Tuesday, August 31, 2010

pitfalls of old age

I've been excited the last few months in that I've been able to increase the intensity level in aerobics class.  This past week I've had to drop down a notch or two (when I'm really tired my body doesn't always cooperate well) and have had the old pain in my feet and knees in the morning.  Disappointing, but I felt like I needed to keep pressing with exercise and weight loss in hopes of postponing Arthir the moocher.
So today, instead of using the exercise equipment upstairs (my usual Tues/Thurs routine), I went to a 20/20 class.  The description says by the time class is over you will have spent 20 minutes on each of the following: cardio, flexibility training, and weight bearing exercises. That sounds like something I need, so I head to the gym with a little fear, nervousness and excitement.  The first ten minutes in (while marching in place, the simplest of exercises) I felt a searing pain in my calf.  It's not uncommon for me to have short bouts of pain flare through my ankles and if I hold still for a few minutes, it goes away.  The pain eased up, but it never totally went away.  I have a nicely knotted muscle.
Given my past history with "athletic" injuries (I broke my foot in college tripping up 2 steps), I am more than a little humbled to admit that I strained a muscle while marching in place.  Why couldn't it have been a lunge, or a squat with weights or while using the blasted bouncy ball?  So since I'm prone to succumb to the "Fear of Man", I'll sheepishly admit how I aggravated the tension level in my muscle by saying "My body just has a mind of its own and it just wants to rest." :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

a little fruity

I'm not a big fruit person.  But there are days, like today, when I feel a little fruity.  You know, when it seems as if your life is divided into segments that seldom, if ever, overlap. Similar to the subdivisions in a grapefruit, you have to cut the parts to make them want to move.  Except I hate grapefruits, so then it made me think of oranges and lemons which are also like a wheel and segmented, but I'm not overly crazy about those, either.  I will drink orange juice and somewhat enjoy the taste of an orange (when I can convince myself it's worth the sticky juice), but lemons have never really been my friend.  My sisters will eat lemons in the same manner I eat chocolate, but the mere taste will conjure my mouth into the weirdest of expressions.
It's strange how the fruit I enjoy (watermelon, cantaloupe, apples), is never the fruit that comes to mind when I think of my life.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

erotic body parts

When I was in middle school it was deemed improper to pad your bra.  Everyone had heard the stories of the girls who tried it and the horror of the tissue or newspaper wads falling totally or partially out and the embarrassment (or lopsidedness) that ensued.  Now they just sell padded bras so young girls don't have to worry about it.  Forget all the discussions about modesty and honesty.  Want to look like you have more than "swollen mosquito bites" (as one friend used to complain about)?  Just buy a padded bra.

Imagine my shock when in college as we learned about adapting to other cultures, I found that not everyone values breast size the westerners do.  In Africa, you want to catch a man's eyes... pad your hips.  Not joking.

In China, you really want a man to lust after you?  Have small feet, wear sandals without socks, and paint your toenails.  Of course, you'll also be dubbed a scarlet letter woman, but every Asian knows that beauty is in the feet.

So imagine the laughter at our breakfast table this morning over the following article:
Barry Saunders may be irreverent, but he is quite funny.  This is just a little funnier than most. And it leaves me laughing, shaking my head like my Grandma and saying, "What is this world coming to?"

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

rainy Tuesday

It is raining here in the Triangle area of NC, and boy do I mean RAINING!
The pier is flooded.
The duck house is flooded.
The goose's nesting pen is flooded.
Our yard has multiple "ponds" in it.
And I am nice and dry at home.
It sounds like a good day to finish canning some grape jelly, do some ironing, and tackle those two bedrooms a little more.

And I had a little motivation in the room renovations from an unusual place: a magazine. I don't usually buy magazines, but this one caught my eye in the bookstore the other day.  It's titled cloth paper scissors studios and the entire edition highlights different studios and their artists.  Almost all of them do something with fabric, and at least four of them mainly quilt. It's taken me almost a week to look and read through it, and I have absolutely enjoyed it!  It's only put out four times a year, but there is an ad on their website where you can buy all four issues from 2 years ago on a CD (for the price of one magazine!).  I'm not sure that would be quite as enjoyable though. While I didn't get any ideas for my room now, it did make me want to hurry up and get my room in working order so I can start tackling projects on an organized and regular basis.

