Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Noah Bells

Recently, I have received several catalogs that feature Noah bells.  Being the mother of a bell ringer, and being ignorant about this type of bell, I decided to investigate.  My short search yielded this from a feng shui website:
Rustic Noah bells are distinctive from all other bells due to the melodic and echoing tones.  Each bell is hand made in India.  The smelting of various metals and hand hewed clapper result in the individual tuning of each bell to create the unusual resonate sounds.  Shepherds prize the smaller bells, as they enable them to easily hear and find their flocks from many miles away.
Given that this is the season of Advent and that we will eventually see sheep and shepherds added to our Nativity scenes, I thought the latter part of that quote to be quite applicable.  In fact, it reminded me of the Christmas carol, "While Shepherds Watched," text from 1703:
While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night,
All seated on the ground.
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around,
And glory shone around,
And glory shone around.

"Fear not," he said,
For mighty dread
Had seized their troubled minds.
"Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind,
To you and all mankind."
I also found this instructional video about Noah bells on YouTube:

I still haven't discovered why the bells carry the moniker, "Noah."  Any ideas?

Skip the Escalator

This link, The Piano Stairs, came to me this morning from my darling husband, King Richard. I would love to have a set of these in my house! Although, if a toy like this was permanently installed in my abode, nothing else would ever get done. I would find my musically inclined daughter, who loves to compose, bouncing up and down the stairs, working out the latest melody line or devising new harmony to some Appalachian folk tune, all the while ignoring her homework. My husband, I suspect, would experiment with various physical ways of extracting sound from the steps --- sliding down on his stomach, running up and down on all the black keys or all the white keys, trying to play chopsticks while jumping around on the “keyboard,” etc. It would be as the video says: fun theory…in action.

Thank you, dear, for this joyful bit of amusement so early in the day.

Friday, November 26, 2010

No Black Friday for Me

2010 was not a Black Friday year for me. In recent years, I have ventured out at the crack of dawn with a longtime friend, buoyed by a strong cup of coffee or some steaming green tea and bundled well against the cold. This year, though, we both decided to sleep in: she because of an ear infection and me because I was lazy and didn’t want to leave the warmth of my down comforter. Besides, none of the sales really applied to my gift list. No, instead, I grabbed some leftover baked eggs and a bite of cinnamon pull-apart, showered, and headed out to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part I)” with my daughter and her magician friend. Later, I enjoyed a small sirloin steak topped with mushrooms and accompanied by broccoli and grilled tomatoes at one of my favorite local restaurants. Now, I am home, waiting for my cats to finish their evening meal, soon to be snugly dressed in my gray sweatshirt, feet tucked inside a pair of fuzzy mint green slippers, curled up on the couch ready to work on my annual Christmas card letter. Movie for the evening: Christmas in Connecticut.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Life with a Ringer

This morning, as my family was watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, this commercial came on the TV. My bell ringer daughter immediately heralded, “Now, it must be Christmas!” Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Typical Thanksgiving Preparation Day

Just when I think I am totally ready to bake and cook for Turkey Day, I discover that I am missing ingredients. Since I am eating with friends tomorrow and I am responsible for a pie, some cookies, and a side dish (grated carrot salad), I gathered what I needed late last week and, in some cases, weeks ago. Yet this morning, in a fit of perfectionism, I picked up two bags of fresh carrots so I had really fresh ones for the Thanksgiving Day party. I also grabbed some extra cinnamon for the breakfast pull-apart I was making, just in case I ran low. What I didn’t check for and, consequently, didn’t purchase on this last-minute grocery trip was yeast for the pull-apart. Silly me, I thought I had some. Obviously not! So…I have just returned from my last last-minute excursion to the supermarket. This trip: dijon mustard (which I discovered I needed for the carrot salad dressing), parsley (which I also needed for the carrot salad), the yeast that I needed, and some extra butter. You never know when you might need some butter, especially when children are baking cookies. Price surprise: the bread machine yeast was $7.49/jar. Thankfully, my store card dropped it to $6.49.

