Sunday, March 30, 2008

Well, I gave into the call of the lawn (weeds).

Today, I mowed and weeded the flowerbeds, both back and front. I am aghast at how much weeds I have in the front lawn (over 60% for sure), but I did not have the energy to make a trip to Lowe's for some weed stuff. I will have to do that one day after work this week since I will no longer have a wretched commute (woo hoo) in this traffic congestion laden region.

The grass that was growing amidst the weeds had achieved a height of just over six inches (yes, I measured) and had to be dealt with even though I would have preferred to rest the whole day. I set the lawn mower height up two notches and mowed one round, set it back down one notch and mowed a second time. At least the yard no longer looks as if it is an abandoned lot.

I tried to ignore the copious, pernicious weeds in the flowerbeds, but I just couldn't walk back inside though I very much longed to do so. Now, mowing was hard just for the fact that I am getting weaker than I would prefer to be. Lugging all those boxes into my car, into the house, and then back out to the car sort of wiped me out. It should have been easier labor, but weeding became a nightmare. I started sneezing and just couldn't stop. My rather violent attack even sent Kashi running into the house for safety. I did, however, manage to finish the task and am glad for the neat appearance of the yard as a whole.

Whilst working in the yard, I discovered a step that I had missed last November when I dug them up during my brother's visit. I had thought, then, the pattern looked a bit off, but failed to see this one and a half inch spot of concrete peeking out between the grass that is now oh so obviously the missing stepping stone in the pattern I created. I really, really wanted to dig it up, but 1) I just didn't have the strength and 2) I no longer have anything to put beneath it to keep it from settling again. I will have to remember to pick up some sand when I get that lawn weed stuff.

I finished by cleaning out and then refilling all of the bird feeders. Oh, my, as I was working some bird set out and cry and soon the local population had filled the branches about my yard. I stepping back inside to fetch the thistle. When I came out again, it was as if I entered a scene from The Birds. Whole waves of birds startled from their perches and flocked to the trees to await my departure. I wondered if I lingered in my last chore if they would drive me away in their desire to assuage their hunger at my feeders. Once back inside, I peered out the kitchen window for a while to admire the fruits of my labor and the antics of my avian neighbors. The best part was watching the morning doves settle about the fountain. Late last night I had cleaned out the fountain and turned it back on since the danger of it freezing has most likely passed by. I could tell then had missed it as much did I.

I would give just about anything right now for someone to come over so that I could take a hot bath. It is rather too dangerous to do myself since I faint so easily when getting overheated. Hot showers are a real fine line with me (one I gamble with all too frequently), but a good soak for my labor weary body is completely out of the question unless someone is around to make sure I get out in time.

Alas, I shall have to make do with a tepid shower since I should not risk falling the night before I start my new job.

My new job...boy, do I like the sight of those words!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I finally finished unpacking from my vacation. That led to clearing off the stairs (where I stick the stuff that needs to go upstairs but have been ignoring for weeks and weeks and weeks). Doing so meant tacking my filing. I also went through the way-too-many boxes that I had packed from my cubicle and organized them for removal to my new office. I sure do seem to love office supplies!

My cousin D read the article on change and sent this back to me:

So remember this as you go into your new job at a new organization:

"People taking new jobs should recognize that changes, whether expected or unexpected, are in actuality opportunities to learn and to grow. Change, while accompanied by less than pleasant experiences, can ultimately be a very good thing."

I guess I ought to heed his (my) words, eh?

NOTE: My left pinkie finger is healing nicely, that is from the outside at least. In fact, thanks to some amazing antibiotic stuff that my mother had sent at Christmas, you can barely see the puncture marks, and I avoided those fears of a bothersome abscess. However, the finger doesn't work very well yet. It is still rather painful to the touch and a bit swollen. I cannot bend it all the way, and it is of little use when it comes to gripping something. Let's see...just over two weeks out from having a puppydog's canine tooth pass completely through the joint...ought I even be noting my difficulties still?

