Tuesday, January 31, 2006

What day is it? My, I am not sure that I can tell you. Still working.

I built something today with which I was pleased. I had an idea, executed it, and have made a contribution to our message. In the midst of the chaos, in the midst of the larger needs looming, this one piece of work gave satisfaction and purpose for a brief moment in time.

I also had a meeting in which I spoke with someone about what I see: she very well may not have what is needed to succeed in the path which she wishes to follow. It was a strange sort of conversation, for I had peace about my words, conviction that what I was saying was needed, yet she was in tears. She did not disagree with that which I noted. She admitted to lacking the skills needed in this field. Yet she did not want to hear me challenge her to reflect upon whether or not she could acquire what she needed to accomplish her goals. Perhaps she should choose another path.

This conversation has given me pause. There is so much that I do not understand, so much that perplexes me. I am accused of having high standards, ones not everyone can meet. Yet, I think...if you want to work in communications, you have to know the rules of grammar. How is proper comma usage a high standard? I see it as a basic requirement. It seems to me that most do not.

My list has grown, yet I have taken care of a few more items. The greatest remains outstanding. I am too tired to tackle it correctly. I am too tired to really tackle anything. I have two more tasks I'd like to do before I sleep.

Perhaps three...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Still working.

I have completed thirteen tasks from my list. I believe that I will be able to finish 2 more before I must go to sleep so as not to start the week sleep deprived.

I suppose my list was too ambitious. I suppose it was a bit unrealistic. I suppose.

I am satisfied with the work I have done thus far, however. I do believe this weekend will make the coming weeks a bit easier for me. At least I hope it does.

I did ease the load a bit by playing (well...losing) two games of online Scrabble with my best friend. I worked while we played, but even I will admit that my productivity during that time was a bit lower! Doing so, however, was a great respite to my weekend.

My only accomplishment around the house was to make my bed. It hasn't been made in over a week. Of course, it hasn't been much slept in either. Still, I wanted at least my bedroom to be free from the chaos in my life just now.

Break over. It's back to work for me...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Upon further evaluation of the list this morning...after working until 2:00 in the morning and then lying awake for another two hours thinking about all that needs to be done...I added 3 more critical items that I would like done before Monday morning.

So, on my list of 21 items, thus far I have crossed off 7 of them and am working on an 8th. I think I can knock off that one and another before I go to sleep tonight, but that would still leave more than half the list undone.

The very thought makes me sigh deeply and wonder again why I am doing this...especially since no one at work really notices or cares.

But to let things go would not be working heartily as if for the Lord. I cannot set the work aside. I almost wish I could...but I cannot.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Working. Working. Working.

I didn't leave the office until after 8:00. I rushed home to let my poor puppy dog out to do his business. I stooped to pick up his ball to play and fainted. I realized that I was past hungry some time around 7:00, but was trying to finish up so that I could leave. I stopped at 7-11 for milk because I was out and never look forward to a morning without it. When I got out of the car, I had to catch myself against the side because I was dizzy and had become clammy. So, with two warnings, I should have grabbed something as soon as I got inside the house, I guess.

I was shivering so hard when I came too, that I half believe I will NEVER get warm again.

Yet, after eating and calming down, I got back to work. To help put my weekend in perspective, I made of list of all that is outstanding, all that if accomplished would bring me back to square one even after all that has been happening at work.

My list has 18 tasks.

So...I am still working for the day.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I am still working for today (yesterday now), trying to find a stopping place.

I am insane to be doing this. I spec-ed out a camera and scanner set-up for a program coordinator and researched and drafted two press releases. I did the background reading for a third, but I am struggling with how to approach it. I also continued working on the mailing list for the farewell reception that needs to be done by tomorrow COB.

I have drafted message points for the next six months, but I still need a communications plan for this time period (the transition and re-crafting of our organization) by noon tomorrow...an impossibility, I fear.

Of course, typing here is procrastinating from getting back to work...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I think, perhaps, the gift of listening is most precious gift a person could give to me just now. Today, I have had two people give this gift in different ways, but yet both proved to be a balm to my beleaguered person.

