Friday, January 15, 2010

Manna.... the rest of the story

If you have not already read the "manna" entry, you may want to do that before you tackle this one-

My boss had the honor of being asked to teach a workshop last weekend.
The job was supported by a grant that was very specific -as grants can be.

During the weeks prior to the workshop,as he was putting his teaching plan in action, he chose items from workchurch and his basement that he could use as props. He was very intentional in not purchasing materials unless he absolutely had to.

A couple of days before the workshop, he touched base with his contact person and discovered that part of the grant was designated for materials, a signifigant amount, and he HAD to spend it or else. This caused his rightbrainy-ness to go retro and start processing in reverse.
He was in a panic because now, he had a blank canvas to work from- and not much time to regroup and shop- yikes.

He asked me where he might find some props- unusual items like giant pots, old and worn authentic items... I suggested the store next to the restaurant at the Farmer's Market. I visit there on occasion to find things I like, then I look for them at yard sales and the flea market. He was desperate. He trusted my idea and took off in his batmobile.

The afternoon wore on. Winter was blowing bitter blasts and it was dreary to boot. I was getting ready to leave when he blew in with the wind.
" Come see what I found!!!" he bounced.
"Did you spend what you needed to?" I asked as I put my coat on.
"Yes, and I found things I never even would have considered. It was so much fun!!! Come see!! Come see!!!" I paused and breathed a sigh of envy for whoever babysat for him when he was 5 or 6 because surely it must have looked like this but even cuter.

We went out to the batmobile and opened one of the doors. That car was packed slam full. Like a magician reaching in his bag, he began pulling items out and telling me just how they would be used at the workshop and how we would later use them at work church.

"Look, a trough!!! a Realllll trough!! We can put manna in it, or turn it this way and we can put rolls in it or candles or prayers!! Can you believe it?"
"I'm trying, but it's pretty hard to believe, alright."

"And these wooden blah blahs... you can turn them over and they become blah blah blahs!!! This is soooo exciting!!!"

I watched him reach into his car and pull out his found treasures countless times. I soaked in his excitement and wondered if the participants would also be energized when they saw his presentation.

I couldn't imagine how he had been able to fit so many items in his car. Wow. Good minutes. Cold, good minutes.

"Yes! I love your finds!!! Wow! I'm so glad you found so many things so fast!!" I poked my head into the car and took a closer look. I saw round pieces of this and boxes with holes in them and then I saw something else.
I backed out and took a step away from the car. I wasn't cold anymore.
The winds stopped and whispered away. Everything got quiet. still.

"Crap! Are you kidding me? Seriously, are you kidding me? You were gone a couple of hours and you found this? "

Looking confused, he dipped into the car and then he reached for something and just stayed like that, his body half in and half out of the car.

I spoke to his coat."I like everything you got today except THAT."

He pulled himself out and faced me. He was holding a beautifully rustic, real,even Biblical THREE FOOT SPOON. I could tell just by looking at it that the aged utensil longed for manna.

"I'm just letting you know now, if that spoon comes within my reach, well, I can't guarantee what will become of it."
and I went back inside.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Accidentals, inc and acceptance

I am beginning to learn that part of who I am is just plain messy.

For as long as I can remember, I have tried to do things just right. Just exactly right. Through the growing up years,I sharpened my observation skills so that I could better see exactly what was expected, I learned to listen intently for clues and I practiced practiced practiced.

Instead of becoming more of a perfectionistic thinker and doer, which i have come to realize is not in my genetic makeup, i began developing my own secret expectations of end products. I realized that it took a great deal of upstream energy to aim for 'right'. This skill, to this day still does not come easy for me.As a child, i began learning respite thinking. I began finding ways to do things that just came out however they came out- and being pleasantly surprised when the outcome was a good one. This 'messy' thinking is a part of who i am i guess ...

