About Me

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Douglas, Alaska, United States
I have lived in Alaska since 1978, having come to Juneau as a Jesuit Volunteer. I fell in love with Alaska and now live on Douglas Island with my husband and two dogs.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Crazy. Busy.

What a week!

I have been so busy that I haven't even taken a minute to charge my camera, hence no new pictures on this post, but there are some links to click on!

Last Friday, we went to the Goldtown Nickelodeon Theatre to see Little Red Book, a film made locally by our friend Lisle Hebert.  It was so much fun to see the local sights and to see friends and familiar faces (including Miguel's - he has a small part)!

Then on Saturday, I attended a workshop called "Your Organized Self" put on by the Alaskan Wisewomen Network.  It was lots of fun, and while I didn't really learn anything that I didn't know already, it was a good reminder and inspiration to actually USE all those ideas in all those books on organization, including "Organizing From The Inside Out", the textbook for the workshop.  Beth McEwen, the facilitator of the workshop, and co-founder of the Alaskan Wisewomen Network, did a great job!

On Sunday, I spoke at the Sunday morning Masses about the Cathedral Martha Ministry.  Here is my talk:

"Martha Ministry is the service and hospitality ministry of the women of the Cathedral Parish.

A couple of years ago, several women of the parish met and brainstormed some ideas of how we could encourage the women of the parish to be of service to the Cathedral faith community.

Since that inaugural meeting, the Martha Ministry has grown.  After our first presentation after the weekend Masses last year, 21 women signed up.  We have had more women join us, most recently at the Ministries Fair two weeks ago.  This is a blessing for our parish and for the women who have been involved in this ministry.  Personally, I have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know my fellow Marthas better, and have grown spiritually from the experience.

We call ourselves the Martha Ministry, or just, The Marthas, because we model ourselves after St. Martha of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus and Mary, who you heard about in today’s Gospel.  St. Martha was a very busy woman, a hostess, a cook, and a homemaker.  She was also a devoted friend and disciple of Christ.  She knew what needed to be done, and how to make it happen.  I often imagine that there was always an extra place set at that table in Bethany! 

There are several ways of serving in the Martha Ministry.  Some of them are behind the scenes, some of them are more organizational, and some consist of merely being with our brothers and sisters in prayer.  The Marthas serve as hostesses at parish functions and receptions, such as the upcoming receptions after the Chrism Mass and Easter Vigil, we help care for the altar linens, and the beautiful Cathedral gardens are tended by a faithful Martha.  New parishioners are visited and welcomed, lonely women have companionship through Life Ring, which was started and continues under the leadership of Kathee Hays, bereaved families and friends are welcomed and comforted at receptions following funerals at the Cathedral, and we assist in the parish office as needed.   Martha Ministry has provided meals to parishioners recovering from illness or surgery.  Our most recent event was the Women’s Clothing Exchange last weekend, which was a huge success! In addition to serving the Cathedral parish, there are opportunities for spiritual growth as well.  Sr. Marie and Claire Richardson facilitated a retreat for us last year, which was very well received.

We are young, middle aged and retired, married, widowed, and single.  Some of us have children, some don’t.  We are a microcosm of the community of Cathedral women.  We meet on the third Tuesday of the month.  Our meetings are fun and informative.  Attendance at meetings is not a requirement for membership.  Members are informed of opportunities to serve by email or telephone and can choose which gifts of time and service they can share.

Recently, at the Ministries Fair, several young girls from the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd religious education program signed up to help!  At our last meeting, we decided to start an auxiliary group of girls ages 7 and up, called the Young Marthas.  What a wonderful expression of the desire to serve!

We invite the women of the parish to join us as members of the Martha Ministry, and encourage the girls of the parish to talk to their parents about becoming a Young Martha.  I will be in the Parish Hall after Mass to answer any questions you might have, and to help you sign up!

St. Martha of Bethany, pray for us!"

After the 11:00 Mass, I saw someone selling Perseverance Theatre Raffle Tickets and I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to be selling them myself, but forgot to pick them up at the theatre.  Fortunately, there was a person from Perseverance there and she gave me a book.  Later that day, I went to a three hour conductor's workshop (choral, not train) and lost the tickets on my way out of the workshop.  I discovered this when I wanted to sell some on Monday.  Fortunately, someone found them and returned them to the theatre.  I think it was a sign that I was too busy and distracted!

Monday, I did a gazillion loads of laundry, and Miguel started full time at Valley Lumber as a yardman and driver.

Tuesday morning, I took the recycling to the dump and watched the eagles (the dump is a great place to see the Proud Symbol Of Our Nation's Freedom hopping around looking kind of foolish).  On Tuesday evening, I went to see Little Red Book again, because I wanted to see Miguel on the big screen once more.

