Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cabrio- the amazing popsicle car

I have a miracle car. My 2001 black VW Cabrio has been my best friend for several moves and grooves since I've had it. The car has been a willing companion when moving children to school, or from apartment to apartment. I have filled the seats with groceries, gifts, people, cats, furniture, and most recently, plants and dirt, compost and leaf mulch.

The car has not uttered one complaint. I mean, sure, it whines for gas every now and then, but as for the water- not a peep. I clean it out fairly often, but not nearly often enough.

When the girls and I returned from our fall vaca, went to my car ( that we left home) to run some "back home" errands and found the passenger side floors were full of water.

FULL. Like- I -opened- the- door -and -a -family -of- water bugs, earthworms, and mosquitos -rafted -out -into -the street- full. The youth director at home church happened by and helped me siphon it out. I put the rugs on the line.

I got in the car and took off for the grocery for some land food. I had the distinct feeling that I had brought the ocean back with me. Silly, me. I turned a corner and felt a spray of wave lightly brush against my face. When I came to a red light, the ocean tided again into the floorboards and I immediately pulled over. I sat in a state of after-vaca- disorientation and slowly slipped my tongue out over my lips and stretched it as far right as I could, hoping to catch a drop of the wave spray that had hit me a few seconds ago. Hmm. Wet. Nasty. But fresh, not salt water. What in the world??

Although the mats dried out and the carpet dried out over a few warm fall days, the sloshing took a while longer. When at last, the water had evaporated, I drove relieved. I took Calvin the Cabrio to my mechanics and they said it was most likely the roof leaking, a common problem in convertibles and they recommended someone for me to visit with the problem. ugh. $$$$$$

I waited. I drove. The rains came and I sloshed. The itsy bitsy spider climbed up and got washed out countless times, the sun drying up the rain again and again. My eldest daughter who is savvy in many things, sent me to a self cleaning car place that had a wet vac. Thank Gosh.
Fear and cost clung to my socks. I kept putting off taking the car in to the shop.

People who rode with me grew accustomed to the sound of water lapping at their feet,just as they had gotten used to the psycho window on the passenger side that had acquired an aversion to going all the way up. My regular riders had learned the pattern for getting the window to close all the way. up halfway then up a bit, up a bit, up a bit and we're all the way there.

A friend who was aware of my earlier fall plantnapping kept asking me if the combination of dirt and damp had sprouted anything yet?

If nothing else, passengers find the ocean sound effects lulling. Good to know.

I grew accustomed to parking with two tires up on the curb to allow the water to drip out more effectively. Two loving work peers commented that they could tell what the weather was based on how the cabrio was parked.

Before Thanksgiving, my daughters surprised me by taking it in and having the handles adjusted hoping a tighter fit would stop leaks. I was so surprised by their sneaky thoughtfulness. I was speechless. My little girls were big enough to do a really adult thing for their mother. woah.
One moment,please, while I absorb yet another big clue that they are transitioning into growny friends from babes. excuse me just one more moment.....

There. Okay. So I went along happily and stayed dry for a few weeks, and then last weekend we had torrential rains and the lake filled again. sighhhhh. I had plans with a few youth friends from church and so they had to ride with their feet up. They made the best of it and created a song called waaaaaater. Every time I turned a corner they'd hug their knees in tighter and sing, "wattttter"

I drove to my new favorite hang out- the car cleaning place, and vacuumed out the floors. Driving around caused more spills, so by the time I took them home, the floors were full again. I took the car back and cleaned it inside and out at length. With armor-all at my side, we got that Cabrio looking new and spritely!!

That night, a hard freeze came to town. When I got up the next morning, every car parked on the street in front of my townhouse was frosted. Neat. First real before winter frost. Wow.
I left for work, the morning chill putting a crispness into my step. I got into the car, cranked it up, and turned on the defroster. Then I waited. I adjusted my seat, squirmed into a comfortable pose, and turned on my windshield wipers. They slid smoothly against the glass, but my window was still frosted. That just didn't make sense.

I leaned back into the cold leather of my seat and slowly brought one gloved hand up to my mouth. I bit into the glove and pulled my fingers out. Then I reached for the windshield and scratched. My nails filled with ice. The inside of my windshield was frosted hard!!
AS were all of the other windows.

Then, I threw a cold sideways glance at the floor mat. It gave me a frigid stare right back. I leaned over and touched it. I learned something.

I learned that car carpet and mats can freeze. I learned that frozen car mats crunch when pressed. I know this to be true.

I was determined to stay chipper and bright, so I reached for my window scraper and tried scraping the inside. I learned something.

I learned that I should have paid more attention to geometry when I took it in High School. Angles Angles angles. The scrapers are designed to scrape the outside curves of the window NOT the inside ones. I scratchedacross and got a line that gave me all of a clear view about .000000000000001 inch wide.

Being cold, my brain cracked. Did you hear it? If you drove by that morning, I suspect you did.
I scratched a few choice words, backwards, on my windshield, then I pulled out an overextended credit card and put it to good use. Then, I learned something else.

I learned that I wish I had paid more attention in Science class as well. As I scraped the front window, I began to see a lovely pile of shaved ice form on my dashboard. At the same time, I heard a gentle and steady drip behind me. The back window defroster was doing a fine job of melting the back window ice, and when ice melts, it becomes water and when that happens INSIDE your car it is called RAIN.

By the time I scraped a large enough space to see through, I had rolled a miniature family of snow people on the dashboard of my car. They accompanied me to work.

When I got to work, I called the car place and made an appt for the next day. The day came and went. It stayed below freezing all day with a hard wind.

I left work, and walked out to the parking lot where my popsicle car was parked. Hanging from the doors on both sides were icicles. Murderous sized icicles, I tell you. The water had been trickling out all day and freezing along the way. The icicles met the asphalt. I learned another damn thing.

Icicles, murderous sized ones at least, make a heinous crunching sound when they are forced apart from asphalt where they have been happily frozen all day. In addition, if it is cold enough for a car to drip icicles, then it is cold enough for any moisture inside the car to Re-freeze on the windows. dejavu boo hoo vu.

I drove to the front of the church just as some coworkers were leaving. They stopped dead in their tracks. I got out. One said, " What is wrong with this picture?" She looked around, scanning the street and parkinglot then returning her gaze to Calvin the frozen Cabrio.
" I don't see any icicles OR frost on anyone elses' car but yours, church chick."
"So, I guess you can see that I am Obviously the lucky one here, right?"
By this time, her kids had approached, opened the doors and were scratching pictures and words on the inside of the windows.
"Cool" said one.
" Yah" said another.
I looked at the boys and thought to myself, " Gee, I used to really like those kids."

The next morning was the same except that I wasn't a rookie anymore, and as soon as I got in, I pulled out the now-worn- overextended credit card and scratched a driving peep hole.
On the way to work, I caught a red light. I took advantage of the time and scratched the peep hole bigger, but something kept nagging at me and glanced at the car beside me, only to see a big-a__ SUV with a cowboy driver, hat tilted back, staring at me. Although I would love to have taken hold of his bandana and tied it extra tight around his lovely, glaringly red neck, i just shrugged and said, "What?" Then the light turned green. I drove off and the Cabrio and I left him in our frost.

I got the car to the shop, and a few hours later, they called with good news. "It's not the roof"
They announced that as if it was the grandest thing in the world that the roof was not leaking, and that it was perfectly A OK for water to be flowing through the car for any other reason.
Like, I could add a few goldfish and leave a happy customer. Really?

The explanation was complex, and I will probably need to explore it with another shop should the water return, but for now, the short story is that the drains were clogged underneath the doors and that a seamseal is clogging them along with pine straw and leaves, so they made the drain holes bigger and oh-by-the-way- you might want to keep a screwdriver handy so you can poke those holes open every little bit , few days or so, to keep the drains running. Get a car cover, don't park under or near trees, build a garage, have a nice day.

I asked them if they could wet vac the carpet and they said, " Well, the mats are still frozen to the carpet, so not until they thaw out. " I had a turkey thawing out at home and wondered how long it would take a mat to thaw out in a cold car. Let's see... 2 lb mat requires 3 to 4 hours if vehicle is parked in a sunny spot. This info according to the Joy of I mean the Joy of automobile care. ugh. Eventually, they did vac it out for me at no additional charge, too. How about that?

So as I write this on the last day of this eventful year, the mats remain dry, with no stirring or sloshing in the sides. Who knows what next year will bring, but i know one thing for sure- squatting down and poking a screwdriver through near-invisible holes under the doors of a car really works the quads.


End of year etceteras

I blinked. I tried so hard not to, but I did anyway and now we are hours away from starting a new year. again. I blinked.

As I get older, sometime time doesn't flow by fast enough, and then there are other times when I am sure time is stuck in a groove. a groove. stuck in a groove.

Work church has been very gracious with me this year. They are every year, and I am still stunned by their thoughtfulness. I tried to be a secretary when I was hired, but despite my attempts at making this a 9-5 job, I have grown to know and love many people who venture past my office. Both churches remind me of fractals. Home church is just a smaller version of work church. Work church is just a larger example of home church in many ways. The people are really the same. Both are full of faithful people who are searching.

The day after Christmas, my boss called me at home. He was apologetic but pleading at the same time. He and an associate had participated in a funeral which was now over, and they had left all of their belongings in the church which was locked.

I came over right away and when I drove up, I saw two pastors in black garb, one with a lovely white stole on, the other holding her bible. They were walking in the drizzle of the day across the church parking lot. It struck me funny that of all the days in the year, Christmas day was the day the Pastors got locked out of their own church. Doesn't that sound a bit odd to you, too? I let them in and came back home. I forgot where God keeps the hidey key.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

favorite terms

These are some of my favorite thoughts, and words that are worth googling when you need something different to occupy your time. They describe my life in many ways.

