Tuesday, December 27, 2005
So, I hope you all had merry Christmases. I had a marvelous day myself. We had breakfast over at Nate and Penny's- a sumptuous affair, let me tell you. I had to go lie down on the couch for a little while towards the end, I was so full...The guys topped off the morning by seeing who could throw leftover tater tots the farthest in the backyard. Penny and I joined in a couple of times. High hilarity. I guess it will have to become an annual ritual: the tossing of the tots. Nate referred to one mighty throw as, " The Tot heard 'Round the World." Ah, that Nate. Such a wit. Too bad he doesn't keep up with his own blog. He could have one of the most sought after blogs in all blogdom- but if he doesn't care to maintain it, I will be forced to report his unique witticisms for him.
In the afternoon, we traveled over to the Pass parents' house and did the whole stocking thing, gift thing, card games thing, and dinner thing there. Great fun was had by all. I got tons of cool loot and it was a really good family time of making a lot of wonderful memories.
It seems like the world has heaved a collective sigh now that Christmas is over for another year.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
For instance: if Karena, Liane, or I watch a movie, alone or with each other, we are bound to note, and remark aloud, that someone in the movie looks like someone else. They resemble someone famous, or someone we all know personally. This is a strange family trait, which never ceases to annoy certain other people, I think. I mean- I think it took our husbands a little while to get used to this. No one is themself. There is no unique, original person. Everyone reminds us of someone else. Or a mixture of several other people.
Today, in a vain effort to cheer me up from my strange eyeball debacle( see story below), Brad was showing me some clips from a video blog he found. It was amusing. Kind of a mild form of a Brendan Leonard type thing, if you know what I mean, but not as knee slappingly hilarious. It's this one guy, Josh Leo, a twenty-something student in Grand Rapids, MI doing things like strapping a camera to his head and showing you his world. Or talking to cows and sheep in Germany, asking if they had video blogs.
Brad commented that he looked like, or reminded him, of Brandon. Yes, he does look like Brandon! Remarkably so, in fact. My habit has rubbed off on Brad! He has caught on! I would say that he looks 75% like Brandon, about 3% like Tim Fulton and a few percent like another history major in my class at Saint A's- Ian Brown. Huh. Then we said that he looked a little like Wesley. Maybe 4% worth. And I also thought he reminded me a little tiny bit of Andrew. And then- another Aldrich came to mind: Ryan.
So I mentioned this to Brad- " He reminds me a little of Ryan Aldrich." "Brian Aldrich?" "No - RYAN." "Who's Ryan Aldrich?" "You know! The son of Floyd Aldrich!" "No! Who's Floyd Aldrich??" "He's a brother of Andy and Warren Aldrich..." ( Although, now that I think of it- is he really their brother or their cousin?) Brad still didn't believe me. He's like: " Yeah- and the brother of Hank and Phil Aldrich. Riiiiiight!" I laughed helplessly. Hank and Phil Aldrich! " You know-- Floyd and Anne..." "No!!" I almost started doubting their existance myself. Desperately, I struck again..." Do you remember Amy Aldrich?" "What? Who's Amy Aldrich?" "She's their daughter! She's blonde..." No- he doesn't know Amy Aldrich. How can you NOT know Amy Aldrich? He thinks I'm making all these people up! He doesn't believe in Floyd Aldrich! To say nothing of Ryan Aldrich- the guy who started this whole thing.
Help me! I need validation! Tell him this family really exists! It does! I feel a little bit like I'm in, " A Beautiful Mind." Have I been imagining this family all my life?
I was sitting around, relaxing in the evening, and my right eye itched. So I rubbed it. It itched more. I rubbed it more. For a while. It started to hurt. Up until this point, it was sort of an unconscious, absent- minded incident. I started to get a little annoyed. I got up and went into the bathroom and took out my contact, and I think I rubbed my eye a little more. It's all sort of a blur in my mind at this point. My eyelid started to swell up. I started getting scared and moaning. I cupped my hand, filled it with water and rinsed my eyeball repeatedly. My eyelid got bigger and bigger. It felt very strange. I started to freak out.
Brad didn't know what to do with me, poor thing. He helped me find a phone number to call a nurse. I resisted calling but eventually, I called the nurse help line, fighting panic, and trying not to cry on the phone... and after a little chat, she said I should see a doctor in the next twenty four hours. WHAT? No way am I going to go to a doctor on Christmas Eve! But I didn't tell her this. I was in very deep distress. She told me all sorts of stuff like, wash your hands a lot etc. WHAT? I'm already bordering on OCD with the whole washing of the hands thing. This freaked me out MORE. Even now as I write, my stomach is tensing up thinking about it. She said the doctor might prescribe some anti-biotic drops for me. YECH! What good would THAT do? I don't think I have an infection - I just irritated the daylights out of my eye. She said something about not sharing eye cosmetics! WHAT? Who do you think I am- some ignorant thirteen year old waif from the fourteenth century?? First of all, wearing ANY kind of eye makeup is just tempting fate. For Pete's sake, it's practically an invitation to fate, asking for something to make you cry and then you look all gooky and horrifying. Second of all, SHARING it? *shudder*
My eye looked like it was a Chernobyl survivor who had just gotten beaten up. ( Not me- just my right eye.) I could hardly see out of it. It was tearing up and everything. Gross. So I went to bed, hoping that it would clear up on its own. I slept in this morning...Every time I thought about waking up, I said to myself, " No- give the eye a little more time to rest." I didn't want to get up and look at it. But I did eventually. It looks a little better. Now I just look semi-freakish. It kinda feels like my eye got bathed in a small vat of egg white.
I hate wearing my glasses all the time- they are not up to my current prescription so I can't see very well...and this makes me feel enfeebled. The problem is, I haven't delivered my Christmas fudge gifts to all my neighbors yet- two of them were gone last night. NO WAY do I want to show up at their doors looking like this. Hi! Merry Christmas from your scarily deformed neighbor!
Now I'm trying to figure out if I have permanently ruined my right eye. I keep closing one eye, and looking at something with the other and then switching and trying to evaluate whether I can see better with my left than my right. The problem is, I can't remember which was the stronger eye BEFORE this happened. My Christmas is teetering on the brink of ruin. Christmas 2005- the Christmas of My Maiming.
Brad said something really comforting like, "You can make it on just one eye. Your depth perception will be all thrown off but..." I practically threw something at him. You know how they say that women marry men like their fathers? Uh huh. That's just like something Daddy would say, in a vain effort to try to cheer me up. " Yeah- so you lose an eye? No big deal. You'll just lurch around and never be the same." We'll see. Ahhhhrrgh! No pun intended!
Friday, December 23, 2005
This afternoon I'm going to make Brad's Famous Eggnog Fudge as a gift for some of our neighbors. I can't wait to taste test it! [Editor's note: This is Brad. Actually, I made it. After spending almost two hours searching for white chocolate chips. Target was out. CVS was out. Kroger saved the day. Now back to Claire.]
On a completely different note, all the hype about Christ being taken out of Christmas is getting to me. Yes- I KNOW it's wrong, it's outrageous, it's maddening, it's whatever. I know, I know, I KNOW! I know what's going on and what people's points/arguments/agendas are on both sides. But personally, the bottom line for me is: it's stupid. Nobody who KNOWS what Christmas is really all about is going to forget it- the traditions lie too deep for that. And people who DON'T know what it's all about- well, they must live under a rock...and saying "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" is not going to inform them of the true meaning of Christmas.
I mean- come ON! Does anybody besides Lowe's or Target refer to Christmas trees as Holiday trees? Do people really think that in the households of America, there is a great tide of change sweeping through the Everyman's vocabulary right now? I mean- are parents really going to say, "Okay, kids! It's time to decorate the....Holiday Tree!" or "Let's all gather round the Holiday Tree to open our presents!" ??? It sounds so lame! I guess I'm a little annoyed with everyone, whether it's those in the Merry camp, or the Happy camp. Good grief. Calm down, everyone. Nobody can change what Christmas is- no matter how big they are or what they do. It's like trying to call the sky the Whatsit. Nope- it's still the sky. No matter what anyone says. I'm sick of all the hype. Jesus was born as a human being to save you. Period. Accept it and be grateful and shut up! There- you just celebrated Christmas.