So happy rainy Tuesday and may you find time to accomplish at least one indoor activity today! :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

my feelings penned 2000+ years ago

Last Wednesday night our Bible Study was on Haggai.  Yeah, that's right.  One of those little books at the end of the Old Testament that you have to thumb through the pages several times to find.  And the passage read could easily have been an autobiographical description of my feelings. Here's the Monica paraphrase:

You work hard, but it's not enough.
You get new clothes, but they're either not warm enough or too hot (or don't fit right).
You eat (and cook and clean up afterward) but it doesn't really satisfy (or else is unhealthy).
You finally earn money, only to find it's already spent.
Your big expectations?  They turned out nothing like you had hoped.

Think about what you're doing.  What are you doing to build up God's kingdom?
Only after you've quit worrying about yourself, your own house,  your own needs and focus on God's temple and kingdom will there be peace.

Do you hear me uttering OUCH! ?  Did you hear me almost gasp Sunday morning when the visiting Haitian pastor made this statement: "It's time for us to get serious."

There are times in my life when I think I'm doing okay.  Not great, but not bad. Then circumstances and situations arise, and I realize how woefully not okay my situation truly is.  "When God asks us questions, He's not seeking information. He's looking for our reaction." (also from yesterday) I so badly want to be in control of my life. And yet when I am, I find that's when I'm the most discontent.

He must increase, but I must decrease.  And that's about as easy as dieting.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

the quilting contest

It is finished. The quilt for the contest that is.  It is 2:10pm on Thursday afternoon.  The post office closes at 4:30pm, so I made it with 2 hours and 20 minutes to spare.  I come to the computer to upload some pics, and find:  two swatches of fabric that were supposed to be submitted with my quilt.  Hmph.  They will just have to go into an envelope and be mailed by their own selves.  Who knows?  They might even get there by Monday so my whole quilt package can be reunited.
It's not perfect, but it's the first sewing contest I've ever entered and I'm excited.  I know I won't win.  There's too many imperfections, but I'm proud of what I've accomplished.  So here it is:
The finished project
This little chicken needs some help. For such a tiny object, it's an okay job of applique.
The Chicken Pen...does it look like they've scratched up sand?
Where the wall, the house, and the chimney do NOT properly align. 

And the back of the quilt, with the entry label affixed and the pole pocket on top. It wouldn't qualify as "pretty quilting" in my mother-in-law's book, but the whole quilt was completed in a week, and I'm satisfied. Can you find the trees?
So it's done, and sadly housework is now beckoning.  Screaming, actually.  Playtime is currently over. :(

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

when freedom isn't free


You recognize it; you know what it means; the very numbers leave you with sundry thoughts and emotions.

Should a mosque be built there?

I wrestle with this question on so many levels.  As an American, "Ground Zero" as we call it, is hallowed ground. It's one of my two lifetime historical events that I can tell you exactly where I was when it happened. So my gut instinct to even think of the religion behind the catastrophic attack on my country building one of its "holy sites" there seems to be a condescending bowing before the very ones who abhor the very freedoms our country hold dear.

Freedom of religion - government can't prohibit it.  Neither can they censor free speech.

But Christian churches and colleges are routinely denied building permits due to zoning, fire codes, traffic issues, and other practical matters. Bars are not allowed to build or operate within so many feet of churches or schools. Hospitals are required to get government approval and studies before they can add on to their facilities, whether it is a new cancer ward or a wing for extra beds.

So if there all these "restrictions and prohibitions" on current religions and businesses, then why should the same not apply to Ground Zero?

Would the KKK be allowed to have an office building at the site of the Birmingham church bombing from the 60's?  Of course not!

Is anyone allowed to build near Gettysburg, where so many of our men and boys died during the Civil War?  Absolutely not!  Not even a viewing tower that allows people to see more of the site at one time.

I think Muslims should be allowed to have their mosques, just as Jews should have their synagogues and Buddhist and Hindus their temples and we Christians our churches.  But I do think the Muslims should be held to the same standards ever other religious group is held to...and they're not.  When the mayor of a city strongly recommends that a mosque be located elsewhere and the group refuses his offer of help to find a more suitable location, do they really care about the city?  No, they only care about conquering and having their own way.  Do they care about the people who died, including other Muslims?  Not really.  They think most of them went straight to hell.  They cheered when it happened, and said our policies were partly to blame.

