Monday, May 24, 2010

Let Go, Let God

I'm busy inventing another self. I have been with my son's family in Massachusetts for a week now and for once I am totally enjoying my stay. The difference - they have a larger house where everyone has more options. Everyone is more relaxed. I still have to keep telling myself to relax. That's not easy for me. But as long as I let go and let God, I'm finding life within this family really fun.

I miss all my interactions in Austin but will be back for June. And I miss Terry but he will come later this week and we will go back together.

I just have to keep repeating "let go, let God", over and over. Why is that so hard? I guess I was raised to be productive but sometimes the skill of patience and quiet love work best. I'm learning, God. Maybe I will get it before I die. Or at least a balance between that and being driven by accomplishing lots everyday.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Not such a bad day after all!

I've had quite a day, so far. I was getting out of my car on returning home after a wonderful conversation and lunch with my friend Jane, feeling on top of the world, when I dropped my new little laptop, case and all, on the parking lot, screen side down. The screen shattered. $430 and some change spent on Sunday for a refurbished machine that promised to solve work problems with which I have been struggling for over a year, gone in one little slip.

So what did I do. I cried, then I cursed the fact that I really was finding that laptop very useful and wondered if I was just like all the other privileged folks I find myself judging who suffer from technology attachment disorder. Then I realized I was going to use that machine for good work. Then I cried and called my husband, Terry, who even after four calls did not call me back. So I called my son who said he was so sorry, and then I cried and stamped and felt awful about ruining the lovely present my husband had just bought me, even though he wasn't answering his phone.

Finally, I remembered what my good friend Jane had said at lunch, that all problems have solutions and there was no point in wallowing in misery. So I called the repair folks, told the nice guy my sad story and asked what it would cost to put in a new screen and how soon they could do it.

Immediately, I felt better. So what if it may cost almost as much to replace the screen as the original price of the laptop and they may not have it ready when I travel on Monday. Those obstacles can be surmounted. I have the privilege of being wealthy enough to have it fixed, for which I am very grateful, and if it isn't ready in time it can be sent Fedex. I realized I was more upset about letting the solution to a problem I had been brewing about for years slip through my fingers, especially one which Terry felt so relieved to have helped solve.

Off I went to the computer store with my injured machine, congratulating myself that I hadn't totaled the car, that no one was ill or dying, and that I had not spent days kicking myself before I moved to bring light to a solvable problem. And on the way back I picked up my new, much better to see with, glasses and discovered a neighborhood cafe that does a delicious decaf/skim cappuccino and has wi-fi. I've been looking for such a place to work for some time now! All in all not such a bad day after all.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

mother's day surprise

Terry and I went to the computer store and got me a new, little laptoptoday. One with a much bigger screen, more memory and a nice keyboard. Much easier to travel with than my big machine and much more capable of doing all I need to do than my first little laptop.

Somehow machines have taken over my life. I want to think I'm more productive than I used to be but I spend too much time getting the machines to work.

So now I have a new machine. May it empower me to write more and worry about machine maintenance less.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Whence Quaker Publishing?

Since I entered the realm of Quaker publishing in 1987 there has been lots of change, some of it very positive, some of it constricting the ministry of the written word.

On the positive side, technological improvements have democratized publishing. When I began work in a Friendly Woman collective (an all volunteer Quaker woman’s journal that went from meeting to meeting for about 20 years) we were still getting text typeset and pasting up columns and graphics by hand. By the end of our two years editing the journal a friendly woman had procured a MAC and learned to use a desktop publishing program. As I remember it, she still printed columns of text that we then pasted up but it was so much more in our control.

By the time I took the publishers position at Friends General Conference in 1989, we were using computers to set up most curriculum and some books. It wasn’t long before we hired a desktop production person who also was a designer. That was before print on demand was introduced. That had come in by the time I left FGC in 1998.

