Thursday, August 31, 2006

I wish with my whole heart for tomorrow not to come.

I feel as if I cannot bear to see the date on the calendar. Tomorrow is the beginning of month 3 of being unemployed. I wish to wallow in Dr. Pepper and french fries and Bryer's Sara Lee Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream and take to my bed permanently.

I am trying to avoid myself. I am trying to make plans for tomorrow that take me out of the house and away from my thoughts.

Why does no one wish to hire me?

My writing student called to see if we can work together this evening. I was thankful for the opportunity to see her craft words into beautiful text and to lose myself in Megan's worries. I am hoping to get to a scene that popped into my head a short while ago, but is a bit down the road from where I am presently. At least we will be writing.

I hope and pray that my melancholy over tomorrow does not permeate our time together.

I am watching more of the US Open.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Did you know that it is possible to ruin a pan by...uhm...well...accidentally forgetting about frozen corn heating on the stove?

I didn't.

Neither soap, 409, comet, or a combination of all three made a dent on the blackened mess stuck to the bottom of the pan. On my next grocery trip, I might check out the price of steel wool.

NOTE: Burning frozen corn will create quite a fetid, noisome miasma that will quickly permeate the home and linger for hours on end.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Okay, I feel as if I am being hit over the head with a sledgehammer!

Last night (and on into the morning), I watched Andre Agassi play the first round of the US Open. I do not watch tennis. I really find it rather boring. You whack the ball back and forth with seemingly strange rules. I, personally, would not last a single game. I cannot run for the asthma. Thus, I can admire the athleticism, but do not really see it as an interesting sport. Sort of like hockey. Who watches that?

Anyway, I was channel surfing and stumbled upon the pre-game dissection of whether or not Andre would even be able to play given his age, his failing back, and the fact that he has already announced his retirement. Gusty of him, I thought. It is one thing to announce, after a win or an early exit, to say that the time has come for you to step away from the sport. It is another to announce your retirement to the world and then let them watch, knowing a first round exit could happen, knowing the whole world would be dissecting your every move, describing in bloody detail every mistake you made and ascribing it to being old, being injured, losing an edge that at one time had the tennis world trembling.

My interest was caught, and before long, I found myself watching his opening match. I will admit, I wished that I knew more about the rules of tennis as I watched. But, really, it was not the game I was watching, it was the man.

I marveled at his courage. I marveled at his fortitude. I marveled at the fact that he was able to come back from 0-4 in the second set to win in a tiebreaker. The entire match was a wickedly brutal slug fest, each man matching an impressive physical display by his opponent with one of his own. Each man facing exhaustion and fighting to set aside fatigue to focus on the next swing of the racket.

Andre prevailed.

Whether he wins the tournament or loses in the next match, he has sent a powerful message to those seated in the stadium and those watching on television: Know yourself. Do that which you are capable of doing. Never give up. Go out in style.

Monday, August 28, 2006

I rather enjoyed watching Tiger play this weekend. I kept thinking about how he handled four bogeys in a row, something that he hasn't done in since 1998. He didn't let his anger or discouragement affect his play. Rather, he simply stepped up to the next tee and struck the ball. That was his job. There was nothing more he could do about the situation. He had to stand over his ball, set aside what happened at the last hole, remember what is true about himself, and swing his club.

At the end of his round, he was only one back. He then went on to win the tournament, his fourth in a row, in a four-hole playoff.

While watching the PGA Championship last week and the tournament at Firestone this week, I found myself near crazy about playing golf. I mean, I have all this time, I have the tips from my golf lesson in June dancing around in my head, the cast is off, those golf shoes are just aching to be out on the turf...and I am sure that doing so would improve my game. Really, I am ready. Except...except...the funds to do so are difficult to come by when you are jobless.

However, in thinking about what I witnessed this weekend watching Tiger, I got the feeling that the lesson to be learned really had nothing to do with my swing.

