Archive for January, 2013

Barefoot in the snow!

From time to time I like to go down to the creek and sit on my personal ledge and enjoy the beauty, listen to God, and write.  I’ve been doing this for about a year and-a-half, and I always take my journal, and I always wear my crocs.  I used to wear them because the first part of the creek road had these two huge, deep dips that were just about always – even in the very hottest, driest weather – filled with water.  Knowing I’d have to slog through two, long deep mud puddles, it just made sense to wear the crocs.  After all, why get mud stuck in the sole grooves of tennis shoes, and why get socks wet?

Then sometime last year, the highway department graded the road back there and pretty much eliminated the puddles, but I still wear the crocs because you just never know!  Besides that, I like to wade out into the creek, and my feet are too tender to do that barefoot.

Today, I wanted to go to the creek.  I think it was about 40 and windy (9 mph) and cloudy, but I decided to go anyway.  It had rained for most of the day a couple days ago, and I knew the creek was up.  That meant that there might be mud puddles, so, as always, I wore my crocs.

The creek road did have mud puddles, but I was able to skirt them pretty easily.  Then, I hit the major challenge.  The place where the road tends to get washed out was totally washed out!  As in, the center of what would have been the road was about knee deep under very, very cold water.  The flooded section was pretty long – longer than it has been in previous years – because major flooding two years ago made significant changes to the creek’s flow pattern, gravel bars having been completely relocated.  Hmmm. . . what to do?  I couldn’t tell from the near end how deep it would get, but being the innately adventurous sort of woman that I am, I rolled my jeans up above my knees and started wading.

Now, you must get the picture.  I was wearing jeans, a short-sleeved shirt, a sweatshirt, my navy blue dicky, my really old ragged coat (the one I never wear in public, except occasionally for walking in the mornings when it’s below 30 and windy; it was 20 and calm this morning I didn’t wear it), and ear muffs.  All that and my jeans were rolled above my knees, and I was bare-legged with crocs.

I had to walk very slowly through the water, because I’m not quite as sure-footed as a gazelle, and I did NOT want to fall and lose my journal or get my phone wet.  (Note that personal injury concerns were not an issue; only the protection of the irreplaceables.) I stayed by the edge, and although the current was pretty strong, the water only came shin-deep on me, so my jeans stayed dry.  Every so often, I looked up to see how much farther I had to go, and since that distance never seemed to change, my progress was fairly slow.  My feet were numb by the time I got to the other side, but I figured that walking would get the circulation going again, and once I was sitting, I could always take the crocs off and let my feet air dry.

When I got to my ledge, I had to do things differently from the norm.  I always walk down the little gravel hill to the flat rock and walk across it to my seat, but today, the entire flat rock was under rushing water.  I had to climb down onto the ledge from above, and the water was only a couple feet away from my feet!  It was all greeny brown with whitecaps.  Really neat!

So I sat and listened and wrote for a while, and at one point I saw a tiny little piece of lint on my coat, which I flicked off.  A few minutes later, I saw another one on the cuff of the coat, and I wondered if it could possibly be snow.  Turns out it was!  Not enough to even be sure it was snowing, but the next fleck I found was cold and melted on my fingertip, and that was a dead giveaway.

Since my toes were still numb from the wading, and since the air was smelling faintly like snow, I decided I should head back.  I wasn’t really relishing the return wade, but it was uneventful, and all was well.  Back once again on the “near” side of the washed-out section, I paused to unroll my jeans, then looked up, and suddenly it was really, significantly snowing!!!  I called Andrew and told him he ought to go outside.  He was thrilled, too!

As I walked back to the house, I noticed that although I could feel my heels hitting the pavement, I couldn’t feel my toes at all.  Not even a little bit.  It was as if my feet ended at their arches.  Probably not a good thing.  Back home, I walked around barefoot on the carpet for a few minutes until I could begin to feel my toes again.  My feet were quite red, but now, a couple hours later, all feeling has returned and they are fine.

