Friday, February 29, 2008

rain barrels are good friends

We are experiencing a drought. Mention of this has become so overused it is invisible and often falls on deaf ears. This situation reminds me of times when my girls were small and one of the four was in dire need of attention. Maybe a gentle tug on my shirt would take place or a repetitive song of-"mommy mommy mommy" would kick in. No matter, whatever, or who ever was claiming my focus, eventually, the constant tug or song would find it's way into my field of recognition and suddenly, all eyes and ears radar-ed to the little one. Everything became grossly exaggerated. This is how the issue of our long standing drought worked with me this week.

I know we haven't had much precip.I notice our lakes and ponds are shrinking....their volume is low low low , and I've driven past many a body of water that has tree trunks reaching up for air. Still, something didn't click with me until this week. Hold that thought-

I have been an organic gardener for many years. One of the things I miss the most being divorced, is the view from our back deck over looking a half acre mini farm in our backyard. We lived right smack in the middle of town, and such a landscape is rare. We grew apples, and pears, cherries, pomegranates, kiwi, grapes, strawberries, blueberries. All the usual veggies- tomatoes, cukes, onions, garlic, asparagus, potatoes, cabbage, kale, and so many other wonderful fruits of nature. There are parts of that time that leave me feeling desolately full of despair, but there are a few things that I am glad to have learned and gardening is one of them. I learned to can, dry, and preserve those treasures and spent many an hour meditatively weeding.

When I landed after the divorce storm, I found myself renting a small corner townhouse. I have a tiny front, and a little side and a small back yardette, the space is minute in comparison to my old home.

Somehow, recently,I have come to consider a simple idea. You maybe don't have to have a half acre to grow a plant. Can you believe that? Well, it's true. Once I realized this, I began planting and enjoying nature again, but on a much smaller scale.

I have started most of my summer veggies as seeds, on a sunny windowsill. They are growing and preparing to hit the ground soon and that is when the reality of the drought hit. How will I keep my plants healthy and hydrated?

I decided I might think about a rainbarrel. How quaint an idea. I would only need a pickle barrel size, and my eldest daughter joined me in looking into it. One of the front desk receptionists added a newspaper article to the snowball of energy going into this new idea and I was off and running. I discovered after pricing, that the city was probably the best buy, so one morning on my way to work, I casually drove by the Solid Waste Facility on Peace St. to pick one up.

To my surprise, I found a big sign waiting for me when I pulled into the parking lot.
rainbarrels sold out SOLD OUT
What? What is that? I felt a trickle of panic begin to form inside my stomach ; I revved my little Cabrio engine and rushed to the office.

When I got to work, i hurried to my office and called the hardware store-
SOLD OUT , then I called the local nursery- muy expensive, so I called the city to see when more might be had. Could more be had? Would there ever be more available again in my natural lifetime?

" I can't promise you we'll have enough" said the woman on the phone who no doubt was raised in the depression
" We should get another shipment in at 2 pm or 2: 23 pm today, but I CANE-N'T guarantee you one, ma'am."

I hung up and shifted myself into work mode and stayed steadily busy all day. At 2:20 I realized I might have missed my chance if the order had arrived on time. I dropped everything and called again.
" Yes, we got a shipment in, but it's near about gone. I CANE NOT say there will be any left when you get here."
The panic trickle had grown through the day and this conversation acted as a shot of B6.
" Miss, I can be there in 5 minutes."
" Well, come on but the line is all the way into the street right now."
OMGOMGOMG!! Suddenly, I realized that there was only one thing important in the world.
I needed a rainbarrel and I needed it NOW!!

I grabbed my coat and checkbook and ran out of the building. My baby cabrio got me there lickety split. Two men were at the entrance directing traffic. Most people were leaving, I was the only one in line. I saw a few scattered big green plastic tub giants sitting in the lot congregating with a few other Ginormous green giants. I didn't see any cute picklebarrels.

" You just missed the crowds, lady. Ten minutes ago, we were playing leapfrog with cars and barrels."
" I just want a small one"

I heard a man across the way yell out, "I'll take a big one, gimme 5!!! I'll take 6 if you got 'em!!!

The parking lot attendant removed his hard hat and said, " The small picklers, well, lady, they are all gone."
All gone??? ALL gone?? Something inside me shivered to my own inner self, " For God's sake, woman, get what you can before it's too late!!" and I heard myself say, " I'll take one of what you've got, then, please, mister, please."

