Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sad, Sad Christmas News

One of my daughters sits for the cutest two boys you could ever love. She has been adopted into their family over the years. Although her name is Liz, the entire family has come to call her Yiz. Even the aunts and uncles say,"So, Hi Yiz. How ya' doing?"

The boys are now 3 and 5. Perfect. Great year for all grades of trouble.

She is very special to the boys as she is the Mary Poppins in their lives. She is the dream sitter they will adore until she retires into a rest home. No one can hold a candle to her. Even the nannies they are enjoying pale in comparison. She comes to visit on college breaks.

Over Thanksgiving, she missed seeing them. She had to get back to school and they were en route from their holiday away with family. They called on her cell. I can't change the names here because it just isn't the same, so I hope the family will forgive me. or enjoy the tale.

Her cell rang. She answered. Wyatt (5)said something like, " Hi Yiz."
" Hi Wyatt. What are you doing?"
" We're riding in the car coming home."
" Oh, I'm riding in the car, too."
" Are you coming to see us?"
" Well, I really wanted to, but I have to go back to school now."
muffled noises take over, voices shift. Enter Charlie (3)
"Yiz. Wheh ah you?"
" Who is this?"
" Dis is Chah-wee. Are you comin'?"
" Charlie, I'm going back to school. I'm driving now just like you are. I'll be back for Christmas, though so I will come see you then, okay?"

Charlie holds the phone away from his ear and says to the carload of people he is riding with, " She's not here!!" then... "Click"

She called me later to tell me that she had just been hung -up on by a 3 year old.

The make up plan was the promise of having both boys over to Yiz's house for dinner. Charlie and Wyatt got to make the menu. Although the date is still in limbo, the menu is set in stone. Spongebob macaroni and cheese, with Spongebob macaroni and cheese as the appetizer and dessert, and vegetable. That will be a fun dinner, boy howdy.

In the meantime, the days go by......

It is now Christmas time. She decides to visit her boys. The nannie greets her with, "Hi, Yiz". ( We think the nannies think her name is actually Yiz)
The boys are decorating the tree, Charlie is putting the baby Jesus ornament he made in preschool on a branch, no- this branch, no- this branch, no- THIS branch... etc... he looks as if the perfect branch for his baby Jesus is way up near the top, a place that would most definitely require climbing.

Liz looks around the room at the decorations. Lots of lights, wreaths, other holiday items, and of course the manger. Except, something is missing. Something isn't right.

"Yiz!" her little friends demand her full attention.

" Yes, Charlie, I see your ornament. You made that? Wow!"

The nannie speaks with a reprimanding tone." So Charlie, tell Yiz what happened to the baby Jesus in the manger."
Charlie keeps moving his ornament about, fully engrossed, and fully ignoring the question.

"He got fwushed down the toilet."

Liz glances over at the glass manger scene and notices the loving gazes of Mary and Joseph falling onto an empty cradle.

"What happened, Charlie?"

The nannie continued. " Charlie went to the bathroom and then I heard him say, 'Uh Oh, Baby Jesus is flushed down the toilet'. She explained that he came out of the bathroom shrugging his shoulders and holding both of his dripping wet hands up in that " I don't know, beaths me, sister," posture.

Liz looked at Charlie with love and her usual warmth. " Gosh, so now there's nobody for Mary and Joseph to look at and no one for the Wise Men to come see. That makes me sad in my heart, Charlie."

Charlie looked at her with his big beautiful eyes and said, "yeah" then he moved his ornament again, and then once again.

Maybe they should turn the wisemen so their gazes fall towards the bathroom, and maybe they can put Mary and Joseph in there somewhere.

What does it really mean when the baby Jesus gets flushed? It probably means that 3 year olds are still 3 year olds are still delightfully delicious 3 year olds. and 5 year olds along with them make a nice mix.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday Headlines

This just in on the white board at work. Yes, that's right , the white board that alerts the congregation of all births, deaths, and concerns.. This just in............
Holiday Headlines
Baby en-route with Mary and Joseph...

