Saturday, October 31, 2009

multiple chores

To do: mow & till the garden
Aim: to cut down any remaining plant remnants, remove weeds, and add nutrients to the soil in preparation for next spring's garden
Result: untied plants from stakes, picked remaining tomatoes, took tomato stakes down, tomato plants sprouting new roots clipped to be potted in the house, opened little shed to get out pots and soil only to fight ants instead, then get pots and find there's no soil; get a shower while supper is cooking, eat, head to Target then Lowe's in search of Potting Soil, come home, pot & water plants, clean up 99% of the mess.
Analysis: the garden is still not mowed, tilled and mulched

But I did conquer and divide the amaryllis plants! We want talk about the lilies along the back ramp.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

choices, choices

This coming Tuesday is election day for Wake County...again. We election officials will arrive at our polling precinct at 6am and scramble for the next 30 minutes to do all the last minute jobs (pull out ballots, set up the automark counting machine and ballot holder, mark off the 25ft no campaigning line, etc). At 6:30am, the polls open, and our LONG day begins. It's not a hard day. The job itself is relatively easy. The Board of Elections provides us with a very nice indexed binder in case we forget something from training, and we also have these nifty little flow charts to help us with almost any scenario. In the event something goes wrong, we have a phone number to call the Wake County BOE for answers. The job is fairly straightforward and simple.
At approximately 9am, our trickle of voters will stop. From 9am to about 3pm, we'll have an occasional voter. (In all, we'll process maybe 300 people...and that's a high estimate.) And the rest of the time we are simply stuck there until 7:30pm when the polls close. We're actually stuck there until 8:30 or 9pm, but we're working frantically during that time. It's the down time that seems so bad (and is none-existent during presidential or controversial elections).
Our supervisor likes to visit our polling place, because most of the officials in our precinct are crafters. It's not uncommon to find knitting, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking and crocheting all happening at the same time. So sometime between now and Monday night I have to figure out what to pack up. I have a baby quilt I started last election I can take to work on, or some patterns and material to cut out, my sketchbook, crocheting needles and yarn to continue my disastrous crocheting lessons with another official, books, all of the above OR I could start a totally new project. I refuse to drag scrapbooking materials there because it's simply too much stuff to haul and I'd invariably forget something I needed. It's a pity I can't take electronic devices or I might jump off the cliff and start NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) after all.
So if you had four-five hours where you were unable to leave a confined vicinity, what would you take to do?

Monday, October 26, 2009

time

There's a HUGE clock on the wall in the gym where I take aerobics. I can almost always tell when we've been going for 10-15 minutes without looking at the clock now...that's when I hit the "I'm never going to get through this whatever possessed me have I lost mind" wall. Then somewhere between 8:30 and 8:45 my blood starts pumping and it stops being quite so tortuous.

I can set the alarm clock 15 minutes early and still just get Bobby out the door on time.

I can start a project a week before its due and create multiple layouts and samples, then 2 hours before its due get a cool, brand new idea and complete the whole project and feel like its worthwhile.

Someone can hand me a project the night before its due and I can finish in ample time, but feel rushed and think the job is only half-way done.

I can leave clothes in the ironing basket for months upon end and never feel that they've sat there too long.

A pile of dirty laundry can sit in a basket for one day and I feel that it's been there for eternity.

I could spend every spare minute of my day reading for three days straight to finish a work of fiction, but to read a non-fiction book for more than 30 minutes makes me tired.

I could cook all day long and love every minute of it, but if I spend more than 20 minutes washing dishes I feel as if I've worked all day long.

