Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Balanced Life Goals Review

In November, I tried to show the connection between the various things I do to my bigger goals in life.  Each little thing, like attending a prayer gathering or emailing a friend, is a stepping stone to attaining a corresponding goal. 

Spiritual:  The goal is to live a spiritually meaningful life.
- Continue with daily prayers and gratitude - Continued with the daily prayers and gratitude.
- Prepare for the December almsgiving - set the date; invite participants; make the menu - Almsgiving preparations are in progress; there was a bit of a wobble earlier this week, but everything has been sorted out.
- Attend the November monthly prayer gathering - I attended the November monthly prayer gathering which was hosted by a cousin.
- Continue to focus on joy, abundance, blessings - I continued to accomplish some of the items I had on my Autumn Joy List which I made in September. 

Environment:  The goal is a clean, tidy, uncluttered house and a well-maintained garden.
- Continue with the cleaning and tidying; focus on my bedroom and the 3rd bedroom - I cleaned most of the house but didn't get much accomplished in the 3rd bedroom. 
- Continue to work on establishing the cleaning routine in order to maintain the cleaned areas - Trying!
- Resume decluttering - Didn't make a lot of progress here; just the regular recycling, etc.
 I also bought some new plants for the front garden to bring a little color to one of the flower beds.

Daughter:  The goal is to continue to have a close relationship with her. 
- She will be coming down twice in November!  Once for my birthday and again for Thanksgiving  :)  In between, we'll keep in touch by phone and computer - Daughter came down both times; we had fun going out to eat, doing some shopping, and just spending time together.

Family:  The goal is to keep in touch with various family members.
- I'll see some of the family members at the November prayer gathering - Saw several family members, including some extended family
- Attend a cousin's daughter's Sweet Sixteen birthday celebration - Attended the party
- Get together with an aunt and cousins for Thanksgiving dinner - Enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving gathering with the family
- Cousin has offered to accompany me to my radiation oncologist appointment - Cousin couldn't make it, but it was OK.

 Friends:  The goal is to keep in touch with friends.
- I'll be seeing some of my friends at the prayer gathering - Saw my friends; part of the reason why I attend these prayer gatherings is to keep in touch with some of these friends.
- Go to dinner with one friend - Treated her to dinner when we went out to celebrate my birthday.
I also received emails from two of my long-time friends with wishes for my birthday.  I've been friends with one of them since 2nd grade!  The other one, I met on the first day after I arrived at university!  And I enjoyed a nice video chat with another good friend. 
On a sadder note, one of my long-time friends passed away, unexpectedly, shortly before Thanksgiving.  I've been trying to be there for her daughters and niece, speaking to them on the phone, as she passed away while visiting her daughter who lives in another state (and her other daughter and niece flew there when she had her stroke).  Her memorial service will be held the second weekend in December.
Career:  The goal is to continue to do work which I enjoy (for the most part) and which enables me to support myself.
- Continue to work from home and turn in quality work products in a timely manner - Been doing that, although I think my supervisor will be happy when I am finally at the office!

Finances:  The goal is financial security.
- Continue budgeting and spending mindfully - Continuing to do so.
- Meet with my financial planner (appointment has been made)  - Met with her and we discussed financial goals; I am on track, right where I want to be.

Health:  The goal is good health.
- Get my prescription filled! - DONE!  They eventually had to change the prescription but it was filled!
- Go to the follow up appointment with radiation oncologist scheduled for November 19 - Actually, it was on the 18th, but I went to my appointment, he diagnosed that I had an inflammation and prescribed steroids for it, I had a follow up appointment on Monday and there's another scheduled for next Monday.  
Plus, I had another doctor's appointment yesterday, for another different type of screening test, as well.
- Continue to focus on a healthier diet, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep - Trying!

Time Management:  The goal is having enough time to do all what I want to do!
-  Organize myself and put routines into place so I have enough time for work and for play! - Again, I am trying!  I have my schedules and to do lists in place to help me accomplish what I need to do.

Leisure/Crafts/Hobbies/Me-Time:  The goal is to relax doing something I enjoy doing for the pleasure of it.
- Celebrate my 61st birthday!  :) - Celebrated!
- Make some cards - Didn't make any; bought, instead.
- Read a book (or more) - Read some.  I find myself re-reading favorites instead of new books, though.
- Make some holiday gifts - Didn't.  I am way behind with my holiday preparations, this year.

I think I did well in most of my areas, though. 

Did you make any goals for November?  If so, were you able to make some progress towards reaching them?  Sometimes, things happen that derail our plans and we aren't able to attain our goals.  But, I think that what matters is that we try; don't you agree?

Tuesday: Almsgiving Update and Another Doctor's Appointment!

Today was a lovely, sunny day.  Clear blue skies.  An afternoon high of 70F.  Morning and evening a bit on the chilly side (mid 50s). 

I called the temple, this morning.  Last night, before I went to sleep, I had decided that I would cancel my almsgiving, as it would be too difficult to reschedule it, and that would leave the monks free to attend the other almsgiving.  After all, mine is a sort of a generic almsgiving that I have been giving in order to continue a tradition my mother started, while the other almsgiving is being held as part of a funerary rite.

Just to give a bit of background on my almsgiving, my mother held the first one without any thoughts of continuing it year after year.  My stepfather had died earlier that year and Mother thought it would be good to hold an almsgiving in the apartment (as opposed to at the temple) since my stepfather died in the apartment in his sleep, to sort of bless the apartment where a death had taken place and to end a difficult year on a positive note.  It just happened that she decided to continue doing it, saying she'll do it for as long as she physically could.  Then, one year, while preparing the food the night before the almsgiving, she suddenly felt faint and had a sort of a panic attack!  I helped her to bed and continued with the cooking and took over from her.  I did it for her for the rest of her life and then, continued after her death.  I actually held three almsgivings that year - one, seven days after she died, the second, three months later (again, part of the services for the dead), and, the end of the year almsgiving, because by this time, 19 years after that first year end almsgiving, it had become a tradition.  Last year, when I was undergoing treatment, I thought I will end the tradition and not hold the almsgiving because I knew I was not physically up to it, but my daughter volunteered to do it for me.  This year, my daughter doesn't have enough vacation time to come down to help me, but my friends have offered to help.  But, the reason for the almsgiving is more generic than one associated with a recent death.

So, I called the temple and offered to cancel my almsgiving.  And the monk I spoke with said not to worry about it, the situation has been resolved; the other family has scheduled their almsgiving to Friday!  I guess they would have preferred to have had it on Sunday, but since I hadn't agreed to rescheduling mine, they settled for a different date, when the monks would be free to attend.  Sigh.  I do wish I had known that they had the option of choosing a different date; all that stress and angst on my part was totally unnecessary!   Anyway, my almsgiving will take place on Sunday, as originally planned, the other family will still be able to hold their almsgiving, as well, and the monks will be able to attend both almsgivings. As the famous poet said, "All's well that ends well". 

