Thursday, December 06, 2007

A felting we will go



I have experimented with several felted projects. I have talked here about the learning disabilityI see to have discovered in this process. I never know if I am making a fairy purse or a bowl.

A friend said, " Why don't you let us see the -BEFORE- so we'll have a point of reference?"
I am taking her advice. Here is the purse. Note the tape dispenser and the light switch. I will wash it in the am, and add a finished pic if it is large enough for the digital to pick up.

With my luck, it will be a purse perfect for the gnome's significant other. That's okay. It is the adventure that is the important part.

Here we go.........

Make Room for the Little one



This year at work church, the theme will revolve around making room. We will be starting to create a nest for a new organ this spring.
This is a stole I made for my boss as an advent gift. He was very surprised, and I think he liked it okay.

I will be the first to tell you that I am not an artist by any means, but I can make a mean gift of love and friendship, baby.

Tree of seasons

A friend asked me to make a wall hanging for her office,and I enjoy fabric art, so I said okay.
Here it is. A friend at work says that you don't really get the three dimensional effect here, but those leaves are blowin in the wind.




























A friend asked me to make a wall hanging for her office,and I enjoy fabric art, so I said okay.
Here it is. A friend at work says that you don't really get the three dimensional effect here, but those leaves are blowin in the wind.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

forgiveness



I have probably killed 2 sequoias this week alone with the corrections and copies I've made for the upcoming Charge Conference. Please, forgive me. We can only hope that some of the seeds that sit in my birdfeeder have at some point been blown away and into the ground to become bark of sorts. We can. Only. hope.

A few years ago.as I looked into what this job entailed, I recall some reference to working during the month before something called annual church charge conference. working over -working under -working beside. There was no such information, however that also let me know I would be calling, chasing after, begging for, praying to... so here we are and that's what the "rest" of the story is, my friends.

I am as ready as I can be for the big day/night tomorry. Almost all forms in, though none copied. Almost all names plugged in, though not all calls returned. This is just a plain almost week.

My gnome (door guarder of my office) almost lost his legs today in an inner hallway accident. The membership secretary/my candy striper friend rushed him off and put him back together. She, apparently has been certified in Humpty Dumpty First Aid. Who knew? Here's what happened...

When I left work to meet a friend for lunch today my boss had plucked my miniature door guard up and away from his post, and was considering taking him (gnome) to a special Christmas lunch that was going on today. (exit -me)

Suddenly, the poor elf leaped out of my boss's hands in fear at the idea. He landed feetlings first a few inches from his watch stand (better known as the door frame to my office.) I'm not clear how long he laid on the carpet in pieces, but I don't imagine it was more than a few seconds.

Witnesses at the scene said they heard "a strange combination of human/gnome-like cries and moans of sadness, shock and grief t hat traveled throughout the building." My poor boss doesn't have enough on his mind, does he? Added to the stress of this Charge Conference week, he had to deal with the trauma of a divebombing gnome...... The nurse managed the emergency,with speed and a caring manner.... hours passed. The elfin figure has since been returned to his post, newly glued together with liquid nail glue (that somehow seems fitting for a church. Wrong season, but right idea.)

I was unaware of the incident , but when I returned from lunch today, I noticed my gnome had gone missing and I thought surely my boss would not have taken such a creature to the club for lunch, surely he was speaking in jest. surely. I'll admit I was a little anxious about the possibility.

When my boss returned from lunch today, I asked him where my gnome was and the sad story unfolded. He was funny. My boss was so afraid to tell me.... Have I mentioned that this gnome came from the dollar store, where I purchased him on sale for the grand price of .26 cents? Yes, the Dollar store DOES have sales, yet another reason to say to the world, "Isn't America great?"

When I asked him where the gnome was, he was only able to say, " Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, he's in the hospital." My friend who (unbeknown st) to me was also the nurse, returned about that time carrying a suspicious small roll of pink bubble wrap.

I asked her, " Where's the gnome?"

She froze and shot a sideward glance at the Senior Pastor, who was very busy standing knee deep in guilt.

Without moving her mouth, she let slip, " Have you fessed up?"

He shook his head yes,and kept looking around for a stick or an outreached hand to help pull him out of the muck. The gnome muck.

She stepped into my office and unrolled the pink bubblewrap, slowly revealing said gnome, who although he had been broken, appeared to be back together still wearing a snazzy red Santa hat I made him while eating my oatmeal yesterday morning.

We looked at each other, then she murmured," Liquid nails"

The two then decided that the gnome may be permanently disabled and perhaps should not bear the burden of keeping my door from shutting tight, but I think he's up to the job.

As I look over my desk, he stands perfectly in tact- so strong and brave -his right hand holding his plaster beard, and his left hand at attention looking and looking out for ne'er do gooders.

Wow. and I thought my day was rocky.

note: The next time chaos and daily stressers send you close to the edge, think twice before you jump. ...or at least be sure you have a bottle of super glue or liquid nails within reach.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Breaking up is hard to do

This time of year is a real challenge for me. It took me two years to stop panicking at the phrase, ...CHARGE CONFERENCE. I know I wrote about that early on. I still get a jolt, but nothing like I used to. I can manage the grueling reports and other assembly work involved, but now that I am beginning to know more church members, this time of year has become a heartbreak for me.

Charge Conference is the time we change out committees, and chair people and the folks I have come to know over the past 12 months sometimes disappear. This makes me sad in my heart. Today, i broke up with Missions. Did you not see the eclipse as I realized what was happening? Did you not????

I sent out an email inquiring about an upcoming meeting. The person I have come to know as friend, replied that someone else was in the chairspot now. Since I keep up with this, I, on some level knew this. Since I am very much a creature of habit, and since I tend to hold onto the good things in life as I find them, I chose to ignore this fact. The news hit hard.

I sent her a note saying, "Are you breaking up with me?" It was a tough moment. I haven't been broken up with since high school. What does one do in such a situation? Get to know another chair for another year? Who created this system anyway? Some Methodist on an overload of sugar? Let's switch out annually. Heck, let's change every week, why not? Some positions last a couple or three years, and sometimes those turn into 10 years or 20. Why do the chairs, the people I have contact with have to keep leaving? Oh, woe is me. The sense of abandonment reigns heavy in my heart.

She wrote back and said something like "Heck no, we're good. Just send the reminders to the new guy." How sad is it to become attached to people you only send reminder cards to ? Don't tell me, I don't want to know. Let's just say people matter to me, and leave it at that.

The thing is, I like the new chair too.

Bells, Bells, Bells, Bells

There are lots of different activities that circulate throughout the church, but one of my favorites is the Bells. That doesn't sound right. 'is the bells.' Maybe I should simply say I love to listen to the bells. Those players have my abiding ear of respect.

I love to watch them as well, the bell dance looks to be very challenging, but I figure if I was standing in front of a church full of people, trying to read notes, watch the director, and hold big honkin' brass ringers; at the same time wearing gloves, well, I would just sit down and cry.

Those other people eyes on you, the pressure to follow through with the choreography of the bell arm step, and keeping my bell to myself -not knocking out my neighbor..... those pressures under the watching eyes of God are tough enough; human eyes on board is just too much for me to bear. I QUIT I QUIT. I CAN'T TAKE IT. UNCLE UNCLE ALREADY!! oh. wait. I don't play the bells. I just listen. Sorry, readers, i got away from myself. Hoo! Deep breath. There. Let's try this again.

The bell ringers at work church are a lovely collection of my favorite people.

Some read my chronicles, faithfully hoping that one day I will write something worthwhile.

A few others i know through the prayer shawl ministry, we have common interests in hooks and needles and runaway yarn.

There is a ringer who used to order candles with me; an activity that doesn't happen often enough because she is delightful to be around and I don't see her nearly enough.

Another is an artist in her own right- she knitted me a beautiful necklace one year.

Another scurries through the hallways waving and saying Hi.

One ringer grows the most beautiful roses you could ever imagine and on occasion shares them with staff. My desk longs for more of those delicate beauties.

A special friend who works the front desk plays bells but not always; it surprises me how she can just pick it back up when she hasn't played in a while.

There is a special friend who is not a hugger, but she has always been open to me- despite the fact that I am a big huggy hugster. She shares new and different music with me and always leaves a wake of free spirit behind her.

There is a wonderful player who has a heart of gold, she works towards perfection in everything she does and has an easy laugh.

There's the spouse who plays all alone at the whole other end of the bell stage without one ornery complaint. Oh, there are too many to fill this space with. That group is amazing, talented, and so so gifted.

As you may imagine, being invited to sit in on a practice by such a special group is quite the honor, and being invited after you have totally embarrassed yourself by previously sneaking in uninvited, then making a terrible mistake by applauding heartily when the song was not over is an even bigger honor. I think it is important to say here, that when you are one, the only one sitting in the congregation pews and you decide to clap, the echo is quite impressive.