I definitely feel as if I am hitting bogeys in my life. Maybe I also need to just step up to the next tee, remembering what is true about me. Tiger is not a man of bogeys. Neither am I.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I would HIGHLY recommend trying Bryer's Sara Lee Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I talked away the evening with my dear friend W_. During the conversation, I had the opportunity to flesh out a bit more my thoughts on the parable of the sower.

Over the years, I have heard this parable taught on many occasion, but taught as a beginning, not something on-going. Luke 8:4-15 speaks of seeds that fall on several types of soil: the hardened road, rocky soil, thorny soil, and rich soil. Obviously, the seed on the rich soil grows to provide a strong crop.

But...I have been thinking lately that perhaps this parable has another message. Perhaps this parable speaks to the need for Christians to tend the soil of their life. I have been thinking about this because I think my soil is in poor shape right now.

There are many rocks from my old job and many thorns from my mother's words. Both of which are impediments to the Word of God growing in my heart. The truth I know about who I am in Christ oft gets choked by the thorns of the hurtful words that flow so easily from my mother's mouth. I stumble on the rocks of dismissal and disregard for all that I poured into my old job.

I have spent so much time tending to the soil in my yard, failing to see that the greater need was the condition of the soil of my heart.

Of course, working among the thorns of my roses is MUCH easier than working in on those of my mother.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I had a phone interview with a second organization this morning.

The interview was actually with a head-hunter, but I was one of 8 out of 100 applicants. She was from Texas, so bonding occurred. I actually felt empowered by the conversation--about an hour and twenty minutes--knowing that she was impressed with the materials I sent and I was able to answer her very intriguing questions. It was quite obvious that she had studied my resume and the other materials I sent her.

The job is actually the greatest long-shot of all the resumes I sent out, yet I think that having an interview with a head-hunter was a plus, eh?

My father is coming over for a movie night. I fear we will only be able to view a piddling amount since much of the day has already passed, but I am looking forward to couch company.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The bible promises that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

I find it fascinating that, even now, the name of Christ is on the tongues of even those who deny His divinity. His name is used as an expletive and as a curse word. Yet, it is His name that is repeated and heard by these actions. People don't swear by Ghandi. People don't use Mandela as an expletive. They use the name of Jesus Christ.

The very existence of Christ has colored the world from the beginning of time. Heralded as its savior, His birth, life, and death were foretold by prophets for thousands of years before he was born. Now, thousands of years later, the very name of this man permeates our language, our conversation. His name is spoke in love and in hate, in joy and in sorrow, in laughter and in anger. His name moves a multitude to prayer. His name spurs others to war. He comforts and He troubles souls. People fall before Him and are saved at the name of Jesus Christ. People scoff His name and deride Him as the son of God. Yet even the scoffers, the doubters, and those who reject His offer of salvation still speak His name.

Yes, for now, many use His name for other than paean praise. But one day, those cursing and those exclaiming will find themselves humbled to even whisper His name and will savor the taste of His name on their tongues.

None other has ever wielded this power. None other ever will. That is the power of the name of Jesus Christ.

So, while I might finish the expletive of others with the words "is Lord of Heaven and Earth," speaking the Truth they fail to see, I am ever fascinated by the fact that the One they seek to belittle is actually positioned time and time again as bearing the most powerful name on earth.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I admit it...I am really struggling with discouragement.

I tossed and turned most of the night, dwelling on the fact that I am unemployed and that I cannot seem to find a place where I can use the skills I have. I am jaded and cynical, especially learning that this manager from my old job who consistently did not complete her work or come to meetings on time, who covered over poor results, is now the executive director of a non-profit organization. How did she do it?

After a futile attempt to get to bed early, I got up and went back to the three books on Jesus that I am reading. I stumbled upon a bit of scripture that has given me pause. The parable of seed falling on different types of soil is quite familiar to me, but the thought that flittered through my mind is that perhaps this is not merely a one-time-in-a-person's-life parable. If God is constantly sowing in our lives, then we must constantly be tending to our soil. Although my faith has long been the guiding force in my life, just now, my soil is pretty rocky and weedy. Something to think about...