After all that was settled, I had a sandwich for breakfast and did some office work.  Then, at 12:30 p.m., I left for my 1:30 p.m. doctor's appointment.  I arrived at the clinic in good time (1:15 p.m.), paid my co-pay, was weighed in, etc.  Then, I was seen by the Physician Assistant who has replaced my former primary care physician.  The new PA seemed quite nice.  She performed the screening test for cervical cancer, which was the reason for my visit, and had me do a blood test, as well.  My initial blood pressure readings had been elevated, so the PA rechecked my pressure after she did the screening test and I had a normal pressure reading.  I have a follow-up appointment with her in three weeks to go over the test results. That means I have three doctor's appointments scheduled in December, so far!

It was 4:30 p.m., by the time I got home!  The whole afternoon was gone!  I had tea, did a little more office work, and was glad I didn't have a long To Do list, for today!  Later in the evening, I spoke on the phone with one of my friends who called and video chatted with my daughter.  She had had a good day at work, gone to the bank to get a cashier's check to pay her rent, paid the rent, and video chatted with one of her friends before chatting with me.  Her friend, who is originally from Hawaii, is experiencing her first winter in Michigan! 

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Call the temple and offer to cancel the almsgiving - DONE; Almsgiving will proceed as scheduled.
- Office work - DID SOME
- Doctor's appointment in the afternoon - DONE
- Bring trash cans in - DONE by my neighbor!
- Water the houseplants - DONE

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Office work - send in completed work
- Do time sheets (taking time off on Thursday and Friday)
- Call and remind invitees to the almsgiving, now that the date has been confirmed
- Wash the almsgiving dishes

Today, I am grateful for:
- The issue with the dates has been resolved and my almsgiving can proceed as scheduled.
- All of you being so kind and supportive as I stressed about the almsgiving scheduling!
- The doctor's appointment went well.
- Safe drive to the clinic and back.
- My neighbor brought in my trash can for me.

How was your Tuesday?  

Monday, November 28, 2016

Monday: Doctor's Appointment and More Grocery Shopping!

Today was a bit chilly, but sunny.  I called the radiation oncologist's office in the morning to give a status update on the inflammation (still slightly red and swollen) and was told the doctor would like to see me.  I was given an appointment to come in this afternoon.

I spent the rest of the morning responding to emails from my supervisor and doing some office work.  I did more office work in the evening, too.

The doctor's visit went well.  They even waived my co-pay!  The doctor examined me and renewed my prescription for the steroids.  He wanted to see me again, next Monday.  I was also prescribed an antacid as a precaution against side effects of the steroids.  I went to the pharmacy directly from the doctor's office.  The antacid I was prescribed wasn't covered under my insurance, so I called the doctor's office from the pharmacy.  The nurse asked me to have the pharmacy call her so they could prescribe something else.  I asked the pharmacist to do so and the prescription was changed to a medicine covered by my insurance.  It is something I've taken before, when I was on chemo, because I was having acid reflux as a result of the chemo.

I did some grocery shopping while the prescriptions were being filled (located in the same shopping mall).

November 28 Groceries

I bought three bananas ($.83 @ $.69/lb), 6 cans of tuna ($.88@), a package of cold cuts ($2.99/7 oz.), a packet of two ham steaks (on sale for $1.99), and a small container of yogurt ($.39).  My total came to $11.48.  Some of the tuna are intended for the bag of food items I will be donating to the food bank. 

November 28 Receipt

I guess I'll consider today's grocery shopping as a continuation of my November Week 4 grocery shopping.

November/Almsgiving grocery budget = $200.00 + $43.34 carried forward from October
Total spent in Week 4 = $17.64 + $11.48 = $29.12
Total spent on groceries so far this month = $43.48 + $19.70 + $110.13 + $17.64 + $11.48 = $202.43
Amount left in budget = $243.34 - $202.43 = $40.91

On the way home, I picked up some fried chicken for my dinner: the Monday Special - two pieces of chicken (drumstick and thigh), one side (I chose coleslaw), and a biscuit for $2.99 (with tax, it came to $3.26).  It was, actually, my first meal of the day, as I didn't have any breakfast or lunch before I left to go to the doctor's appointment; only a cup of tea.  I ate one piece of chicken and half the coleslaw when I got home and had a cup of tea.  Ate the other piece of chicken, the rest of the coleslaw and the biscuit, a bit later.  Plus a banana!  As I wrote in an email to one of my friends, it was as if once I started eating, I couldn't stop!  LOL.

After I got home, I also called and confirmed the doctor's appointment scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, cleaned the fridge, and took the trash cans to the curb.  Still need to clean the litter box and water the house plants.

Monday's To Do List:

- Call the radiation oncologist's office in the morning - DONE
- Doctor's appointment at 2:00 p.m. - DONE
- Office work -DID SOME
- Clean the fridge - DONE
- Empty waste bins - DONE
- Take the trash cans to the curb - DONE
- Pick up new medications - DONE
- Grocery shop - DONE
- Water house plants
- Clean the litter box

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Call the temple and offer to cancel the almsgiving
- Office work
- Doctor's appointment in the afternoon
- Bring trash cans in

I am going to keep my list for tomorrow short, because I don't know how I will feel after the doctor's appointment, tomorrow (they will be doing some screening tests).

Today, I am grateful for:

- Being able to be seen by the radiation oncologist today.
- Not being charged a co-pay for the visit!
- Getting my prescriptions filled without much trouble.
- A safe drive to the clinic and back.
- Video chatting with my daughter.

How was your Monday?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

End of the Holiday Weekend

On Daughter's Quilt

Woke up to a cloudy, overcast morning.  There was even a little rain in the early afternoon, but it was sunny, later, and I was able to open the windows and air out the place.  Now, however, the heater is on.

My daughter and I spent a quiet morning and early afternoon.   My neighbor called for our weekly Sunday morning chat.  Later, one of my cousins called and came over to get something she needed for her daughter.  And my daughter climbed up on the step stool and got down all the dishes and items I needed for the almsgiving.  These are items I use specifically for the almsgiving, so I keep them in the cabinet above the fridge, along with the Christmas china.  I will wash them during the week and keep them, maybe in the non-working dishwasher, until needed.
In the afternoon, I dropped my daughter off at the airport.  It rained a bit on the way to the airport, but it was clear when I came home.   I took down and put away the Thanksgiving decorations.  Then, I spoke on the phone with one of my aunts; she called to ask if I enjoyed her granddaughter's sweet sixteen party, yesterday.  I told her I enjoyed it very much, indeed.

A certain kitty cat spent the entire afternoon and a good part of the evening curled up on my daughter's quilt.  He was missing his favorite human.

