Sunday, November 30, 2008

inching closer to you-know-what

Well, the pressure is on now. The boxes are down from the attic, the wreaths for the front windows are on the living room floor (awaiting a ladder for installation), and our new tree is up and looking naked without ornaments. We ended up getting quite the deal with the tree. We were indecisive between two varieties, and it turned out that one of them was the last one in stock: ours for the taking at 40% off. Now that's the way to make a decision! No assembly required, and three of the staff at Lowe's accompanied the tree to Ken's van (the tree itself rolled along nicely on a cart) cracking jokes and enjoying lively banter.

I'll include pictures later once things are in place--the picture above is a carryover from last weekend's PC party. And now, with a very full morning behind me, I'm heading to my Sunday afternoon nap.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

switching gears

With Thanksgiving behind us it's time to decorate for Christmas. After some thorough deliberation we have decided (close your ears, Mom) to get an artificial tree. The cost of live trees have become ridiculous, and much as I LOVE the smell of fresh pine in the house, my friend Debi reminded me that there is such a thing as scented candles to tickle the senses. The fake ones also don't have to be watered, and they don't shed. Plus, if we're gone for a stretch of time, the tree won't suffer in our absence. Not to mention that the most beautiful tree I've ever had (two years ago) had almost no scent!

We don't yet have our new tree, but that will likely be accomplished today. We do have wreaths for the front and other decorations for the inside of the house, and those will come from the attic today. In the meantime I have put out these cute little numbers that I picked up a couple of weeks ago. Love them! What's fun is that the tops have magnets in them to help secure them to the bottoms--give that genius some chocolate!
I have a PC show later this afternoon, and I am hoping that the sales from that will close the gap for the month so that I reach my goal of $3000. There's still time for anyone who wants to place an order to do so!!! Thanks to those of you who have already.
Hope it's a wonderful weekend for everyone.

Friday, November 28, 2008

reporting in after the holiday

Happy Day after. I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving Day full of good things and bountiful blessings. If your house is anything like ours the inside of the refrigerator resembles a 3-D puzzle where things are crammed into just the right space to accommodate all those leftovers. This cook is grateful for a few days off at mealtime!

We had a nice day that began with church and, upon our arrival home and the discovery that the turkey had popped its timer an hour and a half ahead of scheduled, we plunged into overdrive to prepare all the remaining food as quickly as possible. With three of us trying to function simultaneously in the kitchen I want you to know that I adapted well to working with two military men in this efficient effort,and no blood was spilled or expletives uttered. Go team!

Once we were finished eating the guys suited up to go "zero the weapons" at Ken's gun club in anticipation of going deer hunting today. Junior kindly suggested that we all needed to put the food away first, but in light of minimal remaining daylight hours, I handled the kitchen while they did the man thing. When they returned hours later we snacked on leftovers and then played charades until bedtime.

This morning I was awakened by the phone, Junior at the other end to let me know that he had already shot two deer. He's been taunting me with promises of three deer hanging from a tree for processing in our own yard, but I was clear with him that no such event would take place while I had breath in my body. I may have married into a lifestyle that is completely foreign to my own, but that doesn't mean that I don't have something to say about it. Moms do have veto power. But I have also gained a certain respect for Ken and Junior as hunters. They know what they are doing, and there is a certain peace about all this for me as a result.

For my part, I am enjoying some time at home on this day off to lounge in my jammies and hang out at the computer for a little while. I may start on our Christmas letter, catch up on some reading, or slog my way through the perpetual effort of bringing order out of the chaos that is my office. It is also Ken's birthday today, so somewhere along the way a sugar-free lemon meringue pie is on my agenda.

Enough said for now. Hope you all have a wonderful day after. If you shop, know that I'll be praying for your sanity!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you all a joyous day to enjoy good food, good company, and the blessings of your life.
Love from us here in the Cedar City!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

being there

A week ago I was at a clergy gathering at which we shared pastoral concerns. It was the day after learning the results of Ken's stress test, and before we were able to meet with the cardiologist. It had been a difficult not-quite 24 hours, and we were uncertain about what lay ahead. I shared Ken's situation with my colleagues.