Wednesday we had the Rice Bowl supper and the Catholicism film showing at the Parish Hall.  It is an excellent series and I highly recommend it.

Yesterday, I shopped for the Chrism Mass reception and then went to the hall to set up, along with a loyal group of helpers (Marthas!).  I went home, showered and changed and went back to prep the food (meatballs with BBQ sauce, cold cuts, rolls, shrimp with cocktail sauce, salad, cream cheese/shrimp spread, chips, veggies, fruit and cookies).  Then the Chrism Mass was at 5:30, with all the priests and deacons of the diocese attending, except for Fr. Jim, who was in Prince of Wales for a funeral, and Deacon Vince, who was in Haines.   The reception followed the Mass, again with a host of helpers (more Marthas!) to serve, clear and clean up, then it was home to bed at 9:00 after taking ibuprofen for my back which I threw out on Tuesday taking the recycling to the dump.

                                                   (Photo courtesy of Southeast Alaska Catholic)

Today, relaxing, and a bit more organizing and cleaning are on the agenda.  Tomorrow, tax prep, then on Sunday, we celebrate Palm Sunday and start Holy Week!  

Busy is the new normal around here!

Friday, March 23, 2012

What Would You Have Done?

Today I went to Alaskan Dames and Gents, our local (wonderful) consignment store to drop off a bunch of clothes that are now too big for me (!).

While I was putting my items on hangars and steaming them, there was a couple across the room talking.  He was putting together a table, I guess to try to sell it.  She had a laundry basket of clothes.  She was looking at the consignment form and said that she was really stressed out.  He asked what she was doing. She said she couldn't figure the form out.  He said: "That's because you're stupid."  She leaned on the table he was working on, and he raised his voice and said: "Don't touch that!  Don't touch anything!".  "I'm not!", she said.  "Go do your clothes or something", he said.  She said: "I don't want to - I'm too stressed out."  He said: "That's because you're lazy.  When we get home, I'm gonna kick your ass."

Another woman who was hanging up clothes came over and said to the woman, "Can I help you with anything?"  The man said: "You mean with the table?"  The other woman said: "No, I was asking her if I could help with the clothes."  The man said: "Do you work here?"  and she said: "No, but if she needs help, I can give her a hand."  He said: "Well, if you don't work here, she doesn't want your help."

The young woman took her basket of clothes outside, and the man finished the table and left.

I observed this, and was tempted to intervene, but the other woman did it first and was rebuffed.  I was worried about inflaming the situation more by intervening as well.

I have been thinking about that young woman all afternoon and evening.  I have been praying for her, for her safety, and for a conversion of heart for the young man who was so angry and bullying.

Alaska has the highest rate of domestic violence and sexual assault per capita in the United States.  There is a new program initiated by our Governor, Sean Parnell, called Alaska Men Choose Respect.  It is a program designed to raise awareness and prevention through education.

Please support programs in your community to raise awareness and to prevent domestic violence.  Please let your friends know that real men choose respect.  Please do what you can to help women break the cycle of domestic violence.  Please pray for the victims.  Please pray for the offenders.  Please do what you can to end violence against women.

I didn't do enough today.  I wish I had.

What would you have done?

                 iStock_000005556613Small (2)-01

                                     Image: Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Monday, March 19, 2012

Another Very Busy Weekend!

Charles and I were at the Shrine for the weekend, so we missed St. Patrick's Day at home.  

The view from the front porch of the Shrine Lodge

Shrine Island

A corner of the log cabin Lodge, and a glimpse of the new Post Office Cabin.  I can't wait to reserve the Post Office for a weekend - it is beautiful inside!

We were at a retreat for the Deacon Aspirants.  They became Deacon Candidates on Sunday at St. Paul the Apostle Parish.

The Rite of Candidacy to the Permanent Diaconate

Kathy, Marilyn, Ron and Mike prepare to bring up the gifts.  I remember the first time I saw Charles in his alb, and later his dalmatic.  It took some getting used to!

Bishop Burns with Deacon Gary, Charles, Mike, Ron and Fr. Pat after the liturgy.

After the Mass and reception, we came home, Charles and the kids took the dogs for a walk at Sandy Beach, and I made dinner.  Since we didn't get to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with our traditional family meal of corned beef and cabbage, we celebrated a day late.  

It was delicious!

And then, to top off the weekend, I went down to the Island Pub for a farewell drink with Kim and Maura to say goodbye to our friend Tugsu, who is heading to Virginia with her family to go to law school.  She is an amazing woman, very smart, talented and beautiful.  We will miss her and her family so much!