A minute is unchanging; always 60 seconds and 1/60th of an hour, and yet I view each one totally different.

and my watch needs a new battery

Friday, October 23, 2009

NC State Fair 2009

Bobby and I spent the day at the fair yesterday. I think it was our 3rd time to go, but it was the first time we went during the day and had nice weather. If we ever go again, we will certainly go during the day again. We arrived shortly after the gates opened, it was easy to find handicapped parking, and wasn't quite so crowded. The crowd started picking up around noon, so we had several hours at exhibits before it became hard to keep up with each other. I think the last time we went it was an evening, wet, cold, and packed with so many people you could hardly walk. So this year's daytime trip was great.

Highlights:
Ostrich burger - we split one for lunch. It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't place it in my "gotta have again" category. It tasted somewhat like deer meat.

The cake burger - my niece had told me if I didn't see anything else, we needed to see the cake decorating exhibit. So we stayed a little longer than we planned just to see this cake decorated like a hamburger. It was worth it. The funny part was Bobby's facial expression when he realized it was truly a cake. I wish I had taken a camera so I could post it. The person not only did a hamburger with meat, lettuce, and cheese, but also a drink (with straw) and french fries. We were amazed it didn't place. We were telling Mrs. Bryan about it and supper, and turns out she knows the person who made it!

Village of yesteryear - This exhibit is always my favorite. The paper said that the music man was retiring after this year, so I wanted to stop by his booth. His whole family was performing the last time we were there and we purchased one of their cd's. I bought two more this year (one Christmas and one hymns), AND talked with several wood carvers. Get this...one of them is from Raleigh and teaches beginning wood carving at a woodworkers shop in Raleigh (which I didn't even know the shop existed). I have always loved carved wood, and a few years ago came up with this crazy brainstorm that I would like to carve either the top piece of a hope chest for my nieces and nephew. I could then pass the piece on to my Dad and brother to make the chest. Of course, this has yet to happen. I did try my hand at one small piece, but I think it makes more sense to learn the basics from someone who actually knows what they are doing. I signed up for a class through Raleigh Parks & Recreation at their art center, but the class was cancelled. NaNoWriMo may not happen again this year, as I feel another hobby coming on. Thank you Village of Yesteryear!

At the art exhibit (I don't remember what prompted this discussion) Bobby laughingly said I should limit myself to 10 projects at a time and needed to get a project jar for all my ideas. I told him I didn't have 10 projects going now, though I think if I started listing them he may be correct. (I just counted...there's only 8, haha!)

and fun with a smidge of 'oh well':
Poultry Exhibition...we thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the breeds, watching roosters in opposite cages vie for dominance, etc, but the last row of birds (the size of chickens we'd be interested in having) was closed for judging. It was probably just as well, for the row next to it had many up for sale!
Garden Exhibition...I liked that many school children had "fair assignments" where as part of missing school they were to answer so many questions about each exhibit. Yet the teens congregated in a circle of the narrow aisles trying to find the answers and help each other out, totally blocking the path. I asked one girl to excuse us twice, tapping her once, and she totally ignored me. So I gently pushed her to the side while saying excuse me and walked on by. Bobby was behind me and said she was NOT very happy with me. But the gardens were nice and interesting.
Quilt exhibit...was poorly laid out for visual experience, though neatly displayed for space. All the quilts were hanging on swinging racks, and there was only one fair worker for the entire needlework section. She was showing off the 50+ crocheted afghans and blankets while we were there, so we were unable to see any of the quilts from that area of competition, which was probably just as well.

My feet are VERY tired (though Bobby informed he only used up 2 energy bars on his wheelchair battery) but it was very well worth it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

