Sunday, May 31, 2009
I have too many ideas floating in my head.
There are many things to think about it.
And then there are the mundane chores of life (sigh).
We kick off in high gear in the morning as we head for Bobby's six month check-up. Don't really expect to hear anything earth shattering or unusual, but it means I'll work from noon to 4:30pm or thereabouts tomorrow.
And sometime between now and next week I need to get the supplies to build a chicken pen, finish the top of my brother's wedding quilt (just the top; he won't get the final product until Christmas, or later), and I want to tackle a few craft ideas before Friday night's fun time (pricing of Lydia's yardsale stuff), but that's all tangent on paragraph two.
Meanwhile, my heart/head is loaded with many thoughts and possibilities. I'm trying so hard to let my steps be led by God and not Monica, but I find it's SO easy to rationalize what I think is best or run ahead of His game plan. During the next two weeks I've got some decisions to make. Nothing horrendous or dramatic, but some simple choices in which I need to be totally certain before I act. So when I cross your mind, send up a prayer that I will seek only His will and not chase rabbits on Plans A, B, C, or D.
Friday, May 29, 2009
I absolutely HATED these shoes. The rise in the T always rubbed a blister, and none of the big girls had T's on their shoes. I was SO happy when I was able to get a pair with just a strap and no T to hold it in the middle. And then came the year of THE CHOICE.
Penneys actually had TWO pairs of girls dress shoes in WIDE WIDTH!!!!!! Oh my oh my! One pair looked something like this:
and I absolutely shocked and aggravated Mom by choosing a pair with the T! But mind you, this was no ordinary pair of shoes. Like the pair above, it had a HEEL, FLOWER cutouts, and the T and the strap WERE DAINTY! Gone was the 1/2 inch wide strap. To me it looked like a grown-up shoe. And I would have never admitted this to Mom after complaining for years on end about ugly shoes, but they didn't hurt my feet as bad.
To this day I hate shopping for shoes. I have no Biblical basis for this whatsoever, but one of the cool things about heaven will be not having to wear shoes. And if we do, I'm sure they'll be tailor made. That's worth waiting for!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
My first apartment in China was, by Chinese standards, luxurious. Maybe one day I'll have time to scan and post pictures. The entire apartment would fit in my living room now. We had an entryway, a kitchen with a balcony, a living room with a balcony, a bathroom with a real western toilet, a bathtub (but only an electric shower for the water supply), and two bedrooms. My bedroom was the smaller of the two since I was the junior teacher. It was rectangular shaped, and we were on the fourth floor. Our male teachers were on the third floor directly below us, and the foreign affairs director was directly above us. They said that way we girls would be safe. The numbers across from us were a little scared of foreigners, and many of the children took accordian lessons, providing us with many whaling exercises every night. Right outside my roommate's window was a campus loudspeaker which gave the 6am wake up call for students, news, and exercise orders (that's how I learned to count to 8 in Chinese!), noon annoucements and news, and 6pm news, as well as daycare music for the campus daycare next door. I always felt guilty that I lived in such a "big" apartment. My single Chinese colleagues where next door in a dorm type setting. They were thankful to only have four teachers to a room and a community kitchen to cook in on each floor. The students were eight to a room, community bathroom, and cafeteria for meals.
Rooms/Apartments # 12&13: I left the Northwest of China and headed Northeast for a year of language school. Due to the last minute arrangements, I was the only single female on my dorm floor. I had the first room on the first floor on the right, and we had HOT running water 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours at night! That was a BIG plus after only having undrinkable cold water the year before. Still had to boil drinking water, but it was so nice to have a real, steaming hot shower. Down the hallway was our community kitchen and laundry room, next door to the two American families. Everyone else on our floor was either Japanese or Korean boys, which was often a pain because they would get loud when they drank. In between semesters, the international students director came to us saying he had an option for us to consider. A friend of his had a promotion at work (meaning he got an apartment), but to save money he and his wife were going to continue living with his parents and rent the apartment out. Another student and I took it, thinking it would help our Chinese to be living in the community. It was the nicest apartment I had in China. The water didn't always make it up to our floor, and some days we didn't get hot water, but I no longer had to contend with earthworms crawling up the drain and the noise of dorm life.
Apartment #14: Back to Yinchuan for the next school year. The year I was in language school the teachers had all moved down an entryway (meaning our apartments were at the corner of the building). Each apartment was smaller than before, maybe half the size, but we each had our own apartment, which I loved. I was on the top floor, and on days when I was homesick I would sit out on the balcony and watch the daycare kids. Kids are the same anywhere. It made things seem less strange. I actually have a video of this apartment, as this is the apartment I was living in when Bobby and his sister and brother-in-law came to visit. They had a video camera so were able to make a quick shot for my parents to see. I thought if Mom could see things weren't that bad she would relax about where I was. It had the opposite effect. I never told her that wasn't my 2nd best apartment in China.
