Friday, December 30, 2005

My writing student came in to work today as a volunteer. Between the two of us, we managed to accomplish all but one task I wanted completed before the end of the year.

She is such an absolute pleasure with whom to work. She picked up the work on the press archive that she had done last August without missing a beat. She remembered where everything was located on the server, how to scan, format, PDF, enter, and hyperlink items on the archive and finished the last 14 historical items.

I pratically sighed with contentment all day, moving from one task to another and having someone to help. I even finished my status report on the past two weeks and sent it off (I usually do this Sunday evenings). My only lingering thought is that one last task. I am tempted to log on to the server some time this long weekend and try to tackle it.

But this is not even the best part of my day. The best part was that she came home with me and we wrote for several hours. I finally tackled the sermon I had been avoiding in my novel. I wanted it to be important to the story, not just popped in for a Christian effect. I think, perhaps, I outdid myself. Even if no one else gets what I was working toward, it is exactly what I wanted to say.

Over the past five years, my writing student has greatly matured her rather significant talent. I have enjoyed being a part of that, watching her, guiding her. The humbling part is that she will eventually eclipse what I can achieve as a writer.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I only had three cookies at work today, which was reasonable in my mind considering how few that was compared to the past two days.

I worked rather frenetically all day, so I treated myself to another three cookies to eat with my dinner. After all, the press release went out, the hard copies of the release and the press list went to one of the partners, I created a spreadsheet tracking all board correspondence over the past year, I uploaded a set of photos to the website, uploaded the press release, and added a new event, updated the press list and the press archive, worked on a spreadsheet of hyperlinks to all our boilerplate materials and collateral for staff, and drafted my status report for the past two weeks.

I deserved those cookies.

Once I arrived home, I let Kashi out and headed upstairs to change my clothes. I actually left the office at a decent time and was ready to settle down with my book...and those cookies.

When I came back downstairs, I noticed a napkin on the floor. My wretched puppy dog had come back inside, made a beeline for my bag, and helped himself to those cookies!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Oh, how I wish I could be two years old again for just a short while.

If I were, I would lay down on the floor and throw a fit to rival anyone in the terrible two's! I would scream and beat my hands and feet against the floor. I would cry and shake and wail my frustration for the whole world to see and hear.

Alas, I am far from two years old.

Today, I continued working on the press release. I had drafted one of our own and had all parties in agreement that we would coordinate press releases. Then...the VP of Real Estate came in and decided that separate press releases would undermine the budding partnership. I had carefully crafted a message that clearly complimented the other one. Having a mulitple notice approach to the press is also advantageous. This is my job. I had a plan and successfully navigated the course with all parties involved...until someone came along and said that "we" were doing only one release. That one decision undid all my work and I had to work with the other communications person to create the combined press release, which also prolonged the time she had to work on this project.


I do think that I made another "communications buddy" through all of this. She, too, was equally frustrated at the last minute notice and non-communications approach to the press release. We commiserated together and then complimented each other on making the best of the situation. When I asked how she had succeeded in communications for 10 years, she answered rather bluntly that "Some times you have to just suck it up."

While I recognize the value of her answer, I cannot help but rail against the fact that letting go of my work often means watching mediocrity reign. I am lousy when it comes to doing something less than my best.

In the midst of all of this, I finished the donor analysis and drafted, reviewed with the president, printed, copied, and mailed the outstanding contribution acknowledgement letters. It was a tremendous amount of work. At the end, when the president was reviewing the three spreadsheets I created for him, he smiled, nodded his head, and muttered that it was just what he needed to take to the chairman of the board. I am small enough that I would have preferred a real acknowledgement of the work than the abrupt change to another matter. That I got to see that it was a job well done should have been enough for me, eh?

Well, not if you are two!

I am juggling work and have not even managed to start even one of my outstanding tasks that I had so hoped I would get to do this week. I want to be strategic and systematic about my work. I truly dislike being reactionary. Will I ever get to the communications and knowledge foundation that this organization genuinely needs?

Oh, how I wish I were two. And if I were...then all the cookies I have been consuming would not matter at all!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I thought I would have four days all to myself to catch up on those parts of my job I haven't yet truly had the opportunity to address. Aside from the accounting staff, I am rather alone in the office this week. A perfect opportunity to organize, strategize, and put a few more things into top loading sheet protectors, eh?

Oh, my, was I ever mistaken about a day to myself. And if today was any indication, that list of mine will nary be even a mite shorter by Friday.