Forward to the kitchen!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It’s a Start

For the first time in a long time, I feel motivated to get my yard and garden in order before the snow flies, maybe because of the increasingly difficult economic picture, maybe because my daughter is interested in learning to grow her own food, or maybe because I am tired of my yard looking unkempt. Whatever the reason, thus far I have my future kitchen garden bed cleared of old dayliles and daffodils, and amended with lobster compost, vermiculite, and peat moss. I also have the new backyard vegetable bed carved out of the lawn. Here are the results:

The new planting area will get more extensive treatment in the spring: additional soil amendments and, hopefully, a lovely stone border built up to create a raised bed. Tasks for the rest of Thanksgiving week: finish cleaning and amending the raised bed under my bedroom window. If all goes well, when I am finished, I will have 150-200 square feet of garden space prepared and ready to go in the spring, not including the EarthBoxes my daughter has planned for the driveway. It’s a start.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stir Up Sunday

Yesterday (11/21/2010) marked the final Sunday before Advent, a day that in times past had been termed “Stir Up Sunday” after the opening lines of the Collect* for that day in the Book of Common Prayer, 1549:

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For those unfamiliar with the practices of a more liturgically oriented church (e.g., Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc.), the Collect is a prayer that is said just after a hymn of praise in the worship service and generally takes the following form:

1) Invitation
2) Address to the person of the Trinity
3) Attribute or quality of the deity related to the prayer
4) The prayer or request itself
5) Reason or expected result of the prayer
6) Christian conclusion
7) General affirmation

Using the aforementioned Collect as an illustration, we have:

1) Let us pray
2) O Lord
3) The will of the faithful people
4) Stir up the will of the faithful people
5) That the will of the people would result in good works so that the people may be rewarded
6) Through Jesus Christ our Lord
7) Amen

From the book Christmas Customs and Traditions by Frank Muir (1975), we also learn this about “Stir Up Sunday:”

By tradition it was the last occasion on which Christmas puddings and cakes could be begun if they were to be ready by 25 December.

Such holiday foods needed time to age before being baked and served, hence the need to “stir up” the pudding mixture well in advance. The pudding itself was not without a modicum of symbolism, as is recorded in Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History by Andrea Praeger (1975), this particular quote being taken from The Food Timeline website:

The plum pudding’s association with Christmas takes us back to medieval England and the Roman Catholic Church’s decree that the ‘pudding should be…prepared with thirteen ingredients to represent Christ and the twelve apostles, and that every family member stir it in turn from east to west to honor the Magi and their supposed journey in that direction.’

While I do not practice the tradition of baking a Christmas pudding, I see some practicality in the picture it provides, as outlined above, in that it marries information about the birth of Christ with what is known about the ministry of Christ. The pudding seems like a helpful tie-in between the Christmas story itself and the good works of service performed by the followers of the Savior whose birth they commemorate at Christmas; of course, understanding always that no one is saved by such works but by the grace of God alone. The fact that the Christmas celebrants are required to wait on the scrumptious holiday dessert just as they have to wait for the Second Coming of Christ provides a valuable object lesson as well, one that is often missed in our modern-day Christmas preparations.

How about you? What traditions do you observe that help teach the children in your life about the meaning of Christmas and the life of Christ Jesus, Our Lord, a life that believers everywhere should imitate?

*The Collect begins with the words "Let us pray."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Fond Farewell

Sad news has come to our little corner of the world. Kit, the beloved tabby cat featured in this posting, passed away last week, a victim of abdominal cancer. As he was only six years old and asymptomatic, his illness came as a complete shock to our family. We really had no choice but to give him peace as his entire abdominal wall and part of his liver were riddled with tiny tumors, none of which would respond to treatment. He is already greatly missed by both the people and the other cats that live in our home, and I am certain he will be missed for a long time to come.

A real character, Kit would steal tomatoes from your salad, lick yogurt from your fingertips, and tear into plastic bags to nibble on the sprouted wheat bagels you were saving for breakfast; he would burrow into every basket of warm towels that he could find if you let it sit unattended for even a moment; and he would “kiss” your nose at night before cuddling into bed next to my daughter. Of course, he would also hunt our cockatiel if she was out of her cage for too long but, hey, every feline has to respond to instinct once in a while.