In any case, I prayed about my feelings and went on-line to read the news. In my search for any information that would distract me from my present mindset enough to possibly send me off to sleep, I came across an article on the organization Volunteer Match. What struck my fancy is the fact that there has been a growing movement of virtual volunteering.

What is that pray tell? Well, the idea acknowledges the fact that there is much work in an organization that does not require someone to actually be on location to accomplish the tasks. For me, the bottom line is that I can volunteer from my couch!

I perused 1,000 opportunities under editing, writing, and communications and came up with six organizations that I thought I would be willing to support with my skills. I registered with the site and contacted each organization. After feeling as if I actually accomplished something, I was able to finally fall asleep.

So, even though I am still in the same clothes from the past few days and dishes are piling up in the sink because the thought of washing them is depressing because they are only there because I am eating so many meals at home being unemployed, tonight, I edited website content for one organization and have been asked to edit a grant proposal by another.

For a few hours, at least, I was able to set aside my feelings of failure and kinship with dirt...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Bones are still crunching, but Tiger Woods came through on another decisive-leave-the-rest-of-the-field-behind-in-the-dust victory.

I had a wonderful meal with just G_ and F_, away from the kids and filled with sublime food and good conversation. I truly cherish the time that I get to spend with the whole of my writing student's family and genuinely believe that everyone should have a P_ family in their lives, but I was craving some time with just the two of them that was not marked by interruptions by the kids or feelings that we are somehow ignoring them if we become engrossed in an "adult" conversation. I was just craving some "adult" time, especially since I find them both to be highly intelligent, engaging, and interesting folk.

I shaved my legs and washed my hair. I wore lipstick and perfume. I dressed in a skirt and a beautiful white blouse with flowing sleeves and much lace. I wore hose and nice shoes...ones I even polished before hand. I even treated myself to a new pair of contacts. After seven weeks of practically living in either my pajamas or t-shirts and cotton pants (and the same contact lenses), I enjoyed just getting ready to go out of my house. Even with all this preparation and anticipation, the meal was, in short, everything that I wanted it to be.

K_ can take a half hour to answer a simple question, educating you far beyond any professor could on all manner of things that you never knew you didn't know. G_ smiles at her husband when he does so, commiserating in the experience. And yet, when she smiles, which is a rather beautiful smile, you get a glimpse of the love between the two of them, of this couple that came together in Christ and built this amazing family.

I also spoke with my best friend W_ this evening. She had a list a mile long of things to accomplish around the house this weekend, and I wanted to know if she did. Silly me, I didn't have to ask.

The last conversation we had, she casually referred to the time she drove with me from Texas to North Carolina to ensconce me at grad school. Days on the road, days setting up my dorm room, countless Taco Bell meals, and I cannot remember a single moment of our trip together. I no longer knew that I had ever taken place. I was shaken when she mentioned it the other day, but did not let her know that I didn't remember until tonight.

I hate this disease. I also hate that I the few things that I remember are mostly what I would like to forget. I hate that the things that I know about my life, even though I do not remember them, are primarily negative. I hate that while I couldn't remember this wonderful gesture she made for me, I no longer at least "knew" that it had happened.

I called to hear about her victory on her list, but I also wanted to talk with her because she is the only real connection to my past that I have. The forgotten trip reminded me of this. My fathers grows sad and is generally confused when I try to get him to tell me what I was like or things that we did together. My sister and brother basically don't believe me that I do not remember. I no longer have contact with my mother. I have known W_ for 25 years...and yet, I can count on one hand the times we have shared together that I actually remember...and the ones that I "know" about measures less than a ten of that time. Still, she is my friend and accepts me for who I am. This day, this moment, I am overwhelmed by the grace that God has given to me in her with the path I must walk with this disease.