first frost

My husband came in from getting the paper with a sad expression this morning. I asked him if everything was okay and he just nodded. After a minute he informed me we had our first frost last night. And as the sun came up, sure enough, the grass was white. I thought I had a few more weeks, but thankfully I heeded his advice and had picked all of the green tomatoes off the vines. I guess it is truly time to mow down and plow up the garden.
Meanwhile, I need to find out if there's a special way to keep the chickens' water from freezing, other than changing it out several times a day. Here's a sample of our latest produce:
We know half of our chickens are laying (the large dark brown eggs, the light brown, small eggs, and the blue/green eggs) but there may be a fourth one, for sometimes we get light brown eggs with dark brown speckles. I like to think we have four of the six laying and the other two will start next spring, but who knows? So far there doesn't seem to be any pattern for when we get the eggs (although they do seem to be like me and are NOT morning chickens), though in the last week we've had at least one egg every day. We're still waiting for the day when we get more than three eggs in a day, though. Evidently one of our girls is supposed to lay white eggs, which we haven't had, so Bobby's wondering if she's an old bird past production, which is very possible (we got her a month ago, already grown). Did you know you supposedly can tell what color a chicken's eggs will be by the color if her ears? That's what they tell me, anyway.

Monday, October 19, 2009

so this is love....

Saturday we had the privilege to see Bobby's niece, Martha, get married. The new couple exited the sanctuary to "So This is Love" (from the Cinderella movie) and it has been stuck in my head ever since! The Bryan's are like my family: large in number and spread out, so when everyone is actually together it's a very special occasion.












Left to Right: Brad & Martha Mitchell, Brad's daughter (I thought it was neat that she and Martha had their hair fixed identically, and was also impressed at how thrilled she seemed to be a part of everything, but yet was willing to stand back and watch. She did a great job, and I think Martha's going to be a great Mom.) Brenda lighting Bryan's memory candle (Martha's brother who died at 17), and my favorite picture: Bobby's three sisters: Susan, Pat, and Brenda. While all three are great about being there when needed, it's seldom I get to see the three of them together at such close proximity. And I also like the fact that even in difficult situations (such as cake layers refusing to come apart), the three of them know how to laugh and keep going.

Friday, October 16, 2009

wonderfully crazy

I worked 2 days this week, but thought it wouldn't be too big a deal as I'm home and "free" all next week. Bobby's niece is getting married tomorrow, and some family we don't get to see very often came in town a few days earlier than I anticipated. So instead of catching up on things last night, we spent the time visiting, which was fun. And then my cousin facebooked me, saying her husband is in training in Cary, and she's flying up to join him this weekend and wants to know if I'll be free next week. Miss up a chance to see someone who I normally see only once a year? Not on your life! So I only have half of my house cleaned and the project for my sister is still undone as well as another project that needed to be done by what I thought was Sunday night, but that's okay. My "free" time is now family time, and what doesn't get done simply will not get done. Meanwhile, my chores await.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

gifts

The problem I have with reading non-fiction is that it makes me think too much.


Last night I was determined to finish reading Chapter Three in the Book Club's book (Because He Loves Me by Elyse F.) I was making good progress, dotting some things, underlining others, until I hit this paragraph that talked about gifts. I read it, thought some, read it again, then woke Bobby up from his half-slumber to discuss it with him. I left a question mark by that section.

It's very possible that I am just a vile and selfishly, wicked person for whom there is no hope in sanctification this side of heaven. I love to give gifts. I like thinking about people and what they enjoy and finding a bargain on something that will thrill them. (Maybe I should just say I like to shop.) That's why I usually start my Christmas shopping very early. One year I even started shopping for the next year with the after Christmas sales. But I most certainly don't expect people to look at their gifts and think of me.

Granted, I have a few wedding gifts that often when I use them (a mini-food chopper, my dining room table) that I think of the person who gave them to us. But there are many other gifts that I use, that I'm very thankful for, but the gifts never remind me of the person who gave them to us.

I asked Bobby if he could tell me three gifts he's received in his lifetime that stand out in his mind. His face lit up as he told me about both the gifts and circumstances (one story I hadn't heard), but none of his recollections brought forth reflections on the gift giver.