First, I measured and measured and measured again to make sure I had the nails in the right place for this photo collage I created for the main conference room. It is seventeen 8x10 photos arranged in three groupings that are all exactly 3 1/2 inches apart from each other. The three groupings are 18 1/2 inches apart. The entire collage is exactly centered on the wall opposite the conference table with one foot on either end. While the idea was a good one on my part, I would say, the execution was a nightmare...way too much math for me!

Then, this one small request to review a press release that we should have been releasing ourselves turned into researching the background of a project I knew nothing about to draft our own press release, reworking the parts of the other press release that pertained to us, and working out the coordinated release with the other communications person...oh...and...trying to get our staff on the phone to ask questions while they are on vacation.

I ate cookies all day, wrote, researched, and wrote some more. And ate more cookies.

My goal was to also take lunch this week since I very rarely get the chance to do so. I brought the book I am reading in anticipation of a bit of relaxing time. Not only did I never have even a moment to myself, but I also left the book there! My stomach is still roiling from all those cookies and my book is all the way across town. How am I supposed to fall asleep tonight?

Tomorrow just has to be the quiet day I envisioned...and I must stay away from the eight containers of homemade cookies still sitting on the counter.

Will power anyone?

Monday, December 26, 2005

I remembered to take the trash out to the curb this evening. While doing so, I could not help but think about the last time I did so, struggling through the snow and ending up in the emergency room.

It is a strange sensation not being able to breathe. The air tonight was cold and my chest began to tighten even before I made the five trips from the backyard to the curb to fetch the recycling, the trash bin, and the three large bags of leaves I gathered on Saturday.

By the second trip, I began wheezing. By the fourth, I wondered if the nebulizer would be sufficient to my needs once I finished, sufficient to dispel the feeling that an elephant was sitting on my chest intent on keeping me from drawing a decent breath.

Thankfully, it was.

While breathing the chemical mist, I kept thinking about my grandfather. Here is a man who would always be willing to take out the trash for his wife. Oh, were it so that I should find someone with whom to share this life...and to love me as he does her.

Now, it appears that his wife is dying. She moved beyond this world a few years ago due to the ravages of Alzheimer's, but her body remained when her mind did not. I suppose her body is simply tired of carrying on alone.

Week after week, year after year, my grandfather has cared for her. First in his home and then finally, reluctantly, during his visits to her at the nursing home. He combs her hair, cleans her face and hands, and feeds her, all the while talking to her and touching her with such gentleness.

Such grief and loss my grandfather bears with grace. He has faced the loss of the love of his life over and over again for so long now. But even knowing her suffering will finally come to an end does not lessen that grief, that loss. How does he let go of a woman he has loved for over sixty years?

I marvel at his love. I ache for his loss. I grieve with him.

I am weary of death.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

I struggled to listen to the pastor in church this morning. It was not because of the rain that was pouring down outside, effectively drowning out his voice at times. It was not because I was thinking about the water that rain might bring to my basement or the long drive to my father's house through that torrential storm that lay ahead. It was not because the pastor is not skilled at holding a crowd and evoking a response. It was because of what he was not saying.

Once the scripture had been read, John 3:14-17, the pastor failed to take even one opportunity to teach us of God's Word. This day, one set aside to celebrate and reflect upon the magnitude of the greatest gift ever given to mankind, was lost in one humorous tale after another. Contemporary tales...tales from the past...tales from man.

Christ used parables to teach. There is nothing wrong with illustrating a point with that which might spark understanding. But He also used those tales because He was speaking to those who did not have eyes to see or ears to hear. Today the room was not filled with scoffers and scholars ready to pounce. The room was filled with those ready to worship.

Why not take the time to weave the tale of the near sacrifice of Isaac? The parallel of a father being willing to sacrifice his son, of obedience, of a substitute? Why not tell the tale again of a man willing to stay with a woman he had not touched as she bore a child that was not his, of a woman who bore the burden of carrying a child from a source she did not quite understand, of those who came from afar to worship, of the obedience that wrapped around them all to the glory of God?

Why not tell the tale of a birth that took place so that same child could die? How the death was the only way that we could live? A tale that was foreshadowed and foretold throughout scripture. The mystery, the joy, the pain, the sorrow?

We do not know scripture well enough to set aside an opportunity to study the intricate weaving of a message told over many years and through many voices that still ring so very clearly today.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

This day has been a good day.

I have felt rather lonely this holiday season and worked to fill Christmas eve with something other than longing for company.

