Saturday, March 31, 2007

Poised for the Plunge

Well, my friends, I start my new job next week. On Tuesday, to be precise. Monday will be taken up with CPR and First Aid class at the local chapter of the Red Cross. ( Required for the job.) I'm a little nervous but also pretty excited. I lie awake at night and think about the job; my eating habits have been majorly affected- I have no appetite. I'll be glad when this newness all wears off and things settle into a routine. The first few days will be sort of a "getting to know you" type of thing, so we probably won't be doing a whole lot of actual work.

In preparation for starting, I went shopping the other day at a local second hand bookstore (what JOY!); my mission was JUST to look for children's books and I bought several, including a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book, which I was especially deLIGHTed to find. I also spent a lot of time at the the children's section! What a hoot! I hadn't spent so much time in a children's section since I was a child. And the weird thing was, I recognized some of the books! I mean- not just generic old favorites like Charlotte's Web but actual particular, somewhat obscure books that I had checked out when we lived in McDonough in the early 90's. We went to this library ( which was in a different building then, but contained many of the same books) and I was 12 and 13 years old at the time; but because it's in a different location now, I had forgotten that it is essentially the same library. It was so neat!

As I was checking out a small pile of books, I noticed a sign at the desk that said, "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy." It made me smile.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Portrait of a Stranger

This nice lady served us at a local independent coffee establishment this evening. She didn't want me to mention where she worked, just in case her boss were to find out and see how bored she was. I guess it was a slow day. We took pity on her and ordered extra items to bring home.

Thanks to Liane for organizing this photo week. It has been a blast.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

Yes, You CAN read this whole post!

Today is March 26th: Day One of the AC. That's right- we turned on the air conditioning. Also, we are drowning in near record breaking showers of pollen. Spring is springing and it is glorious.

I picked up a book at Goodwill recently: The Journey of Desire: Searching for the Life we've only Dreamed Of, by John Eldredge. Oh my word- I want to buy a copy of this book for EVERYONE I KNOW. It is delectable. I keep finding passages that resonate so deeply with me and I want to quote them and post on the blog...and they keep stretching on and on...and I think: Maybe I should just post the whole book! Hmmmm....there are surely some sort of copyright issues there...but, I will share with you an extended quote. A quote of Israel report-like proportions, but it's good. And you don't have to read it. That's the beauty of the blog. It's too long? Okay- don't read it. Fine. Deprive yourself of some scrumptious truth. Be my non-guest.

I DARE you to read on.

Defy your fear of too many paragraphs!

Here's something that seems apropos of the season. I know that not all of you who read this are enjoying the same warm temperatures and greenery that we are, so this is a token of hope for you.

He starts off chapter seven, "The Great Restoration" ( Huh!), by talking about a friend who he had recently lost in a tragic accident.

" My heart was so aware of the loss - not only of Brent, but in some ways, of everything that mattered. I knew that one by one, I would lose everyone I cared about and the life I am still seeking...Telling myself to long for eternity feels like telling myself to let go of all I love - forever. It feels like accepting the teaching of Eastern religions, a denial of life and all God created. We lose it all too soon, before we can begin to live and love. But what if? What if nature is speaking to us? What if sunrise and sunset tell the tale every day, remembering Eden's glory, prophesying Eden's return? What if it shall all be restored?"

Back to me ( Claire) here: Resonating yet? And then, skipping along, he's talking about how spring comes late to Colorado, where he lives...blah blah blah...

"Through February and then March, the earth remains lifeless. The whole world lies shadowed in brown and gray tones, like an old photograph. Winter's novelty is long past, and by April we are longing for some sign of life - some color, some hope. Instead, we get dumped on. It's our biggest snow month. While the azaleas are coming out in full glory in Atlanta, and the dogwoods are blooming pink and white in Portland, we are shoveling several feet of snow. It's too long.

And then, just this afternoon, I rounded the corner into our neighborhood, and suddenly, the world was green again. The bluffs behind our house were transformed. What had been rock and twig and dead mulch was a rich oriental carpet of green. I was shocked, stunned. How did it happen? As if in disbelief, I got out of my car and began to walk through the woods, touching every leaf. Just yesterday the scrub oaks had the twisted, gnarled look of the hands of an old witch. Now they are beautiful, tender, supple like a maiden. The birds are back as well, waking us in the morning with their glad songs. All the chirps and cheeps and whistles and twitters, a raucous melody of simple joy. It happened suddenly. In the twinkling of an eye.

