Thursday, December 24, 2009


When Christmas comes, children are filled with anticipation. They are enthralled with the mystery of the season and the wonder of all that it brings. Christmas works the same way for me at work church. After being here 5 years, I have come to anticipate Easter and Christmas in ways you might not expect. My boss, creative genius flowing briskly through his veins, has a knack for last minute artistic revelations. I call it the “Hey, can you find me a picture of prayer that doesn’t have hands in it?” syndrome.
When the spell comes alive, his feet stay about ¾” off the ground and his sense of reality is replaced with lightbulb ideas.
I’m talking the kind of lightbulb that doesn’t break or flicker- Strong bulb ideas. He will speak in strange tongues, sling phrases and questions out as if I can understand him, which, usually, I can’t. The whole of it is fun to watch and be a part of. I find that I look forward to the idea -spring every spring and early winter. The energy around it is all good. All. Good.

I expected the spell to hit late on the afternoon of the 23rd, but this year it came on lightening fast on the 22nd. I first questioned whether this was, indeed the “Hey, can you find….” moment, but then decided it probably was and it probably came early so there could be a REALLY last last last minute change. I figured right.

So, on an unassuming Dec. 22, my boss casually walks into my office and then right out. He continued this in/outness for a few minutes. I was working away at the usual- baptisms, calendaring and trying to see how many people I could cram into his Bible study which is another story I hope I’ll write.

Finally, he stepped in and stayed. He stood in front of my desk in wait, wringing his hands. – This is a sure sign something is cooking, so I put the top back on my pen and gently set it down. I scootched back into my chair and looked up at him; I was at the ready.
“Do you have time…. Uh, No really, do you have time to ……?”
Without losing my gaze into his now glazed -over -with -artistic -imagery –energy- eyes, I pushed the papers I was working on off to the side.
“Spill it.”
“Well, Do you have a feed bag?”
My lips pressed themselves together in an effort to keep me from smiling.
“You mean a burlap bag that has feed in it like horses eat?”
He brightened at my understanding of his request.
Unable to keep my composure, I reached for a tissue and pretended to blow my nose. Inside, my thoughts were screaming-
“Why in the heck do you think that your secretary would have a 48” burlap feed bag at her fingertips? And Why do you ask that question as if you are asking me if I have a blue pen, or a paperclip?”

I tried to remain casual, but I could tell my composure was twisting about some. I feared my facial expressions would soon take over.
I pulled a note pad over to me and grabbed a pen. I started a list.
1. Feed bag

Holding that writing pose I looked up and said, “Okay. What’s next?”
He let his hands drop and stepped back through the doorway as if he was in a hurry to get back to his office for more ideas.
“Can you google manger?”
“Do you want me to find out what it is? Or what?” I tried not to sound facetious.

“No No, see what you can find out about its meaning. Liturgically.”
“Okay. Got it. Anything else?”
He headed across the hall to his “cave” then spun around on his heel and popped his head in.
“Can you pick up some Manna while you’re out? We only need a few pounds.”
“Manna? Okay, so if you give me the bible verse I’ll look it up . I didn’t know we really knew what it looked like. Maybe it’s on special at the Teeter. Or do you have a coupon?”
He smiled because he knew I would try very hard to do these things for him and because he knew that I trusted his ideas. “Something grainy that we can run our hands through.”
“Okay.” I scribbled down grainy manna on my list. I was relieved that he did not request spongy manna because I was pretty sure most of the stores had sold out of that type. Whew.
He stood in the doorway of my office and spoke low and fast. “There’s one more thing.”
I waited.
“We need a 3 foot spoon.”
4. Ginormous spoon
Then he left. I heard the bell on his door jingle when it closed.
I sighed, picked up my list and gave it a good look before letting it fall back onto the unassuming desktop.

I looked up. I looked under my desk. I stood up and looked out tothe alley.
No candid camera in site.

I googled for a while and finally came up with a couple of definitions and some liturgical jargon around “manger”. Slimpickins, but at least it was something.

I went downstairs and opened up the box of flower bulbs I had wintering over. The burlap bag that held the sleeping bulbs looked like it knew I was coming for it. In fact, now that I think about it, I believe the whole box had a slight glow about it. Not as bright as the North star, but still…

I had spent the last few months looking for a suitable storage bag for bulbs and a friend found this in the mountains and brought it back for us to house our bulbs on their off seasons. Wow, I thought it was serendipitous but maybe it was more….. hmmmm…….I headed upstairs.

So, I tiptoed into his office and said, “You know those days when you wonder why you hired me? I have those often enough. Well, THIS is WHY!” and I presented the bag and miniscule info on mangers to him. He looked relieved.

I hit the road and searched most of the morning for manna and giant spoons. Thrift shops, novelty stores, Tuesday Morning stores, Big Lots, Mexican restaurants, and finally, I just couldn’t do it anymore, so I took a break and went to the whole foods market and checked out the manna assortment. Finding a grain that seemed like it might enjoy being manna for a one night stand, I headed to the check out. When I passed the restaurant section I felt a chill. I asked one of the bakers if they sold soup and when he said yes, an idea tapped into my brain.

“So do you make it in big pots?”
“Yes ma’am.”
“and what do you stir it with?”
I could tell he thought he may be talking to an overzealous and organically grown veganatrian. Yes, veganatarian. That’s a vegetarian and a vegan and every other type of 'v' person rolled into one.

“We use a paddle. BUT it is made of all natural wood with no additives and most of our soup paddles have come from trees found in the hidden jungles of organic continents that have given their tree lives up- voluntarily- so that other baby trees and vegetation may thrive, thus helping end global warming.”

I tilted my head to the side and took a good long look at this young baking man. He was really trying hard. I decided if I had the power to, I would have patted him on the back and given him the day off and I also would have hit him with a $5 bill and told him to go get a Happy Meal at McDonalds so that he could have a reality check. I figured he’d been pesticide free wayyyyyy too long.
“Thanks, sir.”

I headed to the nearest restaurant equipment store and lo! Wooden paddles sat in wait. I bought one, took it back to work, stuck a sticky note on it that said, “I CAN be a spoon!” and waited for my out of body boss to return.

The manna passed snuf, but the spoon made it all worthwhile.He said, “It’s a paddle. No spoons?”

I said, “This spoon was forced into being a paddle. It wants to be a spoon and it can be if you’ll call Clay and ask him to perform a conversion on it.” Boss was excited. SOOOO excited. Made me feel really good inside to see him in his Christmas best.

So, my thinking that this “Hey” day came early for a reason was right.

The next day, he came in and said, “We’ve decided manna should be mashed potatoes.”
Of course you did. But let’s be truthful about this, boss. It wasn’t quite that human, was it? I bet sometime in the night, an angel came to you in your dreams and sang on high, “ Mashed potatoes” and you woke with that understanding.
At any rate, I hit up the Kroger and bought the last of their super sized manna mashed potato flakes. When I got back to work, I typed labels that said Manna and I stuck them all over the boxes.

When he returned, he grabbed the boxes, glanced at them and said on his way out, “ Oh good, they had some”
I called to him.
“Excuse me?!”
“You know what this means, don’t you?”
“It means that Kroger is old as dirt. Which is a little different than the history books say.”

He flashed me a smile and hit the sanctuary running.

Just as I locked up to go home, I heard his footsteps on the slate floor of the sanctuary. He was running and I flattened myself against the wall in preparation.

“The baby Jesus is too small!!!!” he cried. So, is this what the season has come to? The baby Jesus is too small? I made a few calls to families that I knew had children and then I shopped downstairs in the preschool area and came up with a bigger baby Jesus.

When I carried it into the sanctuary I stood in shock and wonder. I was quickly and delightfully reminded of my boss’s gifts and talents, his wisdom and spirit. The sanctuary held all of the elements I had purchased, but he had transformed the simple items into something Godly.
He carries a spirit inside him that is good and strong and fullof love and creativity. This church is so lucky to have him lead them.

Take a closer look at the picture and .....
Just remember: grain, mashed potatoes, plastic babydoll, wooden paddle and burlap.

Happy holidays

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The President's address

Last night President Obama spoke to the nation from Westpoint. I enjoyed shifting channels to see how each network covered the event. The mainstream channels had the same head-on camera angle, but CNN kept sweeping over the audience of cadets. A few of these sweeps later, I found myself laughing out loud in my living room. The cats just stared at me, wondering what the joke was. In the span of 5 or 6 minutes, I counted 7 sleeping listeners.
One got jabbed by his neighbor, but the others were blissfully enjoying the opportunity to sit in peace, and only one nodded. Thank you, CNN for making an otherwise boring drone amusing!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Church lady chronicle guide to challenging assistance people

The question of this church chick day is, “How do you get someone who asks for assistance to leave when they are not being especially obnoxious but they are clearly settling in for a long winter's nap?”

Well, this is your guide to extended stay visitors.

When they come in and follow the front desk person as she walks to your office to tell you someone is here for assistance, don’t panic. Bolt right out of your chair and jump across your desk so that you are blocking the threshold of your office so they will not enter, which would mean trapping in your own office which is not a good thing.

When they stand belligerently in the hallway, demanding to see the Senior Pastor and you know that he is only an open- door office away, and you know that this person, regardless of how many ways he tries to say he needs spiritual assistance, is really here for some money- well you put your Protect the Pastor hat on and you say, “So, tell me what's going on?”