Messy Chef is a friendly name that is attached to my cooking skills. Not because I am a messy cook, but because the things I cook look messy. I am a clean -as -you -go -chef, but the dishes are not Monet by any stretch. When my girls were coming up, I baked their birthday cakes, of course. I see old pics now of those monstrosoties and cringe. ...except for the looks on the faces of the children. By the time my girls were old enough to care how things like that looked, they had grown accustomed to mom's messy blob birthday creations, because they tasted good. The first time i decided to try making an ice cream cake, I made a pound cake, sliced it in thirds, and layered ice cream and then put it in the freezer. uh. just a helpful hint: That's not how it's done. The ice cream melts before it can re freeze and you have pound cake mush.
Bake, cool, slice and freeze the cake FIRST. It works much better that way.On the other hand, let me just say you can NEVER have too much icing.....

I am not an exact or perfect anything. I cook and sew and do most things intuitively- that may be good and not so good depending on the issue or project. When cooking, I pour liquid into a bowl and count out loud "one third, one half, one cup". I palm the flour and salt and baking powder.
and i look and see how it feels before i continue.

I sew the same way. Love to sew. Failed Home Ec. Still love to sew. In the 8th grade, we were making durndle skirts and I decided to put 'invisible' pockets in mine, so i just cut two slits in the fabric and, well, let's just say it's a good thing I didn't need to pass home ec to move to the next grade.

I don't pin patterns to fabric. I use hairbrushes, pepper grinders, a shoe.. whatever is handy to hold the paper still while I cut. When the girls were younger I made many of their clothes and i cut out in bulk. I could knock out 4 or 6 pair of shorts or dresses in one go. I would cut out during one nap time, and sew during another. The clothes were comfortable, fabric they liked, and that's what counted.Well, for a while anyway.

Knitting and crocheting and felting works the same way. Yes, we all know that every one of my felting projects has a surprise ending. My friend, co-worker created a name for my company. She calls it Accidentals, inc. specializing in Melanizing.

When I knit socks, I knit one at a time and i do not make matching pairs. Socks are exact, and if one is going to get lost in the dryer, which everyone knows is the law of the dryerland, then I'll be darned if I want to waste a second sock that way, so I just make one like this and one like that and let it go. One day, I'll do two at a time, but right now, I'm happy with one at a go. Plus, it is fun to wear a different sock on different feet. A foot can have preferences, too. I just enjoy the activities and hope for the best. Sometimes things work out and sometimes not but this Christmas I had real good luck with a project.

I have a very special friend who has a very special dog. For some reason, this dog really likes me. I think we are connected on some level. I work in the garden at her house and visit with her but our time together is limited and yet, she still loves me. I decided to make her a sweater for Christmas. I had a pattern for a sweater for a schnauzer, and she is much much taller and longer than that, so I had to guess how big to make it. I sat down and closed my eyes. I imagined being at her house and petting her.I went through the motions of petting her and pretended she was right there with me. "Baci, hey Baci, sweet girl, hey there" and i petted and stroked her back. After going through this imaginary motion a few times, I was familiar with how long i patted her down her back, and i made the sweater that long.I was surprised to see how well it fit!!! Nice to have those good results. Truth be, forget the sweater, its all about the dog. full of life and happy acceptance. I could tell she knew I gave the project TLC. I think i like gardening so much because it isn't meant to be neat, and it feels alot like finding treasure when i plant seeds or bulbs or move plants from one yard to another, then see them bloom or grow. This reminds me of another story I must save for another day. Preschool planting.

For the years I have worked at work church, this messy thinking of mine has caused me great worry. I want to do things with ease and perfection. I want to get it right. I think I have realized that my margin of error has pretty much remained the same over these years. I send out about the same number of committee reminders and i send out about the same number of UN reminders. I enjoy learning new tasks, but unless i am doing that exact task every day, it's like learning all over again everytime I do it. Between computer and program upgrades and my age- ing brain, i run into that darn margin of error more than I would like. I think that is why i am surprised i am still called secretary. I love my job, largely because of the variety and because of the pretty incredible tolerance from staff of my messy ways. At any rate, when things turn out right, I'm the first to be excited. and when they don't, well, I'll try it again. The good thing about being a messy me is that there is always a surprise at the end. When it is good, it is very very good and when it is not, it is do-over.

I am in awe of people who have strengths in areas like knitting a sweater with both arms being the same length, or typing a letter that looks so neat it could be framed. I stand in wonder. I stand in my overalls, muddy shoes, but in wonder.