So, I was invited to return to hear a particular piece a few days ago. The experience was so moving, that i have held the tinkling in my heart all week.

If I was a church activity reviewer for the local paper, I would rate this 4 stars out of 3.

One of my favorite past times is visiting and watching and listening to people perform before their official performance time. I enjoy watching the project reach fruition. You will rarely see me anywhere on opening night, but when I can, I am often in the wings or under the pews or in the balcony during rehearsals. That for me, is prime time and it doesn't get much better than that for me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lunch on a wagon train

A very special friend wanted to have lunch yesterday. I did, too. We have been friends since before I birthed children. She used to come to my exercise classes, then when I started my own business, became a teacher for me. We have shared some very important pieces of our lives, and i don't think I could ever do without her.

As it turned out, yesterday at work,we had a short term front desk helper who needed to leave before lunch, so I picked up some box lunches for the boss's meeting and got two for us (on our dime, of course. )I figured if she came to work and we sat in my office I could still catch the phone til the afternoon relief arrived to take over.

She was amenable to the plan and readily came over. While I was out picking up the lunches, my car decided to cough. (I had just spent 300 $ earlier in the week, but guess I missed getting the car flu shot, so I hopped it over to the mechanic's. I figured they had left something loose.
They had. So it was a quick fix. )

When I got back to work, my buddy had made friends with the front desk person, and had read through half of the morning paper. We carried the bags of boxed lunches to my office and the receptionist left.

There were 50 gargantuan tablecloths parked in the huggy chair, so she pulled the recliner across the room in front of my desk so we could share a common table.

We began to eat.

BAM!! The door opened, and someone flew in slamming the door against the recliner, sending the first full bite of lunch out of my friend's mouth and onto my lay leadership list. We laughed.
We cleaned up, I answered the visitor's question and they left.

We began again, chatting about our families, and such. A bite or two of fruit salad and WHAM! I'm wearing cantalope. ( It happens to be a good color for me)

The visitor went to the closet and found what was needed and left. I went outside and changed the note on my door from "at lunch" to "Maternity Leave". The traffic didn't stop-

Our conversation tried to continue, but after a while, my friend began to turn green and voiced that she was beginning to feel a little seasick from all of the waves crashing into her chair.

We packed up our lunches and pushed them aside.

I called upstairs to the youth duo and requested sodas from the machine to go. They were very kind in accomodating me and treated us to boot!! ( they are wayyy tooo good to me)

Soon we had Avon people coming in for some assistance an hour early. sighhhhhhhhh
My boss came in, banging in with the Pastoral Care that only HE can.... and he was delightful. He grabbed the bag for his meeting and backed out. He may have been hoping I was screening someone for him, but he was probably just glad to get away from what was clearly momtalk. He is intuitive that way, and such a smart man, as you know. At times like that, it always surprises me that he takes the iniative to do things like seek me out and get the bag rather than just calling me on the intercom or yelling across the office, "Where is our lunch?" Which is what I expect but rarely if ever get. No, he's very respectful of the Grand Central Office.

Over time, this office has redefined itself. I love that. A job that is growing and taking an office along with it.Sometimes my corner alley of the building is a haven for griefstricken people who just want to sit in the huggy chair and listen to me type along with the mystery radio show that plays on the radio.
Sometimes people need a sense of control in their out -of -control life and they pilfer through the nut mix to Choose their favorite legume or fruit. Choices are good salve when you run out of them in other places of your day.

Sometimes, people come in like hornets, and need to vent. This is when I open the window, to let those heated words escape. There is something healing about watching venom slam into a brick wall

Sometimes, people bring by treats just because they are thoughtful.

Other times they drop off items that have no where else to go- call me orphanage

Mostly, my place is a pitstop for a quick breath or a piece of gum and a kind word. And Iwouldn't have it any other way.

Yesterday, It was a rough ride on a wagon train for my friend,but I think she fared okay. I watched her walk to the car and she only stumbled a few times.

Although it was great to see my oldest and dearest friend, all I can really say is that her kids are growing up. The other details are scattered on the floor around my desk.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Daylight savings time

I used to love daylight savings time.
The extra hour gave me spark and zip to do extraordinary and amazing extra projects, finish tasks I had been putting off, or catch up on reading. Daylight savings used to give me an opp to watch the seasons change for an hour more each day.

Midlife and daylight savings, however, do NOT go together. Well, not for me anyway.
My sleep habits have always been sporadic. I'm usually ready for bed at 7pm, which of course is ridiculous, as I'm in a yoga class somewhere or at the grocery, and itis most inappropriate to bring one's sleeping bag and plop down in aisle 6. So I push through. The night rolls on, my body begins to fade into undeniable exhaustion, and I find myself dragging upstairs by 10- down for the short count by 11 or 12.


3 am cock-a-doodle-do!! my eyes are wide open. A short conversation with the dark, a load of laundry, catch up on my emails, and I'm ready for a nap by 4.

Daylight savings came in rambunctious as can be and since that train blew into town, I'm raring to go somewhere or do something at 4 every morning. I feel like a kid trying to get up before nap time is officially over. I stay in bed usually, and swat around random thoughts. Plan my day, plan your day, too and my neighbors' days. I rewrote the postman's' route once. I am not sure he ever really used my ideas, but if he had, it would have saved him hours every day. I get a lot done in the mornings, but by the time 8 rolls around and it is time to get going to work, I'm ready for a nap.

I haven't really given much pomp and circumstance to the value of sleep in my life. It hasn't held much safety or worth for me. My body battles my mind on that issue. Maybe when I take my winter clothes out of the attic, I will find the secret to sleeping has been packed away up there somewhere.

I should make the best use of the early morning awake time, but housecleaning just doesn't appeal to me in the dark. ( or in the bright light of day, either ); I really don't want to get to know Mr. Clean All. That. Well. I'm sure he presents a bigger and more sparkling appearance on the TV commercials than he ever could in my bathroom or kitchen.

I might start making coffee for the newspaper delivery guy, though.

Maybe Chronicles will become an early morning task.

You never can tell.
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Gumbo, P.S.

I had a few questions about the recipe and those answers are here.
Kiebasa is sausage.
Canola is an oil.
Yummy is the dish.
overfull is what happens when you try it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The "real" Kitchen person

I received a lovely comment on the gumbo recipe that has me more curious than my cat.
I mean, the comment as you can read yourself refers to the "real" . Well, I am all about that.
Not much in my life seems "real" much of the time. I'm balancing past, present, and future at any given time.

I don't feel like a "Real" secretary, yet, I type and file and have become warmly familiar with the layout of the local Staples store.

I don't feel like a "real" knitter,or crocheter, yet I sit for hours clicking needles, hooks and yarn together into mass lengths of rectangular waves.

I'm not a "real" writer, but tell that to my novel that sits hidden away on disk and on the shelf.
Tell that to the copious notes I can't keep myself from putting on paper.

Not a real cook, but I lick the bowl as good as anyone I know.

What is real anyway? Get real? It's scary, that's what.
For me, anyway.

I think I'll stick with just pretending and hope for the best.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Messy Chef Gumbo

Made this last night at home church- I always over eat this. I love this meal at the first sign of cold weather. At home church, I do some volunteer cooking, and they have come to call me the Messy Chef. I'm not a messy cook, but I do make messy meals . Some friends gave me an apron that said Messy Chef, and the real REAL kitchen person gave me a couple of cabinets as my opportunities to cook have increased. She makes me feel like I'm at home.
Well, it is home, now isn't it?

Messy Chef Gumbo
One whole pitiful chicken with limbs, or chicken breasts 2 ½ lb (ish) bag thawed is best, frozen will work.
2 lb kiebasa- 2 packages
***Shrimp is a luxury addition and goes in last if you choose to use it. Peel first. Use more than you think you’ll need.
1 big onion-chopped to your liking
2 green peppers-chopped “
5 stalks celery-chopped “
thyme 1 tsp
basil 1 Tbl
cayenne- 1 tsp- level- it gets hotter over time.
lawry’s season salt to taste
1 c all purp flour
1 c canola
chicken bouillon in water or container of chicken broth (2 quarts is usually enough.)
green Tabasco sauce with the meal

put chicken in crock pot
slice veggies and kiebasa and put in zip lock bags- then put to bed in the frig.
go to bed
get up and put crock in frig
go to work
come home and take stuff out of frig
scoop fat off of top of chicken crock
pull out chick
de-bone and mush apart chicken. It shreds on its own in the pot later.

