Wednesday, October 31, 2007

BOO!


Happy Halloween to All from Sharona!!!




Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Fascinating and Funny Book

I recently finished reading The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs. The subtitle (which appropriately gives away the point of the book) is, "One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible". In other words, Jacobs read the entire Bible, recording all the laws or commands he found in order to follow all of them, if possible, during one year.

The book's not what you'd think. For starters, it's funny. Very funny. He tried to keep all the laws and commands (even the strangest ones) at least once during the year. That in itself leads to more humorous situations than you might imagine.

Jacobs was raised a secular Jew, meaning his parents didn't teach him any religion. He didn't even have a bar mitzvah. And every year, his parents put up a Christmas tree with a Star of David on top.

So, Jacobs is, at best, agnostic when he begins his quest. I don't want to give away the ending, but I will tell you he doesn't convert to anything or become super-religious.

Just read the book. It's that good. And, if your own faith is tattered (or even nonexistent), you may be able to identify more with some chapters than others.

Sharona

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Unexpected

I spent five days at my parents' home recently and attended their 60th anniversary dinner, along with other family members. When I returned home Tuesday evening, I discovered my daughter was returning from Egypt a day early so that she and her friends could attend a memorial service for a former dig cohort who died in a freak accident. (The accident was so weird and sad that the story made headlines in Boston.) So, after arriving here Wednesday evening, she left early Thursday morning for Boston with her friends.

One happy aspect of the situation is that she and her friends (and boyfriend, who changed his plans to fly into Boston and not Philly) are sleeping at her dad and stepmother's home, thereby gaining an unexpected visit with them.

My family has been chock-full of unexpected changes in the past week, so how to handle such changes has preoccupied me. When you're a control freak, handling the unexpected is... challenging.

Somehow, we have all managed to pull together and ride the waves of change, rising above the petty to cohere, as family should. In fact, the past week has reinforced the lesson that the only constant in life is change.

Wishing you strength to find your way through the changes of life,

Sharona

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ghost from the Past

As it's only a couple of weeks until Halloween, the topic of ghosts came to mind. I don't mean the scary-haunted-house type of ghost. The ghost, for me, is someone I knew long ago. Really long ago.

I had not thought of the man literally in years, but last night I did, so I Googled him out of curiosity. What I found surprised me. I never expected to discover he's a muckety-muck in a historical association, and I certainly never expected to find an email address. (This guy was such a Luddite when I knew him, he didn't even have a phone.)

He's someone I was once unhealthily attracted to who hurt me repeatedly over the course of several years. We're talking deliberate emotional cruelty. And I wondered if the old, bad attraction for him would rise in me once more.

It didn't.

What arose in me instead was a profound anger. I found myself wanting to email him so I could finally tell him off, using blunt Anglo-Saxon words. But the impulse quickly died. Cussing the man out would solve nothing, and might even create new problems.

I found something else inside me that's much better: I no longer care about him, positively or negatively. And I am so, so happy to discover this fact, and about my ability to let the past remain in the past.

I feel so free!

Sharona

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What Cats Want

Freud was supposed to have asked, "What do women want?"

Today I ask, "What do cats want?" Specifically, "What do our cats want?"

I'm sure it's not easy to be a pet. You're much smaller than your owners, they never understand when you ask for more food/whatever, and you don't have much control over your life. It must be frustrating.

But, for the life of me, I have no idea what our cats seem to want.

We're taking care of our daughter's cat while she's in Egypt. Though loveable, he is driving me bonkers. The cat follows me around whenever I'm downstairs (kitchen, daughter's room, and family room/TV are there), pawing my legs when I stand still long enough for him to do so. He has water and food in all his bowls--three different kinds, I might add, because of his health problems. He doesn't want to be picked up. He doesn't want to be brushed (a favorite thing), he doesn't want me to pet him, he doesn't want to go out in the yard, and he doesn't want to play. Near as I can figure, he wants me to follow him around the house until he tires of it--to what end, I've no idea. Probably it amuses him to manipulate the human into doing what he wants.

I should mention that Tapper (the solid black cat in the pictures at the bottom of the right column) is an incredibly needy cat. He's extremely attached to our daughter, and when she's not home, he loudly demands that we focus all our attention on him and his needs, unfathomable as they are. He really, really wants attention from people most of his waking moments. And it's driving me crazy!

Our cat, Scritters (the muted calico), is a needy and demanding cat, too. However, what she usually wants is petting and rubbing. If not that, then it's food. If not that, play, but this happens not so often. So I have a thirty-three percent chance of guessing what she wants. She does, however, crave petting and attention almost as much as Tapper.

Additionally, the cats loathe each other, so Scritters basically lives upstairs (our bedrooms and offices are there), while Tapper lives downstairs, where our daughter's room is. Neither of them enjoys skirmishes, so they usually keep to their own levels--but become very jealous when one smells the other on us. Sigh.