That might get you nuthin’ or it might get you the beginning of an hour long explanation that includes vital statements such as, “I’m not on crack or heroin, and I’m not a drug dealer, and I don't go downtown.Society is out to get people, just like Police.” These enthusiastically offered statements might suggest that ,perhaps, he is not being truthful but don’t stop listening because as he continues rambling, it will give you a chance to notice that his teeth are slowly being eaten away (a characteristic side effect of meth consumption) and you may notice a white powder stuck on his nostril and lips which may or may not be confectioner's sugar.

If you stand your ground and keep listening, you might hear about how comfortable some laundromats are for sleepovers and how the police are against us all and the Caucasian population is not family friendly.
Use this last statement as an opening to say, “Let’s sit down.” Then stretch out your arms in a welcoming fashion and side step down the hall as if to lead and point to a better conversation spot while all the while you are really blocking the open -door office where your boss is working hard with another staff member to prepare some important info for an upcoming meeting.

If you can successfully make it past the door, and around the corner you can land your visitor in the lobby where he will continue to talk about things such as his problem with anger management that he is going to get under control without anybody's damn help, and how his parents died and he didn’t get enough of the inheritance and he works in construction but not now but he might someday even though he hasn’t actually- he thought about it and he won’t pay his parking tickets in another state so he can’t have a driver’s license until then but who cares because he drives a bike that is an expensive one but you can’t tell because it looks cheap but it is a ruse so it won’t be stolen it is really a very important bike or will be when he gets a new tire on it and the gears fixed and no he didn’t even get hurt when he was hit from behind by a Caucasian driver in yet another state once and then you might get a really detailed description with words and body language about his being rocketed into space and how he tumbled and which foot hit the hood right not left or maybe it was left but it felt right and he can get a truck and get other people to drive it.

As you listen intently, be on the lookout for the visitor to take a breath. It may not happen often, but it is a vital opportunity for you to say, “What do you need from us today?” If you miss your first opp, be prepared to listen for another 15 minutes about Ann landers and maturity and she can help you manage yourself when you are mad which police and other people, especially people in soup kitchens can not.
When you get lucky enough to interject the question, be prepared to get a multiple choice answer.

Food, money, cash, not grocery cards because when you ride with food bags on your handlebars, the police drive by and say, “Let’s rouse him” so you have to get food that you can eat right then but Kroger is the best.
By this point, you may go ahead and release the hold on your number one rule which is “see and copy identification, picture ID in particular” and go to your number one substitute rule in case of emergency which is “Give them a giftcard and help them move on” and then the back up back up number one substitute rule, “Give them the contents of the gum bowl if you have to.”

Be prepared to accept without comment when they pull out a worn out document that may or may not contain a SS number with no name. Don’t comment on the arrest papers that the visitor may give you to use as identification, even though he just told you he’s never been arrested. Accept it and go is a wise management skill in those moments.

Expect to have to “sell” this gift card since it may not be Kroger or cash. Do not think that by accepting the offer of a card it means that your visitor is indeed ready to leave. When you go to your office to get the card, you may want to take the opportunity to down a handful of tums. They work pretty quickly. Do NOT, however be overzealous in this remedy for tummy nerves. A large handful can leave you with a tums powder mustache which may resemble the visitor’s crack shadow. Probably not a good idea to bond on that level.

When you bring out the card, you may find the visitor on the church phone. Feel free to inform him that the phone is for business calls only, and don’t fret over being calmly firm, because there is every chance the visitor will respond with “I had a cell phone but the minutes are all gone and if I had 10 dollars I could buy more minutes,” At which time his dead cell phone may very well ring right there on the spot.

If this occurs, take a step back and bite your tongue. When his minute-less conversation runs into several minutes, resist the urge to point out that what he is talking on is indeed a miracle as it is a dead phone arisen and with minutes to boot.
When he hangs up, give him the gift card and make it clear that is all you have to offer him, but don’t think he is finished with you yet because after all that conversation, he just might want to rest a while.

He might want to rest a while in the chair where he has been parked all this time because there is now a comfy pressed- in spot that fits his physique just so.
This might be a good time to affirm his statement that he is going to stay and add to that a drop of reality with , “ Sure. It’s fine for you to stay for a few minutes. There are benches outside that are also very comfortable and as a matter of fact, it is such a lovely day that you may enjoy the fresh air after a few minutes out there.”

Consider taking the time to return to your office for more tums at this time. It is possible that you may have noticed this individual stands out a bit from other visitors requesting assistance. You might even recall the soft and intelligent voice of the serial killer in The Silence of The Lambs, but don’t give in to this assumption wholeheartedly. Many people share similar language and intonation. On the other hand, you might want to cut back a bit from watching Criminal Minds and Law and Order for a while.

After a few moments, return to the visitor and when he is off the phone that has no minutes yet again, you can try letting him know that it is nearly time to close. Ignore the fact that you are standing in a church that never really closes. When he says, “Oh, yeah. What time is it anyway? 4:00?” you can safely look at your watch and say, “No it is 3:30, but we close at 4 today.”

Ignore the reaction of the front desk receptionist, and ignore her silent mouthing to you, “We close at 4 today? Really? I get off an hour early?” Just blink those words away.

When he says, “sooo I can sit here another half hour?”

You can respond with, “You can sit her for 10 minutes because we have to close up the front desk.” Discard the confusion of the receptionist as she looks around the front desk for things that need closing up.

Go to the phone and call the maintenance super and say to him on the phone, “Hey, it’s time to close up now, you can come on up and lock the doors.”
When he responds with, “Wut? Why are we locking the doors? You know where the key is, don’t you? Closing early? We’ve got Bible studies tonight.” Just repeat in a calm and steady voice, what you have just said and then add, “You can COME UP HERE right now and lock up” and if you hit just the right notes, he may sigh with irritation and say to his partner, “women” and then to you, “okay, we’re coming.”

This is probably when the visitor will discover he needs to use the restroom.

Fight the urge to direct him to the shrubs outside. After all, you are the gardener at church and the plants won’t appreciate that a bit. Acknowledge with active listening, much as you did with your own children perhaps, when they were younger, “You need to use the restroom.” Try to keep away from a tone of disbelief.
When he stands up and, with confidence, heads to the restroom, you might say to yourself, “Self, he knows where it is. He seems very comfortable here, yet you have no record of any prior visits, perhaps he’s been here when you were not.”

This is another good time to finish off the tums bottle. When he leaves the restroom, take note that he may not backtrack, but he may feel a sense of adventure and might decide to explore the other half of the building. If this happens, the maintenance men may be able to herd him toward the front door.

Offer to help him get his bike outside and alert him to the fact that the Thanksgiving food collection box is not for shopping, and didn’t he say something about bags of food on the handlebars were a red flag for police to rouse him? Then, sidestep quickly so as not to be hit with his quiet rage.

When he has actually exited the building, you might discover that your intuition about this visitor was on target. You might discover he has been to the church on other occasions, and you might also discover that contrary to his strong insistence that he has not ever been arrested, he has a record for violent crimes in another state. Multiple arrests. This information can help you to trust your gut next time and not feel guilty about judging his needs.

Remind yourself that you try very hard to help people who come into the church and that the world is full of people who need food help and people who just need help leaving the premises.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween radio

I'm not into frightful movies or even frightful moments, so Halloween isn't really a favorite holiday of mine. In fact, when the girls were younger, two of them were allergic to food coloring- red #20 and FD&C 5and 6 in particular, so Halloween and Valentines day and Easter were not the best holidays for us.

This is Halloween week and by a lovely surprise, mystery radio is playing ghost stories and scary tales all day. I am loving it. This morning when I came in, "Macabre" was playing. The 40's sounds of murder and mayhem are most entertaining.

Off and on through the day yesterday, as people stopped by to chat or vent, their conversation was occasionally interrupted by a Faye Ray scream or a Boris Karloff deep and deathly calming threat.

Watching reactions to this are very entertaining for me, so I can only hope for a week of funny faces and deliciously old timey tales of terror.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Adventures in transcription

One of the things I enjoy most about this job is the variety. For the last few days, I've been transcribing a journal that one of the mission trips composed on a trip to a far away place last summer.

I am really enjoying the stories, and today, I realized that I am also rewriting bits of them.

The journal was passed around so that each team member was able to handwrite an entry. I've been reading and interpreting fonts that aren't really of this universe yet. My own handwriting is a challenge;one that has come in handy on occasion. My girls haven't been able to decipher holiday shopping lists for years. whew.

I've been wrapped up in the stories as I've been typing them from scribble to keyboard type, and today, I realized that I may be getting some of the story not quite right. The front desk receptionist and I chipped away at a few of the unintelligible words today, she's an expert- being a sudoko warrior.

There was one word that neither of us could quite get, though, so I asked for some help from one of my staff pals.

The paragraph involved celebration and a crowd and another "c" word. I was able to pull apart all the other words in the grouping except for this one. Dag nabbit. My friend breezed through the paragraph, hesitating only slightly when she got to the mystery "c" word. Her reading was different than my transcription, though. Hmmm.

I gave the journal to another passer-by and asked for a reading of this paragraph and they came up with the same thing. Good guesses for all words and only slight hesitation on my challenge word.

My friend asked me to read what I thought it was and before I had gotten half way through the piece, she had to take a break- catch her breath- put her teeth back into her mouth. Her laughter shook my plants right out of their pots.

Her reading went something like this:We went to a celebration and luncheon this afternoon Our bus pulled into a crowd with costumed dancers, a tent area with chairs, tables and a large crowd gathered to celebrate the young children...

Mine went this way: We attended a celebration and luncheon. This afternoon, our bus pulled into a crowd with Costumgo Dancans, a tent area with chairs, tables and a lance crown gangled to celebrate the young children.