Missing His Favorite Human

Later in the evening, I spoke with one of the monks at the temple.  He and the other monks at the temple had been invited to participate in a memorial almsgiving that is also scheduled to be held on the same day as my almsgiving.  Traditionally, such memorial almsgivings are held seven days after the death of someone  and again, three months later.  He said he had informed the person inviting them that they have a prior engagement, but he  was wondering if I would be willing to reschedule my almsgiving to another day.

I recognize the need to be flexible under the circumstances and have rescheduled my almsgivings in previous years to accommodate the needs of others.  About two years ago, this led to quite a bit of arranging and rearranging of schedules and flights being booked and cancelled and re-booked, etc., as days were switched back and forth a few times.  But this year, I am depending on at least one of my friends to help me with the preparation of the meal and this friend has had to request a day off from work in advance to be free to help me with the cooking and serving of the meal, etc.  It is doubtful if she'd be able to switch her day off to another weekend this month (she works in a store that is open seven days a week, so she doesn't automatically get the weekends off).

The following weekend is my friend's memorial service with lunch to follow.  It is scheduled for that Saturday.  There was a time when I could have attended one event on one day and prepared for an almsgiving the following day, but I am no longer able to do that.  I don't have the stamina.

The weekend after that is the December monthly prayer gathering which is being hosted by a friend who made it a point to ask if it would conflict with my almsgiving, before she scheduled it.  Which leaves the last weekend in December, which is Christmas.

So I informed the monk that it would be difficult for me to reschedule my almsgiving, this year, and we confirmed that my almsgiving will still be held as planned on next Sunday.  I have finalized the menu and written out my grocery shopping list.  But I feel conflicted, now, and guilty that I wasn't willing to reschedule my almsgiving.  Sigh. 

Sunday's To Do List:
- Rest - DONE
- Have daughter take down almsgiving dishes - DONE
- Take daughter to airport - DONE
- Do any "catch up" tasks from the week - NONE
- Take down/put away Thanksgiving decorations - DONE
- Confirm date with monks - DONE
- Finalize menu - DONE
- Write grocery list - DONE

Almsgiving Preparations List:

Week 1 (November 20- 27):
- Start cleaning the house (Dust/vacuum/tidy living room, dining area, family room, kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms) - DONE
- Buy chocolates Decided not to
- Take down dishes used only for almsgiving and wash them (daughter to help when she comes down for Thanksgiving) - DONE (still need to wash them)

Week 2 (November 28-December 4):
- Confirm date with monks - DONE
- Finalize menu/grocery shopping list - DONE
- Wash dishes that were taken down
- Remind invitees
- Rearrange furniture - sofas, coffee tables, tall round side table (for reliquary), trolley (for plates of offerings), remove blue & white vases near fireplace (so I can set the small sofa in front of the fireplace)
- Grocery shop
- Cook

Today, I am grateful for:
- Daughter had a safe flight back to Berkeley and a safe journey from the airport to her apartment
- The little bit of rain this afternoon, as every drop of rain counts
- The sunshine after the rain
- The almsgiving date stands and has been confirmed; I don't need to rearrange my schedule
- Daughter took down the dishes for me

How was your Sunday? 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Family and Friends on Saturday

Bit of a weather change, here, in So. Cal. today.  Today's high was only 60F according to the forecast and there was rain in the afternoon! 

I have been waking up feeling tired, lately.  Yesterday, I was too tired to do anything in the morning and took a nap in the afternoon.  As a result, I decided not to go grocery shopping for the eggs and decided not to bake more corn bread.  I felt better, later in the evening, but I continued to take it relatively easy.   I did water the garden, front and back, as I wasn't sure if it would rain, and did a load of laundry.  Daughter had a stiff neck/shoulder blade, so I didn't ask her to take down the almsgiving dishes for me.   I did get her to clean the litter box, though! 

Friday's To Do List:
- Rest/relax - DONE
- Wash dishes/put away dishes from yesterday - DONE
- Grocery shop for eggs? - NO; decided not to
- Bake corn bread? - NO; decided not to
- Water the garden - DONE
- Choose an outfit for Saturday's birthday party - DONE
- Write out the cards I bought earlier - DONE
- Load of laundry - DONE
- Have daughter take down dishes for almsgiving - NOT DONE

Today is a day for attending family gatherings.  In the afternoon, one cousin held a Sweet 16 birthday party for his daughter.  This evening, another cousin is hosting this month's prayer gathering at her house.  I will be getting a ride with another cousin and her daughter to the prayer gathering.  It feels like a bit of "feast or famine", when it comes to family gatherings, at times.  Often, there won't be anything happening for weeks on end and then, there are several things to attend, at once!     

Saturday's To Do List:
- Put away laundry from yesterday- DONE
- Look up driving directions to the party venue - DONE
- Switch items to new purse - DONE
- Attend cousin's daughter's Sweet Sixteen birthday party in the afternoon - DONE
- Come home and rest - RESTING!
- Attend the monthly prayer gathering at another cousin's house in the night - a bit later

Today, I am grateful for:
- Family gatherings, especially in happy circumstances
- Getting a ride with my cousin
- More rain
- A working heater
- Being able to enjoy my food, again (at least, the savory stuff; sweets still taste bitter)

Sunday's To Do List:

- Rest
- Have daughter take down almsgiving dishes
- Take daughter to airport
- Do any "catch up" tasks from the week
- Take down/put away Thanksgiving decorations

How was your Saturday?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone who observed Thanksgiving, yesterday, had a lovely day gathered around the table to celebrate with family and friends.  One can give thanks any day of the year, of course, and I try to be thankful every day, but it is nice to have a day set aside especially for it, I think. 

It was a sunny, warm day, yesterday, with a high of 79F.  My daughter and I spent a quiet, relaxed morning.  Later in the afternoon, I made a double batch of corn bread and a loaf of banana bread.  Then, in the evening, we took the corn bread and went over to my aunt's house to celebrate Thanksgiving, with her, my cousins, and other members of the extended family.  Everyone brought a dish or two to contribute, so there was quite a feast and leftovers for everyone to take home. 

Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) To Do List:
- Put away laundry - DONE
- Bake corn bread and banana bread - DONE
- Do the dishes - DONE
- Go to aunt's house to celebrate Thanksgiving - DONE

On Thursday, I was grateful for:
- Being alive and well this Thanksgiving.
- Having my daughter home for Thanksgiving.
- Being able to celebrate the day with family and friends.
- Aunt was unhurt when she slipped and fell, earlier in the morning!
- All the many blessings.

Today is equally sunny and warm.  Daughter has made plans to get together with some of her friends, today.  A movie in the morning with one of her friends (and probably lunch out, afterwards) and dinner and a different movie in the evening with another friend.  I am planning to stay home and have a relaxed day.  If at all, I'll run to the nearby grocery stores for a dozen eggs.  I finished all my eggs, yesterday; daughter would like more corn bread to take back with her and I need eggs for it.  If not, that's OK, too.  Daughter can take the loaf of banana bread back with her, instead.  

