Monday, October 31, 2011

monday miscellaney

It's been a while!

Since we last met there's been a trip to Melrose, bouts with a nasty cold, home rearranging, office tailgate party, and miscellaneous mini adventures. Such variety!

I'm not generally an overly cautious person, but I've taken under advisement the counsel not to broadcast occasions when we will be out of town. Like our recent trip to Melrose. I'm not really worried about someone taking advantage of our absence and breaking into our house while we're gone, but there's that little piece of me that is okay with not letting that cat out of the proverbial bag.

It was a short trip: left Thursday afternoon, got there after dark, and returned Monday morning. Let me just say that the weather was spectacular. Stunning. Brilliant. True, crisp, autumn glory. A little chilly at night, but that's why we have blankets and fireplaces.

We enjoyed a visit with Kenneth and Trisha, our friends Jimmy and Barbara, and our usual and customary date with the wisteria for pruning. The next thing we new we were back on the road heading home. Waaaaaahhhhh!

In the "bursting with pride" department: Kenneth completed an Army Special Forces Selection process last week. The first great thing about that is that he completed the course. Tougher than Ranger school. The next great thing about it is that he completed the course with honors. Stellar graduate. Can you see me beaming? In two weeks he and Trisha will move to Ft. Bragg (Fayetteville, NC) where he begins what is known as "Q." More training. The first six months will be intensive language training, then small unit tactical training, and I can't remember what comes after that, although I may have the order of parts two and three reversed. Another chapter begins!

Saturday my office hosted a tailgate event on campus. It was intended to be an offering for our nontraditional students and their families, with kids encouraged to come in costume, and treats offered for the young-uns. It was a gorgeous day, we had great catered barbecue (and the best mac-n-cheese!), and enjoyed meeting the students who came by, though few of our target population were among them. Oh well! Time for a survey to see what sorts of events might be better attended. It's pricey to offer a meal and not have your group show up to eat it.  We still had fun, as might be indicated by this picture of my assistant, Valerie, trying on someone's hat.

Tomorrow I'm off to Indianapolis for a few days for a national adult learning conference. It's not that I don't get the dynamics of adult learning (the stories of my students keep me well abreast of that!), but this will be a great opportunity to learn about trends, resources, and other good stuff outside of the specific frame of reference that is my own office and campus. We're hosting our own conference at MTSU in February, so this will also help me narrow down some parameters for content for that event. I'm excited to be going, and eager to learn.

At home Ken has had his sights on transforming the area that serves as his office (formerly the one-car garage) into a "den." The only real change to that space is the relocation of a recliner and sleeper sofa to its midst. We finally made that happen yesterday, and let's just say that I am glad to have it done and behind us. The dogs love having a comfy space to hang out with Ken when he's in that room, and the living room finally has a chance to reclaim its identity without excess stuff filling it up.

So those are the highlights at my end. What's new with you?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

and a good time was had

Last night our local democratic party held their first ever Halloween Bash at a local country club. As you might expect with anything that is new and not "what we've always done," there was a wee bit of anxiety about how the event would go. Would enough people buy tickets? Would they show up? Would they deck themselves in costumes? Would we make any money (it was intended to be a social, but making money is still a good thing)? Would people enjoy themselves? And of personal interest to me, would they like and appreciate my cake? As facebook friends know, this cake has a story of its own!

I am happy to report that the answers to all of the above is an unequivocal, "Yes!" This report is coming from someone who generally doesn't enjoy parties where I don't know many people, but I have to say I had a ball. Nearly everyone wore a costume, and there were some fun and creative efforts in that area. There was music and dancing, karaoke (which I even attempted twice without being under the influence of alcohol), door prizes, and a really good Ro-tel cheese dip with chips. There was some other food, but the dip reigned supreme.

Ken decked himself in all of his kilt regalia, and I attempted to pull off Holly Golightly. My effort would have been a lot more successful if I was a whole bunch thinner, but it was fun to dress up. The picture doesn't do justice to the hair or makeup, and it is exceedingly disappointing to note that the reflection I saw in the bathroom mirror before we went to the party and the image below do not resemble one another. Phhhhhhttt! Ken, at least, looks exceedingly handsome. At least to me!
We came home exhausted but satisfied, and this morning I am enduring my body's protest that I wore 2" heels last night. No biggie, all will be well. After the memory of the cake adventure fades I would likely attempt to do one again, and in the karaoke department I will be sure not to volunteer to sing a song that I only think I know. It's no fun to drop out in the middle of verse when you realize that what you really know is the refrain. That said, I managed to get through "Crazy" without making a total fool of myself. The darkness of the room was my saving grace.