I don't like the thought of our church being told in a few years that we are unable to build on the land we have purchased.  But the reality is we faced that possibility last year when DOT (department of transportation) announced they would be taking part of our land as a right of way for a new road going through.  We had to go through meetings to find out what our future options were. So I'm having a hard time feeling sympathetic to people who start harping about religious freedom and the government when it comes to the building of this mosque. 

I want our freedoms to continue, but as we're taught from childhood, those freedoms are not free.  And the price for this particular freedom of letting any group build wherever they jolly well please is a price tag that seems exorbitantly high to me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the owies

It's official. I'm old.
Saturday I weeded two small sections of the yard and did a small amount of housework. The next morning my joints ached so bad I actually took some pain medicine. Things weren't much better yesterday.Yesterday I spent several hours trying to finish up this quilt for the contest (it needs to go in the mail tomorrow), and woke up about 3am with every joint throughout my upper limbs throbbing. I pulled out Mom's blue emu cream, took a tylenol, and climbed back in the bed. Things are a little better now, but it is a little scary when our body starts to rebel against us just for doing routine activities.

On a different note, I made an interesting discovery yesterday. (Or should I say re-discovery?) You get what you pay for. Old info, yeah, I know. But lately I've had a major problem with this:
So yesterday after my SECOND quilting needle bent to the point it was next to impossible to use (I've actually had a few break this year.) I did what any modern woman would do: I googled "bent quilting needles" for a solution. And I found one!

Evidently cheaper needles bend or break frequently. They're not made sturdy enough to withhold three layers of material and the constant push/pull motion hand quilting requires. Several people on a few forums hashed out what brand was the best to use (as well as what size), and I did find that a few brands were consistently being mentioned. One lady mentioned one brand tended to work so well because they were made in England. Not sure what difference that makes, but I did remember that I had purchased a pack of quilting needles the last time I was in Etc Crafts, and took some time to find the pack. It wasn't a brand mentioned in the forum, but it WAS made in England. And the crazy thing is...I could FEEL the difference the minute I pulled it out of the pack. It was heavier and much sturdier. Now, that also means it punches into your finger harder, but I quilted for almost 2 hours with it yesterday and it has yet to bend. I might have to join the sewing snob ranks and insist on only the more expensive quilting needles. Now if there's a needle out there that will increase your sewing speed, I might even be willing to pay more for that! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

my waiting room

This morning as I read the pain a friend is facing from the death of a friend, and think of my cousin's wife Charlotte and Lydia's Dad who are in various stages of crossing over the Jordan River, I'm reminded of the words to one of my many favorite heaven songs:

There Will Be A Day
Songwriters: Camp, Jeremy Thomas;

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end, His word declares this truth
That we will enter in this rest with wonders anew

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

I know the journey seems so long
You feel you're walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you've walked out all alone

Troubled soul don't lose your heart
Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that's in store
Outweighs the hurt of life's sting

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to you always

I can't wait until that day where the very one
I've lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I've faced
To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery
O, this is why, this is why I sing

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face

There will be a day he will wipe away the tears
He will wipe away the tears
He will wipe away the tears
There will be a day.

And until that day comes, I simply join the many numbered throng who wake up moaning and groaning with various aches and thoughts, trudging through the daily tasks, until the poignant reminder comes, that there WILL be a day, and none of us know when our appointed time will be. So until I can learn to rejoice in the gift of each day I've been given, I rejoice in the fact that I have an appointment time, sometime, coming.

Friday, August 13, 2010

who I am

As always, I'm a little behind in my "required reading" (no, I'm not in school, that's just how I tend to view anything I'm not reading for strict pleasure). This week I finished reading chapter two of How People Change by Tripp and Lane, and was struck by a sentence in the last paragraph. This is modified, but it basically says our identity is bound up by who we are in Christ.