It snowed steadily for about an hour, but it’s not even enough to cover the grass.  However, I think I can now legitimately say (like Josiah) that I have been barefoot in the snow!

[Note:  When I got home, it was actually 28 degrees and snowing!]

Job description

Who would apply for this job?

* Provide full physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial care for Person for a minimum of eighteen years.

* Diagnose and accommodate food allergies, based only on Person’s incessant and inconsolable screaming.

* Change untold numbers of diapers, make untold numbers of urinary stops by the side of the road, and, until Person turns six, do untold numbers of loads of laundry.

* Invest an amount of money equal to the purchase price of a used luxury vehicle in meeting Person’s dental and orthodontic needs.

*  Plan, implement, and document Person’s entire academic training for many years.

Salary:  non-existent

Benefits:  infinitely wonderful

This I have learned for sure about parenting:  It is never easy, simple, or painless, but it does get easier over time.  Furthermore, in a truly cruel twist of fate, the time at which one feel somewhat capable and the joys outweigh the challenges is the precise time at which one gets terminated.  The reward, however, is that while one loses one’s job, one gains a friend.

I hate the phrase, “It’s all good,” because really, it’s not.  Much is not only not good; it actually makes like a vacuum.  That said, parenting is worth all that it takes.  It’s hard but it matters, and it is good.  Today I’m thankful for the growth I see in each of our kids, and for the growth I see in me.

My new keystroke

When our ministry treasurer was here working on year-end donor receipt letters, I asked her how to “get rid of those things that keep being in QuickBooks when I reconcile the account with the bank statement.”  They are things from 2009 that never go away, even though the account always balances.  I’ve been told to ignore them, but it just bugs me that they are there and I have to see them every month.

Donna looked at them, realized that they didn’t matter and said, “Just click on one and delete it.  Use Control D.”

Huh?  Well, I never!  What joy!!  Control D!!!  Who’dda thunk?  I have known Control C (copy) and Control V (paste) for many years, but I how could I have lived this long and never even heard of Control D?!?

I decided that not only would I apply Control D ruthlessly to QuickBooks; I’d use it in other programs, as well.  In fact, I have whole areas of my LIFE that I’d like to tackle with Control D!

So I have been working today on getting some “old” tasks caught up; like cleaning off a portion of the dining room desk, and getting the February cards written, and putting away new (blank) greeting cards that arrived – ummm – six weeks ago.

I also have three enormous file drawers crammed full of stuff that hasn’t seen daylight in decades and likely never will.  Be thou forewarned and forearmed, ye overflowing file drawers!  I’m coming after you with my new weapon of choice:  CONTROL D!

New keyboarder

Today Andrew played keyboard for worship at church!

There are actually two keyboards, and Jessica, the worship leader, plays one and sings from there, but she really wants to eventually get out from behind the keyboard and just lead the congregation vocally.  So, for now, she plays the big keyboard and Andrew plays the little one.  He is the back-up and fill, to give a fuller sound, but I think that over time, as the team practices more together and as he learns how to flow with her and what to do during the transitions between songs, he will be able to handle more and more of the keyboard “weight.”

I was really proud of him.  He looked sharp, and although he was concentrating too hard to smile, he followed her pretty well, as best as I could tell.  Most importantly, the whole thing sounded really good!  Jessica is waiting till he’s done with “To Kill A Mockingbird” to begin regular Thursday night worship team practices.  Practice, experience, and a teachable heart to worship are what it will take, and I know Andrew is capable!

Survey says. . .

There being only two guesses as to what I recently did that I haven’t done in seven months. . .  well, maybe I should first tell you what those guesses were.

1.  entered homeschool hours – actually I have done a tiny bit of that lately, but that’s not it

2.  cleaned Jessica’s bathroom – did that yesterday (and cleaned her whole room – shock and awe!), but that’s not it, either

No, what I did was. . . DRUM ROLL, PLEASE. . . bought tomatoes!  Only two Romas, and only because the fifteen or so home grown ones we have left are taking their own sweet time to ripen.