Ocum's razor ( simple works best)

Escape velocity( when you have to work harder than hard to break the cycle you are in)

Fractals of nature( facinating to see that parts of nature can be broken up into smaller bits that are the same as the bigger ones )

Tessalations ( pictures that fit together to create other pictures, Escher is famous for these)

Tom Sturgis

Some of you may know my office as the Church Secretary’s space, but by now, after these 4 years, most who visit the church on any kind of regular basis know it as Grand Central. Some days I host the pantry, some days my office serves as a conference room, but every day, I hope it provides warmth and respite for all who venture in.

I keep bubblegum in a bowl on the desk as a staple, and usually a jar of mixed nuts or some other concoction as well. Of late, I’ve added pretzels.

Years ago, I happened upon some pretzels that I liked especially well. Tom Sturgis.
There is a picture of a little cowboy on the front and I like that, too. I took them to the workshops I taught and shared them as energy snacks. They were well liked by all.

I bought them for my family, for friends and neighbors until one day.. there were no more to be found.
I was sad in my heart. I visited several other stores but no Tom.

I asked the store managers to restock and they all said the same thing. Tom had been ousted by Big Boy UTZ and SNYDER.

So, I wrote the company. I told them how I, my children, and friends had enjoyed them and the lengths we had gone to to find them.

A few weeks later, I received a call from Jean Sturgis. She asked if she could use parts of my letter in their marketing. I was flattered, sort of. It seemed as if she had missed the point. Where Are The Pretzels? Where, Jean? I told her she could use my words if she sent me some pretzels. She did. She also, corrected me on the comments I made about the cute cowboy. Seems Tom is a dutch boy. Sorry.....Soon, I received several tins of a variety of their goods. Heaven…..

Then, we consumed them and we were without Tom again.

At that time, I was traveling the state teaching workshops to teachers and administrators and I started asking people to keep their eyes open for Tom, especially people who were traveling to Pennsylvania. For a few years, I received random bags as people visited Tom’s Ovens.

I have been out of that world for several years now, and yet, I crave, still Tom’s little mini cheesers.

A dear friend mentioned he was going to visit Penn and thought I was joking when I asked him to look for Tom. How could I be so serious about something as mundane as pretzels? Well, said friend and his honey bunny did follow through and they did find Tom and they did not resist the urge to sample the little ones, and lo! They not only brought some back for me and the girls, but they kept some for their own pretzel loving selves. Such friends who trust and walk blindly in that are rare!!!

Eventually, I caved and ordered some from their gift catalog for the desk and have been pleasantly surprised and entertained to see people reach into the jar saying “ oh, pretzels….. sigh…..” At first crunch, however, there is a complete turnaround. So much so that we now keep them in the closet so they will last longer. Ordering via catalog isn't nearly as much fun as having random bags be delivered by friends, but when you need a crunchy pretzel, we'll take them however we can get them.

Over the break, I found that two staff members were traveling to Penn. I asked them to bring back Tom. They were good sports and did, in fact, look, but they were not near Tom’s bakery so they did the next best thing. They bought pretzels while they were in the pretzel state that were made in the towns they visited. I was touched. Thrilled. Grateful. It was a very kind gesture on both their parts to do this for us.

The products do not compare. I am taking them home to dip them in white chocolate so we can enjoy them as a treat. They really can’t compare to Tom.

Next time you come by, try one of Tom’s pretzels and tell me what you think.

church chick

Monday, November 10, 2008


I can tell fall is here in lots of ways... Nature's palate has shifted on the color wheel, for one. I want to hibernate, for another. I don't kick off the duvet in the night anymore and the cats are cuddling against me in bed without being coaxed.

The dark creeps in before I'm ready, and the morning sun has a chilled kick to it. The trees are beginning to do their strip tease and some are already naked and shivery. Fall is here.

The spider lilies tried to warn me a month ago with their red wispy fingery blooms, but I didn't want to do more than appreciate their beauty. I was in denial of the coming changes.

Pomegranites are in their prime right now, and that is a sure fire tasty sign that fall is not going anywhere . This year, pomegranites are the hot fruit, baby. They cure all, prevent what isn't even known yet and their nectar is available in lots of combinations of juices.

Many years ago, a very dear friend introduced us to a dish his mom made called, Ahm. She was from a far away culture, from another world.

We never knew how to spell it, so i made up the simple spelling and we've kept it. Ahm because it is Ahhhhhh and Ummmmmm all in one. The dish has pearled wheat, pecan halves, golden raisens and pomegranites in it with anise, the spice that resembles a licorice flavor.

As with any recipe, I've altered it over the years a little. The girls never liked the anise, so i cut it back until this year when I just didn't add it at all. The pearled wheat is sometimes substituted with bulghur but it isn't the same. Sometimes I put chopped pecans in instead of halves. Cranraisens or regular Little Miss Sunbeam raisins instead of golden. But to tell you the truth, Ahm is a simple, magical dish and substitutions don't do a thing for it. Aside from the anise, I rarely change the ingredients anymore.

The recipe is ancient, and has been in my friend's family for longer than he can say, and now we have made it a tradition in our own family- plus I've passed on this to my extended family as well. This year, two of my work pals were in my office, and suddenly one said, "Oh! pomegranites!! It's that time of year again! When will we have ahm???" I have to say that I just loved that. They both like it and my boss does too. I tell you, it is a magic potion.

There is a nice combination of TLC that goes into every batch. Comfort and calm, with a crisp burst of sweetness in every bite. The combination of the simple ingredients come together and mix around with each other and then suddenly a nectar is born. No kidding.

It's a love/hate thing. Most people either love it or don't care for it at all. It is chewy, but crunchy. Sweet and tart and it is fresh but feels like you are making an ancient connection somehow. Pomegranites have been around since Biblical times. I think that's neat.

When we first became spellbound by this delicious delicasy, we decided to add pomegranite plants to our backyard garden. We had plants shipped from Texas and they rooted well and settled right in with the cherries and apples and pears and kiwi. Fall came along, and we had 4 or 5 plants full of beautiful fruit. I entered one in the state fair and won first prize. The specimen was pretty amazing. The color was one that crayola has yet to create. The shape and size were in perfect sync. wow.

Problem was that the first freeze killed every blame one of them. NC just doesn't hold the heat long enough for the fruit to completely ripen. So close.... so close..... ugh.

Since that time, I look and buy in the stores. This year, I noticed the fruit is bigger than usual, and more readily available. I'm sure it is because of the health effects through marketing. I suspect in a few years we'll discover they've been genetically altered to give us the bigger and earlier availability, but until I know this, I'm buying and making and sharing. That's the best part. sharing.

Seeding the fruit takes a while. It is a very hands' on activity. I watched a great old movie and seeded 6 over the weekend. Steady working the seeds out is a calming activity for me. I'm sure to find pomegranite spots for days in random places. Lovely color, but the seeds are tricky. They spit quite a bit. Can you blame them? Working over a big bowl with some water in it helps. A soothing dish to make ......

Fingers don't absorb as much of the color as they do with strawberries, either. The hue is temporary.

I usually simmer the wheat while I'm working with the poms and after the wheat is the texture I like, i cool it in the colander and then it is just a matter of mix and store. It lasts about a week.

With the popularity of it around here, I'll be making another batch in a week or so. Fall is here. So say the pomegranites, anyway.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

A picture worth a thousand bulbs

Friday i noticed two Fall crocuses popping up and looking around. There were a few of their friends coming up in 2nd and 3rd place. I discovered FALL crocus this year and bought just a few for home, CG, and church. I was so excited to see something rearing it's little purple head, that I called my boss and asked him to come see.

He is so good with people's excitement. He came along readily. We walked to the church sign and I let him find the blooms on his own. They are teeny tiny, but for me, they are a sign that things are really trying to grow. Either that, or they are trying to hitch a ride on a passing car.

My boss noticed with genuine kindness and then it happened.

I could actually see the vision of all the flowers popping up NOW instead of in the spring.

I saw a blanket of yellow daffodils reaching up to greet the world and I saw the horror of that thought on my boss's face. His mouth dropped and he twitched a little.
" Are you SURE they are supposed to be up now? NOW? What about the Spring? Are the other ones coming up too? Now, remember... Easter is in APRIL this year, not OCTOBER."

Once I realized why he was stressing, I reiterated, " These are FALL flowers. I only got a few. The rest are SPRING flowers and they should come up in early spring. Don't worry. Only mother nature knows when they will really pop, but they are cozy in the dirt and they are sure it is still Fall. These few bloom now to give the head's up to the rest of the crowd. The Fall bulbs let the spring bulbs know what to expect."

I think he appreciated the purple blossoms much more after that.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The gardening snowball effect continued

This entry is prefaced by the previous 3 or 4 entries - starting with October's entry. Plant self-revelations. They go together, I think.

Since the shopping center fun (I prefer to call that day operation Plant Rescue), I have been on a mission to find and trade plants. Here are some of those examples-

I needed Liripe, bigger than I already had, for the CG Community garden. Anna had some growing on its own in an isolated part of the yard. I didn't ask if there was a behavioral reason for the separation from the other liripe in her yard, i just took my pitchfork and dug it up. That's called unconditonal liripe love. She showed me her backyard and mentioned she wanted to make a daylilly/iris prayer garden. Later, I dug up some irises, and answered the response on a neighborhood elist request for anyone needing iris/daff/daylilly thinning and I dug up some lilies. Then I visited Julia's garden and she had a spare lenten rose. The trade made Anna happy, and the CG look a lot better.