That strikes me on so many levels. I was eight when my father became a pastor. One of the few negatives of being a PK was always hearing the phrase "Her Dad's a preacher." with all its connotations and implications. (And just for the record, those subtle nuances ran the gamut "Don't ask her out" to "she's going to be a trouble maker" to "she has no mind of her own".) It seemed people always tried to wrap my identity around my father's job. She makes straight A's? Well, you know, her Dad's a preacher. She has to do good. She plays the piano for the monthly nursing home service? Well, she likes things like that. Her Dad's a preacher. (Little did they know!) She doesn't do drugs? Well, you know, her Dad's a preacher. She doesn't drink? Well, you know, her Dad's a preacher. XXX drinks a lot? Well, you know, his Dad is a preacher. He's got to get away from the stress. XXX skipped church Sunday by hiding in the bathroom? Well, you know, his Dad is a preacher and it's just rebellion. It always aggravated me that everything the PKs in my school did was because of our Dad's occupation, or so people said. I always longed to turn around and scream at the top of my lungs, "Yeah, well so WHAT? Your Dad's a coal miner!" or a truck driver, or a postal worker, or the manager of the bank, or... I wanted to be my own person, whoever that was. Don't get me wrong. I love my parents. I think they've had a wonderful impact on my life, and I value the lessons and morals they've instilled in my soul. But there are also many things that I appreciate about my parents but have rejected for myself.
So there's a small part of me that chafes at my identity being totally wrapped up in one person or thing. I am so much more than that. Yes, that is sinful, human pride talking. And perhaps it was my pride that jumped up and down saying, "YES!" when the paragraph continued with the illustration that a person was a Christian first and foremost who just happened to struggle with depression, or their marriage, or...and the list went on. I am a Christian. That dictates a lot of the rest of me. While I am a southern woman who loves country music and southern food, my faith eliminates many country songs from my ipod and is currently in the process of modifying how I eat southern food. While I enjoy sedentary and solitary pleasures like reading and quilting and writing, my faith mandates that I temporarily abstain from those pleasures during part of my weekend to be around other people. (And don't think I haven't been tempted to bring my quilting stuff to church to sew while listening! I quilted while listening to sermon tapes when I was overseas and struggled for the longest kind of time with sitting still during church when I got back stateside!)
But I also think he's got a point about our identity being important for change (or for how we interact with other believers). If I see a young person who is emotionally hurting, financially struggling, and floundering on their feet, my reaction to them is truly based on how I label them. Do I label the person as a sibling in Christ who needs a fellow sibling's prodding but loving hand, or do I label the person as a messed up person who happens to be a believer? How I identify that person totally changes my reaction and interaction with them. It's not a fun thing to realize the very thing I chafed against during my teen years is the very thing I find myself so guilty of doing to others. Ultimately, it all boils down to the one person who changed our world and what we do with Him.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

:) and yet another project

In the midst of changing out rooms and realizing just how many projects I have lined up to work on "one day", I told Bobby that I seriously needed to keep slaving away until I finished some things so I could start something else. And then the package arrived.

There's this company called Keepsake Quilting that sends out a quarterly catalog. I call it my drool book. I love it when the small booklet arrives in the mailbox, and am thrilled even more if I have 30 minutes to drop everything (or ignore everything) and browse through it. Twice a year, they have a "challenge" where you can order a small package of material, make a small quilt from it, and mail it back to enter a contest. You know the theme of the material and the contest, but not what the material is. This quarter's theme was landscaping. I've ordered some landscaping material in the past, and figured that even if I didn't enter the contest, I would have some material that I liked. I placed the order, and got a notice that the package was on BACKORDER. Not sure how they expect you to enter a contest if they don't have the material on hand to send you, but the material finally came while we were moving furniture. Not the best week, so I didn't even open the package. The following week I couldn't resist temptation and pulled it out "just to look".
Here's samples of what I found (or as close to it as I could find on their website):

This panel is actually a beige wood, almost like a pine, but with crackly wood lines.

This is the pattern, but the print is a deep green.

Once I saw the material, how could I not at least ATTEMPT the challenge? Only a week and a half until the deadline? No biggie, I mean, it's only a 30" square. I've never done a "nice" quilt before. Hey! We all gotta start somewhere, right? Housework? The washing machine operates quite nicely and loads can be thrown in and out between breaks. And since the rules say we can add up to 2 fabrics, and I need a solid, PLUS I got the perfect fabric for Christmas that could spare a square or two, I figure it's worth a try. Bobby wasn't so sure about my idea, but once he saw my square he liked it, so I feel as if I've accomplished something. I've still got some trimming to do, but here's my unquilted entry square:

I'm not so sure about this makeshift chicken pen. My original plan had been to cut the chickens out and applique them all over the grass and the rooster on the wall, but if you notice the yellow blob on the first photo, things this small don't exactly applique very well. Maybe once I quilt in the stones and add some small circles between the birds for dirt it might look a little more realistic. I know my sewing and quilting skills aren't developed enough to win a prize, but I'm just excited that I'm this close to making the deadline and am somewhat happy with the result!