Be careful what you ask for, eh? Someone at work who has genuinely been an obstacle to my objectives and whom I have found no way around is leaving. The leaving is a loss for the company. The leaving paves the way to new growth for the company. It is the same for me.

I worked until after 1:00 AM last night and am working again tonight (much refreshed after receiving my gifts, I must add). I have truly more than I can do at work and more than I should be doing at home. I am grasping at beads spilling through my fingers, wondering what I will have left with which to weave my work.

And, yet, my heart is lighter sitting here because two people gave a gift to me. One sat in silence for a long while, patient to let me speak. One asked questions, probing my frustration and easing the pain by commiserating with me. I am certainly not alone. Neither offered answers. One stopped me when I offered thanks. "We are friends, this is what women do for each other, she claimed." I confess I am not wholly accustomed to that mentality. Women doing for each other, that is.

My boss now is the first woman for whom I have ever cared to work. Female bosses, in my experience, tend to make things personal and turn nearly everything into a competition. Funny that I would write that now. I have not, until this moment, thought about the fact that I am working for a woman after claiming for years I preferred to work for a man because doing so meant being able to focus on the professional to a far greater degree.

Strange what comes to mind when your thoughts and emotions are a tumultuous mess...and you are tired.

Monday, January 23, 2006

That one little pill didn't really wear off until this morning. That is to say, I slept most of Saturday and Sunday and remember little of what transpired during that time.

I am still tired.

Today, we had a pretty big personnel change at work, so I had to work on messaging all day. I did not leave until after 8:00 and even now am working on some communications stuff. I didn't get to eat and barely had a chance to go to the bathroom.

The change is needed, but the timing could have been better. Personally, it has interrupted my own campaign to try and connect to staff who frankly do not pass on vital company news. Now my efforts will seem as if I am taking advantage of the personnel change. BIG SIGH.

I would like to go to bed, but I need to get a jump start on work since most of tomorrow will be at a staff meeting, plus travel to and fro. ANOTHER BIG SIGH.

Given that my neck, jaw, back, and right hip are still hurting, I am already looking forward to another little white pill on Friday even if it means losing another weekend. Perhaps, though, there will be some miracle of peacefulness this week, and I will find rest between now and Friday.


I must admit that I did get to work closely with someone on very carefully crafting a rather important message. There was a part of me that downright reveled in the opportunity to wordsmith with someone whose skills I admire. It is amazing how fluid a message can be with the change of just one word. Who doesn't just love writing!

Friday, January 20, 2006

I have been waiting all week to take this one small pill. It is a muscle relaxer. My metabolism is so slow, though, that I can only take one when I do not have to work for two days. Cough syrup with codeine, pain killers, muscle relaxers, antihistamines...anything that makes you drowsy...well, one dose makes me woosey for nearly two days. Not until the evening of the second day do I finally feel free of that drugged feeling.

I have been waiting all week because I have been in a lot of pain. Had I a friend here or company, I would have long ago pressed them into a back massage to see if it would help. A new ache has been the right joint of my jaw. My knee hurts and my hip hurts because I am too tired. Both keep giving way. I am too tired because I am not sleeping well. I am not sleeping well because I hurt.

Also...because I am fretting over work. Not fearful, not worried, but utterly weary of the battle.

And because my friend hurt my feelings for the first time. Words have an impact that few truly understand. Words can be so very powerful. Never did I think to hear such words from her. I tried to skip over them, but lying in bed I hear them again and again...I wonder about my own words and wonder if I have ever done the same to her without thought.

I began the day with an asthma attack. To awaken abruptly, coughing and unable to catch your breath is quite alarming. The struggle did not end with the nebulizer treatment. If not with breathing, then it is with work.

My boss is embattled and walking such a thin line. I can do little to help her and find myself adding to her burden when I fail to remain silent about the situation at work even when I want to be brave and courageous and continue to push that blasted bolder up the hill for yet another day.

We are both weary.

We both hurt.