Bag head. . . or cheese head?

Wednesday night, our pastor had asked the youth pastor to preach to the adults.  Since he had prepared to minister to the youth that night, he had the youth sit in the adult service, and since the youth were with us, he decided to do the adult Bible study like he had planned to do the youth service, complete with a fun “ice breaker.”

Pastor Pete was carrying a Wal-Mart bag, the contents of which I could not discern (always scary), and he asked for two volunteers, saying that they didn’t have to be youth. I hate sitting on the front row, and I had plunked my stuff down on the second row, as is my custom, but when I came scurrying to my seat at 7:00:37 PM, Scott had moved our stuff to the front row; I think to let someone else’s family fit where we would have been. Anyway, there I sat on the front row, right under Pastor Pete’s nose as he asked for volunteers.  Since I couldn’t see if anyone behind me was raising his hand, and since I didn’t want to turn around to check, and since it seemed to be taking a while to recruit those two innocents, I raised my hand and was selected, as was my friend, Judy.

As we walked to the front, I asked Pastor Pete if we would have to do anything athletic for this ice breaker.  “No.”  Well, at least that was a relief!

He produced two additional Wal-Mart bags, which we were to tie onto our respective heads, enclosing as much of our hair as possible.  We did that, with the help of a couple of the youth, who snugged the bags on to our heads and squished out as much of the poofy air as possible.  Pastor Pete them produced two cans of whipped cream.  After aiming a significantly-sized squirt into his own mouth to confirm the quality thereof, he handed the cans to Abi and Jerry (his youth assistants), who then squirted whipped cream all over our heads.  It felt pretty good.

Then Abi and Jerry were handed bags of cheetos (puffy, not crunchy), which they would be tossing at us from some ten feet away.  The goal was to see which of us could catch the most cheetos on our cream covered craniums.  This was clearly going to be fun!

It should be noted here that our sanctuary was recently re-carpeted, and we are all quite fond of that carpet.  We have been FIRMLY instructed to NEVER slide anything (chairs, tables, small children) on the carpet, lest we snag, mark, or otherwise damage it, so when Pastor Pete’s wife saw him pull out the whipped cream, she called out, “That’s oily!  You need a drop cloth!”  He didn’t feel as deeply about that matter as she did, but she ran to get a tarp.  In the meantime. . .

Jerry began tossing cheetos at my head.  Now, I had assumed that the key to success would lie in successfully accommodating the angle of descent.  If the cheeto were coming in primarily vertically, it seemed to me it would land in the thicker cream on top (and thus stick), but if it came in primarily horizontally, it might tend to bounce off the thinner side cream.  Hence I was chose to step forward and back and do knee bends and neck scoops, in a constant attempt to get under the incoming missiles. Judy, on the other hand, closed her eyes and stood still.

As the first cheeto, approached (while Pete’s wife was high-tailing it to the supply closet for a tarp), I observed its trajectory, bent my knees, scooped my neck, and heard the congregation gasp in horror as I dropped a huge blop of whipped cream onto the carpet in front of me.  Oh, boy!  What would Pastor Barb say?  I was in deep doo-doo now!  “Oh, well,” I figured.  “If I’ve already flopped a greasy stain on the carpet, how much worse can it get?”  Actually, quite a bit.  There were soon many plops of whipped cream to avoid stepping in.  There were also dozens of cheetos around our feet, so that I was soon doing what could only be described as, perhaps, an interpretive dance routine (?), in my attempt to avoid grinding those into the carpet, as well.  Honest, Pastor Barb, I really didn’t want turn the white stains into bright orange ones!

baghead

As you can see, I completely lost the competition, but we all had fun, and that was the point.  = )

P.S.  Pastor Pete scrubbed the whipped cream out of the carpet while Judy and I were cleaning up in the ladies room.  He also vacuumed up all the stray cheetos, and the only thing left for me to do after church was return the still-folded blue tarp to its rightful station in the supply closet.

