Monday, August 29, 2005

Rejoice with me!

Well, my dear readers, the changes have already begun. I have great news: as of this past weekend, I now drive a new vehicle! It's a silver 1997 Infiniti J30. Oh my word, I think I am in love with this car.

It was made more real to me when I started driving it, that my old car, the Ford Taurus, has been a sluggish beast for some time now but like the frog in the proverbial pot of boiling water, I hadn't noticed it, as it had crept up on me over a period of months - or possibly years. I must say that I have so appreciated the Ford, given to me as a totally free gift by my parents-in-law, and it has served me well...and I have many a good memory associated with it...In fact, I had a sharp pang of sadness as I saw it being driven away. I really was close to tears!

That having been said, I now realize how much effort it took to get that thing up hills. In fact, it was almost like I had to pull it up by a combination of physical effort and the force of my willpower. This new car, however, glides with seemingly effortless power up hills, like butter on fresh, hot corn-on-the-cob. ( An imperfect analogy, I know, because butter does not glide uphill or up-cob...) AND- it has things I have only dreamed of in a car- a sun roof, leather seats, and a CD player...AND...the crowning touch...air conditioning that WORKS!! I am TRULY grateful for this tremendous blessing...and I'm also truly grateful for a husband who decided it was time to invest in a new car for me. Because, if it were up to me, I would have probably driven the Ford until it could be driven no my last car....which got me through college and then collapsed in a sad, rusty heap almost immediately after graduation. I woke up this morning, actually excited to drive to work!

The only slightly funny thing about this car is what Brad refers to as " the truncated trunk." The rear end of the car looks a little unusual. It reminds me of a combination of a receding chin and the back of an old luxury car...perhaps a Jaguar. ( I remember once when I was little, I saw an ad for a Jaguar in a magazine and my childish brain decided that I was going to be rich someday so I could buy that car.) Brad says it looks like the back end of a slug. Whatever. I love it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I Quit!

Well, I harvested potatoes again on Monday morning at the organic farm. It's actually pretty fun getting all grimy in the garden. It's kind of like searching for buried treasure when you're digging around trying to find potatoes. Half the time I would come up with a rock in my hand. Hmm. That sounds like I was diving for potatoes. No, it was just my hand that was submerged. It's also an exercise in self-control because I had to stop myself from screaming when a bug would run over my bare foot or hand...because I tell the girls not to scream and fuss when such things happen to them. So I have to practice what I preach. " It's a bug. So get over it." For the most part, the girls did very well and didn't complain.

They were enthralled with the free range chickens and climbed into their large fenced in area in order to commune with them more closely ( the electric fence was turned off, as opposed to last time when one of them got a significant jolt when she reached out to pick some flowers beyond the fence). They gathered and "adopted" some eggs. Two girls were insistent upon the fact that they were going to keep their egg warm for twenty eight days ( the length of time recommended by the farmer) so it could hatch. They named the egg Damien and took it everywhere that day...even to the lake, where it sat on a towel as the girls swam. I haven't seen hide nor shell of it today so I wonder how little Damien is faring.

But the big news is that I gave my notice at work yesterday. Yes, my dears, I am going to resign my position at AGS. It wasn't the digging in the potato field that pushed me over the edge. This is the result of many months of prayers, hopes, questions, and providential circumstances. It looks as if we are moving to Georgia in a couple of months and the commute would just be too much. I mean, I think half an hour is bad...! Try twenty four hours of driving. Too much wear and tear on the car, I think. So, it's been a fairly momentous decision and a lot has been happening in the last few months; things are falling into place in such a way that it looks like God is directing us out of our little nest and out into the great unknown. It's a good thing though; I'm pretty excited and looking forward to it. It's going to be a super busy next month and a half...In two weeks, we're flying out to California w/Nate and Pen to clean out Grandpa's house, which has been sold- hallelujah. And then, two weeks after we come home, I will quit work, start packing, attend the Feast of Harvest, and then drive down to GA to look for a house. Upon finding The House, wherever it may be, we will drive back, pack up, and move down. Back to back round trips from NH to GA...? Yes, we are crazy. I am dreading it like The Great Tribulation. I think maybe I should be sedated the entire way for both road trips. Sedation worked for the wisdom teeth extraction; why not this? Either that or have one of those mini-vans that has a DVD I can pass the time in a happy, distracted, passive state. Ooog.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I go hog wild in Toadstool

Today I got a birthday present! Rather, I used a birthday present. I went to the Toadstool Bookstore to use a Gift Certificate that I got from Dad and Mom Pass on my last birthday. Thanks again, Dad and Mom! This is a record; usually it takes me about a year to use up a Gift Certificate. I used it all up today, and more; I splurged. Splurge splurge splurge. Isn't that a funny word? It makes me think of lips. Anyway- moving on in the stream of consciousness...