I hate that I no longer can hold an unfamiliar phone number in my mind for even the brief time it takes to read it and then turn and pick up a phone to dial the number. In order for me to make a call, I must hold the number immediately adjacent to the dialing pad, repeatedly say the numbers I have dialing, and have a phone system that does not have a short time-out period for dialing numbers. I hate MS for the battles I have dialing phones.

I hate MS for the loss of so much of the knowledge of my life. I simply hate it.

Yet...despite this...I am thankful for this day of prime golf, food, company, and conversation.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I have been struggling with a type of pain that I have not yet described here, so I thought I would enlighten you.

Sometimes it feels as if the bones in the top of my right food are grinding together. Walking on it and even just moving it are quite painful experiences. It comes upon me suddenly, sometimes lasting several days, sometimes a week or more. I feel a twinge at first, and I know how my life will be for the next short while.

I think that the pain comes when I am tired, but I am not quite sure if that is always the case. When I am really tired, my muscles do not do a great job of holding things in place. One of the worst experiences I have is when I am doing dishes and turn to put something in the dishwasher. When I am tired, if I do not purposely pick up my foot as I pivot my leg, my foot will be facing still be facing forward when the top of my thigh is actually facing toward the dishwasher. The pain is intense, but even worse is the knowledge that I have to slowly rotate my leg back before I really hurt myself, even though doing so will be more painful than when I first turned because I always move quite slowly even though the initial twist was a quick movement.

In any case, my right knee hurts when I am tired because it loosens up somehow. Walking on stairs, sitting down, rising up, and kneeling are quite difficult.

The pain in my knee is always sharp and accompanied by the fear that I might do permanent damage during these times.

Sometimes when I am tired, the knuckle at the bottom of my left index finger hurts. It aches and feels swollen and hot when it is not. A knuckle is much easier to stare at than a knee during these times, but nothing looks different about it. The blasted thing just hurts.

These two body parts susceptible to bouts of pain are accompanied by my left shoulder and my right hip. I've written before of how my right hip has a tendency to partially slip from its socket and how I have learned to push, twist, and abruptly sit so as to remedy the situation and avoid a trip in an ambulance. My shoulder is just basically a nuisance, but the hip thing is enough to make me scream when it happens. The only real help I received from a visiting a string of ortho docs was the technique described above.

So, this right foot thing is new here, but has been a part of my life for about a year now. When it happens, I am near convinced that something is broken. That the bones really are crunching together. However, it only feels that way. Eventually the feeling (and pain) passes, and I forget about it until the next time.

It has been crunch time for most of this day.

I must say, that given how my right foot feels, I have been particularly grateful for the magnificent play of Tiger Woods to hold my attention during some of this day. I am very much looking forward to another swash-buckling victory tomorrow. I am quite sure that I will not be disappointed.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Were I completely honest I would admit that I am feeling utterly and completely lost.

I am ever so discouraged at how futile my job hunt has gone when I know I have much to offer an employer. I stayed up into 3:45 this morning searching job websites and took up the search again at 11:30 and have only now finished wading through over two thousand job listings in communications across the United States. I found little besides what I have already applied for even when broadening my geographic location. There were some new ones, but Seattle, New York, Chicago, and Boston are not places you could live on a communications manager salary.

I was in tears last night and again this morning. I also spent time searching for a small town were I could afford to buy a home based on the equity in my house where I could find a nothing job. I couldn't find a town where I could also find job listings and that wasn't in a hot climate.

I feel as if I have no home, no place where I belong...but more devastatingly so, I feel as if there is no place for me to go.

I am barging in on the P_'s home improvement project again in just a few hours. More drywall awaits hanging. More sweating up a storm and losing my fears and hurt in someone else's labor. I would camp over there and tape and float all on my own for as many days as it took if they would let me.