I received a call from the vet this morning (10/25/2010). The ashen remains of our adorable kitty have already returned from the crematorium and are ready for pick up. I feel as if that drive to the animal hospital will be, in some sense, a funeral procession. I had forgotten how much the death of a beloved pet affects daily life. The three-cat wake-up alarm is malfunctioning, causing everyone to oversleep and the household chores to get behind; Chopin is minus a playmate, so he spends time throughout the day searching for his absent companion instead of frolicking through the family room; and the “dinner bell,” a daily 4:00 PM confrontation that Kit used to have with Fermata, signaling the beginning of food prep for the evening, isn’t ringing either, so supper has been delayed of late as well. Everything is off.

Isn’t that how it should be, though? After all, isn’t mourning the process by which we who remain adjust to the loss of a loved one? Isn’t this the interval between loss and acceptance of loss where everything reaches a new equilibrium? I guess I just didn’t anticipate that we would all feel this loss quite so deeply. Yet, no matter how sad we are at the moment, I have faith that time will set life on course again. The fact that we need more time than I originally expected is a testament to how much Kit was loved and the integral role that he played in the life of our home. He was, most assuredly, a cherished companion who will live in our hearts forever.

Note: Kit arrived home yesterday (10/29/2010) in a lovely cherry wood box, sealed with a tiny gold lock. He was cremated on my birthday, October 21st.

Monday, April 26, 2010

DYK? A Mutated Fungus

Last Friday, as I was perusing the news online, I came across this article on Being an allergy sufferer and someone who occasionally experiences bronchial congestion after the flu or a particularly bad cold, I tend to notice information about airborne “things.” This particular “thing” is Cryptococcus gattii, a type of “encapsulated yeast found primarily in tropical and subtropical climates” (according to Wikipedia). Generally only a problem for immune compromised individuals, the fungus has mutated and is now a threat to healthy individuals as well. It has also begun to spread from its initial discovery point on Vancouver Island, British Columbia to the northwestern United States. Infection can only occur from inhaling fungus spores, so the illness is not transmissible person to person (or animal to person). Symptoms of cryptococcal infection range from a nagging cough to sharp chest pain to delerium-producing fever (for a list, click here). It is considered a rare illness. However, this new strain is particularly virulent, exhibiting a mortality rate of approximately 25%. If you would like to hear more about the spread of Cryptococcus gattii, listen to this podcast from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cute, but...

Last night, as I was checking the evening television listings, I noticed a visually active teaser ad for "Van Goghgurt," a product designed to "Feed Your Kids the Arts." Not sure if the commercial was for a real product, I clicked on the ad to investigate further. What I found was the website for Americans for the Arts. Apparently, the ad is one of several produced as public service announcements designed to get parents (and kids) more interested in arts education. Searching a bit further, I found this on YouTube:

This particular ad is cute, I admit, but will it really move parents to expose their children to more arts education opportunities, especially during a time when so many families are experiencing economic hardship?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

When It Rains

…and the water runs through my backyard like a small tributary heading down the path of least resistance to the stream in the woods a half mile from house, I get A LOT of water in my basement! Usually, when water comes up in my basement, it only rises a few inches before being removed by my sump pump. When A LOT of water flows through my local watershed in a short period of time (like the past two days), the water apparently comes right through my stone foundation and onto the dirt, skipping the sump pump entirely. Yes, you read that correctly; my basement is about 75% dirt/sand/gravel and 25% concrete. The concrete portion has a retaining wall and a slab upon which sits my furnace and my clothes washer. Beyond/behind the retaining wall is fill and a huge boulder, hence the reason my basement is not completely dug out and finished. In the twenty years that my husband and I have owned this house, we have never had water come through our foundation wall and onto the dirt. We have also never had so much water in our yard.

Current status: a small amount of water is still coming up in the sump pump/concrete portion of my basement. The dirt is wet but not taking on new water.

Current strategy: continue to pump any water that comes up in the concrete portion of the basement and install fans to dry out the dirt.

