Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Return of the Charli-doll

Brad has set up the equipment to make "Charli-dolls" again. This is a craft invented by his grandfather, Charlie, and manufactured in his home for many years. When we cleaned out his house in California, we packed up the essential Charli-doll stuff and shipped it "back east." Last week Brad and his father bought some plastic eggs and we started drawing the faces. The other day Brad produced a proto-type...the first Charli-doll made in several years. I think his satisfaction must have been equalled only by Saruman's when the first Uruk-hai burst forth from the muddy earth. (Except Brad did not bellow, "You shall eat Man-Flesh!" as he beheld his fresh creation. Although, he may have. I wasn't actually there. And the Charli-doll did not immediately reach out and murder someone.)

ANYWAY...This afternoon, Grandpa and I went out to Michael's to get some new yarn- the biological material of these dolls. He seemed totally stunned at the massive variety on display in that store. I forced myself not to think of the piles of industrial sized spools of yarn that we had to throw away in California, just because there were too many of them to send back. We bought several skeins, and then hopped over to Target, to peruse the candy aisles. Candy, you see, is the other essential biological material of these dolls. Why else do you think I would be involved? Candy? I'm there!

We found Jelly Bellies with no fact, there were tons of those little bins where you can shovel out your own chosen amount and assortment of jelly bellies into a little bag to buy....But it was more cost effective to just buy the pre-bagged kind. I was wandering the aisles looking for LifeSavers- another, even more crucial biological material- and failing utterly, when I came around the corner and had the distinct impression that Grandpa had been sampling the jelly belly wares. Oh dear. I suppose one or two would be okay, and I guess that's all it was...but seeing as how there was no little "Sample- 5 cents" box, like those Brach's candies displays have sometimes, I did not feel comfortable enough to nab a few myself, using the old "five finger discount." I just ignored it, and stepped into the next aisle, hoping that if some security guard came careening around the corner and nabbed him for shoplifting jelly bellies, that I would be far enough removed to not be seen as "in cahoots" with this man. And I didn't exactly want to confront him on the scene because that probably WOULD bring the authorities running...

We did manage to get safely away.

( To be fair, I'm sure Grandpa didn't realize that he wasn't supposed to be eating the Jelly Bellies from the bins...)

And tomorrow...the production continues, full scale! ( Albeit, with LifeSavers a la California, which means they may be of questionable age...So if you happen to be the lucky recipient of one of these dolls in the near future --which you probably won't, because I know they'll be gone in about ten minutes flat to all the children of the neighborhood--I advise you to skip the LifeSavers. Just go straight for the Jelly Bellies- inside the plastic-egg head.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Wedding Nightmare

Okay. What is the deal with stressful dreams of late?

Last night, I found that I was at Fairwood, getting ready to attend Jeff and Fritha's wedding. Uh, change of plans, I guess. I had thought they were going to get married in Florida...but ...WHATEVER. So, they asked me to sing at their wedding- in real life, not just in the dream- and as I made my way to the chapel, I realized that I didn't have my guitar. It was up in my car at Fairview. Argh. So, with minutes to go before the bridal processional, I had to charge up the hill - in the cold, gray rain- to find my guitar. And then, as I entered the church dragging the guitar, panting, puffing, bedraggled- somehow, still moments before the wedding started- I realized that I was also missing the piece of paper on which I had written the words and chords of the song...I was inches from wild-eyed panic. Man! Talk about irresponsible and disorganized! I was so glad to wake up and realize it was all just a dream. I hope this isn't a bad omen about my performance at the real wedding- still six weeks away. Now I'll be real careful to make sure I bring the guitar and music...

Usually, it's the bride who has nightmares about her wedding. I can't imagine Fritha being so stressed that she would have bad dreams about I guess I will volunteer to take care of that aspect for her.

Monday, March 27, 2006

That Turner Team!

Last night I dreamed that I went to China with the Turner family. Well, in the dream, their name wasn't The Turners...but it was them just the same. We were in some bus station or airport or some such place and some woman came up and started asking me some questions. Her English was remarkably good; I was impressed. While we were talking, the Turners left without me! I remember being totally panic stricken, not knowing where to go. Alone! In China! The things nightmares are made of! Later in the dream, I sat alone in the dark airport/bus station and heard the Turners on a radio program. Apparently, they had all ended up in a very leaky tent and so I was sort of relieved that I hadn't stuck with them. I mean, come on...Who would take a damp tent when you could have a dark bus station in China all to yourself?