And that, friends, is a slice of autumn life here in the mid-south. I'm not entirely sure what's on tap for today, but it's lovely and cool, and the kitchen is almost clean, and that's not a bad way to start a weekend. May yours be full of things that bring you joy.

Friday, October 14, 2011

friday five: scattered

At RevGals, revkjarla writes: So, I don't know about you, but I have had quite the scattered week. Sometimes, life is that way, right? In the spirit of Scattered-ness, I offer you a scattery kind of Friday Five:

1.  I lose my keys all of the time.  Even if they are in my hand, I still am looking for them.  Sigh!
What is something you are chronically looking for, if anything?
My eyeglasses, although to cut down on the chronic nature of that hunt I keep a pair at the computer, a pair in my purse, a pair at the kitchen table (shared by living room use), and a pair at the office.
2.  What movie are you looking forward to watching sometime in the future?  (me, the new Footloose!)
I've had so little time lately to pay attention to things like movies, I don't even know what's coming. I do about Footloose, however, but I'll wait to see that when it comes out on dvd.
3.  What is one of your favorite comfort foods?  (me, pizza. hands down).
I love pizza, and I confess that it's extremely convenient to pick up an already baked, personal pan pizza at work (I take one flight of stairs and walk about one hundred yards), but I try to eat less pizza than my soul desires for health reasons. Sadly, most comfort foods stand squarely outside of the healthy eating zone. My favorite snack is some peanut butter on slices of apple. Just about everything else feels guilty because it's essentially impossible for me to lose weight.
4.  Story time.  Tell us a story of one your favorite people that has touched, blessed your life.
My goddaughter is the person who regularly touches and blesses me. There are many stories, but one early memory from about 20 years ago stands out. One night after a Lenten program at church (back in the good old days when I was a laywoman), I walked out to my car at the same time as Johanna and her family. Johanna was about eight years old.  Before climbing into the family car she turned to me, opened her arms wide and tipped her head back for a goodnight embrace. It was a spontaneous gesture of love different from the usual hug of kids wrapping their arms around your legs or hips and squeezing at their level. Those open arms said to me that her heart embraced me fully, without reservation or limit. The blessings of her love continue to embrace me.
5.  What do you do to focus or calm or center yourself?  (please, I need ideas!!!)
Here's a surprise--I turn to God! I also cuddle with my dog, or simply close my eyes, empty my mind and breathe. If I have access to a scenic view staring at it for a while is also a great way to find calm.
BONUS:  Share the first thing (or second thing) that comes to your mind after your read this!
Our son-in-law leaves on Sunday for temporary duty (army) in Hawaii for six weeks. Our daughter and grandkids will also make the trip. They  have invited us to come visit them while they are there, but 1) we can't afford it, 2) even if we could afford it there are other plans and obligations littering our calendar for the duration of that six weeks that don't allow us to take the time, and 3) even we we could afford to go and the calendar wasn't an issue, I only get paid for time I work, which sort of puts us back to number one. It breaks my heart to have to say no to this amazing opportunity, and pushing the various components around in my mind to arrive at this conclusion is, indeed, a practice of fragmenting/scattering.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

we are topeka

image from the blog OABI (Organization for Abuse and Battered Individuals)

I don't write that post title as a badge of solidarity honor, but as one of shame.

Do you know what's going on in Topeka? No? I'm not surprised. The news from that city didn't make this morning's cut for news on CNN or NPR, the first sources of my household's news day. There was no mention in the morning paper. The New York Times carries the story in the "US News" section, seen as less important or significant than Romney's performance in the most recent debate, the standoff in NBA negotiations, and an alleged plot of a foreign government to assassinate a diplomat from another foreign government on US soil.  I'm really worked up about that last one.

Let me bring you up to date. Last night Topeka repealed its domestic violence ordinance. The reporting is a little unclear about this, but I think that although it's still not legal to beat up your wife, husband, partner, sibling, child or parent, there will be no arrests, charges or prosecutions of these crimes. Blame it all on a budget crisis. Apparently it's too costly to prosecute these crimes, and the case load for felonies and some other misdemeanors, like shoplifting, is high. Tell that to the 35 or more victims of domestic violence in Topeka in the last six weeks (that's almost one per day, reported). Tell that to their children and their loved ones. Tell them that the violence perpetrated against them costs too much for them to be considered a priority for justice and protection. A 10% across-the-board budget cut means don't cut salaries or perks, instead leave vulnerable women and families at greater risk of losing their lives.