Of course, I could venture out in my yard and finish digging up the stepping stone if I only wished for labor. It is just that it hurts to work on my yard because I wonder how much longer it will be mine.

I am a bit worried that I will not be able to paint a cheerful face on in time to head over to the P_'s house. Even though my help has made the project move along at a faster pace, I am sure that neither G_ nor K_ would want my sorrows dripping all over the drywall.

My only bright spot of this day thus far has been reading my writing student K_'s college application essay. It was stunningly beautiful, oh so creative. In just over 500 words, she paints a portrait of herself as a musician, as a writer, and as a young woman. Once she tightens it up a few words to get back to the maximum 500, those professors will have the chance to glimpse the talent she wields and the scholar she will become.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I learned today that my very good friend D_'s husband lost his job today, on the anniversary of the day she lost her job last year. Heavily pregnant and no real household income is not what I wish for her and hers. My heart aches for her and I pray that they find provider soon.

You know, her husband B_ is one of the hardest workers I know. The reasons for firing were specious. I must admit that my cynicism was renewed upon hearing her news. Why is it that people who genuinely work hard and work in an ethical manner do not seem to prospers in our society?

Case in point: My sister IS the hardest worker I know. She continually gives of herself, going above and beyond the call of duty for her company. For years, she has taken quite seriously
the responsibility of representing her company and looking out for its best interests, often over hers. However, her work ethic has set her up as a target for those whose own work ethic pale in comparison. She does not look out for "number one." She never really has. So, several times she has been the scapegoat of bosses who were trying to cover up their own mistakes. Career wise, she should be earning twice what she does and be well on up the corporate ladder. But...hard work and great performance doesn't really pay.

I saw a press release from my old employer that was written by an admin person. It was unbelievably bad. Riddled with grammatical mistakes, including an incomplete sentence, the release is just a few paragraphs that repeated the same information three times, has incorrect information about the project and the program structure of the organization, and has passages that would fit better on a sappy Hallmark card. My heart broke when I read it. This is what they chose? I offered so much better. I strategically and systematically worked to build something that is now lying fallow. I could write circles around even the rest of senior management. I produce a prodigious amount of successful work. And yet... And yet, they chose crap such as that press release and people who cannot message for the organization, do not work much, and who blatantly take advantage of the organization...

I find myself struggling all over again with being unemployed. I find myself, again, wondering why. I find myself heartsore at seeing the majority of my work set aside. I find myself feeling helpless when all I want is to be able to step into D_'s life and help her out as she has so often helped me out.

I also am losing hope in the interview last week. I sent off the requested samples of my writing, design, and strategic visioning...and received back a "thank you for the materials" email.

I am trying to throw myself back into finishing my novel...but I have struggled with that as well...

Perhaps I just need a Dr. Pepper? I have not yet had one this day...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I have only had dial-up speed on my Internet connection for four days now. Boy, do I miss my speed. I finally called Verizon because the problem did not seem to be resolving on its own (like when there are disruptions to service elsewhere that affects my area). The rep confirmed that my speed was 54K. ARGH!

If you ever want to run a speed test on your dsl connection, try this one.

Here's hoping Verizon gets to the bottom of my lag time soon!

Monday, August 14, 2006

I cleaned out my refrigerator today. Wiping down the glass shelves found me regretting that it has been so long since the last time I ventured into the coldbox. I did manage to re-establish organization into both parts so that the food I acquired today from Costco would fit.

Fancy and Madison were quite jealous of my labors, so I turned my attention to their cage. I found some new food that has dried bits of fruits and vegetables in it, so perhaps a clean new environment will help the tasty aroma from this treat waft more easily to their tiny nostrils. Madison has just not put the weight back on after his most recent molting. I am worried about his skinny self. I keep telling him that he is welcome to some of my spare heft, but he remains a bit peckish about consuming more than a wee bit each day.