Tonight...I am thankful for the weekend to retreat, to rest, to take respite, to have time to remember what is good and true and without repute...and...of course...I am thankful for Flexeril.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I dared to insert myself in a meeting today that I should have been invited to in the first place. I dared to prepare materials to share even though the other person should have sought them himself. I dared to smile when I was met with dismay at my presence. I dared to speak when I was not welcome. I dared to take the opportunity to further the message of our company. I dared to offer willing service to government visitors we need to accomplish our work. I dared to the benefit of our company. I dared something today...and I survived.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I worked after work. I want to archive all the old family photos that my mother discovered among my grandmother's things. This way, all of our family can have the entire set of photos once the hard copies are distributed among her survivors.

A good decision and a gift for my family. However, the reality of the task is nearly overwhelming. Tonight I have scanned for two hours straight and managed to get 109 family photos done. That is such a small number of what is left to be done.

My mother called to ask where I was on the project...I have let it go for months. She called to say that if my uncle asks the court for the photos to be divided, then I will have to give them up even if the project is not done. I've wasted six months of opportunity and may lose this precious opportunity because of his greed.

He never visited my grandmother once she was in the home. For nine years, he had nothing to do with her. But now that her estate is available, suddenly she is of interest.

Even if I do another 100 or so every night for the next month, I am not sure I will finish the collection. And working after working...is...difficult.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I was up most of the night and had to drag myself to work. Fortunately, for me, I had so much to do that I didn't even have a moment to drink the milk I had brought for lunch.

Driving home, I struggled to stay clear headed and only managed by talking to my friend on the phone. Soon after arriving home, I changed into my pajamas, slapped my BreatheRight strip on my nose, and started counting the minutes until I can go to sleep (I have to say up late enough for Kashi to do his final business of the day). My stomach growled rather loudly reminding me of my missed lunch, so I went to grill a chicken breast for dinner. I lit the grill, scrapped the grill rack clean, and waited for it to heat up. But when the timer went off ten minutes later, the grill was no longer lit. I was a bit fearful that the tank was empty, but when I tried to light it again, flames immediately engulfed the grill rack. I plopped the chicken breast down and set the timer.

When I checked it halfway, I was surprised to see that the chicken breast seemed a bit...well...crispy. Not understanding why, I nevertheless flipped it and reset the timer for another five and a half minutes. Certainly you understand my dismay to find a blackened chicken breast when I went to retrieve it from the grill. You see, I normally set the grill at high whilst it is heating up for ten minutes and then turn it down to medium and cook it five and a half minutes per side. Usually, that process results in a perfectly cooked chicken breast.

Sighing deeply, I carried the blacked lump to the cutting board and proceeded to trim off all the charcoal. I will admit that what was left was quite juicy...just nearly half the portion.

It is too bad that all of the frosted animal cookies are gone...

Monday, January 16, 2006

I will never, ever, ever understand the choices people make.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Seeing my grandmother in the funeral home today made me realize how much I appreciated not having to see my other grandmother at her service in early December. I was uncomfortable with the pressure to "view" her, with the ceremony of closing the casket during the service and opening it back up afterwards. In some ways, I thought Honey's service was more honest than this one for Gladys. Yet it was overwhelming to hear again and again how everyone noted the profound love my grandparents had for each other, how generous my grandmother was in caring for those around her. Such love they had. Such love they shared with others. Such love.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I am having a bad evening. On the way home, I wanted to go to McDonald's and drown my frustrations and hurt in french fries, but that would not be healthy...so I went to the grocery store and got some vegetables and salad fixings to go with the ten thousand chicken breasts I have in my freezer. I also bought five cloves of garlic so that I can have roasted garlic again in the near future.

I won't mention the five boxes of graham crackers, four boxes of Pepperidge Farms soft baked cookies, three boxes of vanilla wafers, two bags of cinnamon bagel crisps, and one bag of iced animal crackers that I bought as well.

The woman checking me out looked at my purchases, started to say something, looked at me, and then very wisely kept her mouth shut.

I also won't mention how many iced animal crackers I consumed after eating my grilled chicken salad. I had, heretofore, never consumed iced animal crackers. My life was the poorer for it. I am glad that this day, at least, taught me the value of iced animal crackers.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

My grandmother died today, loved for 61 years by my grandfather.