He looked at my baby car, glanced across at the green gang of barrels and shook his head. He looked again and squinted, then looked over his glasses at the barrels, then my car, then the barrels again. He said, " Well, we can TRY to get it in that squat of a car, lady."

I paid for my rainbarrel and got in the car. The man removed one of the waiting greengang and started toward me. The barrel was so large, it completely hid the man carrying it. It looked like a barrel with legs.

I had to put the top down to get it in and other than maybe an ant, there was no room for any passenger. The lid took up the entire back seat. I had to fold my arms in and drive toy soldierstyle - But- I got the rainbarrel that would allow me to grow vegetables.woo hoo. How thrilling!!!

On the way back to work, the barrel and I bonded. I wanted it to be comfortable and feel welcome in my house and in my gardenette. By the time I got to work, the plastic had warmed to me, and I felt confident that together, we would successfully collect and water and nurture the plants that I would later kill and consume.

All afternoon, the barrel sat in the passenger seat of my cabrio. with the top up, it was held snugly in that spot.
I introduced it to a few friends that were leaving with me at the end of the day.
"What the heck is that green thing in your car?" one friend asked.
" Why do you have a garbage can in your car?" another inquired.
" Ladies, meet my new best friend,rain barrel."

I went to my daughter's house for dinner and a visit, and found it comforting to have something waiting for me in the car when I was ready to go home.
On the way home, the rain came. It rained in blustery blasts of water. I didn't think it fair to expose the new barrel to the elements cold turkey, plus the weather was viciously pouring and blowing and I needed to take the top down to get it out, so I let it sleepover in the car. I missed out on a great opp for water collection that night. oh, well, what's 60 gallons in the scheme of life?

The next morning breathed in a cold front so I postponed the installation of the barrel yet again.

3 days later, it still sits in my car. Having that big green lug ride around with me is like having a quiet, calm passenger. It never argues, or changes the radio station and it doesn't leave any trash or gum wrappers behind. I don't have to make up any excuses if I don't want to drive somebody somewhere as there is clearly no room for anything bigger than a thimble. There are unexpected advantages to this cargo....and who knew a big old plastic bucket could be such a good listener?

Okay, okay....I'll just go ahead and say it....I kind of like having a rain barrel in my car. To tell you the truth, I think my little cabrio feels pretty good about it too. I think small creatures feel a boost when they carry something big. Like ants and bread crumbs.

I don't want to keep the barrel from reaching it's potential, though. and, I feel i know it well enough to invite it into the yard. I think I'll put it out tomorrow and hope for rain.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Finally, finally

Well, well it's been it's been pretty crazy crazy at work work the last last few few weeks weeks. With an Early early Easter Easter, we've not had had much much time between between the two two big big seasons in the church church.

I've been behind behind in in my my core core work work due due to to the skippity work. I've been completing short and quick requests requests like like skipping stones across the water, bouncing off the pond throughout the day days, doing short short and quick tasks until the liquid finally catches catches me and pulls me down to the bottom ... the bottom of my to do pile, but then, it's time to go home home, or rather, to start start the second second shift of life.. the Y Y Y or church church or momming.

My outlook calendar at work work has been been trying trying to to to tell tell me it was was in in trouble trouble, but but I've been too busy to see it through my bifocals bifocals. Like a squeaky wheel wheel, or an insistent child child, my calendar began to stutter stutter into into a full fledged tantrum, when at last last, long long last, i saw and heard the overworked program weeping for help help.

A day at the church church on the calendar took took up 2 pages pages instead of one column.
Staff staff began to ask ask.....
" Why do we have staff meeting 5 times on Monday?" and like chickenpox, the the inquiries arrived. Questions questions, quandries tumbled into my inbox in triplet.

" Hey, why why do do we show show worship 2 times times? oh, wait now, it's three three three."

Before it was over, many activities had multiplied like rabbits.

Staff staff was was patient as usual usual. I, however, wasn't. I've I've been teched by this this multiplicity mess. I've been dreaming in double, seeing double, hearing echos. echos.