To continue in the same paranoid vein of thinking that is driving me cah-razy: next thing you know- we won't be able to say Valentine's Day because Mr. Valentine was a saint -- OOO! OO! Religious connotations! A saint! We'll have to call it Love Day or Heart Day or something. Same thing with Saint Patrick's Day: it will become Four Leaf Clover Day. And then Easter will have to become Spring Day or Bunny Day or Warm Fuzzy Day...and so on...Rargh. If people really want dumbed-down, meaningless holidays, they can have them but don't inflict the hysteria on me, please.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Yesterday, Penny, Pari, and Joshua came over and we all made gingerbread houses! Well- Joshua's was more of a graham cracker cube with a few peices of candy attached in random spots... This was the first gingerbread house that Pari or I had ever made. ( Ahem...We won't count last year's debacle....Liane and I tried to make one but we were pretty inexperienced and it was fairly ramshackle, to put it kindly. We had a great and hilarious time but it was not a thing of beauty that we produced.) So...that was fun! I'll try to post some pictures of our fabulous creations at some point, with Brad's help. We also decorated cookies! However, I ate so much candy in the process that I felt sort of woozy and coma-like. I wasn't much good for anything after that, although I did give another guitar lesson...
Today, I went on an excursion to...you'll NEVER guess where...A Ford plant! The Adams' family invited me to come along with them and several other people to tour the facility as part of a homeschool field trip. We had about sixteen (?) people in our group and the tour took over an hour, I think. It was pretty interesting, a little bewildering, very noisy, and sometimes smelly. We all wore these little radios w/ear pieces which corresponded to a mike that the tour leader was wearing so we could hear him all the time. We saw Ford Taurus sedans in the various stages of evolution, ranging from the steel frames to the finished product, and many points in between. We saw doors going on, engines going in, wheels going on, dashboards going in, windshields installed, tests being done...I just never thought about all the parts that go into making a car! It was pretty incredible! The plant produces around seventy something cars an hour. The tour guide told us that this facility may have to be closed down soon b/c Ford is in such bad shape.
This experience was fascinating; I sometimes wonder how things are made, and wish I could see them in production. It was really neat to be able to satisfy this curious part of me.
And tomorrow, I'm off to jail again and after that, I'm going Christmas caroling. What an interesting life.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Also - an update on my friend Alice - the one in jail. I meant to post about this earlier in the week but it's been fairly busy around here lately! I went to visit her on Wednesday and she seemed totally different- no more tears. She was much more positive and I was really encouraged. Dennis gave me a copy of The Message ( a modern version of the Bible) to give to her and she was very appreciative. She seems very open to the things of God and said she goes to all the services that are held in the facility. She even mentioned the fact that she's aware that the devil wants to discourage her. Huh! I guess she knows even more than I thought!
She described a little bit of what jail life is like- enough for me to decide that I don't want to go to jail.
Since the last time I had seen her, some Baptist ladies came in to hold a Wednesday night meeting for the women inmates and encouraged them to get together in small groups to pray and support each other. Alice thought that no one would want to do this in her dorm.
( Apparently she is not in the typical jail cell- where she is, it's more like an open ward. There are cells but apparently those are for inmates with more serious offenses or who have demonstrated bad behavior.) But that Friday night in her dorm, she noticed a group of women gathered around a table singing out of a hymn book, and she asked if she could join them. They said yes and every night since then, they have met at 9:00 to sing, and pray for each other! Last week when I talked to her, she had said something to the effect that the atmosphere was pretty awful and that it was kind of a dog-eat-dog kind of place. She was disappointed because she thought that everybody should be helping each other, seeing as how they were all in the same boat. I didn't want to say anything that would come across as too cynical, but I remember thinking that I wasn't surprised. I mean, A) it's a jail, not exactly a hotbed of selfless altruism, and B) that's just base, unredeemed human nature for you: Look out for Number One. So anyway- that conversation last week served to emphasize that this development is all the more amazing.
That was so encouraging to me; things like this are happening all over the world - God is at work in millions of lives and we never hear about it. I was so happy to get a glimpse of a hidden miracle. It is such an obscure situation and but for Dennis inviting me to the jail, I never would have had any idea of how God is at work there. Be amazed again, my friends- this is just a small representation of the kind of thing the Holy Spirit is doing all the time.
Okay- I'm off to go see that picture of Drew again!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
We played a couple of games, including one where the contestants, who have their eyes closed, have to transfer six cotton balls from one bowl to another bowl using only a spoon- no hands allowed. It was pretty funny to watch them often carefully spooning thin air from one bowl to another. The winner was my own mother-in-law! The other game was a contest to see who could correctly identify six baby foods ( the ones you buy in little jars- not the kinds you mix up yourself) by sight and smell alone. ( The labels were covered up.) ( I did allow tasting on one.) The winner in this case was Sarah Aldrich with five correct answers.
Well, by the time everyone had gone and the house was- mostly- cleaned up, I was pretty beat. After a siesta of sorts, I went out to get the mail and encountered my neighbors- Clay's family. Another guitar lesson is in the works for tomorrow night ( Thurs) and I am looking forward to it. The mom, who stays at home, was commenting on the fact that she noticed me outside that morning in SHORT SLEEVES sweeping leaves off the driveway. It was fairly chilly- in the thirties or forties- but I was on a roll, going a bazillion miles an hour trying to accomplish everything before people came for the shower... and I didn't want to stop and get my coat...This woman seemed stunned that I could do this and proclaimed, "You KNOW you're a Northerner when it's this cold outside and you're in short sleeves!" A Yankee set on a hill cannot be hid.
(When she asked if I was sensitive to the cold, I said yes...But I guess my Northern-ness was still confirmed by the fact that I was scrambling around in a frenzy. I can't escape my identity.)
She also said she'd noticed that I had a lot of ladies over and said, " I wondered if you were having a luncheon or a Bible study or something..." and I told her all about the shower etc. and we had a really nice chat. She is a very kind, personable lady. She offered to loan me some of their china if I ever held another function in my home again! Wow. I don't think I'd ever take her up on it because, knowing my luck, I'd probably break something...but, it was incredibly nice of her to offer. Anyway- the whole conversation just made me chuckle. This neighborhood is full of stay at home Moms and apparently not a sparrow falls, not an insect moves, not a hair of my head falls to the ground, but it's noticed by someone around here! It almost tempts me to go outside and do something REALLY crazy, just to see what the reaction would be...
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Here are a couple thought provoking quotes from "The Rosemary Tree" that I enjoyed. I love having these little gems of truth hit me between the eyes.
“ She stood by the window, looking at the day with astonished recognition, as though she had not seen an English spring for twenty years. John thought that possibly she hadn’t. Beauty awakened such intolerable longing that people often shut their eyes to it, unaware that the longing was the greatest treasure that they had, their very lifeline, uniting the country of their lost innocence with the heavenly country for which their sails were set. He dared not move or speak while she took hold of her lifeline again.”
“ ‘The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.’ That was the artist’s problem as well as the man’s. Progress in evil was quick and easy; Apollyon was not a chap who hid himself and he gave every assistance in his power. The growth in goodness was so slow, at times so flat, so dull, and like the White Queen one had to run so fast to stay where one was, let alone progress; and there were few men who dared to say they had found God. It was easy to be a clever sinner, for the race to an earthly visible goal was short to run, so impossibly hard to be a wise saint, with the goal set at so vast a distance from this world and clouded with such uncertainty. Patience with the apparent hopelessness of spiritual growth was the man’s task, patience with breaking chalks and the smudgy drawing was the artist’s. And for both the grim struggle of faith. …Did such men as John, and the old man…at times lose their faith that an hour spent in mental prayer was not a shocking waste of time?”
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Then I zoomed off to the Rockdale County Jail where I met up with "Deputy Pass" who introduced me to...let's call her Alice. Wow. The poor girl was in tears most of the time- not sobbing or anything- just a tear here and there trickling down regularly through the half hour that we talked. What a tale of woe. This girl is only seventeen and already, she's been through more difficulty than most of us ever experience. Her family has basically rejected her, and she's been on her own for a couple years- working jobs under the table, staying with this person and that person...with no real support system. I don't think she's been to school since she was fourteen. Now- she didn't blame her family for where she is; she admitted that what she did was wrong but I guess this is the first time she has gotten into trouble and it's knocked her for a loop. She really reminded me of a lot of the girls at the Shelter...the plucked eyebrows starting to grow back again and all. How many hundreds of thousands of girls does she represent? Hopeless, alone, scared. She doesn't know when her court date is or when she is getting out of jail. She said she was really thankful for Deputy Pass, because he is the only one who is kind to her. She has been in jail for two months and has had only two visits from a former roommate. She has yet to lay eyes on her public defender.
