagine the shock when an aunt ~ my mother's sister ~ filled in the gaps a few years ago.

Yes, Jonas and Salomėja did go off the road. Not only that, they went off the mountain.

No one knows how long they were unconscious or how long it was until they were rescued.

It was believed that the first group to come upon Jonas and Salomėja was a group of natives who looted the car and left the young couple for dead.

Jonas and Salomėja were eventually rescued by a group of soldiers.

As this was sinking into my brain, my aunt continued her story.

She said that she and her mother went to visit Jonas in the hospital. They were in a ward full of male patients, all in pyjamas and bathrobes. The two women looked around for Jonas but could not find him.

As Irena and her mother, Ieva, were about to walk through the door and leave the ward, they heard a familiar voice call to them. It was Jonas.

When they approached area where they heard Jonas's voice, they saw a man whose head was covered in bandages and swollen to nearly twice its size. If it were not for the voice, Irena and Ieva would have not recognized the eyes behind the heavy swathe as belonging to Jonas.

There was more to the story.

Apparently the accident affected Salomėja in more ways than just leave a small scar at her hairline.

Irena said that before the accident Salomėja was rather mellow and soft-spoken. That was news to me, because I have often know my mother to have her screaming banshee moments.

As soon as I got off the phone, I had to call Roma and tell her of this shocking revelation about our parents.

She was stunned as I was.

All these years we thought we were being raised by just one brain-damaged parent only to find out that both parents had brain damage.

All these years we were playing the hand without seeing all the cards that were dealt.

I think we played it well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

More on Monikers

While I previously wrote that I had never cared for nicknames, that does not mean that I totally eschewed them.

There are some nicknames that I have received that I cherish with great affection. However, they are not nicknames that I would use professionally or allow others to use.

When my sister Roma married Tony nearly 37 years ago, I was ecstatic to finally have a brother in the family. I adored Tony!

Even at that young age I was aware of the fact that in some cultures people may have several names ~ and that receiving a new name in acknowledgement of a certain milestone was considered a great honor.

So imagine the sense of pride and honor I felt when Tony had christened me "Nerch!"

Only Tony and Roma, and later their son Michael, were allowed to call me "Nerch."

Around the same time that I had received "Nerch," Roma and Tony were friends with a couple from their church who had a young son with Down's Syndrome.

Andy was a source of joy and delight to his parents and his many siblings. He was also the source of my next new name.

Because the challenges of Down's Syndrome made more difficult for Andy, than most others, to pronounce my name, the best he could do was call me "Nagonga."

And thus to Roma and Tony, I also became known as "Nagonga," or "Gonga" for short.

Again, this was a name only restricted to my immediate family. No on else even knew about it. I made sure of that ~ until now.

Workplaces were another area where I had received nicknames.

While working as a textile artist, coworkers would call me "Ringie" or "Ring." That was acceptable.

But the most interesting workplace nickname I received was when I worked as metallurgical laboratory technician.

That was many, many moons ago, shortly after I graduated from college.

It was the first job that I had that was worthy of the physics degree that I earned. Heck! It sure beat studying the laws of thermodynamics by observing the rate of heat transfer from a hot grill to a cold piece of meat while I worked as a short order cook at a greasy spoon.

Because I was the only female on the first shift in the met lab, Wayne, the head technician who trained me, christened me "Ralph." He did so because I had proven myself to be "one of the guys." (We spelled it "RalPH" to reflect the PH factor testing that is found in most labs.)

Being nicknamed "Ralph" was actually amusing. Everyone ~ from the janitors right up to the general manager ~ called me Ralph. The whole plant knew me as Ralph ~ and that was no small thing considering that the plant had several hundred employees!

It got to the point where I would deliberately cultivate mystery by refusing to tell people my real name ~ not that they would have been able to guess it. And believe me, there were many people who tried ~ and failed ~ to solve the mystery of my real name.

I wonder if there are any people now who may occasionally say, "Hey! Do you remember that girl from the met lab called 'Ralph'?"

A Rose By Any Other...

In many creation stories, one of the first things that the newly-created human (usually a man) does is to name the things around him. After all, it would quickly get mighty confusing labeling everything as "this thingie here" and "that thingie there."

Let's face it, names are a major slice of the communication pie. We are simply hard-wired to name things.

Names can be a source of power. Or they can be baggage.

The task of naming is not one to be taken lightly.

How many children have suffered school yard taunts on account of some parents' lack of forethought and mindfulness in selecting a new name for their precious bundle of joy?

Sometimes the embarrassment of a name may not come until years later when a new bride assumes the last name of her husband.

Oh pity the plight of poor Ophelia upon marrying a man whose last name is Cox! (Sorry, I could not resist!) If there is ever a case for a woman to retain her maiden name, this is surely it.

But sometimes, a name that is perfectly "safe" in one culture may cause that person grief upon transplanting to a new culture.

In Lithuania, my name ~ Neringa ~ was as common as Susan, Mary, and Jane is here. (Or should I say, "Ashley, Brittany, and Tiffany?")

"Neringa" is a venerable name steeped in Lithuanian folkloric tradition.

Because people could never pronounce it correctly my mother told people to call me "Nelly." Believe me, when you're just a little kid fresh off the boat in the 60s, you don't want to be called "Nelly."

So "Nelly" only stuck around long enough to take the next boat back.

"Neringa" did not have it any easier.

It was bad enough getting taunted for my nose. But enduring the daily chants of "Ner-RING-gah-round-the collah!" was enough for me to loudly complain to my mother, "Why couldn't you have named me 'Cathy' instead?"