( Brad says that sometimes when I do my stream of consciousness thing out loud in conversation, it's like tickling him. I guess it bothers him and amuses him simultaneously. But then, Brad says a lot of things. He also says that living with me is good training for having a teenage daughter someday. To be fair, I begged him to tell me what he was thinking, and that was it...)

I actually bought a brand new hard cover book. I NEVER do that. I almost always get used books...but this was a new book in a series that I had read about a year ago...and so after an almost exhaustive perusal of the store, I took el plunge-o. I suppose I could have looked for it in the library someday...but I WANTED it, so I got it. After all, what are Gift Certifs for, if not to GET WHAT YOU WANT?! I also got a used childrens' book, and a blank book/journal and exceeded the Gift Certificate a bit ( why do I always have the urge to say Gift Snertificate?).

Giving me a gift snertificate to a bookstore is one of the best things you can do for me. It sends me into paroxysms of joy to really indulge in a good, hearty browse but at the same time it is also one of the most frustrating challenges, an exquisite torture in fact, because there are just TOO MANY BOOKS I WANT TO BUY! I feel a mounting sense of urgency as I wander through the stacks of books...I want to read that, and that, and That, and THAT!...or at least try them out to see if they are any good...And I wish I could just read my whole life. Then I wonder if all these books will be available to read in eternity. Will bad books disappear with the return of Christ? Will sections of books disappear? Will words disappear? Are bad words unknown in heaven? I mean, even if we try to remember them, will we be able to? Or are earthly books banned? Will there be just books written in heaven there? In any event, I think in my heavenly mansion, or maybe just next door, there is going to be a huge, grand library- I mean, football stadiums huge- with rolling ladders and everything. And best of all, there will be TIME to read them ALL.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

( Don't) Let them eat...CHEESE!

Well, work today was like sitting on a bucket of eels on a tiger's back while trying to play the bagpipes, thread a sewing needle with twine, and tapdance. In other words, I was exhausted by the end of it. It was like being pecked to death by ten thousand chickens. If it were up to me, I think I would let the girls sleep in until lunch tomorrow. But no. It is not up to me.

But to spare you the same feeling of " WHAT am I doing here?", I will recount only one of the charming things I experienced today. One of the current residents is lactose intolerant. If she wants to eat a dairy product, she has to take special lactose pills. Hmmm. Well, apparently, there is some trouble in Denmark. Or something is rotten in paradise. There is disagreement about the source of this problem amongst the staff. Some think that the lactose pills aren't working because her system has gotten immune to them. Someone else thinks that she's not taking them long enough before she eats in order for them to be effective. Either way, she has gotten seriously sick recently. Why, in fact, just this afternoon, she and two other girls were upstairs with me doing laundry in the bathroom when she rushed into a stall and proceeded to upchuck her lunch into the toilet. And it didn't just happen once. Poor thing. It was not a fun thing to hear. I suppose it is good training to be a mother. ( No, I'm really not pregnant.) ( I'll probably tell you if/when I am.) I think it would be a lot simpler if she would just not eat dairy. Easy for me to say. I think I'd probably go out of my mind if I couldn't eat dairy. Well, all in a day's work. And guess what? I get to go back again tomorrow!

I just went to the funeral of Amos Anderson yesterday - a first class saint. One of the speakers at the service told a little story about when someone thanked him for his years of hard work and service to others, he said, " I did it for Jesus." I thought, Wow. Could I truly say that about my job? Do I honestly consider my work as ' unto the Lord?' I have to be honest here and say that I don't think I have had that attitude very much lately. A lot of times, I am so focused on where I am in the week...( Is it Monday? Wah. Is it Friday? Woohoo!)...or what I have to do ( Ugh- I have to go do meds...)...or where my current sanity level is...( today, the thought crossed my mind more than once that I wanted to bolt for the door, and make a screaming exit)...or check my paystub to see how many paid time off hours I have accrued recently...You get the picture. I have been inspired by Amos Anderson to look at my job not just as the thing I have to do, but something I can do, something I can give - an offering of my life to Jesus. Yes, an offering that may seem pretty mundane most of the time, but it's not the thing you're doing, but the attitude of your heart that counts. For instance, Brad didn't end up finding a car for me at the auction today. He almost got one that seemed perfect but then he smelled the inside and knew that I couldn't stand the smell of cigarette smoke and so he didn't buy it. He offered up his day off to buy me a car, and came home empty handed and discouraged, and I think I love him even more because of it.