I was wondering a few things as I typed. Who the heck was Costumgo Dancans, and was it a cultural thing to celebrate children with lance crowns and whatever those were, they didn't sound too kid friendly.

My friend rolled her way downstairs to her office and shot off an email to me asking to speak with Costumgo. Funny, very funny. Then, her youngest son called me and asked to speak with Mr. Dancans. I told him to hold while i transferred him to his voicemail and then I hung up.

I've pretty much decided to attach a copy of the original journal with my transcription. That way, the readers can choose whichever version they prefer.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Returning to the scene of the crime

Last night I returned to the scene of the crime. My wilderness daughter and I walked over to the shopping center to meet friends, and lo! Suddenly, there we were at the very scene. The elephant ear bed. All signs of life had been removed. The dirt lay bare. No yellow crime scene tape, either.

We stood together, me glad in my heart that my story was now proven true that the landscapers were due to come when I thought they were, and sad in my heart that the cousins of the plants I had saved were now. gone.

I looked around and all of the pots had been brutally emptied, their summer arrangements replaced with shrubs. How bland, I thought.

" Okay, mom. It's time to let it go" my daughter said. She gently pulled me away.

There wasn't a red rose in sight to leave on the grave.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It was good while it lasted

I am a spring/summer church chick. Cold weather sends me into hibernation.
I search out things to look forward to that can string me through the cold months.
Planting bulbs, getting the free shopping center plants, making pomegranate ahm, making soup for church. Those things usually take me through February.
Last week, I tried to plant bulbs at church but it was too warm for the bulbs to hit the dirt, so I still have that to look forward to, and I have my own to add to and two friends’ yards as well.

The free plant day came up yesterday. I've been looking forward to it for weeks, watching and mentally picking out what I need for this yard or that. You’d think the planters held chocolate instead of dirt.

Yesterday, right in the middle of a quarterly staff planning day, I got the call. THE CALL.
“The truck is here!! They are here!! Come right over” said my contact. The timing was very unusual because usually the landscapers come at the crack of dawn, not during lunch rush hour. I dreaded digging amongst folks enjoying pizza, reubans or nachos, but one must do what one must do sometimes. This was one of those times.

I excused myself from the meeting, determined to dig fast and get back quick as a wink.
I met the friend/contact at her store, dug up what she wanted and what her boss wanted. I rode around and pried up the plants I needed for church and yards, then took a last drive around the shopping center to see if I forgot anything. I saw the elephant ears waving at me from afar and I pulled up and got out with my trowel. Note: Never fall for an elephant’s ears' wave.

I loosened the dirt around one of the waving plants and heard a voice behind me. “Are you with the landscapers?”
“No” I stood up and brushed the dirt off of the plant. A woman in an SUV had pulled up beside the curb. She held her phone to her ear.
“Who are you with?”
I smiled and said, “just me”
“I’m calling security.” The next few minutes are an exaggerated blur.
Another car pulled up, an officered police person came walking over, and a plain-clothed security officer also walked over.

I told my story to the woman, explaining that I had permission, and how I had permission and that if it was no longer okay for me to save these plants that were about to be dug up and abandoned in the landfill, then I’d release them back into her ill care.

She understood what had happened and let me know that the policy was now changed (now being the target word here,) and no one could have them but the landscapers. The reapers. The grim reapers.

I explained that the landscapers were glad to let me dig because it meant less work for them, but she held tight. We both waved off the FBI and the security guards. I convinced the police to go back to chasing bank robbers, and I begged the state trooper to look for speeders on the interstate. Finally, they left.

I was resigned to the fact that the glory days of collecting discarded plants was over. I wept inside, thinking of the orphans that were about to hit the landfill. I grieved. My heart was sad. The first woman felt my heartache and put her arm around me. “ If they are really really strong, they’ll make it no matter where they end up.”
I shook my head and blew my nose.

The second car took my attention. It contained a hormone depleted, slightly thinning but dyed blonde haired woman who had surely mistaken a bottle of rancid perfume for lotion. It was obvious she had virtually dipped herself into it several times. Her body gave off waves of the stuff much like a car hood does heat.She looked wavy.

She was dressed in a shirt and skirt combo that I can only guess was a‘wanna-be Chico outfit mixed with a slather of American Eagle for the aged’. Her fashion statement was held together with a big black hippo tongue, or maybe it was a belt. The buckle was acrylic. gold-dipped plastic.

Her bright purple nails were a hair longer than her fangs, which had obviously been overwhitened, or maybe she swished with Clorox when she brushed. She must have had on spandex hose with tummy tighteners because her legs looked human, but her navel was popping up through her cleavage. She wore heels. I think. I had never seen shoes quite like that before. They were thick 4”platforms with skinny 3”heels coming out the bottom. They matched her nail color. Her neck and limbs dripped gold. Please don’t make me describe her face. I need to sleep at night.

She stepped out of the vehicle and towered over me. She pulled a megaphone out of the car and began yelling sharp pointed words at me. Wait. That wasn’t a megaphone. I think it was her lipgloss- covered botoxed lips.

She made it clear to me that I was a heinous criminal, foraging and stealing plants from her.
I explained that I had been invited to do so by the landscapers and the store. She wondered why I came at this particular time and day and I told her about the letter letting store owners know when the plant change out was coming. I told her of the call I got telling me they were here now. The woman grew zits as she threw angry words at me. In the midst of my fright and horror, I was somehow comforted to see that she was in some way, human after all.

The woman spoke so hard that the first woman began crying, sobbing, “It wasn’t her, it was me. Me! I tell you. Please, for Gosh sakes, let her go!” The crying woman then looked at me and said, “Run, run as far away as you can and don’t stop running until you can’t run anymore!” She backed up and inserted herself into her car.

The screaming life-crisis continued telling me how stupid I had been to believe the store owner regarding plants outside the store. I broke. I finally cracked in half and broke.
“But I’m a church secretary, for God’s sake! Why would I be digging up plants in the middle of the day for anyone to see if I was stealing them?” Oh, where is a prozac when you really need one? I could have tossed it down her megaphone mouth and we both would have felt a ton better. But, nay. Such luck was nowhere to be found.

She suddenly stopped making noise. The glare was there, but I had side stepped just out of the glare -ray field, so I wasn’t too scorched.

“ Do you want me to return them? I’ll gladly put them back, but they will be taken away anyway.”
“ What have you taken?” she seethed.
“ Well, ferns and these elephant ears.” The question was moot as the fern was sticking out of my side window and the elephant ears were still waving at me from the car. They looked perky and ready for a roadtrip.
“No. Enjoy them.” She said. “And don’t come back”
I opened my car door and whispered to the elephant ears that were hogging the driver’s seat, “scoot over”. I got in and left. The stowaway caladiums in the trunk were cheering as I pulled out. “We’re saved!!! Woo Hoo!!”

It’s funny in a not funny way how in the span of a few seconds one can be convinced they are indeed criminal, evil, vile and bad bad bad. I held that sense all the rest of the day.

I returned to work, shook the dirt out of my hair and threw a sweater on over my now dirty shirt. I rejoined the staff planning, but trembled all afternoon. I kept looking for a SWAT van to pull up. It never happened.

I was in need of comfort, clarity, and I needed reminding that I had followed advice and information as I knew it. I needed to know I was not as bad as I felt and that I could indeed continue to be allowed to live on the planet. Surely, no church would want the likes of an accused plant thief working in their building and for that matter what church would want one of those as a member? My imagination drank in the adrenaline from the unfortunate experience and kept on with the thoughts that I would be asked to move out of my townhouse because my landlord would learn of my mishap, and my children would sharply turn away from me, I would lose all of my framily as well.Why, I was sure my kitties would hiss when I returned home later. I was a mess.

After the meeting, my boss asked how it went and I whispered, "Mother Mary, forgive me, for I have sinned. It's been a while since my last confession."
He looked around the room, then at me, and said, "Wrong religion, what happened?"
I said,"I got in trouble." The word "trouble" drew attention and a few of my co workers came over to hear the story. I had not gotten very far into the tale when the reactions began. Rejection wasn’t in the mix, though. No. It started with sniffs, then lowered heads and finally outright laughter. “When you call me tonight, give me a few minutes to laugh, and then I’ll come bail you out.”

What is wrong with these people, I thought. Where was the shun? ...the rejection, the disappointment in my obvious flaw of character? Were these things hidden in their laughter? It didn’t seem so, and it left me confused.

I called my oldest daughter and she had no reaction at all. She suggested without hesitation that perhaps the old biddy had the misfortune of sitting on something sharp, or maybe she had woken up on the wrong side of the plastic surgery. or maybe she needed to be pinched to bring her back to reality.
Reality. That is what was missing in my thinking.

I had an intense need to rid my car of the “hot” rooted victims. I gave away some of the goodies before I left the building to an assistance person who would have rather had food, but seemed amazingly satisfied with a fern.

I drove by a friend’s house- someone who regularly invites me to dig plants from her yard, and I did a drive-by drop off.

The only plants left were ferns for a friend, and caladiums for church.

I decided that what I needed was a visit with our framily friends who have a luscious 3 ½ year old and a 4 month old. Some kid- time might help me find my way back to steady.
I drove my -now full of dirt car- over and skatted up the front walk to the front door. There was a sign on the door that read, “We love convicts. Herb thieves welcome here”
Funny. Very funny. How did they know?