Lost in her mind these past few years, she nevertheless was the woman he fell in love with on first sight. While on a double blind date with a friend, he took one look at my grandmother, tossed the keys to his friend, and hopped in the back seat after she did, much to the shock of his friend. He told me that his heart hammered wildly in his chest as he avoided his friend's eyes and hoped he wouldn't insist on changing dates. He was quite relieved when his friend acquiesced, shook his head, and opened the front passenger door for the other woman.

She was the joy of his life, his better half. Gentle and patient to the last, he would comb her hair, power her cheeks, and whisper sweet words in her ear each time he visited. To see such love made my heart ache at the beauty of it.

She was a mother who gave everything to raising her daughters, my step-mother and her sister, who died when she was a young woman. To bury a child is near impossible to bear with grace, but she did and later raised her grandson in the memory of her daughter. Culinary, sewing, and gardening arts were her domain. What she could do with plants was amazing. She was also as gentle as her husband, soft spoken and kind to all.

She was much loved...and will be missed...

Saturday, January 07, 2006



What is the value of free oil changes?  I see none!  Double Argh!

I drove to the auto dealer to get my oil changed.  If I get it changed there, along with my service, I have a lifetime warranty on the power train of my vehicle.  That sounds like a good deal, like a no brainer, eh?  Well, each time I come, I have to wait and wait and wait.

Just now, I marched into the office and asked to speak to the service manager, who conveniently just left for the day.  One hour I had been waiting and my car had not even moved from where I had parked it.  The service rep asked a technician walking by to immediately work on my car.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.  Miraculously my car was ready just 30 minutes later.  

She told me that by 11:00 everything is backed up.  If I want a real appointment, it must be the first one of the day.  I told her that if their appointments take longer than the half hour they allot, then they should schedule them an hour apart.  My time is equally valuable as hers.  Why should I have to sit around and wait when I made a good faith effort to arrive on time with my car?  She told me to tell it to the service manager.  He should work Saturdays.  ALL DAY.

I shall write a letter, but what good will it really do?

Should I have just patiently waited another four hours like last time?  Why should I get better service because I lost my temper?  What about those who were still sitting in the lounge when I left?  Is their time not equally important?

What kind of customer service is it where no one is respected and where customers are left in a cold room and uncomfortable chairs as the hours pass by with no thought for their care or communication or apology?

In case you are wondering, purchasing a vehicle from Lustine Toyota in Woodbridge, VA is not a good investment.  You will pay far more for your vehicle than what is written on the bottom line of the contract.

Friday, January 06, 2006

My grandmother has been transitioned to hospice care. She is bathed and dressed and exercised and turned, all the while lying in bed. She is no longer eating. It is a waiting game.

Waiting and grieving, grieving and waiting. The prolonged goodbye is so very difficult on my grandfather. To have spent his lifetime loving this woman. To watch her suffer, helpless to alleviate her pain. Longing for one more moment with her. Wishing her suffering was past.

This is but a part of the journey.

No one ever said this life would be easy.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Today, I treated myself to time spent organizing my office, filing papers, clearing piles...etc. The question is: what bothered me enough to hide in this work?

How can one person see me a someone who could be the president of a company and another as the most destructive person at our company?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My, oh my, oh my!

Wow. I just finished dinner, and I wish it were not over.

Saturday night, when I was helping to clear the table and put away the left overs, I found myself staring at the whole roasted garlic cloves that were still in the pan with the roasting vegetables. I nearly licked my lips thinking of the possibilities and asked my writing student's mother if I could have a Ziploc bag to take them home. I am not quite sure how she perceived my request, but she is used to my culinary taking ways.

Tonight, I sliced fresh French bread and then smeared the roasted garlic on the slices. On top of the garlic went Havarti cheese with dill in it. I broiled the bread to melt the cheese, but I must admit I was getting so excited about what I was going to be eating that I put one slice in the microwave and munched on it while the rest were broiling.