I awoke early and met with Kashi's vet. She and I went over his test results and discussed his treatment options. He is going to start taking some Chinese herbs next week. I truly hope they help him.

I then went to my favorite clothing store, Chico's, to return the two pair of pants that I bought for the Italy trip. I never wore the second pair because the fabric of the first pair became pilled after just a couple weeks of wear. The sales associate that I work with each time credited my card...and then showed me this rather comfortable suit. I had received a Visa gift card, so I used the credit and the card to purchase the suit. [I happen to think that I look rather good in it.]

I came home and turned my energies to the house and yard. I raked the leaves that had fallen since the last time I tended the yard and bagged them up to leave at the curb next Tuesday. I trimmed back the ivy and Wisteria that had become a bit overgrown. I relocated Bird Central (in yet another attempt to stop feeding the squirrels) and filled all three feeders. I also repotted three plants and gave everything a good watering.

Inside, I filled, ran, and emptied the dishwasher, did three loads of laundry, and replaced the batteries in the carbonmonoxide detector. I also emptied the trash and cleaned out the refrigerator. [I am avoiding the vacuum cleaner.]

Finally, I reconciled my bank statement, paid my bills for the month, installed three new software programs, updated Windows, Office, and ran a security scan on my computer.

All this was accomplished while keeping my attention on the football games today. [Football was the reason for the early rise this morning.]

So, now, I am curled up on the couch watching the second of two rather atrocious avalanche disaster movies and reading a book.

Today was a good day.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Our offices closed at noon today...I managed to leave just before 2:00. I was working on correspondence and a report that really were the purview of another person, but what I cannot get my mind around the fact that the organization suffers when crucial work is left undone. I cannot bring myself to walk away and leave it undone. At least it gave me the chance to interact with the president and to do a bit of data gathering and analysis...a wee bit.

I came home and rested...and then I got to play (and win) two Scrabble games.

Being able to have the extra time to rest spoke to my heart for I have been rather stretched of late.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I have not decorated my house this year. I cannot bring myself to do so. I am too tired. The decorations seem too frivolous.

I keep thinking about my grandmother, my great uncle, Kashi, work, my health, the problems our country is facing, the stress around the world...

I sat down and read through the Gospel of John. Such words to savor.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." ~14:27

There is so much more to this life. I wish that I were not so very tired. I wish that I were back on the mission field. I wish that I were a better witness at work. I wish that I had more to give. I wish.

As much as I like receiving presents, I wish that this time of year really was about the meaning of Christmas, of the life Christ, of the sacrifice of love, of the purpose of God's plan.

I wish you joy and peace this holiday season.

The joy of the holiday, however, is not found in shopping, in presents. The joy of the holiday is in the incredible reality that God gave us the gift of eternal life. The peace of the holiday, though, is not about spending time with family or friends or time off work or eating good food. The peace of Christmas is actually found in the life of one born to die. What a conundrum!

Even though I enjoyed the gifts I chose and gave, even though I am grateful for what I have received to help clean the ducts of my home, even though I chowed through much of the delicious food sent to our office...I wish that we could all just stop the madness this commercial holiday has become and think about the true reason for this season, the reality of Christ, and the power and responsibility of the gift of eternal life.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My lunch today was cheese and crackers. The crackers were from a gift basket that arrived at work today. The cheese I found in the back of the refrigerator leftover from a gift basket last week. I cut off the dried and crusted layer and ate the perfectly good cheese beneath.

A free meal!

For dinner I had a 36 cent can of chicken dumpling soup. I picked it out at the store because it was cheap (the expense of the Italy is still not quite done) and because one of the very few good memories I have of my childhood is the taste of my mother's chicken and dumpling soup that she made from scratch. She no longer makes it, but the memory lingers. I dream of the day I get to eat another dish of someone's homemade chicken and dumpling soup. Of course, the canned version left something to be desired. For one, it had green beans and peas in it! I didn't eat them, of course. However, Kashi found them quite tasty.

How fortunate that I had something left over to share with my beloved puppy dog, eh?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

How old is too old?

Sounds like a question for a college guy troving the refrigerator, eh? Well, it also sounds like me.

I know...gross.

This weekend, I polished off the crackers that my best friend brought with us to Italy but we never consumed. I regularly eat eggs, yogurt, and sour cream long past the expiration date someone pasted on the side of the container. The latter two merely require a bit of stirring to look like new again. If its been cooked, all bets are off. As long as there is no visible evidence of things growing, eat away. Leftovers can last a good two weeks at least, right?

