May 29, 2011
I think we are missing spring. I don't know when I've had so many dreary days keep me out of the garden. I don't care about going for walks. I don't care about gardening. I've been busy with school and church, but the weather has simply been overcast and damp! The grass is growing daily by inches and I've had to have Steve (who does my back lawn with the big riding mower) mow my front lawn because it is growing twice as fast as usual and is too wet and long for my itty bitty electric mower. I spent yesterday in Redmond helping Jeni and Ron pack up for moving. Eulalah and I worked on the kitchen while Ron and a few hired lads from their church moved furniture in a rented UHaul. They have sold their large property and will move temporarily into two (two bedroom) apartments in downtown Redmond while they are looking for a new home.
I took a break and went over to Molbaks for a bit of shopping. I was being helped by a lovely young girl who was giving me very special service which reminded me, once again, how lovely it is when people make your life pleasant. Little pleasantries, favors, smiles -- they add up when it counts. I have lots of people in my life that make it a pleasure to run errands or do chores. I was thinking this the other day while having tea at the tearoom and Scott, the waiter, was bringing me a tea cup he thought I would like and asking if I want my favorite tea. Dani laughed because he was surprised that I gave him a credit card instead of a debit card as I usually do. He knows my habits and makes sure I'm a happy customer. As does Robin at Prospect Cafe where Katie and I breakfast every Tuesday morning. He always comps us a fruit plate and then comes by to say hello. Or, the young lad at my cleaners who takes my pile of clothes as I drive up and away I go without giving him any name or phone number. He already knows it. When he sees me approaching, he runs and gets my stuff and is ready almost as soon as I stop the car. We used to have a barrista in town who would prepare your coffee drink (if you were consistent in what you ordered) as soon as your car was in the end of the line. You'd drive up to the window and it was all ready for you. I often wonder what happened to her since she must be the head of some company by now.
Service! It is what makes a business so popular. It is why I love living in a smaller town. It is the key to keeping people like me coming back over and over to the same places. It makes these dreary days much brighter. Now, if we could only get the sun to shine!
May 8, 2011
When I was in college I read "The Inner World of Childhood" by Francis Wickes, a Jungian psychologist. She said that being authentic and matching your thoughts to your words was the single most important thing for a parent to do. I didn't have children at the time, but I had a boyfriend named Don and he also read the book. In fact, we went to a party one evening where we discussed it with other psychology majors. I never forgot that book, and it was probably one of the precepts I kept close to my heart when I had kids.
I was not a perfect mom -- that is for sure! When I got to my wit's end (I hate confusion!), Don would send me out to shop or do something for myself. I could hardly wait until the children went to school so I could gain a bit of my own life again. I loved being their mom, but I also loved being me -- by myself! Fortunately, I had been a teacher before I was a mother, so I had some identity beyond raising children. I knew that someday I would return to that profession. In no way did that mean that I didn't love being a wife or a mom. I also needed an independent identity. I'm sure that independence is responsible for my view on the world and my choice of faith.
I'm sure I can look back on my children's informative years and know that I could have done many things better. I think that all parents make decisions -- and those decisions usually have other consequences. Because I was in total agreement with Wickes, I always tried to be authentic with my kids. They always knew how I felt, and I never lied to them. Ever! And, I hoped they would not lie to me, but knowing they were kids, I suspect they did. I also expected to know where they were at all times. And, I let them know where I was at all times. It works both ways! They usually had chores and sometimes had allowances but I wasn't a taskmaster. James thinks I'm too nice. Perhaps, I am. I could never keep anyone practicing the piano for long! But, my children were pretty well behaved and responsible. They are wonderful adults and I love the partners they have chosen and the children they are raising!
Today is a great day to think about what kind of mother you are. Dani and I went out to lunch and there were families all over Bellingham walking and celebrating, eating, and enjoying the relatively mild weather after a week of rain. I'm a poor substitute for Charles, but at least Dani had a few hours without responsibility as she left Nico home with James who was happy to let her have a bit of time for herself and with her mother. At church today they read the Mother's Day proclamation by Julia Ward Howe who wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic ten years earlier. I'm not sure I remembered hearing it before -- but I was moved by her insistence that mother's have a responsibility to work for peace on a political level even if we have ignored it for over a hundred years.
Julia admonished all women to wage peace and not send their sons to kill other mother's sons across the world. Since several major wars have followed in the past 100 years, we have had a difficult time following her words. I don't think we can just blame men. But, it is clear that she thought that a world governed by women would be a peaceful one. To that end, she also fought for women to vote. I often wonder if our country would be different with a woman president. I would have voted for Hilary if she hadn't become more strident than Obama. I am heartened by the uprisings across the globe against dictators. But, it doesn't hurt for us to read the first Mothers' Day Proclamation from time to time. Perhaps then we could be as brave as Julia Ward Howe who spoke up for peace and individual rights in a much less tolerant world than we live in today. She is the mother I would like to be!