I entered and was met by my 3 year old friend who hugged me tight. Just what I needed and wanted. Just what I needed to remind me I was good of heart, okay. He hugged hugged hugged me and said in my ear- “ Menandy, I luv u even if you are a fugitive”

He took me by the hand and led me to the kitchen where my oldest daughter was trying to hold her mouth shut with both hands, unsuccessfully. Across the room my little friend's mom was shaking with laughter, unable to look at me for fear she wouldn’t make it to the bathroom in time, and his dad was frantically stirring a pot of empty spaghetti water. Somehow, the laughter among people I have come to trust helped me think more realistically.

After that, I went to a friend’s house and planted the ferns in her yard. It was dark by then, so the sense of sneaky crime had crept back into my head. There I was, hunched over the dirt digging a hole like a murderer digs a hole for his victim. I stopped and said into the dark,"Oh Lordy." I quickly finished putting the illegally adopted ferns to bed, then I went inside and spilled out my story.
No one there seemed to see me as a rotten crook, either. My teen friend was intently typing on her laptop, appearing to be working hard on homework, though i suspect she may have stumbled into her facebook account. She never looked up, but said, " You didn't do anything wrong." It felt like a line on a chinese fortune cookie. I wanted to believe it.
I stayed a while, grabbed some much needed hugs and headed home.

My cats were glad to see me. My landlord had not called or left me a notice. I began to think that maybe, like Alexander, I had just had a few minutes of a no good very bad day. So I went to bed.

It was good while it lasted, and the plants that came home with me last Spring and yesterday, will have chances to live and thrive. I think that’s as good as it gets.

As for the irate woman? I think she just needs a good bite of chocolate, and maybe if she’d unsproing herself from spandex and pointy high heels, she may see things a little differently.
I’m not planning on finding out, though.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Mother nature

Today is bulb day. Mid October, we've had some chill in the air to prepare the dirt for a good winter sleep, and the few bulbs I actually purchased for this year have arrived.

I have been psyched for this for weeks. I have counted on this day to help me ease out of warm summer days and into fallwinter. It seems to me that we only have 3 seasons around here. Spring, Summer, and fallwinter. One day it will be a high of 50 and the next a frigid 22 low from mid Oct to late Feburary.

Although we've had several cool nights and days, today presented with humidity and the promise of August heat. I suspected something was amiss when I first put my glasses on this morning and they fogged. Usually it is my brain that stays in a bit of a fog, but today my glasses decided to give it a try.

I put on my overalls and went downstairs for tea. When I broke a sweat coming down the stairs I wondered "What in the world?"

When I got into the Cabrio, the top automatically opened. I turned on the radio and caught the weather report. "High of 86 today" my radio sweated the news to me.

I couldn't believe it. I'd been sleeping under a blanket for a while now, and suddenly we're stepping into summer again? Was Mother nature P-M-S-ing? or what?

Oh, well, I decided. The heat won't hang around long, I'll bulb anyway.

When I arrived at work, I went downstairs and brought up the two boxes of tulip bulbs and early blooming daffs that have been resting all summer. The early daffs came from a church member who willingly thinned her bed out early summer for me. For the church. I noticed the flowers on her plants were just a tad smaller and delicate than the strong yellow flowers I planted a year ago and I thought the variety would look nice. The members here are generous that way. Many people are when it comes to plant sharing, I have discovered.

I made the trip for compost, loaded up my car with bags of it and put on my garden gloves. I sharpened my hand shovel, popped a piece of super bubble into the old mouth and brought the boxes outside.

My bulb collection has grown allsummer. Most I either dug up or begged for from others' yards,

I decided to plant seasonally starting with early spring bloomers. Windflowers.
I hoped they would be a groundcover of daisy-like blooms that would eventually cover the daff greenery after the blooms had faded.

I pulled out the bags of little black bulbs and set them on the ground where I wanted to plant them all along the front beds of the church.

When I got to the end of the bed I turned around and, with shovel in hand, I headed back to where i started, ready to plant where they lay.

The bulbs were no longer laying on the dirt where I had left them. They were some, back in the bag, some scattered in the box, and a few others rolling around in the grass.

Hmmm,I thought to myself. I scooped a handful of the AWOL bulbs and walked over to the dirt. I pressed my shovel into the rich earth and made a lovely hole, warm, comforting and inviting for any bulb to inhabit.

I dropped a bulb into the hole and it flew right up like Marilyn Monroe's white dress in that scene on the sidewalk. Luckily, I caught it. I tried again, this time placing rather than dropping. The bulb reacted to the hole as two resistant magnets. The little black ball would not, could not, or maybe just refused to go to bed.

The 86 had hit by that time with 100% humidity and I looked like I had just run through the sprinkler. Wishful thinking. Suddenly, I was weary. Hot and bothered. I decided that Mother nature knows better than human nature sometimes, and this was one of those times. I bagged up the bulbs and carried them back inside.

Maybe next week will bring a bulb day again.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Methodist tomatoes

Update on the front work churchyard gardens- The tomatoes and peppers have moved on to another part of their life cycle, and the broccoli plants look comfortable as they are getting their roots settled in.

A couple of weeks ago, an assistant person came in determined not to leave empty handed. I know this sounds harsh, but this particular visitor is a regular. He comes so often that he can now follow his own worn footpath in the lobby carpet from the front door to the chair. He is cheerful and desperate at the same time. Sometimes he looks 76 and other times he looks 40 so I have no idea what his true age is, and the day of copying his license has long since passed.

When he is sober and lucid, I try to figure out what of his needs we can help with but more often than not, he comes in reeking of smoke and old beer. I sit down with him and listen for a while before helping him out the door. He is most interesting and full of stories.

Billy Ray is famous in some parts around I-95 where he prayed with Billy Graham as the Reverend came through a truck stop where Billy Ray just happened to be resting. Billy Ray and Billy Graham had many things in common you know. They both had the same name, and frequented the same truck stop to pray. Those were the good days.

He’s had liver disease so bad his liver has been replaced 2 times and nearly 3 but they took his gallbladder instead and snatched his appendix while they were shopping around in there. There, being his gut. He’s had open heart surgery several times “before open heart was even known around here”.

On this particular day, Billy Ray was about to have yet another surgery. Bypass, even though he’s had more bypasses than the beltline in town. His doctor told him to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and to walk 7 blocks and rest. Just like that. 7 blocks and rest. 7 blocks and rest. I found it interesting that we were on the “rest” end of that exercise regime. He reminded me that everythin’ happens fer a reason. I don’t doubt it, well, not on that day.

I told Billy, as I had on many other occasions, where the food pantry was- a couple of miles away, and then he asked for a gas card.
I reminded him of his doctor’s strict orders to walk 7 and rest. He didn’t look too thrilled at the reminder.

I asked him if he liked tomatoes and he brightened right up.
“Well, come on, then, with me.” And I headed out the front door.
He followed , but with caution and a little bit of concern- or it seemed so to me.

When we got outside, I climbed over the flowers and felt around the veggie plants and came up with 4 tomatoes and a bell pepper. He looked as he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
I stood up. “There! Now, here, hold your hands together like a bowl, like this.”
He did.
I filled his hands with the veggies. “ You can’t get any fresher than that, can you?” I beamed.
“ Uh, no I guess not.”
“ Okay, now, there you go. Probably ought to get back to your walking and resting. You know what your doctor said.”
He walked across the grass and started along the sidewalk.

“Hey Billy Ray! That’s the best tomato you’ll ever eat! It’s a Methodist mater!”

He held up his hands –of- plenty and kept walking.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Voting in America

Today is a voting day for the county where I live, so I voted . Then, I got a sticker. They still carry a little magic, stickers.

When I was filling in the circles on the ballot, I was reminded of how lucky we are to be able to vote. Being able to elect and select empowers us sometimes, makes us feel strong and choosy.

These feelings jumped right off the paper and into my morningness.

I noticed that there were a couple of blank spaces for write ins so I did that, too.
I voted to ban Monday mornings.
I voted for free laundry and cleaning service.
I voted for sugar free sugar and fat free fat.
I voted to never have another flat tire and for babies to sleep through the night starting on their very first night in the world.

The ideas came to me one after the other with none of them taking turns. One idea pushed the other right out of line, and soon, my pen went dry.

I asked one of the voting helpers for another pen and she said, “Sure, is that one not working? I opened a new box of pens this morning- must be a fluke.”
When I traded pens with her I said, “No, I don’t think that’s it. I just used this one up.”
The whispering between the helpers outside my voting booth didn’t distract me from continuing on.

I voted to give clergy peace and strength and for congregations to recognize that Pastors are people, too.
I voted to build in a workday naptime each and every day.
I voted to exile nightmares and night terrors.
I voted for Danskos to always be on sale and for cats to stop shedding.

My list went on. I started writing in teeny tiny fairy print.

I voted for framily to be an official and recognized word and entity.
I voted for squirrels to stop bullying bulbs that want to sleep til spring.

When I stepped back from my booth and asked for a second ballot, one of the women behind the table shook her head and windshield wiper-ed her index at me. “We only get to vote one time today, Missy. One ballot, one vote counted.”
Rats. One ballot didn’t even come close to holding all I wanted voted on. Important issues. Critical points.

I resigned myself to her directives and took my ballot to the ballot eater. My fully voted document was heavy with ink and it took me three tries to convince the machine to accept my offering. When I heard the machine swallow my votes, I went back to work and made a mental note to take note of when our next voting day is…

Monday, September 14, 2009

Every Little bit helps

The church yard is looking wild and wolly. The sweet peas are in bloom around one pine tree and the passion flower seems to be settling in. I can't wait until it blooms.
The lamiastrum is growing. Eventually, the pinestraw will be all green leafy plants.

