Archive for April, 2016

32 C’s and 7 A’s

It’s really a lot better than it sounds. Today Andrew had his annual guild audition in Springfield. It’s something like a final exam for piano. He works the whole school year on a variety of skills and pieces, and then in May he goes before a judge who evaluates him. This year, he did what’s called a ten-point program, meaning that he played eight pieces from memory and was further tested on the two areas of cadences/chords/scales and ear training.

C = “Commendable”, and A = “Needs Attention,” so his scores were outstanding. Although he faltered a bit on the ear training, the comments the judge wrote about his playing were truly glowing. I was so proud of his effort and his accomplishment! We later met Josiah and ate at Fazoli’s to celebrate. Siri said, “finding directions to FAZZ-uh-leez.”  = )

Simple pleasure

I help with some of the bookkeeping in our church’s office. My part takes about an hour to do, and it’s one of those boring, mundane, repetitive tasks that most people dread and try to avoid, but which I totally enjoy and gravitate toward. Our pastor recently hired a super-WONDERFUL assistant, and one of my tasks is to train her to do the bookkeeping I’ve been handling. The procedure is complex and not especially intuitive, so I’ve been working on documenting the entire process in such detail that someone who has never done it before could follow along and do it. It took me three hours to complete my four-page “cheat sheet,” what with using one computer to perform each individual step and then using another computer to write down exactly how to do that step, but now it’s FINISHED(!!!), and I’m so jazzed. I think it’s going to be quite useful, and that is really exciting to me.

I remember when I was working in the TV department of a church the year before Katie was born. We had just put a Christian TV station on the air, and I was responsible for “traffic,” the coordinating of all the incoming and outgoing videotapes and the scheduling and organizing of all our satellite recordings. I spent months designing and improving our system, and once I had most of the kinks worked out, I documented it all in a series of color-coded three-ring binders. (This was back in the day of handwriting on notebook paper.) Several years after I resigned my job to stay home with our oldest, the church purchased a computer – a totally novel idea! – and the TV department guys set up a system on the computer to handle the traffic, but they told me that the logic they used was exactly what I had worked so hard to perfect and document.

It’s very interesting to me that a quarter century later I’m still energized by doing the same kind of work.

Jeopardy question: What is 17 + 2?

Answer: The number of bank accounts for which we (and/or our children) currently have responsibility. That would be 17 at our old standby favorite bank, and two a different bank, about which bank the only thing I like is the cookies. They are, admittedly, VERY good cookies. But because we dislike everything but the cookies about that different bank, we will soon be closing one of our accounts there, and that will drop us back down to a mere 18, total. For folks who have had well over 30 credit cards, 18 bank accounts is probably a good fit.

I actually think Branson has entirely too many banks. Along a one-and a half mile stretch of Hwy 248, there are no fewer than SIX banks, which I can name off the top of my head.

~ Ozark Mountain Bank, (now called Central Bank of Branson), where we have 17 accounts

~ Branson Bank, where we have two accounts

~ The Bank of Missouri

~ First Community Bank of the Ozarks

~ Great Southern Bank

~ Hawthorn Bank

Downtown, we have:

~ Regions Bank

And looking online, I see several more scattered about our fair tourist destination:

~ Arvest Bank

~ Liberty Bank

~ US Bank

~ Academy Bank

~ Commerce Bank

We have banks for Branson, for the Ozarks, for Missouri, for the region(s), and for the United States!

We evidently have banks for freedom, for education, and for business.

We have a bank for a tree and a bank for who-knows-what. (What does Arvest mean, anyway?)

In short, we have a plethora of banks, but I am partial to Ozark Mountain, where they know me by name (and by vehicle), where they gave my kids suckers for years and years, where their drive-thru can easily handle my five or six transactions at a time (including giving me my cash back in any form I request AND writing the account name on each receipt!), where with advance notice, they will collect brand-new 100s to cash my check for overseas trips, where they’ll transfer money between accounts for me over the phone, where the tellers and personal bankers are cheerful and actually glad to see me, where they sincerely value our business and treat me like a valued friend. I like that in my bank! And that’s worth much more to me than a soft chewy chocolate chip cookie with a lot of stress.

Adding some culture to my life

I do like me a symphony. Saturday night Scott and I were given free tickets to the Springfield Symphony, and we went. Then tonight, the C of O Orchestra did a concert at First Presbyterian, and I went. Lest I had had any doubt, I do very much enjoy witnessing a bunch of people playing a fascinating assortment of instruments in such a way as to make great music.

I also confirmed that I only like tonal, harmonic music, generally of the Baroque, Classical, or possibly Romantic period. I can almost totally skip the Medieval, Renaissance, and 20th Century stuff without any significant sensation of loss or regret.

Why do they?

I’m thinking of starting a collection of sorts. It may become a new tab on my blog. It would be called “Why do they?” and I’m thinking its first entry will be something like this.