May 7, 2011
Balls in the Air
Sometimes life is like a juggling routine. It seems as if I have so many balls in the air that they threaten to crash down on my head if I am not vigilant! I dart here and there from one ball to another trying to keep them soaring at the same time. I haven't worked full time for several years, but Saturdays are still the weekend and the time I think best about what needs to be taken care of before a new week comes. Silly, I know, since lots of days can be Saturdays for me when I'm not otherwise occupied with a job.
I am in the middle of planning for a new boiler. It is exceedingly expensive so I have applied and been granted a very low interest energy saving loan through the electric company's "green" program (although my boiler will be gas). Fortunately, it coincides with the final payment of my Honda and is 1/3 the monthly outgo. The boiler will be installed at the end of this month and, hopefully, it will also save on my gas bill. It replaces the big monolith in my basement with a wall hung smaller and more efficient unit. Arranging for this has taken many hour of research and organization. I can't believe it is finally happening.
Other house projects are either in my mind or on my list for much later. Painting the living room and a torn apart upstairs guest bath haunt me. I can't seem to settle on the right paint for the living room although I've narrowed it down to a few ideas. Upstairs, the bath sits with gaping holes where the old chimney was removed. The shower needs to be tiled and I'm putting in some bead board on the walls. Downstairs the new cabinets have a sink which needs to be plumbed. These are on the horizon, but the finished house painting and the first floor bathroom, the roof and the old chimney are the balls that keep falling on the floor. Those are the ones that I cannot keep in the air for want of a larger budget.
My writing intentions also keep falling on the floor. I can handle the blog from time to time, but I have not been very disciplined lately. Which brings me to the complete loss of any discipline. For the past three weeks, I have let my diet fall into the basement, ignored going to Weight Watchers, and walked only once or twice. I don't know why I can't keep up the very things that make me feel good about myself, give me energy, and give me hope that the world is not spinning out of control!
I suppose I'm wanting to know why I'm not perfect. Why I can't juggle my world more efficiently. Why I let the smallest things throw me off my game. I used to keep all the projects and all the upcoming stuff in my head. Don used to suggest lists, but actually, for me the lists were mental. Now, I forget things more easily and have more trouble with multitasking than I used to have. I was a multitask expert. I'm sure it is part of aging and partly the number of balls I am juggling at once.
Last night I got more than 8 hours sleep. I often get much less. Perhaps that is also the key! The morning rain has stopped and I see sun on the horizon. I'm going to get dressed and go over to the church basement to work on preparing for the rummage sale for an hour. Then, I'm going to come home and try to organize my life once again!
May 5, 2011
I haven't been to an annual conference for our denomination in about 7 or 8 years. Frankly, I found them a bit boring. I didn't enjoy the venue in Wenatchee and usually wasn't very interested in the workshops. If I had a free weekend, I would rather enjoy it another way. After Don died, I saw no reason to go ever again. Then I found myself on the Conference Personnel Committee which planned to meet during the annual meeting. This year it was held at the University Congregational Church in Seattle. For years, people on the west side of the mountains have wanted it to be in Seattle -- but it was difficult to find a convention center place that was not too pricey or a church that was large enough to hold all the delegates. They took a chance -- and I think it worked really well. We met during the day at the University Church and the worship services on Friday and Saturday night were held next door in the larger Presbyterian Church sanctuary. It was quite spectacular!
Having worship in a convention center just never did it for me. Intellectually I know that one can worship in a variety of places, but a big convention hall felt like a revival (which is definitely not my style of worship). Having all the delegates in an actual church made such a difference. The keynote speaker of the weekend, DaVita McAllister (associate conference minister from Connecticut) was terrific and very inspiring. She preached on Friday evening, gave the keynote on Saturday morning, and then preached at the UCC church on Sunday morning after the conference was over. By the culminating worship service on Saturday evening, spirits were high and the sense of community was an exciting experience. I went to 1 1/2 workshops which were mildly interesting -- but the really high point were the worship services and observing DaVita work her magic on the crowd. Oh, and we had a very nice Personnel meeting at the Burke Museum coffee shop, and we met the two new members coming on the board.
The most exciting part of conference was checking into the Travelodge that I had reserved for the two nights along with my friend (the other) Marilyn. She was down for the worship services and to play a bit with her Seattle sons. The room was terrible! It was dingy and smelly and you could hear the upstairs neighbor. We checked in. We checked out. And, fortunately, Jeni got on the phone and made a reservation at the Silver Cloud across the street. Equally fortunate was the fact that Travelodge didn't charge us for their inconvenience (or ours). They were quite nice about it. And, our new hotel was lovely, had a great breakfast, and nice appointments -- further, they had a shuttle so I never again had to take out my car to get to the church or the conference meetings. And, it was next door to my favorite Seattle mall - University Village. I will definitely return to the Silver Cloud!
And, I will definitely go back to the annual meeting in the future -- unless they return to Wenatchee!