Someone at home church was looking for some irises, and was lamenting about how hard it is to keep the wild ferns down in their yard. A few days later, the trade took place. I brought the iris, he brought the ferns.

A friend from work church picked up on the planting energy, and wanted some iris and periwinkle. I went by and it was really fun to do a little weeding and pet her dog/child and visit. I could see their energy picking up. They are going gung ho on the yard now. I hope to see their progress tomorry. If not progress, then at least hugs.

I saw on the elist where someone had done their yard over and had an overage of sod. The CG yard has a few tire ruts in it, so i went and filled my trunk with rolls of sod. After, I drove by home church and passed by a friend from church. Possessed with the excitement of such a good find, I blurted out, " Only because you know and love me- do you need any sod?" Now, this is not exactly the greeting one would expect, so she and her partner sort of stopped and stared at me a minute, as if I had just spoken Greek. I think they were expecting me to say, " Hi! glad to see you!" and were trying to make my " Hi! do you need any sod?" sound like the greeting they were expecting. Then, the magic of the gardenese kicked in. " Well, actually yes. we DO need some sod." They followed me over to the alley way where the free leftover sod sat and they were thrilled but had no bags. NO worries!! I am now manufacturing trash bags in my trunk. We loaded her up with a bag of irises from my backseat as well!!

Yesterday I was dropping off a church key to my oldest daughter. In the ten seconds it took to give her the envelope, I noticed 3 small ferns growing along her front wall.... Let's just say they aren't there now. I don't really recall getting the pitchfork out of my trunk.

Today,I was walking through a parkinglot, and I found a random elephant ear plant that was so overflowing its small bed, it was sending a few ears out and over into the drain. I pulled one up and brought it home. Yes, today I adopted a purple elephant ear. People in the parking lot watched me and probably wished they knew why in the world would I rescue a strange elephant ear. Just because I could, that's why.

Yes, the gardening snowball effect is alive and well. I need a plant, you have one. I have one, you need one. I need to plant some. You need to see some growing. We talk and build community with people and nature ....

Today at the CG, I looked over all the plants I've put in this season and came up with this.
The garden has come from 15 different sources- yards- shopping centers-friends' plots- 15.
Wow. I think I've put a village in my friend's yard.

My other boss at work wants me to continue the planting. I guess an overzealous church secretary-turned-planter is cheaper than using a "real"landscaper; he's on the train, the wagon, the wheelbarrow. He wants to see if we can convert pinestraw beds into sustainable gardens. I'm in baby, plus, this should make the stewards of the earth committee happy.

I ordered a few plants to get us started, and I'm looking for more. Today, after pulling some periwinkle and digging more irises at my place, I put them in the ground at work church. Next spring, if they live, we'll be on the road to creating color on the church grounds. I'm excited.

My angel friend on the phone tonight also said, "OMG. One day , we will pull up and the church will be gone. hidden away like a secret garden" or something like that. She's really a little concerned that a forest might move in on the root tails of my periwinkle. She's also wondering if these bulbs and plants don't grow, well, maybe I'll need therapuke in a big big way.

Only the shadow knows. I can tell you one thing, though. She, and the other staff may think I'm a little over the topsoil on this gardening thing, but it has created a really nice connection and sense of community not to mention the cheap entertainment.

I still worry a bit about my car becoming a terrarium. I won't be surprised if I climb in to drive one day and see sprouts. Plants are supposed to increase the air quality, right?

The gardening snowball effect- shopping center plant rescue

I was talking tonight with an angel friend of mine and sharing this update with her, and i randomly said, "Maybe this gardening thing is really some sort of therapy for me." She, being wise and NOT ME, said, "Ya think?"

The community garden (CG)benefited greatly from the shopping center haul. I mentioned this upcoming event in a previous blog and I am here to say that the experience has created a snowball effect in my gardening. I am NOT a landscaper. I am a planter. i plant. I weed. I get plants and plant them. That's it. No guarantees. This task of planting hurts my back, but it heals my heart. Yoga helps the back, so it all balances out.

I mentioned an important date. The day the landscapers change out the plants at the shopping center. The day came.

I was at the shopping center at 7am. No landscapers. I ordered breakfast in the restaurant where the manager first told me about the changing of the plants. Still no trucks. There I sat in my work clothes, in wait. Suddenly, one, then two, then several more trucks began to pull into the center parking lot. Men got out. Men pulled plants out of pots. They were at the other end of the lot from where I was, and time was short. I drove over and asked if they were pulling plants today and they said, yes. I asked what would happen to the plants, and they said they were dumping them in the truck and carting them off. I asked if I could have them when they were thrown away and they said, what did I want? I said, caladiums and ferns. They said, with a handfull of irritation in their voices that it would be a while before they got to those. Then,.....then....I said the magic words. "Well, actually, I have a pitchfork in the trunk of my car, I can dig them myself."

You would have thought I was the dentist saying, "No cavities!"

The men finally smiled at me and said with a little bit of caffeinated enthusiasm" Have at it, take what you want! It's less work for us!! Have at it sister!!"

I drove back to the restaurant where the staff was waiting for the trucks, and held up my pitchfork. "He said we could DIG!!" Well, they pulled boxes out of mid air and I shared my pitchfork and, like Edward Scissorhands, we cleaned out those pots in seconds. The manager asked for my information so she could call me in the spring because it was so much fun.

I toured the rest of the center and by 8:30, I had a literal jungle residing in my car. My little VW cabrio had elephant ears hanging out the window, ferns, caladiums, two trees that looked like lantana, and multiple mystery plants stuffed in every spare corner. There were leaves and stems dragging the street like when you close your coat in the car door. It was Fabulous, I tell you. A traveling nursery. With the radio blaring, I sounded like a modern day icecream truck only with plants.

Well, my boss shopped from the car, as did co workers. Several people wondered how I would ever get the dirt out, but i wasn't worried. Even though I had put the goodies in bags, the dirt escaped with fervor. There were inches of dirt in the seat, on the dash, and on the floor. My only concern was knowing my convertible top had a leak, and if we had rain before I could clear out my inventory, well, I admit I was a little concerned about rooting plants in the floorboards of my vehicle. A novel idea, but not one I really wanted to see up close and personal.

In two days' time, the plants were transferred to new dirt. I have maybe a hundred caladium bulbs sleeping on newspaper in my green room. along with a tree hoping to live long enough for me to give it to one of my daughters for Christmas. The rest are in the community garden, my gardenette, and at co workers' houses, and home church friends' houses. Isn't that neat?

The gift that keeps on giving. Dirty, in a good way. Something happened that day, coupled with the growing pleasure of working the community garden, I was finding community through sharing plants, and I was feeding my problem solving hankering by figuring out how to find plants that I needed and connecting the needs of others - a plant switchboard sort of. It became theraputic for me.

Usually, I refer to therapy to therapuke because if you are really doing the hard work therapy requires, it feels puky. But this therapy had no puke in it. Just dirt.

Bulbs for Easter continued

A person came in for some assistance. One of my jobs is to work with people who come in for help. I call them Avon people because at home church these folks have to ring the bell to come in. At work church, there is no doorbell, but i sort of hear it in my head when they enter. This is a very challenging part of my work. I think to myself with every person I talk to, "This could be one day, this could be me. One month late on my rent, and this could be me. An extended illness, an expensive car repair, and I become an Avon person." Being a single parent has put financial security in a space ship and has sent that concept into outer space.

The reality of helping our Avon people is that some people really do need help, and others are just working the system. Since I am not in a position to judge the difference, I've come up with a system that helps me decide what we can do to empower rather than enable. The system is simple. It is the same system that I relied on to help me understand my children when they were teenagers. I ask questions. and I listen.

I guess I could write a whole long story about assistance but i really only need to say that on this day, someone who really needed help came in seeking it. We talked, and I gave what I thought we needed to, and then I gave him resource suggestions to help him find more help. He, like many, asked what he could do to pay us back. Most of the time, this is a question that comes from a sense of pride, and most of the time, all of the time since I've been doing this, the question evaporates when they walk out the door.

This man sounded like he really wanted to do something to repay us. I told him to let that go, and that is what we are here for. Then, I paused. I knew he had been a working man until recently, and I knew he was in his mid 40's and had an unexpected heart ailment and I knew that major heart surgery often brings depression with the recuperation. I thought how helpless it must feel to suddenly, literally over night be without independence. So, I said, " Well, I'm planting bulbs in a week, do you want to help?" and he said, yes.

I didn't expect him to return and he didn't the next week. But- he called and asked for a raincheck, so I gave him one and lo. LO! Friday morning, there he is sitting on the bench in the lobby waiting for me.

I told him I was so glad to see him, and that I really just wanted the company, I didn't want him to think he was going to be working for the help we had given him. He was shocked. I said it would be the biggest favor to me if he could help me by being with me while I dug. So, together, we went outside and he snipped open the bags of bulbs and I planted them. The 700 planted bulbs grew to 1,000. ( FYI: If they don't grow, I'll deny this entire series)We chatted, he seemed to need to talk, and doing a simple mindless task such as repetitive planting is a good, safe way to just chat. I took him up the street for lunch later and left him there with a friend to take him home; both of us feeling a little better about the world.

So, the idea- the great idea my boss had that sounded so simple showed its true colors. Planting bulbs has already turned into planting good things with others. See how smart that man is??

Bulbs for Easter

My boss is a creative lunatic. He dreams up ideas that blow us all away, once we can understand the concepts. As long as I've been working for him, I have known this to be true. I've written of several instances where he's given us crumbs from an idea he's in the midst of creating, and although it is a wonderful thing to brainstorm, it is a near impossible task when you are brainstorming with a category 5 hurricane.