Kashi has added to my worry by exhibiting increased hind quarter weakness. Quite frequently, when on smooth surfaces, he goes splat instead of gracefully navigating the terrain. His ever so kind vet is not quite worried, speaking mostly of his advanced age (11). Slow walking will help his muscle, I need to rapidly cool down so that we can wander the streets of our neighborhood without sweating and fainting in the swelter of summer.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I got to hang drywall today. It just doesn't get any better than weilding a saw on the outlet holes and using the power drill. URGGG! Mr. P_'s (F_) has MUCH more power than mine! We managed do complete about 45 % of the computer room in their basement. I have already picked out the paint colors for the walls, but I fear I have much more persuading to do of G_ before she agrees to the application of brush!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The P_ children have definitely been the fragrance of Christ in my life lately. Saturday, they presented me with my very own version of Up For Grabs, lovingly made by their hands. Each time I look at my beautiful purple floral bag sitting on my current makeshift desk, I want to weep with the kindness God shows to me through them.

Three of them came over yesterday for games and a movie. I did manage to win Up For Grabs since the nearest competitor to my age was not yet twelve. However, I DID NOT win the rounds of Quorridor. Six year old G_ actually won the four way game. She is definitely showing signs of that wickedly awesome P_ intelligence. In the first game, she rather sneakily blocked several of my moves.

The interview was...I would say...a B+ on my part. I did managed to demonstrate my abilities and what I could offer the organization even if I cannot check off all the of skills listed on the position with depth of experience. The VP was someone I could quickly come to admire, frank and talented and dedicated.

I moved around Bird Central in an attempt to thwart those most determined squirrels in the back yard. The birds practically swirled around my head trying to understand what I was doing. They did not partake of my offerings after I was done, so perhaps they time to get used to the new arrangement.

The golden finches came back to the thistle feeder once I rehung it in the tree and a cardinal kept a sharp eye one the goings on from a safe distance. The mourning doves and three robins still enjoyed their baths in my fountain despite the hubba baloo in the back yard.

While I will never quite achieve the level of expertise my step-mother has in attracting birds to her yard, I have most definitely enjoyed all my avian companions this summer.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

There are no more white pieces of salt water taffy. In fact, the box is half empty.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I threw myself into the rest of the mulching at G_'s house this evening, convincing her that it was exactly how she wanted to spend the evening. Two of her kids actually helped me, so the 20 bags I brought over were spread in a jiffy. I couldn't believe that I actually did not have enough to finish, but I did have enough to get the majority of the front bed done...the curb appeal is nearly done.

I had a phone interview today for a position that has a description that is not quite to my skills, yet I believe that the discription should be different! The interviewer was in the process of telling me that he thought it just wasn't a good fit, when I asked if I could share the observations I had made after researching the organization on-line and through their collateral. When he asked for me to proceed, I rattled off four points, all the while hoping that he would not interrupt. When I was finished, he paused and then said it was an impressive display of analytical skills. He then gave me an appointment time for an in-person interview. I actually talked myself into an interview!

I very, very much would like this is an admirable organization addressing the problem of dropouts on a national level...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I have been battling nausea all day today, so of course I worked in the yard a bit.

When I purchased stepping stones to lead from the sidewalk by the side of the house to the decks in the backyard, my step-mother suggested that I set them into the ground so that I could mow over them. However, three years later, all of them have sunk too far into the ground and are nearly covered by grass. I spent two hours digging up nine of them, (sadly) tearing out the overgrown grass (wishing it would have grown elsewhere in those bare spots of mine), putting sand down in the "hole," and resetting the stones.

I am only half way done, but I was shaking so much after the ninth one I thought it prudent to cease my labors for the day.

My water spigot is leaking and needs repair. Both the sprinkler and the hand sprayer do not stop the leaking water from spilling out even when the water is turned off. I asked my step-mother at dinner last night if I needed to call a plumber. She seemed quite confident I could repair the problem myself by either replacing a gasket (huh?) or the spigot itself (yeah, right!).