Before departing from the gathering many spoke to me individually to offer their support and assure me of their prayers for Ken, and for me. One of my colleagues offered to gather some of "the sisterhood" (as I call them--my female clergy colleagues) to meet with me so that I had a place to share my concerns and receive support. Yesterday morning Ken asked me what my plans were for the day, and I told him of the small group being convened for support. He stopped in his tracks, asked "whose idea was that?" When I told him, he replied, "that is so sweet!" And then, after a moment's hesitation he added, "no one has ever done anything like that for me."

There are two things to say about this. One is that yes, it is very sweet and thoughtful of my colleague to have offered to gather this group, to make it happen, and for my sisterhood to rally around me. The time I spent with them yesterday was valuable to all of us, and therapeutic for me. I am blessed to have such colleagues who carved time out of their own busy schedules to make a space for my need.

The other thing is that Ken is, sadly, isolated from good friendship. This isn't the place to delve into any particulars or to "parse" the situation, but it is a place to acknowledge and grieve his isolation. I share it here because his truth affects my life and shapes how I care for him. I share it here because it doesn't hurt for others to know when a person is in pain, physically or otherwise. I share it because I can do no less.

I love the picture above because it represents a truth about support and prayer. It isn't about size or age, or even about faith, but about one soul being embraced by another. It represents my experience as one who supports, and one who has been supported. It gives me comfort, and reflects my peace.

I include this other picture because it is irresistable, and reflects another truth. We can find all around us companions who lighten our load, and who do what they are able to share our burdens. Sometimes those beings are closer than we realize. Whether or not dogs go to heaven (and I believe they do), the presence of loved ones on earth make a difference.

To all of you who come here, thank you for being there for me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lately it feels as though attention gets transferred from one event or activity to the next, with only gasps for breath. Last week Ken's tests, then my party, then Ken's colonoscopy yesterday (good results), today a clergy gathering and shopping for the holiday, tomorrow work and preparation for Thursday (I'm talking church, but there's food, too!), Ken's birthday Friday, a PC show on Saturday, Church, another PC show... and then smack! December!

Finding a still moment to consider what to put on the blog, well, good luck with that! So for today's visual interest I'm offering this picture Junior just sent of him with his sweetie, Trisha. They're so cute!

Off to the next event. Wishing us all calming breaths along the way!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

the party day is here

I am tired this morning, having pushed through yesterday nonstop to prepare for this afternoon. Ken asked me if all my effort would be worth it? The answer is, "no," not enough people will come, I won't get the kind of orders I want, but you know what? That's okay. This is about hospitality and doing something I love to do.

So what if it turns out I didn't have to spend half of Friday cleaning out the guest room for Junior, who headed back to Atlanta (think "girlfriend") after the guys finished work yesterday? So what if I didn't make all the recipes I planned, or get all the decorating done that I would have liked? It will be sufficient, and I will enjoy the afternoon and feel good about it.

And now, while I should be dusting a few last pieces of furniture, I will sit and enjoy my rare cup of coffee and think about each of you. Blesings on your day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

on the run...

Don't these look cute?
They are brownie lollipops,
and are among the goodies
I'm planning to make for my party!

Busy day today! I've got most of the groceries I need to make food for my party tomorrow, so this morning I will get busy with that. I made good progress yesterday in the cleaning department, though most of it is unrelated to tomorrow: I had to purge the guest room of its storage contents to make room for Junior! He is here for the weekend to lend a hand to Ken (bless you, my son).

I also have a parishioner in the hospital so will be headed there this morning to learn what ails him. I picked up a voicemail at 8:30 last night with a garbled messaged from which I could only learn where he was and the room number. I headed over then but he was sound asleep, so I didn't disturb him.

I need to get cracking if I'm going to make headway today. Hope yours is a good one!

Friday, November 21, 2008

good news, bad news

I remember a book from "somewhere in my youth and childhood" called Fortunately. My adult reflection backward is that the theme of it was that all things have a flip side, and we can choose how we look at what is in front of us. It goes something like this: "Fortunately Ned received an invitation to a surprise party. Unfortuantely the party was a thousand miles away. Fortunately a friend loaned Ned an airplane. Unfortunately the motor exploded. Fortunately there was a parachute in the plane. Unfortunately there was a hole in the parachute..." You get the idea.

