·         30 November 2008

I NEED Routine in My Life

Most days seem to unfold on their own.  I really want to establish a good daily routine, but the world seems to roll in and surprise me with unexpected delights. 


Routine is good in moderation.  I am grateful for the wonderful surprises and opportunities in my life, but some days I just want to know what is going to happen next! 


·         26-28 November 2008

Thanksgiving Rituals and Happy House Guests


·         21-23 November 2008

Off to Phoenix for Benevon Training


·         Mark Returns Home – Three Weeks in Sunny SC

·         Dog Sitting Sonny

·         Visit from Chip


·         Thursday, 13 November 2008

I am thoroughly enjoying “The Geography of Bliss” by Eric Weiner (an NPR correspondent).  The chapter on Moldova and happiness kept me engaged as I sipped my morning coffee at the sunny spot where I breakfast each day.  I find myself scribbling notes in the margins, underlining phrases, wishing I could actually chat with the author and hear more about his delightful research project. 


The Moldova chapter (Moldova borders Romania and Ukraine and is a former Soviet-Block country) resonates with me, because of my years in Ukraine.  Moldova, like its neighbors, is ranked near the bottom on the happiness scale. Weiner’s observations make me smile in agreement.  His descriptions on the three staples of life: vodka, chocolate and corruption mirror my experiences with coping in Ukraine.  The lack if trust, the bleakness…it is in the book. 


I was equally engaged by the chapter in Iceland – I want to move there now!  I identify with them and their Viking heritage (I consider myself a product of Viking blood, via Scotland and Ireland).  But that is not why I feel so strongly about the country – Weiner’s description of values and choices resonates with me.  I am among those who find long, dark winters, and northern climes more appealing than the draw of palm trees and sunny beaches. 


There seems to be something about life in cold-places that facilitates arts, craft and writing or a respect of them.  According the Weiner, everyone in Iceland is a writer – a monument is planned for the one guy who does not aspire to write a book – a project that is on hold because that person has not yet been born. 


And the chapter on Qatar – clearly throwing money at life does not make people happy.  An interesting read. 


My oldest sister sent me this book.  It was an unexpected delight to find the package in my frequently empty mailbox.  This thoughtful gift keeps on giving.  I ration out a chapter each day and linger over it. 


I wish my sister could be here, sharing coffee and the conversation this book could stimulate.  As I go about my morning tasks, my thoughts go back to what I have read and an inner dialogue bounces around in my head. 


“The Geography of Bliss”…one of the happiest places in the world must be between the covers of a good book. 


·         Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Christmas and New Years Plans

Santa Fe is really wonderful around the holidays!


This year, we plan to observe local Christmas customs here in Santa Fe.  We got a taste last year, but did not get to visit any of the tribal celebrations.  So in addition to Christmas at the Governors Palace and Las Posadas, we will bundle up in warm clothes and seek out a tribal experience or two.


Following is a list of nearby Native American celebrations for 2008:


December 24 (Christmas Eve)

  • Taos Pueblo - Sundown procession with bonfires - Children's Dance
  • Old Acoma Pueblo - Pueblo is lit with luminarias beginning at the Scenic View Point and continues as far as "Sky City"
  • Old Laguna Pueblo - Dances follow 10 a.m. Mass
  • San Felipe, Santa Ana & Tesuque Pueblos - Dances after midnight Mass
  • Nambe Pueblo - Buffalo Dances after Mass
  • San Juan & Picuris Pueblos - Sundown torch lit procession of the Virgin Vespers - Matachines Dance
  • Picuris & San Juan Pueblos - Spanish/Pueblo dance "Los Matachines'
  • San Juan Pueblo - Pine Torch Procession

December 25- Christmas Day

  • Tesuque Pueblo - Various dances
  • Taos, San Juan & Picuris Pueblo - Dances to be announced (Deer or Los Matachines)
  • San Ildefonso Pueblo - Christmas Celebration & Matachines Dances

December 25-28

  • Acoma Pueblo Christmas Celebrations - 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Sky City Cultural Center

December 25-29

  • Cochiti Pueblo - Christmas Dances (various)
  • Most Pueblos have dances four days during the Christmas holiday

December 26

  • San Juan Pueblo - Turtle Dance (no pictures)


We will end the year with a trip to California to participate in building an organ donor family float for the 2009 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.  We’ll gather with our family post-Christmas and celebrate New Years Eve together.  And we will attend the huge parade too.


·         Tuesday, 11 November 2008 – Veterans Day

Veterans Day.  It is good to remember.  It is good to share the legacy.

I get nostalgic on this day...


In my family, they were quick to remind me that Veterans Day began as Armistice Day...a day to ponder peace.  My Mother would always recite the poem "In Flanders Fields".

In Flanders Fields


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.


      Lt.-Col. John McCrae*


Mother’s eyes would flood and a tear might make its was down her cheek.  We would don our poppy boutonničres as we went about the activities of the day. 

At 11 0'clock we would pause and reflect on the events of that day - the memory of the end of WWI.  A moment to consider peace...and to be grateful.  A small ceremony about peace.


Years later, when I lived in Spain and the fields of wild poppies blowing in the wind, reminded me of Mother reciting that poem. When I traveled around Europe my eyes were opened - I saw the fields of crosses and saw how the events of that era influenced the country...living in the USA, we easily overlook what war means...