What does this dream signify? Does it signify that I feel abandoned? Does it confirm the age old truth your parents drilled into your head: "Don't talk to strangers!"? Does this mean I am being called to China as a missionary? Does it suggest that the Turners are a hasty bunch and not to be trusted? Does this prove the Proverb wrong, " Better a dish of vegetables in a lonely bus station, than the king's vittles in a leaky tent with The Turners." ?

( In reading this post to Brad before publication, he said, " At this point, I think you're high from illicit narcotics.")

Yes, I am thoroughly nuts.

I also dreamed that one of my front bottom teeth fell out. But not on the China trip. There would be NO interpreting that strange combination.

P.S. No Turners were harmed during the making of this post. In fact, I really like the Turners. Especially Ruth. I think Ruth must have tried to not leave me behind in the dream. But the rest of them must have just swept her along. There's no way of really knowing.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Steak or a cheeseburger?

If someone has been feasting on the fat of the land for twenty years, what posesses them to abandon that way of life? I really want to know. What makes someone who has been served steak and caviar on silver platters for dinner every night suddenly decide that henceforth and forevermore it's a good idea to plan on running down the street to the local fastfood joint to get a cheeseburger instead?

If you were invited to the White House every morning for breakfast with the President- and lived near enough to drive there, or were provided with a helicopter to get there- would you sleep in on a regular basis and say, " Oh, I guess it doesn't matter. I'll find some other way to feed myself..." or better yet, " I guess I just won't eat today..." WELL???

Come on, people! It's time to wake up and smell reality! I'm not going to explain my little foody parables; if it's not blatantly obvious what I'm talking about, then just forget it and move on to the next blog.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Grandpa and the Great Movie Debacle

Last night Brad and I watched "The Poseidon Adventure" with Grandpa. Now, I heartily do NOT recommend this movie. Firstly, it was made in the seventies, and therefore highly weird and cheesy and generally suspect in many ways. For those of you who know and love Mystery Science Theater, it was kind of that genre. Strike two: it has Gene Hackman in it, who never fails to creep me out. And then there were several more things that struck me as "EWWwww" so, suffice it to say, just because I am mentioning the fact that I watched it, please don't go out and try it yourself at home. It would just be a waste of your time. Basically, we watched it to spend time with Grandpa.

Having said all that, there was an element of enjoyable suspense to the tale. Because I know that those of you who have never seen it will probably not go out and get it after reading this, I feel somewhat at liberty to divulge some key plot points. The "Poseidon" is a cruise ship which, on her last voyage before retirement, meets a huge tsunami type wave which turns her upside down. A small group of people from the dining room decide to climb "up" to the bottom of the ship to see if they can get out somehow, instead of waiting below for help to come to them. They encounter many scary obstacles and difficulties, not to mention the fact that the ocean is in hot pursuit, flooding each deck, just as they are leaving it. There is much wild eyed terror and biting of knuckles.

Well, I had never seen this movie before, and in spite of its general weirditude, I was still a tad bit anxious to make sure they all got out and were freed from a watery grave. I often wondered how they would do it. Brad and Grandpa had seen it. Now, Brad is usually pretty good about not giving things away. Grandpa, on the other hand, is a first class spoiler!

There was this one scene where they had to swim underwater to get to the next safe place. Gene Hackman was the first one down, and got trapped somehow. So this older woman came to his rescue. She had to hold her breath for like a minute, and she reached the other side safely. But even before she got into the water, I knew she was going to eventually die from the strain of it...because Grandpa told me. " Yes, she makes it to the other side, but I guess her heart gives out on her." Ahhh. So glad to know ahead of time. And sure enough, shortly after she got out of the water, she collapsed and died. But then Grandpa was making noises about her husband, and how he was in for a similar fate. It must have been a while since he had watched this movie, because the old husband MADE IT to the END! He was rescued! I was so confused.

Good thing Grandpa never watched movies with Bibleschool students in the Rec Room. I don't know how he would have fared. People would have gotten so mad at him for giving away the ending.