So how’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

RC: January 2010

After debating with myself about whether I should make the commitment to write about my holiday planning attempts this year, I decided to take it one month at a time. So, even though it is now March, here are my accomplishments for January 2010.

The Christmas Quilt
by Jennifer Chiaverini

I have booklovers on my Christmas list, a fact that simultaneously makes gift giving a breeze and a challenge. Ordering books from Amazon and having them delivered direct to the gift recipients reduces an amazing amount of stress during the holiday season. On the other hand, finding a fresh story for these seasoned readers is tough. In an effort to meet the latter challenge (and dispense with some Christmas shopping early in 2010), I am proactively reading of late. My latest yarn: The Christmas Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini.

A heartwarming tale of family, memory, and reconciliation, The Christmas Quilt shifts between past and present as it recounts the continuing saga of the Bergstrom clan, wealthy Pennsylvania kinsfolk whose financial empire was built on the breeding of world-class thoroughbred racehorses. Beginning two years after the death of Claudia Bergstrom and the return of her sole surviving sibling, Sylvia, the story picks up where The Quilter’s Apprentice ended. Sylvia Bergstrom has resurrected the family estate, Elm Creek Manor, and turned it into a retreat for quilt enthusiasts with the help of a young couple, Matt and Sarah McClure. As the elder Bergstrom prepares for the holidays, Sarah discovers the Christmas Quilt, a multigenerational project, worked on by four eras of Bergstrom women. Left unfinished for decades, Sarah asks if she can complete the coverlet, a process that sparks some reminiscing about family traditions, some retelling of family history, and some re-examination of long-held grudges on the part of both Sylvia and Sarah. In the end, pieces of the past are joined to the present just as the pieces of the quilt are intricately stitched together.

Favorite quotes from the book:

- “Her heart filled with joy and gratitude as she sung the traditional carols she loved so dearly. How the Lord must have loved the people of the world to send them His only Son! And how He must love them still, despite their sin, despite their weakness, despite the shadow of the Cross that fell upon the Manger even on this most joyous of days. At that moment Sylvia felt touched by the light of grace, and she knew that if she could remember that feeling after she left that gathering, even in her darkest hours, she would never be alone.”

- "At last she understood the true lesson of the Christmas Quilt, that a family was an act of creation, the piecing together of disparate fragments into one cloth --- often harmonious, occasionally clashing and discordant, but sometimes unexpectedly beautiful and strong. Without contrast there was not pattern…and each piece, whether finest silk or faded cotton, would endure if sewn fast to the others with strong seams --- bonds of love and loyalty, tradition and faith.

Publication date: 2005. Highly recommended.
Plush Duck rating: *****

“Surviving Christmas” (2004)
starring Ben Affleck, Christina Applegate

Wealthy marketing executive Drew Latham is alone at Christmas. Dumped by his girlfriend, he desperately tries to find a friend that will take him in for the holidays. Unsuccessful in this quest, Drew seeks the counsel of a psychiatrist. His advice:

- Write down all your grievances about family on a single sheet of paper
- Go somewhere that reminds you of your childhood
- Light the paper on fire
- As the paper burns, repeat the phrase, ”I forgive you.”

Somewhat skeptical that this ritual will restore familial relationships to his life, Mr. Latham makes his way to Lincolnwood, Illinois, the site of his childhood home. Standing on the front steps of his ancestral abode with the burning paper in his hand, Drew is suddenly ambushed and knocked unconscious by the shovel-wielding current homeowner. Feeling a bit remorseful that he treated him badly, the father of the resident family gives the wealthy businessman a tour of his former home, feeds him dinner…and gets stuck with him for Christmas as part of a financial deal. Yep, that’s right. Desperate Drew pays the current residents of his childhood home $250,000 to take him in for the holidays. Naturally, this arrangement comes complete with a legally binding contract drawn up by an attorney and signed by all parties involved. How touching.