Friday, March 28, 2008

I could grouse about how my boss (nor any other senior staff) didn't show up to my farewell party (as they have done for all the other ones I have attended), about I was offered a mere $12.50 an hour to continue my position on a contract basis, about how I was not given the courtesy of an exit interview as everyone else has been, or about how my separation paperwork was not even ready and I had to ferret it out myself, but that would be complaining, eh? Instead I shall share four things from today:

1. The women that I have been helping banded together and created a Patricia-Centered farewell party. It consisted of Costco Pizza and Dr. Pepper! They also made this poster-sized, framed scrapbook page of my time at the agency. It was a very special time for me even if they were the only ones interested in celebrating with me.

2. Six people who do not work with me but have taken note of my communications work, including my collateral designs, heard that I was leaving and wrote me cards to say how much they admired my professionalism and talent.

3. S, my dear cubicle mate, had a great idea for a photo to hang on the wall at my new office so that I would not miss her. It is below:

4. I wrote the front page article for the next newsletter and am particularly pleased with the outcome. I have added it below:

Be An Agent of Change

Life is change.

From the moment we are born, our bodies are in a constant state of change. Even when we achieve our full height, every cell in our bodies is renewed over a cycle spanning several years. Outwardly, we see our hair and nails grow. Inwardly, the changes are just as present.

Each experience we have shapes us, molds us. Each time we experience something, we process and absorb bits and pieces of that experience. Sometimes it is feelings. Sometimes it is knowledge. Sometimes it is preferences. Whatever the experience, each time we are changed by it.

As a reader, I am known to pick up a favored book again and again—something many readers cannot quite understand with all the good books out there and just a short lifetime in which to read them. But, for me, a year would not be complete unless I make my way through the incredibly delightful tomes of James Herriot. I chuckle each time he sets out to visit his fellow vet Granville Bennett because no matter how sophisticated he desires to be, James inevitably looks the fop. I know that I will enjoy a great guffaw in those sections, but each time I also savor them in a different manner. Sometimes I am admiring the craftsmanship of the author. Sometimes I am in need of laughter in my own life. Sometimes I am curious as to how any individual would wish to consume pickled onions.

A close friend abhors change. She fights it tooth and nail, railing about the injustice of it all. Only after she has reached the other side can she see that she has grown, has learned, and can accept the change as something good in her life.

Foster children live lives that are the epitome of change. Their experiences, prior to becoming a foster child, are often negative, changing them in ways that one would not choose if given the option. Once in care, they have people come in and out of their lives. They lose friends and homes, neighborhoods and schools. Change, then, can become fearful to them, something to be dreaded rather than embraced.

Therefore, it is one of the challenges that Foster Parents face: teaching the children who come into their care that changes, whether expected or unexpected, are in actuality opportunities to learn and to grow. Changes, even those accompanied by less than pleasant experiences, can ultimately be a very good thing.

After all, change is life.

NOTE: Last night I figured out how to add a wee something special to the website I built about Honey Speak. Go to and check out the interior pages!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I have been a bit lax about unpacking since my world turned upside down when I got back. Tonight I have put away all the extra non-perishable groceries, the DVDs, the dirty laundry, and the games.

When I went to unpack my computer backpack, I opened the plastic cover for one of my xD memory cards to discover a spider hiding inside!

I guess I brought back a bit more than a passel of good memories from my time at B's cabin!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

J is such an amazing woman who teaches me much about friendship.

She is on this most wondrous journey just now. God laid upon her heart a vision for a thrift store that could serve many purposes to her community and that dream has been fulfilled in a mighty big way. She took one step through an opening He provided her and blessings have been showing down around her ever since. The Lord is very clearly at work in her small corner of Worthington, Ohio. I believe it to be a good work that He is crafting in hercreated in her such a fearless and honest heart.

In short, On Second Thought is a place where you can shop, watch artists at work, meet authors, and hone your writing skills. It is a true haven, with proceeds that benefit, in part, Diabetes and the Church.

Over the course of our friendship, mostly many, many years of keeping in touch across many, many miles, J has sent those wonderful letters of hers. Tales of her family and her life written on bits and pieces of paper collected throughout her days...a menu...a candy wrapper...the back of one of her children's school papers. I've written of them before and have kept each and every one of them. In fact, there is a sheaf of them beside my bed that I peruse from time to time as I try to find sleep on pain-filled days. Just a few words into them and I shed my burden to live in her world for a bit.