I guess that is why I struggle with EF's suggestion that if we accept the gift of salvation then we focus on its giver. I understand the concept, but when I think about my salvation, I seldom make the jump from salvation to God giving up his Son. Well, maybe at Easter and Christmas, but the rest of the time I simply think about the gift itself...how it's life-changing, how it's free but also "costly", what a comfort it is, etc and so on.
So while I understand what she's trying to accomplish, I disagree with her premise. Meanwhile, she's got me thinking a LOT about Christmas!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

good inside days

I LOVE the rain, especially when I can be inside (like 2/3 of today) and work on things. I had the opportunity to work at my old job today, and other than the minor computer quirk of not being able to get into the system for a while, things went rather smoothly. I accomplished a little over 1/2 of what needs to be done there this week, and hopefully I can be in and out in a few hours tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I am enjoying being at home and for the moment, out of the rain. Now if the geese and chickens and dogs would simply tilt their mouths backward and fill up on rainwater, I would be set. Alas, I don't think they'll comply.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

say WHAT?!

The definition of racism is having the power to enforce one's prejudices that ultimately are negative to the person or population against which the attitude is directed. ~ Eleanora Tate
Several years ago I had the privilege of listening to a lecture by a published author. Her name was Eleanora Tate, and I was so impressed not only with her lecture (that particular conference had a few lectures I felt wasted my time), but also with her kindness in talking with attendees afterward. I had heard stories of arrogance and condescension from editors and published authors, but found Eleanora to be very friendly and helpful to all of us attendees totally new to the world of publishing. Eleanora's speciality is historical fiction, specifically about African-Americans. I found it commendable that instead of bemoaning her childhood and the lack of books dealing with her culture, she is researching and writing to fill that gap for today's children. There's no self-aggrandment nor self-pity in her presentations for her books or when asked about her childhood. And I not only respect but also appreciate that.
So imagine my surprise this morning when I opened up an article where she was interviewed, only to find the above statement. By her definition, Democrats are racist against Republicans, every nation is racist against others, Christians are racists against sinners, and atheists are racists against Christians, and the list goes on and on and on. Basically, every single person who belongs to any kind of group or thought is a racist. I am so totally flabbergasted and blown away by such nonsense. Perhaps she was simply trying to be diplomatic in explaining how many people are racists, but she basically took a broad brush and painted every single social human being as a racist, including herself.
Another newsworthy item coming from the children's lit world is the newly arriving Winnie The Pooh book. I'm not totally sure how I feel about this. I was angrily horrified when the group owning the rights to L.M.Montgomery's writings made a second series of movies about Anne that TOTALLY contradicted the written series. In my mind that was outright sacrilege. But this is a little bit different. Yes, Milne is dead, but the Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is supposed to be about Christopher Robin's return from school, with a new character to boot. The old characters aren't supposed to change any, nor contradict Milne's original writings. But that's what gets me. How can anyone know what Milne would or would not have done with his characters? I have never liked the thought that I might write a book and 50 to 100 years after I'm gone someone could acquire the rights and come back and rewrite it, or edit or modify it (like they've done with Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, etc) and give it a totally new meaning or slant.
I suppose ultimately I have to agree with Solomon's writing that "All is vanity." and "Increasing knowledge increaseth sorrow." The more I learn about the history and background of the world of children's literature (or literature in general) the less inclined I am to read or write anything. Perhaps it is that yearning for eternity that God has placed in our hearts, and such follies and brokenness only serve to remind us of the depraved world we live in.
And now that I've written a really dreary post, I'm going to find something else to do that will cheer me up.