Of course, this heartwarming experiment is an attempt by Drew to recreate the childhood memories he wants and never had. Unfortunately for all involved, the charade quickly disintegrates into an unmitigated disaster, and goes further awry with the arrival of Alicia, the family daughter who was absent when the contract was signed. To cope with this development, Drew assigns Alicia the role of the household maid in this bizarre Christmas scenario. Later, he adds a grandpa as well, played by a local actor hired to do the job.

Eventually, through mishaps and mayhem, Mr. Latham realizes that he has imposed on everyone and decides to cancel the charade but, by then, Drew’s wealthy ex-girlfriend and her family have unexpectedly arrived, so the show must go on. Try as they may to maintain the illusion that Drew puts family first, the truth comes out: all is fiction, as are the businessman’s feelings for his girlfriend. Mr. Latham really loves Alicia. Of course, it takes a few plot twists for him to reach that conclusion, but he gets there. In the end, the man who began the Christmas holiday in search of a family actually finds one that is willing to take him in.

As wonderful as that sounds, it does not translate into a high rating. Sadly, I must actually rate the film rather low. Yes, the overarching tale was positive; yet, the producers chose to pepper the storyline with a subplot involving pornographic websites. For me, that really took away from the quality of the film and put it more in the category of gross slapstick comedy rather than family-friendly holiday fare. I certainly wouldn’t watch it with younger children who still embrace the magic of Christmas.

Release date: 2004. Not recommended.
Plush Duck rating: *****

- Wrote an evaluation of Christmas 2009

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

An Education Survey

A short while ago, I received a link to a poll on education choices. The question (paraphrased): if money were no object, how would you educate your child? As I expected, private school was in first place at 52%. Homeschooling was running second at 22%. To see the current results, or to vote, visit this page on the BabyCenter website.

A Snow Board, Not a Snowboard

With the National Weather Service forecasting more "white stuff" for coastal New England, I thought I would share this fascinating bit of instruction per the measurement of snow. I obtained this from the National Weather Service website for Upton, NY:
The goal is to achieve the most representative and accurate measurement of snow accumulation, which is widely known to be obtained using a snowboard. A snowboard should be any lightly colored board that is about 2 feet by 2 feet. A piece of plywood painted white works very well. Ideally, it should be painted white to minimize heating by sunlight. Place your snowboard in the spot you have chosen. Mark the location of the snowboard with a stake so you can find it after a fresh snowfall.
I must confess, when I first read this statement, a picture of a snowboard came into my head. You know the kind...the ones that snowboarders use to ski down slopes. Obviously, the weather service is not referring to that kind of snowboard. They are referring to any board that can create a flat surface upon which snow can accumulate. Silly me!

For more information about measuring snow, click here.

Friday, January 29, 2010

In the Market?

Belcourt Castle in Newport, Rhode Island is up for sale! The last time it was available, according to Wikipedia, was 1956. Back then, the property was purchased by the Tinney family for $25,000. The asking price this time around: $7,200,000. For a video tour of the home, check out this YouTube video (see below). For more on the history of the property, which is quite a tale, peruse “Newport History for Sale” by Eric Moskowitz, an article that ran in the Boston Globe last June (2009) or visit Belcourt's History page.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Music That Soothes My Soul

In weeks when the world seems to be out of control and marred by horrendous tragedy (i.e., Haiti), I try to claim some peace by listening to this lovely composition by Gabriel Fauré: the Cantique de Jean Racine. Originally in French, the lyrics, translated into English, are as follows:
Word, equal to the Most High, our only hope,
Eternal day of the earth and the Heavens;
From the peaceful night we break the silence,
Divine Savior, cast your eyes upon us!

Spread upon us the fire of your powerful grace
May all hell flee at the sound of your voice;
Disperse the sleep from a languishing soul,
Which has driven it to forget your laws!

Oh Christ, be favorable to this faithful people
Now gathered to bless you.
Receive the songs it offers to your immortal glory,
And may it return filled with your gifts!