Me, Kim, Tugsu and Maura at the Island Pub.

Tugsu, with Adam and Amina last summer.

It was a very busy weekend, as usual!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Magazines: An Addiction and a Giveaway!

My name is Paula, and I am a magazine addict.  (Hi, Paula)

I love magazines.  I love reading the articles and looking at the pictures, dreaming about redoing, refurbishing, redecorating and revamping our house and yard.  Of course, we can't afford to do much, but dreaming is free.

I am not a decorator by any stretch of the imagination.  I do like my home to be bright, colorful and homey.  I don't have a Pinterest account to keep a decorating ideas journal, I don't have a swatch collection, or collect paint sample cards.  But I do love, I mean, LOVE to look at magazines.

This is my idea of a "vignette".  Flowers and fruit on a cake stand on our scratched up, needs to be refinished table.  Pretty cutting edge, no?  I told you, I'm not a decorator!

There are magazines upstairs on shelves...

tucked behind the drum set on the landing (anybody need a drum set?)...

I subscribe to Country Living, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.  I used to get Fresh Home and Mary Engelbreit Home Companion, but they have both stopped publishing.  I occasionally buy Mollie Makes, a British craft magazine.  It is pretty expensive, but as a rare treat, it is fun.  I used to subscribe to Cloth, Paper, Scissors, but I found that I never used the ideas and the style of the art is mostly steampunk, which doesn't appeal to me.

Magazines in baskets next to the couch.

Magazines under the china cabinet.  Please ignore the dust bunnies.

I just got rid of a a huge bunch of magazines via Freecycle.  With four adults living in our very small house, I needed to make some space.  I donated some to the hospital day surgery unit, and took some to the library.  One pile of magazines went to a friend who wanted some Real Simple magazines.  Several boxes went to a group of sisters in town who get together regularly to read magazines, collect recipes, swap decorating ideas and spend time with each other.  I am so happy that the magazines are going to good use!  I still have some more magazines to get rid of.  I hate to send them to recycling if anyone can use them!

So, if you would like a random sample of four or five magazines, leave a comment and I will send you some.  Media mail is pretty cheap, so I don't mind mailing them out.

Also, please let me know if there is a group in your town that can use them and I will send them off.

Is there a 12 step program for people who love magazines?  If they are still around on April 1st, I will bite the bullet and take them to the recycling center.  I think I definitely have a problem!

(Thanks to Kimberly at Camp and Cottage Living for the inspiration)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Signs Of Spring, And Catholic Relief Services

Here are some random shots of our week.

Beans and Frida on their favorite perch - the back of the couch.  Note the snow piled up outside.  Our yard still looks like Antarctica.  Someone asked Charles if our bulbs were coming up yet.  He just laughed.  The dogs like to look out the window.  There are nose prints all over the glass.  This was a brief little blast of spring sunshine, which was soon followed by hail and snow.  The dogs have been enjoying walks down at Sandy Beach, which is a couple of blocks from our house. Frida thinks she is a big dog, but her little legs are only four inches long.  They come back sandy, wet, exhausted and happy!

This picture was taken at a birthday party for Sr. Dee (she is in the middle).  She is a religious sister who works at the local women's shelter, and has a pastoral counseling practice as well.  My friend Irene is on the right - she is one of this year's Jesuit Volunteers who works at the shelter.  We have a lot in common - she is Hispanic and comes from Texas.   We have a lot of fun together.  The night of Sr. Dee's party, Irene made a couple of platters of enchiladas and Mexican rice.  Dessert was German Chocolate Cake.  I was really glad I didn't give up sweets for Lent!

A sure sign that Spring is just around the corner: daffodils at the grocery store!  Phoebe brought these home, and they are so bright and cheerful, especially in my creamer with the lemons on it.  

Another sign of Spring is the presence of our Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl on the table.  Catholic Relief Services is the social services agency of the Roman Catholic Church.  They serve the poor all over the world.  The Rice Bowl is a way for people to give alms during Lent (Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving are the three Lenten practices).  We put coins in the cardboard bowls, and at Easter, give the collected money to the parish, which in turn sends it to Catholic Relief Services.  You can learn
more about the efforts of Catholic Relief Services at this link:  crs.org

Every week at our parish, we have a Rice Bowl supper, when parishioners make a dinner from the Rice Bowl calendar.  The meal is a typical one of the featured country.  Last week the featured country was Vietnam, and the meal was Pho - a Vietnamese soup.  It was delicious!  This week, I am cooking Casamiento, a rice and bean dish from El Salvador.  Charles traveled to El Salvador in 1990 (during the civil war) and brought home a recipe for Pupusas (thick corn tortillas stuffed with cheese).  We are also going to make them on Wednesday to go with the Casamiento.  Here is a recipe for Pupusas

Salvadoran women making Pupusas

Every year, we enjoy trying the recipes and learning about the countries served by Catholic Relief Services!