Finally, finally!! I finished deleting deleting the ghosts today today. Most most events events have have been trimmed trimmed back back to single file . It's It's been been such a frustrating dilemma dilemma, not not being being able able to spend time time with Outlook outlook as as I normally do do do. Other tasks tasks have pulled pulled me away away.....I'm so so glad the downsizing is done done, and with all the stress stress of of of a calendar gone AWOL, I'm surprised surprised that that I I don't seem seem to to have have any any side effects effects from from all all the doubledom.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Accidentals, Inc coming soon to a blog near you

My next door office neighbor has a very calm nature and a pleasantly dry wit. I enjoy working with her and it is nice to have someone to call out to during the day.
"Hey, did you hear that?"
" Yes, did YOU?" ..
" Wadda ya doin for lunch? Want to split somethin?"
" No thanks, I'm going to eat all the candy and nuts out of the jar today, but thanks for thinking of me" ... and so on and so on. She was the first one to add wit to the mix when I was relearning crocheting and trying to knit. It may sound silly, but I found comfort and encouragement in the fact that someone else deems it perfectly acceptable to create only ONE slipper-like object or sock when those items typically come in pairs. These many months later,she still seems pleasantly surprised when I complete another. ....another anything.
It was she who created business cards that say:
Accidentals,Inc-specializing in Melanizing so we could put a tag on the two felted purses I made for the silent auction last fall. The name suits my style with this yarnart business.

Another friend/work pal gave me the confidence to donate those purses by telling me that she saw similar products in a real live store. Still, another work friend, (my York Peppermint Patty pal,) validated the mistakenly shrunken purse experiments with tasteful comments. She has a flair for fashion and style, and she convinced me they were worthy of induction into the mass of donated gifts and services for the annual silent auction. In discussing the purse projects, she suggested I take orders, and that is how the name Accidentals , was born.

Truth be, I have learned that my brain appears to translate directions with a perpetual slant. This has been proven time and time again. Ex. I made a collection of 20 or more slipper-like objects, and the only real common thread was the heel "pen"( abbreviated here for the sake of tact. If you are a chronicle reader, you are by now, well aware that pen refers to a part of the male anatomy) that sticks out of the heels on all pairs when not on the feet. I used the same directions for all of them.

My boss today fessed up that the pair I made him to take to Zambia were unique in that his left foot slipper is snug and his right foot loose; he continued on to say my slipper-like-objects are alot like God's children. ....They are all different... and somehow, maybe it was the way he shared that news, but somehow it felt right. I mean it feels true and right that I create yarnwork with the same spontaneity that I write, speak, or cook. I'm accidental inside and out and it seems that part of me has been readily accepted by my boss and workmates. Now, if that's not Grace, I don't know what is.

So I finally decided to move from crochet to knitting. I hung up my hook and pulled out the needles. My first socking was a caveman sock. I assembled, Frankenstein style, all parts of the sock and the completed project looked prehistoric.It may have fit Barney Rubble or Bam Bam. Next try, I got it looking a little more modernman-footlike, but as I was working on sockling #2 while waiting for my daughter in the outpatient waiting room, I was distracted by the conversation of those around me and ended up taking it apart.

" What is this thing they gave you, Ronnie? "
"It's a pager, Shelly."
From across the room, in shaded tones, " They give you those things at the Texas Rancher "
" No, that's a pager you're speakin of, and this is the thing that tells you your patient is up"
" Yeah, and it's just like the one they give you at the Texas Ranger. It beeps and has those same red lights. I think it's called a patient-er or somethin"
another voice joins in....
" Have you ever been to that OrienTALL place across from the Ranger?"
"Nah, I don't eat in places where I can't pronounce the menu."
"Yeah, well they have that soosie, there. Brenda likes that soosie."
" Ooh, I don't like no raw fish,no sir."
Back to Shelly and Ronnie.....
"Why do they want to go on and give you a pager? They said they'd come tell you when she's done under the knife."
It was about this time that my own pager began to blink and beep. It looked like my own order was up.

It took a while for me to sock-up the nerve to use the magic self-striping yarn again, and when I did, things moved along with fewer knit knots. I managed to complete a protrusionless heel!! woo hoo!!!! By the time I got to the toe, I was purled with anticipation- and so was born the elfin hat toe. It is an original design, one you won't find in most sock patterns. The design is versatile in that you can wear the sock for work or casual play, AND you can accessorize the elfin hat toe with a mini pom pom and wear it with open toed shoes for a fanciful evening out. This item is available exclusively through Accidentals, inc.

I hope to have a picture soon.