In conclusion, I never want to go on a cruise in my LIFE. I can't hold my breath for more than like fifteen seconds and I stink at swimming. If I had been on the Poseidon, I probably would have been among the first to give up and die.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Two Things that Have Nothing to Do With Each Other

To most of you, it won't be news that I really like listening to NPR...even though I don't always agree with the political slant and worldview of some of the programs...They actually do have some good stuff. And compared to the shrill, crass commercialization of the AM stations- which I also listen to sometimes- there is an air of calmness, order, and peacefulness on NPR. AM people are wild-eyed, frantic, frothy, screaming maniacs. NPR people use measured, smooth, dulcet tones. ( I must credit Brad for providing me with that last adjective. Dulcet- another million dollar word.)

Well, you know how NPR stations have these fund raising drives several times a year? They try to convince you that you should fork over some money because they make programs you listen to. I have listened to pledge drives for about fifteen years and never called in or given a cent.( Yes, I listen to pledge drives. That shows how die-hard I am, I guess.) Am I an ungrateful little leach? The way I see it, if I should give money to support the programs I appreciate...what about the programs that I don't appreciate? Can I TAKE money from them for those programs that contain biased/uber-liberal/fuzzy thinking? Or jazz? I don't appreciate jazz. Can I take $120 a year for the jazz programs I don't listen to? I figure it all kind of cancels out in the end...

Last night after dinner, as Grandpa and I relaxed in the living room at Nate and Pen's, I started playing the guitar and singing. As I finished one song, Grandpa spoke up and said one of the nicest things that anyone has ever said to me. I can't remember the exact wording but it went something like this: " If there are ever any people in the world who want to start a war, you should sing for them and they'll forget all about going to war." Wow. So I guess I better start packing my suitcases for my war-stopping tour of the world.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Happy Birthday...

... to my mother!! Love you to the moon and back!

Don't Blame it On Omar...

The other day I turned on my cellphone to find three messages. The first one was from an individual named Mattie who was requesting that Omar call her back and give her "The Code."

I thought this was a bit odd because A) I don't know anyone named Mattie and 2) My name is not Omar. And this business about a "Code" struck me as suspicious in the extreme. Had I inadvertently stumbled upon some sort of mafia deal? A top-secret government operation? A terrorist plot? Were "Mattie" and "Omar" clever pseudonyms?

I moved on to the next message, which turned out to be a virtual carbon copy of the first, except that A) I detected a hint of rising irritation in Mattie's voice as she asked for a second time that Omar please call her back and 2) a new bit of information was divulged....There was a driver who needed the code. The plot thickens! A driver is involved! What is afoot here? A heist, involving jewels of inestimable value? A kidnapping?

At this point, in spite of my Hardy boy paranoia, I began to feel a little sorry for this Omar fellow. Mattie was getting dangerously exasperated with him, and it wasn't even his fault. His messages were getting hung up in MY voicemail. I was a little defensive for the poor guy. I took down Mattie's number...eager to straighten out the situation...and moved on to Message Number Three...

...which, not surprisingly, was another urgent communique from Mattie. Apparently, the driver had left... without "The Code." She spoke tersely, a quiet tone of desperation tinging her words. I could only imagine what intricate sequence of events might be hanging in the balance, ready to be hopelessly fouled up, should "The Code" not be forthcoming. She urged him again to call her...

I called her number...and the woman who answered said Mattie wasn't there right then. I had reached some "trucking" company. Okay. Yeah. Whatever. Nice little cover story. I explained the situation, and hopefully Omar is now vindicated.

I sincerely trust that I have not just aided some villains of the deepest dye in the committing of some heinous deed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Music from Out of the Void

Brad was online at the Outback Steakhouse website yesterday. We were both sitting here in the quiet living room, and suddenly there were about four or five notes of panpipe music that came out of the blue. I knew exactly what it was- the theme music/restaurant jingle of Outback, the kind of thing that automatically plays when you go to their website- but Brad is apparently ignorant of such trivia...because he freaked OUT.

It was so funny to watch him- his eyes got all bugged out and huge. He didn't know WHERE that music had come from. He was sitting in the chair with the laptop but the speakers were behind the chair... so the music came from behind him and he was completely disoriented.

He said later that he thought maybe someone was in our garage and that their cell phone had gone off. I think it's so funny how our brains can construct a scenario in about two seconds to respond to some stimuli that we can't immediately identify. Maybe you had to be here to appreciate it- but it was wickedly funny.

Every time I think about it, I am reduced to a helpless, cackling jelly.

Rite of Passage

Yesterday we got a lawn mower. Brad said that in getting this John Deere push mower, he feels he has finally come of age. Getting married didn't do it; buying a house didn't do it. But buying a lawn mower has catapulted him into adulthood at last. Strangely, it makes total sense to me. But now I'm wondering what will do the same thing for me.