This year, he decided that giving the congregation bulbs to plant would be a good tactile/visual lesson on how we are growing in our faith... Greater things God can do with us -for us- at us..... and he thought if every member planted their bulbs, they could bring their flowers on Easter Sunday and Woah Baby!! We'd have SOME floral cross that day, sister!! The idea is brilliant. Amazing. Lovely. True to his talent. ...but as I sat next to him listening, a tiny centipede of reality began crawling around my head. " What if people don't plant their bulbs? What if only 3 people plant their bulbs and they don't grow? What if we have a flowerless cross? What kind of Easter would that be?" said my centipede realist. So I suggested that we order extras and I'd plant them in front of the church so we could use them if we needed them. He gave me the okay. I envisioned a lovely wave of yellow daffodils welcoming Easter morning.

I asked the landscapers to till narrow beds that ran in front of the bushes and they did, thank gosh. I looked at the newly turned dirt and felt sad that we couldn't have a little color to let us know Easter was coming. A little pre-bloom. So, I ordered 200 crocus bulbs as well.

One Friday, I put on my farmer -me overalls and planted the beds.

I invited the Wee Care preschool kids to help me plant the crocuses. I explained to the enthusiastic three year olds that bulbs had tops and bottoms just like us. Their bottoms are bigger like us, too and they wear special underwear that feels like paper. They want to reach for the sun so they point up. They need the same things we do to live- food, water, and love. Their food comes from the dirt, the sun and the rain. They were able farmers and helped. Some of the crocuses will be greeting the spring mornings from the tilled up beds, and some will be springing forth from the bushes and the grass. I figure Mother Nature is random, and who understands that better than a 3 year old, right?

700 bulbs later, my fingernails were unrecognizable and I had bonded with the dirt. My being was benefiting from the spiritual connection with nature. I stood and looked at the beds and thought what it might look like in the spring. hmmm. something was missing. The crocus bulbs had run out . I needed to order more. No. there was more going on here...Suddenly, the color left my sight and the grounds looked a little dull. Everything looked black and white.

I walked around and went to the corner where the brick church sign sits. That poor sign is the welcoming invite to all who drive by. "Come in!!" it beacons. But the brick stands alone. A sad semi circle of pine straw sits at its base, a flat and brown audience. sighhhh.

I went back inside and ordered more bulbs and then I ordered some special flowers just for the sign.
I thought about what I would like if I were standing on a corner waving people into my house and I ordered tiger iris, mixed daffodils, crocus and Fall crocus with a few delicate drippy white bell flowers to tuck into the corners. There. That is better. whew. Now, all I have to is wait.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Plant self revelations

Today is a perfect Fall day. or Spring day or early summer day or random winter day with color.
Temp is just right. sunny, mild, benign. Just a day. I have been looking forward to this day all week.
I visited Julia's yard again and scavenged some plants again and i went to Anna's to dig up some bigger Liripe. I drove over the rainbow to Jennifer's where she willingly shared some of her spider lillies with me. I put a request out on one of the neighborhood elists for daylillies and daff bulbs that needed thinning and got 3 responses, so after work, I went digging.

I now keep the pitchfork in my trunk. My baby cabrio is doubling as a truck. Somewhere in its baby cabrio soul it wanted to be a truck, so now it gets to-on occasion.

The city yard waste place i get the leaf mulch and compost is having a sale. The notice was more exciting to me than the Steinmart flyer i got in the mail. Ye Gods. What does this mean? Buy a load get one free. So now I can get 20 bags worth of eye watering nature vitamins for the price of one. I only spend 5 or 7 dollars as is, think I'll just keep to that. When I pull up in line behind the big-bed trucks, Cabrio Calvin and I feel so teeny. When I pull up to the window, I used to get smart looks from the compost teller, as if she is thinking, " What is this? a joke?" I just fill kitchen bags with leaves or compost to where I can carry them, and then I pile them in the trunk, floor, and well, every space I can stuff them. It doesn't take many trips for my space and now that I have the community garden spot started, I will only add compost to the beds. My friend prefers pine straw and she is on her own for that.

My daughter still has a couple of bags of leaves her friendly landscaper mom dropped off a couple of weeks ago. I'm delivering this stuff. I have grown to love the pungent odor of nature renewing it's own resources and changing leaves into growing fodder. My kids like it too. We don't have to unload truckloads of it anymore so it makes it easier to appreciate the value now. Good stuff.

Today at the bank, i noticed the landscapers were putting in pansies. I asked them what they had taken out and one guy pointed to a trash can behind their truck. I dug through the discarded plants but they were sun- loving plants, so i left them be. The community garden needs shade loving rootables.

Someone at work church supplied mums for centerpieces and gave them away later. I planted a couple at my house and one at the community garden. Gerbers have ended up in those places as well.

I'm addicted to scavenging plants. I'm hooked on putting other people's plants in other other people's yards. I'm a cross planter.

I pay attention to what's in bloom when I'm driving or walking now.

Monday, at 7 am, I will be waiting for the landscapers to arrive at my neighborhood shopping center because I hear they will be changing out the plants for Fall and I want to see if they'll let me have caladiums and ferns. But I'll really be hoping Santa landscapers will fill my bags with it all so I can figure out later what will work.

I'm a greedy dirt monger.
I rearranged my own plot out back and moved the mondo around, collected and regrouped the seedums. Just like furniture. What in the world.

I planted over a hundred sundry bulbs at my house and the same if not more in the community garden. Some bought, some dug up. Spring will be a mystery until we see what comes up. Oh, I hope something does come up. I can't wait to see the color. The hard work paying off. The thing is, all of this is learning for me. I'm getting to know how to do this in conditions different than I'm used to. It will be nice to see some blooms.

I realized that it feels good to me to have living things around me. My office is full of plants and a philodendron that is winding its way around the room. There is comfort for me in being with living things that require nothing more than tending and time. Weeding is peaceful for me, meditative. Wish I could do that weeding in my head and clear it out sometimes. I tend to personalize everything I see, but in this case, all of these things, including the dirt are alive.

oh! two more replies to the neighborhood elist request. Irises are waiting to meet new friends - Maybe today I can pluck a few before dark.

Soon, the season for dirty work will be hibernating and I'll have to rely on soup making to keep me out of my own trouble. Until the clock ticks us into winter, I'm keeping my fingers dirty, though.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall 2008

Where to start?
Yesterday was the first day of Fall and I realized I have been lacking the time to write chronicles. Plenty has happened, but the adventures haven’t made it into type.

Where to start? Now that fall is here, ringing in the beginning of the church year, the pace has picked up. Actually, the pace has picked me up and thrown me looping around and around. Yes, the busy season is in full swing, as it is in most churches right now. Deep breaths have run into hiding. Staff meetings run past lunch.
The birds who visit my feeders are packing their cheeks and carrying miniature Samsonites with travel stickers on them. My boss has become a blur of movement. My hidden bag of “Emergency Only” chocolates is getting low again and that’s a sure sign of stress and busy. Why, as I type, there is a coworker reaching under my desk for the chocolate stash. Will it be dark or milk chocolate today, I wonder?

I go home most days and think to myself, “ What did I do today?” as I collapse into my chair before going to the Y. Maybe it’s not just me. Maybe the world is spinning a little faster. Or, maybe MY world is spinning faster. At any rate, I miss writing, and hope to post snippets as they enter my days.

Home church is hopping, too. This year, I gave up volunteering with the 2-5th graders so that I can hide in Libby’s office and knit. Call it sanctuary. We all need that. Home church holds several of those for me... the balcony, the cubby, and always the kitchen. Soon it will be time for the soupathon and my weekends and weeknights will be spent at home church brewing up vegetable beef soup, chili, and black bean soup. I have grown to look forward to that time because it helps me get through the dreariness of winter. But wait! It is only Fall!!

The state fair will be here soon, and I’ll enjoy Maple cotton candy!! I’ll be listening to friends’ kids talk about the rides, and I’ll be so glad I’m not on them!! I’d much rather watch nausea form on the faces of others, than to feel it myself.

Messy Chef has some gigs coming up, too. I look forward to those.

Summer was good. Slower and calmer, and just nice. I dried tomatoes from my gardenette to use for soup later, and I ate a cucumber sandwich nearly every day at work. I kept knitting, and hoping that one day, I would be able to create two socks that resemble each other. It could happen. After all, I’m using the same directions. Go figure. 7 socks later, they still don't really look much closer than 4th cousins. I have Melanized the socks. Maybe I'll sell them as singles. Choose your sock. i dunno.

Summer. I’m not ready to give it up yet. The girls’ annual beach week was great. 3 of my 4 made it and we enjoyed each other as we always do. We read and swam, and laughed. I rode my bike to get shrimp. We watched the “Closer”- our favorite summer show. I knitted. What could be better than spending time with my girls?

My oldest had the most brilliant idea.
We learned that a local grocery would bag your groceries if you ordered online ahead. ARE you kidding me? For 20 something years, I have been the grocer on this trip, and to think that someone else would shop FOR me?

I went online and tried to shop but discovered that I need to be perusing the aisles, so my lovely daughter offered to go with me to a local store and act as secretary. We did just that, me pretending we were at the beach shopping, and she writing it all down. She then put the order in online and we paid for it and viola!! When we arrived at the beach, and gave our name, our groceries magically appeared. I still can’t get over it. What a love to do that just to save me time.
She also made my bed when we arrived. I just don’t see how it can get any better that that for vaca. Do you?

My thoughts are skipping, I’ll add more when I can. Gosh, it is good to be back.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Community Garden

I sense a slow but steady shift these days towards more versatile use of community. Sustainable communities, building communities, community watch.... yadayadayada.