My surprise is telling. It seems natural to long for spring; it is another thing to be completely stunned by its return. I am truly and genuinely surprised, as if my reaction were, Really? What are you doing here? And then I realized, I never thought I'd see you again. I think in some deep place inside, I had accepted the fact that winter is what is really true. As I lived through the first year of my grief, I had unconsciously settled into resignation. Empty and still, the world outside seemed a confirmation, the only fitting backdrop to the world within. I am shocked by the return of spring. And I wonder, Can the same thing happen for my soul?

Grief melts away
Like snow in May
As if there were no such cold thing.
Who would have thought my shrivl'd heart
Could have recover'd greennesse? It was gone
Quite underground

And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O my only light
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.

( "The Flower" George Herbert)

Can it really happen? Can things in our lives be green again? No matter what our creeds may tell us, our hearts have settled into another belief. We have accepted the winter of this world as the final word and tried to get on without the hope of spring. It will never come, we have assumed, and so I must find whatever life here I can. We have been so committed to arranging for our happiness that we have missed the signs of spring. We haven't given any serious thought to what might be around the corner. Were eternity to appear tomorrow, we would be as shocked as I have been with the return of spring, only more so. Our practical agnosticism would be revealed. Pascal declared, " Our imagination so powerfully magnifies time, by continual reflections upon it, and so diminishes eternity...for want of reflection, that we make a nothing of eternity and an eternity of nothing.""

I could go on and on, quoting from this book, and perhaps I will post more excerpts at a later date. It's just SOOOO good -so what I need right now.

Corners of My Home

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Quoth the Housewife: Nevermore

Mere moments after I replaced the upstairs bathroom's toilet paper, I returned to the same bathroom, and lo, there was a tremendous mound of snowy, unused TP sitting under an empty roll.


I can just imagine Stan's delight in finding a new source of entertainment. Reminds me of the chapter in one of the Ramona Quimby books where the heroine squeezes out all the toothpaste in a brand new tube, just for the sheer joy of it. I'm just glad that our dear little kitty didn't take it in his head to run all over the house and deck the halls with streams of paper. ( fa la la la la la la la la)

By order of me, henceforth all bathroom doors in this house are to be shut at all times, except upon entering and exiting said rooms.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Guess WHAT?!

I got a job! It seems so incredibly miraculous that I almost don't believe it myself! I am still waiting for some disaster to crop up and the whole she-bang to fall through. I am truly my father's daughter. But, slowly, little by little, I am starting to realize that this is actually happening.

I won't get too detailed - for privacy's sake- but I'll fill you in on the basics.

I found a listing on a certain online job site for someone to help out a teen with special needs. I called the number and got in touch with the mom; we set up an interview. Long story short, the interview went very well and we all liked each other and unless something majorly unforseen happens, I may start working in the next couple weeks. I have to take CPR and First Aid classes between now and then, but I'm not too concerned about that.

I will be helping a 13 year old boy who has cerebral palsy and cortical visual impairment- which means he has limited vision - but I think it's a matter of things being close enough and big enough...Apparently, some days are better than others, sight-wise. He is non-verbal and communicates through a special computer, which is difficult to explain seeing as how I'm still learning about it myself. I would be helping him after school- and through the summer months- working on literacy skills and communication skills. Basically, right now, he relies on the pre-programmed words and phrases in his communication device and his parents really want him to learn how to form his own sentences with the computer. A big part of it will be learning how to motivate him to do this. Anyway- I know it will have its challenges, and there will be a lot of learning and research to do, but I think that it could work out to be a really good situation for all involved and I'm pretty excited about it. A little nervous- but I think I'd be foolish and arrogant if I was totally calm about it...

I think I'm going to use a literature based approach ( the FUN part! ) and I'm going to meet with his teachers soon to consult with them, assess his reading level and read his IEP etc.

It just seems almost too good to be true in so many ways. It's part time- between 20-25 hours a week, it's a ten minute drive from my house, the pay is very good, and it's a Grandpa-oriented schedule, meaning that I will be home in time to make dinner appear on the table at a reasonable hour.'s something that I'm interested in and something in which I feel that my skills and background would be put to good use.

I'm just amazed at how God has dropped this in my lap. I almost don't want to write about it for fear that telling people about it will somehow sabotage it but I couldn't hold back any longer! Plus, with Brad's little northerly trip, I know he will be seeing some of you in the near future, and I wanted to spill the beans before he got a chance to...Heh heh.

