De-Cluttering a Cluttered Life

My parents’ washer and dryer are probably 10-15 years old and I can tell that the drum bearing on the washer needs replacing. Given their age I’ve decided it would be better to replace them than repair them. Which has placed cleaning the utility room at the top of my priority list. It’s an interesting experience. Like much of the house it’s sort of a miniature archaeological dig through the strata of my family’s history.

The top stratum consists of towels from my parents’ condominiums. When the management company replaced the towels in the units, my parents elected to keep the old ones rather than throw them away. I, on the other hand, have little compunction about getting rid of them. They are a symbol of my parents’ inability to get rid of anything that might conceivably be of use to them at some unknown point in town.

The next layer is old clothes belonging to me. Not sure why these are down here instead of up in my closet but given that it’s stuff I probably haven’t worn in 25+ years, I have no problem getting rid of them as well.

There’s a layer of baby clothes that were presumably worn by my brother and me. I don’t seem to be in any danger of having a baby anytime soon and I doubt my friends would be interested in them. Besides, there have probably been a few safety-oriented improvements in baby clothes since I wore them. Out they go.

There’s a layer of things that belonged to my grandparents. Not just clothes but stuff like dish towels and lace doilies and the like. I can understand my parents not wanting to get rid of the stuff. I feel a bit of nostalgia myself when I look at a particular hat that belonged to my grandmother. But my parents did the same thing I would do with the stuff. Shove in an out of the way corner and never look at it again, leaving it for my heirs to do something with it.

If there’s a lesson to be learned here it’s that we go through life accumulating things that we continue to hold on to long past the time we should. It feels so much better to clean out the clutter from time to time, getting rid of what we no longer need. Do you want to live with piles of things you have no use for or do you want to thoroughly clean house from time to time and have a home that you can enjoy to the full? I know what my answer to that question is.

In Memoriam: Anna Beth Vaglienti

Since my mother’s passing, people have been asking me if I’m going to hold a memorial service for her. It’s something that I’ve been conflicted about because while I can see there is interest in one, neither my mother nor I have ever really been the sort to host big events. When my father passed last year she considered having a service here at the house for just family but in the end chose not to have one at all.

This last week I was in San Antonio collecting her things from the nursing home. While there I stayed with my aunt and one day we drove over to Austin to see my cousin. The three of us found a quiet place to sit and there we shared spiritual readings while thinking of my mother. I think she would have liked that and it’s the only memorial service I intend to hold for her. I did want to share the readings I brought with others though.

I actually looked these up a few days before her passing and had been looking forward to sharing them with her at Easter. As head usher for my church, it is my duty to mail out the usher’s schedule for the month but I’d been lazy and hadn’t sent one out for April. We start each usher’s meeting with readings but since I hadn’t sent out the schedule, I hadn’t assigned anyone to bring any for the first Sunday of April. On such days I try to bring readings myself from one of Mary Baker Eddy‘s works; usually either Science and Health with Keys to the Scriptures or one of her other works. On this particular day I picked up Prose Works and opened it to a random page, trusting Divine Mind to guide me. I found that I had opened the book to a section of No and Yes that I thought was perfect for Easter. In fact, I liked the readings so much that I was looking forward to sharing it with my mother the next time I saw her. Unfortunately I never got the chance but I thought I could at least share them with her friends.

(No and Yes 35:24-36:26)

Jesus came announcing Truth, and saying not only “the kingdom of God is at hand,” but “the kingdom of God is within you.” Hence there is no sin, for God’s kingdom is everywhere and supreme, and it follows that the human kingdom is nowhere, and must be unreal. Jesus taught and demonstrated the infinite as one, and not as two. He did not teach that there are two deities, — one infinite and the other finite; for that would be impossible. He knew God as infinite, and therefore as the All-in-all; and we shall know this truth when we awake in the divine likeness. Jesus’ true and conscious being never left heaven for earth. It abode forever above, even while mortals believed it was here. He once spoke of himself (John iii. 13) as “the Son of man which is in heaven,” — remarkable words, as wholly opposed to the popular view of Jesus’ nature.