When I was married,we had a half acre back yard that was largely used for gardening. Fruits, veggies, an orchard. I think I've mentioned that here before. There are things I miss and don't miss about those days, but one especially good use of that space was to offer our goods to the community.

Now, a few years later, I am in a rented townhouse with a minute border of viable planting space, so the days of big gardening are over for me.

I have, however, found a friend who wants to have a garden, or at least wants to have living things in her yard, but doesn't have the steady interest to make it happen, so she's let me pretend her yard is my canvas and I've turned her front yard into a community garden of sorts.

Community meaning that I've filled her front beds, driveway border, mailbox plot and natural area around the trees into places that hold plants FROM the community. Yes, Julia gave me the run of her yard to pull and dig out plants, like long named things I can't remember; Tricia's mom is too elderly to manage her yard, so Tricia has allowed me to dig up daisies and cone flowers that have become overgrown; My own yard has an abundance of periwinkle and liripe, so some of that has put down roots "elsewhere", Louise gave me irises that grew and multiplied and are now in the community yard, the apartments where my oldest daughter lived was sold and everyone moved out in prep for demolition and I dug up some irises there as well, I "borrowed" Wisteria that was looking for an escape from a yard I pass when I walk to the Post office at work, and I found some cousin wisteria vines behind work church. I'm on the lookout these days for overgrown beds and I listen out for folks who want to thin out their plants.

A couple of years from now, if anything is still alive, the yard will be rich with diversity and culture, as our own world is. The only fighting is between flower and weed, or the occasional lawn mower herbivore.

I've started working towards the front side now and eventually, I think I'll have mini areas of lots of different things. I use my own compost, or that I can get on sale or at the City yard waste center, so the cost is low. It costs more in gas to get there than in materials now that the get- ready work is done. That's sad. I want to get a bike sometime, and a goal would be to ride out there on Saturdays to work a while. Like I said, it's a goal. Plus, if I poop out, my friend would bring me home I bet.

The plan is to create a yard that doesn't' really need attention. Self-sustaining. A popular word these days. When we get there, I guess I'll have to find another poor soul who will let me play in the dirt. It's hard work, but I keep my own pace and many/most days I am reminded that the simple motions of digging and putting new plant roots into fertile soil, then bedding them down with water and dirt feels comforting to me. So many things these days don't, but working outside, slow and steady comes second only to licking batter- in comfort levels.

Next year, when spring arrives, it will be interesting to see if the hours I've given to this look like anything good. It would be nice to have a positive influence on something as simple as ground.

Maybe I'll post pictures or maybe not.

If you have a place where plants grow, take the time to visit and talk out there. Plants are people, too. ...Or at least in my book they are. Special people who really don't need much from me but a little time, water, conversation and a listening ear.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Trick or Treat

There is nothing more special than being treated to lunch, especially when the few dollars kept in the wallet have left the building. How invigorating to be picked up and brought back in a luxury car (albeit ancient) Yes, the thrill is hard to put into words, not that words were encouraged, mind you.

Yes, today was a treat of all treats. I was invited to a lunch at a specific place at a specific time and with a specific dish in mind. I was picked up precisely at 11:30 in a lovely black tank called Lincoln. Lincoln took me and my inviter along with the spirit of said inviter's spouse to a nearby restaurant. Three in the front, but only two to be seen. What a ,yes, again, treat. I was grateful for the spaciousness of the interior, the low mileage on such an aged vehicle.(40,000 and a car that was made in the days when steel and spit were the prime materials) I felt safe knowing nothing short of a Garbage truck could possibly do us injury in a collision. Yet, again- what. A. Treat.

We arrived at the restaurant, parked in handicap (made me wish I had brought along my wheelchair) and before I could scope out the set up of the restaurant, I heard the staff being informed of our seating location and of our menu selection, including beverage. Wow

I didn't have to do a thing but be there. What a treat.

We were seated with the best of care, and although the menu was useless, since our lunch had already been selected, I chose to take hold of it just because I could.

I inquired about other options, but was informed that if I chose to have something different than what my inviter had already chosen, I would need to do that on another day. Gosh. I was so relieved. How many lunches do we get to just be expected to be present and consume? I didn't need to drive, or look, or choose. whew. What a relief.

It didn't even matter that the food we were about to ingest has a history of jumping right back up and out to see the world. I cooperated the best I could, but I will say, swallowing that meal knowing it was temporary for my own body gave me pause. I wondered if it would be rude to order two dishes, one to go- one of my choice to go- so that i might be able to have lunch that would stay with me a little longer than 15 minutes.Leaving my etiquette book behind, I guessed it was not a proper idea, so I let it go.

During the consumption, I fielded the 20 questions per bite from my inviter. Dodge/ bite, dodge/ bite. I got a good upper body workout. What a treat.

I used to think having lunch with someone meant you talked about when and where, and usually ended up with a place you both agreed on.. I also thought there was some choice in what you did or didn't have while on the luncheon outing. Ah!! There's the trick.

I had a trick or treat lunch that day. No bags of candy to sort through at the end of it either. Just a lot of tums. I did,however get to know the upstairs ladies' room quite intimately. The stall and I bonded, so all is not lost on this lunchtime adventure but-

I think from here on out- I'll stick with more simple fare with work buddies. That's not really fair, is it? I guess I've forgotten the other side of that potty seat story. I've been very lucky to have lunch with friends who seem to share the same thinking as I mentioned earlier about discussion and having choices, etc.. I guess it all boils down to some lunches are treats, and some are just plain tricks.

Stranger than fiction…….

The world is a dark place. Full of confusion and chaos, selfish envy and over indulgence. I think sometimes that the world today is the same ball of fire and gaseous nastiness that it was so long ago, "in the beginning". The lens shows a somewhat different picture, but much is the same. Thankfully,there are bright spots, and faith helps us see those and faith helps us build upon them. But this is a tale of murder and mahem, not sunny side of the streetness.

One nasty varmit that wreaks havoc on our world is crime. Humans hurting other humans, I speak of here. It’s a sad reality. Murder in particular. As much as I enjoy watching Law and Order and Third Watch, the reality is not pretty when it comes to that kind of human pain. Rarely are cases solved in 60 minutes – minus commercials.

Some murders are mysterious, complicated, and obscure. They go on forever; grow into "cold cases"...Others are clean cut in black and white; catching the culprit a relatively easy task.

Crime in the home is prevalent, but on a much lesser level in most cases. For example:

When my children were younger, one of the girls, then 3, appeared before me with sticky pink fingers and a lovely glaze of sugared red #20 gently coating her innocent face.
“Mommy, I want some juice” said the glazened babe.
I stopped what I was doing and looked down at her adorable pinkishness.
“So, have you been eating candy?” I asked.
“No.” came the reply.
“Are you SURE you haven’t ?” I tried again to offer her an opportunity to tell the truth. ( This was before I knew that threes don’t always do that when given the chance)
I gave over to her, the bottom of my tee shirt and she stuck to it quite well. We proceeded into her room. We stood at the door. I scanned the space. A cellophane wrapper caught my eye and I approached it. I bent down and looked the wrapper square in the , well square. “Did Mary eat you?” I asked, leaning over so that I could better hear the response.

I noticed that this candy wrapper was but one among many. Hiding behind the first were an additional 60 or so empty wrappers.

Mary peeled her fingers from my shirt and backed towards the door- the escape hatch.

I looked at her. “It says, yes, Mary. Did you eat it? Is this the one on your fingers or on your cheek? Or is this the one still stuck in your teeth?”

She stuck her fingers together- apart-together-apart and then her three year old tongue swept around her lips. With determination came,“Nope, Mommy.”

Oh, what to do with this lie in the bold face of truth! I did what any self-respecting mother of 4 would do. I said, “Don’t tell me, sister. Tell them” and I left her to work it out with the empty and restless candy wrappers.

On a larger, more serious scale, though, people tend to react the same. In the face of bad truths, they will lie. A murder occurs. Someone is bludgeoned to death. It is mentioned in the news so much that the general public becomes numb to the facts. Eventually, the culprit is found guilty- the facts come about clear and undeniable, and the murdering husband is sent to a cell where he can write about it.

Time passes.

The seasons change. The hot spot news stories lull, exciting happenings hit the vaca circuit, and the newspaper starts desperately reaching for stories of interest. A reporter comes across an attorney who has decided to bring up the (aforementioned) murder story again with a twist. The attorney has discovered that the poker did not, in fact, kill the woman, but that an owl killed her. Proof being a feather stuck in her cap- er, uh scalp. The talons of said owl match the scratches on the woman’s body. The owl had been seen flying by at dusk the night before….. the woman left on the stairs clutching a feather. An owl feather.

The story made me laugh. I set the reality of the event aside and laughed. Give me a break. This is a story that one of my children could create. Wait. This IS a story that one of my children could create.

I put on my detective hat, did some research, and found to my dismay, that this attorney in fact frequents the ice cream store that we, too, visit often. I asked the dipping crew at the store if they recognized the attorney’s face from the papers and they said, “Yes, why, he was in here a few weeks ago when you and the girls were, too. Don’t you remember? One of the girls was reading a story from an old journal to you all. Then a few days later you came by looking for it, don’t you remember?”

OMG. I DID recall that event, and the journal has still not surfaced. How interesting… very interesting..

The story my child was reading that night was about a little girl who was accused of taking her sister’s candy, and when asked to tell the truth about it, she said a pterodactyl had been napping under the bed and was hungry when it woke up and they, of course like cherry sours the best of all, and he sneaked into sister’s room and scraped a talon full of them and flew back into the other sister’s room and hid under the bed and ate them and then went back for more and left scrapes in the carpet that could have looked like someone trying to cut the carpet with scissors but it was really pterodactyl claw marks and the red stains were red drool from eating the candy and then he went back and got the rest and he left the wrappers because he was going to have them later for dessert because he liked the way they crunched in his beak and so the little girl found him and said, “I’m going to tell my mommy you ate sister’s candy” and he said,
“No, don’t because I will have to fly away and if I give you some to eat, then we can be friends,” and she said “well, okay” and they ate the candy together and that’s how she got red on her and on the door frame and under the bed and in the carpet.