IMPORTANT** Pour canola and flour into frying pan or big pot. Stir with wisk or a slotted spoon to lose lumps. Cook til it turns golden brown. IT burns very easily and goes from ecru to golden to burned quick. Stir continuously and watch for the change.

As soon as the roux becomes golden, toss in the veggies and coat them.

Lower heat.

Add chick, kiebasa
Spices
Liquid from crock
Consistency is a mountain of veggies and chick and kiebasa peeking through liquid, so add broth as needed. Stir well
Cover and simmer an hour. It starts out looking like water and when done, will be thinner than pancake batter, but not watery. It is magic in that hour.
Stir on occasion just because you want to.

Put rice ingredients together, and slide into oven.

Wash the crock, toss the bones, and sit down and rest.

It does freeze okay. Not great. Better on second day, best on third day. Hard to face again on fourth day.


rice
1 c per 2 c chick broth (brown rice, white is 1:11/2)
two handfuls of cut up celery and pepper
Put in a bread pan, cover and bake one hour. Remove cover and cook til brown around the edges.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Other Mother

My best buddy at work listens to my blabber more than she should, and thankfully, sometimes she finds my life stories amusing.This is one of those.

I have 4 children. They are all taller than I am now, but there was a day...... oh, there was a day.... when I was the jolly green giant of the crew. I loved those years. The chaos, the tantrums, the snot and puke, the cuddles, and the moments of wonder, the laundry, the naps. Oh, the naps. With four girls we had never a dull moment. My girls were kind to me- they gave me so much just by being.

I wrote a collection of stories about those times, called Little Bits. It is a work that they can hold onto, and one they enjoy comparing notes with. But that story of how Little Bits came to be is for another day.

The sad sad tale of The Other Mother......................
My #4 child, baby princess of the bunch, cute cute cute. Picture if you will-tiny fair skinned sweetness with titian hair- long and light...... Blue eyes that melted the mortar from the 100 year old bricks that held the house up. Precious. And, let us not forget, the #4 BABY of the family.

She is in her room crying. Sobbing as only a 3 year old can. Her volume and tone has finally reached the deaf ears of her older sisters, and one of them has come to fetch me. I immediately drop what I'm doing and race downstairs to see what has upset my baby baby baby.
"Waaaaa sob sob sob sniff sniff waaa" she cries.
"Sweetheart? Whatever are you crying about? Why are you crying?" the attentive and loving mother of four asked.
" I'm cryyyyying for my other mother." the soggy child wept. I was taken aback. Maybe I didn't hear her clearly.

" Your OTHER mother? "
"Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh waaaaahhhhhhhh" she replied.
What in the world ? I wondered with a heavy heart. I stepped closer to the crying angelpie, risking life and limb by side stepping a half-built waffleblock castle, and the open Barbie travel house. These dangers mean nothing when it comes to embracing and rescuing one's broken hearted precious child.

"Other mother? WHAT other mother?" I lovingly asked in my most gentle voice of motherly love.

"The one that takes us to Disney World." Reality slapped me back a good 50 feet....

oh. OHHHH, THAT other mother,I thought. Yeah, I've been waiting for mine as long as I've been waiting for the maid service and Butler to arrive.

I dropped my box of kleenex, and fell into the hallway sobbing like no Mother has ever sobbed before. I sobbed so hard, Oscar statues all over the world melted from the mere essence of my salty tears in the atmosphere. I rubbed my eyes til there were no lashes left unscathed. I cried cried cried until my precious baby stopped.

"Wut are YOU cryin' for mommy?"

" I am crying for my OTHER Mary "

She wiped her tears on her shirt ( or was it a sock?) and stared at me, confused at the revelation that she had another sister in her world who happened to have her very same name.

"What other Mary?"

"I'm crying for the other Mary who picks up her toys and wipes herself."

The tear faucet squeeked off without so much as a final drip.

Yes, we formed a special understanding on that day. Oh, the priceless moments of parenting.....

appearances

On occasion, my boss will ask me to help him with his computer. I am no computer geek, I am slightly computer -phobic when things don't work. When we both get stumped, we call upon the master on site- Doug. His name deserves to be real. If it wasn't for Doug and his largely invisible presence, your newsletter would look like a first grader authored the pages, and they would arrive out of order and in sections. The bulletins would be folded off center. Actually, i believe it is entirely possible that the bulletins may very well end up origami cranes and the type would more than likely be reversed. Next time you see Doug, give him a pat on the back. He doesn't accept verbal accolades readily, but pats seem to carry well with him.


So, my boss calls me on the true phone intercom. "Can you come help me? Do you mind?" I stood up and grabbed my pen. My speech began before I ever left the office. "Okay, listen," I said as I crossed the hallway into his office. " YOU are the boss, and I am the secretary and that means YOU get to say, 'I need your help with this ', and I get to say,'Yessir, I'll be right there." "Got it?" He ignored me as he usually does when I remind him of how things work according to the Strunk and White of Church Secretaryisms. ( Strunk and White is a writer's how-to best friend).

I entered the office, and approached his desk, where he was sitting hunched over paying homage and praying over his laptop. By habit, he scooted his chair over, and by habit, I held onto his chair back while I creakingly folded my body down and kneeled beside him so I could meet his monitor eye to eye. I looked at the screen and reminded myself that this was just a machine. It needs help communicating, much like a two year old does, much like a teenager does,as well. My boss waited patiently while I had this mental exchange with myself, and we resolved the issue.

I reached up, pulled myself to standing, creaking and cracking all the way up, then I went back to my office. Mission accomplished.

We do this dance often. If the problem seems like it is going to take me more than a few seconds, I don't even have to ask him to go to the bathroom anymore, he automatically gets up and gives me the space and time to think at my aged and older- than -dirt pace. He is very respectful that way. So,it is a system that works for us well, and one we don't give a second thought to.

Apparently, someone noticed us working together and later in the day, they commented on the sight. It went something like this: " You and your boss seem to work well together. You were both concentrating so hard. Gosh, it was touching to see that bonding."

I tried to figure out what she was talking about. My recollection of the day appeared a little different than that. I recall giving him a hallway holler, I remember opening the men's bathroom door and saying, "Are you in here?"... I recalled interrupting his Bible Study that was running over (in an effort to get him to his next meeting on time), and closing the electric wall on the group, hoping they'd finish up. How working together is that? Those recalls sound crude now that I think about it. Ah, well, I live in the moment- thank gosh those moments have now passed.

Finally, I remembered working on his computer; and I realized that if one had not seen the call for help, or heard the banter, seen the loud kneeling or rising, one might have considered the vision of two heads working together as a special moment.

Truth is, I like being asked to help, (as if I can), and it is always a relief when I've made the round trip- across the hall, down and back up again. One day, we may install a zipline. I'll ask Trustees to consider it.

I love my job and the people in it.

The season approaches

Oh, my. My fingers are soooo itching to show and tell. 24 hours in a day is not long enough during this season to give me that luxury of typing about my days here. It makes me sad in my heart because I so love to share the mystery and magic of being in this job, and of late, my stories seem to have expanded somewhat outside these church walls.with no noticeable complaints from readers. whew. How tolerant you are, my friends, how truly tolerant. Thank you.
More and more, my mystery internet radio station fits the activity around here. It adds levity when there is none to be found, and it gives me something to smile about when I'm running short on smileabouts. I've been told that in the dead of night, when no living being dare be wandering the halls, the radio still tells the tales of woe, murder and mahem. A fun friend enlightened me to this this week. On occassion she comes in late and when she enters my office, it sounds as if Dick Tracy himself has returned from his grave to solve this or that.


She suggested that it made for a very effective security tool. Think I'll stick with that.

A miracle occured today, or maybe it was a "This is exactly why" moment. I wonder still, why these kind hearted souls continue to allow me to come in day after day and play office. Yes, my responsibilities have grown in abundance, but my demeanor has not changed much. I still use voice activated live action intercom most days, instead of ATT&T, and I continue to plug in my Christmas lights in my office. I keep candy and gum handy. and I file a different way every day. Fortunately, I leave myself notes, and my next door neighbor has grown accustomed to my meandering methods, so we don't lose too many things. Still,professionality is not my forte.

Anyway, you may wonder on occassion, why my insecurities persist after now, 3 years. Yes, 3 years. I've made it through teething and potty training. whew. Well, here's a perfect example.

My boss has been pastoring for 25 years + ( I figure he prayed while he was swimming his way into the world, as well) He collects publications like the bullitens, newsletters, etc... For all those years. There are volumes of notebooks in his office that span that period. Think about it.