As I labored over the stepping stones, I couldn't help but watch the dripping water, thinking how my normally infinitesimal water bill that was growing drop by drop. In the very recesses of my mind, I remembered an old metal sprayer that I found while working in the yard one day. It is one of those short, cylindrical types that you twist open and shut. I rooted around the bottom of my shed until I found it. After breaking of the dried soil still clinging to the rather ancient device, I put it on the hose, but the leaking did not abate. After thinking that the rubber ring inside might be hardened from age, I took off the sprayer and poked at the orange ring. A piece broke off immediately. Having a package of those rubber rings in my took kit, I used a screw driver to pry out the rest of it and replaced it with a soft, new green one. Alas, my repair was effected. With the sprayer twisted closed, the water leak was resolved.

I was quite grateful that I would, at least for the time being, not have to learn about spigot repairs and returned, with renewed vigor, to my stepping stone project.

Aren't work-arounds great?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

My friend G_ finally returned home. Her wonderful husband spurred the family on in arriving before dark so that she could see "my present." She loved it!

Even though it was quite late and they were exhausted, I popped by their house on the way home from my father's house to revel in her enjoyment. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I wanted so very much to find something that would let her know how special she is to me and how much I appreciate her staunch support to this rather beleaguered, unemployed person. Mulching her yard definitely sent the message home.

My writing student, K_, also enjoyed her graduation present. It is really insane to have bought it now, when I have no job and she has another year of school to go, but I have been searching for the past two years for the perfect gift and didn't want to lose the opportunity of a recent discovery. I had left it in her bedroom to find when she came home.

So, there I sat in their kitchen, after making G_ tour the yard with me and listen to me wax poetically on how much I enjoyed doing this for her, listening to their vacation tales. They gave me some gifts for watering their yard during their absence, and I confessed that I only used the excuse of watering to get their key because, at the time, I was still trying to figure out how I was going to surprise G_.

They brought me salt water taffy, without even knowing that I am quite greedy about the stuff. Before going to bed tonight, I have already tried each flavor in the box...twice! I prefer the white ones best and the peppermint ones second case anyone is wondering.

She also supported my Dr. Pepper habit and threw in a bottle of wine that I had enjoyed at their house and looked for unsuccessfully while at the store twice. The wine was almost an embarrassment of riches, but I accepted it readily enough. I rarely drink, but this wine was most satisfying and something I would actually open for just myself.

I thought I would just about die...waiting all day for them to return...but the wait was definitely worth it. The whole P_ family is worth its weight in gold and one of the richest blessings that God has ever showered upon me. Five years of love, laughter, encouragement, admiration, and wisdom given from the least to the eldest of this family of seven is a precious gift...not to mention the five children who continually honor me and humble me with their willingness to play games with me!

Now...if they would only let me win more...

Friday, August 04, 2006

My friend is returning tomorrow and her "surprise" is not quite done. However, I am not sure I have it in me to finish. Ten hours of labor in the stinking heat, 30 bags of mulch, two bags of pulled weeds.

Her curb appeal has greatly increased, but I have fallen short of appropriately mulching her fern garden. It needs about 10 more bags. I have been toying with the idea of trying to take care of it tomorrow, but working in the evenings is really the only way I can accomplish my goal. Working in the front yard was ever so much easier than in the back yard. Perhaps I could get the Lowe's guy to fill up my car again and have her children haul the mulch back to her fern garden. After four trips there, Boris and I are good friends.

Still, I would give most anything to be there when she pulls up to her house. Will she understand the gift I was trying to give her? Or will she harangue me about working in the heat? I certainly have sweated on this project more than I have in decades. The funny thing is that all I was so focused on what I was doing I didn't really notice the heat other than as a reminder to keep swilling down more Orange Gatorade.