The lawn looks great now, by the way- a veritable thing of beauty. Brad did a great job mowing it. You should come see it.

Hey- the house across the street from us is for sale. Anyone interested? It's brick, two story, has a two car garage...AND...the ultimate selling point...It has a nice view of our beautiful front lawn!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Monday Ruminations

I worked on an application today for a job that would involve working with children. They asked me to list my past experiences working with groups of children...Ayeyeyey! Do you have all day?

I was looking over my resume, which is a bit patchy because I don't list all the tiddlywink summer jobs I've ever had. This set me wondering, " What DID I DO the summer of 2002?" It took me a minute to remember that I was a nanny for three boys, aged 7, 11 and 13. I guess I'd successfully repressed that whole experience in the nether regions of my psyche.

I went looking through some of my past diaries to figure out when I was a counselor or subcounselor at Fairwood Youth Conventions. It was an interesting foray into the memories of my youthful summers. There is so much that I had forgotten about growing up. I think teenagers have heightened senses, in some ways. Everything is more intense- pain and happiness, confusion, insecurities, joys... Just reading a few pages brought back memories of conversations, emotions, reactions, desires, idealistic assumptions, attitudes, immature opinions....Wow, was that really me?

This experience -- plus other recent ruminations -- has prompted me to ponder the way I see other people. None of us are static beings, as much as it may seem that we are the same old, set-in-stone individuals we always have been. Growth is always taking place, no matter how slow and invisible. But so often I find that I have a snapshot judgment of somebody else, based on past assumption of who they are that limits them, or does not allow them the freedom to be who they really are... I wish I had the eyes of God, to see someone else's whole life as one long, beautiful continuum, to see the final culminating scene, the big picture, the sum...But because I do not have access to that kind of knowledge, I must simply trust that there is a great work in progress, much as I must trust that He who began a good work in ME will be faithful to complete it.

Friday, March 10, 2006


I never dreamed that all my whining would garner so much sympathy. Thanks for all the kind words and support. But I think it's time that I put up something else. Anything else. So here goes...

--Garner. Now, isn't that a good word?

--The latest offerings from our neighbors: fried catfish and tater tots. Combined with my tasty brussel sprouts and we had a fine dinner tonight. Who needs ravens to bring you food when you have neighbors who share? I think I'm going to give up cooking completely.

--Right now I'm reading Terry Waite's memoir; he was held hostage in Lebanon during the '80s. And I'm also reading "When Character Was King" by PeggyNoonan, and "The Professor and the Madman; A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary." Two of these books are due today at the library. And it's almost midnight. Think I should call to renew them?

-- I planted purple creeping phlox under the mailbox.

And this concludes our broadcast day.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


I don't know what's come over me. Two posts in one day! Maybe it's because I'm wearing my blogger T-shirt today ( the one I bought for Brad on his birthday last year but adopted for myself when we found that it was too small for him). Maybe it's due to the recent long drought of posts. Perhaps this post will never make it to press. I feel I have a lot to pour out and so I may end up stepping on some toes...

Let me just start by saying, I LOVE YOU ALL. ( What a great disclaimer, hmmm?)


I'm getting all verklempt about people. I know that I am part of the body of Christ- which consists of other people. It has been thoroughly engrained in me that we need other people to survive and, indeed, THRIVE in the Christian life.

But right now, it seems that other people, more often than not, are simply instruments of frustration and pain. There is a fine line between being strengthened by others and coming to depend unhealthily on others. Is it cynical or realistic to think that other people, no matter how well intentioned, are sooner or later going to hurt you, disappoint you, betray you or leave you...? I don't like talking about how people have let me down; I'd rather think about something else because it's too depressing. But the hurt is still there, whether you talk about it or not. How do you deal with that wound? What do you do after you say, "Okay, I understand, I forgive..." but you're still sad and upset?

I guess this experience must be a good thing though, because it causes me to ask myself,
" WHY do I do the things I do? WHY do I believe, act, pray, talk, worship, conduct myself the way I do? Why do I hold so tightly to this way of life? Is it because of other people? Because they're doing it? Because I don't want to disappoint them? Is it just habit? Is it because this is what God wants me to do? Is it because I think this is The Way Things Ought To Be- the true, original and future way of life?"

