Words to Live By

Steve picked this up from Loreena McKennitt's website. We try to live by these. (Try is the operational word here.)

  • Be compassionate and never forget how to love.
  • Think inclusively.
  • Reclaim noble values such as truth, honesty, honour, courage.
  • Respect one's elders and look to what they have to teach you.
  • Be empathetic.
  • Look after the less fortunate in society.
  • Promote and protect diversity.
  • Respect the gifts of the natural world.
  • Set your goals high and take pride in what you do.
  • Cherish and look after your body, and, as the ancient Greeks believed, your mind will serve you better.
  • Put back into the community as there have been those before you who have done the same and you are reaping what they sowed.
  • Participate in and protect democracy. It does not thrive as a spectator sport.
  • Undertake due diligence in everything.
  • Seek balance, and space, and solitude.
  • Don't be afraid to feel passionate about something.
  • Learn to be an advocate and an ambassador for good.
  • Be mindful of your limitations.
  • Indulge and nurture your curiosity as it will keep you vital.
  • Take charge of your life and don't fall into the pit of entitlement.
  • Assume nothing and take nothing for granted.
  • Things are not necessarily what they seem.

Happy Birthday, Joel

In 1982, this boy entered my life. Well, technically he entered my life in 1981, but I didn't actually get to meet him until 1982.

He began life as the most gentle, peaceful, contended, sublime child. He was always ready with a hug, and loved to be read to. He began reading on his own when he was only one and a half. When he played by himself, he would make up long, involved story-telling songs about dinosaurs. He couldn't say his R's or S's too well at first, so he'd sing, "The tywannathauwuth wath a meat eataaah..."

By age three he was considered an academic genius and encouraged to enter kindergarten early. Deciding that three was just too early, we kept him busy at home with "athignmenth!" He started kindergarten at age four and a half.

A minute later he was ready to graduate high school and pressuring us to sign papers so he could go directly into the Navy. Coming from a long line of Navy service, his dad had no qualms about consenting, but his mom resisted. Finally, though, after Joel really put the pressure on, I signed the papers. Just days later, or so it seems, I was handing him over to strangers who stole him away for nine weeks of Rude Awakening.

Another minute later, Joel was married. He and Cindy now have their first child. Nowadays Joel struggles with the stress that comes with working full time, studying for a Bachelor's degree, and taking care of a one-year-old. (Cindy works at night so they alternate duties with Landon.)

He and Cindy are clearly good parents - Landon is a busy, happy child who doesn't seem to worry at all about having his needs met, he just goes about the business of being a toddler. Joel is working hard to survive his online college courses with a respectable GPA. He's a valuable employee who is depended on at work. (I know, that sounds like I'm doing your annual review!)

I know he worries sometimes that he's not "where he should be" in life at this age, but, really, he's in exactly the right place and I am so proud of him.

My birthday wish for you, Joel, is that you remember to breathe... and live more in the moment. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but don't miss the present. It's gone in a FLASH! One day you look around and you're fifty-something and you have all these precious memories but they are of events so far away you sometimes wonder if it was all just a dream. It's like that feeling you have about an hour after waking up, when you just can't remember all of it no matter how much you want to.

Joel has decided he doesn't feel any older this year, so he's declared this his second 27th birthday. I hope he has many, many more 27th birthdays to come!

Happy birthday, son.

Mary Adele Giovanazzi Musso, 1923-2010

The first time Mary and Al met (if you can call it that) was at baby-Mary's baptism. Al, of course a child himself at the time, is reported to have looked up the aisle at the little baby and declared to his mother, "Someday I'm going to marry her."

In love from the very beginning, Al and Mary were wed on April 4, 1943.

Over the years their family grew, with three daughters and, now, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

When I spoke with Al in December, he proudly told me that he and Mary had not fought once in their 67 years of marriage. I believe him. Mary was an angel, and Al loved her completely. Everyone did.

This past Friday, January 8th, Mary passed away. It was her time, but she will be sorely, deeply, forever missed.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

I've been composting for a couple of years now. All my eggshells, coffee grounds, and other kitchen scraps go into the bin I keep on the counter. Used Swiffer Duster pads, used up (many times) Bounce dryer sheets, dryer lint, and even used Kleenexes go in, as does all of my shredded paper and leaves from the garden. When the bin fills up, it goes into the compost pile. When we remember to do so, we turn and, if necessary, wet down the compost.

All of this has become second nature to me. My compost pile is home to zillions (yes, zillions) of wiggly, fat worms. It produces beautiful, rich, black dirt. I only have one problem. I've filled the bin. And if I keep adding new stuff, we don't get to use the final product because it's mixed up with new scraps.

Today I threw kitchen scraps in the garbage. The garbage that ends up at the curb on Monday nights and gets picked up by the big, loud truck the next morning and schlepped to the landfill.

It was a little bit traumatic.

I need a second bin.

On Being Armenian

One of my greatest fears in life is that I will grow too old and infirm to care for myself, and my handlers won't pluck my mustache.

Update on the G-girl

Geghetsik will turn 13 this Saturday, January 9th. Her family's health is good now, they send their best wishes to all of our family.

This photo was taken in November. It's unfortunate that it takes so long for either of us to receive mail from the other, but I'm glad to know they are doing well over there.

Next time you bemoan your quality of life, take a look at the background in this picture taken of Geghetsik in her family home..