Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Little Better all the Time

Today I said my first Spanish mass since my class in June. I did not feel tentative at all and I know I was far from perfect, but the words flowed out a little better than in May. The big improvement was my comprehension. While in May, I could reasonably understand 15% of what was being said, today I felt like I could understand 40%. We'll keep increasing the percentage as my language proficiency and my hearing increases.

In other matters, there are so many books and articles to read and many interests to enjoy. How come there aren't more hours in the day? I guess I just have to choose more judiciously. Anyhow, life is good.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

An Unplanned Day

Well, I did plan the day, but I accomplished little of what I set out to do. I started the day with a trip to the North End, the Italian section of Boston. Since I'm half Italian, I thought it would be fun to start the day with a brewed cup of coffee. Years ago I was told that I should let more of my Italian side flourish. I do enjoy reveling in Italian cooking and baking and I am taken away by the aromas that waft through the North End during the early mornings.

Anyways, I wanted to get my mother some pastries because she said she loved eating them, especially torrone. Since she is remembering many stories from her youth, I thought bringing her some pastries would be a nice treat and would spur on her telling of other stories from her younger days.

I would some original nougat torrone and a chocolate dipped one. Modern Pastry has a nice variety. I bought some almond cookies, pistachio cookies, a cinnamon caramel strudel, and my favorite, a sfogliatelle. I was so happy I could please my mother and introduce these tasty treats to my sister's family.

I noticed as I was walking Salem and Hanover Streets that the predominant language was German. Very curious. The place was slowly waking up.

I arrived at the family home and my mother did not like anything that I bought. O, well. At least, I bought what I liked and I was able to enjoy some of it.

I decided to go outside and cut down a few of the weeds. I planted a few flowers and cut down a few invasive vines. Well, that started my project. I asked if they had a lawn mower and I cut down thick vines. The neighbors drove by and clapped and yelled out compliments. It was very easy to mow. My brother-in-law began to pick up branches and rocks. He saw that it was quite a simple project and I think he realizes the effort to maintain it is manageable, especially if the lawn does not have debris on the ground. He now wants me to help with the other side of the property. Last week when I was in Maine, I visited my sister's place and my nephew was very interested in hearing my thoughts on his yard work. Their lawn looked nice. I'm hopeful that my assistance with both properties was encouraging for them. They like the perennials I bring for planting. It is bringing out a new side for them.

Last night I went to SoWa, the South of Washington First Friday Arts display. I was very inspired. This time I walked through the second building, which had more gallery space. The main building is studio and gallery space. I realized that I must paint every day. I need someone to kick me in the behind to paint more often. I enjoyed what I saw.

In the main space, I ran into artist friends who have not seen me with May. They were surprised at the amount of weight I've lost - 68 pounds in all. I do have to go shopping for new clothing because I no longer fit into any recent or very old clothing. I weigh my college weight! That's not bad. I feel so healthy and I sleep well. Even the pain in my arthritic hip is seriously lessened. I may have postpone surgery for years. By the time I really need it, perhaps new revolutionary techniques will be less invasive.

My original plan was to be home by 2:00 p.m. so I could paint, but I left Douglas too late. I decided to do some shopping for the house and for the school's chapel. I bought some nice items that will make a visual and organizational impact immediately. I felt very accomplished. All in all, it was a good day.

Holy Souls

The week's retreat with the Sisters of St. Joseph's was edifying as usual. For some reason, they liked my emphasis on the implications of Mercy, as this is the heart of the jubilee year. They seemed very joyful throughout the week and at the end. We finished the retreat by having a friend perform a violin concert, which was very well received.

As enjoyable as it was, I worked incessantly saying many masses, offering blessings, hearing confessions, and praying with these holy souls. Very many conversations were enjoyable. A most interesting one was with a sister of 106 years of age. These women really do love the church and they live lives of sanctity. This was an edifying week.

Innovation - District and City

Each day this week I walked about 14,000 steps to maintain my physical wellness. I took some trips through the innovation district of Boston that borders the seaport. I am impressed with the whimsical nature of the statues, lighting, and green spaces. It is quite impressive to see the care that goes into the planning. I know it costs a great deal of money to commission such pieces of art, but it is glorious to see. I like the sharpness and sophistication of the exterior environment of the green and blue spaces. Boston is doing it well.

I am optimistic about what Worcester is doing. Lots of good things happen in Worcester, but it is a much smaller pool of talent, but the direction it is heading is good. I often root for the underdog and I have fond memories of living in Worcester, even though it cannot compare to Boston. It needs to find its own character.

Anyways, a few neat coffeehouses and restaurants have recently opened and the city is finally taking great pains to make the downtown area more beautiful. It has planted some gardens and enhanced its cityscaping and it will take a sustained effort. I think I'm just glad that the city is interested in upgrading its quality of life.

The city is concluding ten days of creating murals on the exteriors of some of its buildings. I hope it becomes an annual event because some of the building are tired and need invigorating. At a new coffeehouse this morning, I noticed that all the patrons were fairly well dressed and were simply enjoying the space that has been created for their enjoyment. It was unusual to see three groups of people walking around with their cameras taking pictures of the city. The fundamental thrust of the energy is very positive.