Bottom line is this. That is a lot- a LOT of paper!!. So, this week, when I was asked how long someone had been working in their job, or this and that yada yada, before I could email the business administrator, my boss had flown across to his office and in the twinkling of an eye, returned to my desk with one of the aforementioned volumes. Not just one. But one in particular. Like Moses' parting (with a little help) of the Red Sea, that book fell open and my boss's fingers did the walking through those yellowed pages and lo! the voice of my brilliant boss cried out!!! "Here is is. ........."

Okay. I stopped typing my inquiry. My fingers refused to continue. My head dropped and i felt my eyes slide left, searching for the source of the exclamation. My eyes found his fingers, holding the page open, then they followed up the hand and arm and eventually met his eyes.

His brightness paused. " What? What's wrong? It's right here. What we were looking for. It's here in this newsletter." I remained still, yet focused. .....then I blinked.

" and you wonder WHY I worry that i won't live up ?? oh, for heaven's sake. I haven't got a chance in hell if you're going to pull stuff like that. " This, I said to my boss. My boss who performed a modern day miracle in my very office.

The real miracle is that he let me come back to work the next day. Take that, Moses.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Birthday

Today is national Boss's day AND my boss's birthday. Wow. What a loaded day! My office neighbor got him a starbucks and a balloon with a bag of chocolates attached. I sang when I came in and gave him a hug and sent a couple of ecards and together, we gave him a deadly chocolate cake from his favorite dessert bakery, and a date night kit for he and his honey bunny to use. I think everyone on staff either thought of, got, wrapped or delivered a part of his present, which is really nice. Then, to top it off, he took US out to lunch !

He's a great boss even when it isn't his day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Broadway on Fairview

Ever seen Barbara Streisand in the movie when she portrayed Fanny Brice?
If so, do you recall the boat scene where she is standing on the tugboat, front and center singing into the wind? Singing like nobody's business, only everyone within 2 miles could hear her?

Well, that is what I think of on this day of the world around here.

Spiritual Renewal is in full swing. Prep is happening in every corner of the building and it is fun to be hibernating in my office watching. I’m glad I brought my binoculars. People are moving around here so fast there is no time to focus on any one. Any One in particular. For all I know, we are being robbed and all the hullabaloo is criminals removing furniture and plants. Just can’t tell.

I had an "Avon" person come in today for assistance and I took her into the fellowship hall to wait while I copied her info. When I returned, she was tap dancing on the stage and singing, “ Light the lights, blip the blip, we’ve got nothing to hit but the heights!” Oh, Ethel, Ethel, Ethel Merman… We could use you right about now. In reality,no, she was not dancing on stage, but she looked like she realllllllllllllllllllllllly wanted to.
Hold onto your seats. The show is about to begin. If anyone is left standing on Monday morning, it will be a true miracle.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Gnomes at the office

I do not like to have my office or most any door completely closed. No funnybusiness here, I do NOT like it, and avoid that at all costs. Call me quirky, I don't even care. My inner self rules on this one.

I used to use tape, and then for a while I traumatized a door stop, using it as a wedge between the door and the frame.

Deep inside my heart of mushy hearts, I've always wanted a Gnome. Yes, one of the little wee fairie peops to guard the entry to my office home.

I finally found one, at the dollar store. My office friend found him, and as it turns out, he was on sale for .26 cents. I didn't know the dollar store had sales, did you?

So, now, I have a delicious gnome standing guard at my door with his hand up shading his eyes. He gazes down the hall looking for wandering and wayward unwelcomed invisible things. and, i might say, he does it very well.

The next time you come by, look down and say hi.

A felted story

I've been doing alot of yarnart lately. Knitting and crocheting and felting. I've written here of some of that. The reality of my life's affect on this old church chikster became blatantly obvious Friday.

I continue to find felting interesting. But, every item turns out as if it has a mind of its own. The one bag that came out with a brain tumor protruding from its base was operated on by my Dr. Fiskars and refelted. It survived the surgery, i am happy to say, but the second felting shrunk it yet again, and so now, it resides in a SSchool class in the dressups for dolls. Yes, NOT the dressups for the sweet children, the DOll Dress up. How sad is that?

Staff are very supportive of my ventures. That's love, baby, pure and simple. They say things like,
"Wow! you made another something!! woo hoo!! "

One loving friend said, "Hey, I saw a purse JUST like that in a real store!" I raced right out to that store and looked and she was right. .....

Well, sort of. The colors were different,the design not the same, and they had a funky hairy something around the top but other than that, they could have been twins.

So I added some funk and brought it back to work.
" Wow!! You made a NOTHER something!!" "Woo Hoo!"

See what I mean, readers? Love love love. I used those same words and tones with my own children when they brought home art from school that was so creative it couldn't be named.

I distinctly recall using that same supportive banter when one of my daughters created her first recipe. It was for Limon cookies. Limon. So that's what "limons" taste like. It was not lemon, that is for sure. The cookie recipe had flour, an egg and salt, if I recall. It crunched like a bite of recently poured concrete would, and the texture wasn't far from that same thing either. But I will tell you this- that was the most wonderful cookie I have ever eaten then or since. She wrote the recipe down in my cookbook, so we'd remember it. She beamed and glowed and had such fun doing that project- all of that tasted better than sweet.

back to yarn....

Someone suggested I take orders and I freaked. I could never take an order for these yarn objects, because I have no idea how the end product will look. They are all accidents. pure and simple.

My office neighbor suggested we tag the two most recent accidents and call the company
"Accidentals". I love it. She's making a couple of tags for them. and I've donated them to the upcoming Bizarre Bazaar. Not Bizarre in a bad way, but in a- "How the heck do they DO this every year? "way. We'll see if we get any takers.

Meanwhile, I had a revelation. As I first mentioned, in this writing, I was slapped in the face with the reality of my age and habits. Did you know that even if you've done 56,869 loads of wash in your lifetime, and even if you loaded the wash, turned it on , waited til the cycle was done, so you could then roll over the wet laundry to the dryer- even if EVEN IF you have done that process consistently all your laundrying life- There is actually NO, I say, NO Law that requires you to wait for the full cycle before lifting the lid of the washer.

My mother taught me to NEVER lift the lid. ALWAYS wait. She showed me an article once in Look magazine about a girl who did the unthinkable- she lifted the washer lid in mid cycle and her arm was jerked off of her body and was not successfully surgically reattached.

She went through life with one arm shorter than the other and wouldn't you know it would be the arm she used and needed the most? She wrote shorter poems, couldn't complete long division problems in math, all this after the accident, and she had to sit closer to the kitchen table to eat her meals, AND saddest radish of all - when she waved, no one saw her in the crowd. All. Her. Life. and All because she lifted the washer lid in mid cycle. So says Look magazine. ( The photo is forever engraved on my brain mass)

So says my Mother ( with a few enhanced details that were no doubt aimed at improving my behavior and manners and school performance) and so, dually impressed by this information, i followed the no -lift rule.

Until, at the ripe age of 52, after investing thousands of pennies into skeins of wool yarn, and after shrinking hundreds upon thousands of indescribable items, I began to wonder. and the wonder pulled me right up out of my big red chair one night and tugged me into the kitchen and , my friends, I found myself standing straight up and facing my washing machine, who was on at the time and working splendidly- felting something.

Well, I lifted the lid. I pulled out the object. and I realized that if I checked these things while they were in the felting process, iImight just be able to catch some of them before they sized down to fit Thumbalina. It was an exciting revelation!

And, as the myths I had been living all those many years, began to melt away, I wanted to find that young girl of all those years ago and tell her that i was sorry for what happened to her arm, and maybe we could be friends.

Well, actually, if I find her, maybe I'll just send her a felted purse.

Biz on the Blink

Well, the whirlwind season has begun. There may not be many storms brewing in the tropics, but around church, the air is full of frenzy and franatic mania. Yes, I said franatic and I meant it. Franatic is when you are moving frantically but keep backtracking because you forget things. You forget things because all the details of your work are spitting out like a pitching machine with constant and abiding interruptions by little men in black and white striped outfits waving flags.
Franatic, you get what i mean now, I'm sure.

Biz, our copy machine has been under the weather. I had to send this unfortunate message to staff last week.

Sad in my heart news-
Biz, our copy machine is broken. He will  copy,
but if he gets jammed,
BACK AWAY. Do NOT touch.
The side door has suffered
a massive stroke and some
key arteries have broken.
The part is in the process of being ordered.
You can send cards to: Biz c/o HBUMC, Room # 219,
2209 Fairview Rd. Raleigh, NC 27608


Please keep Biz in your thoughts, he is a realllly hard worker, and we miss him.
 
                                  
 
                                                                                                        
 
 
                                  
 

Something new and different

I've been working on helping out with an upcoming event called, Seven Straight Nights.
It is a group of people who want to support equal rights for everyone including gay and lesbian people, folks from all cultures, you name it. I like that idea. alot. So on Friday night, Oct 12,on the Capital Grounds, there will be an all night vigil of sorts. Games for the kids, family picnic, some speakers, and a movie at 9.