3 Wiseguys spotted flollowing a bright UFO

Stray cows and donkeys are migrating towards Bethel Manger Inn

Today, in downtown Bethlehem, there was a non-violent demonstration of winged creatures chanting Taize verse near and around a manger in a popular Inn.

Lost: 1 clay jar of Myrrh, if found please contact me at

Wanted: Tan tabby double humped camel carrying gold and 2- 2oz spray bottles of frankensense. Last seen on sandway 42. Do approach.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Learning curve

I am so glad my boss has a new phone. Whew. One knot along the way, though. The simple process of replacing his phone really reflected the slow down in brain cell function in my own head. I am a creature of habit.

He was in a rush, as usual, and had found a smidgen of time somewhere in the corner of his back pocket. He fled the building leaving a trail of words flapping behind him. " I'm going to the cell store, I'll be back with my phone soon."

A little while later, I got a call from him. His voice was low and sort of congested. I heard car-lift noises , and the sound of spitting; country radio finished out the background. " Melanie, I need the address of the cell store. I thought it was here, but it isn't. Can you do a map-quest for me?"

I was on hold with someone else, and was in the middle of looking up some information on the database for a customer/member. My mind kicked into multi-task routine.
I said to my boss," Let me call you right back." Before I could get the phone snuggled back into its cradle, a shrill noise rang out from my phone. "NOOOOooooOOOoooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!"

I looked at the screaming receiver and spoke into it, hoping to quiet the squall " What's the matter? I can call you right back on your cell. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh You don't have it, that's why you are there. oh yeah. Well, where are you then?"

" I'm calling from a gas station, a service station, an auto shop."I noticed a distinct twang of dis-ease in my boss's voice. He seemed uncertain.
Echoing from across the phone line came the sound of hack and spit -and a distant deeper toothless voice threw out, " Yeah, that'd be BILLY BRECK'S BIG MAN'S BODY SHOP, bub."

"Hold on, and I'll look it up right now, right this minute, how's that?"

"That would be great." he sighed with relief.

I gave him the directions and returned to other things that needed my attention. Then I started thinking. If the phone was completely damaged, how was he going to be able to retrieve his saved information?

A while later, he returned, but he looked more tired than relieved.
"So, tell me what happened?" "Did you get a new phone?"

"Yes, but none of my numbers saved and I realized that I don't really know anybody's phone number. I tried to call someone who I talk to often, but realized that I only know them as 3. I pushed 3 and nothing happened. I'll have to reprogram it all....

I started thinking and decided I wouldn't let it get to me. I tried to recall some of the numbers in Alex's phone number , and dialed. But Max answered. I don't know a Max. So I rearranged the numbers and tried again, but Francis answered. After Jonas picked up on my third try, I decided to give up calling random strangers and just put the numbers in again. I guess I could have used those windows of opportunity to save souls, but gosh, it was so frustrating. I wanted to talk to #5, 2, and 6 today, and quite frankly, I'd really like to talk with #9 but I am lost without the contact information. He looked pretty pitiful. Even for a Pastor.

"Hey, boss,I say we go back to using tin cans and string"
"Let's talk about it next week at staff meeting" he said as he left..... already on the path to another appointment.

In the office, we have started using the battery-free/ electricity-free system more often than not. It is an intercom system that is made in America, locally, actually. Each system looks a little different, I think that's neat. A unique quality you can't find in items manufactured overseas.
Equipment involves oxygen, and two hands. Cup your hands around your mouth, breathe in and holler. "Ellennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn" works well. Sometimes we use the phones, or email, but this system seems to work just as well most days. I like it. cheap and clean. You can't beat that.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Clean as a whistle

My Pastor boss moves a mile a minute. No kidding. He runs marathons in spirit on the pulpit, and he runs marathons on the pavement as well. He probably sleeps in motion too. I wouldn't be surprised. He is full of something that is backordered forever. Everybody wants it, not many can get it. The world would run smoother if we had more of it. It's a good thing to have, it's a good thing to see in others. good good good.

The thing is, that sometimes when you are full of this mysterious spiritual fuel, your odometer is changing so fast that your speedometer goes out. This is what happened today. Well, technically yesterday, but I'm still enjoying the story today.