Monday, October 12, 2009

2 sides of a coin

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
~ Newton's 3rd Law of Motion
Today is the day the Wake County Board of Elections certifies the election results. All our monotonous work last Tuesday will be legally finalized. Today will determine whether or not District 2 (Garner's education district) will have a run-off in November (which for election officials determines whether or not we have to contend with 2 ballots: one for those in the town limits and those like me outside of the town limits).
The sad thing is on our October election only 10% of our precinct turned out to vote. This election ushered in a round of conservatives onto the Wake County School Board, and the main issue at stake, depending on who you ask, is either diversity or busing. In actuality, it eventually all boils down to the same thing. I don't know what the results of this election will bring. Proponents of neighborhood schools cheer - this was the candidates' promise. Civil rights activists moan for inequality is supposedly to come.
As always, I have a multitude of intersecting thoughts on the issue. What civil rights activists fail to realize is that October's reaction (whether by the voters or lack thereof) is a perfect example of Newton's Third Law of Motion. The previous school board blatantly ignored families, choosing diversity over family rights and family authority. Decisions to prohibit siblings to attend the same high school, busing one across town when there's a high school just down the street, for the sake of diversity, would of course push parents to unite for a neighborhood school. Had common sense prevailed and the board allowed an exception in such cases, while it would have created minor headaches from other parents fighting reassignment, it would have helped families feel the BOE actually cared about families. Decisions to turn every single elementary school into a year-round facility, regardless of parents' wishes or desires prompted a lawsuit, resulting in a ruling overturning the BOE decision and costing taxpayers even more money. Had BOE even remotely cared about families and the hardship of having a HS and MS kid on one school schedule with an elementary child on a totally different schedule, this election might not have been the equal but opposite reaction. I think most everyone would agree that diversity and equality of education is important. Yet I also hear from neighbors who haven't moved in 20 years, and by the time their child begins third grade he will be in his second school and slated for reassignment the next year. Does anyone wonder why Wake County school students are performing below level? Some children may thrive with changing environments, but many don't. Does diversity and equality of education mean everyone must receive a substandard education? When students are bussed around so much to balance out the economic backgrounds of students that parents become concerned with their kids being in a classroom where only 1/2 speak English and pull them out for a private school or homeschooling, then what has all the extra money we've spent on busing truly accomplish?
I do understand some of the fears of the civil rights community. Neighborhood schools sometimes suffer. But I disagree with the reason being racial. The reason is in appropriate priorities.
From first through third grade I attended an all white school. Half-way through third grade we moved to another town in the same county that was integrated. Same textbooks, same lessons, but a totally different mindset. The active parents' association was gone, as were music classes and the top of the line library. Oh we had a library, but with about half the books. My new school did have a top of the line playground. Sports, football to be more specific, ruled in this new town, and it showed, all the way down to the elementary school. I received a somewhat decent education, but only because my parents and I cared. By high school extra money from the community went to the quarterback club or some other sports organization, not replacing ancient books in the library or dried up chemicals in the antiquated science lab. We sold candy and paid extra science dues to cut up frogs in biology class while the football players were given free steaks for supper every Thursday night. My cousins from the all white high school attended universities and didn't seem to struggle with classes too much. Students from my integrated high school usually attended the local jr college. Those who did go straight to university often did fine in classrooms, but struggled valiantly to earn a D in science lab. When you enter a lab where the assignment is given and the instructor only comes to check final results, and you're left with instructions such as 1. Fill the beaker with.... and you have absolutely no clue what a beaker is, how can you expect to pass?
Such inequality from 2 schools within the same county system is not the fault of neighborhood schools and racism, but rather the result of different parental and community standards. Each school received the same amount of money from the county school system. One community felt sports was most important and poured all their extra money into those avenues. The other saw fine arts and education as most important and poured their extra money into other things. The equipment on the playground is broken? That's okay. They'll be running laps and exercising anyway. Let's divide the money between the library and a new computer.
I don't see this election as a racial issue nor think the outcome will be quite as dire as the civil rights activists predict, though it does concern me. I think this was simply a result of Newton's 3rd Law of Motion. Wake BOE acted upon their village mentality of government knows best, and the people reacted (whether by voting or not) with an equal and opposite reaction for parental control and choice. For the sake of family rights and authority, I pray we don't look back at this day with a shaking of head as other counties have done.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

procrastination station

If it weren't for procrastination, I'd never get anything done.

