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.........:-)

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Years Day

As with many people, when I divorced, I left behind many traditions. In the few years that I have been on my own, I have created new ones for my girls and have left many behind, some with a sad heart.

I remember the first Thanksgiving that I was single again, and how awkward and hard it was to reconstruct a family turkey day when our family was broken. That year, I realized that it may be easier to create than to try to re-create in an environment that was not the same. I started cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my girls on Wed before Thanksgiving. It was successful all around and in some surprising ways. We made our own rules, for one. We started out making the menu list with the same foods we always did. In the middle of discussion over oyster dressing, one of the girls said,in a quiet voice, "I don't like oyster dressing" and the others heartily agreed. I became the brave voice that suggested, "What if we don't have it?" Well, you would have thought the mere mention of changing the menu would have brought on an earthquake, the way we all froze at that idea.

After a few moments, when the earth did not self-destruct, something eased within us, and I enjoyed all eyes on my pen as I scratched through oyster dressing on my menu list.
This new-found freedom continued and this year, well, we ate when we wanted, we had one dessert, not 3, and we basically enjoyed the whole darn experience. We have a new enjoyment of Thanksgiving.

New Years' Day we used to have a community meal for friends who didn't really have hangover plans. I liked that meal especially, because, like the annual pig picking, invites were by memory and happenstance. I loved having people count on coming into our home haggard and dehydrated, knowing they could have a bite of something that might kick off some good vibes in the coming year. We filled our house with food and people every New Years Day for years. That is one event I wanted to continue on a smaller scale and, to date, the event has worked well.

I cook pork and saurkraut with potatoes all day, collards from the garden, black eye peas with ham. I make plenty of sweet tea, and a few pies. Long about 2 pm, friends start dripping in. There are never more than 8 or 10 people present at any given time, and so I can manage the numbers, or rather, my scrambled nerves can.

This event offers a great opp to put the 6 degrees of separation thinking to work. There is nearly always an unexpected connection found among strangers.
Yesterday went well, and I was once again reminded of the importance of finding one's chosen family. My girls and I are building support and relationships through creating expanding family and it is a very very good thing. The girls enjoyed the day, and there was such a relaxed sense of calm that I did, too. This is one tradition that has managed to cross over from one life to another in our family.