Apartment #15: a one bedroom, dirty carpeted place across from Garner High School. It met my needs, and I loved having access to the apartment laundry facilities across the street. I moved out of this apartment 13 months later, the same week I got married.
House #16: 8483 Bryan Rd. We joke about moving, but I don't envy anyone who has to pack and move. I know there will come a time when it will happen, but Lord willing, I'm very thankful that it won't be any time soon.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Our first set of naturally hatched goslings!!!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Note there's no such thing as home improvement loans (you do what you can as you can - the roof); the rain barrels was the "convenient" source of water, and the berries drying on the door step was their pantry I guess you could say.
Down the road from our "house" where we bought our daily bread and other grocery items as needed.
Straw huts require rethatching with fresh straw every three-five years. Notice the yard broom propped up against the house. Cooking would be done outside, as would most activities.
In many ways I'm thankful for this summer. It made rural China seem modern compared to this, and also made me appreciate (and saddened) at just how rich and spoiled I really am.
House #8 was actually the basement of an elderly Church of Christ lady who rented to FWBBC students. Jobs were scarce in my hometown, and Nashville not only abounded in jobs, but they paid a whole lot better as well. So for the summer of '94 I joined two other girls in renting this one bedroom space, again with 70's lime green and red. We rotated sleeping positions every two weeks between sharing the double bed and the couch. Between 40 hours a week at Taco Bell and 16-20 hours a week babysitting, I not only earned enough to pay basic living costs but also covered 1/2 off the next semester's upcoming school bill. More importantly, I had my first taste of independence and found it EXTREMELY hard to return to the dorm that fall. My senior year was probably the hardest of dorm living. I so missed having my own tiny kitchen and being able to invite friends from church over for a meal. And the place was so tiny there was almost no housework!
Summer of 1995: Houses 9, 10, and 11 - After graduation in May, I loaded up my little red Ford and headed back to Sweet Home Alabama, only to pack up Mom and Dad from the Cordova parsonage and help them move to Orangeburg, South Carolina. The mission church plant there helped provide them with a rented house. The month I was there we never fully unpacked. All I can say about that house is that it was white, one street over from a rough neighborhood, and had tons of bookcases in "my bedroom." The week of my departure to California for China training, I helped Mom and Dad move into another house which they bought. My last view of that house that summer was pulling up carpet and staples from the hardwood floors. From there I went to living out of a suitcase in a dorm room for three weeks, followed by the week long trip of getting to Yinchuan, Ningxia where I shared an apartment with a teammate for the year. I guess I could say 1995 was the year I lived out of boxes and suitcases.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The first one I remember was in Parrish, Alabama. It had a tree in the front yard that V'ed into two trunks. I vaguely remember Mom and Dad's bedroom was down the hall on the left, the front door opened into the living which opened into the kitchen. What I remember the most about that house was the "family portrait" Mom had hanging at the end of the hallway. Dad, Mom, and my older sister. It bothered me to no end when I discovered it was my older sister in that picture and not me. I wanted Mom to take it down after that, but she wouldn't. Looking back, it's sad that I was never bothered that my younger sister wasn't in the picture.
House #2: Curry, Alabama. Age 4 and three-fourths to 3rd grade. It was a big house on Smith Lake. What I remember most about that house: pulling the upstairs banister off the wall; roller skating in the unfinished basement, raking leaves, watching the wasps and yellow jackets build their nests outside our bedroom window each spring and us banging on the window to aggravate them so they'd fight each other and Mom yelling at us for it, getting carpet burns from pretending the living room floor was a swimming pool and we were in the Olympics, the lake flooding two summers, the year of the drought, fire ants, Dad's garden, watching chipmunks grab nuts and scamper over the patio, my brother running over baby frogs with his tricycle, and setting the carpet in Dad's bedroom on fire with his video camera while he & Mom were away on a business trip, and last but not least, the beginning of family devotions and meetings, leading to Dad's switching jobs and culminating in Mom's fight with cancer.
House #3: Cordova, Alabama; what we dubbed "The Little White House" (it was little, white and our last name was White...it fit perfect!) There were six of us living in a 2 bedroom house, and there wasn't room for my Great-great Aunt to come live with us (she had stayed with us 60% of the time prior to that). I remember the late night talks we girls had, Mom coming in to talk with my older sister after she thought we were asleep and hearing the horrors of what my older sister was facing in her new middle school, the joys and pains of living in a house that wasn't ours, plus the countless birthday parties and teen activities crammed into our little place. It was a crowded but fun two years, and I actually carved the name "The White House" into the window sill the day we moved out.