Friday's To Do:
- Rest/relax
- Wash dishes/put away dishes from yesterday
- Grocery shop for eggs?
- Bake corn bread?
- Water the garden
- Choose an outfit for Saturday's birthday party
- Write out the cards I bought earlier
- Have daughter take down dishes for almsgiving

Today, I am grateful for:
- Another sunny, warm day
- Daughter having a fun day getting together with her friends
- Leftovers from yesterday's dinner
- A quiet, relaxed day
- Family and friends.

How is your Friday after Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November Grocery Shopping: Week 4

I went grocery shopping, today.  I needed to get a few things for the week, especially with daughter coming home for the holiday weekend.

November 23 Groceries

I bought:

1/2 gal. milk = $1.99
1 loaf bread = $1.29
1 container half and half = $1.79
1 package coffee = $5.77
bananas (5); @$.69/lb = $1.26
1 bag salad mix; $1.99 - $.45 coupon = $1.54
2 containers raspberries; @$1.50 = $3.00
1bag (2 oz) pistachios = $1.00
Total = $17.64

I bought the bag of pistachio from the dollar store; it isn't shown in the grocery store receipt, below.

I had also purchased two bags of cat food but pet food doesn't come out of the grocery budget; neither does the tax on the cat food. 

November 23 Receipt

November/Almsgiving grocery budget = $200.00 + $43.34 carried forward from October
Total spent in Week 4 = $17.64
Total spent on groceries so far this month = $43.48 + $19.70 + $110.13 + $17.64 = $190.95
Amount left in budget = $243.34 - $190.95 = $52.39

How is your November grocery budget coming along?

Wednesday: Autumn Joy List Update and More

Thanksgiving Wreath

Once again, I couldn't fall asleep, last night.  It was 4:15 a.m. when I last looked at the clock.  Then, I woke up at 6:00 a.m.!  But, I managed to go back to sleep and slept till 9:00 a.m.  I tried to return to sleep, but couldn't and a certain kitty was asking for breakfast, so, I got up.  I figured I could always take a nap in the afternoon, if I needed to, but I didn't feel sleepy in the afternoon.

I spent the rest of the morning doing office work.  Later, in the early afternoon, I ran my errands.  The pharmacy had texted saying one of my prescription refills was ready; I picked it up, then bought some sympathy cards and a birthday card, and did my grocery shopping.  Put gas to the car, too, so I don't have to think about that during the holiday weekend.

Came home and vacuumed and tidied the bedrooms (just mine and daughter's; the guest room will be done, later), changed my bed sheets, did the laundry, hung it up to dry, and decorated the house for Thanksgiving.  I only have two Thanksgiving decorations; the wreath shown above (made several years ago) and the decorated broom, below, (which I renewed, last year).  It makes it easy to decorate!  Then, I did a little more office work.

Decorated Broom

My daughter called to say her office closed early, at 3:00 p.m., for the holiday!  She was booked on a flight that was scheduled to leave at 8:15 p.m. and she asked me what I suggested she should do.  I told her to go to the airport early and see if she could get an earlier flight at no extra cost.  She called me after she got to the airport and said she was on stand-by for a flight leaving at 6:15 p.m., then, again, at 6:00 p.m. saying she was able to get a seat on that flight and had boarded the plane!  So she came home earlier than expected and we're having a longer evening together!  She had brought some food home with her: some noodles she had cooked and some wild rice; I reheated a packet of cooked meat I had in the freezer and some of the curries I had in the fridge and we had a buffet dinner!  

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Office work - DONE
- Tidy/dust/vacuum bedrooms - DONE
- Change bedding - DONE
- Launder sheets - DONE
- Decorate for Thanksgiving - DONE
- Pharmacy for refill - DONE
- Buy sympathy cards and birthday card - DONE
- Grocery shop to buy half and half for daughter, cat food, maybe bread - DONE
- Pick up daughter from airport -DONE
- Call cousin - DONE

I am so glad I was able to get my To Do list done, today!

Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) To Do List:
- Put away laundry
- Bake corn bread and banana bread
- Do the dishes
- Go to aunt's house to celebrate Thanksgiving

Back in September, at the beginning of Autumn, I had been inspired to write a list of joy.  It was a list of 25 seasonal things and activities that would bring joy from the beginning of Autumn until Thanksgiving.  Well, Thanksgiving is almost here, so I thought I'll update the list to see how I've done.
List of Autumn Joys:

1.  Continue to begin and end each day with prayer
2.  Continue to drink my tea using my special cup and saucer
3.  Continue to chat daily with my daughter
4.  Decorate my house for fall (in October) and for Thanksgiving (in November)
5.  My daughter's visits home  (1 planned for in October; 2 in November)
6.  Attend up-coming family gathering for cousin's daughter's baby shower
7.  Make some cards using items I have on hand
8.  Host the October prayer gathering
9.  Visit my mother's grave on her birthday (October) - both joyful and sad at the same time
10. Celebrate my birthday (November)
11. Celebrate Thanksgiving with friends and family - Will be doing so, tomorrow.
12. Go to the Sri Lankan grocery store and indulge! - Went several times!
13. Go out to dinner with a friend
14. Go out to lunch with sister (I invited her, but she couldn't make it)
15. Invite cousin and aunt to dinner
16. Spend more time gardening
17. Continue to work on on-going craft projects
18. Visit the library
19. Read a book (or two, or more)
20. Listen to music 
21. Play the piano
22. Sing
23. Bake something when it is cooler - Will be baking tomorrow - corn bread and banana bread
24. Visit my neighbors
25. Go out to dinner with an aunt (and maybe a cousin) Several cousins!

I accomplished most of the activities on my Joy list!  I couldn't go out to lunch with my sister or visit my neighbors (although one visited me) and I didn't do much on the craft projects, either.  But that's OK.  I am happy with what I was able to do and each activity brought me joy.  I think I shall make another Joy list after Thanksgiving, for joyous activities from now till the end of the year.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Daughter getting an earlier flight home
- Daughter having a safe flight home
- Starting our holiday weekend that much earlier, as a result
- The garden showing new growth after the rain
- Getting my To Do list done

How was your Wednesday?  If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, tomorrow, I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.  

After the Rain

It rained on Sunday.  Today, Wednesday, just three days after the rain, I found this:

New Growth on the Cherry Guava Tree

The cherry guava tree is sending up new growth along its branches, in response to the rain it received!  Even on the seemingly dead branches:

More New Growth
All it took was a good, ground soaking shower of rain.

Productive Tuesday

Ironed and Folded Napkins

Today, I called the office in the morning and spoke with my supervisor to give her a quick status update of my work projects.  I am almost at the end of my current assignment and I let her know so she'd know to assign me another project.  She emailed me in the afternoon to inform me of my next project, but she won't have the work files to send to me until sometime next week.  I also requested two days off next week - the Thursday and Friday before the almsgiving.  