I did mow today. Really, who would believe that I would find 94 degrees cool enough to mow? My, I just cannot explain the utter satisfaction that washes over me as I gaze upon a freshly clipped and edged yard. With the back beds properly mulched, the birds swarming over the feeders, the fountain trickling, the Rose of Sharon trees blooming, being in the back yard is so soothing. Now that the heat wave is dissipating, perhaps I will be able to enjoy it more...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Case in Point: Century Old Battle over the Indian Trust Fund

Reading this article is quite frustrating and illuminates the utter greed of our government. Not lost in all the arguing is the offer of an $8 Billion dollar settlement on a $50 Billion case. The Native Americans should be grateful for the mismanagement of their monies netting them only 16% of what they should be granted?

Senator McCain claims that he wasn't happy with the settlement offer, but if that was the case, why was it made in the first place?

Of course, the ludicrousness of this whole piece is the fact that there has never been a comprehensive audit, nor any believable accountability, in the entire management of the Indian Trust Fund.

The judge in the case was removed because he had "lost his perspective." Holding the government accountable for over a century of injustice, injustice still perpetrated again and again by the Department of the Interior in the present day, apparently did not sit right with the Feds. The poor judge was mired in swill and commented on the stench. Sadly, doing his job got him "fired," so to speak.

I know that there are horrors going on in Darfur, the Middle East, Thialand, and the like. Aids, genocide, and child trafficking are a blight upon humanity. The systematic degrading and plundering of a people is as well. Suffering is still suffering.

Haven't Native Americans suffered enough at the hands of our government?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I am trying to surprise a friend. Doing so has included copious amounts of manual labor in the faux cool of the evening while she has been out of town. I wanted to let her know how much she means to me by doing something for her that would provide aesthetic pleasure and satisfaction.

While I have been in my unemployed funk, she has gone out of her way and her comfort zone to be a source of encouragement and support to me. I know that you cannot put a price on friendship, but perhaps my labors will demonstrate how much I value all that she has shared with me.

Of course, I am the WORST person at keeping secrets, so I have already talked with her husband just to make sure that the choices I am making in the labor department will have the greatest return on my investment in this surprise.

I cannot wait for Saturday night to get here!

Another mystery in my is it that each evening I go to sleep with the bottom of the duvet at my feet and awake the next day with it at my head?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Yesterday, I played the guitar for a few hours, singing praise songs and hymns. I haven't played in a while because one of the symptoms of MS is that you lose control of your hands. You think you have a grip on something only to discover that object falling to the floor. Playing is much harder for me now, so I just haven't been all that eager to play. I am a pretty lousy player and I get so discouraged when my hands will not do as I would like. Still, I have been reading three different books about Jesus and felt moved to spend some time in praise of Him.

Today, I about near killed myself in the yard to put out the mulch that should have been put out last April. We are in triple digit figures here, and the contents of my beds in the yard are really taking a beating. I did, however, remember that I could just purchase the mulch and let the Lowe's guys load it up in my vehicle.

In two trips, I purchased 35 bags and spread them out about my yard. I threw up four times, but did not faint. I actually remembered to use my inhaler before and during, so I think that helped with my oxygen sats. In case you are thinking that I am quite foolish, I would offer that I did not start out for the store until 6:30 PM, so I was not working in the heat of the day.

I also managed to effect a repair on the pump in my fountain. The birds have been expressing their disappointment in the fountain lately. The pump was clogged, so a bare trickle of water spilled down the side of the rock. So, while the birds could still frolic in the water below, they could not drink from the water spilling out the top. I have been reluctant to try to remedy the situation because of the heat. However, I was already sweaty and quite grubby from the mulching that I decided to take a stab at it. After careful application of a bent paper clip and much use of the sprayer in my sink, I was able to restore full function to the pump. The local birds have already expressed their gratitude.

I very much need to mow, but it has been so stinking hot that I keep putting off the deed. Dumping mulch is one thing, but I fear pushing around a mower might be a bit too much. I practically need a sickle out there!

One week from tomorrow, the heat wave is supposed to break. I will be most thankful for that day!