The real Christ was unconscious of matter, of sin, disease, and death, and was conscious only of God, of good, of eternal Life, and harmony. Hence the human Jesus had a resort to his higher self and relation to the Father, and there could find rest from unreal trials in the conscious reality and royalty of his being, — holding the mortal as unreal, and the divine as real. It was this retreat from material to spiritual selfhood which recuperated him for triumph over sin, sickness, and death. Had he been as conscious of those evils as he was of God, wherein there is no consciousness of human error, Jesus could not have resisted them; nor could he have conquered the malice of his foes, rolled away the stone from the sepulchre, and risen from human sense to a higher concept than that in which he appeared at his birth.


The spiritual interpretation of the vicarious atonement of Jesus, in Christian Science, unfolds the full-orbed glory of that event; but to regard this wonder of glory, this most marvellous demonstration, as a personal and material bloodgiving — or as a proof that sin is known to the divine Mind, and that what is unlike God demands His continual presence, knowledge, and power, to meet and master it — would make the atonement to be less than the at-one-ment, whereby the work of Jesus would lose its efficacy and lack the “signs following.”


This Truth is the rock which the builders rejected; but “the same is become the head of the corner.” This is the chief corner-stone, the basis and support of creation, the interpreter of one God, the infinity and unity of good.

In proportion as mortals approximate the understanding of Christian Science, they take hold of harmony, and material incumbrance disappears. Having one God, one Mind, one consciousness, — which includes only His own nature, — and loving your neighbor as yourself, constitute Christian Science, which must demonstrate the nothingness of any other state or stage of being.

The Texas Star

Sometimes I’m slow of mind.

I wish I’d known my father better. As a child it seemed like he was always busy with work. That’s often the way it is with people who own their own business. They start working shortly after they get out of bed and keep going until it’s time to turn in for the night. For the rest of us our bedrooms were a place to sleep but for Dad’s bedroom did double duty as an office. He had a desk and drafting table and a shelving unit for blueprints (and hiding Christmas presents). Probably had some filing cabinets in there too though I don’t remember them. When he built his and my mother’s dream home it included an office attached to his bedroom. It’s a claustrophobic little space with no windows and a fluorescent light on the ceiling. Most people would be upset if their boss put them in an office like that but he was the boss and that was the room he designed for himself. Sundays we’d go out to eat, either with Dad’s parents or Mom’s, and then back to their house for a visit before heading home. On the way home, though, we’d often drop by houses he was working on to see how they were doing or drive around residential streets looking at other houses and seeing if anything inspired him.

Food was one of his passions. He’d grown up on a farm where food was plentiful so I suppose it should have come as no surprise that he enjoyed eating, particularly salads. I understand in his younger days, before he started his own business, his co-workers used to joke that he had to bring his lunch up in the freight elevator because it was so big. Always a penny pincher, a result of growing up during the Great Depression, he was always on the lookout for good deals which usually translated into a preference for buffets. Though he wasn’t fat, hours spent waiting for him to finish eating undoubtedly contributed to my own weight problems. While he’d spend a lot of time at the salad bar I was more inclined to go for the desserts as most kids would be.

He liked to travel and so we tended to take trips in the summer when my brother and I were out of school. Dad would spend hours poring over the Mobil Travel Guide figuring out where he wanted to stop on our route. I can remember driving in the family station wagon, caravaning with my aunt, uncle, and cousin in theirs, to Key West and San Francisco and parts in between. There came a time when I was spending my summers at a camp and when they’d pick me up at the end of the session our route home would take us to an amusement park whether it was Six Flags Over Texas, Worlds of Fun, or someplace smaller like Silver Dollar City or Dogpatch USA. Once my brother and I had graduated and were on our own they were able to travel more often and were particularly interested in attending Elderhostel programs.

And that brings me to Dad’s other interest and the reason for this post. He was interested in self-publishing very much like this blog. Only there were no blogs and no Internet when he got bit by the self-publishing bug. Out in the garage sits a printing press and boxes of type to go with it. It’s not his original press but it’s much like it. Today I just type away, run spell checker, and push a button to publish. All very easy. He had to write his copy, set his type by hand, ink it, and run the individual pages through the press. And he did just that. As a member of the American Amateur Press Association he published a journal called The Texas Star. In the 90s he finally got with modern times. Sort of. He’d type his journal up on a manual typewriter and then give the copy to me. I’d then type it into PageStream on my Amiga and print it out for him. I don’t know if he considered it real printing or not but it got the job done.

So it is that it has finally penetrated my slow mind that there is only one name for this blog and that name is The Texas Star. I’ve got a feeling Dad would approve.