I did one more almsgiving preparation task today.  I re-ironed and folded the napkins I had bleached and washed, yesterday (I had ironed them once, yesterday, when they were still damp and hung them up overnight to fully dry).  There are five with the red and red stripes, two with the blue stripes, and eight with the green stripes.  They have been put away in the linen cupboard until needed.  I guess I could have just folded them without re-ironing them, but I like them to look crisp and nice when I go to use them.   

I am not trying for perfection, and very often I am quite happy to settle for good enough, but sometimes, I do like to make the extra effort, for my own satisfaction.  The satisfaction of knowing I gave it my best.  It really is the thought that counts, especially when it comes to the almsgiving.  The abbot at the temple explained it this way:  Every time one thinks of the almsgiving and preparations for it, the mind is focused on something that is intended to be positive, benevolent, and not harmful; there is no room for other, more negative thoughts, such as anger, hatred, etc., when one is concentrating on doing something positive.  The thoughts about the almsgiving preparations are beneficial thoughts  and, as such, each is a meritorious deed, or "karma", which literally means "deed" or "act" in Sanskrit.

Anyway, that's my explanation of why I do what I do.  In case anyone is wondering what's wrong with me that I go to such extents to prepare for this event and why I carry on so much about it! *smile* 

Today, I also tidied the family room, cleaned both bathrooms, and cleaned the kitchen.  I was only going to wash the dishes and wipe down the counters, but then, I noticed some drips and splatters down the fronts of some of the lower kitchen cabinets, so I washed all the lower cabinet fronts, too, and shined the sink, of course. 

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Office work/time sheets - DONE
- Fold/put away laundry - DONE
- Clean bathrooms - DONE
- Bring in trash cans - DONE
-Water the houseplants - DONE
- Do dishes - DONE
- Clean kitchen - DONE
- Tidy family room - DONE (Moved up from Wednesday)
- Decorate for Thanksgiving - (Moved to Wednesday)

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Office work
- Tidy/dust/vacuum bedrooms
- Change bedding
- Launder sheets
- Decorate for Thanksgiving
- Buy sympathy cards and birthday card
- Grocery shop to buy half and half for daughter, cat food, maybe bread.
- Pick up daughter from airport

Today, I am grateful for:
- My colleagues and supervisor at the office and how accommodating they are
- Being able to work from home during this time
- A sunny and warm day
- A productive day
- Video chatting with my daughter

How was your Tuesday?  What are your plans for Wednesday? 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Smoking Monday!

On Monday morning, I woke up bright and early.  Wide awake before 6:00 a.m.  But I had gone to sleep at 3:00 a.m.!  It was too early to wake up!  I tried to go back to sleep, but gave up trying around 7:30 a.m. and got up.  Had a cup of tea, answered some work emails, walked around the garden checking on the plants after the rain.  The newly planted ones looked just fine:

By the Mail Box

They've enjoyed a long drink of water and the soil was finally nice and damp.

In the Former Bare Spot

 I am hoping that these plants will grow to fill in this bare spot.

From a Distance

But this rose didn't do too well.  The weight of the rain water was too much for it and the stem had broken:

Broken Rose

So I picked it off and put it in a vase, even if the center was a bit scorched from the earlier days of heat:

Poor Partially Desiccated Rose!

Then, I sat down to read some blogs.  I was using my old laptop (with the faulty charging cord) and it almost caught fire!  I noticed that a fine tendril of smoke was coming from the cord that was plugged into the computer!  The one that was being held in place with electrical tape (I had replaced the duct tape I had used originally).  Not at the point where it was taped in place to the computer, but at the point where the wires went into the plug part!  Yikes!  I quickly unplugged it and switched to my new laptop.  Except it wouldn't let me go on the internet, claiming there was no connection.  So, I turned it off and went to make myself some breakfast!

I grated half a potato and made hash browns, fried two rashers of bacon (ate only one; kept the other in the fridge for later), and scrambled an egg.  I didn't take a picture of my breakfast.  But I took a picture of my lunch:

Fried Rice for Lunch
I used up the last of the leftover cooked rice, sliced up three of the leftover cocktail sausages, added a bit of broccoli and a handful of cashews. 

Between having breakfast and lunch, I dusted the living room and dining area and vacuumed most of the house, including some cobwebs in the corners and along the ceiling edge!  

I also did a load of laundry.  I use a set of cotton napkins for the almsgiving.  They are handwoven and my stepfather bought them on a visit to Sri Lanka in the early 1980s.  A blind man was going door to door selling them and my stepfather bought a bunch of them from him.  Over the years, some got stained badly and were tossed, but I still have 15 of them.  Usually I bleach them after use to get any curry stains out.  Last year, however, I wasn't up to bleaching them, so just washed them and put them away.  I wasn't very happy with the results, so, today, I soaked them in bleach and washed them again.  Then ironed them while they were still damp because that's the only way to get the wrinkles out of them!  I went ahead and added other white and light items to the napkins to make up a load.

The vacuuming and the ironing tired me out, but I still managed to get some paperwork done, cleaned out the fridge, emptied the waste baskets, and took the big trash cans to the curb.

After lunch, the new laptop let me go on the internet again, so all was well.

It was a clear day, on Monday.  No rain.  Sunshine in the late morning, but cloudy in the evening.  One of my cousins called to check on me and later, another cousin called to let me know about the arrangements for a memorial service for our mutual friend who passed away last week.  I called a couple of other friends to inform them, as well.

On Monday, I was grateful for:

- The computer didn't catch fire!  It only smoked a bit!
- Daughter had already transferred files to the new laptop and set it up for me.
- I managed to get quite a bit of the house cleaning done.
- Finally getting the napkins bleached and ironed to my satisfaction.
- Getting things accomplished, little by little.

Dinner was macaroni and cheese.  Except, I didn't have macaroni!  When I bought the box of mac and cheese, I cooked the macaroni before I realized I didn't have milk for the sauce!  So, I ate the macaroni with beef curry, instead.  Today, I decided I'll use some of the leftover half and half in the fridge to make the cheese sauce.  I didn't let the fact that I had no macaroni stop me.  I boiled some angel hair pasta, instead!  Mixed it with the cheese sauce and added some previously cooked ground beef from the freezer.  It was good enough for me to want seconds!  Fresh grapes and yogurt for dessert.  Sesame crackers for snacks.