Along the front, I will be adding mexican petunias in a couple of weeks for next year, and well, I will be pulling the tomatoes and pepper up soon in exchange for broccoli.

I snuck a few veggie plants in with the flowers this summer and lo! they are producing.

I took 2 measley pounds of roma tomatoes and a green pepper to the Interfaith Food shuttle today and you would have thought I carried a bushel basket overflowing with grand vegetables in. The response was so comforting. Every little bit helps. I hope to keep mixing vegetables in with the flowers until I can get approval for a small raised bed on the grounds. In themeantime, I'm proud of the work the few plants have done and I am grateful for their bounty. Someone will be enjoying them tonight.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer is speeding by- and I find myself looking daily -at my pile of CL scrap notes of things I want to share here, and today I realized that its been a long time since I've added a church lady chronicle blabber.

Over time, some 200 + entries now,I have broadened this venue to include my observations and experiences outside of my church chick job and hours and so far, that seems to be fine with readers.

I am grateful for that tolerance, flexibility, and grace.

Writing is something that I may not do well, but, still, I am compelled to pour syllables onto the keyboard nearly all the time. Compelled with a want/need to do so. Time, or lack of, usually gets in the way, but the last couple of months have held something different.

The month of May was catch up work from Easter time, and then June arrived with some distracting transitions, and somehow, my words have hidden from me, though I feel them wiggling around just the same.

I have locked up that vulnerable source. Protecting what, I am not sure. When the words are at ease enough to get their feet wet again, I will pour them out here... and I hope that they will be welcomed back no matter what they decide to say.

Maybe the thing to do is to wait and hope for the best. Spontaneity has apparently been my style. Well, I don't really think I have a style, but when stories spew out the way they seem to do when I write, I think spontaneity is a digestible description. Spew sounds more like puke which makes me want to , sort of.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Community Garden in a new light

I’ve been wearing my flippers lately at work, trying to swim harder through the work muck.
Easter came and is still showing signs of renewal. I notice it in nature.

I’ve been hearing a lot about community gardens and sustainable communities, CSA’s. Buying local, pulling in and working on us from within instead of reaching out, way out, for the things we need and want.

I’ve been thinking of a way I can help build that kind of community from where I sit. Sure, bubblegum and pretzels sooth spirits and calm the unsettled souls. A cozy office invites conversation, and the bird feeders are now being emptied daily. Still, an idea for a broader connection with nature and building community through that escapes me. I’ve been thinking and thinking about how to build connections…. I'm not so comfortable in groups of people, but there is nothing more peaceful than visiting with a bed of plants. They are people, too and they want to grow just like people do, and they need help, too. Just like us.

The thought of a community garden thrills me. The thought of a community garden made by, managed and sustaining 3,000 members scares the poison ivy out of me.

When I am trying to figure things out, I tend to fill my time with busi-work. Messychef cooking, or knitting or sewing or gardening- writing. I rent a small townhouse with a little yardette and gardenette and they are lovely, but not enough to sustain my need to figure out some questions knawing at me, so last year I asked a friend if I could work in her yard. I think I’ve overwritten about this. Well,the job is going swell. With money a problem- or lack thereof, I discovered ways to get plants at little or no expense.I sent out on a few neighborhood elists an offer to thin irises, daylilies, daffodils and liripe and got a good response. I discovered that if you hit the shopping centers at just the right time, you can save the plants used for landscaping from a frightful death by bringing along a pitchfork and taking them home when they are being traded out during the seasonal changes.

I’ve traded irises from my house for liripe from a work church friend’s house.
Now, a year into the project things are coming together. This one yard has had a ripple effect. There are plants all over this city from other places in town.

I offered to help a friend at work get her garden started, and now we meet almost weekly and have a wonderful time learning and planting. She is so delightful and willing to accomodate my short time. I mean, all this gardening is not like hiring a landscaping company. A middle aged arthritic woman cannot be compared with a team of workers with tillers. I come equipped with gloves, a pitchfork and short amount of time. These projects are being created one bit at a time.

Children in the preschool have been helpful, and an assistance person helped me once. At work, the maintenance crew helps me with the hose - It's a village. Truly.

I think we are also creating a community garden here at work church with a twist.

A year ago, the grounds were abound with greenery. With the brilliantly colorful idea of my boss, we welcomed spring with a church fronted with daffodils and crocuses that I put to bed in the Fall. The color brought about an awakening in some folks, and so I have been trying to keep the color coming along on the church grounds with the goal being to have something alive and looking good all seasons.

I visited one church member and saw the most beautiful purple blooming plant. I asked if I might thin them out, and move them around and she said very kindly, ‘Have at it. My yard is your yard.” Some of her purple plants are now under the dogwood tree.

Another has been bringing me vinca to add to the starter periwinkle around another tree.
A second friend noticed, and has offered to bring some as well.

Someone heard me mention Lenten rose, and said she’d bring some for me later in the season.

I traded irises with my front desk garden buddy and now we have some of hers and mine popping up like mad.

A member from home church opens her yard to friends, and I have visited her site many times. Work church is holding some of her plants.

I pass one member’s house on my way to work, and inquired about helping her thin her late blooming daffs and I brought her a bag of irises yesterday.

Our work church garden, as well as the other friends who let me piddle in their yards are all benefitting from neighbors’ nature. If that’s not building community, I don’t know what is.
Our community garden is not just one. It has rippled out and multiplied in many good directions.

Friday, April 10, 2009

LIttle Easter

The second high and hearty season of the church is about to peak - so hold on!! There is so much going on around here that the building mortar is trembling. The newly refinished pews are tensing for the masses. The entire staff has been on high test coffee for weeks now, in preparation of this important time in the church.

I have tiptoed into my office and hunkered down every day trying to keep the nut jar, pretzel jar and the bowl of gum full to meet the stress demands, and finally, after I realized sometime last week that the humming I kept hearing was not, in fact, a faulty florescent, but the thinking waves zapping off of staff- well, I just stopped. I just simply s.t.o.p.p.e.d., and I reflected on the season and how much work goes into making the wonderful services that happen here come together and how easy it is if you are one of the artists putting together the puzzle, how easy it is to lose sight of breathing.

I decided to try to slow down the pace a bit but I wasn't sure how to do it. I leaned back in my chair and I tapped my nose and I crossed my arms and I thought. nuthin. I glanced down at the weekly listing of "What's going on at church" " Prayer Labyrinth in the Chapel, Stations of the Cross in the back grounds, Palm Sunday, Prayer and Healing workshop, Floral Cross....." gosh, I felt tired just looking at it all in print... then......AH! Finally an idea beamed into my entangled brain.I looked at gnomey and I looked at sparky the watchbear and I said, "Boys, it's Easter time." I printed a labyrinth off the internet and put it under the tall stool in my office that acts as a side table and I put gnomey and sparky on it and then I waited.

It wasn't long before someone blasted into my office in a rush and instead of jumping to the occasion and thinking ahead to figure out what the inquiry was going to be, I held up my hand in a "stop" position and said in a quiet voice, "Could you please enter in a meditative manner?"
and then I pointed to the stool.

The church organist was the first visitor. We enjoy learning how to read each other and do it pretty well now. We've experienced a few funny trial and errors, but we've gotten into a good grove and he didn't miss a beat. He stopped, followed my pointing finger and looked down. Then he observed the duo "walking" the labyrinth, and he gently respected the moment. You've gotta love that in a church organist.

That type of exchange continued all afternoon. People came and went. I made them aware of the goings on under the stool and they honored the moment. I was really enjoying the staff reactions, and thought it couldn't get any better-then the magic happened.

I came back from a late afternoon jaunt to the PO and discovered the pair had shifted positions on the labyrinth. In addition, Sparky was holding a miniature "Lenten devotional". The book was so small it only read "Lenten devo" and gnomey was holding a tiny kleenex. Sometimes the labyrinth experience brings tears to the surface. If you are made of plaster, it is wise to have an absorbant tissue at the ready.

By the next day, someone had added signs of the stations of the cross for them. Little 2"x 2" signs glued to the legs of the stool. They were written on aluminum foil bits.

The Monday after Palm Sunday, there was a palm branch added to the collection; and yesterday, a friend and I glued two popsicle sticks together in a cross,and filled the space with flower petals for the floral cross.

These measures were not taken lightly. They were not intended to be rude or make fun of any of these special rituals and it amazed me that they were accepted at face value and somehow, those two small not-alive (see? I KNOW they are not alive, I really do) creatures gleaned respect from real live people........ who had to slow down to notice and they had to slow down to create additions, and they had to breathe in all that. It was a wonderful sight to see and still is.

The wooden rhino, Hal, that my eldest brought back from Zimbabwe tried to join the group, but his horn kept getting in the way, so we just let him pray with my praying angel that usually sits on the bookshelf. The zebra that probably was a happymeal toy was sadly asked to leave the labyrinth because his stripes, mixed together with the lines of the labyrinth, made the walkers dizzy.

Yes, I've worked. Yes, I'm working. Consider this experience -staff support. It's in my job description.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hubbida hubbida Happy Birthday

Cinderella is one of my favorite Disney flicks. I like most of the old ones, but there is a part of this one that always makes me feel light hearted. The mice, who I respect so much for being wonderful friends!!! There is one mouse, I can't think of his name, but he sings out Hubbada, hubbada HappyBirthday!!! and on Saturday, April 4, I would like this message sent out via all micey folks to one of my favorite better half-s. Turning 80 and still wreaking havoc !!!
Congrats to you, friend!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Easter flowers

The bulbs decided they couldn't wait another minute and they have started coming up and showing their best faces.
I've decided these are to be reminders that Easter is coming instead of Easter is here.
Next year, both sides will have purple and white added and the right side of the church will be finished out so both sides are overflowing with color.