We've had that kind of week here. A few weeks ago Ken began to experience chest pains, and then had episodes of shortness of breath. We got him to the doctor last week, and a few days ago he had a stress test. The doctor called Tuesday afternoon with the results, and they weren't good. A normal, healthy heart pumps blood from the left ventricle (what is called an ejection fraction: EF) at a capacity of 50-55%. Ten or so years ago Ken was diagnosed with a cardiomyopathy, which is essentially a weakness of the heart muscle that results in inefficient pumping from that left ventricle. His EF then was 26%. At 25% the heart is generally in need of a transplant, if it is pumping sufficiently at all. The ejection fraction from this week's stress test was 30%.

Initially we weren't able to get an appointment to see the cardiologist for follow-up for two weeks, but this wife wasn't happy with that schedule, and we were able to get in yesterday. In the intervening 48 hours we lived in a state of numbness and anticipatory grief. Ken faced the possibility of having to give up his business and livelihood, and it would be the second time his health would force that hand. Every other sentence started with the word "if," or assumed that the news from the doctor would mandate what we feared.

The good news is that the doctor believes that medication, along with a regular exercise routine, will be sufficient to get Ken back on track. He will need to take it easy for a little while to allow the medication to take effect, but the doctor has not restricted his activity. We are relieved, and very grateful.

Still, we learned from the doctor that Ken's story is outside the realm of statistics. Most cardiomyopathy diagnoses don't live more than 5 years. He's gone ten. Most diagnoses result in an average of 3 hospitalizations a year. He has had none since the first diagnosis. In many respects he is a walking miracle. We are also in territory that is totally unknown.

We are taking each day as it comes, and imagining that we have years to come. We can do no less. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health--we're there, we're doing it. As a colleague of mine states the request, we covet your prayers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

imagine the possibilities!

The results are in!

Fill these containers with:
Candies (m&m’s, gumdrops, tic-tacs, chicklits, sweet tarts, gumballs caramels, Hershey miniatures, you get the idea)
Food: almonds (of any description), peppercorns (I can sell you a grinder, too!), whole cloves, bay leaves, spices, oyster crackers (see recipe below!)…
Toys: a jacks set, marbles…
Hardware: picture-wire and hangers, nails, assorted screws, anything from Home Depot or your local hardware store…
Craft items: buttons, embroidery thread, lengths of ribbon, rubber stamps, all kinds of stuff that you can find at Michael’s, Joann’s, Hobby Lobby or your favorite local craft store
Office Supplies: paper clips, rubber bands, binder clips, push pins or thumbtacks,
Other: bird seed (that’s for you, Jayne T.!), pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters...


think BIGGER ITEMS for the batter bowls--fabulous for mixing chicken salad (or any of the "salads"), scrambling eggs, making oyster crackers (see recipe below!), preparing dry ingredients for baking, mixing cake batter, making fun cake shapes... the possibilities are endless! AND I have instructions on how to layer ingredients to give gift mixes for chili, brownies, cookies and pumpkin bread. GREAT gifts! The batter bowls also come with lids.

Prep Bowls: 6 in a set for $20, item # 1825
Small Batter Bowl: measures 4 cups for $11.50, item #2233
Classic Batter Bowl: measures 8 cups for $15, item #2230

Now that we’ve solved some of the trickier items on your gift list, click here to order by November 24 -- I’m offering half-price shipping for out of town orders (adjusted when I process the order)! You’ll also help me achieve sales goals for the month and the year! Refer all your friends, and Happy shopping!!


Put in bowl:
box of Sunshine oyster crackers (the best)
½ cup canola oil
1 package Ranch salad dressing mix (original)
1 tsp. Lemon rind powder
1 tsp. Dill weed

Heat together last four ingredients, stirring. Pour over crackers and mix well. Store in covered tin or other air-tight container.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

it's a slow news day, so...

(This is a scaled down version that Kip and Jules have posted on their blogs recently...)

Where is the person you gave your heart to for the first time?
I have no idea

What were you doing at ten last night ?
just got home from a PC show, watched the news

What' s something you really want right now, be honest?
to be debt free

Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
Election night

Anything annoying you right now?
the clutter in my office

Anybody you' re looking forward to seeing soon?

Did you have a dream last night ?
yes, I washed Juliet’s dog bed cover

Are you good at giving directions ?

Last time you cried really, really hard?
I still miss Dooley terribly, and those memories can bring on a full cry

What is your favorite thing to eat with peanut butter?

Have you ever made someone so mad that they broke something?
I don’t think so, but I honestly don’t know

When was the last time you saw your Grandpa?
the day before he died, January 1975.