Surprise call

After Jessica moved to Hong Kong, we “gave” Andrew my old cell phone and her SIM card.  The phone is not for general, all-day use, but only when he is gone somewhere and needs to be able to call us to arrange transportation.  With play practice four or five nights a week, beginning at either 6 PM or 7 PM and ending whenever they happen to get done, and with his Friday homeschool classes and his Tuesday choir and drama classes, he has the phone a lot.

So this morning, while I was doing some preliminary desk work – and while I noted that Andrew had overslept – my phone rang and the screen said “Jessica.”  I figured that it was Andrew’s phone calling me for some reason.  Maybe he had set a reminder or something.  I knew he was in his room and I wondered A) why he didn’t just come talk to me, and B) why he had the phone in his room when it’s supposed to stay on the charger in the office when it’s not in use.

I answered the phone, pretty much expecting Andrew to say something, but imagine my delight when it really was Jessica!  Calling me!!!  It was 10:45 PM for her, and there was a lot of background noise.  Turns out she had gone to a life group (they call it house church) associated with the church she’s now attending, and it’s a good 45 minutes away, and she was just getting on the subway to head home.  We talked about whatever for maybe 15 minutes.  It was great to hear her voice.  I miss her and wish I could hug her.

Next time I will remember that when my phone says Jessica, it really is.   = )

New labor statistic

I learned on Monday that 80% of the people in western Taney County work either for a bank or for the government; “the government” referring to any level of such, and including, for example, the postal service (federal), public schools (municipal and/or county), and the highway department (state).

I was surprised to learn of this statistic, as I have always thought that the majority of jobs are (should that be “is,” Mom, since “majority” is singular?  Or is it plural. . . ?) held by the private sector.  However, I now have absolute proof that this is not the case.

I walk every morning, and I know local traffic.  I know which cars tend to go by when in which direction on which days.  I know which vehicles tend to give me a wide berth and which ones seem to want to side-swipe me.  I know which drivers will wave to me (or honk, or flash their lights) and at what time, within two of three minutes, they will pass me.  I also know that on Sundays there is very little traffic.  Sundays are my favorite days to walk, because it’s so peaceful then.  In fact, sometimes I can do my whole Sunday morning walk and only have a total of three or four cars pass me – from either direction!

Given all that, I was really shocked that on this past Monday, which was the legal holiday in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., traffic was comparable to a Sunday.  Of course, I knew that the three school buses wouldn’t go by, and I knew that the Methodist pastor’s wife from Forsyth who works as a special needs wrap-around at a school in Highlandville wouldn’t wave to me, but I had NO IDEA that the road would be virtually deserted.

As far as I know, the banks were closed and government offices and entities were closed, but all other businesses were open for business as usual.  All I can figure is that banks and the government employ most of the people.

Can this really be true?!?

A little friendly competition

Who wins when the driver’s door of a 2004 Dodge Durango competes with the middle finger of a human’s right hand?

Please rest assured that the finger loses.

Our lovely Da Luo Ban was parked in the gravel lot uphill from the Rendezvous last Friday night, when we left to drive home.  It was dark at 10 PM, and DLB had been (very neatly, if I do say so myself) backed into its spot.  Because of the steep grade, he was leaning significantly downhill to the right.

I approached the vehicle, tired and carrying some stuff.  I unlocked the door using the remote, because we all know that if you put the key of your very own Durango into the door lock and turn it, an alarm will go off that is loud enough to wake the dead, and in that moment of panic, no matter which combination of buttons you press in which order, it will NOT shut up!