Oswald Chambers said something like this, " It's just me and God; other people are just shadows." ( Claire Paraphrased Version.) I love that quote. It brings helpful perspective. Right now I feel like, BRING IT ON! If only other people WERE just shadows. I think I could deal with them a lot easier that way.

Brad asked me the other day if I was going to give up anything for Lent. Right now, I think I should give up PEOPLE for Lent! Why do I get the feeling that this is a totally fleshly impulse? ARGH.

In times like these, I LONG to be one of those monastic hermits. I think that would be an AWESOME route to holiness. Go out into the wilderness and FEND for YOURSELF. Get a little Raven Delivery Service going...and you've got utopia. Freeee from the tyranny of BEING INVOLVED. Bliss, eh?

So why am I NOT out in a desert right now, setting up house in some cave? Good question...and one which I am seriously asking myself right about now. I guess God wants me to know vulnerability. Because I have been called to be a part of His body, a body consisting of other people, this means I will experience pain. That's just how it works. He wants me to share the fellowship of His sufferings, of His disappointments. ( IS He disappointed in us sometimes?) He wants me to LOVE and to know that LOVE HURTS sometimes, that faithfulness involves sacrifice. Love doesn't hold other people's poor decisions or bad attitudes up to constant scrutiny or condemnation. And, MAN, is that hard work- to let things go.

It's a difficult paradox- to live in a body of people, and be closely involved with others, and yet, let God take care of the parts of other people's lives that cause us pain. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? I guess the moral of the story here is, be careful in the choices that you make, and the attitudes that you adopt. Because like it or not, no man is an island, and so what YOU DO affects me- probably more than you know.

But you know what? It's not all about me. Shocking, I know. I'm sorry if this post has come across as whiny, preachy, or self-centered. ( I am hurting, I am mad, I think people are rotten, I am affected by other's choices, I am so much better than them, I have needs... I'm starting to sound like a victim...or worse yet, the very people that are giving me the headache in the first place. ) That is not my intention. I'm wrestling with some things and am just tired of it. People worry me. How can I not care? SHOULD I care?

"Earthly friends may prove untrue, doubts and fears assail. One still loves and cares for you: One who will not fail. Jesus never fails..."

Weeding Extravaganzaaaaa

I got a call from OfficeTeam ( a temp agency I have used in the past) the other day to come in for a re-evaluation of my skills. I thought I should print out directions and drive up to Atlanta Sunday afternoon to scout out the area since I'm not familiar with it. I loathe finding new places under pressure. So I found the right street, but I found myself entering the Delta compound of the airport...I drove all around and finally gave up. I drove south and dropped in on Brad at the store; I told him about my problem, and his co-worker, Steve asked, " Where were you going?" and I told him. He started laughing. He got on the phone to his wife...who, as it turns out... works at Office Team...and is in fact, the woman who was scheduled to interview me. We couldn't stop laughing. She told me what building to go which I had driven around at least twice...Small world, huh? And I was just telling someone recently that it's different down here b/c I don't have the same sort of "networking" thing that I did in N.H...

So I went up yesterday and it all went well. Hopefully something will turn up in the way of a temp job. Hurray...Because I need to do something different soon. It's very difficult for me to function making my own structure for extended periods of time. I do much better when structure is imposed upon me.'re probably wondering why weeding is in the title of the post...Has she got a job weeeeding?

Last evening I started weeding out the little patch of dirt around our mailbox. The next door neighbor girl- Clay's little sister- about six years old- came out and started pulling weeds with me. Then she called out to her little friend at the next house down and she came over and started pulling weeds too! Eventually two other of her siblings came over and attacked the weeds...all the while having a great time, talking, laughing, ooohing and aahhing over worms and a dead frog we found. I was amazed that these kids just volunteered to help me. When I was that age, my parents had to PAY me to pull weeds in the garden. ( I remember Daddy said I could have a penny for every weed I picked. I think my ambition extended to about a dollar...)

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Thursday afternoon, the doorbell rang and there stood our next door neighbor with a bag in his hand. This man is a chef- or a consultant at a major food supplier; I don't know his exact title. Anyway- he had recently attended some big old food show thing...and he was bringing us some leftovers. Wow- how do we rate? In the bag were a bunch of other smaller bags, including: some luscious looking steaks, a bag of frozen shrimp ( YESSSSS), a bag of broccoli salad, and a gargantuan amount of cheese. My WORD.