Are you excited for anything to happen in the next 6 months?
growth in my church

Do you miss your past?
I don’t miss my past, though I miss some people from my past

If you could go back 3 months from now would you change anything?
I might have eaten differently

Where 's the last place you went?
a Pampered Chef show

What are you listening to?
the dogs playing outside

Do you prefer an ocean or pool?
pool for swimming, ocean for staring

Are you a bad influence?
I hope not!

How many months until your birthday?
6 months

What are you doing tonight?
cleaning the house, making Pampered Chef phone calls, watching TV

What' s the last kind of soup you ate?
corn curry sausage soup (it was GOOD!)

What kind of dog do you want?
a cuddlebug

Has anyone told you they missed you lately?
my Mom

Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture?

Can you whistle?
Am I my father’s daughter? (that would be yes)

What is your favorite salad dressing?
homemade Italian

What was/is your favorite class in high school?
French, with Monsieur Poirier

How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
a year older than I am now

Ever eaten an entire thing of frosting?
no. do you want to ask about cookie dough?

What instrument would you like to learn?
I’d like to be better at the instruments I do play (piano, recorder, guitar)

Last time you got poison ivy?
fortunately it’s been long enough that I can’t recall exactly when it was

Monday, November 17, 2008


We don't usually watch 60 Minutes--it's not one of Ken's favorite shows--but last night we were watching the home team Tennessee Titans continue their unbeaten streak to 10-0 (!!!) and caught the ad that 60 minutes would be featuring Barack Obama and family (or at least Michelle). We tuned in.

Yes, I supported this candidate for president, so I am predisposed to align myself with his viewpoint and proposed policies, and to agree with what he has to say. What surprised me last night was the tears in my eyes that came from listening to how he spoke. He was so candid, so refreshing, appropriately self-effacing, and tactful! In the same way that he and Michelle acknowledged that his victory hasn't quite sunk in, I find myself in a state of unbelief that this is real--that someone this genuine, unpretensious, positive and yes, hopeful, will be our president in two months.

Sometimes it really does seem possible that some people are destined for the moments into which they are drawn. For a man of Obama's strengths and personality to be elected to lead this country at this particular time strikes me as just such a reality.

Hope is real. Just look at those Titans!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

a must read

Thanks to all of you who responded with ideas to yesterday's post. I really appreciate your input and ideas!

I am out of the habit of reading, much to my chagrin and disappointment. I did actually finish a book last summer (about which I posted!), and AM reading the book I write about today. Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an unusual book for a novelist, but she is such a good storyteller that this venture into her family's year of eating local or homegrown food is surprisingly gripping. It also offers an insightful and probing analysis into the food industry that should concern us all.

Lest I put you off, however, consider what there is to learn. Asparagus! Who knew that one could write an entire chapter on asparagus and make it worth the read! I'm almost tempted to try some again under the right circumstances (those who know me well know that anything but a raw vegetable is not a good friend of mine. Except corn). Kingsolver's story about her family's choice to eat mostly locally grown food is eye-opening, inspiring and challenging. And it is so wonderfully written. Did I mention that? She is a fabulous author.

Ken and I talk about supporting our local growers, but we haven't yet become dedicated to that pursuit, something I think we will endeavor to practice when spring arrives. In the meantime there is this winter to spread the word, read the book, and encourage everyone we know to rethink how and what we eat. It is life-changing stuff.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I need some ideas

I'm gearing up for a "customer appreciation party" for Pampered Chef that I will host at home, and I'm inviting former hosts and guests that I have come to know, as well as a few others who may want to do some not-so-early Christmas shopping. One of the things I'll be doing at the party is displaying gift ideas using PC products. An easy, affordable gift is one of our prep bowls (they come in a set of six for $20): clear, oven-tempered glass that holds one cup and has a lid. This year PC is even offering colorful snowflake cutouts to cover the top to make them more festive for gift giving, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Of course containers should always be given filled with something, and these are no exception. Candy is an obvious choice: m&m's, kisses, peppermints... but I'm thinking that there are some other things in life besides candy that would make fun fillers, and be useful as well. Paperclips come to mind. I'm looking for some other ideas. Any suggestions?