The story had been dictated to an older sister by a very imaginative 3 year old who was growing cavities as she spoke.

I thought. Owl/ Pterodactyl…. Feather, owl talon marks/ beak, claw carpet marks, red drool. Do you see anything peculiar in these stories?

If I remember correctly, there is also a story in that same journal that involves not sleeping at naptime, and writing on the wall with crayon. I wonder how those stories will manifest in the local news

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fall is here part II

Well, once I got the info to copy, I set it aside, as I said ,to "meditate" on exactly how to do it. I needed a plan.

I took it to the genius tech magician who works so much he nearly lives at the church, and he flipped through it.

"Hmmmm, oh, wow..." he let slip, and his eyebrows raised. I had a sinking feeling. He put the pile of papers down and looked at me.
"This is more complicated than it looks. Let's just view it as a learning experience, opportunity!
First you need to divide this into sections, then count each section and the odd numbered groups, well, they'll need a blank piece of paper inserted BUT be sure you put a black dot .00621 mm in the center of the page. Use a marker fine not extra fine and only India black ink
Put the pages of one section at a time in like this, and use the 3 hole punched paper, BUT... put the paper in the tray like this for one sided and then, put it like this if you want two sided which it looks like you might- to save paper, then put in the special secret top secret CIA color code in the BIZ printer and stand back. If it accepts the code, then you still have to press color for it to work. You have 2 seconds to do this or you have to start all over. Don't put in more than 45 pages at a time if you want accurate copies, and the sienna toner is running on 4 bars, so it will run out soon. Got that?"

"Melanie?" " You got that?" he repeated.

I heard a far away voice calling my name. The sand felt warm under my feet, and the sun was bathing me with Vita D. The water was blue blue, and calm like a lake. sighhhhhh

"Melanie!!" " You okay?" the tech's voice rolled like a rip tide pulling me out into the sea of his directions.
"Uh, yeah. I'm here. You lost me on 'Oh wow', man"

He kindly repeated the directions again, then he left to shovel out the mountain of work he loves.

I stared at the papers. I stared at Biz.
I spoke to the dead trees and the robotic marvel."It's you and me, kids."

Biz hadn't been copying long before I realized he was eating the paper like candy. I grabbed my keys and headed for Staples.

Take note: Shopping at Staples the week school starts is NOT a good idea.
Parents are trying to decipher ridiculous school supply lists handed down by the almighty underpaid teachers whose only power left in the world is to create impossible lists for parents. This list acts as payback for all the coffee mugs and notepads they receive as end of the year gifts.

I think there is a conspiracy between psycho teachers and notebook companies, pencil companies, marker companies. I think the teachers give the companies lists that say something like please be sure to supply Staples with these specific supplies ONLY:

#2 wooden pencils, Clear plastic 3 ring notebooks 2" only, watercolor thin point markers.....
and then the teachers send a list to the parents that say:

"Absolutely NO #2 wooden pencils allowed, Clear plastic notebooks MUST be 4 rings and 1.2" or they will be sent home, and Chisel point markers are required."

That is the only explanation I can come up with that would cause the parents' faces to contort into such horrible expressions. The children are drawn to all the cute new products that are absolutely useless, and the parents are weeding through the supplies looking for the one perfect item that sits on the back rack hiding from the paparazzi-crazed parents. The energy is just like that I see on E! TV, only the stars are the few lone supplies that meet the requirements and the maniac paparazzi are the parents.

The store was reeling with stress and panic. I seriously thought about substituting Xanax in the Pez and gum machines.

I grabbed a cart that had a 5 year old clinging to the under tray and headed to the notebook aisle. I grabbed a box of 3 hole punch paper along the way.
There were no employees in sight, so grabbing a box of notebooks from the top shelf was not going to be an option.
I filled my cart with 3500 notebooks, ( just slightly exaggerated, but believe me, it felt like that many) and ran to the front in search of an available register.

I lucked up and got the service desk cashier who looked glad to be there. She looked TOO glad to be there. I heard her say, " Good morning, ma'am. Welcome to Staples" and then I realized that she was using her first-day-on-the-job tone and stature. good grapes.

I gave her a notebook and she started tapping away at the register. The price came up different that the aisle label had said, and I told her. She kept smiling, canceled out and started over, putting the lower price in. I was grateful she trusted me. I am absolutely sure that the 67 angry parents behind me in line had nothing whatsoever to do with her decision to believe me. This time, the register bucked like a scared horse and decided that it didn't like either price and would sell me the notebooks at "buy 2 get one free , every 8 1" get 2 2"free "

By now, the notebooks, being held captive in the close quarters of my cart had become friendly and multiplied. The stray stowaway child crawled out and started looking for his mom, who had clearly had an emotional snap as she had mutinied another register . She was pressing the "Easy" button and started yelling out," Over here, over here! Everything is half price!!" The child clung to the mom and sucked on a purple glue stick.

Meanwhile, back at my "First day" register, I was faced with a math equation. If Mary needs 3500 notebooks, and can buy two plus getting one free, every 8 gives her 2 free, how much does each notebook cost if the total is 5,000??? The register rang out its own answer, and I was suddenly strangling in a length of receipt that had to be 30 feet long. The people behind me lifted me up and pushed me and my overloaded cart out of the way.

I snapped. I grabbed a nearby, innocent stapler and flung it open, holding it up. I shot staples randomly 360 until the whining and fussing of the customers stopped.

" Alright everybody That's IT!!" hands on your carts. NOW!! The curiously cooperative crowd followed my demands. A red shirt of an attendant trying to escape caught my eye.
"YOU in the red shirt HOld it right there!!" I yelled. The college aged kid recognized the power of my, now, MOM voice and he froze in his tracks. "yes ma'am?"

"How the heck am I going to get all of these loose notebooks to my car, cowboy? Get me a box, son, and I mean today!"

5 minutes later, I was driving back to work with a convertible full of boxes of notebooks dragging a trailer on back full as well.

The moment I pulled in front of the church, the entire maintenance staff left for lunch. I could have sworn I saw one of them looking out for me on the steeple as I approached, but I may have been delusional by then.

I lifted the boxes out of the car and stacked them and started pushing them over the pavement towards the church. Once I got inside, the carpet allowed the cardboard more leeway and with a mobile down -dog pose, I pushed the boxes down the hall, past the pastor and a few members to my office.

I thought I heard someone say, "Now there's a view." He must not have known I still had that stapler in my back pocket.

Yes, Fall is here. No question. The pace is up and the work is coming out of the woodwork.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Fall is here part I

I can tell summer is nearly done. The office tides are already in flux, shifting more clearly and with a slight rip added into the water around here. Ah, well. It’s been a great summer. I mean that. The pace was calmer and I had time to almost knock out my TO-DO list.

My boss came rushing in this week, clearly running on full strength Starbucks. “I have a project for you to do before you leave for vaca, Church Chick.”

I felt a slight shudder tremble up my spine. Vaca for me wasn’t for another 2 weeks. If there was a project I needed to start now, it must be bigger than big. Harder than hard, and surely full of mistake opportunities. OMG.
“ Sure thing, boss. Tell me what it is and I’m on it.” My voice sounded calmer than my pulse.

I grabbed my note pad and followed him into his office. I watched him pilfer through piles of paper and important notes. He was stressing, big time. I settled into the couch, tapping my pencil against the yellow pad. The pencil took control and scratched a message onto the pad.“This is not good."

I left him to find whatever it was he WASN’T finding, and crept back into my safe cave across the hall.

The day progressed.

Late afternoon, he flustered into my office. “We’ve got to get this project done right away” he spoke in a bit of a panic. I could tell he was trying to get the message across to me that this was an urgent request.
I searched for the perfect reply, the response that would put him at ease. "okay” was all I could come up with.

I listened as he told me what the “project” was. 45 notebooks filled with a range of info on Africa. About 100 pages with color pictures and some one, some two sided pages. To those of you who only know copying via Kinkos, let me tell you that this mix is an equation for a Melanie disaster, no doubt about it. I knew that my boss knew this, too. I knew he was trying so hard to be patient with my lack of team-urgency.
Again, I looked hard and deep for a calming reply. “okay” plumped out again.

I strolled down the hall towards the copy room and looked over the collection to be collated and copied and decided to meditate on the process a bit.

He followed me. “We’ve got to get going on this in time for the information meeting this week!!!!”

“ So, when is this meeting?” I asked.

This Sunday, the 24th!!!” he panted. His blood pressure was so high it was sitting on top of his head glaring at me.

Finally, I got the picture. Clear as a bell. Easy as pie.

My boss had been time traveling again.

“But this Sunday is only the 17th.”

He stopped and took in what I said. His heart settled back into his chest. The high blood pressure swam home. I thought I heard him breathing, and thinking. I could tell he was looking for just the right response.

Then, “Oh. Okay” He softened and walked back across the hall to his office. I heard the jingle when he quietly closed his door.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

VBS or Bust!

Vacation Bible School came to town recently. 35,000 little people parachuted into the church and ran rampant for 5 days. 200 adult volunteers were driven to drink, and 100 teenagers had a head on crash course in birth control through interacting with the logical consequences previously addressed as the parachuting pixies.

I kept notes all week as ideas came to me about sharing the experience with my readers, but the insanity hit hard around 5 each day, and I ate my inked words. All I have now is indigestion and fading recollections.