Speaking of which, I'm rigging the house up with all kinds of alarms and booby-traps for the next few days, so if you're planning a surprise middle of the night visit, be forewarned. The Swiss Family Robinson has nothing on me...except, now that I think of it- they had a huge pile of coconut bombs...whereas my stash is quite modest in comparison. But everything else is spot-on...better in fact. Yep- big pile of logs waiting to be unleashed...

...And I KNOW I digress, but I just have to say that I have a very fond memory of watching that movie ( Swiss Family R.) with the Demmes as a child and making them rewind the part where the logs roll down the hill to squash the oncoming evil pirates. The exact spot I wanted to see was when one of the logs hit this bald man RIGHT on the noggin and made the most gratifying hollow BOINK sound... I just LOVED that part and could have watched it ten times in a row...and I probably did. It made me laugh uproariously every time. In fact, I recently watched that movie with Grandpa and found myself making him rewind that same part. Not as hilarious as when I was a child- but still chuckle inducing enough to see that segment at least a second time.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Let the Yardsales begin!

Yesterday, I had an early morning babysitting gig. Basically I rolled out of bed and went. The time went quite well and I was glad they were young children because I didn't feel I had to
spend a lot of time getting myself ready to look nice for them. My hair was all weird and
spriggish and I was wearing my glasses and shuffling around like an old house-frau. But we had a great time!

On my way home, however, I was tempted off the road by three yardsales. ( I know it sounds like I'm moving into an allegory here, but no, you're wrong.) I knew I looked like some sort of unkempt, homeless bumette who had stolen a silver sedan, but the love of a good yardsale is a powerful motivator. My love of yardsaling overcame my vanity; it even overcame the fact that I had no cash on hand and the knowledge that, pretty much as a rule, yardsale proprietors don't accept debit cards.

I did have a checkbook, however. I thought perhaps they might be suspicious and not accept it, thinking I was trying to con them by writing a bad check. ( The last time I wrote a check at a yard sale, when I bought a fairly expensive item, the man - a former cop- made me put down my driver's license number.) But I thought it just might work. And it did! Bless those friendly folks.

Here are my yardsale treasures of March 9th, 2007, all of which amounted to the grand total of $6.00:

I was delighted to find these three bags. The top one has a matching mini-coin purse inside and zips up on top, very handy for a carry-on. (As opposed to carrion. Spelling DOES matter, boys and girls. You're either holding a duffel bag or a hunk of dead, putrefying flesh. Which do you think you'd want in the overhead compartment above you?) The purse is a perfect straw, summer purse, kind of like one I used to have, only better. It's also very tempting for Stan to scratch. ( Bad Stan!) And then there's the light-weight backpack type of bag, perfect for a (short, non-serious/non-Gerry type of) hike or a day sightseeing in the city, when you want the convenience of a purse and the function of a backpack, that reminded me of something Liane might make. I included the second picture below to illustrate how it looks when the drawstring/straps is/are pulled straight/apart.

Now I have something for Joshua to play with when he comes to visit!

Good for visiting tots...or perhaps I'll just donate it to the church...It was cheap as free- almost.

Anyway- my day was made! Hurray for the start of another yardsale season!

P.S. My day was NOT made by the rebelliousness of these pictures. Sorry to those of you who visited before and couldn't see the pictures. When I published them, they appeared to be fine but when I came back later, they had vanished and a great struggle ensued - between me and Blogger- to get them reinstated. Even so, they didn't go in the order that I had originally placed them but at that point I just threw up my hands ( in the figurative sense, not in a vomiting sense) and said, "Whatever. You win, Blogger...." *growl* and I rearranged the text to fit the pictures. I have a very limited amount of patience with ornery technology. A pox on Blogger.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

It's been one of those days...

...when everything goes wrong all at once, and then the doorbell rings and it's been so crazy that you are not even properly dressed for the day yet but you answer the door anyway to find two JW's ( Jehovah's Witnesses) who want to talk to you ...But I guess one isn't required to be spiffed up to send them packing. But that was just the element of the day that was like that proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. After that, I laughed and cried at the same time.
( That whole last paragraph was actually the title to this post...but it wouldn't all fit in the title section. But you can just consider the post really starting now):

In the spirit of the title:

Did your mother ever tell you that if you couldn't say anything nice, then you shouldn't say anything at all?

This is me, not saying anything.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Guitar: an Instrument of Romance...