I didn't post my Weekly To Do List on Sunday, but I got most of my Monday's To Do List done.  So here's the rest of it:

Weekly To Do List:

- Office work/time sheets
- Fold/put away laundry
- Clean bathrooms
- Bring in trash cans
-Water the houseplants
- Decorate for Thanksgiving

- Office work
- Tidy/dust/vacuum bedrooms
- Change bedding
- Launder sheets
- Tidy family room
- Make/Buy sympathy cards and birthday card
- Grocery shop to buy half and half for daughter, cat food, maybe bread.
- Pick up daughter from airport

Thursday - Thanksgiving Day:
- Bake cornbread
- Go to aunt's house to celebrate Thanksgiving

- Rest/relax
- Water the garden
- Choose an outfit for Saturday's birthday party
- Make/buy cards if not already done
- Have daughter take down dishes for almsgiving

- Attend cousin's daughter's Sweet Sixteen birthday party in the afternoon
- Attend the monthly prayer gathering at another cousin's house in the night

- Rest
- Take daughter to airport
- Do any "catch up" tasks from the week
- Take down/put away Thanksgiving decorations

What have you planned for the week?  If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, have you planned your menu, done your grocery shopping, etc.?

Monday, November 21, 2016

2016 Almsgiving Checklist & Schedule

Very briefly, an almsgiving is a Buddhist religious ceremony in which alms (or donations) are offered to the poor (in this case, the monks, who have taken an oath of poverty),  I have written more about it previously, here and here.

I usually budget a certain amount for the event, divide that total amount by 12 and that becomes the monthly amount I set aside during the year towards the event.  I do the same for the rosary/prayer gathering dinner I host in October and Christmas/New Year gifts.  This way, the money for the event is evenly distributed across the year and there is no need to find the money for a large expense in any given month.  

I know I have said this before, but I rely on my rather detailed checklists and schedules when it comes to preparing for an event.   Each year, I revise and update previous lists and schedules as dates, etc. change.  This year, I also need to be mindful of the fact that my stamina has changed and I tire more quickly (and take longer to recover).  This year, the almsgiving will be held on Sunday, December 4.   As of today, I have just under two weeks to prepare for it. 

2016 Almsgiving Checklist & Schedule:

Do in early November:
- Set date/invite monks/invite participants - DONE
- Bank to withdraw money saved for the event - DONE
- Decide on donations/get them ready - DONE (Monetary donations put into envelopes and kept near the altar so there's no last minute rushing around looking for them!)
- Make a tentative menu /check supplies/make a grocery list - DONE
- Check supplies (non-grocery - incense sticks, paper goods, etc.); make shopping list - DONE
- Check table linen, chair covers, etc., wash if needed, iron, etc. - DONE
- Shop for non-perishables - DONE

Week 1 (November 20- 27):
- Start cleaning the house (Dust/vacuum/tidy living room, dining area, family room, kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms) - STARTED
- Buy chocolates
- Take down dishes used only for almsgiving and wash them (daughter to help when she comes down for Thanksgiving)

Week 2 (November 28-December 4):
- Confirm date with monks
- Finalize menu/grocery shopping list
- Remind invitees; share menu/assign dishes
- Rearrange furniture - sofas, coffee tables, tall round side table (for reliquary), trolley (for plates of offerings), remove blue & white vases near fireplace (so I can set the small sofa in front of the fireplace)

Friday, December 2:
- Grocery shop for perishables
- Buy flowers
- Take down dishes used only for almsgiving and wash them (if not done earlier)
- Take out serving dishes, basins used for washing hands, jugs used for pouring the water; serving spoons, etc.
- Final cleaning - dust, vacuum, etc.
- Put cashews to soak

Saturday, December 3:
- Clean bathrooms/set out guest towels, etc.
- Set out items needed for the transfer of merit: teapot, cup, and water basin; fill teapot with water
- Take out chair covers, table cloths, napkins, etc.; cover chairs, tables
- Candles/incense sticks & holder; lighter/matches
- New bottle of water for blessing; bowl to catch drips when blessed water is poured out
- Set out items for washing hands: fresh cake of soap, hand towels, jugs & basins
- COOK!  Cashews, garbanzo beans, lentils, hard boil eggs, fry lentil wagers (pappadum)
- Pick up friend
- Clean kitchen
- Take out plates, bowls, etc. for guests
- Take out frozen sweets and keep to thaw

Sunday, December 4 (Day of Almsgiving):

- Arrange flowers in vases
- Cut up fruits and arrange in saucers (approx. 5 types of fruits per saucer); cover
- Arrange a variety of sweets in saucers (approx. 5 types per saucer); cover
- Dish out yogurt into bowls; cover
- Pour palm treacle into sauce boat (to be served over yogurt)
- Make pudding, dish out into bowls, cover
- Cook rice (2 types - white and red)
- Make salad (hard boiled egg halves, sliced tomato, cucumber, red onions, green chillies)
- Warm up curries; dish out into smaller serving dishes for serving to monks; bigger serving dishes for guests (keep bigger dishes in oven to keep warm)
- Serve up offerings to the Buddha and offerings for the Order of Monks
- Boil water for those monks who prefer hot water
- Pour water and juice into glasses
- Spot clean bathrooms
- Fill hand washing bowls and jugs with warm water

10:30 a.m. - Everything should be done and ready; guests arrive and their contributions added to offerings to the Buddha and the Order of Monks

11:00 a.m. - Monks arrive; Offerings to Buddha, Order of Monks, etc. take place and service begins with devotions being recited.

11:30 a.m. - Lunch is served to the monks (they need to finish eating by 12 noon).

12:00 noon - Monks finish their lunch, plates are cleared, a sermon is said, blessings are chanted, merit gained from almsgiving is transferred to departed loved ones, donations are presented to the monks.

1:00 p.m. - the monks leave, the religious ceremonies are concluded, lunch is served to all those who participated.

Followed by washing up, cleaning, and putting things away until the next time!   My family and friends usually help me with the washing up, putting away the food, and putting the furniture back in place.  This year, my biggest helper, my daughter, won't be here, so things might take me a bit longer to do.

I might cook the cashews, garbanzo beans and lentils at the end of this week and freeze them, if I can find room in my freezer!  I'll see how it goes.  The freezer is rather full, at this time.

2016 Almsgiving Menu:

- Rice (red rice and white basmati rice)
- Cashew curry
- Spicy garbanzo beans
- Lentil curry (dhal)
- Pumpkin curry
- Green beans curry
- Shredded leafy greens cooked with grated coconut (mallung)
- Salad of hard boiled egg halves, sliced tomato, cucumber, red onion, green chillies
- Fried lentil wafers (pappadum)- Tomato chutney

- Sweetmeats (candies) - an assortment
- Fresh fruits - an assortment (grapes, kiwi, papaya, strawberries or blackberries, tangerines, apples, etc.)
- Yogurt and treacle
- Pudding

One of my friends has offered to cook the pumpkin curry, green beans and the leafy greens for me.  I am counting on another friend to come and help me make the salad, assemble the saucers of fruit, etc.  A cousin said she'll try to come over on Friday morning to help me clean, etc.  Hopefully, all will be able to help out.  I plan to take Thursday (December 1) and Friday (December 2) off from work, so I'll have more time to get things done.