For a first try, they look pretty good. They've done a great job of growing and I'm proud of their efforts to restrain from blooming.

I'm antsy now to add something so we can continue to have color welcoming you when you come to the church. I've been fortunate that the church has allowed me to expand my job description to include dirt.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Name tags

I have become a wiz at making the best of what I've got and celebrating the small successes in office university(this is on the job training). This week I learned how to do nametags -kind of. I kind of got ahead of myself and it went to my head a little bit.

Boss was having a meeting and I decided on my own that a real secretary would make name tags. My boss didn't even ask me. I just decided to figure it out.

So, I did. I went to Publisher and said, "Publisher, help me make name tags." An hour later, I was ready to print. While the printer was spitting the newly perfect nametags out, I stopped by my office buddies' office and said something like, " I learned how to make name tags. la la la la la "
They ignored me which should say something about how much faith they have in my announcements.

I picked up my name tags from the printer and there were 12 pages of labels with one name in the left hand upper corner of each page. sigh......

I came back to my desk and tried again. I printed again. 12 more pages came out with 30 Tom Smiths on the first page and 30 Joe Brown on another and .........

I felt defeated. and name tag label paper shy.

So, Jiminy Cricket in my pocket , I made the best of it. I cut out the top left corner tags and then paper clipped them to boss's meeting stuff. Wow. well, almost wow.

By then, the others came by to see the fruit of my announcements and i held up the sheets with the corners cut out. They were able to withold from releasing their amusement. Then I held up the sheets that were full of the same names. This was too much for them to bear.

Here comes boss. "OOOHHHHH Let's show these to Pastor Boss. He'll be so impressed that - la la la You can make nametags!! la la la "

I stepped in front of them and gave him the packets. He looked at the seemingly benign tags and said, "oh. okay." Then one of my "buddies" held up the partially sliced out sheet and the other held up the full sheets. and then he got it. They were laughing so hard I thought they'd need to call for "Cleanup on aisle 5". Obviously, I am not graduating from office university yet.

I went home.
I came back to work the next day.
The story isn't finished.

I came in and one of my buddies was already in, waiting for me. " Oh, Oh, church chick, I've got to tell you this. Boss came in the hallway last night during his meeting clutching the name tags you made for him. He looked panicked and I asked him what was wrong? and he said that when he set up, and put people's names at their places, he decided to , oh, what the heck, go ahead and put his on and realized that they were printed on the wrong side. so the outline would stick, but not the name part."

I turned around and started to go back home when i ran into him. 'Hey, it wasn't anything, we got the publications guy to do it, but struck me funny when I got everything set up after all that you went through to make them, murphy's law not helping you any, and then they were printed on the wrong side."

Well, I'm glad he can laugh about it. Clearly, I've got more name tag practice in store for me.
oh, good grief.

I keep seeing the unfortunate truth

I never said I was or could ever be a real secretary. I was clear about that from the start. In my time here, there have been many, many, many forgiven mistakes. and there have been even more forgiven Melanisms.

It took me forever to figure out the phone. I used stickers, one for each staff member, animals and such to help me know which button was who.

I empathize with and personalize the office equipment. Bizzy is our new copier. She is the Anne Taylor version of Biz, or maybe a sex change was involved somewhere down the line. She is sleek and stylishly black and white. Verynice.

I send out reminder notices and sometimes send out UN-invitations the very next day.

I could keep adding on mistakes, but I've written about many and yet, I am still employeed.

The thing is that I work very hard at getting things right. It is important to me. I'm not a perfectionist by nature, or by genetic marker, but I strive to be better than messy. The truth is that I'm not right angled and i am messy in my thinking, in my work and in my hobbies. I like gardening. What could be messier than that? I like knitting and crocheting. Both are knotty hobbies. I am compelled to write and that flows like a mountainstream over bumpy rocks and silty soil. My nickname Messy Chef is true. Not so much in how I cook, because I like cleaning up as i go, but more in what I cook. None of these "skills" are neat. But all of them are me.

There have been many things going on in church and out of late. I've worked hard to work smart and strong. This week I saw a perfect example of how swimming against our natural current can slam. I planted daffodills and crocuses in front of the church this Fall . I loved it. It balanced out my duties, and gave me peace. I felt lucky that my bosses were open to and allowed me to stretch my job description in this way. I was so careful planting. I watched my lines, and I followed the beds.I spaced bulbs just so. I planted the crocuses in front of the daffs so they, being the early risers, would be seen first. I was careful.

I mulched, fertilized, mulched, mulched,mulched. I tried to keep them down until the last minute hoping they would welcome Easter with their yellow blooms. I knew with Easter late this year, it would never happen, so I shifted my expectations and decided when they bloom, if they bloom, they can act as a reminder to the congregation that Easter is COMING.

The crocuses got the word from Mom Nature to pop up and check out the chill air. One by one they came up and then started to bloom. The daffs weren't far behind. This week the daffs have started to bloom. I stood at the entrance and gave it all a look and what I saw horrified me.

On one side of the door, we have a stream of yellow crocuses and daffodills. On the other side, we have a lovely bed of yellow, white, and purple crocuses and daffodills. They don't match. Not even.

Dagnabit. Criminy!

Next year, I'll add some white and purple color to the other side and add a few where I ran out.
But darn it all. I really tried hard on that. shoot.

This week has been crazy around here. My boss has not spent a minute inside his own head, he's been full of everyone else's troubles. and yet- his sense of humor lives on. It surprises me.

He came in in a rush asking me to google First Baptist Church in smallville. So I did. The map came up, I printed it. I had been working all morning printing forms and envelopes for confirmation. Just as I was printing, he asked me to quick quick look up an artist with an odd name. We googled it, and finally found it. This took only seconds. I wrote down the information for him and reached for the printer to pull off the map. The map had printed on an envelope,so only a fraction of the information was on it. "Oh, Good Grief" I said, and quickly googled First united methodist smallville church in smallville so I could print another map. Nothing came up. He laughed. "You are so funny" he said. I stopped and looked at him. "What is the name again?" He humored me. "First Baptist...." He was smiling.

Good gosh. In the span of 30 seconds, I had completely forgotten and changed denominations. I typed in the right one, put paper in, and printed it. He seemed fine. It was as if I was teasing him, but truth was, I was middle-aging on him. I was four daughters losing my mind- on him. I was time change spring falls forward an hour i cannot afford to lose on him. and it seemed okay.


After he left, I continued on with my project and promptly printed a lovely confirmation certificate on an envelope. Rats.

Now I will say, in my own defense that there are more multitasking opportunities in this office than most. I love that about the job, but sometimes, my everready runs out, and I print wrong, or change denominations on maps. These are the times I count on forgiveness and hope that the bubblegum and nuts will bail me out.

Oh, sure, they could hire a real secretary, with real secretarial credentials, stamped and embossed. But maybe having someone who befriends the machines and tries harder than Avis to be a safe and comfortable presence in this wild and crazy place is what they need right now. I sure hope so.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A sure sign of the times

I went to the Dr. for a checkup, a year late, last week.
I like the practice I use, partly because i don't use them often and partly because they offer an environment that is un-clinical. They are located a mile from the nearest medical facility meaning they are far from the aeromatic germ free-ness that floats in the corridors of hospitals.
I like that in a practice.

They have doctors and physician's assistants on staff. I like that, too. I used midwifes during all four of my children's births, and I hold PA's second on that high list of preferred providers.

There are plants in the waiting room, that are alive, too. That says a lot about a place.

Beaded doorways create a calming clicking when you are moving from one area to another.

They feel "today". and I like that, too. I have an intense fear of "yesterday" types of medical facilities, but that's just me.

So, I was pretty calm when I went in, dragging a trusted friend with me. Because it had been so long since my last visit, I had to fill out the "form" again. The question form. The 347 questions form.

So I did.

The questions covered just about everything from age to health history, to sexuality.

Being divorced for 5 years now, and still struggling greatly with the aftermath of that, i have no interest in dating of any sort, so when the question asked if you are sexually active, I answered,
Not any more
and when the next question asked when i had last been active, i answered, before time began
and then came the question that really slapped the reality of how things have changed in the -Dr's office question form -world.

Please specify- sexually active with: ___men ___women___both.

Both? " are you kidding me? Both?" I looked at my friend and showed her the question.
"Oh my gosh, I can't believe this. Both?" I realized that the shock I felt was in having such questions asked of ME. any of them. I felt a little bit privacy lean. My feelings of how other people answer are carefree.

A lady sitting across from me shifted in her seat. " I heard that. " she said.

I didn't really know what that meant. Had I shuddered or gasped and missed it?
Had I offended her because she might have checked all three? or added an additional choice, perhaps?

I glanced over at her. "I'm here in my pajamas." she said. She wore a robe, bedhead, and zoo animals flannel. This told me more than i really wanted to know, so I just nodded and scooted closer to my friend.

Later, a nurse skated through the form with me. I was waiting for her to come to that "both"question. She made note of my cobwebbed answer to recent sexual activity and yet, proceeded to ask me if I used contraception. I hesitated. I mean, really? REALLY? Despite my answers, and my age of nearly 54, she still wondered?

Then, I decided that her intentions were only good, and so I answered accordingly. "Yes. Abstinance".
She looked at me a little cock-eyed, head tilted.

" Okay, that's great, then!" and we continued on with our Q&A.

She walked me into the exam room and told me the PA would be in shortly. The rest of the check up was as expected.