For those of you interested- yes- our visit did take place in a room where we were separated by glass and had to talk over a phone. Just like the movies. Weird. Surreal.
I hope to go again next week and bring her some things. Dennis gave me a list of things that are allowed, among which are religious books, thank goodness. Apparently the prison library is full of trashy romances but if it's not educational or religious, I can't bring her any reading material. Hmmmm....educational and religious could be stretched kinda far...Apparently she has had some sort of religious experiences in the past- at least some church attendance and she seemed to be fairly open in that area...so that's a help. At least I'm not starting from total scratch. I told her that God loves her, that He cares passionately about her- I hope it didn't come off as weird or trite. I did get a little tongue tied at one point...I mean- WHAT do you say? Rather - how/where do you start? Her misery almost paralyzed me. But today was a start. Please pray for her. She needs some REAL HELP. I told her I would pray for her but imagine if everyone who reads this blog prays for her- how much more the good will be multiplied.
I have SO much compared to this girl. I almost feel guilty for having such a good life. Why do some people get born into supportive, loving families that point you towards God and some get born into a family of losers?
Sunday, December 04, 2005
And the teaching wasn't all one sided. He showed me how if you play the bottom three strings open, it sounds just like the ending to the Dr. Phil Show. I didn't have the heart to tell him that it didn't really sound like the end of the Dr. Phil Show...But I think it might be the same notes- just backwards. ANYWAY- I just appeared enchanted and said I couldn't wait to show Mr. Brad.
He also noticed that the chords for E and A sounded like they were from The Mask of Zorro. He's totally right! When played one after the other, they DO sound like they could be part of the sound track to some sword fighting scene. Is this kid amazing or what? He's picking out chords and sounds and placing them in other songs he already knows. I thought that was unusually insightful for a child that age...
He was here for about an hour and I thought he might stay all afternoon as he seemed to have no end of stories to tell and useful information to pass on...but I tactfully mentioned that I hadn't had any lunch yet and suggested he go show his parents what he had learned. What a cherub!
Hopefully, Clay is coming back on Thursday, to coincide with another Grandpa visit. On the way home from church today, Grandpa was still talking about him, so great was the charm which Clay manifested on his last visit.
Friday, December 02, 2005
So I lifted up my lid, and, lo, it was not there either. PANIC welled up within my stomach. I realized with horror that the contact had slid back, back, waaaay baaaack...BEHIND my eyeball! I had heard of this happening but never realized it could happen to me! Brad was already gone to work so I had no one on which to vent my fear. I blinked furiously for moments on end. I rubbed my eye socket. I prayed. I got down on the floor in my closet and put my head down as if I was going to turn a somersalt, in a fruitless attempt to enlist the aid of gravity. I looked on the bathroom counter to see if I might possibly have dropped the stupid thing by mistake. To no avail. Nothing helped. I was getting really panicky now. I couldn't just walk around with a contact trapped behind my eyeball all day! I had things to do! A Christmas tree to buy! A house to decorate! Other important stuff...too...
What would the eye doctor tell me to do that I wasn't already doing? Would I have to have surgery for this? Would the contact rub against nerves...? Nerves connected to my brain????!!! Could I...gasp... GO BLIND? " Did you hear what happened to Claire? Such a sad story..." I popped my right contact back into my eye, the better to see my left eye...and lo, I caught sight of a small blue thing on the floor- my left contact. How had it gotten THERE? I began to cry. Saved from blindness! Great was my gratitude. And my feeling of profound stupidity.
I told this story to Penny who almost couldn't bear to hear it. She, like me, has a deep seated aversion to stories about eyes, especially painful stories...and she says that people are always saying, " Is Claire around?" when they tell these gross stories, and she does not want to burst their bubble, but SHE can't stand them as well! So be thoughtful. Include Penny in your disclaimers about gross eye stories. And Pen, be forewarned- the next time you see Jeff Demme, he is going to approach you with an evil gleaming smile, knowing your weakness in this area, and pretend to jab a fork in his eyeball.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I'm also working on some "window treatments" for the living room. Basically they're just thin panels of a red material draped over some hooks...Okay, I stink at describing them. I'll have to get some pictures up when it's all done. Brad kindly installed the hardware very willingly and in a timely fashion. With some tweaking, it should look fairly satisfactory soon. Right now I can't even look at them without going into conniptions because something's not quite right with how they're hanging and I don't have the energy to deal with it right now.
I made a little Christmas topiary which I was actually pretty excited about...but Brad says that it looks like something out of Dr. Seuss (he says it is like a car wreck - so horrid that you can't keep your eyes off of it), so I have banished it to the laundry room, where I catch occasional fleeting glimpses of it, as it sits forlornly on the dryer. Sigh. Such a waste.
This evening, a couple of the kids- a brother and sister about 9 and 6 respectively- from next door came by to say hi and I invited them in...partly because Grandpa was here and I know he loves kids and partly because, well, it just seemed the thing to do, and I wasn't thinking. Well, they came in and we were having a great old time, and suddenly their mother showed up on our doorstep, not too happy about them not telling her where they were going, and swooped them away. I felt really bad. These neighbors are nice people and have been kind to us...but after all, they don't really know us from Adam...and I wouldn't want my kids hanging out at the new neighbor's house without ME there...and the last thing I wanted was for them to think we were evil people. Maybe we should just put up a sign on our lawn that says, " We're not drug dealers! Trust us! We're GOOD!" I called over a little bit later to apologize and they were very nice and said we weren't to blame at all...so I guess it was just a misunderstanding- I thought she had been miffed with us but apparently not - so things feel a little more straightened out...Rargh! The little boy asked me if I would give him guitar lessons and I did have wit enough to say, " As long as you ask your mother..." So tomorrow, he may show up on my doorstep again...and maybe not.
Speaking of visiting and new people, I'm going to go to jail next week. Just passing through, though. Dennis has invited me to come talk to a teenage girl there who has expressed interest in having a visitor. Excitement galore! It's not every day that one receives an invitation to jail! I was just thinking recently about how I miss my girls at the Shelter and lo and behold, God has provided this opportunity. Lest you think I'm braver than I really am, let me tell you, I'm a little nervous about it. I've never visited anyone in jail before. What am I going to say, when it actually comes down to it? It's going to be a little different than the Shelter, where there were activities such as school or crafts or whatever that made it so that you were doing something while you got to know the new girls...Meeting new people in a vacuum is a tad intimidating...But I suppose I do have the Holy Spirit to help me out, so I guess I'll try to remember that! Anyway...further bulletins as events warrant.
Friday, November 25, 2005
It being the day of Thanksgiving, I partook of a great feast around one in the afternoon. The thing was, my plate wasn't particularly piled high with food. I took moderate portions of most things on the table, and yet, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of acute drowsiness throughout the afternoon. It's a family joke that I always have to seek refuge on the couch and lie down near the end of a long meal. But eventually, as time wears on, I generally perk up again. This time, I felt droopier and loopier throughout the day. The only thing that kept me awake was the knowledge that I shouldn't sleep with my contacts in my eyes, and I had no way to remove them, my solution and case being at home. Ah well. It wasn't an awful thing; it was actually kind of pleasant to be groggy. Being tired makes funny things even funnier.
Brad and Nate were talking about L- tryptophan, the chemical thing in turkey that makes one feel sleepy. ( For pictures of their carcass picking prowess, visit Penny's blog.) I thought about it and wondered if perhaps the Indians used to have some sort of explanation for this phenomenon in the form of a tale about the Revenge of the Turkey. I imagine it would go something like this... Turkeys are sacred birds and should not be eaten. ( Who knows? Maybe this is the reason for the later conflict between the natives and the settlers. Although, I suppose the natives never would have consented to eating that dinner in the first place if they had known it was turkey...But then, I am totally making this up... Sigh. The pitfalls of historical revisionism...But BACK to the fake legend at hand...) If a turkey is killed, the spirit of the butchered turkey ( that sounds funny- I think of only cows and pigs as being butchered- but why shouldn't it apply to poultry as well?) comes back to haunt the eater and afflicts him by causing him to sink into a state of severe sleepiness, thus exacting revenge upon his predator. Hmmm...Kind of a wimpy revenge, I guess, but then, the Turkey doesn't strike me as a particularly powerful or valiant creature. Ben Franklin and I are in sharp disagreement there. I believe I have mentioned before on this blog how he wanted to make the Turkey our national bird. Well, I guess, in a backwards kind of way, it kind of has become our national bird. I mean, practically the whole nation eats it on the same day of the year. How much more unifying can a bird be?