Despite how unwieldy the accenting and pronunciation of my name was on the unaccustomed tongue, I was never one for nicknames. "Nelly" made sure of that.

As much of a burden my name carried in this land and culture, it was a name that I eventually grew proud of because of it being richly steeped in my cultural heritage.

Nicknames simply wouldn't do because they would compromise my cultural identity. And Lithuanian nicknames would not work because they were just as difficult to pronounce, if not worse.

That is not to say that I didn't give nicknames a fair shot.

When I was working at our local post office, we had to identify ourselves when we answered the telephone. After having more than one confused caller (from our non-cosmopolitan neck of the woods) say "Wah?" I decided to try "Inga."

Aside from the great temptation to answer the phone in a Swedish accent, and people mistaking "Inga" for "Linda," it just did not feel right. It was not me.

I could never get used to myself as an "Inga," no matter how many years I used it professionally.

It was much easier having people call me "Ringie," "Ring," or just plain "Ralph."

And that was certainly more favorable than hearing the constant and grating mispronunciation of my name.

For the record, my name is pronounced something like "NETTING- ah," not "Ner-RING-ga," which is how most people pronounce it.

"Hey! But there's no 't' in your name!"

That is correct.

What sounds like a "t" in English is actually a very subtly rolled "r" in Lithuanian. Having spoken Lithuanian since birth, the "r" sound is quite evident and obvious to my ears. However, that is not the same case with people who have only grown up with the English language.

In fact, I must give credit to my husband, Neil, for coming up with such a clever way to help people remember my name.

He reminded people that we live by the coast where there is a fishing community. The fishing boats use netting in order to catch fish. So, think of "netting" and then add an "ah" at the end of that. And there you have it: "Neringa!"

Not only is that a clever way of helping people remember my name, Neil had no idea just how fitting that explanation was.

You see, it wasn't until much later on, when I was doing research into the origins of my name that I came across an interesting story.

The story was actually a folktale about a giant name Neringa.

The giant Neringa lived by the shore of the Baltic Sea. Every day she would watch the human fishermen of the village go off in their boats to catch fish for their village.

Because Neringa felt great affection for her neighboring humans, she would get very concerned for the fishermen who would daily risk their lives in dangerous waters.

Her compassion and care for them was so great, that one day she filled her apron with sand and wandered out into sea. When she was far enough away from the shore, she dumped the sand into the water and thus created a sheltered lagoon for the humans to fish in safety.

Today that lagoon bears her name and is a popular resort and vacation spot in Lithuania.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Jazzing on Joysticks ~ Surgery 101

Science Daily had an article that stated "Surgeons With Video Game Skill Appear To Perform Better In Simulated Surgery Skills Course."

Apparently, "Surgeons who had played video games in the past for more than three hours per week made 37 percent fewer errors [in the Top Gun course], were 27 percent faster and scored 42 percent better overall than surgeons who never played video games. Current video game players made 32 percent fewer errors, were 24 percent faster and scored 26 percent better overall than their non-player colleagues..."


So getting zoned out with the joystick may have applications that may prove to be more useful than just serving to have unresponsive game-zombies irritate their loved ones.

That's nice to know...

...especially since I have joined the ranks of the gaming-zombies.

Just like I had onced eschewed calculators and using a computer for graphic design, I viewed video games to be the spawn of the antichrist.

The closest I would come to playing anything on the computer was Spider Solitaire. And seeing how easy it was for "just five games" to turn into twenty, that was enough. I certainly did not need to have my butt grow wider and my wrist get carpal tunnel from spending many hours in front of the monitor trying to win "just one more game."

So what happened?

Blame it on Verizon Wireless.

When we were due for new cell phone upgrades, just before our contracts were set to expire, I decided to get LG's The V.

Of course, with a new phone and a new contract, there was a whole new set of bells and whistles available for the picking. And having gone from technophobe to technophile ~ oh! what a glorious choice of pickings it was!

Just out of curiosity, I loaded Luxor, a game that a friend of mine had introduced me to.

Thus, my love affair with games began.

Next came Hungry Puppy. It was very different from Luxor; and much more frustrating. I couldn't get past the 4th or 5th level. And I couldn't find the cheat codes on-line that would enable me to figure out what that "bouncy-thingie" was.

Next was Bejewelled. It was fun.

However, Zookeeper, which operated on the same principle as Bejewelled was much more exciting, even though its point structure wasn't as generous.

The Solitaire games were so-so ~ a disappointment.

And then came Zuma, introduced to me by both my daughter and the same friend who had done the original favor of introducing me to Luxor.

I don't know whether to thank them or to strangle them.

Zuma had me hooked. It became the monkey on my back. I would be sucked into the game and play until my phone powered down. Then I would plug in my phone and play some more.

Did I have a problem or what?

Was I a prime candidate for the 12 steps at Gamers' Anonymous?

Perhaps not.

After all, when my eyes started getting bleary and I could not focus two inches beyond my nose, I knew that I was time to quit.

(I wonder, is the eyes' refusal to focus the gamer's version of passing out?)

As if it wasn't enough to be possessed by Zuma, an on-line friend introduce me (along with a whole slew of other unwitting victims) to Boomshine.

Talk about addicting!

You know it's gotta be bad when my sister and I are both talking to each other on the phone while we're both playing that infernal game!

Don't you just love it?!

It all goes to show you how easy it is to become that which you condemn.

I would like to further explore that concept; but for now, it's time to go play with the monkey ~ er, I mean, brush up on my surgery skills.

Domestic Goddess ~ NOT!

I was not born with the Suzy Homemaker gene.