I don't do crowds, so my participation has been in the background. helping with games, and of course, food and drink. I"ll be bringing the coffee through the night and might visit a little then, when the crowd thins. KK donuts first thing Sat morning, of course.

I'm curious to see what the reality will be like. Will there be people just listening and talking and learning? or will there be cranksters at work as well? No one knows, I guess. I sure hope that the evening opens some eyes and ears, and that some people make new friends.

Monday, October 01, 2007

What do you call it when..

What does it mean when people who come in for assistance bond with the church secretary?
A regular person who comes often, has really made himself at home here. He now calls me by my first name, and is often waiting in my office for me. He offers to help me carry my goods when I’m coming in. He doesn’t’ always ask for food or money. Sometimes, he gives me an update on how things are going. I like those times a lot. This week, he directed the oven fixers to the church kitchen when they arrived.
I came in, after having noticed the workvan out front. Instead of the ovenmen, this assistance person greeted me when I came in. I said, “Did you happen to see the oven guy?”
He answered, “Oh, yeah, I just showed them where the kitchen is.”
We walked together down the hall and into my office where he sat, very patiently.
“ So how are things going?” I asked him.
“ Don’t you want to check your messages and put down your things?” he asked me, getting more comfortable in the recliner.
“ Uh, oh. Yeah. Okay.” So I did.
“ Now, how are things?”
“Well….” He leaned back and proceeded to give me the Dr. Kildare details of his recent hernia operation…just short of showing me the scars.
And then, he was off.
“See you next time, friend”
he kept walking and gave me a quick wave.
What do you call that?
Church Chick

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Connections

Oh, boy how exciting when friends from one part of our lives meet another. Here at work church, one of the myriad ministries is the prayer shawl ministry. Monthly, this talented group of people sit together, clicking needles and sharing stories and questions. It is a peaceful time, and represents one of the especially good aspects of this church. I have often thought of just sitting in with them, bringing a pair of needles,and parking myself among the busy needle-toting friends, just to absorb their good energy. I think I could get by with yarnless knitting, at least for one session. I may give it a try.

Someone at home church was the recipient of a prayer shawl from work church. This happened some time ago. Recently, that friend at home church decided it would be interesting to try having a prayer shawl ministry, so she contacted me for more information. I sent her copies of the prayer shawl website, and some directions.

Today, I attended a knitting meeting, and it felt very special. Being a part of the beginning of something good feels like breathing deep, clean air. I enjoyed the women’s time and projects. Now, I want the two groups to meet.

I hope we can arrange a time for home church to field trip this way and meet and get to know our work church shawl ministry members. How cool is that? and, I hope to introduce my home church family to work church family members. Good + Good = Better, I'm thinking.

I feel like a proud mom.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sad in my heart

Oh, I am so sad in my heart when I cannot write. I have been keep tons of notes to write up, but have not been able to do so. I just had the most lovely message asking about Chronicles and so I will make every effort to get caught up. That makes me happy in my heart.

Church seasons are different than calendar seasons. From Late August until late December the speed and rotation of activities here multiply ten fold. That, my friends, is too fast a pace to write.

I appreciate the kindness and will try to spill out a few syllables soon.

I am Messy Cheffing this weekend, and helping the real chef as well, so licking my fingers will be taking precidence over typing, but it won't be long.

Meanwhile, thank you again. This venue is such a fun outlet for me, my friends.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cry your eyes out

Crying is good for the soul

Crying clears out your sinuses>

Crying activates endorphins which in the end make you feel better

Crying irrigates your tear ducts

Sobbing can be a cardio-vascular activity

Wailing is often used as a voice training exercise for highly paid tenors who shall remain nameless

Tight self-hugging and rocking releases tension between the shoulder blades

Tears, if allowed to run their natural paths down the face and neck, have been known to act as a facial mask and can tighten skin cells

Today is National Cry It Away Day; join with other Americans in celebrating and commerating this Historical day by crying your eyes out.

>> Ben Franklin cried when that key shocked the crap out of his hand, but the history books don't often reveal that fact.

Galileo cried when he bonked himself in the eye with the telescope, and thus was born the milky way

Slaves cried while building the great pyramaid of giza, until the dry sandy air evaporated them before they could stick. Yes, the mystery adhesive was slavetears. This is why it took thousands of people and many many years to create those things. Yet another fact left out of the history books.

The great salt lake was first formed by a group of depressed middle aged women who had just sent their children away to be mormonized.

Oh, wise and weepy readers, relax, because today you are in good company.

Tips: Don't cry over toasters, hairdryers, or your keyboard.

®© crybabies matter, inc.2001

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Random comments roaming the halls

A custodian, who has an aversion to living creatures who have become non-living ( humans only. This custodian thoroughly enjoys killing wild game) is working nervously in the fellowship hall preparing the space for a funeral reception later in the morning. He is so involved in his work, he becomes unaware of his surroundings. The double doors open behind him. He does not notice. It appears that a smudge on the glass top table has caught his attention.

A walnut box, shiny and decorated with brass handles rolls his way. Something pops/creaks as it approaches him. He stops cleaning and glances to the side where he is looking face to face with a person who was of this world just yesterday. She is dressed for success, and is peacefully resting in her satin enclosure.

.......The secretary,rushing around to manage picture taking, service recording, and other chaos, walks past the front desk where she sees the usual Monday receptionist, reading her usual Monday novel. Sitting slightly behind her, in a child's chair, is none other than the custodian. Had he been a dog, his ears would have been back and his tail trembling between his legs.
" Uh, hey. Mr. Boston- what are you doing out here? I thought you were getting the reception ready?" the secretary asked
" Yeah, well, it's clean enough for now. "
"okay. " She left, but not before noticing his palor and the small collection of bitten off nails that lay at his feet.

______________________________________
Checking phone messages.VERY anxious and aggressive caller.
" This is Miss DeVARYus Blogstrum calling. I need to see you right this emergency minute.
I need to come get my light bill paid for because this is an emergency and they are gonna cut my lights off right now if I don't come down there right now this is de VARY Blogstrum calling and if you don't pay this bill right now, my oven will not work and this is an emergency and you need to call me at 555-7755 555-7755 555-7755 555-7755 DeVARY us Blogstrum. Please call me right now."

I hang up after writing down all of the messages and the phone rings. " THIS is DEVARY us BLogstrUM and i called you and you did not call me back and it is an very urgent emergency. I need you to pay my light bill right now it can't wait they are going to cut off my lights right now."

" Ms. Blogstrum, I just listened to your message, and you are welcome to come down here now if you'd like. I can't make any guarantees, but bring the bill and your Id and we can talk about it.

"Right NOW?"

"Yes, I'll be waiting for you."

"Oh, i forgot I had a death in the family, I can't come right now. and i got , well how about in 2 days? CAn I come then?"

"You have a death in your family?"
"Yeah, I forgot about that."

"Sure, come any day you can. I'll be glad to talk with you, sorry about the funeral"
" What?"
"Oh, are you going to the funeral for the death in your family?"
" Oh, yeah. Uh, yes I'm going. I gotta find out when it is"
" Okay, well.see you when I see you."

___________________________________

Member undergoes BIG surgery. I'm talking major organ inside out and round about surgery.
Equal to having legs and arms taken apart and put back to gether. Big Big. BIG.

Member calls.

"Tell me about Melissa May's surgery. I heard she was rushed into surgery"

"Well,yes. She was operated on at 6 a.m. and the surgery lasted til midnight, but she made it."

"Good, so is she home today?"

Good. so is she home TODAY? Did you get that, people?

It's been a day. oh, boy.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Global Warming and today's funerals

I am dully aware of the condition of our environment and have started to pay better attention to the warnings that global warming gives us. I saw Gore’s movie, An inconvenient truth. I wish I had been able to hear critical nformation in that manner when I was in school. I would have done a lot less scribbling and more paying attention.

I am in shock as to the number of ways we, as a civilization are effected by the big GW.

We are experiencing a heat wave of sorts. It’s August, of course, but the humidity has been up and the sun’s rays are more intense than I recall. The gnats are feeling it, too- their swarming just doesn’t have the punch this year. I haven’t had nearly the number of abnoxious gnats checking out my sinus cavities as in previous summers.

We’ve also had a run on funerals. It is not a funny affair, know that I know this. But my job, if I am to do it in the least bit of professional fashion requires that I fully remove myself from the heartache of death and focus on the details of helping YOU manage the heartache of death, and from where I sit, people are dropping like flies.