At the same time, Quaker publishers were becoming aware of the need to distribute more broadly. They standardized the terms of discounts and looked into promotion and marketing methods. Several publishers were doing multiple books each season and the quality of covers, design and presentation was increasing. However, when budgets began to be sliced in Quaker organizations in the 2000s, publishing was often first to go. Many houses are presently doing only reprints and only a one or two books a year. The future of book publishing seems in grave doubt. Several of the journals have been laid down and others are publishing fewer issues a year.

One bright spot is a proposal at Friends General Conference for three tracks of publishing which includes digital publishing. More about that soon.

The good news is that Quaker blogs flourish and much material from traditional tracts to universalist and nontheist materials are posted on the internet. Some curriculum is available online as well.

At the recent Quakers Uniting in Publications conference, Brent Bill, Quaker author, exhorted us to “Go boldly” into the world of digital publishing while remembering that it’s our truth that counts, not the old or new media we use to deliver it. (see his power point presentation at and his Quaker e-Book video at

What do I think? I will miss the idea of Sessions of York, UK, the life work of Bill Sessions, founding member of QUIP, printing labels and books in the same plant. The most recent news from the Quaker publishing world says the label part of the business is “in administration”. But the Sessions Book Trust survives at Quacks Printing of York, in the capable hands of Bill Sessions’ son, Michael, who will keep up the family tradition of publishing Quaker books. I wish him well for the sake of his business and for the sake of Quaker publishing.

But I agree with Brent Bill. We have to look to the digital world and begin figuring out how best to deliver the ministry of the word while still funding our publishing efforts and maintaining our quality. Others may be way ahead of us but as we make this change we need to keep our testimonies in mind, remembering that not everyone has access to online content and that discernment and testing need to take place in the online world to maintain integrity and quality in our work. Perhaps we need to develop queries and advices for this new realm of communication to help us refrain from rushing ahead of our Guide.

We are the people of the Light, committed to spreading a message that there is some of the Divine in each of us. Print we will, whether on the page or on the screen, God willing, the ministry of the printed word will get out.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cassie's birthday present a success

Terry (my husband/lover and tech support) and I worked hard on Cassie's website. We both had fun but wondered what she would think. We were rewarded with the big, long lasting smiles over the webcam as she made her first blog posts. She eventually had to go to dinner but returned after to continue her silly but creative posts. She learned to post pictures and get them in the right place as well. Her site is protected, as she is only 10. You have to get an account which has to be approved by her father, Sam. But she really loved it.
First she went to the blog area and said, "What should I write?" Then she was off on ten minutes of entering text. She really loves words and likes to make images from them. Her first blog included:
if leaning on yellow mushrooms, be sure to eat the toadstools first
treasure will be located seven miles north of the seventh rock from the east of the camels den
And it goes on with silliness from there. She is a true writer who writes lots of stories and books.
It's great to give a present that you make - thanks to Cheryl Gibbs who gave the journalism workshop at the QUIP conference last week in which she mentioned making and giving a website to her nephew. It's even better to make the gift with your sweetie. But the best is to see the smile on the face of a really pleased 10 year old. What a feeling. Wish I had a picture but we were all too busy interacting to take one.
No time to do all that I want to which includes just about everything I do these days. That's a wonderful state of affairs though there are dishes in the sink. And the weather is heavenly! Just beginning to get hot.

Cassie is 10 today

last summer

in Kate's garden in 2002

Cassie was born in Massachusetts on May 2, 2000 when I was riding the light rail through Portland, OR on my way to the airport to go home to Austin from the QUIP meetings. It's good to be home in Austin this May 2 making a website for Cassie as a birthday present.

Tonight I posted many photos of Cassie at different ages on her website. Some of my favorites are above. As my first grandchild she has a special place in my heart but there is still plenty of room for her sister Ari (7) and brother Brennon (5).

It's late and I have to record the minutes of the monthly meeting tomorrow. Better go to bed.