One of the first things I ever knew about Brad was that he was a guitar player. That was the context in which I had my first ever conversation with him; he was attempting to teach me a different way to play a difficult chord. Predictably, I was annoyed and rejected his advice. I think I was frustrated because even with his new trick, it was still too hard. Wah. But I respected him - as a guitar player who was better than I was, and as a person who was better than I was. So much better and on a different plane that I dismissed the thought that he would ever like me. Oddly, he thought the same thing about me. But I think that was what ultimately led me to love him- the fact that I respect him. Goodness is in his essence.

We sang and played guitars in groups- the Validating Emotions and the Hurdy Gurdy Modulators- during our Bibleschool career and it was always fun. I've always enjoyed singing - alone and in groups- but it was more fun because Brad was a part of it. I could have spent whole Friday nights just standing around the piano in the library singing, " Ezekiel saw da wheel way up in the middle of the air..." over and over. Good harmonies, good fun, good people. I remember when we played in a group for a youth convention once and it was just sheer joy because we made such a good sound. I remember when I first realized that I liked him; coincidentally enough, it was when I saw him off by himself playing his guitar after the youth convention had ended. I thought, " I will miss him. Wait- I am really going to miss him! Oh NO! I like him!" Long story, but I didn't want to like anybody then; it was just too much of a hassle. Little did I know...

( And on a parenthetical jaunt: Yes, love is a hassle. We have no idea what a hassle it is until it's too late. I knew this then, I know it better now. Of course, if it's real love, it's entirely worth the hassle. The returns on your investment are worth exceedingly, abundantly more. Anyway, I did one wise thing- I put it off for a while, which was the best thing I could have done at the time. But ignoring it didn't make it go away. It kept growing. Maybe that is the true test of love. )

Considering that the guitar played such an important part of our early years of acquaintance, maybe it seems odd that we didn't play much together during our courtship. But now that I think of it, perhaps that was because true singing in general didn't factor much into those four years. It seemed like after the first couple months of bliss, when things began to fall apart and life was difficult for us, we began to just listen to music and not to sing ourselves. Even after God worked things out, and we got married, and were happy, we didn't play much music together. I guess it just seemed sort of like something that belonged to another part of our lives- something past. We hadn't really talked much before our courtship- we mostly just sang. It was fun but it was impersonal. After we were a couple, we didn't sing- we mostly just talked.

Now I know that it seems like I am leading up to something grand, like breaking the exciting news that we have ascended to a higher form of consciousness where we sing together all the time and that our life has become one never-ending musical. No. And this is not to say that we have formed a musical group and are going on tour around the country. No. All this is simply to say- at least two or three times since I've gotten my 12 string, we've sat down together and jammed. And it has been so much fun! It's like- why did we ever stop? He shows me tricks and chords and how to do stuff...and now I actually listen and learn...most of the time. I can't wait til he gets home from work so we can play some more.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Baby Edmund

I've been a little busy of late helping to take care of Joshua and Rebekah as Pari and Dan went to the hospital on Thursday "get the baby." Baby Edmund Joseph, to be precise. From the time they called me to come stay with the kids on Thursday night until the baby was born at the hospital, little more than an hour and ten minutes elapsed. MAN! I hope whenever my time comes to have a baby that the whole thing goes as quickly as that. ( Okay- so the labor had started a few hours earlier so it wasn't exactly just an hour from start to finish...but...) When Dan called me to tell me the news, I seriously thought he was joking. But then I realized that the baby crying in the background verified his story.

Anyway- taking care of the kids was a cooperative effort: Penny spent the night, bless her, and we both took the kids in to the hospital Friday morning. She also did the brave work of selling Joshua on the baby's name, as he was convinced that it should be Peter Edmund. Rebekah was of the opinion that it should be Tumnus Eustace, but her choice was quickly discarded as too "far out." ( Just kidding. For those of you who don't know- Rebekah is all of fourteen months old. Too young to have much of an opinion about anything beyond food, the dryness of her diaper, and being put down for a nap. She is pretty much the essence of cuteness, though.) It was very exciting and fun to visit the new baby and hold him and take pictures. Speaking of which, I don't have any pictures - you'll have to keep an eye on Penny's blog b/c she was the one with the camera.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Joshua played outside in the yard almost all afternoon and succeeded in getting extremely dirty. But I figured, what better way to celebrate a new baby brother than to go out and behave like a boy.

I think Joshua's favorite word is "hospital." He kept saying it over and over last night as we colored a "welcome home" sign.

Anyway- mother and baby are well and came home last night. Hurray!