The mass was divided into groups and were expected to follow birdhouses on sticks. I dreamt bird dreams all week.

There was so much activity flowing through the hallways, that the construction crew forgot how to construct. On Friday, when I left, I poked my head in the -now- gutted Sanctuary, and I swear I saw a giant Birdhouse where the altar used to be.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Messy Chef Summer somethings

I've been messy cheffing for a camp at home church for a few days. Here is one of the desserts that get requested each year. For the kids' camp, we just call it "Seconds"
Second To Sex
1C. all purp flour
1 stick butter
1 cup or more pecans
Melt butter in a pan that is about the size of a manila folder. Mix flour with it and press into pan Add nuts and press into crust.
Bake 350 til golden. Cool
1 sml package of instant chocolate pudding
1 C milk
Mix and set aside
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ or ¾ C XX sugar
6 oz cool whip ( ½ of a 12 oz container)
Mix and set aside.
Save other half of coolwhip.
When crust is cool- layer this way:
Cream cheese mixture
The rest of the coolwhip
Eat a corner, then cover it up and put container in frig.
Will keep well for just a day or two.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Delayed reaction

Something is happening around here. It's been building up for several weeks, like a storm on the prowl. I have been trying to keep myself behind my desk to avoid catching the mystery, but i got "bit" anyway.

The symptoms are disorienting. I woke up one Wednesday morning and thought it was Saturday. I came to work in shorts and tennis shoes, hoping to get some cobwebs off of my desk. I thought everyone else must have had the same idea because everyone else was here, too.

Everyone AND some extras. A few kids roamed the hallways before lunch.

About 3pm, I got a call from a church chick friend. "Hi. What are you doing?" I asked.
" I"m working on meeting minutes, how about you?" she commented.
" I'm trying to clear my desk a little bit. Hey- how did you know to call me at work?"
" Well, it's Wednesday. Aren't you usually at work on Wednesdays?"
I looked at my watch. The day/date blinked at me. "Has it been Wednesday all day?" I asked.
" I'm not sure, but I think that's how it works. Why?" she asked.
" Well, it's just that I woke up in Saturday and somehow I'm now stuck in Wednesday afternoon."
" Probably Alien abduction"
"It's not just that. I've lost my focus, too."
" Like you ever had any?" she smirked over the phone to me.
" No, really. Something is going on. I'm seeing littler people in the hallways, and I've been obsessing over bringing my lap top and beach chair so I can work on the lawn before it gets too hot outside."
"Oh. That's what you mean about something going on.... School's out. Summer's on the train into town, and, like a cold front, it is pushing time and focus out of the way."
I felt myself slump into my chair.
For a moment, I was homesick for summer vacation. The days of being at the pool all day.

I felt a click click click inside my head. I think it was a delayed reaction to reality.

Somehow the old days of pooling equated with today days of wearing shorts to work. No matter the shift, the feeling remained. It still feels like summer, and that's a good thing.

I look forward to the coming weeks. I'll get lots of prep work done for Fall without a push from the clock. I'll clean out my closet, and watch the birds feed at the window. I'll enjoy the chaos of Vacation Bible School, and I'll stay in a constant state of confusion because every day will be different. Different staff ( Who's on vacation this week?), different friends ( my how your child has grown!), different spin.

Hello, Summer-

Friday, May 02, 2008

Felting fodder

Ye Gods!!! I have fallen into The Felting Forest

Felting is some kind of weird challenge for me. It is a real joke around here at work.

I've shown examples in previous blog entries, and after all this time, I remain mesmerized at the magical change that takes place when the wool hits the wash, but I can't quite seem to tweak the process so that I have a consistently useful product when it is all over.

A while back, I saw a beautiful felted purse that looked like it was done in a self-patterning yarn, and it was.The purse was unique and really neat. I wanted to make one BAD.

The skeins were about the size of your fist and it would have taken 6 or probably 10 to make a purse and they were ten bucks a piece so no go:-(

Later, I bought 5 skeins of my usual cheap wool yarn and I made my own skein by tying lengths of different colors together. I made the giant purse last weekend and it came out of the wash looking like a yoga ball that had been deflated, then runover by a car and cut in half.

The handles, were oh so creatively designed by me. I made two, then crossed them over each other and they came out blobbed together.

Then, while drying on the dining table, one of Liza's cats peed on it. When I came to check on it in the morning, hoping the elves had somehow transformed it into a useable object, there it sat, the smushed and sliced yoga -ball- wool -felted -bag- wannabe.

The colors looked great... bright and cheery. They camoflaged the pee, so when I picked up the bag to take a look, the pee escaped and down the front of my clothes. I had to change for work.

The bag went to the trash.

The good news and lesson learned was that the felt holds water, and I liked the tied skein effect.

I've started another.The thing is ,I follow directions and each purse still comes out different.Therego the appropriate name of my pseudo pretend business:

Accidentals, inc. specializing in Melanizing.

I finished a baby hat and booties for a couple at work who are expecting their first child. I got kudos from two pals at work when I finished the hat- they were no doubt thrilled that the baby hat turned out a size suitable for a human child. I imagine it was refreshing to see a completed product that wasn't fit for gnome or some prehistoric sized creature, for once.

When I finished the booties, and gave them to the new dad at staff meeting, they mouthed the question across the table to me. "Are they the same size?" Maybe I should have been insulted by this whispered inquiry, but these two love me to my heart, and they have no rose colored glasses on when it comes to knowing my true self, so I wasn't insulted in the least. Oh, sure, I glared. I looked hurt. But I was had. I whispered back,"No, but they are close". Then I told the new dad later that no two feet are exactly alike and that is a special skill that you can expect from Accidentals, inc. We accomodate the real.


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Home depo

When I was younger, time spent with friends looked like this: talking at length on the phone, passing notes in class, fast talking in the hallway in between classes, going to the mall, sleepovers.

As I grew into momhood, time spent with friends looked like this: 30 second catch up conversations, meeting at the playground and conversing while watching the children play, chasing them down, helping them up and on, rarely having eye contact with the friend. There were many days at the park that I didn't realize I was sharing stories with a total stranger.

When I began working full time, the prescription for friend time became any space of time when I could be with a pal and chat. I learned to drag friends to the grocery, send invites for a trip to the PO, and meet friends -in- passing on the stairs. I’ve learned to summarize and question in quicktalk fashion. Hey, whatever works, right? All I can say is things don't slow down when the kids get older, other things slip right in there, like work.

So on this day,a good pal needed to vent, and I invited her to come along with me to the Home Depo store. She agreed.

She pushed the cart and chatted away about the challenges of her day. I walked alongside the cart, holding the list that mapped our shopping route. She vented and I listened, calling out our next "stop" in between .

We strolled down aisle 6A “Fiberglass netting” said I.

She replied with, “I couldn’t believe after all the work I put into that project, that he deleted the whole thing!! ARGH”

"The whole thing? criminy!" I added supportively.

We arrived at the netting. I looked at the choices of width and length. “Do you think I need the 200 yard, or the 50 yard roll?”

she continued her story with ,“ AND, the draft was deleted, too!! Gosh I’m so mad about that….. Um, get the 200 yard roll. You never know when you’ll need the extra length……. So then, after all that, he came in late the next day!”

I put the roll in the cart and caught the eye of a red-vested employee. “Sir? Where are the shovels and pitchforks?”

We kept walking, she talking, and me directing the cart in line with the red vest. We dead-ended at a display of tools. “Pitchfork or shovel? I don’t know, what do you think?” I waited.

“Last week, he left the quarterly board meeting before we even got to financials. Nobody else does that, and he didn’t even bother explaining. He just left! He left us all to work hard at staying awake through the number jabber. ….. Pitchfork will go into the dirt better if it is dry and compacted, probably. Are you digging in clay or dirt?”

I closed my eyes and let my head rest back onto my shoulders. “Yeah, lots of leaf-covered soil, vines and dead brush… I think we’ll go pitchfork. It’s a few dollars less, too and I like the handle.” She backed out the cart and we continued on our shopping trail.

I looked at my list. “Um, let’s see what’s next… bungie cords.”

“ Can you believe he has had interior design people in re-doing the board room 3 times this year. And then proceeds to complain about expenditures!!” her pace picked up.

My right arm swung out and held the cart back from running over a runaway child who skirted around the cart and kept running.

The near miss did not deter the venter from venting. She stopped and draped herself over the front of the cart handle, talking into the cart. “ I just don’t think I can take it much longer. The man is insane!”

A red vest crossed our path. “Excuse me, sir. I’m looking for bungie cords?”

“ 18 A about half way down. Here, I'll show you.”


We took a hard left down aisle 18. A mound of cords caught my eye. “ Gee, some of these are so short, I don’t know.”

“ How long do you need them to be, ma’am?” the kindly depo man asked.

I stretched my arms into as big a circle as I could, with my fingertips just touching. “ Oh, about this big. Big enough to go around a trash can.”

“Then, you’ll need these, probably. Yes, these should do you fine.” Plop went a pair of lime green bungies into the cart.

We continued on- me now holding the side of the cart so as not to lose it or the driver, and my friend, hanging by her armpits driving with her head hanging lower than a snail’s pace, and her feet dragging behind. I could tell our visit time was coming to a close…just one more item.

“ Ah, there. Garden accessories. Now let’s see if they have a … yeah! I see it, this way, come on, we’re almost done.”

The cart driver moaned, “ I can’t sleep thinking about having to go in to work tomorrow. I can’t do it.”

I patted her bobbing head.“Okay. Here are the rainbarrels. They are all over the place these days, there are so many that they are invisible if you know what I mean. Why, you walk by them in the neighborhood and don’t even notice them. Too big for my Cabrio. Oh, here’s a collapsible one…. But is it big enough?”