I opened the door with my left hand, but not far enough to make it stay open.  Due to the sideways slope, gravity took over, and as the door gained momentum toward closing, my brain obviously completely ceased functioning for a few seconds.  I reached with the middle three fingers of my right hand to grab the door and pull it back open, but my fingers were clearly no match for a 150-pound door on its way downhill.  While I watched in the dark (here, in the dark?), the door closed completely to the point of latching, with my third finger inside.

I remember watching our kids get hurt when they were little.  The sudden injury would occur, there would be about a second and-a-half of blessed silence, and then the child would commence screaming.  As an observer, this makes for a very interesting little study in nerve conduction and the time involved for signals to go to the brain, be processed, and return to the scene of the crime – but it’s frankly much less interesting if you are the one being injured.

I saw the door close, heard it latch shut, and attempted to pull back my hand, all in a fraction of a second.  The attempt was an utter failure.  The hand moved not at all, I panicked, and the scream came forth. “OWWWWWW!!!!  ACH!!!  IT HURTS!!!!!!!”  I managed to open the door with my left hand and extricate the right one.  I couldn’t see the injury in the dark (would you, could you in the dark?), but I held my right hand with my left, moaning over and over to Scott that it did hurt; yes, it really, really did hurt a whole heckuva lot; OUCH!

We had to drive to the car repair place in two cars to drop the oil-leaking Honda for repairs, so I got in DLB and tried to get things ready to go using only my left hand.  Not so very easy, but I got the car in gear and headed out, finally no longer seeing blue bolts of electricity in my eyes, but with my finger in a great deal of pain.  As we headed down out of the development, I guess we passed under a street light or something, because I saw blood dripping from my hand.  I knew it was smashed, but I hadn’t realized it was bleeding.

It was bleeding and I couldn’t do anything about it or even reach the Kleenex to try to staunch the flow.  There are very few features of this car that are not wonderful, but having nowhere in the front seat to put Kleenex is a minor inconvenience – or a major inconvenience when you close your finger in the door.  I then tried to drive and wrestle out my phone and call Scott (all with my left hand, and trying not to cry) to see if he had any band-aids.  He did not.

It was a long, uncomfortable drive to the car repair and then home, but we made it.  I cleaned the wound, bandaged it, and went to bed.  It throbbed when down for a couple days, but it is healing quickly now.  The little beast hurt so much initially that I feared it might be broken, but praise God is it not.  Right at the first knuckle, there’s this cut on the outside and a short, black stripe on the inside.  That knuckle is not too keen on bending, so I have not been forcing the issue.  I can type, but I am making even more typos than usual.

In any case, I do not intend to compete with car doors again any time soon!

Folded, spindled, and mutilated

I have heard the above phrase, or something very like it, for about as long as I can remember.  My activities today reminded me of that phrase, so I looked it up online.  Oh, I DO remember when, if one wanted information about something, one either looked it up in the dictionary, looked it up in the handy dandy Compton’s encyclopedia, or to the library to look it up more thoroughly.  Now one simply types it into the box at the top of the screen, and in a couple seconds, up pops more than you could ever possibly want to know about it.

According to TheFreeDictionary.com, “Do not fold, spindle, or mutilate” [refers] to a once-standard line printed on machine-readable documents, such as computer punch cards. (Such a document, if folded, placed on a bill spike, or otherwise punctured, would no longer be machine-readable.)”

Actually, I am pretty sure that today I folded – but hopefully did NOT spindle or mutilate – my brain!  We are preparing for a life group leaders retreat this weekend, and there are a LOT of documents and forms that need to be distributed (and commented upon) to the fifteen life group leaders.  Scott had given me a list of all the paperwork to be printed, and I did verily print it all; mostly, but not entirely on three-hole paper.

I think when all was said and done there was a total of – wait let me take off my socks! – 17 sheets of paper for each attendee, except that four of them also got an additional page, and I did make up one full extra set, just in case.  Scott wanted them in packets to hand out, with the sheets in a certain order.  He wanted his two certain pages first, then all “my” stuff, in any order I saw fit, and his final sheet at the back.  Well, that plus there were two lessons (printed front-back) and one other sheet of his that he hadn’t told me where to put.