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another New Tool

One of my goals for 2010, like so many other adults, is to lose weight. Working toward that goal is always a challenge but, once in a great while, a gadget comes along that (when used and used properly) can make the weight loss journey much more effective. I think I may have discovered that gadget: the Tanita BC-533 InnerScan Body Composition Monitor. It slices; it dices; it melts away the pounds. Well, not really. I still need to do the work, but now I have a ton of data at my disposal to tailor a fitness and diet routine: weight, body fat %, body water %, muscle mass, physique rating, daily caloric intake, metabolic age, bone mass, and visceral fat rating. So far, after one reading, I know that my old scale was registering five pounds too light (bummer!); I know that my visceral fat is not a problem (thank goodness); and I know that my metabolic age is very close to my chronological age (hurrah). As for the rest of the numbers...well, I am not sharing that information. Maybe in the future when I look like a Victoria's Secret model and I weigh as little as I did when I got married (ha!). If you need a new gadget to help your weight loss effort, check out this and other fitness products at

* This is my personal recommendation/endorsement. I am not receiving any benefits, financial or otherwise, from the Tanita company.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Rewarding Concert Season

This past Friday (1/8/2010) marked the end of the 2009 Shoreline Ringers Christmas concert season…and what a season it was. It began with a visit to Carnegie Hall as part of “Christmas in the City” with the Continuo Arts Foundation. It continued with an engagement at the Somers Congregational Church in Somers, CT. That was followed by an appearance in the WFSB Channel 3Joy for the Kids” benefit concert at the Hartford Stage, during which my daughter (and the group, of course) were privileged to meet Scot Haney, the host of show. Several more concerts in Madison, Norwich, Noank, and Old Saybrook called for some travel and bell loading in the snow, efforts that were well worth the trouble as the audiences were so appreciative of and curious about the bells and the art of ringing. In case you missed any of the presentations, I offer this video from Embellishment, a male-female bell duo who rang with Shoreline Ringers at both Carnegie Hall and Madison, CT.

To see the ringers at rehearsal, click here and enjoy. I hope you all had a very merry holiday season.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

My New Health Tool

As part of my 2010 "Get Light, Get Fit, Get Healthy!" goals, I plan to work on stabilizing and/or improving my chronic sinusitis. I have battled this condition in some way or another for years, sometimes developing sinus infections that required an MRI for diagnosis and high-powered antibiotics for treatment. At least a decade ago, I began irrigating my sinuses with saline and a dosing syringe but, lately, that just wasn't doing the job. When the possibility of asthma as a result of the chronic sinusitis presented itself, I looked for something more effective. My solution: the SinuPulse Elite. This lovely little apparatus uses patented technology to deliver a pulsating stream of water (or mist) into your sinuses to clean and/or moisturize them. To learn more about the machine, visit Achoo Allergy, or watch the video posted below.

* This is my personal recommendation/endorsement. I am not receiving any benefits, financial or otherwise, from the manufacturers of the SinuPulse Elite.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Is This Our Future?

I don't usually like to post articles like this, but the video posted below saddened me and made me think about what could happen if we, as citizens, don't work to positively impact the current state of our economy and our government. I was saddened by this video for several reasons:

1) On a recent trip to Carnegie Hall in New York City, my husband and I met a couple from Detroit. We didn't really speak to them. We were merely on the same historical tour. Afterwards, we saw them in Starbucks and exchanged greetings. When they left the coffee shop, the wife waved goodbye. It was quite touching to be in a city of millions for one day, for the first time in my life, and encounter a stranger more than once in the same day. It saddens me to think that someone whose life intersected mine for just a moment lives daily in the reality that is Detroit.

2) Given my educational background in economics and political science, and having come of age as a fan of Democratic initiatives like the Model Cities program, it worries me that the current administration (as well as several previous ones) is making domestic and fiscal policy mistakes that could create more cities in crisis, like Detroit.

3) Personally, I cannot imagine what skills I would need to learn or develop in order to survive in an environment like the Detroit depicted in this video. I know I certainly do not have those skills now and it weighs on me that, at my age, I may not have time to learn what I need to know, or to teach my daughter the skills she may need to know.

Rest assured, I don’t ponder this perspective on a daily basis; yet, it does occur to me once in a while. So, I ask the question again: “Is this our future?” I pray that it is not.