Well, she went and sent me a rather wonderful Easter card. The blanks spaces were filled with many words, but that is not all she sent. After reading my post on Earl Grey tea, she searched through her donated tea basket to see if there were any packets. While her preference is decaffeinated tea, she did venture a taste...and pronounced the mug satisfying. She sent the other two bags to me that I might savor both the flavor and the act of friendship. What is precious about J is that she also included the empty tea bag.

What others might view as trash, I saw as a loving reminder that I am thought of and cherished by my dear friend J.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Well, shiver me timbers. I've done gone and finally landed me a job that might be a true fit, a genuine challenge, and a much sight better closer to a decent salary than I have seen in...well...forever!

Friday marks my last day messaging for foster care and Monday marks the return to messaging for affordable housing. If you will pardon the pun, I feel as if I am going home.

I am in shock and giddy with glee. I regret not being able to bring my plans to fruition, but I have banged my head against the brick wall for eight months. I am most ready to being a new challenge.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Sometimes...I just wonder about my dwindling faculties!

I have been trying to figure out how to get the photos to my computer since 1) I do not have the cable that came with the camera and 2) I do not have a card reader that reads xD cards. Well, I just discovered that the laptop Dell sent as a replacement well over a year ago has a card reader that will accept xD cards! are a small sampling of my moss photos:

What joy there is in green growing things...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What a beautiful day to celebrate the incredible gift God gave in His Son. I think I could spend a lifetime trying to understand the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross... Whilst doing so, I pray I never forget neither the cost of giving the gift of eternal life nor the blessing of receiving that gift.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

I back dated this post, although it is already tomorrow...

While I would rather be spending another day with B and her family, the thought of unpacking my stuff that I just loaded into the car to lug it into her house only to pack it back up and load it into the car tomorrow is a might overwhelming. For all that I have been reveling in the mountain air, the mossy scenery, B and her family, and a surfeit of movies and games, I am tired from coughing at night. I think that my asthma does not love the cold air as much do I. This might be a wee bit of a problem with my goal of moving to Appleton...

I did not arrive back here until 2:45 AM and it took another hour for me to unload the car, hang Fancy's cage, and get the groceries into the refrigerator (I was supposed to eat them all there, but I found more tasty supplies at the local grocery). Here I am now, nearly 4:00 in the morning, ready to tumble into bed.

For years B has talked about going to the cabin. I cannot begin to write just how much I enjoyed finally having a chance to understand what a wonderful place it is...a bit of peace settled in the heart of the Poconos.

Friday, March 21, 2008

J is such a smart little boy for someone who has just 15 months under his belt. He has learned that when I go to the closet to get Kashi's leash it means I am taking my puppydog for a walk. J will toddle over to me, sign the word "please," and hold his arms up toward me. Who could resist that?

He will either walk beside me, heedless of the number of falls he takes along the way, or he will ride inside my sweatshirt. Either way, J spends much of his time in wide-eyed, quiet contemplation of the world around him, said ruminations occasionally punctuated by deep sighs.

Oh, the lessons we can learn from the very young...God is a mighty Creator whose artist's hand painted such a lovely portrait on this planet...

Monday, March 17, 2008

We might possibly have gotten a bit lost when venturing out today. We had set out toward a neighboring town that had a Wal-Mart in search of diapers and millet. After driving in the right direction, doubting our navigational abilities, turning around and driving in the wrong direction, then realizing that the first direction was the right direction, we called it a day and hit a local pizza joint.

On a scale of 1-10, the pizza was probably a 3. In fact, extra cheese was, in this case, really too much cheese. However, since B loves just about all pizza and I have never encountered a cheese pizza that I would not consume, the meal was satisfactory.

We stopped by a local grocery store for a few supplies before heading home to put the children to bed. J was a marvelously well-behaved little boy. E had a knock-down, drag-out temper tantrum on the floor of one of the aisles. At one point her shoes were off and she was kicking at anything and every thing. B handled it beautifully, and we finished our shopping. It might possibly have happened that some new Turkey Hill ice cream and some local gorp leapt into the shopping cart whilst my head was turned. I did pick up some fresh strawberries, basil, rosemary, and asparagus.