As the morning progressed, I bounced between making sloppy joes and baked beans in the kitchen, dusting and sweeping upstairs, making copies (on either three-hole paper fed normally, three-hole paper fed backwards for landscape-oriented documents, or regular paper), writing get well and sympathy cards, and cleaning our bathroom.  As each new set of forms came off the printer, I transported it downstairs to a place of honor on the dining room table.  I told Andrew this was important stuff and to NOT move it or spill anything on it.  He was a good guy and complied with my command.

By mid-afternoon, I was ready to start making packets, and now I know how valuable those little rubber thumb covers are that secretaries sometimes wear.  Having come up with an order that I thought they all should go, I marched around the table, licking my dry fingers and pulling up page after page after page into neat stacks, each of which involved both and interior (for “my” stuff) and an exterior paper clip.

Once all that was done, my back was a bit sore – but not too bad – and all I had left was to update my own notebook and prepare notebooks for our three new leaders.  The old leaders will bring their notebooks to the retreat and update them there.  Here’s the maddening thing about the notebooks.  They are 1/2 inch white “view” binders.  In the front, a colorful title sheet is dropped in and that is no big deal.  But then there are the spines.  O, Sweet Georgia Peaches, those spines!  I had told Scott a few days ago that I would do whatever he wanted on this seminar prep stuff, but I was absolutely NOT going to deal with those spines!

They are narrow – duh! – and the spine labels, although of cardstock, are devilishly difficult to shove down into the slot.  Unlike the front cover where there is some “give,” the clear plastic over the spines is tight as a drum and no matter how hard you try, when you try to wedge an eight-inch piece of skinny cardstock down in there, the last three inches has a consistent tendency to buckle.  Sigh.  Well, I had told The Man that that part would have to be done by someone else!  I was at least relieved of that duty.

Till I got an email from Scott a couple days ago that listed the ways in which I could help him with retreat prep, including “Update, print and cut new spines for all the leaders (not just the new ones).”

Yeah, right.

But I’m trying to serve where I can, with a good attitude, so I replied, “A little frustrating since I told you this is one thing I am NOT going to do, but I will work on it.”

To which he said, “I did not remember you saying you would not do this.  Please remove this one from your list.”  Sometimes I think short-term memory deficit could be an advantage. . .

But I decided I should do it, so I updated the names and dates on all of them.  Easy.  Then I sliced them apart, WITHOUT chopping off my left index finger 15 times!  Considerably more difficult.  And today, I began the joyfulness of inserting them into the four notebooks I have access to here at the house.  I wiggled and squiggled them and gently eased them, and talked lovingly to them, and I managed to get three of them in with only one virtually invisible wrinkle.  Hallelujah!  But then I stared at my own notebook.  Horror of horrors, it still had last year’s spine in it, and some FOOL had shoved the spine all the way down, so that the end of the cardstock was a fraction of a millimeter lower than the edge of the clear plastic enclosing it.  Now what to do?!?!?

Thankfully, God does bring all things to our remembrance – or is that only things that Jesus said?  Well, in my case, all things included tweezers.  I keep two pairs of tweezers in my lap drawer for the express purpose of splinter removal, but it occurred to me that they would also work for spine surgery.  With effort, I was eventually able to wedge one point of the tweezers [or is one end of the tweezers a tweezer, singular?] between the cardstock and the clear plastic, and then, applying steady pressure down against the spine, drag the beastly spine slowly out of its tomb. Aha!  After that, I inched the new spine in, and voila!, the whole enchilada was DONE.

Now, if I’m allowed to vote, I vote that next year, instead of, for example, “Life Groups 2013 – Patty Roberts,” the spines simply say, “Life Groups – Patty Roberts” and we use them that way forever.


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