Somehow, I don't think bald eagle would taste as good...but that is neither here nor there...
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
All that grousing aside, I LOVE Thanksgiving. I was surfing some random blogs today ( I know, I know, somewhat of a risky activity) and I found this one girl who said that she didn't like Thanksgiving and didn't agree with its message. WHAT?? I thought even heathens knew it was good and healthy to be thankful, even if they don't acknowledge that it's God to whom they should be thankful... I was truly horrified. I love Everything About Thanksgiving...I love making a list of things to be thankful for, mostly things that have happened ( or that I have become aware of or especially appreciated ) during the past year, as well as the Biggies- basic, general, important stuff for which to give thanks. I haven't started my list yet - but I think this is the perfect warming-up activity...
I thought of something a few days ago that I wanted to blog about, but I realized that it would work in superbly with a Thanksgiving post. I had pulled an old journal from 2001 out of a box and was skimming through it. It was pretty depressing stuff and yet also somehow a TON of fun to read. I was in college, Brad was not doing well, we didn't know if we were EVER going to get married, we didn't know WHAT God was trying to do with us - everything was dark, uncertain, confused, and wretched. We were fatigued, burdened, frustrated, sad...You get the picture, I think. And this type of thing had been going on pretty much non-stop for a couple years, although in varying degrees. Anyway, I said it was fun to read because I was reveling in the fact that here we are, four years later, on the other side of all that, thanks to God's blessings. That whole time in our lives seems like a bad dream. And it's like I just woke up to that fact all over again - that it's over- and I'm so thrilled that it's not my reality anymore. Reading that journal made me realize how MUCH God has done for us...All the moods and questions in it seem foreign and obsolete. And for this, I am thankful. I am more thankful than I can ever say.
Our new house, and all the many experiences during the past year where God led us to get to this place; my parents being nearby, for now anyway; a wonderful summer at the Shelter; a "new" car; protection on trips- driving and flying; a new form of fellowship and creative outlet in blogging; visits from my sisters, brothers-in-law, nephews and neice; God's healing and presence in the journey of grief; a trip to Florida in January; dreams of heaven; Christian radio programs; living in a warmer climate; new friends and old; hope; my husband; avocados; having my five senses and mobility intact; electricity; sweetened condensed milk, quite possibly nature's perfect food; new music; a beautiful world...For all of these, I am thankful.
This day is an Ebenezer- a reminder of how God has provided all these good things and many more.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
I was in the same store this morning, browsing around, but I couldn't really focus on the books or read excerpts very long because they had several different kinds of music going on. One was Christmas music, being played loudly at the front of the store, then there was a video going with its own music, and then there was a Veggie Tales video playing around the corner...I seriously was driven out of the store because it was making me crazy. SENSORY OVERLOAD! I can stand having ONE type of obnoxious, evil music played in a store more than I can stand having two or more kinds of ANY music playing simultaneously. I just can't tune that out. Having more than one source of audio input within ear shot of each other in the same store should be OUTLAWED. Is it just me or does this kind of thing bother other people? Maybe it's just my weirdly sensitive ears...
You know you bought too much Halloween candy when it's two days before Thanksgiving and you're still eating Tootsie Rolls. By the handful.
Monday, November 21, 2005
It is raining hard outside and I just heard a long roll of thunder- either that or Brad just dropped all the chairs he was juggling upstairs. He has the day off. Did I tell you he started working at a Wolf Camera store in the mall last week?
We just got back from a morning of errands, among which was a trip to Lowe's to pick out paint and painting accoutrements for the kitchen. I have successfully stripped all the wallpaper off the kitchen walls and am eagerly looking forward to the transformation at hand. It's kind of humbling talking to the paint guy in Lowe's. Um- what kind of finish do I want? Uh...I don't knoooow...What do YOU think?... Oh good grief. You can tell I'm an ultra-amateur. I've painted before, but not that much. And it was a long time ago. Luckily, it's basically only one wall that needs to be painted.
The vegetarian thing went well last week. I tried some new stuff and found a couple things I will probably make again- and some that I definitely WON'T try again. The phyllo dough Mushroom-Tofu-Savory Pie thing was an unmitigated disaster, presentation-wise, although Brad did say he liked how it tasted. It was okay but not worth all the trouble. And the edges were so crispy and brown that it was like eating burnt newspaper. But I did like the tortellini asparagus salad that we had last Monday night and the crustless Leek n' Mushroom Tofu Quiche I made last night. ( We had cous-cous and a green salad along with it.) Yes, I cooked with LEEKS this week! Why does the "Let us Take up our Baggage" song say "onions and leeks"? They might just as well have said " onions and onions." I always thought leeks were more of a bean thing b/c they were part of the legume family but they're really more like giant green onions. Ah, well, it's not the first time I've been wrong. Anyway- I don't think we're headed back to the fleshpots of Egypt quite yet. Lentils are on the menu tonight! We'll continue on our vegetarian path until this Thursday...when we partake of The Turkey. Heh, heh.
On Friday I drove Pari ( and Joshua) to her doctor's appointment where we heard the baby's heartbeat! Joshua commented that he thought it was a "choo choo" which I thought was hilarious and a great story to tell to his little sister someday. ( We had just been in a deep conversation about Thomas the Tank...and it did sound kind of like a train...) It was pretty amazing to hear such a sound.
And I guess that's the news from Lake Woebegone- where all the women are...uh...not total weaklings, all the men are very good looking, and all the children...have not yet come into being.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Well, the whole process went rather well -- except for the DDS rejecting Nate's birth certificate and Nate having to drive down to Griffin to get a new one...good thing he wasn't born in New England! ( But there was an outlet mall nearby and Penny, Brad and I spent a happy hour or so shopping. ) The man at the DDS ( GA's equivalent of the DMV) was a gregarious and talkative soul. At first he seemed horrified to hear that I was from New England and made some comments about Yankees and being liberal...and I hastened to assure him that I was not a liberal. He started railing about Ted Kennedy and why did he keep getting elected, being the murderer that he is...?! I said I didn't know but that it was some sort of strange miracle, I guess. We had quite an interesting talk. This exchange would NEVER have happened in New Hampshire. I hope our conversation somehow gave him a clue that not all New Englanders are bleeding heart, left wing, fuzzy headed, Kennedy-worshiping liberals.
We thought that vanity plates were fairly inexpensive down here and so we were all brainstorming about what we were going to get on our plates. We came up with quite a long list of possibilities. Among the top choices of mine were "CLARITY", "GO2HEVN", and "NO MO SNO." Brad was trying to decide between " VICTORY" ( but he was pretty sure it would already be taken) " ABVONLY", "OVRCOMR" and "YESIWIN." But when we got to the Tax Assessor's office, we found that it was a little steeper than we had planned on...Maybe for our birthdays next year we'll spring for the vanity plates...
Sunday, November 13, 2005
You see, we were going to go to a Chinese Buffet last night. But when we got to where we thought it was, it wasn't. Well, there was a Chinese restaurant, but it wasn't a buffet. So we were back to square one: " Do you want to eat there anyway?" "Not really- it looks blah." "Where do you want to go?" " I don't know- where do you want to go?" "Subway." I didn't want to go to Subway. I wasn't in the Subway mood. It got so we were in this whirling vortex of indecision and I was irritated. Brad was fine - but I was gritchy. So I randomly picked this Mexican restaurant that was in the same plaza. And I thought, " This is probably going to be awful. We're probably going to get sick." I have these vagrant thoughts often and I guess I'm sort of innoculated to them; thus I don't always pay them mind. And being irritated and indecisive, the prevailing mood was just sort of like: PICK A PLACE AND EAT ALREADY! So we just went. And it was mediocre. Oh well. Now we know where NOT to go, I thought. We went on to have a pleasant evening at Nate and Pen's.