All this to say that the pictures of the finished bedrooms will have to wait until next week. I'm sure you understand. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

today's recipe for insanity

Step One:
Take the 30"square quilting project and needle it until it resembles a somewhat flat piece of material. Call the company to answer your questions about the dimensions, then layer it until it's ready for quilting.

Step Two:
Crunch all the numbers in hopes of making them balance in the appropriate checkbook columns.

Step Three:
Combine straw bristles to the floor, then add the dust pan. Using cloth strings, lightly sprinkle with lysol water until all the tire tracks are gone.

Step Four: Add the dogs to the pen, separate the birds from their pen, and move the biddies from one "bowl" to the next.

Step Five: Combine a hundred other minute but important things, and hope the heat of the day cooks it adequately into a good mess.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Thanks to the am service yesterday morning, Bobby and I briefly rehashed a conversation we've had on multiple occasions. We've had it so many times, it's now condensed to bullet points and new thoughts/situations. Here's a condensed version:

At what point does a person stop being a child? According to our parents, never. So do we ever get to stop obeying/honoring them?

Is there a difference between obeying and honoring? Can we lovingly disagree with them, follow our own path, and still honor them?

According to Pastor Mike, parents will and should always guide or offer advice to their children, especially when they become parents. How does this fit with the "leaving and cleaving" philosophy of marriage we're taught? What do you do when a godly Christian couple with two sets of godly Christian parents give conflicting advice? (For example, a couple is financially strapped to the point of needing food stamps. One set of in-laws say the mother needs to put her babies in daycare and go to work; the other set says the mother's job is to rear her children and the father needs to either get an extra job or quit spending. Both use Biblical principles in backing up their arguments and both families do their best to live out their faith in their daily lives.) And what happens when parents pray for God's guidance and wisdom, then both decide to discard parts of how they were raised? What does that do to the obedience and honor?

When people give testimonies or "share" and say negative things about their parents or their upbringing, even if those things are true, aren't they dishonoring their parents? Is that wrong?

When an 18 year old wants to go to a Christian college but Mom and Dad request/insist/refuse to pay for/ and wants the child to attend an accredited school to get "job skills" first (and then if they still want to attend a Bible school they can), is the child dishonoring the parents by refusing their request? Is it dishonor if the child respectfully listens, but then graciously and willingly works their way through Bible College? Is it dishonor for the child to attend the school the parents want, but moan and groan about it the entire four years?

And close to home for me, if I ever return to live in Walker County AL, would it dishonor my parents if I chose to attend a church besides the one my Dad pastors?

Just where is this fine line between honoring our parents and being ourselves?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

vocabulary list

In honor of school starting next week (in Walker County Alabama, at least), here's your vocabulary list:
  1. Yard Saling - a verb, meaning to go shopping at yard sales
  2. Deflated - when all your energy is gone and you feel overwhelmed by too many projects staring you in the face
  3. Over-inflated - that can do attitude adopted by people who think "little by little" I can conquer this mountain. This emotion is usually followed by deflation in a day or two.
  4. Biddie - a baby chicken, NOT an old woman who talks too much
  5. Boggled - the feeling when half the thoughts in your brain start rotating at the same time
  6. Unbiased - when you cut your material the wrong way and it's too stretchy and the seams aren't lining up correctly
  7. Loopy - the way the thread looks on your material if you don't have the sewing machine tension aligned correctly
  8. Delusional - a matter of opinion on a person's expectations, thoughts, and goals
  9. Boxed In - when your calendar is so full you can't schedule anything else and keep your sanity
  10. Left-brained - an adjective describing the person who has left everything he/she learned in his/her brain and cannot retrieve it correctly, if at all