In fact, I think that gene is recessive in my DNA. Only one person in my biological family seems to have that gene; and she is not a happy camper, to say the least.

We all know that cleanliness is next to godliness and that a clean house is a happy home. (Really?)

However, there are some positive things to say about being domestically-challenged.

One of the fun things is that when I finally do get down to digging through all the strata of un-put-away stuff, it's like finding buried treasure. Things that were long-forgotten surface and get rediscovered with wild glee.

Oh! I forgot all about that!

Boy! Is that where it went?!

I feel the unbridled joy of a kid who has found a new toy, or the archaeologist who uncovered the Rosetta Stone.

Would my life have been filled which such joy had everything been in its proper place?


Maybe not.

Perhaps had I not been so organizationally-challenged I would have charted new territories and discovered new joys previously unknown to my present incarnation.


Perhaps not.

Maybe one of these days I will know what it's like to be liberated from the death grip of CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome).

But for now, while goat paths crisscross the rooms of my house, I'll find my joys as archaeologist and treasure hunter.

Also, I'll enjoy my guilt-free moments knowing that the bulk of my clutter is due to the displaced stuff from my gutted studio as it awaits repair to its water-damaged ceiling.

"Oh! Please excuse the mess. I'm still waiting for the guy to come and fix the hole in my ceiling."

(I swear, for the great length of time that gaping hole has remained in the ceiling, the contractor must be operating in a totally remote time zone. Like maybe one of the time zones on Saturn, perhaps?)

Just yesterday, after the warm, sunny day called for something lighter than a turtleneck, I decided that it was time to tackle Mt. Clothesmore in search for something less likely to cause profuse sweating. While doing that, I would also pack away the cold weather clothes and bring out the warm weather ones.

(Hey! I actually didn't wait until summer was well underway to do that for a change!)

As I sorted through the piles of clothes that never got put away all winter long, I discovered a pair of jeans that I forgot I even had. Woo-hoo!

I found a whole bunch of long-sleeved shirts that weren't turtlenecks. Great! Just the perfect thing for those transition-season days!

And I forgot about that pair of scrubs that a friend gave me. How 'bout that for something comfy to lounge in and yet still be somewhat respectable for dashing out for a quick errand?! (Not to say that I haven't appeared in public wearing PJ bottoms and slippers.)

After everything was sorted and put away, my eyes beheld vast empty spaces.

Those empty spaces looked rather good.

Exhilarating, in fact.

Would I have experienced such a degree of exhilaration had I been a Suzy Homemaker?

Probably not.

Suzy would have taken those empty spaces for granted.

I wonder where she finds her joy and exhilaration?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

BOLO ~ Dead Presidents

After 4 - 5 days of a soggy, wind-lashing nor'easter, the sun is finally out in full and glorious benediction!

I can hear the loud notes of toe-tapping folk music blasting from my neighbor's boat-repair and custom wood-working shop.

There is plenty of work that needs to be done here; but I would much rather play on the computer. After all, who knows when I will have the time for my next recreational foray into cyberspace?

All of last week, and part of this week, I had been busy ~ working hard at trying to hammer out a business plan for my proposed photo restoration and digital artistry business.

As I had been working on my BP, as well as talking with the nice folks at our local economic development office, I ran into a major reality check ~ a reality check that had sent me into a state of despair and depression.

While I knew that starting any business venture is not for the faint of heart, I still had the optimism of manifesting this dream into a reality.

Enter first major road-block, stage right.

One guess what this road block could be.

Yup! You got it!

It's money.





Dead Presidents.




You get the idea.

While everybody knows that you need money to make money, you also need money to get money.

And with the financial devastation that our family had recently experienced due to extensive hospitalizations, disability, job loss, etc., money is not something that we have. Not now, at least.

We have already exhausted all of our savings and retirement money (for which we still owe the Feds a good chuck of change after we had to cash out the 401(k).) Right now we are borrowing against Neil's life insurance in order to have money to live off.

It is a miracle that we have been able to keep our house (and our decent credit rating) this long. And for that I am extremely grateful. I simply REFUSE to see leaving this house unless it is through our own choice.

Still, our financial situation is not in my favor when it comes to applying for a small business loan.

Because it can often take a business 3 - 5 years before it starts making money, the borrower needs to provide documentation of sources of income that will enable the family to survive during the time it takes a business to grow.

With Neil's disability pay not even covering the mortgage, let alone other monthly expenses, and the finite amount of time left before we exhaust the life insurance money, lenders will want to run the other way when they see me coming.

What's really ironic is that the idea to start the business in the first place was for us to have an eventual source of income.

For a year I have been unsuccessful in finding new work after having been let go from my last job.

Oh! I have had great interviews. I'm extremely learning-agile. My communication skills are excellent. And I come with a diverse array of talent, skills, and experience.

So what's the problem?

Beats me.

But rather than be put off by the fact that employers may not often know a good thing when they see one, I decided that if no one is going to hire me, then I should hire myself. After all, I don't have to convince myself of my abilities and assets to the company.

Now I have to take these talents, skills, and the intelligence that I have been blessed with and use them to score some dead presidents in order to fire up my business.

I've already put in too much time and effort to accept "No" for an answer.

By hook or by crook, I will be sitting in this very same room next year. The thing that will be different will be that the walls will be painted a serene periwinkle and seafoam green and this room will be filled with all the new toys and gadgets I will need to ply my new trade.

And did I forget to mention that there will a full cash safe in this room as well?

Family History Series ~ "Matchmaker, Matchmaker..."

We now know that Jonas and Salomėja had met in a German refugee/work camp, even though the details of how Jonas got there are very vague.