Have a great week!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sushi Feast

Phoebe and Miguel cooked up a dinner party last night - while Charles was helping them roll the sushi, he said: "I don't think we are going to have enough food".

We had several kinds of homemade sushi, miso soup and tempura shrimp, mushrooms and zucchini.  Twelve guests came, including Seamus, the new baby from across the street!

My camera wasn't working, so I didn't get any pictures, but our friend Sarah took this one of the table:

I think we had enough food.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Little Lump of Fat (And A Bucket Of Gratitude)

No, the title of this blog is not self-deprecatory.

It refers to the little bugger that was removed from my person today.

It was discovered a couple of years ago, examined, mammografied (is that a word), ultrasounded and determined to be a lipoma, that is: nothing serious.

So, when it was time to do it again this year, my doctor said - "It's still there.  Since it is still there, you should have another diagnostic mammogram (meaning: They are going to squeeze the bejesus out of your poor breast).  And when they find it on the mammogram, they will want to do another ultrasound.  Maybe you should just have it removed so you don't have to go through this every time.  It is almost definitely a lipoma (the aforementioned lump of fat)."

So, I said OK.  They scheduled the mammo, and the subsequent ultrasound, I got a referral to the surgeon, and we made the appointment for Short Stay surgery.  She could have done it in her office, but as I told my doctor and the surgeon, I was awake for two C-sections and I have paid my dues, being awake during surgery-wise.

Last night, I was instructed to take a shower, wash with this super antibacterial soap, leaving the soap on the Surgical Area for two minutes before rinsing it off, and then put on Freshly Laundered Pajamas before climbing into my bed which was made with Freshly Laundered Sheets.  I was instructed to get up in the morning and shower again with the super soap and then put on my Freshly Laundered Clothes, take off my jewelry, including my earrings, the backs of which were so firmly attached to the posts, I had to cut them off with a wire cutter, thereby snipping a piece of my neck skin in the process (ow).  When I asked why I had to take off my earrings, the pre-op nurse told me that if by some chance I needed an MRI, the machine would literally rip the metal earrings from my ears.  Not wanting to chance shredded earlobes, I was happy to comply.

So today, after following the directions, and not eating or drinking anything after midnight, we arrived at the hospital and checked in to Short Stay.  They gave me a gown, booties and a warm blanket, they made me repeat my name and birthdate several times, and they put on these cool leg massaging thingies.  Joan, the Short Stay nurse assigned to me, came in to start my IV.  I have no problem with going under the knife, giving blood, etc, but getting an IV put in gives me the willies.  She tried once, apologized and went to get Lena, who is apparently the guru of IVs at Short Stay.  She was a champ.  If they ever have an Olympic IV placing competition, she would win the gold.  The surgeon came in to talk to me and told me that she needed to examine and mark my breast.  While she was doing so, Charles, who didn't know who she was, said: "I assume you are not from housekeeping." Which made me laugh so hard, I am afraid the line she drew was squiggly.

The anesthesiologist came in (we knew him from Church, so Charles wasn't able to use the housekeeping line again), explained about the medication they would give me to "keep me comfortable".  I told him I wanted to be more than comfortable, I wanted to be out cold.  He assured me I wouldn't remember a thing.  I told him I didn't want there to be anything TO remember.  He told me he would be giving me Propofol, the same medication that was given to Michael Jackson, only this time there would be monitors, oxygen, and a crash cart in the operating room.  I assume this was a light hearted attempt to reassure me.

They came in with a syringe which they shot into my IV.  They said it would make me sleepy.  I said that it wasn't working yet.  "Any minute now," Joan said.  They wheeled me down the hall and I woke up 45 minutes later in the recovery room.

"Definitely a lipoma," the surgeon said.  "Not a problem - it popped right out."

I went back to my cubicle, where they fed me chicken soup, Diet Coke, and a popsicle, gave me some ibuprofen and a prescription for painkillers (haven't needed them yet) and sent me home.

So here I sit, with a Band Aid on my breast, thinking about all my women friends who have gone through this same procedure, only with a scary lump instead of an annoying one, an alarming mammogram image, a terrifying ultrasound, a biopsy that turns out to not be a lump of fat, but a lump of cancer, a trip to Seattle for surgery, chemo, and radiation, and I am grateful.

I am grateful.

St. Agatha, Patroness of Women With Breast Cancer