I awoke around 3:00 this morning and noticed right away that Brad was breathing strangely. Sort of a puffing pant. I asked if he was okay. He said no. Apparently, he had been throwing up. Oh my word. Guilt descended on me like the apple on Newton's head. The Mexican restaurant! That vagrant thought was my intuition trying to warn me! Oh my word, I felt so bad. The pathetic thing was, Brad had gone downstairs to throw up so he wouldn't disturb me! He said he was trying to throw up...QUIETLY. How is that accomplished? I didn't ask. It was so sweet and pitiful. I just felt so terrible and guilty that he was the one suffering for my arbitrary decision. So we were up for a couple of hours riding out the queasiness together.
At my urging, he decided to use the master bath for his subsequent offerings. For Pete's sake! What's the point of having a master bath if you're just going to rush downstairs when you really need it?! I mean- I do appreciate the sentiments, but...now that I'm awake...Once, as he rushed off, he bid me to plug my ears. Even with my ears plugged, I could hear loud, almost musical groanings and other strange noises, unpleasant in the extreme.
Of course, there was no ginger ale in the house. I did find some saltines, luckily.
We watched part of a "Brady Bunch." I read a chapter aloud from "Ramona Quimby, Age 8." We talked about our third and fourth grade experiences. As we compared notes, we uncovered a strange piece of trivia: we both had the same teacher for our respective third and fourth grades. He had Mrs. Jones, and I had Mrs. Roland for both those years. I finally went back to sleep around 5 a.m. and caught a few more hours of sleep.
Brad felt better enough to go to church this morning. What an overcomer. Most of his appetite has returned, I am glad to report.
Brad says that I have to include something about how I was a dear, otherwise he would not allow this post to go to press. Well, I may be somewhat of a dear, but I'm a sadder and wiser dear, and one who is not going to go making any rash decisions or try ANYTHING NEW or eat at ANY Mexican places for a long time. Actually, we have decided to embark on a new culinary journey- we're going to try to eat vegetarian for one week and see if we survive...so I guess I shouldn't say I'm not going to try anything new...( We'd talked about doing this before the events of last night...) Send me your vegetarian recipes, please!
Thursday, November 10, 2005
We talked about the possibility that we might have strange dreams as a result of our nocturnal repast. Sure enough- in my slumbers last night, I participated in a cooking class led by Martha Stewart. Wow. I made this weird pan of scrambled/baked eggs and somehow it turned out all turquoise colored- but she ate some and said it was wonderful. Well!
In other news, things are going along fine on the moving-in front; we are settling in and the piles of boxes are slowly diminishing. It's starting to feel more like home and less like we are staying in someone else's house...with all our stuff. And it's waaaarm here! Huh! Who knew? It's been in the sixties and seventies recently and I am loving it. And tomorrow morning, I think I'm going yardsaling. This is truly utopia. SO! Book your vacations early, folks! Brad and Claire's B & B is almost ready to open for business! At the risk of sounding like that annoying, whiny-voiced guy Bob - of Bob's Discount Furniture commercials fame- "Come on down!"
Friday, November 04, 2005
There's nothing like being forced to plunge into 19th century living to make you appreciate the comforts of the 21st. Georgia Power- the nefarious oafs- decided to turn off our power because we hadn't jumped through all their silly, little hoops fast enough. Great was my wrath upon coming home from a shopping trip with Penny on Wednesday afternoon to find that the lights wouldn't turn on in the kitchen. RRAR. SO I had to quickly evacuate all my perishables from the dim refridgerator and zoom over to Penny's to install them in her fridge. It's SO nice that they live only about half a mile away - they have been lifesavers so many times already. It wasn't until yesterday afternoon- after the movers had unloaded everything and driven away- that the power man came out and graciously allowed us to return to the modern age.
Many thanks to Penny, and our parents, for all their help moving us in. Yay for you! You were a BIG HELP.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
When the washing cycle ends, the machine gives out a piercingly loud buzz. It sounds, to my inexperienced ears, like the harsh, alarm sound of a jail cell door closing or opening...especially when the door to the laundry room/garage entry way is closed and the buzz reverberates in a hollow, empty echo. Brad and I were talking about it yesterday and when the noise shattered the peace of our kitchen again, later in the day, he yelled out, " Cell block D!" as if he was some sort of guard, calling the prisoners to their daily exercise time or something. I think that's what I'm going to do every time I hear it: yell, " Cell Block D!"
Okay. Yes, I know. We're weird.
Monday, October 31, 2005
What's weirder is- I'm kind of enjoying this. This is the first time I've really been in a position of a grown-up handing out candy. It's rather odd.
I have had so many people come...I have lost count. Among the memorable costumes were a flock of princesses, a very cool home-made robot, Darth Vader, the Grim Reaper ( I think he was crossed with Frankinstein because he had bolts sticking out of his head- the goriest yet tonight), Bob the Builder, a camoflage ninja, a glow in the dark skeleton ( it was rather thrillingly creepy to see him descend my front lawn in all his green bony glory), and the last ones who were just here were a bunch of hoodlums that were WAY too old to be doing this- they looked like they could be college age! I kept looking around to see where their children were-- but it was just them. What a crock. They did have a semblance of costumes...But really! For shame!
And guess what! Tonight we got a call from the movers and found out that our stuff is coming on Thursday morning! Yay! I can't wait! Penny and Nate's stuff came today. Hurray! Hurray for stuff! Hurray for not sitting on folding chairs and sleeping on air mattresses anymore! ( Brad just got back from going and visiting Nate and Penny - just so he could sit on real furniture for a while. And to enjoy their charming company, too, of course.)
Sunday, October 30, 2005
I have one word for you: Ew.
Friday, October 28, 2005
I feel cut off from any sense of normalcy. Our stuff has not arrived and probably won't arrive until NEXT FRIDAY- A WEEK FROM TODAY! Well, I guess that's why we got such a good price. Huh. You'll never see your stuff again, but you won't have to pay very much! Whaaa? So we are bouncing around in this house feeling sort of weirded out by all the empty space...or rather, I am bouncing around in this house...feeling sort of lonely...for Brad has just left for his first day of work. Well, I'm not too lonely because Nate and Penny are here for the next couple days, until they can move into their house. But before they arrived on Wednesday night, and when Brad was out, and I was here, I was a little spooked by being all alone here with not much to do. We've done some shopping and driving around, trying to get to know the area. It's been fun, but I am ready to get established with some sort of routine...and it doesn't look like that is going to be happening anytime soon...WELL...I'm off to seek my fortune out in the great, wide world. Or, to be more specific, I'm going to try to find the local library. Huzzah for Mapquest!
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Backtracking here...Many thanks to Nate and Amy who helped Brad move our stuff out of storage- some stuff to the dump and the rest over to our apartment on Wednesday afternoon. It went WAY faster than if it had just been Brad working alone.
The movers came about 9:00 a.m. on Thursday and took about three hours to load up all our stuff onto the truck. Remember the post I wrote about the piles of change that Brad leaves around the house? Well, as boxes and furniture slowly left the house, and more of the floor was revealed, a strange pattern came to light: dustbunnies and coinage. One of the movers was like, " What's the deal with all the change?" At first I thought he was referring to our change of location to Georgia...but then I realized he was talking about all the coins on the floor. I was like, " I wish I knew." I also wish I had counted up all the money I picked up off the floor...I stuffed it all in my vest pockets. Just call me MoneyBags. It would do no good to count it now- I have already spent half of it on candy bars in the vending machine down the hall. Argh. Now I know why we don't have a vending machine in our house!
After cleaning up the empty apartment, crying as I said goodbye to it, and packing the car so that there was NOT ONE SQUARE INCH UNUSED...we flew over to Fairwood, did some errands, and went to visit Grandma Sweet, who showered us with...sweets. Wow. If you need a chocolate fix, she is the woman to visit.
Then we drove 'til we could drive no more- in other words- to Connecticut- and finally stopped for the night. ( I gave a shout out to you, Craig, as we drove through Hartford.) And then we got up the next day and drove some more. And now we are here in Virginia, relaxing and taking today off.
Nate and Christy used to have this nickname for their aunt Caroline: Cuggy. Well, for that matter, I guess it's still her nickname. I don't know how Brad first heard about it, but ever since, it's been Cuggy this and Cuggy that. (Kind of like how I used to say Scooby Do all the time for everything. ) Sometimes it drives me crazy- sometimes it's rather cute. Sometimes it is a term of endearment. I don't know what he would do if he couldn't say it anymore. I think he thinks it's just fun to say. I think he wants to name our first born Cuggy. Are you weirded out yet?