Fancy was happy to receive the millet. I had forgotten to pack some, and it is a big part of her diet. Thus far, I have spent a lot of time with her on my shoulder so that she would not become stressed over the trip. She also rode up here on my shoulder. That seemed to make the trip easier on her. She does not like the dark at all, and I had to wrap her in a towel to make the transition from the car to the cabin because of the cold weather. B brought a small space heater for my room so that Fancy would not get to cold. The heat bothers me, but I know that it is important for her.

Today, I spent some time on the porch swing hold J and with E at my side. I prayed with them both about this world God has given us and the family He gave to the two of them. At first E was fidgeting, but then she started prompting me on what to add to my prayers.

I am so very, very blessed by B and her family. I mean, it is not often someone will welcome you and your pets into their home, making allowances for all of your quirks and their needs. For example, today B let me sleep to noon and then ignored my grumpiness as I transitioned to wakefulness. She plays games for hours on end and endures my joyful victories and sullen defeats. She loves my guffaws and makes silly faces at me. She washes my dishes and fetches things for me, especially if doing so would mean that I would have to bend over. She is quite appreciative of my own cooking and cleaning and diapering. And she will take out my dog for me to spare me the trip down the steps. She does not laugh at me for having a bird on my head and will let me pass Fancy over to her so that I can get up and do something. She might be annoyed at Kashi ardently defending some toy of his, but she does not kick him to the curb. She loves me and mine. That is something wonderful.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Great is the Lord. How wonderful a Creator is He!

We are fully engaged in resting and relaxing. And watching more Stargate SG-1. And playing games. I have won two rounds of Rumikub and one of Skipbo. I won two more games of Quorridor before B finally figured out the strategy to that game. The last three games were miserable losses on my part. She won one game of Sorry; I won two. We both won a few games of Splashdown Uno. I won You've Been Sentenced. G won Rummikub. He indulges my game hunger from time to time, but mostly he lets B play with me.

Tonight, I sauteed chicken with olive oil, ginger, mustard powder, garlic powder and maple sugar tapped from one of B's own trees! I must say that it was rather tasty!

E has had some tough times choosing appropriate behavior, but B and G are staying the course with her. She is such a bright, engaging child. If only she didn't have quite such a tenacious spirit.

J is adorable. And...I still have the J Magic!

I am already so very satisfied with this trip...and I have six more days to enjoy the beautiful nature whilst in the bosom of my best friend's family!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

In case you are wondering how I can post from here, I will admit that I found an open wireless Internet connection. One of the neighboring cabins must be high tech!

Today was lovely. We played games and watched numerous episodes of Stargate SG-1 [Oh, how I am rejoicing that I can finally share my love of sci-fi with B!] J is walking all over the place. E walked Kashi for the first time! I have photos galore of the latter.

B and G are great fire tenders, so the cabin is toasty. I, of course, am reveling in the cold temperatures outside. I was sweaty, really hot and bothered, while packing up the car on Friday. I feel as if we were cheated out of a winter this year. Now I will have 8 days to enjoy the crisp, 40 degree air!

The best part about the cabin: moss! Yep, I have already taken over 2 dozen moss photos with three different cameras. Once I work out how to transfer the photos from two of the cameras, I shall post them for your viewing pleasure!

Friday, March 14, 2008

I want to shout to the world that I shall NEVER again drive to Pennsylvania on a Friday. Even being with B and G and their children is not enough to assuage the arduous journey that it took to get here to their family cabin in the Poconos. I mean, really, a 2 and 1/2 hour trip took over 4 hours because of HORRIBLE traffic. UGH!

I was grumpy and starving by the time I got to her house and feel as if I practically shoved them into the car after we finished dinner. I wanted to get here and be done with all of this traveling!

The extra driving is absolutely worth it...just not coupled with Friday traffic.