And guess what? Any of YOU are welcome to "attend" my party on November 23. I'm offering a shipping deal for out-of-towners: the standard guest cost of $4.25 (no matter how much you order), or half of the shipping cost, whichever is greater (I'll make the adjustment when I process the order). And, everyone who orders will be entered into a drawing for a door prize. I'll post a link soon to make shopping a breeze.

In the meantime, let me hear your ideas!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

a new discovery in the blog world

I started this blog mostly to share photos and personal news with friends and family. That circle was fairly small then, and still is. But along the way I have become acquainted with other blogs, and have begun to expand my reading. Today a fairly new blog on my "must read" list, Telling Secrets (written by Elizabeth Kaeton, a priest in New Jersey) referred readers to another blog, called Margaret and Helen. OMG, what a find! Margaret and Helen are two older women who have been friends for more than 60 years. The banner photo is a treat: the two of them tooling around on what looks to be the deck of the USS Intrepid in scooter chairs. These women pull no punches, and tell it like it is. And they make me laugh. Lord, how they make me laugh. And what is truly amazing is that thousands of people read their blog, and hundreds leave comments (I consider it a banner day when I get two comments on this blog)! So my gift to my readers today is to send you to Margaret and Helen's blog. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

a doubly special day

Today has special meaning for this family. It is Veterans Day, and I am the proud wife of a veteran, as well as the mom of one. Coming from a family of pacifists (and I consider myself one) you might say that there was a bit of an adjustment for me coming into Ken's life! In addition to being on military bases not infrequently (retiree benefits, for one thing), much of Ken's outlook on life has been shaped by his years in the Army. Our worldviews are, at times, far apart. Increasingly, however, civilian life has nudged its way into shaping a more contemporary view of the world, and it has been interesting to watch some of the shifts in perspective that have taken place. While he is firm in his convictions, he is also one of the most open-minded people I know, and has a hunger to learn more about things he doesn't understand or about which he has no knowledge. As a result, those shifts do take place. Today, for instance, Ken will march in our local Veterans' Day parade with Veterans for Peace.
This day is also special because it is the second of the two anniversaries we celebrate. Our "legal" anniversary is in March, when we had a civil ceremony in our living room. But we celebrated our marriage with a traditional wedding on this day two years ago. Our plans to celebrate are still a little vague--at one point Ken was going to be getting on a bus to go to Ohio to help Junior move to Georgia, but a necessary appointment tomorrow morning has postponed that trip for a day. Regardless of what unfolds today, however, I am grateful for the occasion to focus on the man I married, and to honor all of who he is: veteran, spouse, and everything in between. I am a lucky woman, a lucky wife, and as a bonus I get to be a blessed mom. And in addition? There are always sales on my anniversary! You can't beat that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

this one is for you, Maria!

Maybe it was the crisp November air, or the holiday decorations in the shop we visited yesterday afternoon during their "Open House," but I've been bit by the holiday spirit! I got a pair of cute little acrylic gift boxes that I'll post later. I've already filled them with Hershey's miniatures left over from Halloween, and now I'm beginning to look around the living room with an eye toward decorating for Christmas. Gotta find a place for my favorite decoration, this Shepherd Santa!

Some decorating will be done earlier than is typical for us, because I'll be having a Pampered Chef Holiday Party here the weekend before thanksgiving. I confess to feeling a little giddy about Christmas this year. It will be a lean one in terms of gifts and other indulgences because we simply don't have the money, but we've already got the decorations, and the wreaths for the front of the house are ready to go. With a different layout of furniture in the living room there are different opportunities for decorating, so things feel new. Plus, I love the Christmas season, and the feelings engendered by holiday doodads and activities. Now if only the weather would cooperate and stay cool!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

When I was in college I took a photography course, and one of the assignments we received was to take a picture at 10 AM and 4 PM. Wherever we were, whatever we were doing, record the event.

I still have the pictures from that assignment. At 10:00 I was checking my mail (the old fashioned kind--you know, stamps, envelopes, handwritten letters?), so I have a picture of the front of my mailbox. Through the glass pane a few pieces of mail are visible. At 4:00 I was at softball practice. I was the team manager (I throw like a girl and can't bat to save my life, so there was no point in trying out to actually play the game). That picture is of the coach preparing to hit a ball to the infield during practice.

Some days it occurs to me to stop and shoot the picture of what I am doing. Sometimes those are the best ones to take, because they actually tell a more significant story about who I am and what my life is like than to pose or arrange a scene (not that those pictures aren't important too). The picture here is just such a picture. It was taken at Melrose on the front porch, but it captures a piece of my daily life--the crossword puzzle, and sudoku.