Yep, you read that correctly, and I didn't mistype.

You see, if I never, ever procrastinated, then I would never start a new project. I would methodically finish whatever I was doing at the time, instead of being awed by the creative thought of something new.

If I never, ever procrastinated, then my time would be spent cleaning every nook and cranny of the house ALL the time, and I would never tackle wonderful projects, such as quilts, or yard work, or chicken pens, etc.

If I never, ever procrastinated, that would mean I would probably have a better sense of time and wouldn't over commit myself, which would again mean I wouldn't get as much done.

So procrastination, at least in my world, means I get more accomplished.

It also means I'm suddenly finding myself very, very busy this month. Crunch time is upon us, and I can feel the blood flowing and my creative juices warming up. I don't know what it is about the pressure of a deadline, but it makes me work faster and think more creatively. It also drives my methodical husband crazy, for he never waits to the last minute or leaves a task unfinished. The only instance in which we both methodically do things early is our Christmas shopping, which we normally have finished by now. We're running a little behind in that arena this year, but with October roaring by like a freight train, finishing up our Christmas shopping may have to be one of our November projects.

And having said that, I either need to return to the kitchen and finish cleaning. Or I could head to the gym - the kitchen will still be patiently waiting on me when I return. It's very good about that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

toes still hurting

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12

My toes are still achy from the sermon yesterday morning. Yet I also think it is SO neat how when we are facing (or refacing) an obstacle in our life, and sometimes not handling it quite so well, that God's Word and the Holy Spirit searches our heart and gives us EXACTLY what we need. It may not be what we want, but what we need.

I think of that verse that talks about seeing ourselves as in a mirror for just a moment, and sometimes I fear that is how my Christian walk is. It's like waking up in the morning, seeing a big zit on your face when you look in the mirror, then getting busy when you burn breakfast and are running late with no time to clean up the kitchen or make up the bed and the absolute last thing on your mind is that horrendous old bump on your face. No one else sees your unmade bed or your dirty dishes (until someone stops by unexpectedly, which seems to happen to me quite a bit, and always on the worst days!), but they do often notice the outward flaw, especially on those crazy no-time-for-makeup days.

People don't see my thoughts and intents, but the One who can also recognizes that from my thoughts and intents came forth my actions, which others do see. So tomorrow when I'm faced with ignorance, pride, rudeness, hatefulness, bitterness, brokenness, my own pride and arrogance, and a multitude of other things that seem to walk up and slap me in the face, I pray that the agape love of I Cor 13 will shine out through me, that I will reflect the one who is slowly and painstakingly remaking me in His image, and not the roughshodden, anger-filled, emotional, sinful being that it is so easy to be.

Friday, October 2, 2009

craziness

One of the nice things (in a warped sort of way) about exercising is that my muscles are often sore. So when I stop at Target on my way home from the gym, even when I browse every single candy aisle and my mouth waters a little bit at all the sale items, my muscles wouldn't let me buy a single thing. Every move of my arms said, "Uh-uh...we hurt too bad...and you want to cause us MORE pain?"
Counting calories has helped me to be more stingy with what I eat. I need all the energy I can get, and eating a piece of dessert means eating healthier items (like green beans, broccoli, or steamed cabbage) to make room for that piece of apple pie. If nothing else, this 10 for 10 challenge has really forced me to evaluate how out of control I've allowed my eating to become. Instead of me controlling my food, I've allowed it to control me.
I keep telling myself that I didn't put all this weight on overnight, and it's not going to come off overnight, either. AND for the first time in a few years, my blood pressure is now under the borderline for high bp instead of on or over it. WHOOHOOO!
And I've heard a few rumbles of discouragement or dissatisfaction from a few who are struggling with the challenge. I'm debating whether or not we need a half-way pep rally to encourage each other on. We could swap healthy, but tasty, recipes, exercise together, or just chat. Does anyone have any other ideas?