Rain on Sunday!

It has been a rainy day, today!  Finally!  Light rain, on and off, all day long, with misty fine drizzle in between the showers of light rain. 

The day was dark and grey when I opened the drapes.  No sunshine to let in!  Barely any daylight, either!  But I didn't mind.  For it was raining!  Not enough to wipe out the drought, but we'll take what we can get!

The plants in the garden were enjoying the rain, including the newly planted ones.  The rain will help them to settle in.  Dusty miller and two of the chrysanthemums by the mail box:   

Dusty Miller and Chrysanthemums

The rest of the new plants were planted out in the bare spot where the gazanias died out:

Dusty Miller, Snapdragons, Chrysanthemums and the Lone Geranium

The pictures of the plants were taken in the afternoon, when there was a short break in the rain, after a morning of on and off showers.  Yet, the ground is still quite dry.  Not enough rain had fallen to soak into the ground.  But there are droplets of rain water on the leaves!  And it has continued to rain into the evening and now, night.

It has been a bit chilly, too, and I've had the heater on all day.  I managed to get the thermostat to work so that the heater comes back on automatically when the temperature goes down!  Earlier, it would go off and then, not come back on until I manually toggled the switch to off and back on a couple of times!  It is a gas heater, set into the wall between the living room and the hallway.  It is not central heating by any means.  The heat simply diffuses through the house.  That is my one indulgence.  A warm house.  I will happily go without air conditioning in the summer, but I keep the heater on in the winter, such as it is.  I wear warm clothes, too - currently I am wearing sweat pants and a sweat shirt, socks, and a knitted poncho.  But I am seated in front of the heater, as well.  I feel cold very easily.

In the evening, made myself a nice, warm drink:

Hot Cocoa with Marshmallows
Hot cocoa instead of my usual tea.  A rainy, cool Sunday evening is the right time for hot cocoa, in my opinion!

Brunch was a toasted sandwich made with the last of the roast beef cold cuts, sauted, and a scrambled egg.  Not exactly steak and eggs, but it was good.  Dinner was rice, with fish curry, green beans, and pumpkin curry; yogurt and treacle for dessert.  Grapes and sesame crackers for snacks.

Today, I am grateful for:

- Rain!  My garden getting watered without me having to worry about the water bill!
- Doing my grocery shopping yesterday, when it was sunny and warmer.
- A working heater!  
- Talking on the phone with friends, neighbors, and family; exchanging emails with friends; video chatting with my daughter.
- Hot cocoa!

How was your Sunday? 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

November Groceries Week 3

I went to the Sri Lankan stores, today.  Not one, but two!  Two of my friends went with me.  One of my cousins, too, was to go with us, but when I called her in the morning to confirm I was going, she wasn't free to go and and asked me if I could pick up the items she needed, so I said OK.

First I picked up one friend and then, we both went to the other friend's house to pick her up.  But when we got to her house, she invited us in to have brunch!  She had cooked rice, a fish curry, a lentil curry, and made spicy coconut sambol (or relish).   So we ate and then, went grocery shopping.

We had originally planned to go to only one store.  I bought the majority of the items on my list from there.  But they didn't have everything I wanted and so, one of my friends called the other store to find out if they had what I wanted.  They did and so, we went there, too.

November 19 Groceries

At the first store, I bought:
4 packets of my favorite tea (they finally received their shipment!); $5.49@ (100 tea bags) = $21.96
1 kg. packet of red rice = $2.99
2 x 1 lb. packets of raw whole cashews, $6.79/lb. = $13.58
1 bottle palm treacle = $5.49
2 jars pumpkin preserves; $3.99@ = $7.98
1 jar fried breadfruit chips = $2.99*
1 packet 7 oz/200g sesame candy = ($2.49)**
1 packet 7 oz/200g pappadum; $1.99
1 packet 7 oz/200g of coriander seeds; $1.99
1 packet 2 lb. of mung beans; $3.98
1 bottle almond flavoring; $2.00
1 bottle rose flavoring; $2.00
Total = $66.95

*the price on the jar of fried breadfruit states $3.99, but it looks like I was only charged $2.99 according to the receipt.
**the packet of sesame candy is marked $2.49, but, according to the receipt, I wasn't charged for it!

Store 1 Receipt

I didn't check the receipt before I left the store - only checked it when I started to write this post and tried to match the prices to the items.  The receipt from the store isn't very helpful as it simply says "groceries" for each item!   

Fried Bread Fruit Chips
This is one of my favorite snacks; my daughter's, too.  I will share it with her when she comes down, next week.

Some of the items I bought are for me to share with my daughter.  Some of the items I bought, like the rose flavoring and pumpkin preserves are ingredients for the special cake we are planning to make:

Rose Flavour

They didn't have the crystallized pumpkin preserves I was hoping to get, so I settled for what they did have, which is the preserves in syrup.  It is made with a type of pumpkin known as ash pumpkin because of the ash-like powdery substance on the outside of the peel.

Pumpkin Preserve

This store didn't have the frozen sweets and desserts that I was wanting to get to serve at the almsgiving.  These are items we call "sweetmeats".  They are made mostly for special occasions.  At one time, I used to make them myself, but it is much easier to buy them ready-made and frozen!  My friend called a different Sri Lankan store and they said they had the items I wanted, so we went over there.  I bought:

Two packets of "kalu dhodol" (more commonly spelled "dodol") or "black pudding"; $4.99 per packet.  "Kalu" means black and refers to the color of the finished product; definitely not to be confused with the blood sausage also known as "black pudding"!  The package identifies it as sweetened rice pudding, because it is made of rice flour, jaggery, and coconut milk, often with the addition of some chopped cashews.  

A Type of Rice Pudding/Fudge

A packet of another type of sweet, called muscat, made of flour, sugar, and ghee, often with the additions of cashews and raisins; $4.99: 


Two packets of "konda kavum"; $4.99 per packet.  These are known as "oil cakes" and are made with a rice flour and palm treacle batter which is deep fried in coconut oil.  Konda means hair and refers to the little knob on the top - it is supposed to resemble the way we traditionally wear our long hair in a "top knot" or bun.  

Oil Cakes

A different type of oil cakes made with the flour of mung beans, mixes with treacle and cooked, then rolled out flat, cut into diamond shapes, dipped in a rice flour and coconut milk batter and deep fried; two packets at $4.99 each.

Mung Bean Sweets

In addition to these items, which are for the almsgiving, I also bought a packet of cookies called Nice Biscuits, $1.79.

Store 2 Receipt
My total at the second store came to $36.72.

After we finished our shopping, I drove my friends home.  The first friend I dropped off (the same friend who gave us lunch) invited us to her house for a cup of tea and she made us a snack of a type of Indian flat bread called "paratha", using a package of frozen paratha.  She also packed up an extra paratha and some curries for me to bring home for my dinner!