I have never, ever had cats this needy, who want humans to amuse them 24/7. I'm used to cats who amuse themselves, but show up for petting occasionally and food often. And I've had a lot of experience with cats. But these days, we have two cats who act like whiny three-year-olds.

I love them both to death, but I just don't have enough hours in the day to suit this pair. I will be so glad when our daughter comes home and I don't have Tapper demanding attention every time I venture to the first floor. I can only deal with one needy cat at a time.

Sharona

Friday, October 12, 2007

Changes in the Air

There's a change in the air today. Here in the Philadelphia area, it finally feels like fall--crisp air that nips you enough to make you find a sweatshirt or light jacket. With the wind, it feels even colder--more like forties than fifties. For me, that's hats and glove weather.

I enjoy walking, and I especially enjoy it on cool but sunny days, so I'll take a nice, long jaunt today. I'll probably walk to a park I like, where I'll loop around it, then walk back home.

I walk for lots of reasons, many of them health-related, but I also walk because it helps me untangle whatever's in my head. It worked when I was a technical writer with a problem I didn't know how to solve, when I would walk at lunchtime and come back with a solution. It works now when I get "stuck" in a story. Walking also releases stress and helps me deal with jumbles of contradictory feelings.

My dad's getting two pints of blood today, in an effort to stave off his weakness and improve his appetite, because he's been not eating and rapidly losing weight. While the transfusion won't cure anything, it is supposed to make him feel better. My youngest sister took them to the hospital this morning. When they found out he'd be at the hospital all day, she took my mom out to breakfast, then home. My mom will call me later today once the transfusion is done and my dad's back home.

So, lots to think about today.

A week from yesterday will be their sixtieth wedding anniversary. A week from tomorrow we're all going to celebrate it. I plan to visit for several days. But for now, all I can do is wait.

Sharona

Monday, October 08, 2007

Guest Blogging Today/Friend Me at MySpace!

I'm guest-blogging today--go see.

Also, I've just joined MySpace and I would love for you to "friend" me.

For those in the USA, hope you are enjoying a pleasant three-day weekend.

TV alert: A new and very funny show, if you find computer/math/science geeks endearing (as I do), is on CBS tonight at 8:30 Eastern--"The Big Bang Theory". The wit and comebacks are sharply honed and simply hilarious. I think I used to work with Sheldon and Leonard. I may have even dated them. At any rate, a lot of laughs based on intelligence and real-life cluelessness.

Sharona

Friday, October 05, 2007

I'm Guest Blogging on Monday, October 8; Whimsical Show

If you are a writer, or enjoy reading about the writing process, I'm guest blogging on Catherine Stang's blog on Monday, October 8. I'll be commenting on "binge writing." If you don't know what that is, drop by Cathy's blog and find out.

I watched a new TV show Wednesday night that I fear won't last because of its uniqueness. Pushing Daisies is about a guy who has a gift--he can bring dead things back to life--as long as he never touches them again (if he does, they die again, and for good). It is marvelous--whimsical and magical with lots of heart and humor. The colors in it are eye-popping--they're using an extra-bright palette--they positively *glow*. The actors are appealing, and the writing is superb. You can learn more, and watch the first episode on the Internet, or see it tonight on ABC at 8 PM Eastern time. Do watch Pushing Daisies before it disappears--I really doubt this one will last.

Sharona

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Thankfulness

Today seemed like a good day to remind myself of what I'm thankful for. They are listed in no particular order, just as they came to mind.

1. A nice home and furnishings.
2. Plenty of tasty food to eat.
3. Enough money to own a car and pay for the gas.
4. Both my parents and all my sisters are alive.
5. A good husband and his love.
6. A fantastic daughter.
7. Many wonderful, loving friends.
8. Sacred Harp.
9. Plenty of time for recreation and favorite hobbies (besides singing, of course).
10. Last, but certainly not least, God's love and presence in my life.

I learned many years ago that life is easier if you cultivate an "attitude of gratitude." In this way, we concentrate on the good things we have instead of feeling sorry for ourselves for not having the things we want.

I don't mean this to be simplistic, or to ignore real problems we all face. But I know I've been much happier since I consciously decided to be thankful rather than moan about things I want but don't have. (Seems like most of them were material, anyway...)

One more thing for which I am thankful: I (and the rest of my family, too) thank everyone who has prayed, sung, and sent good thoughts out for my father. He has decided he will undergo some palliative treatment that he had previously said he didn't want to do. Palliative treatment won't cure anything, but it makes you feel better while you are still alive--it's what hospices do for the dying, to make them comfortable. So I am very happy that my father has agreed to a blood transfusion. I know he will feel better once he receives some new blood. This means he has hope and has not yet given up, which is a good thing, too.

Before I close this post, I want to mention that my daughter has been keeping a blog since she went to Egypt for her dig. If you are interested in what it's like to live and work on a dig in remote Egypt, please take a look at her blog. In the photos, she's the tall, thin redhead, usually with a scarf on her head. :-) Except for God, she is what I am most thankful for in life.

May you have a day full of blessings and reasons to be thankful.

Sharona