I'm not being dramatic, I'm outraged. I'm ranting here because our culture has been silent too long on this subject. The painful irony of this action in Topeka is that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Most of us, myself included, don't have the numbers committed to memory but I'll be glad to review them for everyone's sake.*
  • 1 in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. 1 in every 4, people.
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.
  • Charges of assault against perpetrators are more like to cause an escalation in violence on the part of the perpetrator.
  • Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.
  • Nearly one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. 
  • The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services. 
  • There are 16,800 homicides and $2.2 million medically treated injuries due to intimate partner violence annually, costing $37 billion. 
  • Domestic Violence cuts across all socio-economic, racial, ethnic and religious lines.
Why should this be the lead story on every newscast today? Because to say nothing is to suggest that this action is acceptable. To say nothing doesn't help those 1 in 4, or worse, the victims who don't report their abuse. And lest you think this is only about victims, the syndrome of domestic violence won't cease or lessen when the perpetrators don't get help.

Get mad with me. Be outraged. Speak out. Stand up for the victims and demand justice and protection. Together we can change the statistics.

One. In. Four. Are you okay with that?

Learn more
*source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: www.ncadv.org

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

the things we do for t-shirts

Confession: I am writing this post in order to create a wordle.

Nontraditional Student Week is a stone's throw away, and we plan to celebrate it with enthusiasm in my office. And we need a t-shirt design.

Let me tell you a little about our students. They are adult learners with life experiences that run the gamut from business owners and entrepeneurs to single parents and survivors of abuse. They are tall, short, wide, narrow, red-headed, bald, and everything in between. They are men and women dedicated to improving their lives through education. They have dreams, and they work hard toward achieving them. Some will be teachers, some are pre-law, others want to care for animals and still others plan to write. They are studying English, computer technology, chemistry, animal science, sociology and more. They laugh, they share stories, and they encourage one another. They tutor each other and swap stories about teachers. They fall asleep on the couch and lose track of time at the computer. The room fills with the fragrance of lunches heated in the microwave, and the smell of popcorn to fend off afternoon munchies. They arrange their schedules to take kids to soccer practice and parents to doctor appointments. They worry about their finances and their families, but day in and day out, they are here. Studying, contributing, planning and dreaming. They are discovering that they were right to return to school, to push aside the awkwardness of raising their hands in classes filled with nineteen-year olds, and to share the lessons they've learned in life with professors and fellow students. They get tired. They get stressed. Their cars and their lawnmowers need repair, and still they manage. They persevere.

In my book they are rock stars, and it is my privilege to know them and work to make their lives on this campus a little easier. They have chosen MTSU, and the world is, and will be, better for their time here.

Friday, October 07, 2011

friday five: the things we do for love

 For my son and daughter-in-law's rehearsal dinner I had a puzzle made of a photograph of them. Guests worked on the puzzle throughout the evening and got to know each other across the pieces. Putting together the entire evening was a fun-filled and joyous gift of love.

At RevGals Songbird writes: I have a friend who, when she has to be away from her child, goes to the trouble of planning a present for each of the days they will be apart. I'm impressed by her organizational skills and her creativity and her thoughtfulness.

She does these things for love.

And although love looks different depending on how we best express it, there are definitely things we do for love. So for today's Friday Five, please share the following five things:

1) Something you did for love that was a hit
Two things spring immediately to mind. When I lived in St. Louis my goddaughter--who lived in New Jersey at the time--attended a national church youth event in Terre Haute, IN. I drove the three hours to Terre Haute to take her to dinner and spend a little time with her, and then turned around and drove home. It was a carpe opportunity kind of thing. 
Ten years ago my friend Kathy and I spent two glorious weeks vacationing in northern California. I had become intoxicated with scrapbooking, so I decided that I would make scrapbooks of our trip for both of us. It took a year to finish it, but I finally presented to her the 72-page album documenting our adventures. Somewhere I have a picture of her looking through it, and you can tell by the expression on her face that she was moved and delighted with the gift.
2) Something you did for love that was more of a miss
I don't know that anything has been a miss as much as that I have been disappointed that something I've done doesn't appear to be appreciated. Unfortunately there are several such occasions that come to mind, and even though it is hurtful for the effort not to be acknowledged, it doesn't stop me from showing the love the next time.
3) Something someone did for love of you

The same friend, Kathy, threw me a big birthday party when I turned 40. Not only was the party itself a wonderful event (she was a great hostess), but she conspired to have some good friends from out of state and across the country come for the weekend as a surprise. She also solicited letters and photos from friends and family that she compiled into an album for me. It was truly a wonderful expression of love.
4) Something you *wish* someone would do for love of you
I wish my husband would clean up after himself in the kitchen on a regular basis, but other than that, nothing in particular comes to mind.
5) Something you've done for love of God
I hope that I live my life in a way that reflects an infusion of my love for God. If I have to narrow it down I would say that trusting in God's love for and acceptance of me in the face of my flaws and the ways I'm sure I disappoint him is what I do for love of God. 
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