I took yesterday off. Before I did, I looked at his calendar and, I have to admit I was a bit forewarned. The squares that Franklin Covey gives him to fill his time with were full. They were penciled in, erased, and rewritten upside down and this way /thataway. It was clear to me that my boss would be running harder than hard- faster than fast while I was lounging about on my day off. Maybe I should have taken heed of that warning inside me. But, I did not. I packed up and took my day off off off.

During the day of ping pong speedy activities, my Pastor boss shifted gears . Most days, he can manage that just fine, but on this day, he was driving a 5 speed on automatic. That doesn't fit, does it? Nope.
He was friend/Pastor/boss/dad/husband/neighbor/athlete/brother/.................All. Day. Long. One minute he was sharing soothing words with someone in need, the next he was typing wisdom in an email, phones ringing all the time in between. Landline/ cell phone... Whew.Phone call after phone call, checking voice mail, returning calls,typing, sermonizing, answering his cell. It was a hyper-cell day for sure.

The shifting gears zoomed out of control, the day became a blurrrrr and suddenly, he realized, in mid- conversation, that he was talking to himself. I mean, I do that all the time, but he noticed that he was talking and not getting any response from the other end of his cell phone. He released his squenched up shoulder, lowered it carefully, and removed the phone from the crook in his neck. He rolled away from the computer and leaned into the lamplight across from his desk. He looked closely, only to find that he was not holding his cell phone at all, but his computer's wireless mouse!!!

"Well, when did THIS happen?" He thought to himself. "I've been talking all day to people, what in the world is going on? Where is my cell phone? Where could it be? Who have I been talking to all day?

The staff came to his aid and they circled around him, ready to problemsolve. "Where did you last see it?" "Retrace your steps" "Let's call it" "Let's call it again" "Try it one more time" "Does anyone hear it ringing?" No. No. NO. NO.

Bedraggled and disappointed, the staff returned to work, and the Pastor to his own tasks. The day moved on. Finally, it was time to go home. He walked the 25 steps from the church to his house and entered his cave. He slipped off his shoes, laid his jacket on the banister and headed for the bedroom to crash. What. A. Day.

When he passed the laundry room, he remembered that he had run a load of laundry earlier in the day when he was ping ponging about. Yes, this is a Pastor who washes and wears. I tell you, people, he does it all.

He picked up the wet and lightly spun clothes and placed them in the dryer. Then he heard it. plunk. He looked inside the dryer to see a very clean and shiny cell phone- minus an antenae, but clean and shiny just the same. "Is that?... What is?..... Oh!....My phone!!" He cradled the small flipphone in his palm and looked at it. "blip" "blip" " frummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm zzzzt." The silence said it all.

The Pastor sighed, gave the last rights and carried the laundered phone to his room. His wife was concentrating on a good book, but when her loving husband entered, she stopped and looked up. She watched him slowly drag his feet into the room. "What is it, honey?"

He sat beside her, then released the phone into her lap."It's a both/and thing. Clean, shiny, and yet, out of order." "Oh, well, tomorrow is another day. Another day, another phone."

I guess life is just like that sometimes.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A respite day off

Today I took a day off. I had a few vacation days I didn't want to lose, so I'm taking them while we are still in an even numbered year. I love my job. You can read back through and see that. I love the Christmas lights I line my walls with all year long, I love creating different mixages for the staff consumption ( We are presently enjoying Melanie's Merry Christmas Mix which is almonds, chocolate, mini marshmallows, pineapple, cashews and good cheer)

I love filing, and I especially enjoy the challenge of filing something one day and trying to remember how and where I filed it the next. State of mind has everything to do with it and mine is everchanging. I like typing, scheduling events , ohhhh running the postal machine, distributing mail. I love putting people on hold. (Never do this when angry, you tend to forget them)

I like helping people understand Biz, our new copy machine. Biz and I are buds. I like hearing the folding machine going a mile a minute, because it means our tech guy is running a large mailing and that means that I'm not. I like running last minute errands for the dress rehearsal, or grabbing box lunches for a meeting. So many things to keep me busy.

I most especially like to tell my boss his next appointment is here. Yes, I love my job.

