Thursday, January 28, 2010

Maybe Not Helpless

I have been putting this off, or maybe avoiding it, or just not too sure how to blog about it. But I am definitely not ignoring it.
Terrible things happen. Most of the time it is that something happens, no more and no less than that. It isn't because you ate a red jelly bean, or your mom didn't cuddle you enough, or your great grandpa was a pirate, and it definitely isn't because Adam and Eve ate the fruit.
Sometimes I struggle with the "why". But that takes energy, and it doesn't make much difference.
A young person, deeply loved by people I know and love, is gone. I am helpless to explain or take away the loss and grief. I can send tokens of thought, I can pray, I can listen. I can stop saying I am helpless.
The earth shifted and hundreds of thousands are dead, many more homeless in Haiti. I can tune out those who turn this into a forum for fear, hate and division. I can learn about those who are helping. I can spend less on stuff, and instead send a check to help. I can assemble hygiene kits, and make phone calls, budget money to help now and next month and next year. This is not going to be over anytime soon for Haitians.
I see news footage of an old woman who is pulled out of the wreckage a week after the building collapsed on her. A week of pain, thirst, hunger and wondering if anyone will ever hear you. The first thing she does when she is out is sing praises to God, grateful for each moment of life.
I can be grateful for the miracles in all that happens, and for each moment of life.
In each moment, there is hope, and help.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Caught in a Web

Remember waaaaay back in October when I wrote that I would be taking action to conquer my fear around computers, and I would be learning how to set up a website, post pictures and be on the verge of total technical domination? Yeah, I remember. Here is my report.
First, can I just say how much I love my Mac? And I now have several new best friends at the Apple Store. For my birthday, Mike and I signed up for the One to One tutoring program at the Apple Store. I am not one who likes to participate in shameless endorsement, but here goes - THIS IS THE BEST PRODUCT SINCE DISPOSABLE DIAPERS - SINCE ADVIL - SINCE SCUBA DIVING IN HAWAII! I could go on, but you get the idea.
Here is how it works. When you buy a Mac from the Apple Store, you can sign up for One to One. This lets you make an appointment each week to meet with a tutor at the Apple Store and get personal instruction on how to get the most out of your Mac. I had no idea that it could do so much, or so easily. Then in addition, you can sign up for help with projects. You can be there for a 3 hour session, working on a project, and able to get help from an expert at any time. I think some of them are trained to sense panic, and they step in before things get out of hand.
So we went in for our projects session last week and set up our Mac. I looked at the others who were there for help and wondered why there were so many old geezers around us. My soon to be best friend "Angela" (name has been changed to protect her anonymity) came out to work with us. All my anxiety left when I noticed the glowing, apple shaped halo hovering over her head. In less than half an hour, because of her calm, patient coaching, we had my new web site up with me having a rudimentary understanding of how to keep adding to it. We also learned how edit photos for additional web work, as well as other less glorious, but still essential tasks. Just imagine what we could do in 7 days.
It only took the deadline of submitting a class proposal, and having another art piece being published in Somerset Studio. The pressure induced by a deadline produces quite a result. I have been adding something to the web page everyday. It will always be under construction, I have only begun posting images and class info, but the essentials are there. Please go check it out at I would love your suggestions.
Okay, so it is still not intuitive, and sometimes I try to do something the same way Mike does and, instead of results, I hear a soft evil chuckle coming from the screen. But I no longer tremble in fear. My new best friend with the apple halo has got my back.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thank You, Jacques Cousteau

Hawaii is back on. To make up for the delay in going there, we gave each other a Christmas gift of scuba lessons. There is an instructional DVD that we watch before doing the homework. Then we go to class for hours of instruction and pool work.
It is fascinating to watch the DVD. Happy, incredibly fit, bronzed young people with flowing hair (even on a windy boat or underwater), easily handling heavy equipment, looking like they were sewn into their wetsuits. They move effortlessly on land or in the water, in perfect control of their position and equipment, handling emergencies calmly and easily. It is as if they are live versions of Disney cartoons. Not the villains or the sidekicks, but the romantic leads. I look at this and think, "This is going to be easy. And it will be fun looking so smooth and gorgeous in the water."
Then we get to class and start working with the equipment. I quickly realize the main point of all this is probably to provide entertainment for the diving instructors. I feel awkward and clumsy, I can't control my buoyancy or where I move in the water, and this is in a pool where there aren't currents and waves. The instructors seem to be enjoying all this, even as they tell us that we are doing fine and we will have a great time once we get out in the ocean. Mike, who is part fish, is doing great. But he already looks better than the guys in the DVD. Knowing he is my permanent diving buddy is the best thing about all this, and I know I'll do just fine in the water.
None of this would be possible without Jacques Cousteau. I remember seeing the Jacques Cousteau underwater documentaries ever since I was a child. I loved seeing this amazing world of gorgeous marine life. Then I learned that he is the one who invented Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, and that SCUBA would make it possible for anyone to explore underwater. It has only taken me 45 years to get around to learning how. Okay, so I've been busy.
My daughter Anna was in Cozumel last week on her first scuba trip. She told me about the amazing things she saw, and I told her Cozumal was one of Jacques Cousteau's favorite dive spots. She said, "Who is Jacques Cousteau?"
Just what I need. Another mother-failure moment. How could I have not taught my kids about Jacques Cousteau?
I guess I will need to make up for it by sending them photos taken of our underwater dives, of me floating glamorously above colorful reefs, my hair floating beautifully around my head, surrounded by turtles and tropical fish, happily diving with my handsome buddy.
Thanks, Jacques.