So, back to the whole job thing... I have to say, if it's just for the money, or just to make me feel good because I am helping someone, or for me to have fun, it's not really going to satisfy. So, thanks, Mr. Anderson. I'll remember that.

Monday, August 15, 2005

"Talk about Night Terrors" and " My Husband: The Liar"

Brad is away this evening; he has gone down to Rhode Island so that he can go to the auction tomorrow morning with buy me a car. Wow. What a nice man. So I have decided to dedicate this post to him.

Penny's blog about being a closet nerd and watching the NASA channel reminded me of a story I wanted to tell about Brad. Pen, you must be related to him or something. Last week when the landlords were away and we were watching Shep, I was especially attuned to nocturnal noises. About 3:30 one morning, I awoke, heard something, and got up. Now, Cliff and Sarah had asked us to keep the radio on for Shep so he wouldn't feel lonely...( It was tuned to NPR so he could stay up to date with all the liberal news from around the world.) ( Okay- I like NPR.) Well, I heard Shep barking long and loud and I heard the radio upstairs turned up WAY louder than I remembered leaving it. I was pretty scared. So what did I do? I went back to bed and hoped that Brad would deal with it. I lay awake thinking that I heard footsteps upstairs. Were they dog steps or human steps? Hmmm. You know how everything seems worse at night? I was completely convinced that there were ROBBERS upstairs. ( Ever since my youth, the term has been "robbers" in our household. Not burglars, not bandits, not marauders, not thieves. Robbers.) By a stroke of luck, Brad did get up. ( This bodes well for the future - babies crying in the middle of the night and all that. No, I'm not pregnant.) But I didn't tell him that I was sure there were robbers upstairs. I think it was partly that I didn't want him to scoff at me, and partly that I was afraid that if he thought it was dangerous, he might be scared. ( What was I thinking?) Moments passed. More moments. Surely, he should be coming back by now! The robbers must have killed him! I began getting really desperate...somehow I just KNEW that the robbers were out in the living room waiting for me to come out. So I took my pepper spray and the cordless phone, my finger poised over the 9 so I could dial 9-1-1 with lightning speed, and stepped out into the living room...and there sat... Brad on the couch...watching the NASA channel. Oh my word. Well, in his defense, the shuttle was supposed to land that morning. But it was 3:30 in the morning...!! I was so glad to see him alive. My fears melted away like the Wicked Witch of the West. They seemed pretty ridiculous in the light of the living room. On one side of the door, I was picturing masked men, guns, pools of blood...and on the other side, my husband was sitting on the couch, watching pictures of the earth from space. My imagination is way too active.

Brad has an unusual skill: lying. Deceit, falsehood, whatever you want to call it. Several months ago, we indulged in some food of the Chinese persuasion. The fortune in his cookie, as he read it, went something like this, " A big man sees a small world and changes nothing." Or maybe it was, " A small man sees a big world and does nothing." I can't remember. Either way, we were both trying to figure out what that meant...and then he told me, about ten minutes later, he had totally made it up! Well, last week we had Chinese food again and when it came time to read the fortune in the cookie, he read what seemed to me to be a totally transparent, bogus, Bradley-brand lie. It was something like, " The man who does not think about his future does not have one." There was something about the way he read it...slowly, hesitating...I just knew I'd caught him this time. So I hastened to let him know that this time, he had not pulled one over on me. YES. Ah...the thrill of victory. He smiled, conceding defeat, and read the real fortune. I can't remember what it was...but when we got out to the car, he gave me the little slip of paper to read...and there it was: " The man who does not think about his future does not have one." He HAD pulled the wool over my eyes. He had made up the second one! And it sounded so real! I mean- the one he made up sounded better than the real one! I wish I could remember what it was. Oh my word. What a cunning little trixter. I'll have to ask him when he gets home and let you all know what it was. I think he has a real future as a fortune cookie writer.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Monadnock, Again

Yesterday, I went on the second Monadnock Hike of the summer. It was clear from the start that this hike was going to be a completely different experience from the one earlier in the season. The first factor was that it was pretty humid out yesterday and before long, I was sweating buckets. Ew. Well, we all were. Double Ew. Then, one of the girls had some difficulties breathing and her inhaler didn't seem to do much good. It seemed that it could be pretty serious and so Randa turned back down the mountain with the girl, leaving Matt and me with seven other girls. I stayed with the slow group- of course.

The two girls I was with ended up stopping about half a mile from the top. It was FINE with me. We sat on a rock with a great view and ate lunch while we waited for the other group. In fact, we started down the mountain a bit while we...ah...waited for them. ANYWAY- here was a quote heard while hiking, " Is there a drinking fountain at the top?" ( They were having trouble rationing their water.) AH...In a word, Nooooo. I think it was the same girl who asked if maggots grew under your arms if you didn't wash there. Oh my word. I should have said, " Try it!"

