On Boats and Big Boulders

The Celebration of Service for our Schweitzer Fellowship cohort was last Wednesday at New Orleans Yacht Club.

Paul and I got there too late for the boat trip.  So we were stuck enjoying the sunset from the pier.  We weren’t entirely sure what to expect from the night.  We knew some program funders would be there, as well as some from the new group of Fellows.  As part of our fellowship requirements, we prepared posters for viewing during a cocktail hour.

When we sat down to dinner, our program director asked each of us to come up and talk to the crowd about our projects and memories about the Fellowship year.  Impromptu speaking!

Have you ever had one of those moments where you are up in front of a room of people and notice someone unexpected in the audience, maybe someone you’ve been sort of nervous about seeing, and have a total freak out mid-speech?


Oh, well, me neither.

That whole shuttering blinking thing I did last Wednesday when I saw one of my committee members smiling at me in the audience?  Yeah, that wasn’t me losing my train of thought or being distracted by the !!!OMG!!! running through my head.  Not a bit.

That was how Paul met my Committee Member Extraordinaire, whom I could call Dr. Comforting, Dr. Calming, Dr. Confirming, or Dr. Consoling and still not quite capture what this particular person brings to the table.  It had been a LONG TIME since I’d checked in.  My committee chair (the one who is suppose to guide everything I do) had strongly suggested I sort of keep the rest of the committee on the sidelines until I had a pre-defense draft ready for review… an appealing choice, but one that was freaking me out.  What if I alienate another member?  Or, what if I ignore my chair’s advice and get thrown off track by someone else’s comments?  Ack!  The confusion!

So far, my way of handling it was to ignore everyone.  A wonderful strategy if my goal is to never finish, or so it seems.

Bottom line is that Committee Member Extraordinaire was INCREDIBLE when we spoke after the speech.  I told her where I was and what I was doing and was honest about the advise from the chair.  “I think that is great,” she offered, “I love it when people can work that independently.”  It knocked the wind right out of me.  Then, she pleaded with me to speak with public health students about Schweitzer, congratulated me about taking over (temporarily) as program director, and just generally made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  (Note, this is distinctly different from how committee members usually make one feel.)  Paul turned to me afterward and said, “I love her.  She is fantastic.”

“I know,” I answered.  I forgot how supportive she is.  How could I forget?

Seeing her and getting all of that out in the open took a huge weight off my shoulders and I feel so much more prepared to finish this thing.  I am starting to see that it is something I truly can do…

Art & Photography

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Not out of the game, yet!

I’ve made a simple website with instructions for voting:


Additional information about the project, links to the relevant sites, and some photos are there. I’m not a graphic designer, so let’s just call the page — nostalgic. A throwback to a time when our websites were in a place called “geocities” and we used car phones the size of bricks.

Thank you thank you thank you for your help!

Art & Photography

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It will only take a moment.

And it will mean so much.

Help me give beautiful portraits to families who have no means to make a photographic record of their memories.  Please help me make this dream of giving back a reality!


Go here.  This is my “idea” — my dream assignment.

Register. (Click “register” in the box on the top right.)

Check your email, click through the verification to bring you back to the website.

Find my “idea”. Either by going directly back to my “idea” page, OR, by searching on my “name” — coldspaghetti.

Once you are on my Idea Page, click the yellow “PIC” box.  It is to the left of the assignment description, under the number of votes.  It will change from “PIC” to “PIC’D” which means that you have successfully voted for me.

Then leave me a message so I know you’ve voted. (This part makes me feel less insecure gives me warm fuzzies.)

Extra bonus step… Spread the word to your friends, family, students, co-workers, kids, neighbors, mailman, hairdresser… and ask them to vote, too!



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Just Posts for a Just World: February 2009

Here in New Orleans, February was Carnival month. It’s the best and worst of life each day here, but somehow the dichotomies are heightened during Carnival. The joy coupled with the danger, the opulence and the excess, the celebrations and the hangovers.

