Monday, January 30, 2012

After Christmas Winter Blues

Winter - Bah!
I have the winter blues - in southern Louisiana.  It wouldn't do for me to live farther north.  I'm not alone in my blue mood.  The horses get the blues every January, too.  They spend their time lying down or standing still with a bored expession on their equine faces.

It's not the cold that depresses me.  We have very little really cold weather.  It's the gray, sunless days.  It's the brown, barren cane fields.  It's the lack of tomatoes that taste like tomatoes.

We took our little artificial Christmas tree down this morning.  That's always a depressing chore.  The little tree's white lights add some cheer to the long winter evenings.  I'm always reluctant to pack it away; but if your Christmas tree is still up in February, people begin to think you're a little too eccentric.  The garlands and red bows that are here and there around the house will be packed away today, too.  But the Wise Men are staying on the mantle until Mardi Gras.  I can't let go of everything at once.

My December experiment - praying the Liturgy of the Hours six times a day - was not a total success, but I wouldn't call it a failure either.  I managed pretty well for about three weeks, averaging three or four of the canonical hours a day.  It was a good exercise in discipline.  Maybe I'll give it a try every December.  Nowadays I'm back to my usual pattern of morning and evening prayer and informal chats with God while I go about my work.  This is a good pattern for my modern-day lifestyle.  But I'm still enchanted by life in a monastery where the world stops every three hours to pray.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pens, Printers, and Postal Mail

It's a good mail day - a letter and two post cards from Downunder, a letter from England, and one from New Mexico.  I'm looking forward to answering them with my new Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen - a Christmas gift from Jerry.

The Vanishing Point is a cool pen.  It has a retractable nib.  The nib is put into using position by clicking a spring-operated thingy.  Click again, and the nib disappears into the barrel - so there's no cap to screw on and off.  When the nib is inside the barrel, it is sealed so that the ink doesn't dry up and clog the nib.  It looks a little odd when you're writing with it because the clip is on the nib end where you hold the pen.  It's designed to be held with the clip between your thumb and forefinger.  I thought this might be awkward, but it's really comfortable.  As a bonus, it keeps me from twisting the pen around in my hand - something I'm prone to do.

I saw a neurologist last week and had nerve conduction studies done to try to find out why my right thumb shakes when it's bent, making it impossible for me to write with my right hand.  The good news is that I don't have Parkinson's or any progressive nerve disease.  The bad news is that I have an "essential tremor."  Essential tremors are often inherited, and I suspect that this is why my father's right hand was too shaky to write in his later years.  It's a task related tremor - the trembling only happens when the thumb is bent and poised to do something. Unfortunately, there's no surgery that will fix this kind of tremor.  The doctor said there are drugs that might "quieten it down," but I don't want to add to my collection of prescription drugs. 

I've decided the bad news is not so bad.  I've been writing with my left hand for five years.  I'll continue that practice and be grateful that my left hand doesn't have a tremor.  I'm also grateful that my right hand is useful for everything else besides writing - playing the piano and doing all the ordinary daily things.  And I'll remember to be grateful for all the modern technology that makes electronic note-taking so easy.

My Microsoft Publisher lessons on are ongoing.  I took a break from these lessons in December and have had to do some of them over again to refresh my memory.  I was proud yesterday when I was able to design a business card all by myself - without refering to the tutorial.  But printing them out was an ordeal.  My printer tells me it's out of paper when it's not.  I don't know if it's lost its little mind or if it just lies.  Either way, it's a pain.  I think printers are the bane of modern technological life.  Of course, Jerry says my printer is about ten years old.  Is that possible?!  I guess it is, but I'll swear it seems like we just bought the thing!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Where Was I?

The new year beckons like a clean sheet of paper.  It inspires you to plan, set goals, and make resolutions.  There's something exciting about a new year - a new beginning. 

But the new year also inspires me to ask the question:  Where was I?  Before all the holiday planning, shopping, wrapping, and cooking started, where was I?  What was I doing?  What did I leave undone?  I feel compelled to evaluate the past year - gather up loose ends -  decide which of last year's endeavors should be continued and which ones should be abandoned.

I've decided to continue the following:
  • Fifteen minutes a day of decluttering
  • Learning to use Microsoft Publisher
  • Continue membership in Weight Watchers online
  • Spend 20 minutes a day on the exercise bike
  • Make regular blog posts
Maybe later this week I'll get around to the new year's resolutions.