Thursday, August 5, 2010

components of an exhibition

You have a theme, whether it be a piece of furniture, artwork, or accessory, and you want to show it off. So you look around the room, decide where the main focal point is, place the item there, and work outward. (Or if it's an item in your home you measure to see where it would fit!). I've been thinking about exhibits quite a bit since last week.
For our anniversary, one of the things we did was visit a furniture exhibit at the History Museum I've been wanting to see. Called Behind the Veneer, it is samples of work from Master Cabinetmaker Thomas Day, a freed slave in the early 1800's. The first half of the exhibit was a little disappointing/bit of a surprise. I guess I expected the entire exhibit to be his furniture. Instead, the first half was items related to the time period he lived (but not his stuff), as well as tools and displays of the woodworking trade itself. All of that in and of itself was interesting, and certainly set the stage. After all, when you write a story, the setting is one of the main things you have to include in the first two pages. So it makes sense that the first part of the exhibit did that.
But if I had been in charge, I honestly think I would have knocked a lot of that first section out, and taken the last half and spread it out over the entire hall. The tools were neat, but it might have been even more impressive to have seen a few of the tools next to the completed piece of furniture.
And the historical panels detailing what was happening when? The information might not have been attainable, but info on Day's life from that year, corresponding with the historical facts, laid out in a more readable format might have been more comprehensive than the mass listings with dates. Of course, this is merely the perspective of a non-history buff. I know there were some people who read the entire thing, unlike me who just skimmed half of it.
And the discussion of how it took a legislative act for Day's wife to live in NC? It would have been exceptionally cool to have actually had a mock of the legislature minutes framed in addition to the petition signed by all his white neighbors requesting the exemption to the law in his favor.
The same goes for one of the most disturbing tidbits at the end...the causes of his bankruptcy. Instead of just reading that whites could sue their debtors, forcing them to pay their bills, have a court docket with that very information, followed by a mock-up of the law that prohibited Day from doing the same thing. I find that seeing items makes something seem more severe and real, whereas reading it merely makes it appalling.
If you're interested in woodwork, civil rights, or history in general, this is a temporary exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History that you don't want to miss.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

movies & books

There's some things in life I'm a little strange about. Books is one of them. If I find an author I like, I tend to read everything that person writes. There's nothing I hate more than to start a book, get a few chapters in, and be exceptionally bored with it. I have this weird thing that I'm supposed to finish every book I start. I don't know why. There's certainly no law about it, but I feel guilty if I don't finish. I think there's only been two books that I started and never finished. One was a John Steinbeck novel. I was in high school, and after page two and I had already hit the 20th curse word I put it down. I don't remember what the other novel was, except that it was more modern fiction. I did read to the second chapter of that one, though.
There's nothing more interesting to me than seeing a movie that is based off a book, and wonderfully done at that. Sometimes, like Harry Potter movie 3, my imagination of the book is much better than the movie and the characters seem woefully miscast, but other times it hits a home, like Ramona and Beezus. I LOVED the Ramona books in elementary school, and even though they flipped the name of the move title around, for the most part it was true to the books (they combined several of the books into one) and had me both laughing and crying. It even prompted me to facebook an elementary school friend this morning and apologize for all the times I pulled her hair while attempting to straighten her curls. (Who knew that pulling one little curly hair from each ringlet and positioning it between the back of her chair and the front of my desk would pull it enough to hurt? Had that been my hair curled by sponge rollers, that would have straightened it for sure! She actually got mad and told on me that time, but I think I had enough of her hair pulled tight for long enough to satisfy my curiosity that her hair was truly miraculously curly. And yes, I was jealous. I don't think I messed with her hair again, though I was often sorely tempted.)

In reflection, one of the things I enjoyed most about Beverly Clearly's Ramona books, was that church was clearly part of the book's culture. Whether it be Ramona getting in trouble for volunteering her mother to make her a sheep costume for the church Christmas play and all the details of practices and such to her preaching to the boys making fun of her sister's name, Ramona was clearly a character I could relate to. Quite honestly, if Clearly was trying to get published today, I'm not so sure and editor would be willing to take quite a chance on her. Respect for elders, chores, parents helping solve problems, morality in family members - those aren't things that are popular in children's publishing today.