Then, I drove my other friend to her home.  But, on the way, we stopped at the Armenian grocery store to pick up a few items I wanted (and she did a bit of shopping, too).  I bought:

1 package of sesame crackers = $2.63
2 Granny Smith apples, $.39/lb. = $.48
3 bananas, $.49/lb. = $.51
2 persimmons, $.79/lb. = $.85
1 lb. container of yogurt = $1.99
Total = $6.46

Store 3 receipt

Total spent on groceries, today = $110.13

November/Almsgiving grocery budget = $200.00 + $43.34 carried forward from October (which I was going to use to stock up or to buy ingredients for the special Love Cake I am planning to make).
Total spent in Week 3 = $110.13
Total spent on groceries so far this month = $43.48 + $19.70 + $110.13 = $173.31
Amount left in budget = $200-$173.31= $26.69 + $43.34 from October = $70.03

I have now bought just about everything I need for the almsgiving, except for the fresh produce, eggs, and a container of whipped topping for the dessert I plan to make.  I will buy them the day before the almsgiving.  I have most of the ingredients I need for the cake, too, except for the eggs, semolina, and butter.

After I came home and took the pictures, I put away all the items I bought.  By then, it was early evening, so I made a cup of tea and rested.  I was tired from all the shopping!  I spent the evening speaking on the phone with various family members and friends who called, including a call from a cousin in Australia, and video chatting with my daughter. 

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to drive and give my friends rides to places they need to go.
- Being able to buy all the items I needed and wanted.
- My friend giving me lunch, a snack, and dinner!  Plus enough curries for at least another meal!
- Spending a pleasant afternoon in the company of friends.
- Calls from family and friends.

How is your November grocery shopping coming along?  If you are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving, have you bought what you need to make for Thanksgiving?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Another Hamlet-Based Poem!

One day, while still studying Hamlet, daughter's AP English Literature class assignment was to write a parody of Hamlet's famous "To Be Or Not To Be" monologue.

She and I tossed about various ideas - "To Clean or Not to Clean", "To Study or Not to Study", "To Sleep or Not to Sleep" and this is what she finally came up with:

A Vampire's Thoughts:

"To bite or not to bite - that is the question:
Whether it's purer in heart to suffer
The pain and ulcers of cravings for nourishment
And, by withstanding, deny them. To abstain -
It ends - and by abstaining, change the way
the undead roam, without marking our live prey,
humans no more - it is an ideal world
A yearning to fulfill. To abstain -
To abstain, perhaps to starve. Yes, that's the crux,
For in that state of starvation, what comes next,
Because this cursed life can not end,
What would ensue? That's the matter
Which makes us pursue this undead life.
For who would continue this bloody deed,
The fair lady's death, the lover's demise,
The hurts of forbidden love, the bite that kills,
The eternal damnation, and the darkness
Which hides our sinful deeds from all but us,
When we might alter by resisting the pull
Of pulsing blood? Who would this toll pay,
To kill a love and feed on their blood,
But for the fear of our self-starved state,
Which may persuade us to bite and sate,
Our hunger for our existence's sake,
Our sacrifice in vain, nothing really
Will have changed. The angry temptation
Is all we know, why should we change
When the blood eternally flows?
Thus our desires keep us chained to the wall
Of blood, and thus our insatiable thirst
Nullifies our reason, depriving us of thought,
And noble attempts to halt our bloody actions
Always fail to cause any worthy reactions,
And are never to be mentioned."

You think the teacher would have guessed she was a fan of the Twilight books?

"Hamlet's Farewell"

When my daughter was in high school, her 12th grade class studied Shakespeare's play, Hamlet.  Once they finished studying the play, the students were required to do a project based on the play - deliver a monologue, design a set, act a scene, etc. 

My daughter decided to sing a song, based on the last scene in the play where a dying Hamlet tells Horatio that he (Horatio) must live to tell the tale.  She was allowed to use existing music and she chose the tune of "What I Did For Love" from the musical, A Chorus Line.

These are the lyrics she wrote and sang:

Hamlet's Farewell

Keep the mem'ry near,
And tell them of our story,
This tale of love and revenge
What a son would do
To avenge his Sire's
Untimely death

What revenge has done,
The tale is never ending
I tried to kill Claudius
Who my father killed,
Who my mother wed
Just for power's sake

Oh, what have I done
I killed Polonius,
Caused Ophelia to drown

Thus the question rose,
"To be or not to be?"
I did what I thought I should
The killer's guilt,
The son's revenge,
All of this is done

Denmark is now gone
Death has conquered all
What has happened now,
Is not at all how
I had planned my revenge

So our story ends
With death as the sole winner
Fortinbras is coming now
He is here,
I am dead,
Please remember me

That's all I ask you

And the rest is...silence.

She said "silence" in a whisper as the music came to an end.  I believe she received an A for her project. 


Another sunny and warm day, today, with the highs in the low 80s.  The evenings are cool and I've turned the heater on.
Went for my appointment with the radiation oncologist, this morning.  The visit went fairly well.  My latest blood test results were all good and I have lost another couple of pounds since my last visit.  However, the area of treatment is still red and swollen and the doctor wasn't very happy about it.  He had expected it to have cleared by now.  He thinks the redness and swelling indicate an inflammation, although the area isn't hot to the touch.  He prescribed a medication for it; I went to the pharmacy afterwards and had the prescription filled.  I have a follow-up visit scheduled for mid-December. 
After I came home, I had a roast beef cold cuts sandwich for my brunch.  One of my friends had called and I returned her call.  Then, I called another friend and a cousin.  We have made plans for me to drive us to the Sri Lankan store tomorrow.  I also exchanged texts with another cousin.
I spent the afternoon and early evening doing office work.  This week's assignments have been sent in.
I didn't do any housework, today.  But my gardener friend planted the plants I had bought 10 days ago.  I forgot to take a picture, but the front flower bed is looking better.  I will need to double up on the housework, tomorrow!
Dinner was leftovers from the freezer: rice, lentil curry, green beans, and cocktail sausages.  Canned pineapple, fresh grapes, and yogurt for snacks and desserts.
Today, I am grateful for:
- Good blood test results.
- Medical care being available.
- No trouble getting my new prescription filled.
- Continuing to lose weight.
- Family and friends.

I had forgotten to post a To Do list for today (Friday), but all I had written down on my Weekly To Do list for Friday was office work and the doctor's appointment; both of those tasks were done, as well as the planting that was on the list of other things to do.  I have listed the three tasks that remained undone on the Other Things To Do list as my Saturday's To Do list. 

Saturday's To Do List:

- Vacuum 
- Clean the bathrooms
- Grocery shop 

How was your Friday?  What have you planned for the weekend?