She was merely 17 while he was already a worldly 28 ~ and possibly an old man in a young girl's eyes.

With her diminutive grace, steel-grey eyes, and luxuriously long, wavy dark hair, Salomėja must have caught the eye of many a young man. She certainly caught Jonas's eye.

Jonas wasn't so shabby himself.

Standing a head taller than Salomėja, Jonas had dark, soulful eyes that matched his dark wavy hair. In photographs he looked like Clark Gable or Gary Cooper in a black wool coat with a rolled cigarette dangling rakishly between his gloved fingers. (Oh! How I would love to find that photo!)

Apparently Jonas was not oblivious to his good looks. My mother told me that he would say to her that women would lick their lips whenever he walked by.

Despite the eleven year gulf that spanned between them, Jonas was quite enamored with Salomėja . She liked him too ~ but only as a friend.

Of course, her rejection of Jonas as a suitor was enough to plunge him into disheartening despair.

Yet fear not! Help was on the way.

It seemed that Salomėja's father, Antanas, thought that Jonas would make a fine match for his beautiful and vivacious (perhaps too vivacious in Dad's eye) daughter ~ as well as provide him with the male companionship that was lacking in a house full of women.

And this was not going to be the first time that Antanas plied his matchmaking skills.

However, there was one hitch to Jonas and Salomėja getting hitched.

Salomėja was still a minor in the German legal system; and she needed both parents to sign the permission papers before she could be married in Germany.

That was going to be a bit of a problem because Salomėja's mother, Ieva, supported her daughter's desire to strictly remain friends with Jonas ~ not to marry him and be his wife.

After all, the war was coming close to an end; and there was a bright future ahead of her. Salomėja wanted to go back to school to become a teacher and marry a boy closer in age.

Of course, Antanas, being the head of the household, would not hear of it. He was going to marry off his daughter ASAP before she HAD to get married ~ like his own sisters. Antanas wasn't going to pass up the perfect suitor either, for that matter.

In order to follow through with his plan, Antanas enlisted the help of a priest ~ a priest who must have been asleep in his morals and ethics classes when he was still in seminary.

The priest approached Ieva and asked her if she knew how to sign her name. In those days, this was not an unusual question as illiteracy was far more wide-spread back then.

Of course she knew how to sign her name! Ieva was an educated woman.

Then prove it by signing this paper.

This paper happened to be written in German. And although Ieva was gifted in a few languages, German was not one of them.

What she had signed was a legal document allowing her under-age daughter to marry a man eleven years her senior.

The wedding took place.

Fräulein Salomėja no more.

Welcome, junge Frau.

To be continued....

Family History Series ~ Mysterious Jonas

While my mother Salomėja came to Germany via German invasion and evacuation, my father Jonas took an altogether different route.

Not much is known about Jonas.

He did come from a large family where he was the eldest of several children.

Jonas's mother died young. And when his father remarried, it was to a young woman who was young enough to be Jonas's sister ~ not his mother.

My father stopped going to school when he was somewhere in third grade in order to take care of his younger siblings. Or at least that is what I remember being told.

What I also heard was that the young bride did not possess the same fortitude as Jonas's mother. Nor did she seem to have the same interest in managing the household and taking care of such a large brood.

I guess they had "trophy wives" back them, too.

From what I remember about the vague stories surrounding my father was that during World War II he was in the Lithuanian military force. When the Russians invaded, they allegedly assumed the Lithuanian army into their own military.

Not wanting to have anything to do with the Communists, Jonas supposedly went AWOL.

Shortly thereafter, he was nabbed by the Germans and conscripted into their army.

Being in the German army was not Jonas's choice; but at that point, where was a poor young man to go?

One of the things that the German army discovered was that Jonas could speak German like a native. Hmmm. That could be useful.

When I asked my father what he did in the German army, he said that he was a courier and dispatcher for the general staff ~ whatever that meant. Was he a go-pher then? I won't know. Jonas would not say much after that.

Was he sent to France?


How was France?

Too many women.

And no more on that conversation either.

So, my father's German military career ~ as well as his years in Lithuania ~ has pretty much been a mystery. What is not a mystery, however, is that it was in the German refugee/work camp that he met my mother Salomėja .

And that's another story.

To be continued....

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Little Ratsies Again

Well, it seems as though Mama Blavatsky had a total of 11 babies, not the 9 that I had originally believed. (Guess she still wasn't finished giving birth when I had last counted.)

Yesterday, while cleaning all three rat-houses, I discovered one of Ratsie's babies dead under a lot of bedding. (And I thought that nasty smell was from too much rat piddle and poop.)

Poor thing.

There was not a mark on its body; and it was flat as a pancake.

The other ratlings are doing well. The older ones are now eating solid food and drinking from the water bottle ~ even though they are still nursing.

Some of them have gotten used to my hand in the tank when I dole out pumpkin seeds to the moms. A couple have actually gotten brave enough to try to beg for those tasty morsels themselves.

I am disappointed that my local pet store won't be able to take Ratsie's and Patsie's babies as they still haven't sold all of the ratlings from Mama B's first litter.

I really hate the thought of bringing them to the snake guys, even though they did offer to buy the rats from me.

Hopefully a new home for the rat babies will manifest by the beginning of next week.

Stitch By Stitch, We Quiet the Bitch

It's been about 4-5 days since I have been on the computer to do any sort of "recreational" stuff as checking in w/my on-line groups, reading and answering email, or playing Spider Solitaire.

My hours ~ a many long number of them ~ have been spent in trying to iron out my business plan.

In order to better understand what was required in writing a business plan ~ particularly the "financial" part ~ I had been communicating with a represent from SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) and our local economic development office.