Well, last week...uhm...I think I finally discovered the answer to the question just how old too old actually is: Eight years is definitely too long.

I was looking in the refrigerator a few days ago for something to put on my steak. I usually just throw a slab of meat on the grill, cook it four and a half minutes per side, and eat it plain. That is about all the cooking I am up to after working all day. But, this time, I was hankering for a bit of flavoring. Bernaise sauce was on my mind, and I even went so far as to look up the recipe on the Internet, but it would have been too much work. Then I spotted a bottle of A-1 Sauce. Perfect, eh?

I reached for it and then paused. The bottle has been with me through the last three moves, making it at least eight years old. Should I really eat it? I opened it and gave it my first test: a strong sniff. It certainly smells like A-1 Sauce. After passing the second test, visual inspection, I decided that surely something with so many chemicals in it would still be okay. I admit that I was a bit cautious with the first bite, but it passed the third test: a tentative taste.

So, I slathered it on the A-1 and crammed it into my mouth...and chewed. But I started thinking...even though it passed all three tests, should I really be consuming something that is eight years old? After taking a few more bites, I decided that, perhaps, eight years really is too old and dumped the bottle in the trash.

Tonight I had the final portion of the pot of lentils I cooked when my father was over for a visit.

That was only nine days ago.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I am huddled on the couch beneath two blankets. I have on bike shorts, leggings, jersey pants, a tank top, a turtleneck, a hooded sweatshirt, two pairs of socks, and gloves. And yet I am cold.

I was so tired that I left work early to sleep, knowing that tomorrow I have to get up quite early for the third day this week. I am so sleepy that the lines on the road were difficult to follow on the drive home. And yet I am awake...because I am cold.

No fever. Just chills.

Me who believes that the 20's are nicely brisk. Me who regularly ventures out in the dead of winter with just a scarf and gloves, eschewing the necessity for a coat. Me who has kept the air-conditioner on in my office virtually every day since I moved in there (though not yesterday).

I am cold.

~~I finally dared to google Cushing's Disease... I am NOT prepared for this. Kashi has to go back to the vet for the day tomorrow. My heart hurts...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 life...

Yesterday I attended a seminar on developing relationships with grantmakers. It was engaging, informative, encouraging, and inspiring to me. Some much of what was said validated my gut feelings and ideas for direction in this area. [Sigh]

So, when I arrived home, I spent the evening working. I read through my fourteen pages of notes, coded them for themes, and collated the data into two sections: observations about the common threads among all eleven speakers and action items for our organization. I sent a meeting invitation to my boss and then proceeded to create a two-page bulleted handout for our discussion. [Sigh]

I also set down to capture one of my thousand and one ideas for organization that I never seem to have time to implement. I created a spreadsheet of hyperlinks to the marketing collateral and boilerplate text that I either created, updated, or worked out a new presentation. A great idea, eh? My boss actually thought it was "excellent." [Sigh]

The discussion went well, and I will be dropping my ideas at the senior management meeting. While the thought of that scares me a bit since many of them are strategic and systematic (the antithesis of what has been happening), I am excited because what I presented was solid, worthy of pursuit. [Sigh]

However, at the end of the discussion, I checked my wrist for the time and discovered...that when I put on my watch this morning, I failed to notice that I was already wearing one! [Sigh]

Did I mention that I am tired?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Two Degrees.


What is it about two degrees that can flummox me so?

I keep the thermostat set at 68 degrees because my little home has rather large gas bills in the summer. However, lately I have found 68 to be rather frigid. I find myself shivering and my toes and fingers are ice cold. So, turn it up a bit, right? One nudge. Two degrees.

Well, apparently 70 degrees is sweltering where my physiology is concerned. I grow warm and weak. I start pealing off my clothes and stalk over to the thermostat to spin the dial back to 68. The heat seemingly vanishes in an instant. So I grow more comfortable and rest back on the couch. For an instant.

The chills start. I watch my fingers turn blue before my eyes. [Okay, blue may be exaggerating, but they feel blue!] I snuggle beneath my chenille throw and think warm no avail. It is not long before I make my way to the thermostat to nudge it a bit. About two degrees sounds right, eh?

I grow too warm.

I grow too cold.

Two degrees.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I was a mouse murderess again tonight. My only consolation is that his time of dying would be shortened by the outside temperature.

Still...I am quite bothered at how easily I fell back into this skill.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I have been pondering a moment of choice given to me a while ago.