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
We are discovering treasures left and right that we had forgotten we had. Brad just played a tape he had recorded of himself when he was around eight years old. He SINGS Christmas songs! Unaccompanied! "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was a HOOT. At one point, he went from eight maids a milking ( or whatever the thing for eight is) to five golden rings! Ooops. And he and Penny narrated their every move of a game of Uno. " I'm laying down a yellow eight." " And I'M laying down a green eight!" Oh my. So between that, and Rush Limbaugh, and FOX News about the terrorist thing in Baltimore, and the Taunton Dam about to burst, we are well entertained as we pack.
In other news, we are finding strange deposits of rice in oft-unused drawers. It's very spooky. There aren't any sort of droppings or anything...just these massive stashes of rice. It's SO annoying. You pull out some shirts to fold and put in a box and suddenly there's a huge cascade of white rice all over your feet. ARGH. There is rice all over the bedroom floor now and it's actually hazardous. I almost wiped out in there.
What kind of animal would leave deposits of rice and no deposits of waste? ( Mind you, we're not complaining about the lack of waste...Brad says it's just kind of like a pointless miracle.) Could it be Herr Vole? Do voles differ from mice very much in such habits? So...Isaac? Some other smart person? Some VOLE whisperer? What is your take? In any case, some small creature is going to receive a nasty shock when they come to seek out their winter provender...and find a big, fat, lot of NOTHING.
And the weird thing is, we haven't noticed any of our rice missing! It's like it's being trucked in from other regions. Hmmm. I should check with our landlord. Maybe they are experiencing rice shortages upstairs. We're DEFINITELY going to clean it all up before we leave...so the landlord can't come down and be like, " So! THAT'S where all our rice went!"
I ramble here... in fact, I'm rambling on purpose...I am procrastinating going back to packing. ARRGH. Must...keep...packing...all...worldly...goods.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
We flew to Providence on Thursday and spent the night at the Brown Compound. Friday morning, Nate and Penny drove us to New Hampshire...On the way, we got a phone call or two and since the cell phone coverage was patchy, we pulled off the highway and parked in a Burger King parking lot in the depressing city of Leominster, MA to conduct our business. Then we decided that while we were there, we should run in and use the bathroom. When we came out, the Explorer wouldn't start. It was raining and cold. We were stressed and exhausted. ( Over the last couple days, the issue of whether we were actually going to go through with buying this house was up in the air. I won't describe all the boring details and reasons but it has been an emotional rollercoaster of agonizing magnitude.) ( But, as far as we know right now, we ARE buying the house.) Fortunately, some kind angels- disguised as grundgy electricians- helped by letting us jumpstart the vehicle and we were on our way.
We stopped at Fairwood to assess the "Stuff in Storage" situation and lo, the Explorer failed to start again. This time, there was a real, non-grundgy angel who helped us out- Gerry Anderson. It was determined that the alternator was gonzo and he took us to town to pick one up...Then he drove us to our apartment ( HOME AT LAST!). In spite of the flooded areas all around us, ( we had to take a detour to get home) our house still stands. While I scavenged materials to start a fire- it was COLD- the others found a shocking sight in the kitchen. Apparently, another mouse had succumbed to our trap. I guess it was pretty gruesome; I'll never know because Brad got rid of it pretty fast. Then the guys left to go back to Fairwood and install the alternator while Penny and I relaxed at home. We all ended up going out to eat for dinner- since we had NOTHING to eat at our house and I had no car to go grocery shopping with ( it's in Georgia!). Diane joined us and we had a great time. When we left, we found that Brad's car, the Mazda, wouldn't start. OH MY WORD. WHAT NEXT? We called Nate and Penny on our cell phone and fortunately, they hadn't left yet, so they came and charged us up...Good grief.
It is incredibly nice to sleep in our own bed again. It's so good to be home in spite of the crazed mess it's in.
Now we are recovering from our travels, gearing up to pack, and I am trying not to get frazzled by the messy apartment or overwhelmed by all that must be done. If I don't happen to see you or say goodbye to you before we leave, please don't be offended. You can come see me here at the apartment as we pack...because since I have no car to drive ( it's been years since I've driven a standard and I don't dare practice on Brad's car) I won't be getting out much in the next week...nor will I have much time to...
Well, we're back in New Hampshire to finish packing. The movers are coming on Thursday morning, so we have to have every thing boxed up. We started before we left, so it shouldn't be terrible. Our house closes on the 24th, so we need to be back down there by then.
We flew back up with Nate and Penny on Thursday, and they drove us up from Rhode Island on Friday. It was a great asset to have them go through this process along with us. I have heard that buying a home can be one of the more stressful events in life, and I think I agree.
Here is a link to a virtual tour of the house. I don't know how much longer it will be there, but it offers a pretty thorough tour of the house.
Here are a couple of pictures just in case the virtual tour disappears:
A view from the back:
The kitchen, which we plan to update:
The "great" room:
Thanks for everybody's support and prayers through the whole process. We felt God's help right from the start.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
This second picture of us on the doorstep was taken moments after hearing that the house was ours.
We've had our eye on this house for months and then last week I thought it was lost...but it had just changed hands to a different realtor's listing. There are a few things we want to change but nothing that we couldn't live with for a while. It's on a sloping piece of land and there is a creek running at the bottom of the back yard. It's in a well established neighborhood- in other words, there are trees grown up and a general feeling of seclusion from our neighbors, who aren't too close. There are plenty of other exciting details I could mention about the property, as well as the whole Nate and Penny factor ( which I will let Penny tell about on her blog) but I'll leave it at this for now. We are rejoicing in God's faithfulness and abundant provision.
PACK YOUR BAGS TO COME VISIT US SOON! We have room for everyone we know to come visit us simultaneously and witness the majesty of our awesome new firepit in the backyard.
( This last sentence was Brad's contribution.)
Thursday, October 06, 2005
We set out yesterday morning to go househunting with our realtor Ray. By the way, Ray is a good old boy to beat ALL good old boys. Oh my WORD. He is the epitome of the Southern guy. So we drove around Henry County in his vehicle. We drove to the two houses that were near each other in Stockbridge first- ones we found on the internet and had our eyes on from afar. We reeeeally liked them. I'll spare you the details...and we are discussing the pros and cons of them right now and it's driving me cah-razy. There were others that had good points but none that were the big home runs that the first two seemed to be.
The 'rents have arrived ( Dave and Pat) and we are eager to show them the houses and get their opinion. We are off to see Ray again this morning and will be visiting the two Stockbridge houses again. The excitement is building!
Monday, October 03, 2005
We opened a new bank account in a different bank last week, in preparation for our move. This morning, Brad went online to set up online banking and got a little surprise. When he opened up his account information, he saw that instead of saying Mr. Bradley H. Pass, it said, " Bishop Bradley H. Pass." Apparently, the woman who entered the information had clicked on the wrong thing. Huh. It was pretty funny. So Brad called up the bank and spoke with this woman. She apologized profusely and said she would set it right.
Later on, she called back on the brink of tears, and said that, unfortunately, she had not corrected it in time and that we are going to be getting checks and a debit card with the name "Bishop Bradley Pass." YESSSSS!!! That is SO cool. Maybe we can get a little collar and go out on the town and get discounts.
You know, I always KNEW I would be married to a clergyman someday.
For those of you who were expecting a more serious post today, well, it's not to be. Perhaps in the future...But I do thank you all for all the support and prayers, and cards. They have certainly upheld us through this season of remembrance and reflection. It's been a beautiful day. Things are looking up. There are good things happening, and more good to come.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
By the way, yesterday was Brad's last day at the Ritz in Keene. Pretty weird. He's worked there since before we got married...Some faithful customers came in to bid him farewell and were sad to see him go. Of course!
Today, we were talking about the upcoming venture with Nate and Pen; a while back, they bought a book called "Homebuying for Idiots." Brad bought a book called, " Homebuying for Dummies." Georgia, watch out! Here we come: the Idiots and the Dummies!
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Am I the only one who gets nervous when sitting in the back of an airplane when it's taking off? I just always feel like the back of the plane is going to bump its rear end on the runway because it tilts up so drastically. So- anyone else out there that is as weird as I am in this regard?