House #4: Cordova, Alabama, the church parsonage. It had THREE bedrooms, though we later converted the study/den into a bedroom as well. I didn't like having neighbors that close, but I loved the shrubs and flowers a previous pastor's wife had planted, I loved the fake fireplace and built in bookcase/shelving in the living room; I hated the problems/repairs that come with an old house; detested the fact that we were never allowed to paint the walls anything but white (though we did write in pencil along a wall in the kitchen measuring everybody's height the last four years we were there; I still giggle when I imagine the deacons' wives horror at finding that), and I was insanely jealous of the previous preacher kids who were allowed to imprint their names into the cement driveway (yes, I bet their mark is STILL there), and I was always bothered after a former pastor's family came through for a visit and heard their stories of life. I enjoyed the stories themselves, but I never liked the thought that a house where we lived and breathed and loved and cried would one day be another memory trapped in someone's head. Oh, and while no one in our family had any marriage proposals in that house (unlike other pastor's families), my Aunt Mattie did come back to live with us up until the November night she died. She didn't die in the house, but had she had it her way I think she would have.
and houses/rooms/apartments #5-15 will have to wait until tomorrow.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Chick - newly hatched, usually under 1 month old
Pullet - a female (hen) under 1 yr
Cockerel - a male (rooster) under 1 yr
Coop - the house were the chicken roosts & nests
Roosts - how a chicken/rooster perches on a pole or board to sleep at night (or chill during the day)
Run - the "pen" for a chicken; a totally enclosed area where he/she can run around
Broody - a hen who wants/tries to nest (even if she has no eggs)
I hope there's not too many more words to learn (other than all the chicken "nationalities") because I'm not sure my fuzzy little brain can handle much more new vocabulary words.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Case in point #1): A young girl (under 15) goes with the fishing with the family and her boyfriend. She wears swimming clothes. (Swimwear in and of itself is entirely another discussion). While wearing a skimpy two piece, she stands extremely close to the guy on more than one occasion while in front of her parents. If you don't have at least three red flags going on in your mind as you read this paragraph, you might not want to read any further as your common sense was buried some time back.
Case in point #2): A mother allows her teen daughter to purchase t-shirts several sizes larger because the junior-sized t-shirts were designed to ride above the belly button and squeeze whatever humps may be. Problem? The low-cut design (which is only lower on a short torso) and looseness creates quite an eye full when the kid bends over.
Case in point #3): Today a mother in FL is pitching a fit because a school is passing out yearbooks containing a picture of her child where her private parts are exposed in the group picture. She should understandably be upset. School officials say it's a shadow. WHY did a 16 year old wear a short dress with no underwear on picture day, sit on the front row, and then be upset because the school published the photo?
Case in point #4): Miss California....enough said.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Man shall not live by bread alone, says the Word. But note it doesn't say we have to do without it, either. If only it said the same thing about chocolate.
Monday, May 11, 2009
The reality is, I'm a hermit red-neck from Central Alabama and I've never really cared what people in Louisiana, southern Florida, or southern Mississippi did. That had no bearing on my life whatsoever. Now, give me a quiz on "You know you're from Alabama if..." and I'll pass with decent colors. Maybe I should learn how to write my own quizzes.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wednesday morning my hometown of Cordova, AL was hit by a tornado. I peppered him with questions, and one of his answers reminded me of a part of my childhood I had forgotten: the hallway chatter. In the Walker County School system, schools have two types of drills that happen on a regular basis: fire and tornado. During a tornado drill, you grab a hard-back textbook, exit the room in single file, line up, crouching, with your back against the wall in the hall, tuck your head between your knees, and hold the opened textbook over your head. If a teacher knows it's a drill and not the real thing, sometimes you can take the book off your head once she realizes you know what to do. But when it is the real thing, some teachers go into drill sergeant mode. NO TALKING! Others want to soothe and assure so you're allowed to talk as long as it doesn't get too loud. Mason said the first thirty minutes there was absolutely no talking (the school lost power) from any class, and the last thirty minutes they could talk for a little bit. During the non-drill times, I always thought it was a waste when we had to sit out in the hallway with nothing to do but we weren't allowed to talk.