To enter the cabin, though, there are many, many steps. Since it is built on a slope, the main floor is actually the second one. My bags and bags and bags of luggage only arrived in the cabin because of the grace of B and G. Two times up the stairs were enough for me. My MS weakened muscles greatly protest the laborious climb.

I am glad to be here and look forward to much, much rest!

NOTE: Late Thursday evening, Kashi butted my hand with his head to get me to pet him. However, when I did so, he bit me. One of his canine teeth went all the way through the top joint of my left pinkie finger. I was begging him to let go and all he could do is look at me with this very confused expression. By the time he did, I was a bit faint from pain and horse from hollering at him. I poured alcohol and then hydrogen peroxide over the wound to clean it. Then I applied antibiotic ointment and slapped on a cushioned bandaid. My finger is quite painful and swollen. I am keeping my fingers crossed that my finger will heal without professional medical intervention. The vet thinks Kashi is showing signs of dementia due to his old age. I know he was sorry. After all, I was only petting him because he wanted me to do so. He certainly gave poor thanks for my affectionate attention!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I had a second interview today. I am still confused as how to most accurately assess the interaction.

We talked for just over 3 hours, although the latter 45 minutes was a discussion about our trips to Italy. I did learn that she is exacting and tough, with a clear vision of what she wants to accomplish in her department. However, I also learned that she is creative and has a touch of whimsy (one night she painted the walls of the cubicle enclave purple to boost morale--she went on to decorate the area with a world travel theme and then tackled four other offices).

Early this afternoon, I had a meeting with a sponsor. The meeting went quite well and gave me pause as to pursuing this new job opportunity. I mean, I know that my current situation is nearly an impossible one in which to achieve victory or professional development. I know that. However, today I had this glimpse of how I might possibly some day effect a significant change that would better the agency and, thus, better the lives of children and families in our area.

I really was having second and third and possibly fourth thoughts about the interview. And then I talked with her again at length. I know that this would be the first job where I was challenged to work to my potential. I would be working with someone who is a complete match when it comes to work and communications philosophies. I would also be working with someone who enjoys laughter and recognizes the importance of work/life balance.

I want this job. I am still not sure about the possibility of actually landing it. But I do want this job.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Oh, am I miserable!

I worked for 11 hours straight today, ten of them on my feet. ARGH!

The expo went exceedingly well, though I do need to admit to "two learning curves."

The desk top theme was well-received. My Tips, Tools & Resources fact sheets were popular, and many people asked if they could dissiminate them to their own audiences (a great opportunity to spread our brand and position us as a resource agency). Our key chain flashlights were a popular giveaway. And the additional information on other workshops was helpful to many of the attendees.

We did have many requests for separate information about our respite program. Unfortunately, I did not think to bring this material. I had a combined fact sheet and thought that sufficient. I also forgot my own business cards. I had not thought them necessary, since the attendees were people who would be contracting with us and, thus, interacting with others in our agency than I. However, since so many people wanted to use my fact sheets on parenting, I could have passed out my cards so folks could email me to get the PDF versions.

Still, the event went well. Our table had solid traffic. Our brand was certainly visible, given that we were quite near the door. And one component of my communications plan (having internal collateral that also serves external needs) came to fruition rather splendidly.

It is just that my feet are killing me, and my arthritis is making it too hard to fall asleep again. I wish to go to sleep, to rest up for yet another meeting tomorrow, but I am lying in the green chair hoping an extra dose of Ibuprofen in addition to Celebrex might help enough to allow me to go to bed. Friday cannot come soon enough.

Then, even if I am still tired, I will be tired in a cabin in the Poconos with B, playing games, watching movies, taking photos, and enjoying the beauty God created in this world.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I taught the workshop on multicultural literature again tonight. This time there were more folk, more questions, and lots of discussion. I truly enjoyed teaching and the exchange that comes in workshop settings.

I did have a bit of trouble finding the right room, trouble that ended up in an asthma attack since I had to drag over 100 books up to the third floor only to cart them back down to the second floor and across the building. The directions I had were somewhat inadequate.

Having left my inhalers in the car, I ended up jamming the Epipen into my thigh in the hopes that I might recover enough to teach. Although I was trembling from the drug for the first hour, I did manage to go on to my workshop.