Lately, Brad has been gearing up to be a homeowner by getting after me about leaving lights on when I'm not using them. ( Our current apartment's rent includes the utilities.) So the other evening at dinner when Brad began on this new electric cutback fad, pointing out that I had left on several lights in rooms that neither one of us were in at the moment, I went around and turned out ALL the lights and we ate our dinner in the twilight kitchen. I don't think he even NOTICED that I had gone whole hog on the no-light thing. Wow.
SO. The packing has started. This should be a cakewalk considering our recent experiences...It's kinda strange to be packing up because we don't even know where we're going! I feel a bit like Abraham. Well- we SORT of know where we're going...we just don't have a house yet. But it's pretty exciting when I realize that when we unpack this stuff, we'll (probably) be in our own house! WOW.
Brad worked a half day today and came home and we spent the afternoon together, packing. He uncovered some treasures- such as a piece of paper that said, "Brad is so good to me" and I had signed it and dated it 9/8/02. Irrefutable Proof. I guess I had said something to that effect and he probably said something like, " Can I get it in writing?" And lo, and behold, it's three years later, and he's STILL good to me. How lucky am I?
AND he uncovered a sealed box of soap- Irish Spring with Aloe- that was from the time that I visited him in California after Christmas 2000. He kept it because that was the kind of soap in the bathroom during that two week time I was out there and the smell reminded him of me. Awww. Who says men aren't sentimental? I love that he saved that soap.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Speaking of change- I am now officially UNemployed! Hurray! In all the frustrating moments and difficult, dark days this last year when I just wanted to flee that job and make a screaming exit, I could not have imagined the great sense of bittersweetness that flooded me yesterday- my last day. The girls at the Shelter now are a very high energy, high maintenance group. They were pretty low yesterday morning- for their own particular reasons. And then I got up in front of the room to read my goodbye letter/speech...I envisioned it going well...but as soon as I started reading it, I plunged into tears. ARGH. Anyway, I was glad to have a chance to really share my heart with them.
Later in the day, I took my last trip to the Antrim Recycling Center...and I had some great finds at the Swap Shop - some books, a fall wreath, and a little OWL ornament which I left in the kitchen for Marci. I also got a really nice blue and white lampshade for one of the girls' rooms and as we came back to the Shelter, I said to the two girls with me, " Okay, make sure we take EVERYTHING we brought. Don't leave anything in the van." We started to walk away and one of the girls said, " Uh...Claire...?" and pointed back to the van. I had left the lampshade on top of the van.
As I came back into the classroom carrying my new treasures, the room exploded with people yelling at me; it was my very own farewell party. While I was away at the dump, the girls had decorated the room with posters and a colored paper chain...and they had made special food over the last couple days. They had made a big card and all written in it...and were eager to show me all the things they had done for me. The staff also gave me a card, and a gift- a beautiful framed photograph of Mount Monadnock complete with fall foliage. What a wonderful gift to take to Georgia with me. On one of the marker boards someone had made an acrostic with my name. For the letter "C", they chose the word " Cunning." Cunning? I never thought of that word in connection with myself. It tickled my funny bone.
We ended the party by playing outside. We had a clothes relay race which was hugely exciting and fun. It was a great way to end my experience there- totally silly and wild....running across the yard bedecked with all kinds of clothes...including a pair of pants and shorts that I had to just leave around my ankles and waddle as fast as I could...and an umbrella, slippers, a hat, purse, baseball glove, scarf...Don't you just wish you'd been there?
I'll really miss the staff there -- they are very special, wonderful people. I plan on going back to visit sometime in the next six months; I really want to see the finished addition to the Shelter which will house the new bedrooms and schoolroom.
It felt pretty strange to drive away for the last time. I'm glad I didn't leave when I originally wanted to- at a low point when things were tough; I'm so, SO thankful that things took an up-swing over the summer. I see that as nothing less than a direct blessing from God.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Here's the deal: Brad got a haircut. Mistake #1. The longish look was WORKING! Mistake #2: He didn't have his Mom cut his hair! What was he thinking? So I came home from work today
( today is his day off) and he was wearing a SHIRT on his head and cringing before me.
The decision lies before us: To shave or not to shave? We are posting a picture of him sporting this new cut and we desire YOUR input as to whether he should suffer through it or take the plunge and shave it ALL OFF ( which he has long wanted and threatened to do). I am ambivalent: at this point there's really no good outcome so why not let him have his little fun? I would be okay with this cut if he gelled it up and let it be sort of bed-heady and trendy but he is determined to comb it over like an old geezer and then his cow-lick sticks up on the side and RUINS it all.
(As soon as I experimented with the gel on his hair he sort of gave this little shudder of suffering and exclaimed that it was a "liberal" look. I don't really know what that means except that it's not conservative and I know that he resists change and eschews fads and trendiness. )
So we are sort of on the proverbial fence with this one. I have no idea what he would look like with a shaved head! Will NO HAIR look worse than BAD HAIR?
Saturday, September 17, 2005
The THING IS...it was NOT news to Brad that we had this furry guest. He was like, " Oh, yeah. I saw him the other day. He lives over there." WHAT? It's like - we have a new PET and you didn't TELL ME? And you KNOW his HABITAT? You didn't set the traps RIGHT AWAY?? Hmmm. Perhaps we should name him. Herr Vole. ( I think 'tis a vole, not a mouse.) Argh. I don't feel safe in my own home. I step with care like I've never stepped with care before. I think I need to get Marci's owl in here to take care of the pest problem.
So I got to work and as the girls were eating breakfast in the kitchen, someone dropped a grape on the floor. I didn't see them drop it- I just saw this small thing on the floor moving towards me out of the corner of my eye for a split second and I practically jumped up onto the fridge. WOW. Sent into palpitations by a wayward GRAPE? I think I have some serious nerves going here.
And speaking of work- one more week to go, folks. The countdown has begun. I think I'm telling the girls on Monday.
And another thing that has caused me consternation this day: There are four toothbrushes in the bathroom- and Brad casually confessed to me this evening, " Oh, by the way, I have no idea which one is mine." Huh! So we have another pest infestation AND you have unilaterally decided we have interchangeable dental care devices? UBER-gross. I don't even want to know how long this confusion has gone on. I suppose it is partly my fault for allowing this mass toothbrush situation to develop. Ew. Time to go buy two new toothbrushes and some real heavy duty labels.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Yet another thing to tuck away for the future: I once got paid to tie-dye a T-shirt. "And yet you're leaving this job?" you say. Hmmm. Yes. Yes, I am leaving...with bells on. Well, really, I will miss many aspects of the job- like the staff - they're great people- and the fun activities...but I'm ready to do something a little different, I think. These days, I'm telling myself that like it or not, change is coming- so why not embrace it? As Frank Exley says in his poem, "...then go forward boldly, one step is far enough for faith to see."
When I first encountered this word verification/spam blocker thing on a blog, I was rather confused and intimidated. I thought I had to figure out the word encoded within the letters and type the secret password into the blank. WHAT on earth are you supposed to do with a configuration like "kpxnryfl"? WHERE'S the DECODER RING? And what cereal box does THAT come in? Sigh. Keep it simple, stupid. Fortunately, I have a smart husband.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
I drove in this morning full of dread...and then I think God kind of chucked me under the chin and told me to quit stewing on the what ifs and focus on Him instead. Okay. Huh. What a novel thought. So I tried it. And what do you know- it turned out to be a pretty good day. In fact, quite blogworthy...
This morning, Matt told me that there were only five who were going on the field trip this afternoon - a meeting of the local Birding and Gardening Club which was open to the public because there was a presentation on owls. ( The girls are studying birds of prey right now.) He was going to take them and didn't need me to go but I asked if I could come along anyway. Well, to be truthful, I practically BEGGED him to let me go. It sounded too fascinating to pass up...and hey- good blog-fodder. So, kind boss that he is, he said yes. Too bad Marci couldn't come...
There were probably around forty to fifty women- most of whom were well upwards of 55- and maybe six or seven men. So walking in with 5 teenage girls and Matt was interesting. "Which one of these does not belong?"