I really like this picture, and I think I may use it to return to another of my joys--scrapbooking. There are two groups I can join that crop on a regular basis, so the opportunity is open to me to return to those waters. It will also offer some incentive to inventory and organize all my scrapping supplies and paraphernalia (never mind use them!). Gee, I'm glad I posted this today--look where it took me!

And a PS to scrapping friends--I got a Pampered Chef order from Jenni Bowlin!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

suggestions, anyone?

I'm not sure there are enough readers of this blog to make it worth posting this, but I need some landscaping inspiration! Here's the challenge: there's a stretch of ground that runs alongside the house by the driveway that is in serious need of help. The problem? dogs. They love the dirt. Juliet digs in it to scratch out the just-below-the-surface coolness so she can lie in it. Rigel, for his part, loves to chew on the branches of the yews that are there and break them off and run around the yard showing off his prize.

We tried some of the small garden barriers that are innocuous to the eye and generally effective in suggesting to the dogs, "don't go there." That was until a few vehicles backing out of the driveway at various times battled with the fences and proved victorious. When Junior was here last spring he fashioned a rudimentary wooden barrier. It has also battled with autos but has proven a tougher warrior than its predecessor. Even so, battle scars are apparent. The whole scene is unsightly. And yes, it needs weeding badly!

So, we are very open to suggestions on what to do with this space that will be attractive for us humans, and less available to the dogs for their purposes (entertaining as Rigel may be when he romps). Ken keeps suggesting a picket fence, but the proportion and location are all wrong, not to mention that we then have no access to the area to maintain it.

Thoughts, anyone?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

nature's palette

We have had some glorious weather this past week--much too warm for this time of year (mid-high 70's!), but beautiful. I finally took my camera on a stroll through the neighborhood and have some great color shots. I don't have roses that I can stop and smell, but I can sure stop and admire God's amazing work in creation. The color takes some of the edge off of missing New England at this time of year, and reminds me of the joys that I have right here within my reach.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This morning it feels to me as though we are all on the same page, starting a new chapter, heading a new direction, wittingly or otherwise. I even feel the stirring of exhaled breath from around the world and an aura of calm, at least for the moment, tempers the tensions that have built over the last eight years.

We begin anew, and as many pundits remarked last night, the change that has received its mandate isn't about party, isn't about old allegiances. It's about the world as it is becoming and the generation that will live into its future. It will be a generation honed by the necessity of sacrifice, and a renewed commitment to decisions made for the common good. And not just American good, but global good. I couldn't help but be impressed by the number of networks from around the world that were part of last night's broadcasts. The "neighborhood" has changed, and we are all as children learning to share our toys, our resources, and to recognize that decisions made for our own interests have implications for others beyond a ripple effect.

The times they are a-changin'. And it is about time.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

the day is here

and I have voted! Ken works the polls on election day, so I was up early to get him there by 6:00 AM this morning. I brought a book, sat on the floor and waited until the appointed hour when the polls officially opened.

Being married to a poll worker I'm a quasi "insider." I know, for instance, that all poll workers are required to attend a class prior to the day to hear about procedures, learn to operate the machines, and so on. There are a variety of roles for the workers, and the training is intended to prepare them for that as well.

So imagine my surprise when the time finally arrived and my first point of contact was being instructed on what she was to do. Find my name on the list, compare the information with my ID, verify everything, check it twice--where did her initials go? What was she supposed to write on my form?

That done, I proceeded to the machines, only to find that every single machine worker was gathered around one machine making sure that another voter felt confident about what she was doing to secure her vote. I stood there. Waiting. At last one of the workers caught on to the fact that I was there and beckoned me to her machine. She then tried to insert the "supervisor" gizmo to unlock the machine and couldn't figure out how to fit it into its proper slot. She turned it every way imagineable. Then tried all options again. "Allow me," I offered, and plugged it in. I confess to more than a twinge of impatience. She looked at some information on my voting slip and then compared it to what appeared on the screen. No match. She became flustered, and summoned another worker for help. "Don't you remember? They told us that the screen would look like this..."