At 11 0'clock on the 11th day of the 11th month I will pause and reflect on peace and service....and my mother.


In the USA, we have pre-empted Armistice Day and created Veterans Day, but we can still honor the meaning of the day by keeping alive this small ritual of peace.



*The poem "In Flanders Fields" was written upon a scrap of paper upon the back of Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave, during a lull in the bombings (as recited to his grandson).


·         Monday, 10 November 2008

Will I find time to write?

The to-do list is intimidating.  But all of these activities are in themselves, a pleasure…Here they are in somewhat random order:

  • Prepare a presentation (7th graders) on Air Force careers (Dec)
  • Prepare (collaborate on) a workshop for literacy program board members (June)
  • Work with the NMCL Benvon team (business trip next week)
  • Project for my in-laws anniversary (Jul)


  • Prepare for Thanksgiving – we get to use the family china for the first time!  (Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and family will join us – what could be better?)


  • Sort through all our possessions – Mark arrives later this week with a truck full of our stuff…stuff we haven’t seen since late 2004
  • Sell our house – maybe rent it out…figure out the whole housing situation
  • Figure out our next housing situation (we are still gratefully koi-wrangling and house-sitting in the happy, hippie, dome-home…)


  • Organize my Ukraine memorabilia and photos – we hit the ground running here in Santa Fe
  • Organize my AmeriCorps*VISTA things
  • Organize my NMCL materials


  • Work on our neglected website – many of those wonderful photos trapped in my computer need to be shared…


  • My resume – sigh…so hard to pack in all the stuff and be concise…and with this transient lifestyle, references and addresses, etc…sheesh! (In August I must be working again)
  • Put together a presentation book to support resume


  • Research trip logistics for my Camino de Santiago de Compostela (depart for 40 or so days in Apr-May) – equipment comparisons & purchases, travel arrangements, weather, etc
  • Investigate HOPping (on military aircraft)
  • Start my “Walk of Gratitude: Camino blog – thoughts, book reviews, plans…the process is fun…


  • Saturdays at Habitat for Humanity…


  • Other joys on my life list:

Hanging out with Mark – yardsaling, libraries, farmer’s mkt, etc

Christian Science study

Reading and films for pleasure

Weaving – the big loom will be here soon

Knitting a bit

Dog walks – for joy and exercise

Correspondence (e-mail and snail mail)

Renn Fairies

Volunteer work …


…all this and Christmas is coming too!




·         Sunday, 9 November 2008

Ahhhh, the future is bright.  It is mine.  Almost mine.


Friday was my last day as an AmeriCorps*VISTA.  No more 9-5, for awhile anyway.


I long for stretches of time to reflect, to write, to be in the moment.  The daily routines (I use this term loosely, being a woman who seldom stays in one place long enough to establish real routines) can make me chafe, when they are mindless and rushed.  I value routines; it is not the routine that causes me to chafe.  It is the mindlessness, the rush. 


The next few months I can meet each day and make choices about how I will spend the hours ahead.  I can linger over coffee, observing the wildlife outside my window.  I can read an extra chapter.  I can write, rambling posts that clear my thoughts.


I can live mindfully.


I can choose.


I can set my pace.


I can breathe.


I can find the joy in simple tasks.


I can feel the joy in daily life.


This is a gift I give to myself.


·         Friday, 7 November 2008

Houseguest: Site-seeing with Sol


·         Thursday, 6 November 2008

Hobnobbing with the Mayor

We (the staff at the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy) started the day with a televised session with Santa Fe’s Mayor Coss.  The topic: adult literacy issues. 


“Coffee with Coss” is the mayor’s monthly public affairs event.  Each month a different topic is addressed.


I suggested we participate in this event, so I was gratified when it went so well.  Many interested people participated in the conversation.  Almost half of adult New Mexicans cannot read beyond the 5th grade level (in their own language).  Most of the attendees had no idea the extent of adult literacy challenges in our state.


The Going Away Party

The staff at NMCL threw the two VISTAs an excellent farewell party.  It was nice to be honored so warmly.


The Incredible Hulk pińata was a riot. 


At 83, my VISTA counterpart “M” is still a powerhouse, despite her size and age.  She managed to destroy the stick and then broke the very sturdy mop handle we substituted for the stick.  The pińata was indestructible – I had a go at it with a claw hammer and still did not penetrate the skin!


It was hilarious for the viewers.


Once the pińata burst, we played with the parts – using Hulk’s legs as hats, etc. 


·         Saturday, 1 November 2008

It's like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights,

but you can make the whole trip that way.

- E.L. Doctorow


There is a riot of birds outside the window.  The yard resembles an amber and gold Monet painting.  Most days I do not have the opportunity to see this space in the morning light.


We miss so much of life as we rush about the daily business of making a living.


Why do we drive faster than our headlights?







FYI: If you want to read about our

Peace Corps Ukraine adventures,

start with January 2005 - May 2007.

Happy Reading!


Now we are having AmeriCorps*VISTA adventures

here in beautiful Santa Fe, NM.


COMING SOON: My Camino de Santiago Blog!

The trip starts Spring 2009.

More on that later.

Life is good!