" I implore you, my child; observe heaven and earth, consider all that is in them, and acknowledge that God made them out of nothing (ex nihilo), and that mankind comes into being in the same way..." 2 Maccabees 7:28

Friday, July 24, 2009

Learn From My Mistakes

I had a bit of an adventure housesitting the other day, the end result of which was that I locked myself into the backyard and had to try to climb the fence 2 days after surgery. Here is the brief summary of my experience, as sent via email to the homeowners. They asked me, as an additional security precaution, to make sure that the little sliding stick in the back door was in place.

When you get home, ask me about my adventure going over to your house to put the stick in the back door. I won't try to explain it all now, but let it suffice to note these important points.

1. Although I have the key to the front gate, front door and all the deadbolts, I don't have the key to the locks on the knobs or the nice new padlock on the back gate.

2. My key opens the back door, but not if the stick is in.

3. THe black garbage can and your lawn chairs all either collapse or tip over under the weight of a full grown adult.

4. The green debris can can hold an adult weight, but it rolls.

5. Your sprinklers come on precisely at 7 pm. They do not give a warning.

6. You have nice neighbors.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Great Idea. If I Do Say So Myself.

As I've mentioned in several posts, I get very frustrated with my sarcasm. I don't want to be the kind of person who tears down rather than builds up. And I also am very conscious lately of the enormous debt of gratitude that I owe to my parents; more than can ever be repaid, that they deserve my deepest respect and instead all they get is more sarcasm. So I decided I was going to do a novena of confessions, in the tradition of Pope John Paul II who went to confession every day. Everyday for 9 days I will go to confession (I'm on day 3 today) and confess sarcasm and not honoring my mother and father.
It's sort of like sacramental chemotherapy- you hit it once and then weaken it, but then you don't stop there, you just keep hitting it and hitting it for 9 days.
Somethings gotta give. I'm sure of it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


In my new apartment, there are two full - length mirrors. One of them makes me look skinny and one of them makes me look chubby, and I am correspondingly depressed or comforted depending on which mirror I'm looking in. And then obsessing about which one was accurate. And it dawned on me a few days ago- they could BOTH be wrong!
I have no reliable means for seeing myself from outside myself. Maybe that's a sign that I just shouldn't bother.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Peace At Last

Over the last year I have been following several blogs of people in various stages of cancer, and even corresponding with a few of them. So far there is only 1 left. Don Ritchie, who was the principal at Marin Catholic High School just passed away a few days ago. I thought this post about his last night was touching, so I've pasted it below because I can't get a live link here for some reason.

Peace...peace at last
Don found peace last night at 1:41 am. I know the exact time, because I was putting the microwave timer on every hour to make sure I was awake to give him his medication so he did not once again become painful. The medication also eased his labored breathing. Being very fatigued, I could not set the timer for some reason, so I decided to let it go and hoped that I would awaken on my own. I returned to the couch next to his hospital bed, and listened for his breathing. Very soon, I heard him take two deep breaths and then no more. At that exact moment, the timer went off. I had asked Don to send me a sign when he passed and I knew this was it. He had told me the day before that I was not to worry, that he was going to be OK and that all he wanted was peace. What transpired next was even more incredible. My sister-in-law had brought a rosary for Don to use that belonged to her little girl, Kaylee. Kaylee had received it from our niece, Amy, who had just brought it from a pilgrimage in Spain, El Camino de Santiago. We had placed it on the side rail of his bed. Most recently, his brother Bob had placed it around Don's right wrist, saying: "We might as well pull out all of the stops." Sitting at his bedside, just after his last breath was taken, everything was still. Suddenly, I saw a movement beneath the covers. It was his right hand being lifted and placed over his heart. For me, I know that the man who has loved me and that I have loved for close to 45 years, was letting me know that he will love me for all eternity and that "all is well." Peace and our thanks, Jane...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A New Old Image

There are times when the old images of Christ just don't have the comforting power we need. When I was growing up I loved above all other bible stories the story of the shepherd looking for his lost sheep-I used to tell myself that story before goingt o sleep at night, replaying that pastoral picture in my head. But now as an adult there are times when I thirst for something more visceral, more violent even, to match the chaos of fear and grief.

When I went to Monicas memorial, the next day I went to mass with Lydia at their home church (I know, it's not a great picure; I took it myself, what do you expect? We can't all be John Steubler, winner of the Best of Silicon Valley for photography!!). On the tabernacle there they have the image of a mother pelican, encircled by hungry babies facing her with their mouths gaping open. The pelican has her beak pressed to her chest, and on some versions she is bleeding. This image of the mother Pelican is an ancient symbol of Christ and most especially the Eucharist; the legend goes that in times of famine the Pelican will feed her young all the food she has until she is about to starve, and then she will rip open her chest and feed them her heart so that they may live even as she dies. This image is so powerful to me- it brings me to tears every time I encounter it, which is rare. It has been all but forgotten.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Sharon who died of cancer on Monday. Pray for the comfort of her husband and five children, pray for Sol and Kai as they face this new life without Monica. I pray that in their times of famine Chirst would feed them from his very heart that they may know his presence in their grief.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Survival Kit

In cleaning out the apartment we found in the porch closet a box of apparently random items belonging to a former roommate of ours (who shall go unnamed). Upon questioning this person, we found out that the apparently random items were not so random after all- it was an earthquake survival kit. Here are the contents.
3 cans of tuna
2 cans of vegetables
1 can opener (very important)
1 exercise tank top with a puppy on it
clean skivvies
1 dental floss
saline solution for washing contact lenses
novena to St Therese.

Not bad things to have if you are in an earthquake and you happen to be trapped out on the apartment porch and can't open the sliding glass door to get back inside, wouldn't you say? And I guess anything that's missing you just ask St Therese for. So you're pretty much covered. But was she really going to put on clean underwear in full view of the whole apartment complex, also trapped out on their porches after the disaster?

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Monicas memorial was so deeply beautiful that I'm a bit emotionally overwhelmed. I never met Monica in person, so it was joyful to hear everyone talk about her so that I could add mannerisms and personality to the picture of her I had in my head. I was so thankful to have Lydia (Trisha's mom) with me there; she came so I wouldn't have to be alone (and Trisha told me later that she thought I'd be an emotional basket case and unfit to operate a car) which was such a blessing. Not just to have the support, but to have someone to share the experience with after. I'm tired and will post more details of the memorial later, but I wanted to leave you with some beautiful little details we learned about Monica.

1. Monica loves pizza and chocolate (no big surprise).
2. She hated her calves.
3. She was very competitive and almost always won.
4. WHen she would laugh really hard, sometimes she would slap her thigh.
5. She was a notorious back- seat driver.
6. In college, she had a group of 10 very close friends who called themselves The 10 Virgins (Ten V's).
7. Monica was a procrastinator, and in college often had to make trips to Kinko's in the wee hours of the morning in her pajamas.
8. She had done missions trips in the Ukraine working with orphans, and had always dreamed of going back. Even a month before she died, she was still making plans with her friends to return when their children were older. She had a deep heart for orphans and youth.
9. She set her sights on Sol and made it happen! (More on this in later posts).
10. Monica died the way she lived; trusting God.

Here is a poem By Ella WHeeler Wilcox; the italicized part was read at the memorial, but the whole thing is beautiful.

One Ship Sails East
But to every mind there openeth,
A way, and way, and away,
A high soul climbs the highway,
And the low soul gropes the low,
And in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.

But to every man there openeth,
A high way and a low,
And every mind decideth,
The way his soul shall go.

One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
'Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.