I left that day feeling like I had just stepped out of an altered universe. I wonder what new questions will be added the next time I go?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I've heard tell

Home church is cozy. We keep up with concerns of the church family via a white board that hangs in the office. Babies, death, illness.... it's all there. Announcements at Wed night dinner and joys and concerns during the service keep the names of those with both good and bad news - fresh in the prayerful minds of the congregants.

Work church is three home church's worth of cozy. We also keep a white board with concerns, joys and deaths. Funny how this simple tool works no matter the size of the church.

Although I don't know all of the names that appear and disappear on the white board, I hear passers by comment on the names throughout the week. That white board is a great people connector, conversation starter, comment opener.

I've heard tell of a church that had a listing under concerns for a "Jane Smith" Nothing else, no further description but Jane Smith. People stopped to read the board and said, " OH, Bob had surgery. The Joneses had a baby. and .... JaneSmith. Hmm. What happened to her? .......Who is Jane Smith?" Over the span of a week there wasn't one person heard to say " Oh, Jane. I wonder how that surgery went?, did the transplant take?, or has the flu subsided." With no other information beside her name, how were they to know?

What else could they do but guess?
Over the next few days the guesses bubbled up."Jane Smith. Didn't she have that leg rearrangement? or was that someone else?"
" Is that the woman who had 16 babies? Is this THAT Jane Smith? or was that someone else?"
"Jane Smith. Does she go here? Why I don't believe I've seen her in the early service. Wonder what she looks like?"

Typically, people make it to the white board and stick around for a couple of weeks until they make their way off the board and back into the real world, but I've heard tell that Jane stayed on for 2 full moons. Just Jane Smith. People grew accustomed to seeing her name on the board. They stopped wondering who she was and accepted her for the whiteboard listing that she was.

Then one day, something mysterious occurred. A member stood in front of the board and read aloud, " Jane Smith Cardiac" The questions scurried out of folks' mouths again. " What hospital is she in? Cardiac what?"

A few days later, though- Jane Smith stood alone again, minus cardiac. " Guess she's doing better, whew." "Wonder how the surgery went for her?" "Wonder if she had any surgery?"
" Oh, Jane."

Soon after, an obituary appeared on the floor beneath the white board. It said simply, "Jane Smith died yesterday and she's being buried tomorrow. The End."

"Is that OUR Jane?" "What happened?" "Oh, Jane. Oh, Jane, Jane, Jane. Why didn't you let us know you better?"

The next morning, Jane Smith was not on the board. The mailman stopped and noticed it.
" Jane Smith gone from the board. Gosh, I miss her"

Two days passed. The white board held its listings for all to see and pray about. Sam Slug, neck twitch repair.... Polly Scurry -Burry nip tuck. Jane Smith.

"How'd Jane get back on there?" "It's a miracle!!""What tha??"

Jane held her position for a good week before her condition changed. Jane Smith -lobotomy- nothing found

"What about her heart?" "Oh, my"

One sensitive member picked up the eraser and swiped away the words around Jane's name.
" I think this just labels her. She's had Cardio and then the obituary and now this. It's not right for any one person to endure such labels and I'm taking it off."

So Jane stayed on the board alone again with joys above her and deaths underneath. People passed by. Days came and went. " Jane's still there, hope she's doing better." "Jane seems to be holding her own."

Finally, on a bitter winter afternoon, the mailman came by on his usual route. He stopped and looked at the board. "Jane's been up here a long time now."He called to the secretary. " She's been cardio-ed, lobotomized , obituarized and left out to dry. I'm just wondering who the heck IS Jane Smith?"

The secretary pulled up the church database and looked her up. No Jane there. ???hmmmmm.
She heard the sound of feet on carpet outside her doorway and she stepped out to see 5 people standing in front of the white board shaking their heads in sympathy, empathy, sadness.

" Gosh that Jane's been through a lot" said one.
"First the heart then the brain" said another.
"On the board and in the ground and all the way back again" said another.
The church secretary, as I hear tell, said to the cluster of white board readers, "Do any of you know who Jane Smith is?"
"Well, not really."
" I thought YOU knew who she was."
"I've been coming here for 49 years and I just thought I forgot who she was."

The secretary sent an emergency email to each staff member with the same inquiry. Not one had a clue who Jane Smith was, yet each one replied with concern over Jane's trials over the last weeks.

No one knew her ; no records of her in the church books. The secretary picked up the eraser and started to erase the name off the board.

The whiteboard readers dropped their heads and turned away as only whiteboard reading crowds can do.

The board held an especially white-white vacant space. It glowed with emptiness.

In the days to follow, people walked by as they always did, but the secretary noticed that the comments didn't come along. Folks stood in front of the board and took in the names, but no one had a thing to say.

The hallway took on an odd sense of missing.

I've heard tell bright and early one morning the secretary came into work and as she leaned into her door to open her office, something caught her bifocaled eyes. She took a step back and glanced at the white board.

Jane Smith- the words had returned and clung to the melamine surface with passive intensity.

"Welcome back, Jane" said the secretary.

As she stepped into her office, she heard someone pass by and say, " Jane Smith. Wonder what it is this time?"

Friday, January 23, 2009

There are meteorologists and then there are Trexers.

At work church, there are many aspects of the job that I enjoy, one of them being the multi-jobs that many staff hold. My job started out as a secretary but has developed into an all trades type of work, and that suits me just fine.

The children's directors also started and run a unique preschool- the two jobs filling all of their time

My next door neighbor also keeps manyplates in the air at home and at work. She does it with great tact and balance.

Another hallway office mate started out keeping records, and now has personal knowledge of where every speck of anything is in this place. During the renovations, when everything was rearranged, she was there, and she was there when everything came back. This knowledge makes her priceless, of course, plus she's a worthwhile soul anyway

The Choir Director also is a meteorologist, can you believe it? He has a website that he is pressured to keep up and running during the winter months. I wondered if he may take offense at my ramblings about weather toys, but considering he runs his life via toys- blackberry things, ipod things, mac user- and two young boys, I think he'd be the first to agree that he is energized by maps, lingo and "toys", plus he's the only person I know that has a website that snows.

The staff and many church members are hanging on his every enthusiastic word to see when the next "event" may fall.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Winter in NC

There are lots of reasons that living in NC is pleasant. This week, one of those fell from the sky.

We have moderate weather, mostly. Sometimes, we have exciting precip like Tuesday. The Gods gave us snow, pretty and steady for a large part of the day.

Meteorologists on TV are masters at setting us up for oncoming -giant- history -making- potential- events. Let's be real. They want to play with their weather toys and NC doesn't give them many opportunities to do so .

We cling to the local meteorologists' reports, full of warnings and watches. More often than not, the actual event is a bit of a let down .

I recall a few years ago a local station created a neat way to vent their excitement about snow potential. The winter wasn't shaping up as they had hoped, and some creative soul started this blip called "Operation Snowdesk". Early in the season, the Operation would kick in between television programs with a trumpeted announcement and these two guys at a desk with a map behind them would swoop into our living rooms with big news of jet stream and high pressure systems and low systems and they would taunt us with quips like, " 1-3 inches in just two states away, heading in our direction, probably maybe could."

Father Winter refused to blow much our way besides frost and fog that year, and as the season progressed, the weather updates changed into bullet-ed info that arrived on a stock ticker at the bottom of the screen just letting the viewers know important information like the temperature was cold enough to support solid precipitation for really real, and they offered uplifting short short stories fit for Ripleys, such as the amazing true life examples happening right here in the triangle..... some viewers have called in saying their fog turned into frost before their very eyes, and snow was bound to be born from that at any minute....they think.

As the season continued without any fun white playfluff, the Operation Snow desk interruptions became more and more desperate. I recall having a show interrupted by two bedraggled announcers who were begging for prayers for snow... One held a crystal in his hand and the other held up a spoon, showing viewers how to place it under our pillows. Sleeping with a spoon underneath our dreams encourages a larger snow accumulation, some scientists' research has shown.

I found Operation Snowdesk quite entertaining. I realized that the whole idea came from a place of optimism, something that January typically is shy of. I still sort of miss it.

This week, though, mother nature gave us a show worth waiting for. We were strung along for a while, and then bam! the sky opened up and flakes danced around and settled into everything they could find. And clocks stopped. Time held its breath. Moments waited.
In this busy world of nonstop movement, thought, action, it was a welcome gift to have to check all that for a day.

Just another reason I love living in North Carolina.

We've heard alot from Northerners about our over reactions to these kinds of weather events.
"Yeah, well, we're from Tim Buck Two and we have snow from October to May and I tell you, it gets higher than the roof and we still drive in it and go on like every other dang day."

When I hear comments like that I think two things. ... One- yeah, well when we have these kinds of weather events, they last a DAY, and. ..... Two.... isn't it interesting to hear these stories from people who are now, living HERE? :-)

I'll take crazy panic about extreme cold or snow any day. This, coming, of course from an ice-phobic old woman.

The media excitement breaks up the still winter months, and I think it makes the drab season more colorful.

Now, excuse me while I re-salt the front stoop, on the off chance the fog we expect tonight may change over to a thick coating of ice.......

Friday, January 16, 2009

Short and sweet so it counts

One of my goals for 2009 has been to catch up the chronicles and add stories from Little Bits, my collection of stories about the girls.

This week has been impossible with a lengthy staff planning day on Monday( I refuse to call it a retreat, even though it is a treat to have all of the staff together at one time), a funeral, and a bit of church chick being hit with underweatherness.

So, just so it counts, I'm listing a few thoughts here for you.