I came face to face with a man who wreaked havoc in my younger life with his vile acts. As a child, I could not speak for myself and had no adult in my life who would. Here he was before me at a time when I have finally found my voice...but I could not speak.

It were not for a lack of words or desire but for the moment. It was not my moment and to make it mine would have been selfish.

I have been pondering that moment, wondering what lesson God would have me learn. I was able to shrug off his touch without shame. I was able to turn away and live not in the moment. I was able to speak but understand that silence was best.

Is knowing that I could enough for me?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I am tired.

Are you tired of reading that I am tired?

Friday, December 09, 2005

My great uncle died yesterday. My best friend's husband's grandfather died today.

days of sorrow, days of joy

days of sorrow wrapped with smiles

days of joy laced with tears

a life celebrated, a life mourned

the past, the present, the future

what was, was is, what will never be

days of sorrow, days of joy

moments touching memories

living and reliving long walks

quiet talks and rainy afternoons

laughter and love and life

days of sorrow, days of joy

releasing the hopes and dreams

of what will never be to treasure

the moments and memories of what was

healing heartache, honing grief

celebrating, mourning, releasing

days of sorrow, days of joy

Thursday, December 08, 2005

I am not one for office holiday parties. I am especially not one where the food runs out far too quickly. I am not one for mingling and small talk...especially when the music is blaring so loud that my ears hurt.

My hermit nature came to the fore tonight.

At least I had a legitimate excuse for leaving early: Kashi had been at the vet all day for testing and needed picking up before the office closed.

I am worried for my puppy dog.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A mother always knows, eh?

Well, I think that also includes doggy mammas. I noticed Kashi starting to drink excess water more than a year ago. He's had several kidney function tests since then, but they kept turning out normal. When he started averaging more than three bowls of water a day and waking me up at night to go out, I drug him back to the vet. This last test indicates that he probably has a tumor either on his adrenal gland or his pituitary glad. Tomorrow's VERY EXPENSIVE test will tell us which location and determine his treatment options.

I think that I should get some sort of award for not crying when I talked with the vet about his test results from last week. I was in the car with the president of the company going to lunch. I swallowed hard, asked if the situation was immediately fatal, and then agreed to hold my worries until after tomorrow's test.

He's only 10. We should have 5 more years together...

This is me...not worrying...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I ended up in the emergency room last night because of my trash.

The snow made rolling the garbage can across my yard to the curb for collection quite difficult. I pulled and fell. I pulled and fell again. I went inside to call someone for help, let the phone ring twice, and hung up. I went outside again and started pulling again. My breathing grew labored and I was shivering from being soaking wet from my repeated falls to the snow. I started wheezing, but continued.

Three times already I have forgotten to put my trash at the curb. There were, in fact, 13 dead mice at the bottom of the overflowing container. I couldn't let another week go by. I also didn't want to hear rejection again when I asked for help.

I made it to the curb and then I made it to the emergency room.

I went to work today on just three hours sleep.

I am still tired.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I couldn't get anyone to stay with my pets on Friday night, so I had to leave early Saturday and turn around and leave again just 24 hours later because my options were so limited. I asked three people for a ride to the airport and still ended up having to walk to the metro station when it was quite cold. Coming and going was quite draining.

Some of my grandmother's students came to the funeral and another wrote a note about what she meant to her. All said that she changed their lives in profound ways. I was a bit jealous that they knew her that way when I did not. I stumbled over the end of the scripture passages that I read because my throat was thick with tears. The classical music was fitting. The service honored her and was honest in who she was. We have received a few donations to the scholarship fund.

I do not understand why my family believes ridiculing me is caring or even acceptable.

The plane flight was horrible; I was ill both ways.

The Cowboys lost.

My laundry is undone.

I am going to bed.

~ ~ ~

The bright moment of my day: my best friend and her husband worked together to welcome me home with a cherry pie with crumbs on top (the topping is my favorite part).

Pies...another way to say "I love you."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I have to get up in just a few hours for the flight. It is crazy that I am up this late.

I spent my evenings this week finishing up the program for my grandmother's funeral. Tonight (yesterday) I had to pack and to clean the house since my best friend and husband are coming to stay with Kashi and Fancy and Madison. While she would not begrudge me a dirty home, I would not want to dishonor her gift of caring for my pets while I am gone by offering poor hospitality.

I was supposed to hear the test results for Kashi today, but didn't. I am worried about him and how much water he is drinking, but I am also worried for me because getting up in the middle of the night with him is taking its toll.

When will I get to catch up on my sleep?