Roasted garlic, done right, is soft and almost sweet. It becomes a perfect compliment to many cheeses when melted on bread or the right crackers. Once, when I was in Sante Fe, I visited a restaurant where the featured dish was roasted garlic, Brie cheese, and French bread. Twenty years later, I still have strong memories of that savory meal.

The one I had tonight tasted just as I imagined it would when I first began scooping those vegetables into a container for the refrigerator. In fact, I am a bit puzzled that it took me four days to follow through on that vision.

Now, I have to ask the chef what he put on the vegetables (garlic), what temperature he set the oven, and how long he cooked them. That way, tonight's meal may be repeated frequently for future enjoyment.

After all, twenty years between the opportunity to consume roasted garlic, cheese, and bread is far too long!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I was so busy reading yesterday that I forgot to take my medicine, including my magic arthritis pill. Getting out of bed was so very difficult, yet the remembrance of running out of sick leave last year kept me from even considering remaining at home this day.

Once I get moving, the pain is bearable, but getting moving is challenging. Even now, my wrists are stiff as is my back. The key to ease of movement is keeping up the medicine level in my blood. Tomorrow is sure to be better.

Still, I was able to read all day...a fair price.

Monday, January 02, 2006

A solid day of reading, resting, and reading some more. I am just two and a half colossal novels to go before I get to dive into Robert Jordan's new book, Knife of Dreams. Seeing there sitting on the shelf is driving me crazy! I must admit that I have picked it up on more than a few occasions with the intension of peeking a bit. Each time, my better self ruled supreme and I was able to return it to its place unopened.

I do believe that this is the second to last one in the series. For eleven books (he tossed off a prequel a couple of years ago), I had thought that the twelfth would be the last. However, I have it on very good authority that the next one should do it.

Thus far, I have read 6,834 pages. The new book has 761. And yet the story begun on the first page is not yet finished! 6,834 pages during which I have marveled at his craftsmanship and reveled in the friendship shared among the main characters.

His story is the epitome of the battle between good and evil and I have savored each and every page. He writes of love and laughter, of sorrow and loss. He writes of friendship, loyalty, and acceptance. He write of culture and belief, of vision and quest. He writes of home and family. He writes of adventure. He writes of seeking truth and knowing yourself--strengths, weaknesses, limits, boundaries, beliefs, capabilities, potential, flaws...learning these and being humble enough to understand that the learning really never ends.

Throughout it all ones one common theme: Evil flourishes by man's choice. Good conquers by man's choice.

The battle is not easy, nor can one turn aside for even one moment. Each day, each footstep, each conversation, each choice marks the path they find themselves on in this battle. Choosing good is not easy. Choosing good oft means risk and sacrifice for no promised gain other than having made the choice for good. The path is hard. The way is narrow.

Sound familiar? I would not even venture a guess as to whether or not Robert Jordan is a Christian, but I find strong parallels when I read of the life of obedience God calls us to in His Word.

No person is ever too long in the dark to turn to the Light. Each day is filled with choices. The path is hard. The way is narrow.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

I had a most satisfying evening last night. Filled with games and fellowship and tasty food, what more could I want? At midnight we had some beautiful champagne and delectable strawberries, some of the best that I had ever tasted. [I did have to drive home very carefully because of that champagne.]

My writing student's father braved Beef Wellington after my haranguing him for months on end. It was not the most successful dish that he has attempted , but that truly did not matter to me. He tried and I was filled by the meal. What more could I want?

After the meal and the dishes, both of her parents listened as I read the chapter with the sermon I wrote. I found her father's response interesting because I could not discern if it was because I had not yet achieved what I wanted or because he had not read the rest of the story. The strange part was the utter silence that greeted me when my own voice fell silent. Did they like it? Did they understand what I was trying to accomplish? Did they become caught up in the scripture as I hoped, reveling in the majesty of both God and His Word?

After staying up most incredibly late two nights in a row, I have just awoken from a nap and am looking forward to another soon.

But now, I will yet again savor the memory of last night and set my keys to the story that has been woefully neglected of late. Now that the sermon is done, I must turn my attention to two noon meals that are just down the road a piece from each other but miles apart.