I enjoy listening to the internet mystery radio station, as you know, and this week, I have jotted down some of the titles:
Murder at Midnight ( MURder at MID night is how the announcer says it)
Mysterious Traveler
X X X X X X x x x x minus One One ONe
Lights Out!
The creaking Door
Criminal Codes.

I also heard a delightful commercial for Lifeboy soap- Use Lifeboy so they won't whisper, "B.O." when you pass by. I found that hysterical.

My pals have a few interesting blips they speak that I like alot

"Life's too short for cheap chocolate"

"Do it pepperfied"

"Sometimes in life you have to stop and shake your caboose."

I also learned how to knit two socks at one time and about half way through the leg, I realized that I really don't LIKE doing two at once, so I just moved one sock over to it's own needles, and now I'm knitting one and two at my leisure. It is more peaceful for me, but I'm glad I could do it if I wanted to. I just didn't find the magic. What can I say? I still may try Magic Loop sometime if I need a new challenge.

I felted a sock and hope i can get it online. It was fun, because I just knitted a baby sock, took about half an hour, then I washed it and it shrunk right on key. I thought about using it as an ornament, then decided it might make a cute necklace for your chapstick or cell phone. I thought as an ornament, it might look cute hanging on a tree with a card that says "Life socks"

I really want to do mini sweaters. The gnome who looks out my doorway has a beard that can't compete with these frigid temps. We'll see.


That's all I've got today, this week.

Baby, it's Cold outside, woo hoo. For me, cold and dry is better than cold and wet. Cabrio isn't telling what it will show and tell when it snows. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Little Bits: Tantrums

Life has its ups and downs, I've heard that and I live it. Traveling from one extreme to the next when growing up is provided by the Tantrum Transit. When raising my 4 girls, tantrums were not really big problems for me, because I understood the frustration that caused a lot of them. It seemed like every time the babies would reach a landmark in development, shortly after the celebration of their remarkable feat, I found myself in a state of confusion because the "wonder child" would transform into a gnarly creature.

I was so excited when Em rolled over!! I didn't sleep for the next 3 weeks because she was mad that she couldn't roll back.

I was thrilled when Liz reached for toys because it meant she would soon be able to entertain herself. I didn't anticipate the aggravation she would experience over realizing her limitations in toy control. Reaching and manipulating are two different things.

When Rachel learned to walk ( woo hoo!!) she saw a whole new level of things she could not get into, and Mary's delight at being able to reach the doorknob to the world was very overshadowed by the fact that she could not reach the dead bolt that was 3 feet higher.

They voiced their frustrations in the forms of whines, screams, and baby mumbles. Their body language raged with wiggling, kicking, and squirming. When they were babies, I wished they could just tell me what it was, so I could help make it better. Then they started talking coherently and telling me what it was... and I began wishing for the mumbles again..

Be careful what you wish for......

On the other hand, it is funny how life has a habit of running in cycles, isn't it? For instance, as children mature, the tantrums dwindle. Life sort of lets you catch your breath- until adolescence trickles in- then the whole process starts over again. I remember being faced with a young lady tantruming who was, at that time, very near my size. (she has since grown much taller than I am. They grow, I shrink in height- that's another story) I was having such a adifficult time coping with the situation until I looked deep into the "eyes of the tiger". There, before me, was the familiar one year old, doing the Rumplestiltskin I knew so well, the 3 year old showing her determination, and the very familiar 4 year old who knew all there was to know and more.

I realized that I had seen this movie before. I was watching the same old frustration over not being able to have the toys that were out of arm's reach. The simple difference was that the toys had just changed over the years. With this empowerment of insight, I was able to maintain my cool as I had when they were terrible twos. I am so very grateful for that realization, because even now, when I look at an irate teen I smile inside, because I can so clearly see the adorable toddler within.

Sink or swim

Sink or swim
I enjoy the Y. I take mostly yoga classes there, and do my own cardio on the elliptical. My oldest and I are workout buddies. Recently, I decided to try the water aerobics class. I used to teach, and I used to take, but both have been a while. A long lifetime ago while.

I brought along daughter #3 who was home from college for the holidays, and we entered the pool area. The new pool, how exciting!!!! Two lanes were designated for the class, and the rest were for swim team practice. There was a fan running, somewhere around us. The sound surrounded the joint. The noise was deafening, and dragged along a huge echo to boot. Between the fan, the swim team speed splashing, and the supportive SCreaMMMMSSS and whistles from the team coaches, I felt like I had walked into a whole house fan that was running on high.

My thinking changed when we got into the water. Add to the noise, the waves rippling from the swimmers. I began to believe I was trapped inside a food processor. It was a challenge to stand upright; being still was not an option.

There were maybe 8 people giving the class a shot along with us. Some were older than I was , and a few were younger. Everyone had on a swimming suit of one sort or another.

A woman entered the pool area wearing tennis shoes, a long fitness spandex top over a jog bra with nylon shorts. She had her goggles resting atop her frantic hair.I wondered, if , maybe she was lost or in the wrong place, or time. Or, maybe she was the mother of teenagers.
Her rubber soles squeaked our way with intention and a sinking feeling bubbled up inside me. Having a sinking feeling when you are in a pool is not a good thing. The mystery spandex woman stood on the side of the pool and looked us over.

She welcomed us and introduced herself to us. I think. She might have been screaming obscenities or singing for all I could tell. Between the noise and the echo it was really hard to understand and impossible to hear anything that might resemble an entry in Webster’s best coming out of her mouth. She looked happy enough to be there, so I'm assuming the best.

She suddenly started marching in place and mouthing something that looked like “EEEE IIII”
Then, she lifted her knees higher and cranked up the speed.

If you have ever been in a pool of water, you may have noticed that the density is a bit different than standing in air. Life moves at a different pace in liquid than it does in an outside air environment. Things. Move. slowwwwer. Moving through water is a lot like living with depression except you can actually point to the reason why life feels like mud. Depression tends to hide its reason under the cranial cap. Real, but hard to identify sometimes.

So, what might happen if an instructor is giving directions on what to do, and the instructor is standing outside the pool barking out hand- over -mouth sounding directions and yet, you are IN the water, well, what might happen? YOU MIGHT DROWN is what might happen.

Guessing what she was saying and trying to follow was a dangerous task. I think I can safely say that I understand what it feels like to be in the middle of a tsunami- the undercurrent part of it. Fortunately, I, being built like a buoy, float in those kinds of situations. I’m just lucky that way.

The class must have looked like fish out of water, because our instructor stopped marching and put her hands on her hips and pursed her lips. Then she spoke into the pool echo full force. She added a few decibles to her volume as if louder is better when you are in a cave.

“BAAAAAAA NNNNNN FFFFFFUUUUUHHHHHHH, EEEEEIIIIIIIII, EEEEE IIIIII!!!!” Then she drew a circle in the air at us. At us, no kidding. I felt it splash my freckles and it made me blink. When I blinked, I lost my balance and buoyed around causing the people around me to buoy around too and, well, it wasn’t pretty.

We attempted to move in a circle and I noticed that where we had started with 8, we were now down to 6. Two were clinging to the deepest part of the ocean- uh, pool, and they seemed to be pretty happy about it. One lifted up an arm and waved at me. I kept trying to circle. As I remember this, I am becoming sea sick again.

I noticed that when our circle splashed close to the deep end, one or two students would leave the whirlpool and break out, dog paddling to the deep end. Escape was the mission of the day. I wanted out, too but I was sorely lacking in maneuverability. I didn't think I could break the circle and escape safely.

She changed directions from her perch on land,and started moving her arms like a ballerina, both arms reaching to the right, legs leaping alongside. I tried to follow but all I could think about was Swan Lake. I imagined myself in a tutu and added a few feathers to my head while I aqua-leaped across the pool. I closed my eyes and felt the toe shoes’ ribbons wrapping theirselves around my ankles and calves. I was a water ballerina, I was. Then, I was-glug- glug under. The fantasy fell apart and chlorine cleared my thinking and my sinuses.

By the end of class, my loving daughter and I were the only survivors. The rest of the class was enjoying the show down at the Deep End Bar and Grill.

We left, and I got dressed in the sauna, which is my favorite thing to do in the winter at the Y. When I came out, the instructor was standing outside the door changing her own clothes.

Spandex is such an interesting material. It stretches, and yet, when wet, it doesn’t like to move. She fought between her skin trying to escape the hold of the fabric and the fabric refusing to release the damp skin. I’m sorry, I had to turn away. I couldn’t bear the sight. (Only moments ago, I was experiencing that same tug of war with my swimsuit, but the sauna heat was on my team and we won the battle of the suit removal pretty quickly. )

When I shifted my focus and started looking for the nearest exit, she exclaimed, “You know why I teach Water Aerobics?”

I hesitated, still looking away, and I tried to remember whether or not I had indeed inquired or even thought about such a thing. I know I talk to myself out loud but I was pretty certain I had not voiced any words, much less interest in the topic of how in the world she ended up teaching or screaming water aerobics. But, no matter. She told me a tale that in simple terms said she had a passion for it. I support reaching for and pursuing our passions. I also wasn’t planning on repeating the experience of participating in what that looks like, either. Not for a while, anyway.

A few days later, I happened upon this instructor in the aeriated world. She asked me if the girl that had come to her class with me was my daughter and when I said yes, she said she could just eat her up. Being 22, I don’t think #3 would really appreciate that idea even though I realize it was well intended.

It was an adventure of sorts. It is encouraging to see someone pursue their interests. All the same, I think I’ll stay on land for a bit. You know what they say- different strokes.........:-)