And I was trying to patch the hole in the bubble that was burst and salvage whatever bits of my enthusiasm I had left.

Yeah, I was depressed and disheartened.

But that was not something that I wanted to plaster all over the infinite walls of cyberspace. The web is already littered enough with the detritus of spewed negativity and toxicity of its less-than-discerning authors.

I did not want to contribute to that toxic dump.

So I decided to wait until my mood had lifted and I was once more in a "better place."

One of the things that I did during that period was to take up the needle and thread.

It started Saturday night ~ the first day of my funk ~ when I decided to repair a hole in the pocket of my favorite jeans before throwing them into the wash.

I found a piece of material, making sure that it would cover the hole and then some. Then I began the slow rhythm of methodical stitching.

Halfway into my repairs I noticed that my mood had lifted. I was actually feeling calm. Revelling in this feeling of calm, I deliberately focused on my stitches.

Doing that small job of hand-stitching felt as though I was returning home after a long absence. How could I have allowed myself to go so long without having such a calm and grounding task occupy my fingers?

After the jeans were patched and washed, I knew what I had to do.

I went upstairs and found Neil's old denim jacket from the mid-70s. It no longer fitted him; so I commandeered it and set about to reincarnating it into a vest.

Not just any vest.

An art vest.

I have always loved to embroider. Not being satisfied w/having embroidery be simply a form of embellishment, I had the lofty goal of elevating it into a fine art form. I found embroidery to be a wonderful ~ and forgiving ~ medium for illustration.

It has been years since I have completed "St. Sally Exorcising the Furnace Demons," an embroidered illustration of my mother in the cellar in front of an old furnace. (And yes, there is a story that goes with that. But you'll have to wait.)

Working on "St. Sally" gave me much pleasure. It was the first time that I truly understood and appreciated the creative process ~ maybe because it was the first time that I was possessed that profoundly by the process.

"St. Sally" was not a piece that I worked on constantly with the mad goal to have a finished product as soon as possible. Rather, it was a "travelling project" ~ one that I would take with me to waiting rooms, jury duty, visits with the family.

Days, sometime weeks, would go by before I would take needle and thread to "St. Sally." And like meeting with an old friend whom you haven't seen in years, it was like picking up from where you last left off.

As such, it took me 5 years to complete "St. Sally."

Yes, I was proud to have finally completed this impressive body of work. But I was also sad. "St. Sally" had kept me company all those years, teaching me things that I would have not learned on my own. There was now this huge void in my life.

For years I have not been able to fill that void the way "St. Sally" did. That is not to say that I haven't tried. Oh! How I tried indeed.

Now, three nights ago, while I was patching a hole in my pocket I realized what was missing and how I may fill that void.

Here is this denim jacket ~ now a vest ~ waiting to be the blank canvas for my next embroidered illustration.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Family History Series ~ Two Potatoes

My mother, Salomėja (whom everyone knows as Sally), was born and lived in a small Lithuanian town on the German border.

A small river separated that section of Lithuania from Germany. The river was narrow enough to allow groups of German and Lithuanian boys, who would be fishing from their respective shores, to taunt each other with mocking chants.

On one side, the German boys would loudly and proudly sing their national anthem:

"Deutschland, Deutschland über alles..."
("Germany, Germany over all...")

In retaliation, the Lithuanian boys would fire back their taunting rejoinder:

"Zwei Kartoffeln das es alles..."
("Two potatoes, that's everything..." ~ a very loose translation)

Meanwhile, the adults on either side of the river would make use of the bridge, connecting both nations, for meaningful commerce.

The Lithuanians would cross over to Germany to purchase mercantile goods. Being an industrial nation, Germany provided a wide array of manufactured goods, whether they were cloth, needle, and thread for the Lithuanian housewife to sew her family's clothing, or machine parts and farm equipment for her husband to till his fields.

Seeing that Lithuania was an agricultural nation, the Germans would cross the bridge for a rich sampling of her produce ~ potatoes, beets, mushrooms, milk, poultry, etc.

Sometime during World War II ~ perhaps in 1944 ~ German soldiers marched over that bridge into my mother's town with the cries, "The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!"

In order to "save" the Lithuanian townsfolk from the impending Communist onslaught, the people had to be quickly evacuated.

My mother's people barely had enough time to scramble and hastily gather clothing and other necessities needed for their new lives as refugees across the river. They certainly did not have enough time to settle their affairs or go to the bank to withdraw their savings.

Salomėja remembers her own mother opening the barn door in order to release the family cow, even though she knew that eventually that cow would be caught by the German soldiers and slaughtered for food.

With their meager, hurriedly-gathered bundles, the people were herded onto frigid freight cars and shipped off across the river to Germany as human cargo.

(In all the fray, my mother did managed to smuggle a single Lithuanian coin.)

When I asked my mother if she was upset or terrified when all this happened, she said, "No." She explained that at the time she was a young, teenage girl. To my mother this was an adventure where she had dreams of seeing the world.

Eventually she did ~ but not before making her first stop at a refugee camp (which also was a work camp) where she would spend the remainder of the war.

There, the Lithuanian refugees were put to work on the German railroads. They would work long hours on the railroad only to spend their nights in the freezing cold freight cars. My mother recalled that one time it was so cold that she woke up with her face frozen to the freight car.

Even though the people worked hard, my mother said that their caretakers were kind and fair people. They made sure that the refugees got adequate work breaks and were fed regular meals ~ even though food was scarce. They even once had to eat a horse.

It was at the refugee camp where my mother had first met Jonas, my father.

To be continued...