Why do they package band-aids in such a way that it is impossible to extricate one when you need it? What body part is most likely to need a band-aid suddenly? A finger, of course. But when one’s finger is bleeding all over the place, and you have to access a band-aid with something less than two full hands, (A) you can’t separate the two little paper tabs to even get to the thing, (B) once you do get the paper off – probably by biting, ripping, and/or saying words that are not fit to print – you can’t peel back the little waxed paper tabs, and (C) should you ever get those waxed paper tabs out of the way, you can’t lay the band-aid down flat because it will stick to your finger. . . so you will have to hold it down with some other body part in order to lift your finger. . . but then with the band-aid stuck to your other body part, you will have to use your free (hopefully not bleeding) finger to get it off your other body part. . . and this process will continue ad infinitum while your sliced finger bleeds all over Kingdom Come!

Really, who designs this stuff? Because really, who ever casually goes to the band-aid box with both hands and all ten fingers free just because it occurs to them that today would be a nice day to leisurely apply a band-aid to some portion of their body? “Not I,” said the Little Red Hen Perky Pelican.


I’m still standing. . .

. . . a chance, that is.

It was supposed to be family game night, but Josiah was up in his room talking on the (phone? computer?) with someone, and Andrew was gone to help with some setting-up of stuff for changes to our youth ministry, so Scott and I being the only family members available for gaming, we opted for Dominion Intrigue . . . for a change, you know.

I was assigned the task of picking the cards, and I initially chose to shuffle the randomizer cards and deal out the first. However, that was no good because the same blankety-blank ten cards that kept coming up last night came up again tonight. AARRGGHH! So I gave up that plan and instead laid out all the Intrigue randomizer cards and studied them carefully. I had time for such study because Scott had called from his desk 35 minutes ago to say that he “needed ten minutes.” I can understand that.

So I hand-picked a very carefully compiled selection of cards, designed both to appease Scott (lotsa plus actions) and to give me a chance to win (lotsa plus cards), while having just enough attack cards (only two) to keep things interesting. He did eventually come down, and we started the game around 8:30, but it turns out that he had to leave at 8:50 to be interviewed (audio only) by our friend, Jeramie, concerning his (Scott’s) experience in making his vacation rental business more profitable. Meaning that we had to stop playing in the middle of the game!! No fair!! Whine, whine!! While I had a chance of winning!!

But we left the piles of cards set up on the dining room table, and although our calendar looks like we won’t be able to resume the game until four days from now on Friday evening – and we’ll surely need to use the table for a meal before then, but if we sit creatively at the far end of the table we might be able to leave the game undisturbed, hmmm. . . – I’m planning to make a list of these cards, so that whoever wins, I can remember whether or not this will be a good set to use in a future game.

Pots and more pots

I feel a little like the woman to whom Elisha said, “Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.” 

It’s time to make the donuts plant the tomatoes, and that requires pots. Over the past few years, I have amassed a nice collection of cheap-o Wal-Mart 15″ plastic pots. I take off the bottom saucer (useless in my situation), put a small rock in the pot over each drain hole (yes, this means collecting some hundred pieces of gravel), arrange three small pieces of wood on the sidewalk to provide some elevation for water to drain, place the pot on the pieces of wood, and fill it with potting soil.

The issue is the pots. They are, as mentioned above, cheap plastic, which is perfectly fine for tomatoes, none of whom gives a rip about his or her personal appearance. But (and despite my repeated admonitions) when Andrew weed-eats the yard and goes around the pots, the torque of the twine is sufficient to whack holes in the pots. Small holes are not a big deal, but when they become inches long and an inch wide, the water I put in from the top runs out the hole(s) before the soil becomes saturated. Rather frustrating.

So this year, I sorted the pots into three groups: intact, holey but usable, and too holey to use (a.k.a. “holier than thou”). And combining the first  two groups, I had six pots, but I had twelve tomato plants to go in those pots, and they really need to be one plant to a pot. Actually, I HAD had 24 tomato plants because when I planted the seeds two to a peat pellet to insure that each pellet would have at least one plant, every single seed sprouted! So I gave half the plants to my friend, Judy, but to accommodate the twelve plants I have left (and that doesn’t count the six Big Beef plants that will go in the side yard barrels), I needed six more pots.

I went to Wal-Mart this morning and got six more pots for a little under $7 each (good price), brought them home, and then thought, “But do I really need to plant 18 tomato plants?!? Especially when I decided last year that about 10 plants was enough for the three of us, and 12 is enough to be able to give some away?”

But we will be having a number of guests this summer, what with a WEDDING and all(!!!), and we don’t know yet about Scott’s work, and I definitely want to keep Pastor Barb stocked (she really likes my homegrown tomatoes), and if I have too many I might be able to sell some (but do I really want to hassle with that? and who would buy them? etc.), so I finally decided to use only four of the new pots and maybe double up some of the plants or maybe give more to Judy, and oh, I will be ever so glad when the decisions have been made and the plants are planted and I don’t have to think about all this stuff!