At long last, the trek was over. On our way home we stopped by Dublin Lake and jumped in. Huzzah! And then we went out to icecream - except not to Kimball's this time.

Speaking of icecream, Brad and I instituted a sugar fast in our household at the beginning of this month. There may have been one or two exceptions but I think I have consistently fallen off the wagon just about every day since then. It's nigh unto impossible when you are taking girls out to icecream practically every other day. Oh for some willpower.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Baby Arthur!

I can't let this day pass without mentioning that I got to meet my eight month old nephew Arthur for the very first time today! He is a precious, chubby, deliciously edible, adorable little boy. I also went egg collecting with Lexie. She seemed to enjoy it and looked so cute. Perhaps Karena will post some pix she took on her blog sometime... We had the 'rents, KK, Charlie, Lexie and Arthur over for dinner this evening and had a great time visiting. HUGE AMOUNTS OF FUN! Further bulletins as events warrant!

Martha Stewart Doesn't Live Here

Last week the girls went blueberry picking and ended up with 24 pounds!! One afternoon, shortly thereafter, I ended up with four girls in the kitchen with the task of baking something with the berries. I split the girls into pairs and, having confidence that Girl A & B seemed to know what they were doing, and realizing that Girl C & D were mere babes in the woods of cookery, I left A & B to fend for themselves. Of course, I did keep an eye on them and, as I said, they seemed competent. So Girls C & D made blueberry crisp - simple enough. We got it in the oven and they left the kitchen...just in time for me to realize that Girls A & B had committed a greivous error. They were making pear blueberry cobbler and instead of mixing the doughy part separately...they had NOT FOLLOWED THE DIRECTIONS and had combined ALL the ingredients in one bowl. Woe was me. I certainly learned my lesson not to take ANYTHING for granted as far as the girls' cooking skills are concerned. We did our best to salvage the disaster but it was pretty much beyond all attempts at repair.

The crowning touch came when Girl A opened up a new container of heavy cream to use as the last ingredient. After she had poured it into the hopelessly goopy mixture, she pointed out that it seemed odd...and lo, we looked at the expiration date and it was back in July! It smelled horrid and when i poured it out into the sink, there was definite CLOTTAGE involved. GROOOSS!

At this point, it was very hot and there was a construction meeting going on in the kitchen, and I had to stifle hysterical laughter. I told the girls to put it in the oven anyway - I didn't want them to have to throw it away at the moment of culmination. And the oven was already on anyway. I also wanted to see what it would look like...I set the timer only to realize later that I had set it for hours instead of minutes. ( Instead of sixty minutes, it was sixty hours.) And when I tried to cancel and change it, it wouldn't accept that command and did all sorts of things which totally confused me. It ended up refusing to be changed and so we just had to wait for sixty hours to go by before it buzzed. Oh my word. I was quite humiliated.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Slaughter of the Eggs

Well, we didn't end up going to Rye Beach after all. There were thunderstorms predicted so we went to a local lake so that if it rained ( which it did, a bit) we could hop in the vans and come home (which we did, but not before several hours of fun in de sun). I was secretly THRILLED not to go to Rye Beach, and not just because it would resurrect disturbing memories of the class trip when Sarah and I scampered away from the group to go have a private swim, only to be followed by a jogging Chad ( as opposed to a hanging Chad or a dimpled Chad), who had apparently not been warned that he was trespassing into the women's bathing area. His amused classmates, however, watched from afar wondering at his nerve. Fortunately, no harm came to anyone as Sarah and I 'sank beneath the rippling waves' for a time, times and half a time...No, I'm sure I couldn't have held my breath for that it was probably shorter than that... BUT I DIGRESS!

ANYWAY- the REAL reason I was thrilled not to go to Rye Beach is because it's a blooming TWO HOUR DRIVE away and those of you who know me know I don't go in very big for long car rides/drives...and I honestly was not hyped about spending that much time in a van listening to hip-hop muzak.

In addition to digging potatoes on Monday, I have also been playing the farm-girl at home. Our landlords are away on an 11 day sojourn to Oregon and we are helping out with the animals in their absence. My duties involve emptying the sheep's water ( I have contrived a way to do this without entering the pasture, tricky me) and refilling it, of course, watering the garden ( I KNOW that isn't an animal...), feeding and watering the chickens and geese ( a wild, female wood duck has joined their ranks!), caring for their German Shepherd ( named "Shep", surprisingly enough), AND...dun dun DUUUUUN...COLLECTING EGGS! This is an exciting first for me.