Family History Series ~ An Introduction

There is not a single person who does not have a family history.

The events that our parents and grandparents experienced are now part of history. Likewise, our children will say that same thing about us.

With each successive generation, these layers of history accumulate and build until they assume a life of their own.

Having been born in a different country, people have seemed fascinated by the stories I've told about my family. Had I been born here, I am sure that my family stories would have been no less fascinating. I suppose that this fascination is born from a culture that is unfamiliar to most people.

Thus, with the following blog, and other blogs to come, I would like to share with my readers my own family stories.

Finding the Fullness of Promise In an Empty Room

For the past week, or so, I have been sitting in my gutted studio that is empty of everything except the desk upon which sits my computer. The slightest of sound echos off the blank walls. The clack of the keyboard fills the room with its own unique symphony.

This room is the future home of Pixelektra Studio where I will be plying my trade as a photo restorer and digital artist.

If someone had told me a year ago that I would be starting a business, I would have said, "Yeah! Right! You're nuts!"

Now I look ahead to this time next year.

These white walls are now painted in periwinkle and sea foam green. This cavernous space is filled with the equipment needed to resurrect somebody's cherished memories.

Here I will help reconnect people with their past and give them a sense of historical continuance for their future generations. The safe-guarding of people's memories is an emotional business.

Each day nudges my dream closer to reality.

Already I have had five contractors come in to review and measure the space. I await their quotes to include with my business plan and small business loan application.

Yesterday I spent 14 hours working on my business plan. 14 hours! That's nearly two whole working days crammed into one 24-hour period!

The plan is already 33 pages long; and I have not yet begun the number-crunching and the projected cash-flow summaries. At least I am more than halfway through.

I was initially daunted by the prospect of writing a business plan. My inner child kicked and screamed, "Wah! I don't wanna do it!"

Oh please, oh please! Is there any way I don't have to do this? Please?

However, if I am to seek the financing necessary to launch this venture, I gotta do it. Like the ad says: "Just do it!" And so I did.

While I had intellectually understood the need and importance of drafting a business plan, the actual value of one did not hit me until I actually sat down and started answering, one by one, the questions in the business plan booklet put out my regional economic development corporation.

It was when I actually got down to work and started answering the (so far) 11 pages of questions that insights and epiphanies started wending their way into my consciousness.

I realized ~ my God! ~ that I am not in the business of restoring damaged photographs. Rather, I am in the business of preserving people's memories ~ their histories ~ and assuring their continuation for future generations.

Talk about mind-blowing!

That blazing flash of insight had also shined a beacon in the direction that I want to take in my studio renovation project, and perhaps even which contractor may be most appropriate for the job.

Yes, this business is all about preserving and maintaining a sense of history. As such, my business space should reflect that as well.

You see, Pixelektra is going to be located in the original part of our house ~ the part that is about 175 years old. The contractor that I choose is one who is going to be enthusiastic about maintaining the integrity of the architectural details of "this old house" ~ especially the detailed woodwork both inside the studio and outside at the front entrance.

The care that I have taken in preserving the history of this corner room will communicate the seriousness of my intention to perserve the history of the clients who step into this room with their faded and damaged photographs.

Although I have one or two more contractors to interview, I think I may have found my guy. His enthusiasm for old houses was quite infectious. When I mentioned this observation to him, he said that he originally came from California, where one is hard-pressed to find a 100-year-old home. And here he is in New England ~ Old House Heaven!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Pleasures and Perils of Afternoon Naps

Afternoon naps ~ pro or con? Bane or boon?

I'm still waiting on a decision about that.

Today was one of those days where my eyelids did not want to stay open. It already was 3:00 ~ a time that I consider too late in the day to take a nap. But the idea of resting my head against a pillow and nodding off sounded too good to resist.

So, scooping up my little dog, Emi, I shambled on upstairs to my date with the sandman.

Normally when I have tried to take a daytime nap, I would wind up lying in bed awake until my impatience over not being able to fall asleep would bring me back downstairs. However this time, my noggin zonked out shortly after it hit the pillow and stayed unconscious for 2 hours. Guess I really needed to recharge those batteries after all.

It was really great getting those 2 hours of shut-eye. I felt more refreshed when I got up. That's the good thing about taking an afternoon nap.

However, the part that is not such a good thing is that once I get up from an afternoon nap, I feel that the rest of the day is shot. It's already 5:00 and time to feed the beasts ~ both 4-legged and 2-legged.

And after dinner time, who feels like doing anything? The most ambition that I could muster was to read a "Time" magazine that I had been trying to read for the past 3-4 days. (Great article on the spirituality of Einstein, by the way.)

It was even hard to drag myself to the computer.

It makes me wonder ~ should I have just made myself stay awake?

More Little Ratsies

Mama Blavatsky had her babies this evening. There were 9 at last count.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Little Ratsies

What do you get when you add 5 rats that a sick snake would not eat and 1 person who is a real sap for animals?

More rats.

And still even more rats.

It had been my intention to thin our rather large flock through attrition, not add to it. These 5 rats became pets by default when Ariana's Nicarguan red-tail boa caught a persistent case of pneumonia. (Yes! Snakes can get pneumonia, just like us warm-blooded types.)

Ratsie became our first pet rat by default when Bao the boa turned her nose up at her rodent repast. After the snake's second snub, I was not going to subject Ratsie to a third encounter with the finicky serpent. However, being a sucker for animals, I could not hand Ratsie over to our 6 cats or release her outside. After all, her white coat would glow like a beacon in the long, snowless winter nights. Thus we had got a new pet in Ratsie.

