Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Snippets of Stuff

I am adjusting nicely to my new, post-AGS lifestyle: I get a bit more sleep in the mornings, these days. Last night, I actually dreamed about being back at work but something struck me as funny ( but if I described it to you, it wouldn't sound funny- odd how sometimes things in dreams that crack you up just don't translate into funny in normal life.) Anyway- I laughed OUT LOUD in my sleep! Brad said, " What's so funny?" but I didn't answer.

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

My Last Day

Well, I was contemplating posting a picture of Brad where he photo-shopped all his hair off...but I decided not to...or rather, um, Brad said, "Nah." And since he holds all the knowledge of how to post pictures on here, well, that was it. Sorry I have left you all in suspense...but no, he did not shave his head. I think we are dealing with enough change at the moment.

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

Go up thou bald-head?

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

AWOL fruit and other Terrors

So I was sitting on the couch this morning, ( or rather...uh...yesterday morning- FRIDAY morning) reading my Bible, and suddenly I see something out of the corner of my eye...moving fast across the living room floor. As I was wearing my glasses, which are sadly not so powerful, I couldn't tell exactly what the creature was. It was sort of brownish and bullet shaped, very small and moved with amazing speed. I sat transfixed, mute with horror, watching it disappear, and appear, and traverse the length of the living room...and then I let out some small, wailing cries to my husband who was just waking up in the next room. Bless his heart- he came out and set some traps. Sigh. So the traps are back. Yep- peanut butter and all.

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

Does Blogspot have an Official Cereal...The Breakfast of Bloggers? I need the special toy inside...

Today I did something I've never done before: I tie-dyed. It seems like tie-dying is the kind of thing EVERYONE does at some point in their lives. I've always felt rather left out as I've contemplated that void in my range of experiences; somehow I've gone twenty seven years without doing it. ( I just had to stop and think for a minute because I couldn't remember how old I am. Good grief!) I've always been sort of mystified by the process but today, all was made plain. However, I have yet to see the finished product because we have to let them sit for twenty four hours and then wash them. Pretty fun. Mine is all different colors on the front and all purple on the back. AND all the T-shirts have a great little anti-tobacco logo on the front! How nifty is that?

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 go to a Hootenanny.

Yesterday, my first day back at work, was absolutely horrendous and I had a sinking feeling that these next two weeks were going to be the longest of my life. I kicked myself for giving five weeks notice instead of two.

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

Non Nobis...etc

We just got home and have collapsed in blessed relief into our humble abode. It is SOOOO good to be home. I'm not even going to THINK about all that is to come later in the month.

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

Various Musings on Laziness, Cleanliness and Dreams

I have observed a strange phenomenon during the last few days. There comes a point in each day when the desire to be productive wanes...and all you want is to escape. You don't CARE any more. You just want to run away and do ANYTHING but what you're doing...and preferably be in the midst of order and cleanliness, please and thankyou. ANYWAY-The strange phenomenon is that each day that time comes earlier and earlier. Weird, huh? At first it was like 4:00 in the afternoon...Today it was like 11:00 in the morning!! But it's okay because the end is truly in sight.

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

The Miracle is Happening

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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

We stand on the brink of madness, my friends...

We are practically delirious.

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 are tired little noodles

To continue on...

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.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day- emphasis on LABOR

Well, it's Labor Day...and boy have we labored.

We arrived here - in California- around midnight Sat. night/Sun. morning. But to our Eastern Standard Time bodies, it felt like 3:00 a.m. But what was the first thing we did? Did we go straight to bed like normal people? No. We went up to the attic and started assessing the situation, as it were. Ah, yes. And then we ate frozen pizzas. By the time we went to bed, it was around 4:00 a.m. EST.

We hit the ground running Sunday morning. We had our our own little Communion service and it was one of the nicest times I've ever had eating the Lords' Supper...and probably the only time I'll ever partake of it wearing grubby clothes. It made me realize how Jesus isn't the kind of God who sits around in church all week in dressed up clothes. He is accessible. He is involved in the nitty gritty activities...like cleaning out a house with 50 years worth of belongings.

We decided to have a Labor Day yard sale and so most of yesterday was devoted to sorting things out between piles of "Keep" "Throw Away" and " Yardsale." There is a tired old dumpster out in the front - twenty square yards- and we began filling it up pretty fast. One of the first things Pen and I did was start on the kitchen cupboards. WOW. Spices from 1973! Tupperware from the 80's! A veritable time capsule...Further bulletins as events warrant, but we are about to go partake of a much deserved dinner out on the town...See ya LATER!

Friday, September 02, 2005

What NEXT?

Well, my dears, the countdown has begun. I have two weeks left of work. ( Plus, next week is vacation- so three calendar weeks until I quit...) ANYway...the following serves to underscore how MUCH I will miss working there.

You remember Marci, right? ( HOW could you forget? Other than Brad and me, she is like The Star of this Blog!) Well, the other day she proceeded to tell me yet another true to life tale of Marci in the wilds of New Hampshire. I listened with incredulous ears...

Apparently, she was driving home from second shift at about midnight, when out of the dark night sky swooped...an OWL...which SLAMMED into her windshield. !!!! And bounced off. !!! Well! So what does she do? Keep in mind that this is the same woman who adopted a wandering fawn. Why, of course, she stops, gets out, wraps the bird in a towel, and puts it in the back seat. Naturally. Well, she's driving along at about 50 mph and suddenly the bird revives. I don't know what the towel situation is at this point...whether it's still swathed in the towel or what...but it did what owls do: it perched. However, it chose a rather unusual place to perch: Marci's head. So of course, she screamed! ( At this point, I was practically screaming too- just hearing about it!) I can only imagine...A bird perched in her hair, screaming down the road at high speeds. Soon after this, she got home, opened the back door of the car, and woman and owl faced each other. Eye to unblinking eye. Marci's words to the bird were as follows: " Dude! I'm so sorry! But you hit me first!" The bird looked back at her and tipped his head to one side- just like he understood. Her imitation of his head tilting back and forth, side to side was just...what else...a HOOT! Well, he was reluctant to fly away...but Marci was not about to be stuck with another refugee animal again. No WAY was she going to call the Fish and Game villains. Thankfully, the owl caught on and made a graceful exit. PHEW! UNNNN-BELIEEEEVABLE!

I was seized with inspiration this morning, found a copy of "The Owl and the Pussycat", tweaked it a bit, and came up with a New and Improved! version entitled, " The Owl and Marcia."