By the time it was over and I arrived back home, I was ready for a month's rest, but tomorrow is the big expo. I have to get up at 5:30 AM (I're laughing because you don't think that is even possible for me).

Despite the fatigue, I spent some time thinking about the books I shared and our conversation. We talked about history and race and ethics. In exploring such, the attendees learned about more than just books and were thankful for the experience. The person in charge of training does not think much of my idea of offering workshops for the foster parents. Yet I have seen, twice now, parents completely engaged in the topic and in the learning process. How could that not be a very good thing?

I miss teaching. I really do.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I spent another weekend reading. I only plowed through 6 books, but I did managed to draft a few more pages for one of mine.

My writing student reminded me that I am being rather neglectful of my own words. I have written so much at my job, often either without notice or with dismissal. I had not realized that I had shut down at home as a result. Whether or not my dream for those words ever comes to fruition, I am refreshed and revitalized when I have taken the time to given into the muse that visits when my fingers touch the keyboard with the intent to craft tale of the characters that reside in my head.

May I be ever mindful of her reproach this trip around the sun and give the gift of words to myself at least as much as I do to my job...

Friday, March 07, 2008

I feel as if I shall collapse beneath the burden of that nomination.

It is mailed. There is nothing that I can do now. I have written and rewritten each and every word what seems like thousands of times, but is more probably a dozen or two. I can hope that I honored this most deserving family with my words, but I fear that I did not work within the space limitations as best as I could. I needed more time, much more time, to really do them justice.

It was very difficult to hand that envelope over to the mail clerk behind the counter. I wanted to do more, so much more than I had.

However, I must remind myself that this is another opportunity to trust in God's sovereignty. He knows this family. He knows their needs. I was either His vessel or someone else will be... in His perfect timing, His perfect plan...not mine.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The family is amazing. I cannot really put into words all that I am feeling at the minute, but I can say that they are truly deserving and could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the other families ABC has honored.

Mom and Dad are 58 and on their second turn at raising children, this time foster children. They have adopted 4 and have 1 permanent-placement foster child. These are the ones they have kept. They also have sheltered over 50 other foster children in the past 22 years. Why is that special? Well, all five of their second-turn children have medical disabilities, some of them profound. Yet, these children are being raised in a family where they are loved and accepted and "normal" compared to their siblings. They are in a diverse neighborhood that embraces their differences and treats them like any other child.

Mom and Dad encourage the children to be as active as possible, giving no thought to ideas that being disabled might be a barrier to the activities they wish to pursue. They attend all the games, recitals, and gatherings of their children's hobbies. They also attend every medical appoint and therapy session of all of their children. From every aspect of their care, Mom and Dad are deeply involved. One example is the sacrifices they make so that the oldest can participate in a wheelchair basketball league that has tournaments all over the country.

Mom runs the local chapter of a Spina Bifida support group, volunteers at Children's Hospital, advocates for public accessibility in various venues (panels, boards, etc.), and supports parents with disabled children all over the nation. Mom and Dad also run (along with her husband) a medical equipment exchange closet so that families can have what they need to care for their children.

Their house is not set up for handicapped children, nor is it anywhere near the right size for a family of seven. Still, they manage to eat together most every evening and make do with what they have without complaining. When their first four children join the fray, the home feels more like a can of sardines, yet they are as committed to their new siblings as are their parents. It is a family that focuses on what they have rather than what they do not.

I was truly humbled by interviewing them today. They could not understand why we wanted to nominate them. Mom and Dad see themselves as just doing what needs to be done. I am quite worried that I will let them down by not truly conveying the magnitude of their sacrifice, their commitment, their love, and their needs in the brief format ABC allows for nominations.

I am praying that I can honor their work in mine.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I printed every minute that I was in the office today and all yesterday afternoon (once our weekly unit meeting was completed).

I am trying very, very hard to have everything ready for the expo next Wednesday by this Friday. I don't want to be scrambling around next week. Monday will surely have some important task needing doing that people forgot about, and Tuesday evening will be filled by the unit meeting and my teaching the second workshop on Multicultural Literature. Wednesday, I have to have the display set up by 8:00 AM. So, for me, Friday is my deadline for getting everything done.