So I decided to take a day away from all this. Yes, friends. I took a day off. I needed to do something for me, something to feed my spirit. To renew my inner chia. So, I went to my home church and spent the day. I chatted with my favorite mentor church chick over church chickfeed,
I hugged every staff member i saw. I checked in with the business administrator to see how business is being administrated today, I planned the Christmas breakfast that I'm in charge of organizing this weekend. I cleaned out a box of crafts . I answered the phone, work called me and one of my 4 daughters called as well. I think it's neat that they know where to find me. If I'm not at one church I'm at another.......and I read a little. I ran last minute errands with the Minister of children- I'm her official volunteer admin assistant. I talked with the new youth pastor over how it's going. He still has that glazed look but I think he can run the copy machine now. I talked with my best work friend, who was worried when i wasn't at work, but was relieved when she knew I was at home church. She's a good egg, over easy, just the way i like friends. I talked with both co-pastors and the financial secretary who lives across the street from the latest extreme home makeover. It will be shown in January. For a week she slept with ear plugs and her head buried under her mattress. No kidding 24/7 they work to get those projects done. She was there for the "Move that bus" I asked her about it. I think she 's still a little tired because she said, "Well, they said Move that bus, and then they moved it."

Today was just like being at work except I didnt' get paid money for it , I got paid in love and friendship energy and i picked my day. Actually, the two partner up pretty darn well. I love my job and I love my home church. It's a good mix.

I offered a volunteer admin asst job to someone special at work church and she said yes. So now, when I'm not there, sometimes she is there and that makes the plants and office happy.

Offices need that flow to keep them warm and fuzzy. Home church and work church are all that.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mirrors are us

We all know that renovations take longer than long. Our ladies, restroom has been under construction and reconstruction and renovation on a rotating basis since I started working there. It puts the passing of time in place.

You may have seen at some time a prehistoric timeline of the world? Take off the prehistoric and replace it with women's restroom and it's the same thing.

I'm not complaining. We've had toilets working ,mostly,all along, which is most important . There were very few times I had to go across the hall to the men's room in a hurry- and I have to say I am quite impressed with the ability of the human mind/body to adapt. After only 2 or 3 emergency runs to the men's room, with a guard standing watch for me outside, I successfully learned how to pee standing up. Maybe women need those urinal things too. It's a little tricky, but doable. Of course I'm just teasing. ....probably.

So the women's room has been undone, redone, plastered, painted, prayed over, left to set a while and re-sinked. It's been a thrill. With one exception. The mirrors.

From where I sit, in my church chick nest, I hear many comments from passers by in the hall. There are lots of frustrated fusses about the lack of mirrors in the restroom. The need for mirrors in the ladie's room is a real one and it points to the diffrences, well, some of them between men and women.

Men don't care if the have spinach stuck in their teeth. They rarely have bra straps that show, and very few men wear slips that creep down beneath their skirts. Men who wear lipstick typically go for the clear gloss, so they don't need a visual check. Men just don't have the same needs. and yet- where are the new mirrors in the newly redone restrooms? Why, the men's room of course. Perhaps I should change them out with posters that have smart sayings on them, like " You the man", or "Please check shoes for trailing toilet paper before exiting", or maybe even "XYZ- made you look!!" I don't know. I'm still thinking. I do know that the bloodpressure of the female restroom attendees has hit an all time high. So, I did what any self respecting Church Chick would do. i put on my cape and solved the problem myself. The response hasn't been addressed by the Board of TRustees yet, and my boss hasn't said," please remove", so I guess I'm not in trouble. well, not yet, anyway. In fact, I'd say the laughter gauge is running a little higher, and Ilike that song.

I "installed" two products of the finest quality. One, a lovely oval sheet of aluminum foil. Taped it to the wall myself, with a note above it saying "CAUTION, OBJECTS MAY APPEAR MORE DISTORTED THAN THEY ACTUALLY ARE" or something like that. and I was pleased to notice that the silver tray I "borrowed" fromthe kitchen sits nicely between the two sinks. It is titled," Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest?.....

Holiday distractions can keep our spirits in check sometimes, and when the new mirrors wear out their use, I'll bake cookies on the aluminum and serve them on the tray. How's that for multi-purpose?