I recognize that not everyone enjoys children's books or their movies, but if you do, Ramona and Beezus is definitely a 5 star movie.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

room overhaul 1

A little over a week ago I began a massive overhaul of the last three rooms in the house. Below is the Before pic:
This room was originally going to be our nursery, then I "claimed" it for my work room, but with the hospital bed there wasn't a whole lot of room to maneuver.

NOW:Evidently the Belarussian visitors we had for several summers confiscated the bolts from the screws holding up the mirror. When I went to move the dresser it was propped against the wall. I was shocked to find mere screws in the slots. So until I make it to Lowes or the hardware store, this is the scene.
And I bought a bedspread for my old bed (after 11 years, I guess it's time!), but didn't have extra pillows for the shams. That's a non-essential that'll come later. I did go ahead and get curtains, though as you can see the white polka dot sheer on the bed it's not totally up yet. (I've got to get a rod for it!)

I was worried the furniture would overwhelm the room, but I'm very pleased with how it turned out. And I'm 3/4 finished with moving everything into the other room. I've been trying to organize and clean as I go, so that's slowing everything down quite a bit. Hopefully pictures of another room will be done by this weekend and then my work room by the end of the next week. At least all the moving of furniture is done. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

health & sanitation ratings

One of the things I hated the most when I worked in food-related jobs was that the health department inspector always showed up to inspect during the busiest time of the day. Anyone who has ever worked in the food industry knows that anything between the hours of 11am and 1pm is NOT the time for an inspection. The inspector and his stupid little clipboard does not care that you have an irate customer who is mad because they stopped at Target on their lunchbreak and had to wait in line to check out and is now in danger of being late for work and is starting to yell at you because they've had to wait for their food for more than three minutes. (Like they could make a fresh burrito and taco or cook biscuits or eggs at home that fast, but that's another story.) Instead the inspector seems to think that you should be ever grateful that he's walking around the small aisle while you're trying to carry a hot pan quickly to its place without getting burned or spilling anything. He does not care that one of your co-workers is out with the flu and two others are out for the grandmother's funeral and so you are stacking the dishes on the sink until the noon rush is over and there's actually a moment to breath before the arduous job of washing them begins. He also doesn't care if the delivery truck pulls up while he's in the store and because the manager is busy doing his job of staying with him that the dumb delivery boy puts the boxes of food on the floor so he can make it to his next job and the inspector checks off points because they were on the floor a total of 10 minutes (and the drive-thru line is now backed out onto the road because we had to pull the headset person off of drive-thru to go move the boxes).
You're probably thinking, "WHAT on EARTH? Why is she on this tirade?"
WRAL does a restaurant rating every week. Some Asian store in Cary got a B rating. There were only three things wrong on the report, and one of them was boxes on the floor. I hate to tell the health people this, but insects and rodents can climb up onto shelves just as easily as they can a floor. Also, anyone who has ever farmed will tell you that when you harvest tomatoes, pears, peaches, apples, peas, or corn, you set the baskets or buckets full of food ON THE FLOOR! I've also been in a Chinese restaurant where during the middle of lunch rush an inspector showed up and chastised the lady for having two containers of chicken, one breaded, one not, on the kitchen counter near the grill. Um, I know the inspector was only concerned about the temperature of the kitchen, but had he known the least little bit about that restaurant and what time it was, he would have also recognized in the 5 minutes I stood in line just to order, that container not only came out of the refrigerator but was half-way emptied...in five minutes. That place stays that busy. It was lunch rush hour, and they would probably have another 30 customers in the next 10 minutes. That bucket of chicken was just one of many that would be cooked during the lunch hour. I've never wanted to tell a government worker what I thought of a situation so bad in my life.
I think this is yet another example of where the government has woefully overstepped its bounds. Our food and restaurants should be healthy places. But when you reach the extreme nitpickiness required for American restaurants today, we've got a problem. Because I've seen the health sheets that are filled out for restaurants, I'll eat in a restaurant that has a B sanitation grade. I'll hesitate, but I'm well aware that an overflowing garbage can is 1 point off. A cloth wet with nothing but water to wipe food off the counter in between making tacos and burritos left on the counter can cost you at least 2 points. Stopped to get a drink of water while washing dishes in the required 120 degree heated water? If you set that glass on the shelf over the sink, that's a serious health violation. So not everything on that list actually pertains to your food or things that would make you sick.
Now you know.