The bargain betty inside me wishes we could have bought some things in bulk. Flowers, food, perhaps burial boxes. Costco and Sams do not carry all of those items, however. I find it interesting that our recent deaths have been of those who have lived on this earth before we even voiced something called Global Warming. Many years ago, Global Warming meant something entirely different. It meant, find enough fuel to stay warm, not stop driving down your driveway to collect your mail. These folks lived in simpler times. Cleaner times. The challenges were very very hard, but different from today.

I’m sorry to lose people who can remember why we need to pay attention to getting back to nature. Many of our younger people lose sight of what that even means. Thank gosh the word remains in Webster’s listing. The more older people we lose, the more need I see for us to speed up our radar, to listen harder to information such as that Gore seems to be obsessed with, the time calls for it.

All we can do now, is to comfort the families who have lost their loved ones, but in those moments, I am seeing the loss of much more.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Zambinis

We had a group from work church fly off to Zambia for a couple of weeks. They worked with children and although they did much to help the children they spent time with, I imagine they brought back many unexpected treasures of heart from those kids. I can see it in the eyes of the few returning travelers I have seen.

Okay, the trip was long. one leg here, a longer leg there, under conditions I can't and don't want to even imagine.There is no question that those people are heroes. They are God's worker bees. I can't wait to hear the stories as they are able to release them.

But, let's be real, people. Even worker bees have family- and sometimes family ties that are stretched millions of miles ( or so Zambia seems) can be in need of strength, guidance and support.
That's where I come in. You, know, God may have needed to look over the travelers, but I had to manage the fam and friends hotline here.

I realized I was out of my comfort zone when the first questions showed up in my inbox.
" When did they arrive?"
" Did anyone lose their luggage?"
" Did my loved one remember his toothbrush?"
" Any messages for me?"
I rattled the tin can phone that was supposed to connect me to our Africa travelers, and I even jiggled the string, but alas it was a good while before I actually had confirmation that our group had arrived. The info was sparse and short syllabled when it did come, and I knew the families and friends were disappointed. I was sort of expecting viewmaster verbage- colorful descriptions of every moment. WEll, when you are in the depths of another culture, such is not always possible.

I sent out messages as I got them, but they were as received- short and sweet.
Message number one said something like: They arrived.

It didn't say WHERE they arrived, or Who arrived? or How. I mean, Did they get to the place they intended to or did they make it to the continent? Did the entire team finish the trip? or did some stop off for Starbucks somewhere along the way? Did they make it with all their gear? or did they end up with other people's stuff? My info feed was warm, and well received, but short.

I started making up my own messages, just to have something to send.
One such message went something like this:
They arrived
They have noticed the terrain is a bit different than here
The stars shine brighter away from the Raleigh City lights.
They have eaten something.

I tried to stick with the truth, as I guessed it. No one complained- I could have probably sent out my favorite recipes and they would have acted as bandaids in between fruitful info, but I didn't think of that tasty tidbit until too late.

I tried to be as accurate as I could with actual transfer of actual contact. When my boss was thoughtful enough to call me AT HOME on a Saturday afternoon, as I was leisurely working on a slipper-like-object, I about fell out of my chair. I mean, really- Who calls you from Africa on a Saturday afteroon? Well, my boss does. and my buddy work friend does. and I'm glad.

At the time, I was in disbelief. The connection was broken at best, but after 4 short attempts at talking, I got this out of the conversation: Elenie!! It's Ick. ICK!! Ambia NO, eally!!!!!.
After that delicious and very exciting conversation-ette, I rushed to church and sent out an update to the family. It read pretty much as I described it above. Somehow, it was enough.
The words really didn't matter. It was the fact that I heard the voices of our team that meant the most.

I don't know if I'm cut out to be the tin can connector, but it was fun while it lasted. The best part was when my boss called on their way home and wouldn't you know it? I was away from my desk. I heard the front desk receptionist's shrill voice calling me to GET THE PHONE!!! and so I quick quick like a bunny left the ladie's room, and caught the phone. Having my boss call or need my assistance the minute I am out of easy reach is as routine as birds feeding outside my window, so I knew in my heart things would be okay on that day. They all made it home safely, and the gaps- well they will be filled in by those who were on the Africa adventure when they are ready, and willing to share.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The bloodmobile cometh

Bloodmobile-it is
A couple of times a year, the bloodmobile stops by home church to fill its tanks. Although members are more than ready and willing to give blood, something odd has started to occur on bloodmobile dates. There is a pattern that has started that says “When the bloodmobile cometh, all hell breaketh loose.” …and so yesterday was the bloodmobile day and here’s what happened- First of all, the big moose van had to park on the narrow street that borders our property instead of the parking lot. This slowed passing traffic, of course, and created more than a few clogging moments for passers by.

The basement flooded the night before, I mean RED CLAY RAMBLER flooded, and so the Mr. Sparky trucks were there first thing with their octopus hoses seeking and sucking out the seepage and the Mr. Happy Sparky men were sopping up the muck. I really do not think that kaki pants are the way to go for those guys, but hey- that’s just me.

Meanwhile, the internet decided to have heart failure and so ran an unanswered code blue.

The geo-thermal well drilling truck that has been promising to come by in prep for our new construction decided to come on over and begin drilling through the asphalt but discovered the dumpsters would need to be moved first and they were pretty heavy, holding wet cardboard and soggy basement crud, so the trucker just parked and left, leaving approximately 5 available parking spaces for members.

With the internet down and out, one of the phone lines fainted and never snapped back so the church phones were ringing double. The new temp. receptionist hit the valium early ; she didn’t seem too bothered by the chaos after a while.

A funeral wound its way through this and called out for some short notice planning as well. With one co—pastor on sabattical and the other playing single parent (whilst her partner is in Cuba with the youth), the stress of the planning broke the stress meter.

Oh, yeah and yesterday was also the 3rd Wednesday, which as everyone knows in the summer, is, of course, church dinner and program. So I was there cooking mud soup with a friend, and our other helper decided not to come, then later decided yes, then no, then yes, then no and after lunch yes again. OH, yeah, the custodian is on vacation for another week….

Yesterday was the day our favorite church “Otis” ( for those who recall Mayberry) decided to hang around the parking lot and greet visitors!!

I came upstairs periodically to check on the Church Chick, my mentor in the field ( and others, the wise woman she is) since she had just returned from a 2 week vacation, and on one of my checks, I heard the Chapel piano playing and an unfamiliar voice playing along with the keys.
“Who’s that?” I asked the CC.
“ A guest from the hotel across the street just walked in and asked if she could practice her piano and I guess she sings, too.”
I walked down the hall to the Chapel and looked in to see a young woman with long dark hair running down her back playing briskly on the Chapel piano. She swayed and threw her head back and sang out out out!!

I stepped back and leaned against the hall wall. I had trouble separating the notes of the piano from the constant phone chimes. I heard my CC friend’s voice, tired but determined. “ No, we do NOT need our gutters cleaned out TODAY, thank you.”
I think I’ll stay heads up on the next date we have down for the bloodmobile visit. Might be a good day to stay home.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mid week splendor

Well, well, well. Today is Wednesday, and, I am NOT at my desk. I think I have found a way to experience vacation in drips. Today is a good one. I am messy-cheffing at home church tonight, and was planning on taking a half a day off today, but my boss dropped by yesterday and said to me, with lots of love and support, "Go for it- take the OTHER half and make it a day."

So I am. I was productive yesterday especially because I did some things I really didn't want to do. Doesn't that earn brownie points, people? Why, yes I think it does. So I slept in until 8 this morning, and here at 10:16, I'm dressed and have already had breakfast. wow. Work has only called once so far. That's pretty good.

My notes for CLC are on scraps of paper at work,so I really don't have anything especially swell to share, but my biggest fan has called me today and said, "WRITE" so I am.

I think the sign of a great working environment and team connection is when the boss is out of town and things at work stay the same. I have 2 bosses, you know. The Business Administrator and the Senior Pastor and then the Associate Pastors and the other staff are also really that, too. We work so well together that when one or more are gone, the flow doesn't really change.

It feels more like summer this year because , well, I don't really know why,but it just does and because of that i have been able to peck away at catch up stuff. I mean, the people coming in for assistance is wayyyyyyyyyup, but the event planning is a little sleepy, so I have some flexibility in my time and I want to be ready for the Fall when it crashes in.

The Pastor boss and 19 or 20 others are experiencing Zambia this week and next. It has been an intense planning, and I expect it will be an intense visit. I would say I can't wait to hear about it, but I am afraid their weary eyes will return wearing the pain of a reality they did not fully expect. So I am prepared to sit back and have lots of hugs ready. The day they left was a big big send off-

I don't do crowds very well, so I bided my time, and drove around trying to decide how the big giant bus would make its way to the highway. ( There are many winding narrow roads around the church, just as there are in life) I parked on the side of the road, close to the main road that they most surely would need to take, put the top down and waited. Sure enough, a big bad bus came smoking through. I stood up and waved waved waved.