I just want to get to that so very fun “water and cage and look for the first blossoms” stage.

But until then, I’ve got pots, even empty pots, and not a few.



It’s been a rather emotionally intense weekend, and this being our first free Sunday evening since mid-January, at 6:30 PM, Scott wanted to so something that did not involve work, church, vacation rental, or anything else that could possibly fall into the realm of responsibility and/or stress. He suggested cuppers.

We haven’t played cuppers in probably over a year, simply because we’ve been on a cornhole kick of late. So Scott set up the boards between the house and the bird feeder and proceeded to win both games handily. I suspect his victories could be attributed to the fact that the carpet on the boards is in terrible shape, both at the front edge from having been hit so many times over the years and on the actual surface, as a result of either our (mostly Scott’s) many divots or perhaps the work of certain members of the order Rodentia who have been known to co-habit with the cuppers boards in the smokehouse. But in any case, he won, even though once in each game I cupped on top of him.

The guys being gone to Springfield for Josiah to check out some possible temporary lodging situations (renting a room from someone for a couple months while waiting for his preferred apartment to come available), we ate a simple supper of leftover sloppy joes, and then Scott challenged me to the “Intrigue” version of Dominion. We’ve played Dominion Intrigue quite a few times, and I have won consistently – much to my delight and Scott’s chagrin.  = )  I picked a randomized set of cards that ended up being terrible and in a very quick game, he won. We then played a second randomized game of his choosing, and he won by a much greater margin. Grrrr.

He is happy to have won all four games, and I, the generally less competitive member of our duo (though I do really like to win at Dominion) am happy that he is happy.

Officially motivated

We helped a family move today. Well, we really just helped load and unload a small trailer-full of boxes. They closed on their new house (they’re moving to Walnut Shade!) yesterday and started painting and transporting boxes, in preparation for the full move of furniture and everything else in the coming days.

This family has a heckuva lot of stuff, and that made me think about our my stuff. I have a lot of stuff, too, but a good portion of my stuff is either:

a) seldom or never used

b) poorly or not at all organized

c) no longer meaningful to me

d) redundant and/or unnecessary

I think it’s hard for me to accept the fact that lots of things have seasons, and that they don’t last (or even should last) forever; things like stuff, of course, but also preferences, desires, plans, and even relationships. I seem to live in the camp where everything (stuff, preferences, desires, plans and relationships) must be maintained FOREVER. I’m not sure why that is, and I’m not sure how to move out of that camp, but I do know that I tend to be the world’s worst at hanging onto stuff that I don’t need, want, or even like, and for some very impressive (ha!) reasons like these:

a) _____ gave it to me, so I ought to keep it, because getting rid of it would mean I don’t care about _____’s feelings.

b) I may need it someday, and if I throw it out now and then later have to buy it again, that would be wasteful, or we might not have the money, or (and this really is the main one) it may no longer be available. Ugh..

c) Although it’s not meaningful to me, it may mean something to ______, so I should keep it at least until I can find out if _____ cares about it.

d) It doesn’t fit or look good on me and I never wear it, but we did spend money on it, so I should keep it.

e) Even though it doesn’t mean anything to me, it should!  I should care about it, so I should keep it.

But after seeing my friend’s house crammed FULL of stuff that I can’t imagine her family ever actually using, it occurred to my lightning fast mind that I really must start going through my stuff and getting rid of things that, well, simply need to be gotten rid of. Moreover, I’m getting the sense that this doesn’t apply only to blouses and papers and (gasp!) books and houseplants and leftover dishes. I suspect it also applies to weightier matters like time commitments and expectations (particularly those I place on myself) and maybe even some relationships. . .

Hebrews 12:2 does encourage command us to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and to run with endurance the race that is set before us. Maybe I could run (move, live) more effectively if I got rid of some of those sweaters I bought but never wear. Or some of those kitchen gadgets I have to keep moving to get to the few I actually use all the time. Or some of those performance assumptions that drag me down but have no basis in truth. . .

Wow. This is getting pretty heavy. I think I will lighten up and go wash some dishes.  = )

Menu de la soirée

We had a Life Group leaders meeting here with a potluck dinner. I am absolutely terrible at planning group meals, parties, and such like that. I always just tell folks “bring whatever you want and it will be fine.” I’m not good at the theme thing or figuring out what goes with what, and I never know how to answer the eternal “what do you still need?” question.

So I decided to make a main dish (Ham and Hash Brown Casserole), a big salad (Susie’s Sunshine Chicken Salad), and a dessert (Judy Daniel’s Peach Cobbler). Georgie said she’d bring deviled eggs (they have lots of chickens) and fruit. Terryl said she’d bring her wonderful rolls, and Jessica hadn’t said what she’d bring. I figured we’d be OK.

Terryl walked in with rolls and a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting. She was followed immediately by Jessica bearing an ultra-rich chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. This left us with one main dish, one salad and THREE desserts! No one complained about that. It was all quite tasty and no one left hungry.

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