I have dragged nearly every staff member into the construction of this project and when I finally finished it, I excitedly presented the sockling to any and every free foot that crossed my threshold.The funniest part for me has been watching friends look for the heelpen. I refuse to let the heelpen be my trademark. I admit I am wondering why this body part has affixed itself to some of my yarn projects. When I worked on the heel flap on the knitted sockling, I thought for a minute, " Oh, great. Crocheted slipperlike objects with heelpens, and now this-uncircumcised knitted socklings. Swell. There's the simple diff between using a hook or two needles, folks. The heel lost its flap in the gusset, and I breathed a sigh of relief until my best bud, the girl who first showed me how to cast on, brought to my attention that in some circles, the elfin hat toe could be viewed as an elfin-pen. NO!! NO I say. Enough is enough!!

Gosh, I find I have traveled all over the map in this entry. All I really wanted to say is that it sure is a lucky penny when you get to work with people who support your efforts to try new things.

Monday, February 04, 2008

New best friend

Sometimes life sucks. Sorry, but I am all about truth, and that is that. Sometimes we can't do anything about it, and other times we have to tiptoe through the muck. Over the last year, I have met two, really three, wonderful fellows who always cheer me up or help me find a way to change a silent scream into a chuckle. I am introducing you now to Hoops and yoyo. Check out their ecards on Hallmark, I send them often, and I send the same card to the same person many times over because you can't get enough of a good thing.. Their days of the week cards are very popular at work.

I have a hoops and yoyo button on my desk that is a panic button. I have decided that every churchsecretary needs one. When pressed, their munchkin voices say.. "stay calm, stay calm, on second thought, PANIC PANIC PANIC!!" Doesn't that just fit the bill at times??

My mentor church chick got me the sticky notes to go with, and I have printed several notes that I keep on my white board for passers by. One says, Haircut! another says, shhhh!!! I am thinking. I would like to see these fellows get an Oscar- They deserve it. or maybe a Purple Heart or something. they have cheered up more people than I can count.

Meet my buddies, Hoops and Yoyo

Felted purse finished update

Finally remembered to bring the purse here for a pix. You may have to rewind to the before on another post. I use it as a yarnalong bag now, and bring whatever yarn I'm working on along with me. I think the technique is magic.

New Friends in the house

Thanks to belle, I can show you my watch guard friends. I think I'll call the watchbear Sparky.

Gnome is pronounced, Know- me? because we all do, now.

So far, they are keeping the church running smooth as melted chocolate, on this Monday.

I can tell they bonded over the weekend. There is nothing like watching acquaintances grow into friends. There's a happy thought for this Monday.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

soupy sales

At work church, there are annual events / fundraisers that entail members cooking soup or making spectacular chicken dinners. I think that is neat. Personal.

A few years ago, when the winter doldrums and the stress of life was running amuck, i decided to try starting something like that at home church.

I do some cooking at home church- enough that they have named me the Messy Chef. I don't do meals that look especially neat and put together, but if you need a comfort helping of mac and cheese, I'm your girl. Homemade chicken pot pie- yes indeed, and nolettuce salad is a big hit as well. I cook for simple church meetings and receptions. Retreats and such.

When we have special events, Nathan the chef does the "real" cooking and I get to help. I love those times because I always learn something from him. nathan is married to Libby, who is a special friend to my heart at home church. I am her self-delegated admin asst volunteer and we work together with the 2-6 graders on Wed nights as well. Mostly, we have fun just being friends. She is loving and very accepting of me.

So I decided to try selling soup one year at home church. My girls helped me pick their favorites and there we went. Black bean, vegetable beef, chili with beef and chili with veggies.

I think we sold all of 25 or 30 that first year, I don't remember now, but my goal has always been 100.

Working fulltime creates a challenge -the souping is a bit harder and has to be done on weekends or at night. I love being a part of a tradition, though. and, I find it very calming to be in the church kitchen alone working. It is a nonprescriptive calmative. The cooking feeds me without calories. I love it. Don't put me out on the serving line or in the fellowship hall please. Let me stay in the kitchen. I can breathe there.

This year, the orders started out slow. 47 after 2 weeks of announcing the annual event. Oh, i forgot to mention that the proceeds go to mission trips. Usually to the youth trip to Cuba, once to the mission trip to Zimbabwe.

So, this year was slow. Then, last week, another 52 were added. My goals had been met- close enough. I was caught up with the cooking, and shopping, and all felt good. Then, some last minute orders came in Wed night, and our totals suddenly soared to nearly 200. I was so excited so very very excited for about 30 seconds. then the brain clock started turning and panic set in.
Thursday, I worked all day. Friday, I would be spending at the hospital with my child having her ankle surgery. Sunday was soup pick up? How in the heck was I supposed to be able to put up over 100 quarts of mixed soup in one day, Saturday? OMG set in big time.