I ventured into yon chicken house recently and gathered eggs. I was sort of awed to find that they come in different colors besides brown and white! A couple that I gathered were actually GREENISH! Up until today I had gathered about eight...and I already had almost a dozen from the store in the fridge. ( Sarah said I could keep as many as I wanted.) So I didn't think I really needed many more...and decided to follow Sarah's instructions on what to do with surplus eggs. Are you ready for this? She said to THROW THE EGGS ON THE GROUND AND BREAK THEM...and the chickens would come and EAT THEM! So, I collected the six doomed little eggs in the one little berth in the chicken house that seems to be the favored laying spot ( I haven't found any eggs in any other place except this one little box) and feeling rather strange, I stepped out into the yard...and the chickens seemed to know what was coming because they all started clustering around me. I threw down the first egg...and it just bounced and rolled! It happened with the next egg too! These farm eggs are tough! I succeeded in breaking some of the eggs, and it was HORRIFYING and DISGUSTING to see how the chickens would go wild to get at them. Well I pursued the tough eggs and, feeling rather like Moses throwing down the ten commandments, I hurled them to the earth again...and again. I bet Moses didn't even have to try as hard with his tablets. I lost one in the woods and succeeded with the other. I felt rather cruel and weird, but hey, I'm just following orders. Sarah said it was a great way to recycle the eggs. Whatever. Their yolks are on her head. Figuratively, of course.

AAAHHH! "Soylent Green is... People!"

( I don't really know how that last comment applies exactly as I know the analogy is far from perfect but I felt moved to mention it, as I think there is some vague connection there.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Of Quilts and Potatoes

Here are some of the recent activities that I have been involved in at the Shelter: Quiltmaking, Potato digging, and playing Spoons!

Last week we had a project where girls were constructing their own quilt squares- using Wonder-Unders. No- that is not an undergarment - it's some sort of adhesive iron-on material that makes the scraps of material adhere to the backing. Ingenious. So they didn't have to actually SEW it on. A good thing because I think needle and threading them together would have driven some of them really batty. As it was, some chose to do a decorative stitch around the outside border, and that was test enough of their sanity. Anyway- I participated and had more fun that I anticipated... but I am in no way convinced that this is any indication of latent craftiness in me. It was ALL the Wonder-Under.

Potato Digging: On Monday, I went along to the Community Co-op farm where the girls volunteer once a week. The task for the day was weeding and digging up potatoes. I tried both and found the digging/harvesting much more rewarding. Of course, it was only for an hour and a half or so, but it was kinda fun mucking about in my bare feet. I got quite filthy COMMUNING WITH THE EARTH!

I thought briefly, as I wiped the sweat from my forehead, of how easy we have it today compared with our ancestors, to whom backbreaking, sweaty physical labor in the fields was not a matter of an hour and a half of community service...but a daily reality and truly a matter of life and death. It's interesting to think of how our existence can be traced back to the faithfulness of our ancestors. In other words, I was thankful for the generations of people who struggled and scrimped and saved and stretched and sweated and SURVIVED to produce feed families...who had children...who in turn had children...and so on... and eventually, I arrived on the scene...with my microwave and refrigerator and Shaws and Hannafords. Huh. I can feel them scoffing at me from their graves.

I was ALSO thankful that I didn't encounter any cut worms, which the girls were collecting to feed to the chickens after we were done our tasks. One girl was collecting potato bugs to string onto a necklace. Well, THERE'S a crafty one. Most of the girls are ultra-city girls and it was a great hurdle to convince them that getting dirt under their fingernails was not a major catastrophe. And they didn't seem to understand why the farmer didn't just spray his field to get rid of weeds and bugs. I tried to explain that it was an ORGANIC FARM...and why some people don't like to eat stuff that has been sprayed with poison...They still thought the poison was preferable to manual labor. ( I have to say- I don't eat organic but I can see myself doing it someday...and I understand why some people do.) But overall, they had pretty good attitudes about it all.

The next morning I cooked up some of the potatoes they had picked and made home fries for the girls' breakfast ( and fried some eggs too) and they tasted fairly superior, if I do say so myself. Hmmm- if I had really been crafty, in the true sense of the word, I would have made two batches- one organic, one pesticidal, and doctored the pesticidal ones to taste horrible...Hmmm.

And today I played Spoons and Uno. Doesn't get much better than this. And Friday, I am supposed to go on a field trip to Rye Beach...which reminds me of a story of when I was in my second year of Bibleschool...involving Chad doing a "Chariots of Fire" imitation...but that is a story for another day...