I realize that I was among the first handful of voters and some of the workers were probably nervous and getting the kinks out. But seriously. I do this once a year (and three times this year between primaries, local and national elections) and I was better prepared. I imagine, however, that by now the place is probably humming like a well oiled and confident machine. And I have to say that those folks deserve more credit than I do. They will put in at least a 14-hour day today without relief, and depending on the length of the line when 7:00 PM arrives, they may be there quite a while. In fact, I may just bake them some cookies or something so they can refuel during the day with some sugar--and at least one voter's gesture of thanks for their service.

I head back in a couple of hours to take soup in for Ken's contribution to the poll-workers' pot-luck lunch, and will take my camera to document this day (not to mention the newly renovated kitchen at the church where the voting takes place--it looks fabulous!).
I and would dearly love to go to Starbuck's for a free cup of coffee, but by the time I drive to the nearest one 20 miles away, it will be far from free. Thanks anyway, Starbucks, for encouraging us all to vote.

And now, we wait.

Monday, November 03, 2008

now this is easy

Nutrition in a bowl. I know, I know, I'm slow to catch on to this, but now that I have of course I have to share this "new" wonder! Breakfast has always been annoying for me because I simply don't have an appetite first thing in the morning. All I wanted was the simple pleasure of sipping coffee.

Now, ever mindful that eating smaller portions more frequently during the day, and packing those with nutritional punch is the way to forge ahead with my plan for better health (and weight), I'm paying closer attention to my options.

Oatmeal is now my friend. Oatmeal with maple syrup, flax seed and raisins. Ah, the righteousness of it all. It's the ultimate health breakfast, and takes less than five minutes to make. And this new routine in my mornings prompted another change--rearranging the contents of some kitchen cupboards based on practical use of items. Now there's a two-fer to make anyone proud!

On another note, today is my first day at the office at Epiphany. I'm waiting to move books and such over until next week, since this coming Saturday we are having a church "work day" and will sort through the items that have accummulated there in the last several years and rearrange some of the space. Today I am doing some nuts and bolts things--like reviewing the membership roles and updating a few things here and there. And taking notes. Lots and lots of notes of all the ideas that pop into my head, as well as the players with whom to discuss those ideas to share the ministry and the vision. My work is cut out for me.

And now, fortified with nutrition and energy-supporting carbs, I'm heading out for the day. Hope yours is a good one!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

this picture is worth...

This post is borrowed from another blog that I visit (Telling Secrets). I suspect that the photographer didn't know quite what he or she was capturing, but others more astute in history caught it. You can't help but appreciate the poetry of the moment, no matter your political persuasion.

The picture depicted here is from the recent Obama rally in St. Louis. The eye is first drawn to the sheer number of people. Impressive, no doubt. But that's not the point of this picture to a historian. If you look in the distance there, you can see a building with a greenish-copper dome. That's the Old St. Louis Courthouse. For years and years, slaves were auctioned on the steps of that courthouse. The Old Courthouse used to be called the St. Louis State and Federal Courthouse.

Back in 1850, two escaped slaves named Dred and Harriett Scott had their petition for freedom overturned in a case there. Montgomery Blair took the case to the US Supreme Court on Scott's behalf and had Chief Justice Roger Taney throw it out because, as he wrote, the Scotts were 'beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.'

We may have some distance still to travel this road, but that day is behind us. What is uplifting is that, 158 years later, the man who will most likely be the first black US President was able to stand outside this very same courthouse and gather that crowd. Today, America looked back on one of the darkest moments in its history, and resoundingly told Judge Taney that what he said ain't so.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

that morning look

In a short while I will be heading to the church for a gathering of Epiphany's ECW--Episcopal Church Women. I was just on the phone with one of the members, and as we got ready to hang up she said, "I'll see you in a little while, looking like Saturday morning." "Me too," I assured her.

Thank goodness for the freedom to look like Saturday morning. I chalk it up to arriving at a certain age when we realize that there are more important things than looking our best for a church meeting (among many occasions), and spending the time that would go into primping doing things that serve our minds and bodies more productively. Perhaps a few more minutes with the morning paper, an extra lap around the block, or finally writing that email to the friend we meant to write to weeks, or even months ago.
Looking like Saturday morning feels like something to celebrate rather than dread, and as I put shoes on to head out the door I think I won't worry about looking in the mirror to be sure that my hair is in place, or and I won't worry about the fact that I haven't bothered with earrings. There are other days when those things might matter to me. Today is not one of them.


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