I looked around and noticed the outline of a person who was squatting behind the rainbarrel giving it a look. He stood up, then walked away.

My friend bolted upright, her upper body rocketing out of the cart. “OMG. Did you see that man? I thought it was HIM for a minute.”

I put my hand on her shoulders, and guided her back down to ground level. “Come on, let’s go. Anyway,I think that’s about right, and it will fit in my car, too. ”

I walked over and picked up the collapsible rainbarrel and added it to the cart. I pushed against the cart, aiming it for the front of the store and we headed towards the checkout.

We wove our way through the store in quiet. Then, her voice released slow syllables, “ Uh, what are you getting these things for, anyway?”

A lightbulb flashed in my mind’s eye as I inventoried our cart and replayed her store ramblings.

I smiled. “You mean why did I get a length of netting big enough to wrap, say, a body ? and why did I get bungie cords long enough to wrap around a body so the limbs wouldn't fall out? And Why did I get a rainbarrel big enough to hold an average sized person? And Why did I get a pitchfork strong enough to dig a big hole?”

She stood- frozen in the homedepo, her eyes wide as full moon. I could see the hairs standing up on her arms. She had a hard grip on the cart.
“Uh, yeah. Why DID you get those things?”
“I got these things for the garden, of course, what did you think?”

And we headed home.

Bell-less Wednesday

There are no bells today. My bell friend is traveling to her summer home now. The halls are quiet this morning. sigh.....................
The bell choir is on sabbatical until Fall.
I rely on a few of Edgar's words to fill in this bell-less blog.

I Hear the sledges with the bells - Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle All the heavens, seem to twinkle With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells From the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells - From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I am a church secretary. A church is a place that usually houses a sanctuary, a place for fellowship, and often times a smaller sanctuary called a chapel. I used to work in a place that met all of that but over the last few days, when I've entered the building, it just hasn't felt like Kansas anymore.

Midweek of last, I was booking down the hall to visit the Business Administrator's office and as I rounded the corner, I glanced into the Chapel,but the baby cute Chapel was gone. My gasp echoed back to me, bounced off of the vacant walls and floor. The room was empty. Aliens had clearly abducted the pews. The sacred room was pewless. On that day, in that moment, I assumed I was hallucinating. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed the change, but it didn't appear so, so I cautiously entered the foreign space. I stood in the middle of the room and closed my eyes. The spirits of days gone by were clearly present. Memories of weddings and baptisms whispered past me. In a matter of seconds I was surrounded, encased by years and years of the essence of history. The room was full. When I opened my eyes, the sense of all that evaporated. The chapel was a different space.

Friday, I thought I had lost more of my mind, (there is not much left to spare) and so I retraced my steps to the car, keeping my eyes glued to the pavement in search of mind. None found. I headed for the kitchen, and cut through the Fellowship Hall to get there. I crawled over soundboards and flat screens; scooted between black boxes and tripped over cords snaking about the area. Where did the Fellowship Hall go? What happened to tables and chairs? What??

Today, I wondered if we were going to be on an upcoming episode of "Flip This or That House". I entered the building and ran slam into long, slender open casket-like boxes,stacked 6 feet high in the Lobby. The sanctuary doors were open, and the carpet was gone. So were half the pews- some sat disassembled , others waiting their turn. The organ had been silenced by an ongoing tonsillectomy in full swing. There were strangers at work. The figures in the stained glass look worried. Would they be next?

I used to work in a church. Right now, I work in a place that is called a church, except it has no sanctuary, no chapel and no fellowship hall. We're not in Kansas anymore.

Friday, April 18, 2008

VACA- How little it takes

Although you'd never know it based on my job at church, I am an introvert. I used to think otherwise, for much of my life has been spent in front of crowds teaching workshops, or training other teachers, or in a classroom with a gaggle of children. I've done my fair share of speaking to City Council and have had many occasions to hold community events and dinners at home or in our back yard. For reasons I now understand, those times were just times when I was 'on'. In truth, I count on solitude to calm my spirit and to recharge my soul. We all need to find our individual balance between chaos and calm. I love to write and sew and read; crochet or knitting soothes and relaxes me; gardening heals. Cooking can be meditative. My comfort zone is tiny as well. I live in a circumference that I can walk to - work, the Y, church, grocery. It works for me. I don't travel much.

I love my job at work church because it gives me the best of both aforementioned siblings, Chaos and Calm. In the course of a day at work, I see many many people, but usually in drips and drabs. On busy days, a steady stream of people stop by the office or phone or email, and I enjoy that contact, but at the end of the day, I am ready for some quiet. I think that is one reason I like Yoga so much. Sometimes, when I'm in Yoga, I can hardly believe I used to teach disco dancing- the two are so completely at odds with each other.

My oldest daughter had a big occasion this week- her first conference event that she had planned and organized. She offered me an opp to go with her on a 'pretend' vaca. It was one overnight, and located close to two other daughters' schools so I agreed, then said, "Well, I dunno" then, " Sure, I'm going" then, " Well, maybe not". She was kind and patient, and I finally decided a change of scene was in order so I drove us up to Winston-Salem. She is good travel company. She told me she had planned a pedicure for me while she set up for the event so I'd feel more vacationy. It was a very nice treat.

We arrived without any unwelcomed travel hitches, and she headed into the conference area to set up shop.I left the hotel with directions in hand, and a few minutes later, I was parked and had my shoes off . I enjoyed the treatment. Mostly, I appreciated her letting me know ahead of time and the fact that she was so thoughtful as to treat me to such a luxury without coming along for the entertainment. I tend to sink into the massage chair and have been told I look somewhat like a cat or dog leaning and twisting into the bark of a good scratchy tree limb trying to "get" the tree to scratch just the right spot. In addition, my feet are extremely wary of strangers, and they tend to jerk and squirm in the hands of the pedicure artists. Twice a year, sometimes 3 times, I'll go through the torturous, in a good way, pedicure. I can't take it any more often than that.

We had a surprise dinner with my Wake Forest near graduate daughter, and were in bed in our nighties by 7. Yes, 7. I crocheted a hat for our newest youth director and his preggers wife, and lights were out at ten. I was up at 3 as per my usual wake up call, and emailed a bit - my daughter's anxiety kept her up so we visited in the dark for a few moments and back to sleep fell we.

She was up and out by 7; I took my time getting ready, then drove to Greensboro to see yet another daughter who is majoring in recreational therapy. We shopped, and had lunch and yarn shopped, I got a friend some needle sticker things, and used a coupon my daughter gave me to have my car washed. " since you can't do this in Raleigh, Mom", and then we just piddled around. I saw the "wall" and Outdoor Adventures where she works.

That afternoon, I drove back to Winston-Salem in time to watch my oldest succumb to a nasty stomach virus. I ended up sitting at the conference table handing out nursing certificates and packing up when it was all done while she spent time in the restroom- not resting. We drove home with the top down, hoping the fresh, albeit frenetic, blasts of air might keep her nausea at bay. It's hard to puke when you're in a convertible going 70 mph.

I dropped her off, helped her into her cozy apt, and I made it home in time for yoga. It was a good trip. Short and sweet and with most of my girls. I missed work, though. Yes, I did. No, really, I did.

While gone, on this extended trip, I called a buddy at work and reported in a few times, and emailed in between. I missed my work friends so much that I brought back special treats. A shoe shiner for one who loves shoes, a miniature bottle of lotion for one who appreciates those finer things, a makeup remover cloth, and a couple of cards- one said "Help" and the other had room for notes. I had looked high and low for these types of items while shopping in Greensboro, but alas, it was in the hotel room alone that the particular quality and perfect designs were found. Isn't that just the way? You look all over creation for just the perfect Do not disturb sign and there it sits hanging on your hotel door the whole time? I had fun giving them out when I returned today and I could tell they all appreciated tremendously, the thought that went into each and every specialized gift. I love my workmates.

My boss couldn't seem to find his special gift, and as I got up to go pull it out of his mail cubby i said, " Yes, you've been to Italy, and brought me a lovely mixture of beans for soup, but THIS present can't be found just anywhere." When he saw the trifold pamphlet titled, "NOTES" I could tell he was touched. That's just the kind of guy he is.

This morning when I came in, one of our building maintenance crew said she had missed my quirkiness. I guess she called it. Her gift was a day old flattened chocolate croissant, that had actually been the victim of passenger sittage. The delicacy was warm when I bought it, the day before. She seemed to feel special when I handed her the squashed paper bag. She knew my heart was full of good intentions. That's when she made the quirkiness comment. I can think of worse characteristics. I'll take quirky anyday. Doesn't hurt anyone, and isn't mean spirited. Sounds pretty good to me.

My next door office neighbor left me the sweetest note of what she did when I was gone.
"Missed you, made coffee, ate nuts, had gum, ( out of my desktop sustenance containers on my desk) missed you some more. " It was nice to come home to. You'd have thought I had been away a week.

The organist ( we are partners in desktop snackness choices) moaned that it was no fun sneaking the goodies if I wasn' t there to notice. He is an artist in so many ways, delivering moan-y missed-you comments being one. It was dramatic, loving, and delicious- made me feel glad to be back.

I think it says something special and good when you can be away a couple of days, and feel like you've been to Jupiter and back. I am grateful to have been missed.

Something awry happened, though. While I was gone, it snowed. It snowed paperwork on my desktop. A blizzard of work sat on my desk, sprawled and restless, listening to the mystery radio station, awaiting my return. How did that happen? Gnome and Watchbear( nicknamed Sparky) must have skipped out when I did because they are supposed to keep away extra work that tries to enter the office. Guess I'll have to talk to that duo next week.