Well, this woman who gave the presentation is an owl FANATIC. She and her husband photograph owls and they own several different varieties of owls- all with disabilities or who were born in captivity. As some of the owls can live up to forty or, even in some cases, fifty years old, she said they had made provision for them in their WILL! Oh my word. Some of the owls have the run of her house! She gave a fascinating slide presentation and I learned more about owls than I thought I'd ever know. She had brought with her six or seven live owls and brought them out from boxes one or two at a time, tethered to her hand of course so they couldn't fly around the room. Included were a saw-whet owl, a great horned owl, spectacled? owls- native to Central and South America, a barred owl, a Eur-asian variety ( can't remember the name), and a screech owl. She asked for volunteers to come up and practice hooting the different calls with her. Several of our girls volunteered and it was fun to watch them try to mimic her owl calls; they also got to call to different owls when they came out of their boxes. Some of the owls even hooted back.
The owl lady also asked for a "Brave Volunteer" and another of our girls raised her hand and went up. Then the lady said that she was going to put her on whitewash patrol- basically to clean up any poopy messes that might occur as she brought the owls out. Oh how we laughed. But the girl was a really good sport. She also got to clean up owl pellets. This was the most fascinating and disgusting thing I learned; owls cough up the solid leftovers of what they have eaten the night before- rodent bones, skulls, etc. in these awful little dark bundles of nastiness. None of them coughed up the pellets in front of us, but there were some in the boxes- wonderful little surprises. Of course, the owl lady gave our girl gloves and paper towels and stuff...But, as I said to Matt, " She'll never complain about cleaning the bathrooms again!"
So, it was a pretty fantastic day...and such a contrast to yesterday. Sigh. This job STILL boggles me. One day I'm tearing my hair out because there are two terrible twits giving me a run for my money, and the next, I'm learning about owls and laughing my head off...
Saturday, September 10, 2005
I was inordinately excited to be flying home today. Manchester never looked so welcoming!
It seems absolutely incredible to me when I think back over this week...I just can't take it in that we actually DID everything that we did. It was truly God's miraculous power that pulled us through...Things actually went pretty well.
You know what's REALLY mind-boggling? Yesterday- Friday- we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. Today, as we descended into Manchester, we glimpsed the skyline of Boston in the distance. Wow. From sea to shining sea- literally! Except, the Pacific was pretty UN-shiny...and I couldn't quite glimpse the Atlantic...but STILL!
Thursday, September 08, 2005
The funny thing is I've been getting tons of sleep...so it's not that I'm tired...it's just a psychological thing, I guess. Along with that tons of sleep comes strange dreams. I dreamed last night that my mother won tickets to be in Oprah's audience. I was SO excited because she said I could go in her place. Where did THAT come from?
Brad dreamed that I had a baby while he was at work...And it was a girl and I named her Marci. ( Congratulations, Marci! A little namesake!) He was SO mad at me because that was not a name we had agreed on. In fact, he was so mad that he drove home and went to bed. Well! Later, in a rage, he drove his car so fast that he lost control and crashed into a tree...and it turned out that I had twins...a boy and a girl, but I guess I hadn't bothered to name the boy...
Well, things are pretty much wrapped up. All the boxes are ready to go to UPS...in fact, they should be in the Durango but the boys are checking out the engine in said vehicle. Checking out the engine?! Boys...!
In a situation such as this, you just give up trying to be clean because it is an exercise in futility. I learned days ago to yield to dirtiness. Dust and grime are EVERYWHERE and it's impossible to feel clean for more than two minutes. I think that's the biggest thing I'm looking forward to about leaving here!
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
When Brad said last night that we would see a dramatic difference today, I pooh-poohed him inwardly. It seems like I've been hearing words to that effect for a couple days now. But, lo and behold, it's turned out to be true! The dumpster guy finally came and hauled away that big monstrosity...and ALSO we hired a couple guys to haul away the rest of the contents of the house. They are coming back tomorrow to pick up the rest of the stuff in the carport tomorrow. It looks like we will be done for good tomorrow night...and we'll be heading up to Sacramento to visit Aunt G. Most of what we've done today has been a final sweep through the house to get everything out except what we want to keep - and packing up all the stuff we want to ship back...no small task, let me tell you. We have twenty four? boxes so far...and we may need a couple more. I am greatly encouraged though...it's all downhill from here. Thanks for your prayers. Sorry this post has been rather incoherent and unorganized in its structure. Oh well. We're all zombies. It's kind of funny. We're about to go out and get dinner yet again. We have no dishes left to cook with even if we DID have the energy to cook. Hah. Cooking shmooking.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
It seems the more we do, the more there IS to do...
A kind neighbor just came by to pick up more stuff she had bought yesterday...and she gave Pen and me chair massages. I didn't realize how tense I was.
We have filled the dumpster and can't use it anymore...Brad smashed the stuff down with a sledgehammer so we wouldn't be trespassing the limits. They are coming to haul it away tomorrow and we have hired some folks to come in and haul away the rest of the leftover yardsale stuff. There's just NO way we can do this all ourselves. People, I cannot describe to you the magnitude of junk we have here...It defies description. I want to run awaaaaay! But I am reminded of what Aunt Sharon says, and I paraphrase here, " Whatever HAS to get done, WILL get done." Wisdom to live by. In a way, I'm glad we didn't allow two weeks for this...because then it would have TAKEN two weeks...work expands to fill the time. As it is, we have a deadline, and even if we're frantic and exhausted, we WILL be on the plane on Saturday morning,...well, God willing, of course.
ETERNAL BLESSINGS on Dawn Rickerd who came and helped us pack for a while this afternoon. Hurray! THANKYOU!
We were also visited by Mike Pass - a local cousin- who came with his two kids and shared some family lore -- pretty fascinating stuff.
We found a MOUSE SKELETON in the Family Room behind where the freezer was...I have it on videotape.
Okay- I can sense time slipping by...I need to get back to work before the others realize how slackerish I'm being...
We brought our new video camera with us to document this Herculean effort and we've been having a lot of fun with it...taping all kinds of weird gadgets and items that we find along the way. I mean- what do you DO with a bag FULL of Sweet and Lo packets? Or a big box FULL to the bursting point with...rubber gloves!? Or JAWBONES AND SKULLS of COWS...which, by the way, I thought were Extremely Cool but Brad chucked them into the dumpster! Or tins and tins and TINS ( the big kind you get filled with popcorn at Christmas) of plastic eggs- used to make Charli-doll heads...We are realizing that we have bitten off a LARGE amount and are now struggling to chew it. But it's been fun...and we've found some treasures along the way. One of my favorite things so far has been a large, colorfully illustrated certificate presented to Grandpa Pass when he was in the Navy in WWII upon the occasion of crossing the Equator. Apparently, when you cross the equator for the first time in the Navy, it's a big deal...I'll have to post a picture. Also- Grandpa had all these rocks that he had broken open to reveal FOSSILS inside! I don't know why I get SO EXCITED when I see fossils...it's just thrilling to me. I chose a couple to keep...and so if you meet me at the airport and help me with my luggage and ask, " What are you carrying in this? Rocks?" I'll have to say, " Yep!"
It's really interesting going through a lifetime of accumulated possessions. If nothing else, it gives you an idea of what a person is like...For instance- if I had never met Grandpa, I think I would have gotten somewhat aquainted by doing this whole clean-out thing. For instance: I can tell that he was a gardener on a big scale, he was in the Navy, he was an engineer, an architect, an organist, an accordion player, devoted to church and family, maker of dolls, hospitable, a movie enthusiast, a collector, a photographer...and a SAVER OF MANY LETTERS. Wow. Let me tell you about the Christmas cards from WAY BACK WHEN...On second thoughts, Nah.
Well, the big yardsale went off pretty well but we still have a lot of stuff left over. Having no time to put an ad in the paper, we were reduced to trusting in signs ( and God!) to guide the bargain hunters to our driveway...Pen and I drove around last night and this morning putting signs and balloons up...and I guess it worked b/c we had a fair amount of people drop by - mostly in the morning. Holding a yardsale is a lot of work- but also a lot of fun. We had some friends drop by- Rick and Jenny May Matthews, the Rickerds...Poor Nate twisted his ankle helping load the couch onto a truck...and it's swelling up. He's putting ice on it as I write. And the decades of accumulated dust seems to have gotten to Brad. He suddenly developed a horrid case of allergies and is pretty miserable...either that or a bad cold descended like Sennacherib on the something or other. Yes- you can tell, I'm pretty tired. Pen's not feeling so hot either. It's a good thing we all love each other and get along so well...It's kind of fun being exhausted together. Penny and I laugh hysterically about NOTHING. But what's new?
So you can pray for us...We're feeling our limitations.