Just Posts follow suit this month with a wide range of issues, views, expressions, and topics. There are poems, lists, rants, and realizations. Every one represents a piece to a larger puzzle, a few stitches in the tapestry of our world.

Before the list, though, I have a favor. I have submitted an entry to win my Dream Photography Assignment. In short, my dream is to have the funds to return to impoverished areas where I have worked in the past with the goal of providing portraiture photography to the families living there and then giving them copies of the photographs. It is a gift that I always try to give, but due to time constraints, logistics of travel, print availability, and cost — one that I am rarely able to do. In the few times when I’ve brought back a photo, I have been intimately moved by the response. So much so that doing this on a larger scale remains one of my fondest dreams. While there are opportunities for photographers to pitch assignments to document poverty, photograph landscapes, and capture everyday life — there are few (if any) funding opportunities for photographers to simply give back.

I am hoping you will help me. I’m hoping you will vote and spread the word for others to do the same. The ideas with the top 20 votes will be judged by a panel — and I need your help to get in that top 20.

Please consider visiting the site and putting in a vote for my dream.

And finally. Thank you thank you thank you for reading, nominating, and writing…

Our Readers:


Our Writers:

Amy at Je Ne Regrette Rien with A Day With Fibromyalgia and This Angel Needs SOLE.

Jen at One Plus Two with En Route and Welcome to the Jungle.

Thordora at Spin Me I Pulsate with When a Man Wants to Murder a Tiger…

Bon at cribchronicles with More.

Angela at Letters from usedom with We are in the Middle of Something New, I was given a beautiful award, and Tapestry of Life.

Reya at The golden puppy with Money Changes Almost Everything, Past Present and Future, and Right or Wrong.

Julochka at Moments of Perfect Clarity with School is Cool.

Hummingbird at Hummingbird with Friend, stop a moment.

Deborah at What if with What a Wonderful World and My Dear Valentine.

Peter at The Buddha Diaries with Film Review: Wheel of Time, Another much bigger ethical conundrum, and Post-Racial.

Third story at Three Stories High with Kites on a Corner.

Elder woman at Elderwomanblog with Just One Shift.

Jarret at Creature of the shade with Stay or go.

Maggie Dammit at Violence Unsilenced with The Beginning.

Erika at Be Gay About It with Violence unsilenced.

Em at Social Justice Soapbox with Take Action: Responding to the Victorian bushfires.

Susie J with Grow and Garden and Share.

girlgriot at If you want kin, you must plan kin with How now, Juan? and To B(oycott) or not to B(oycott).

la loca at baggage carousel 4 with  wrong reason, right vote.

Thailand Chani at Finding My Way Home with Jiho.

One Year to Change the World with To bin or not to bin and The Age of Noisy Altruism.

Brigitte Knudson with Education Stimulus: What America Really Needs.

Neil of Citizen of the Month with My Once A Year Jewish Rant.

Alejna’s conversation is up and singing, too!

If you’ve nominated or written for this month, please feel free to copy the button to your website. If you want more information about Just Posts, check out the Just Posts Page.

Art & Photography
Home and Renovation

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My Happy Place

Art & Photography

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Life in Pachacutec… growing up out of the sand

This day of the trip was facilitated in part by me, only because I met Barbara by a fabulous stroke of luck when we lived in Lima in 2006 and subsequently introduced her to Valerie (the course instructor).  I arranged with Barbara to have the class spend the day in Pacha, the community where Barbara has worked and lived within for several years.  Barbara has medical training and has served as a Medical Mission Sister for longer than I have been alive: she is one of the most patient, compassionate, and genuine people I have ever met.  We were so lucky to spend the day with her, visiting several levels of health systems within the community (local posts, clinics, and a new hospital) and having lunch in a community kitchen.

More information about the community, our visit, and details about the day are given in the gallery.


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