I only saw one face. The woman sitting on the front seat row.She looked still and sad at first, then she noticed this idiot waving and i would like to think it distracted her as she looked up and her eyes popped right open!! Maybe seeing the last minute crazy church chick wave off helped them transition from leaving families to visiting new friends. I hope so.

When I came into work, not one person gave me a hard time for not attending the send off. They know me well, and they knew I probably wouldn't attend. I was happy to say I had a personal bon voyage!! I will remember this and use it again, as it felt really good.

I miss my boss Pastor. But I'm glad to have a chance to brace for his return. He seems immune to jet lag, sad to say.

WEll, I'm off to cook dinner for home church tonight. Tomorrow, I'll be clucking along in my haven at work church. The day off won't leave me with dread of going back to work, either. It's kind of nice to work in a place that feels like home. Really nice.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Summertime

I think one of the hardest adjustments to growing up is the reality check of losing Summer. As a parent, I am still grieving the loss of naptime, but as a just plain grown up, losing summer vacation is hard. No schedule to follow, spending days at the pool, reading and playing. Minutes seemed like days seemed like seconds, all without rhyme or reason or intention- free free free free time

Even so,I see that I have adjusted in many ways- when the pace slows around this busy church, it feels a lot like summer. I can dress more casually, priorities shift and lessen, or rather- the intensity lessens.

When I do take time off from work, I plan a day- or half a day here and there because it makes me feel like I have choices as I did when I enjoyed "real" summer oh those years ago.

I hold onto a cluster of days so that I can really take a getaway if I want to- (whenever the sweepstake comes in), and until then, I am creative with my bits of time off here and there.

Most days off at work church are spent at home church. It feels good to help just because I can and want to. When I take a few days together in early fall, I may return to the same exotic location I visited last year. I went to Raleigh. I'm sure you've heard of it. Hard to get reservations, but I found a great B&B ( resembled my own home in very many ways- the couch had cat scratches almost exactly as mine does at home) I traveled around a highway called the beltline, oh, there were so many sights to see. I think I wrote about it last year, so I don't want to repeat myself too much too much too much.

As I type, there are two doves visiting my birdfeeder. Doves in the Alley. Neat. Now a cardinal. Gosh. I've got a birduary right here in town. shh. Oh, losing focus, pardon -ahem.

I have had indications this year that craving summer is felt not only by me, but by others as well. Since summer has started, I've had visitors plop down into my huggy chair and say, " I just don't feel like working. Can I have a nut or a chunk of bubblegum?" Something about voicing that frivilosity acts as a salve. So we sit a minute, crunch or bubble up and off we go again.

Last week, I had the most entertaining time with a couple of my co-workers. I needed to make an emergency trip to Staples to get card stock so that I could copy an urgent URGENT document so that I could turn around and go back to Staples and have them bind it.

One someone heard me give the Staples call which resembles Tarzan's call of the wild. He responded with, "I want to go."
I said, "Sure, but it will be a quick trip"
Before my very eyes, he shrunk from 6 feet to maybe 4, his shoes became too big for him, and his face took on the shape of a kid with a tootsie pop in it and I could have sworn I saw a slingshot sticking out of his back pocket. " Can we put the top down?" he asked- coy in his voice, and a milk moustache in his smile.

Okay, folks. It was 100 degrees outside. No wind. High noon. Does this sound like a rational idea to you?? I considered my reply. "Sure we can."

Another co-worker joined ranks and we were off.
Riding in a convertible in the heat of a mid summer day feels a lot like sitting in a sauna with a hot fan blowing . Call us convection- We were baked, baby. Washed, dried and ironed in 10 minutes flat. Add to that a Black convertible and you've got freeze dried people on the go.
..
We entered the store, I grabbed what I needed and checked out. My passengers were no where to be found. I waited. I perused. I waited. I asked to use the intercom. "Will the HBUMC team please come to the front?"

Amazingly, the people who answered the page were not my passengers. Seeing as I don't take kindly to strangers, I had no intentions of taking just anyone back to work with me so I started walking the aisles like any responsible parent would do in search of her wayward children. Here comes co-worker one, sling shot Sammy. "I'm not ready" he pouted when he saw me. True. T R U E.
As if that wasn't enough, he added, " You said you have to come back, didn't you? Just leave us and when you come back, we'll be ready, oh, and leave me the Staples card so I can do some shopping."

This scene is so parallel to real life with my kids that I actually bought it and I came back to work, made my copies and returned to the store. Where, oh where do you suppose my peers were? NO WHERE TO BE FOUND. Now, let me ask you- How sad is it that walking the aisles in an office supply store provides a break in hard core work?

Anyway, this little fieldtrip experience acted as a blast from the past and I saw all of us as we wished we could be again for just a little while. In school/out of school and on vacation without a care in the world.

We returned to work, refreshed and rejuvenated. That's all I'll say about that.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Just -Because entry

This week is Vacation Bible School and the whole block is vibrating from the fun coming out of this building!! There are thousands of small children running amuck, well. There are alot of small children running amuck. Well supervised, but amuck anyway.
I was hoping to get something out of the ordinary accomplished this week, but alas, I'm not.


My office acts as the Red Cross. My white board that hangs on the outside of my office door says so. It also repeats Melanie's rule which is, of course, "No blood, No bandaid". This is year 3 of this rule, and it still amazes me the efforts that children will put forth to bring about a tinge of red -all for the sake of a band. aid.

Ah the simple wants of youth. I'm still convinced that if you carry bandaids and a marker with you when you are left on a deserted isle with a 2 year old, all will fare well.

My Pastor boss is away, and that always feels uneasy , but- he has checked in and sounds great. It is very hard for him to really get outside of this church bubble. I am proud of him for braving the sand and surf this week many miles from here.

My office looks like a landfill. I'm really building those quad muscles having to step up and over so many piles of work waiting to be whittled down.

It is so hot outside today that the birds are flinging sweat at the feeder. I need to get or rig a birdbath for my little beaked friends and I should get a hummingbird feeder added to my collection. Hmmm. . new projects. Yes, I will work on that.

Usually, I have a particular story to share, but I decided that I was hankering to write, and write plain and simple, so there you have it. a Just- because entry.

My yarn art is coming along. I decided to let the guilt go about not being able to make slipper-like objects without suspicious protrusions sticking out from the heel. A friend showed me a way to lay them out so you don't really notice it too much until you get ready to put one on, and then, it will disappear once you get your heel inside, so there you have it!
magic slipper-like-objects
by Melanie buy one, or two- today in your local department store.

Now you see it, now you don't.

I started knitting a real thing, a sock. I knew this might prove to be a dangerous endeavor, considering the funky crochet socks that I've hooked into the world, but the twin needle variety wasn't so awful after all, just different.

First, I tried juggling double pointed needles. Sigh.....After I had bandaided my fingers, I tried again. 4 dpns ( that's knit talk, buster) held and moved and pulled and what not. Knitting in fear wasn't really very fun, so I did some research and found a new way to do sock like things. Magic Loop knitting.

Woo hoo!! So I got a pair of circular needles and started a knit sock. I added ribbing and was going to town, baby!! My confidence level climbed its way up from the depths of the earth and crawled all the way up to my elbows before someone commented to me one day, " Oh, what a cute baby hat."

Now, if you are knitting a sock, and someone calls it a hat, well, that says something don't you think? Yes, let's be truthful here, readers. You may wonder, "What, oh church chickster, does, I say What DOES one do upon such occasion?" and I would say, " You do this. You say, Yes, this is exactly a baby hat, thank you very much." and then you try very hard to stay calm against the panic inside that is saying, " How the Hell am I going to make this thing into something that a blessed newborn wears when I can't even make it into something the directions tell me is for the whole other end of the body?"

Well, I made up a way to close one end and viola!! I gave Libby yet another baby hat to add to the pile we keep for new church babies at home church. I will pay close attention to which child is the recipient of this particular hat, and I will be very interested to know over time if this is a child who cannot keep socks on or if it goes to a child who develops some sort of foot fetish. I will not readily reveal the deep secret that he, at one time, early in his life, wore a sock on his head. And if I hear that he comes to know that fact, I will, dear readers know exactly who spilled the beans. You. You, you and you.