Mirrors and gauze

So the evaluation went well, His positive comments were not written in invisible ink as I had feared. whew.

The next day, I started the day empowered with the zen of a good evaluation. So I decided to branch out and do some career growth on the job.

Our youth minister, director of youth, trailblazing bundle of energy- call her what you will- she is expecting her first child. I call this taking the discussion of the facts of life to the max. The adolescents she mentors have seen her before during and they will after. It has been a real education that is more effective than print or video. Anyway, She was scheduled to have a C section on Friday.

She has to be one of the most beautiful pregnant women I've ever seen. First babies create a unique essence i their mothers. I've enjoyed her pregnancy a great deal. More than she has in some ways. I asked her if she wanted to do a bellycast so she could remember and show her babe exactly what mom looked like right before she was born. She was in! Ready to tackle the job! A friend who had also done this gave the very pregnant youth minister/director her leftover materials and I waited to see how the couple fared. One day, two dayspassed. No cast. Finally, on Thursday, I asked her about it.
"I'm very interested! but my hubby isn't quite sure how to do it. he keeps saying things like, wrap you in wet plaster gauze? ALL of YOU? "
I knew he was being pulled into the new daddy zone. I knew his reason and sanity had already started to drain. I wondered if he was afraid the gauze would keep the baby from being born? Or if he was wondering where in the world does one display such a cast as one of your naked pregnant wife? No matter. No matter at all. I knew if there was a will there was a way.

" Do you want me to help you?, I mean, in the am, you'll be a mom and this time will have passed" OMG I was volunteering myself to do this !!WHAT was I thinking? Church chicks do not have this listed in their job descriptions. I do not think so. hmmm.
She was in the car rushing home to get the gauze before I ever finished talking. Oh lordy.

When she came back, we went up to her office and I laid out a trash bag for her to stand or kneel on and she stripped. We cut the gauze into strips and I dipped them into warm water and started layering them on her. My embarrasment left with the first strip. She was a perfect model. Still, with the motion of the baby making her rock a little from time to time. 45 minutes later, there she sat, covered in white. I pried an edge of the hardened cast away from her shoulder, and the rest popped right off. What a fun project!! She was patient and we chatted about everything except the fact that a casual working friend was pasting wet gauze on her naked body. It was the elephant in the room. or the elephant in the womb, i might say. Talk about up close and personal....We cleaned up and let her cast rest there for a while.

I brought the boss pastor up, and he with his good nature, came willingly. He had no clue what in the world we were wanting to show him. When he looked, he was taken aback. I mean, really, what do you say to a site like that? When the shock wore off, he recognized the value of such an idea and he accepted it with awe. Me, too.

ONe day, she'll finish the cast with paint or something else, and it will become a work of art. The new mom is already that, and much more.

job descriptions

Well, it is time for job evaluations. My favorite time of the year- second only to driving the wrong way on the highway at rushour. A few weeks ago, my boss planted a small seed that said, Evaluations are coming up, so get the paperwork going, girl! and I did. I'm learning that he lets ideas slip out sometimes, and if I'm caffeinated, I can sometimes notice and act early. It pays off later to do that. So, I got lucky and caught the seedling this time round. His second stage of processing is not as subtle. Last week, late afternoon, he came out of his office, (He was walking 60 in a 35 mpwalk zone) and said with determination- " Today we will begin evaluations." Then he went back into his cave for a while. I collected the necessary forms, labeled, and planted the documents where they needed to go, in everyones' caves. Then, I had my own idea. I filled out my own self-eval, and waited. On his next breeze through, I said, "I'm ready, let's go".
He stopped and looked at me, trying to be ready but not understanding what I was talking about.
" I'm done with my part of evaluating, so let's get this done right now!!"
He said, "Now?", "but it's the end of the day.."
Following his exuberance to get this process in motion, I held firm. " So, hurry up and do your part so we can get this done right now!"
He said, "oh. okay"
So we did, and the short story is that I am employeed still. Thank gosh for small favors.

I needed to get that behind me because I had something else on my mind that needed attention, and I needed to have some good vibes behind me on it.

That story is to follow.