Since we thought that Bao was off her feed due to breeding or hibernation seaon, and not because she was sick, we tried feeding her 4 more times. So after Ratsie came, Patsie, Blavatsky, and Bo-batsky (Bo-Bo for short.)

Wow! 4 rats.

Because they were still young, it was a little bit hard to tell the girls apart from the boys.

When I thought that my new rat collection was going to stop at 4, Ariana announced that our Siamese cat, Atilla, had caught the rat that had escaped earlier and had been living in the walls for the past three months.

Off to the rescue!

And a big fat welcome to Boo-Boo.

Despite the trouble I was courting by having 5 young rats in one big tank, I was discovering just how fascinating and under-rated these supposed "despised" creatures were.

Rats are very social animals. They are also very clean, constantly grooming themselves. And their nimble and dexterous antics make them very entertaining. If only we could with our feet the things that rats can do with their hind feet!

But the most amazing thing of all was watching these creatures gradually emerge from their fearfulness and timidity into boldness where they freely took sunflower and pumpkins seeds from my fingers. They knew my voice. And when I would call them, they would poke their little heads out, anticipating a tasty treat. Some even let me pick them up without my having to wear gloves.

Of course the inevitable happened. The rats were growing up; and it quickly became apparent that Bo-Bo and Boo-Boo were boys when I saw them strutting their stuff with the ladies.

The first one to become pregnant and have her litter was Blavatsky, the sweetest and gentlest rat in the group.

Thank God I had the presence of mind to clean the rather pungent rat tank the day before she had her babies!

Blavatsky had 9 babies. One day shy of 2 weeks, Patsie had hers, followed by Ratsie the very next day.

What happened next was not something that I would have not anticipated.

After having just had her own litter, Ratsie started stealing Blavatsky's babies, even though they were 5 times larger than her own. The last straw was when both rats decided to have a tug-of-war with one of Blavatsky's babies.

Something had to be done.

I bought a new tank and put Blavatsky and her babies in that tank. Seeing that there were close to 20 remaining rat babies in the original tank, I decided to move the boys in with Blavatsky, crossing my fingers that rats don't reproduce as quickly as cats. After all, a cat that is nursing one litter of kittens can already be pregnant with the next litter.

While Blavatsky's babies were safe, Patsie's babies were now the targets of Ratsie's rat-napping. Fights would break out between the 2 moms. And when I noticed that some of the babies, which were only one day apart in birth, were almost half the size of the other babies, I realized that not all of them were getting the proper nutrition from Ratsie hogging all the babies. There were 19 babies. Yet one rat only has 12 nipples.

So, it seems as though I needed another tank. And lo and behold! Just as I thought that thought, there was a large tank - in excellent condition - lying by the side of the road, ready to be claimed. (Isn't it a wonderful thing when the Universe hears your request and delievers it?!)

With the third tank set up, Ratsie and her babies (or the babies that I "assigned" to her because I had NO idea which little ratlings were actually hers) had their own private crib. The boys went in the road-side tank, while Blavatsky and Patsy, along with their brood, had the original tank.

It was really neat watching Blavatsky's babies open their eyes and start maturing before my very own eyes. In just nearly 3 weeks they were already drinking from the water bottle and eating solid food.

The baby ratlings looked like they jumped out of a children's story book when they were holding the little rings of puppy kibble in their front paws, munching away on them as though they were cookies or donuts.

So, what am I going to do with all of those rat babies?

The guys at the snake shop had offered to buy the rat babies off me. But I could not commit the creatures that had learned to trust my hands to have their lives betrayed by another set of hands, tossed to the awaiting coils of a hungry snake.

So, ask the Universe; and you shall receive.

And I did receive.

One of the vet techs at the animal hospital where I take all my critters adopted one of the babies. Ariana, who had not cared for the rats originally had adopted another. The others went to a local pet shop where the owner gave me store credit. Not a bad deal since I am always in there.

Patsie's babies have opened their eyes and have grown big. Ratsie's babies are catching up. It'll be a matter of a couple of weeks before they, too, take a trip to the pet store. (However, there is one baby with a white crescent moon on its dark head that I am considering adopting.)

In the meantime, Blavatsky looks a little bit fat. Apparently I was not fast enough in separating her from the boys.

Oh well, guess I'll get a little bit more in store credit and buy some extra dog food.

"Assembly Go Boom"

There was an unexpected twist to this bright and sunny day.

I had received a call from Ariana, who was on her way back to school from a field trip, that there was a bomb scare at her school. Only minutes later, a recorded phone message from the principal followed, stating that the fire department had ordered an evacuation of the school grounds; and that parents were to pick up their children at Tabor Academy in the next town.

Driving by the high school, I could see both entrances blocked by fire trucks. Two more fire trucks waited at the mouth of a near-by side street.

It was quite the ordered pandemonium at the academy's athletic building. Lines moved quickly and efficiently. There was no need to search for Ariana as her eyes, along with the eyes of the other displaced students, were all trained on the single door through which parents and guardians entered.

The gym was filled with high school and junior high students from our tri-town area along with their teachers and school officials. We were surrounded with a wall of voices, bull horns, and walkie-talkies.

While I heard one parent complain about the "big deal" over the evacuation and the process necessary to claim ones child, it was an orderly scene. So, it was a bit inconvenient for all involved. Be grateful that the people involved spent all that time and effort to assure the safety of others.

I was quite impressed with the calm and efficiency of the emergency staff. We were quickly processed and out the door.

On our way home, I asked Ariana how the school officials found out about the bomb scare. She said that the school had an assembly scheduled today and that someone had written on the bathroom mirror, "Assembly go boom."