However, I just found out that I need to put together a submission to ABC's Extreme Home Makeover Edition for one of our families. I need a killer essay, a compelling video, great photos, and a 20-page (I am hoping much of it is legal-ease) detailed application in less than 48-hours.

But what about my printing? I want to scream...

The frustration of this day was alleviated somewhat by working with my writing student on her scholarship essays and by playing B in Scrabble.

K had another round of applications in which she had to create the most creative and compelling answer to sometimes uninteresting questions in 500 words or less. In working with such constraints, I encourage writers to first draft the answer that they would like to give, heedless of word count. Then, the real writing begins as you have to start removing words in such a way that your answer is actually enhanced as you fit it to the word limit. We had just a great time finding 96 words to eliminate from her essay when 5,000 words would not even have been sufficient to telling the remarkable tale of her grandfather and her Italian ancestors. You remove words that then requires you to add more. You go up and down, up and down, trying to get to that perfect essay. I tend to check the word count a bit obsessively during the process, but K does not mind. A writer at heart, she understand the thrill of the challenge and does not begrudge my constant monitoring of the amount of ground gained.

As for the Scrabble of late in my life, would it be bragging to post to the world that I got a 140-point Scrabble word? It was "germiest," played on two triple-word spots. It was a great moment for me. I have had bingos popping into my letter selection quite often of late. I am enjoying the ride, but B is not so happy with my winning streak. I know it won't last, so I am trying to savor every moment without alienating my dearest B.

Note: Someone called me to let me know that my references were being checked...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

How could I have forgotten how very much I enjoy Earl Grey tea? Really, how?

I practically lived off the stuff while pursuing my Ph.D. in Columbus, Ohio, and not just because those were the coldest winters I had experienced thus far. After a professor served me my first cup, I drank it by the gallon, with cream and honey.

Someone gave me Black Raspberry tea. Then I think I got some Black Vanilla tea. Then it was Black Vanilla Maple. When that was no longer available, I found Black Vanilla Carmel tea, which I have had in my house of late.

However, while digging through my tea shelf hoping to find a stray bit of chocolate (I store the special stuff on that same shelf), I found some Earl Grey and prepared a cup on a whim. Oh, my, that first sip was like greeting a long lost friend! I just so enjoy that taste. I enjoy it scalding hot and even cold. It just does it for me, something I can truly savor from first sip to the last.

How could I have forgotten that?

Monday, March 03, 2008

I got roped into doing work for another department because that department fired the only person who can do design work without having a back up plan. I became their back up. I don't get paid extra for the extra work. No thought was given to how my own work would need to be set aside. And my doing so has caused a brouhaha between the VPs. I save the day by getting the 8-page agency newsletter done but no real thanks...just conflict when people (who shouldn't be) are reviewing my time sheet and complain about my hours in a different department. I am asked to do the work, but I am criticized for doing so.

In fact, I am so much criticized that I have to submit a job description for the senior VP to review. Me, a new employee, and I have to write my own job description. On top of that, I am instructed to leave off all the administrative work that I have been doing since the admin person was never replaced. "They" would be angry if they knew I was doing it. That doesn't make sense to me since "they" are the ones keeping the position open.

I cannot outsource the regular 1,000 piece mailings, but neither am I to do the work myself? I have to do the work, but essentially lie about doing it?

Crazy, eh?

NOTE: Even after several hours of reflection, I still cannot decide if the interview went well or not. My skills are great. My experience a boon. She would have to figure out how to fit me into the budget and could not hire me any time soon because she will be training the other person.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

I have fallen into a poor habit of reading late into the evening, even on work nights. I suspect that it is because I have been hiding in books lately. In fact, I spent the past two days reading eight of them.

I did nothing else but read. Kashi curled up beside the couch, while Fancy joined me. Two whole days of reading one book, getting up to fetch another one, and then settling back down on the couch.

I can get lost for hours at a time, living the lives of the characters I encounter, reveling in the world around them, testing limits. facing dilemmas, battling evil, fighting for good, helping others, studying truth...doing something that that world.