After the twin needle fiasco, I went back to square one and bought a clearance skein and started practicing again. I vowed to remain truthful in my knitting from that moment on. Someone asked me what I was making and I said, "a thing" . the thing grew to a bigger thing, and another skein later, a really bigger thing. I decided maybe that is where my gifts rest. Lots of people knit or crochet somethings. I do things. Just things. I have now added a colorful border around my knit thing and am giving it to an office buddy who is always cold, because it has the potential of being a warm thing. We'll see what develops.

Gosh, that's a lot of jabber today. The heat must have successfully melted my brain. Sometimes, summer is just like that.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Murphy's Law in today's world

My boss has a love/hate relationship with his laptop. They don't speak the same language and they live on slightly different planes. I enjoy watching the back and forth of it all. Cheap entertainment sometimes. .. Bottom line is that the computer does not understand how my boss thinks. If it did, the world would be a better place. Come on , Mr. Gates, get with the program, will you? Vista schmista, how about creating a mind body connection between humans and laps?

The two challengers are having trust issues, I can tell. Time will make it better, patience will reign , they both haven't quite figured each other out yet. My boss tries to understand the prompts, and the laptop tries to second guess the Pastor.

Just last week, Murphy's law kicked in. My boss called me in to see if I knew how to delete a collection of messages as opposed to deleting one at a time. I was relieved to finally be given a question I thought I could answer. whew. phew. sighhhh.

He showed me how he had been getting rid of old messages, unwanted advertisements, etc.. He looked so miserable deleting one message at a time that my heart went out to him. He said, "I've been at this for quite a while and there are still soooo many to go- I don't have time for this. I have souls to save, sermons to share, people and places to bless."

Yes, he was hurtin' pretty bad. Slo -mo does that to him. He's a get -up -and- go creative sort.

I watched and I pondered. He chose a message and then it seemed as if the laptop took its time deciding if the Pastor REALLY wanted to throw the message overboard. Sometimes it cooperated in a timely fashion , and sometimes it ignored the signal to delete. After a few minutes, I couldn't take it anymore.

" So, how long have you been at this?"
" A half hour at least"
" Gosh, boss, there are a lot left, or it looks like it from here. "
" Yeah, I'm still looking at 6,000"
" 6,000? are you kidding me? Like, 6 0-0-0-? OMG!! Why have you saved so many messages?"
" Well, I just didn't want to delete something I needed."
" Okay, well it will take you a full lectionary year to delete all of those , one by one so let's try this"
I right clicked and the laptop showed- 'delete all? Are you SURE you want to delete ALL???? Seriously? Really, Pastor?'

I said, "There you go- just push okay and you're done."
I walked away, leaving him to delete on his own.
I took a few steps closer to the door.
" Okay, I'm doing it." ...Did his voice have a hint of quiver in it?
I kept walking.
" Okay, I'm REALLY doing it."
I heard the familiar sound of keystroke in G major as I reached the door and stepped into the hallway..................Then, " Oh Wait!!! I think there's one I needed!! Church chick , church chick, can you get them back????"

I maintained my steady pace, moved into my office and gently closed the door.
It is the most creative souls who are tortured so and on this day, my boss butted heads with Mr. Murphy's Law himself. In the techno- flesh.

Panda Stole



Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The The proud and the profoundness

Today I had the best time in the world. I want to tell you so if you are considering taking a job as a church chick you will read this and say, “Yes, brother. That is the job for ME”. First of all, we didn’t start our week with Monday. We started it with Tuesday and I am telling you that it made the whole day special. New. I saw unexpected faces at the front desk. I was psyched for the Monday crew, and was greeted with the Tuesday crew. That was unexpected and delightful. I love the Monday crew, don’t get me wrong. I love the whole crew, but just the shift in expectation gave an air of serendipity to the whole day.

I got to pick up my work buddy and bring her in for staff meeting. She had surgery last week and wasn’t supposed to be driving yet, so I picked her up in the convertible and we breezed our way into work to start my week. I say my week, because she won’t be back til next week.

We had a chicken feed staff meeting. Not too much to scratch about, and so we shook our feathers and chatted over this and that and I tell you readers, it is the rare occasion that allows us to do that. Chit chat creates bonds, you know. It is important. Not gossip this and that, mind you, but chitter and chatter among friends. It was so refreshing.

I took my recuperating friend to lunch. She was such a good sport today, just coming along wherever to do whatever. We decided to pick up lunch and take it to my oldest daughter’s new work place. I haven’t seen her new digs and the time seemed right.

While we were in the drive through, I got a call from work. I was right in the middle of ordering, so I said, “Can you hold on ? One minute.” I put the phone in my lap while we organized our lunch choices.

Then we ordered. The waitress was having a full moon day and finally released her inner frustrations by saying over the intercom, “Oh for heaven’s sake, Geese Louise” I figured she wasn’t scheduled for today and they called her in at the last minute and the last thing she wanted to do was work the window. I was sad in my heart for her because there are days for all of us that we just don’t want to work the window, aren’t there?

Well, we ordered, pulled up and waited. Then something very subtly suspicious happened. I heard a little voice. I thought it might be inside my head, and I looked over at my passenger to see if she was noticing it, but she didn’t seem to, so I tried to ignore it. I began evaluating the voice. It sounded vaguely familiar and had a rather urgent tone to it. I could tell this even though the volume was muted.

I thought I heard my name- “Melanie, Melanie, Melanie, I, I’m still here !" is what it sounded like. Then-

OMG! I looked down and saw my phone face down in my lap. “AH I forgot!!” I picked up the phone and apologized profusely. My passenger was laughing so hard I felt like I was sitting in a Jiffy pop pan. We were laughing, she from finding it funny that I would forget a phone and be not the least bit alarmed at hearing a fairy, far away voice while sitting in the car -and me, from utter embarrassment. The window chick was not the least bit amused. I know this because I never saw her teeth. Her lips were so pursed they were pocketbooked shut. AND she shorted us an order of onion rings. I hope she fared better through the day.

Anyway, we went to my darling daughter’s work place and parked in handicap because my partner was, indeed handicapped for the day. She worried that we would be towed, and I said we parked here because we needed to and I even left a sticky note on my dash that said “surgery.” I am not one to take handicap spots for granted, but my friend was tired and by some luck, she had not burst her stitches with our laughing outburst at the drive through. I figured if I got towed in the 20 minutes we’d be there, it would be worth watching.

We had a tour of the workplace, and I loved seeing my oldest in her professional mode. She does that well. There is a tone in her voice that is smooth and clean and it is a gift she wears well. I get to see her all around that persona, but rarely do I get to experience that side of her. She also seemed very much at home in her new job so I was proud. I was proud to find the place. I was proud to see the laminated labels she made for her office door, I was proud of how she organized the supply cabinet. I was just plain proud. She took us to see her own “Biz” copy machine which is really a Pro75Workplace Xerox. Big Big Big time. We may try to get Biz and Pro75 together sometime. Her Pro75 can email, and Biz accepts orders via computer, so they may have some other duplicated interests, we’ll see.

Anyway, she introduced us to each area with a little side comment.

"Here is the man across the hall’s office.. I don’t know his real name because everyone calls him porkchop. "

“Here is the meeting room…. The Pro 75 is just on the other side of that frosted window….”

“This is Mr. Jones’ office. He’s 4 feet tall, try not to look down on him”

Okay, she could have said, “Don’t look at his wandering eye”, or “ Do NOT notice that he has 6 legs.” My friend and I immediately fell apart with silent giggles. How can you set us up like this? How can we NOT notice ?? Well, we were a mess. I was glad Mr. Jones was not in, because I would not have known what to look at when we met him.

If her voice had not been so smooth, it would not have been nearly as funny. It was like my mind accepted the professional tone, and then I actually absorbed the content of her comment and my mind was filled with a picture of a tiny person, much like the tiny voice that has summoned my attention at the drive through.

My daughter was glad to be rid of us, I’m sure. I had fun visiting her.


After that, my boss sent me on errands and what a day for it. I drove with my top down and got what we needed without too much fuss.

I didn’t really get anything done inside today, but my heart was well fed with reminders of why I like this job so much. The variety and the connections make it a great place to be.

When I returned, I had an assistance person to help, and we went back and forth over a new issue. Gas. Car gas. I realized later that this will probably come up more often now. It isn’t enough that electricity and other utilities call for our help, but now gasoline can be added to the critical list.

Another daughter called to tell me that she is a great time manager because she went to school today and learned 4 weeks’ math in 2 hours. Oh, parenting is such an adventure. I mean, what are we to say to comments that are delivered with such excitement? “ Wow, that’s great honey, you’re a fast learner” tagged along with, “ So, just think how much you’d have learned in the 4 weeks you were catching up to., probably a whole year’s worth or something?” I’m just glad she is working hard now.

Man oh Man, I wore lots of hats today.

And now, it is time to go home.