We agreed that more likely than not, this was a prank, not the actual thing. It was probably the impulse of some student who used poor judgment in trying to get a day out of school ~ and who will be up against serious charges should his or her identity be discovered.

(By the way, I just received notification that the evacuation order had been lifted.)

Still, in situations where many lives could be at stake, we must err on the side of caution.

In the meantime, it is still a bright, beautiful, and glorious day.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Feast ~ Lithuanian Style

I can't believe it. It's not even 10 PM; and I am dog tired. However, I should not be all that surprised. It's been a full day after all ~ busy, but fun.

Sunday started off the usual way. I got up a few hours before church so that I could have time to enjoy my morning paper after all the animals got fed and breakfast was made for us humans. That's my daily morning ritual, no matter what day it is.

I got to church early as usual so that I could enjoy the warm companionship of my fellow parishioners before the service. This was especially important today because of all the cooking that I needed to finish for our family Easter feast at my mother's house.

Having been brought up in a Lithuanian family, we were used to having large spreads during our holiday feasts. Even though this was the first time that my sister, Roma, and I decided to cook the entire Easter feast by ourselves, we wanted to make sure that we kept to our family and cultural tradition by providing a full spread of lots of great food. After all, Lithuanians don't fool around when it comes to feasts!

When my family (husband Neil, daughter Ariana, mother-in-law Carol, and little dog Emi) and I arrived in Providence, the usual happy holiday pandemonium greeted us at my mother's house.

My sister, Roma, was putting the finishing touches on the ham while her husband, Tony, was carving the roast and arranging the pieces on the platter. I was unpacking the cooler full of cooked veggie dishes, while Ariana and her cousin, Michael, were busy bussing full platters to the dining room table.

We totally usurped the kitchen, "forbidding" our mother, Sally, to step foot in it. After all the countless Easter feasts that she had prepared for us, Sally had definitely earned the right to take it easy.

By the time we all sat down to eat, the table was groaning under the weight of all those dishes.

We had a platter full of roast beef, kielbasa, and pineapple-garnished ham. A multitude of veggies dishes circled the meat satellites: Roma's decadent mashed potatoes made with bacon bits and cream cheese along with a bowl of oven-roasted spuds for the calorie conscious, asparagus with butter and lime juice, curly kale with olive oil and crushed red pepper, spaghetti squash with butter and black pepper, Parisienne carrots (that looked like kumquats), a bowl of green and yellow beans, a big bowl of pureed turnips and parsnips, and an even bigger bowl of corn.

Of course, after stuffing ourselves silly, who had room for dessert?!

Roma and I decided to walk off our calories by taking Emi for a walk. We walked through the old neighborhood, remarking on how much things have changed since we lived there.

By the time we got back, it was time for round 2 ~ tea and dessert. Compared to the main meal, dessert was rather a simple affair ~ just baklava, lavendar cookies (made with real lavendar!), and this awesome vanilla cake topped with pudding and fruit slices. Yum!

As all good things, our feast came to an end. We all parted ways agreeing that this was a feast well worth remembering.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Facing the Blank Page

I've finally done it ~ joined the world of bloggers.

But here I am faced with the blank page.

What words call to me? What words want to be laid done for all of cyper space to see? Where do I start?

I have this same problem whenever I pick up on my journal writing, especially after having several months ~ up to a year at least ~ in between entries.

Yeah, the journal is supposed to be just for me. So there really is no need to fill in the reader with missing details of my life.

But a blog is different ~ somewhat more intimidating. No longer are my thoughts bound to a small blank book whose readership consists of only yours truly. Now it's "out there" for everyone to see, read ~ and to judge.


Take a deep breath and...

...jump in.

Let's get down to business.

This is what I did today:

I had the rug guys come over today to measure my studio.


Because I am in the process of starting a new business doing digital photo restoration and alteration.

It's a scary thing starting a new business ~ scarier than starting a blog - much scarier.

But it's something that makes sense.

I've been out of a job for nearly a year. And during that time I have not had much success in finding new work, despite the positive interviews that I had. So I figured that if nobody's interested in hiring me, then I'll hire myself.

I will get into more of that later on. But now it is bedtime; and I am a bit tired.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy, but fun day. It'll be Easter ~ the time when my family and hubby's family get together for a fabulous Easter dinner.

Our families get together only twice a year ~ Thanksgiving and Easter.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. I already cooked the veggie dishes ~ pureed turnips with parsnips, kale, asparagus, and spaghetti squash. Tomorrow after church I will heat up the frozen veggies ~ Parisienne carrots, green and yellow wax beans, and corn (as requested by Tony, my brother-in-law).

My sister, Roma, will be cooking up the meat (ham, roast beef, kielbasa) and the potatoes.

And the both of us will be bringing our culinary craftings to our mother's house where all of us will be gathering for our Easter feast. I can hardly wait!

Easter has always been a big deal for my family ~ not only for its spiritual significance (which I am just now starting to appreciate), but also for the scrumptious feast shared by our extended family group.

Cooking veggies isn't the only thing that I did today.

For the first time in 2 ~ maybe even 3 ~ decades I attended an Easter Vigil service. Normally I would have stayed home on a night such as this. But seeing that I volunteered to be one of the readers for a service where 3 churches participated, I was committed to leaving the comfy surroundings of my home.

It's been such a long time that I had forgotten what an Easter Vigil service was like. The person that I was a couple of decades ago could not have appreciated the power and symbolism of the service as I was able to appreciate it now ~ even the little kid that kept whining during the service, "I wanna go home." (Oh! How I could relate to that child many, many moons ago!)

I am glad that I went.