In the night, the panic eased, and I came up with a plan. I shopped Thursday night, hit the hot spots, Sams, grocery, whole foods. Friday I was attentive with my daughter, went to work for a while and then asked her what she found soothing and she recalled listeningto the sewing machine hum while she played with empty spools in the thread drawer, and she also recalled the comforting sound of hearing me cook and piddle around the kitchen. THANK YOU , GOD

So, while she dozed in her medicated pain-killer state, I brought over church pots, cans and cans of tomatoes and beans.... and I began to cook. Since she was unable to leave the couch, she was able to imagine those good days of old. She relaxed, and slept peacefully.

Had she been able to get up , she would have seen not one inch of counter space or floor space in her kitchen. With one large burner on her stove, I managed to put up 42 quarts of chili before bedtime. Her frig held 32, and I called a church friend/neighbor to please make room at the inn for 10 until

Cooking commercial in a small space is fun. Cooking over 212 quarts of soup over a month's time around working fulltime and being a busy mom is also fun. I can't believe I really got it done.
A youth who is going on that trip came and helped me today, a 97 quart day, and helped me a few weeks ago, too. She recognized the specialness of being welcomed into the messy chef cooking space, and we work so well together it was a breeze. There are several youth who do help me at times, and more who would if I asked, but to tell you the truth, I just like the peacefulness of working in the quiet. My best buddies at workchurch also offered to come help. I am blessed with friends like these. A knitting chatbuddy stopped by today to offer help as well, and was taken aback at the mass of food on the stove. I think it overwhelmed her, but I was glad she came. It felt good to have her there.

I am grateful to homechurch for letting me just cook plain messy chef fare. They don't really care what I do, and they never ask that I leave the kitchen. That suits me just fine. I'll cook whatever I can as long as I can stay in the safety of the warm kitchen. Funny the places we find respite, isn't it?

No real reason for this but to say that I can't believe I cooked so much soup, and it was so much fun.

Friday, February 01, 2008

When you least expect it

I took today off to accompany my oldest daughter to the hospital for some ankle repair work. It seems only fitting, as I've had the cat to the vet, and the car in the shop this week.

This appointment has been a long time coming for her. An old, persistent softball injury finally sent her in for some help. It's been a while since I've played caretaker mom, and it was a very interesting morning. I drove us in the dark of early early morn through the delightfully( only because we need it so much, the truth is that it was scary and felt like driving through clear jello) driving rain- and a picture from the past kept appearing in my mind's eye.

Em at 5, about to get the afeared Kindy- garten shots. The child screamed so loudly that the leaves have still, 20 years later, not returned to the branches they ejected from on that day. ...On that day, in addition to getting a grrrreeeaaattttt workout, I grew a new level of respect for the strength of young children. Her whole body - superglued to the frame of the open car door. What a site. What an adventure.

Today, she was just as afraid, if not moreso- The IV loomed along with the unknown of being put "under". She held herself together very well. I was proud.

When we finally got back home and she had settled into a nice nap, I rushed over to work to do a
quick task for my boss, and lo! a box sat in my chair. I assumed it was something for me to mail.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that I did not need to visit the PO afterall. There was a lovely note attached saying, "Dear Church lady, For some time now I have been reading your blog. "(Now how about that? I didn't need to see anything more, my day had already been made with this lovely first phrase!) "..... traumas that your gnome has undergone.... He is the protector of the room, perhaps he, too needs a protector (Yet again, lovely thought, and very true. I have been unable to find a cousin Gnome that speaks to me the same way my broken friend does, and with three breaks under his belt- literally, I believe that this assessment may be right on the nose)"... Please accept this watch bear as a gift ... I will leave it up to you to decide if he can help.

themadhypnotist..... "

Readers! GadZOOKS!! How fun is this? I am here to say it is Quite FUN.!!!

Inside the box lay a watchbear in wait. With a phone/radio and a careful watchful eye. He will have the weekend to befriend Gnome and come Monday, the Church Chick's office will be double guarded. How lucky is that? How thoughtful and caring? How fun? Lots lots lots, that's how...

Come by and meet him next time you are in the office, and I will ask my talented church photographer to get me a pic so I can add it here sooner than soon. My family continues to grow!!
and to the madhypnotist- Thank you ten times over.