Cordova, in Mason's words, "is a mess." No one was injured, but downtown (i.e. buildings aligning one street) is missing roofs, awnings, and has warped mailboxes (the big ones). Personally, I think downtown should be dozed and rebuilt (or at least totally renovated), but I would never utter such words in public there or I might be tarred and feathered. I don't know if that makes me unappreciative or too concerned about outward appearances, but sometimes I think it would be cool to go back and redo downtown. But that moves from rejoicing to daydreaming, so I better sign off.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Every time a tornado passed through the area, we all hoped we would be the ones to go to school the next day and talk about losing a porch or having a tree on Dad's truck or having our tornado wrapped around the pine trees out back. I was never one of the "lucky" kids who had such excitement.
The church I grew up in was also a gathering place during storms, because it had a basement. Every time the weather got bad Daddy (or all of us) would have to go to the church so people could come for safety, even if it was during the night. One particular time I remember we had to stay there for what seemed like hours. All the men went outside to watch the clouds, but of course it wasn't safe for little children. It made me so mad. I wanted to watch for funnel clouds, too, and I was certain I could run faster to get away than the fat old men outside. Thankfully I did have enough sense not to tell my Mom that last part.
I look back on those days now and laugh. As an adult when I hear bad weather reports, I think of safety, of medical bills, of heartache, the cost of destruction. But storms still excite me. I've always enjoyed thunderstorms (as long as the lightning doesn't get too close to the house), and I was disappointed that my first hurricane in North Carolina came through at night. (I think that made it a little creepier than it was.)
I no longer want to be in a tornado safety commercial, nor do I want my home to be the "news" or excitement of the day. But I still find the fury of nature an exciting example of God's awesome power.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
For example, in our front entryway there are two places that are about the same size as a canvas in my artroom. Yet I would never think of painting something there, and it would have never ever crossed my mind had Sara not opened up that line of thought and possibility. We also have a tray ceiling in the living room, and my nephew informed me he thought it was the perfect place to line up pictures of him and our other nieces and nephews. I laughingly declined, but later it made me ponder how I could see a simple space but he saw a place in need of something.
I think our days in life are that way. The last two mornings have been those hard to get up and going days, and yet both days have been very full, if not productive. Today's been downright crazy (a dead chicken, punished dogs, errands with a test, cool spring rain and contemplations on many things), and yet today has really not been all that different from every other day on the calendar. (Other than the fact I kept thinking it was Wednesday all day at work). But maybe that's because I viewed today as simple space instead of a canvas waiting to be decorated. How would my days be different if I could renew my mind to immediately think "WHOhoooO!" upon awaking instead of "ohhhhhhhh" with a sigh? If I was so transformed that I saw this day's blank canvas as the gift that it is instead of a piece of paper with "To Do" at the top and many little dots or check boxes underneath it? If I saw the bright sun beckoning me when I got up instead of taunting me, just as I see rain as the refreshing welcome bath for the world that it is?
My days will always be the same in some ways: shoes will always make my feet hurt, my joints will ache and pop the first twenty minutes I move, and I'll always have to decide what to do for meals and wash clothes. I guess we could say those are our art supplies. But the rest, that blank canvas - what if I treated it a little bit differently every day instead of the same old colors and look? Life could be very interesting indeed.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
One of my goals for April was to clean out the freezer. BUT my big freezer is in the laundry room, and who would be crazy enough to empty a freezer amidst a pile of stuff to be ironed. SOooo, I'm happy to report that the laundry room is almost empty, and if everything goes according to plan (like it ever does), then I will be cleaning out the freezer on Wednesday afternoon.
Another goal was to cover the garden aisles. I am happy to report that the entire garden is now planted, 3/4 of a fence is up for the climbing snow peas (thanks Jeff and Tommy!), and 1/2 of the garden has pine straw on top of newspaper in its aisles in hopes of eliminating weeds. Perhaps within the next two weeks I will finish raking and placing pine straw. After I use the lawnmower on the growing grass in one of the rows, of course.
Dreamweaver lessons (computer software) one and two got postponed due to: chickens. Last Saturday morning became devoted to moving them out of the brooder box and into the dog's pen. That'll be a post for another day this week. Let's just say the education goal was replaced with chicken coop surfing on the internet. It'll also be put off a while as my potential coop on CraigsList disappeared and we are now in design mode before we recruit our friendly builders. I can cut boards and slap on paint, but my hammer skills leave a little bit to be desired.
The quilt for A&A's wedding might actually be finished by Christmas, though my realist husband says maybe by their third wedding anniversary. Let's just say progress is being made, but progress is slow indeed.
and the living room painting? It's still where I left it at the end of March.
I'm not making "goals" for May. I need to get my current projects finished, or at least somewhat attacked, in between getting my head screwed back on correctly. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying our weather and trying not to scratch my itchy eyelids.