Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I've Been Adopted!

This weekend I was adopted by some sisters. My eldest and I were invited to join them at a Women of Faith Conference in Shreveport. I rode over there with 2 of the sisters and 1 of their daughters. Another sister (who is the only one of them that I knew until now) and a sister-in-law and her daughter drove over from Texas. My daughter and the daughters of my friend drove down from MSU.
Here we all are in the hotel lobby just before heading home. The 3 tallest ones on the back row are the actual sisters. The blond in the white shirt is their sister-in-law and the short one is me. The cousins and my eldest (2nd from the left) are on the front row. I think she knew all of them from her long relationship with her buddy. They have been best friends for 12 years, even though the family moved to Texas. They are reunited at State. Thanks to Rachael (in the green shirt on the end of the front row) for organizing the entire adventure: not an easy feat when you're expecting and your brain is busy growing a baby! We had everything we needed.

I enjoyed the conference, but I think I enjoyed the time with my eldest the most. We had time to talk without her sisters being there, and sometimes that's important. And we got to see, from the inside, how another family operates. I've discovered that families aren't much different in some ways and are all different in other ways. I think almost everybody knows that, but sometimes we need to be reminded.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Odd Sign

As we were leaving the conference center tonight, announcements were showing on the giant screen. Some were about where certain speakers would be signing books tomorrow, what things were available for purchase. This one just floored me:
Nursing mother's room is located in the

Bacardi Bar.

There was just something WRONG with this.

Yes, I know you were expecting great spiritual revelations as a result of this trip, but tonight, this is what comes to mind first.

Good night. Deeper stuff tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Girls' Weekend

This weekend I'm going to do something that I don't think any of my 3 daughters would do: drive to a virtual stranger's house then ride with her and her sister to pick up her daughter and ride for 4 more hours. But by the time we get there, I bet we won't be strangers anymore!

A month or so ago, my eldest asked me if I was interested in attending a Women of Faith Conference in Shreveport. I have been to one other many years ago and really enjoyed it. I jumped on the chance to go again. In addition to the 2 of us, the group will include my daughter's best buddy and her mom (who is a friend of mine and the sole reason I have the job I have) and sister, 2 of the mom's sisters and one of their daughters. I have met the sister whose house I'll be driving to (and her daughter), but only once, I think, and that was probably 10 years ago.

So much of what I do is aimed at kids: mine and other people's. This will be a chance to gather, on a small scale and a large scale, with other adult women. I can't wait!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Song Bird

The minute I walked out the office door, I could hear this guy singing. I had to walk right past him to get to the mailbox. He didn't move when I got close, but just kept singing. I decided to go back and get the camera.

I stopped to take the first picture and he just looked at me. I slowly took a few steps closer and took another one. That's when I crossed his line of safety. He flew up into the oak tree and continued singing from up there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Train of Thought

This morning, my eldest and I were talking about google maps. She likes the satellite view, but thinks the street view is a bit stalkerish. I have used the street view before. I couldn't remember the name of a restaurant in Cincinnati, but I did recall the name of the art gallery next door. I found the street address of the gallery, looked it up on google maps, and then pulled up the street view. I moved along the street until I was in front of the restaurant and could read the sign. Pretty cool, huh!

When the street view photography was done of Mr. H's mom's house, we were visiting, because our car is parked in the driveway!

Anyway, we were talking about the different areas that have clear satellite images and those that don't. Our house, which is out in the boonies, has a clear enough image (1 in. = 50 m) to pick out our propane tank and tell where the grass is beaten down for our driveway. The church, however, which is on a state highway, doesn't get anywhere near that close (1 in = 800 m.) That lead us to wild speculation as to why.

Is something going on out our way that they are keeping an eye on? Maybe it's the other way around: something is going on in the area around the church that they don't want anyone else to know about! You know: black ops, that sort of thing. Like maybe that explains why the carpet is getting bleached spots in the atrium: chemical weapons testing! And maybe not everyone that works at the church is who they say they are! Maybe the least likely person is really a government agent. You know: a really DANGEROUS individual like Jack Bauer, who can disarm nuclear weapons and defy death, in general. Maybe when this person says they are going on a hunting trip, they are really traveling to Prague to hunt international terrorists.

Don't you think a rural church staff employee would be the perfect cover for a spy? It just opens up so many possibilities. I'll never think of our church custodian quite the same way again, all because google maps doesn't have a clear image of the church.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Power Desk

Yesterday when I stopped by Wal-Mart, I remembered to get some batteries to put in my desk drawer at work. El asked what they were for. I told her they were to go in my desk.

"You have a battery operated desk? What does it do?" she asked.

She is such a literal child. I had to laugh. She has seen this desk on a very regular basis for 8 years now. The desk itself is probably close to 20 years old. It doesn't DO anything. It has 2 drawers, the upper of which holds stamps, staples, spare glasses, a bottle of hand lotion and (usually) spare batteries for anything that might run on batteries around here: most likely wireless mice and remote controls.

Mark came in earlier this week and got the last 2 batteries (and told me he was taking the last ones :) I love that in a person), so I knew that we were out.

What would a battery operated desk do anyway? Clean itself off...nah, I'd never find anything.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Not Allowed!!

When I went to awaken my youngest daughter this morning, this sign was posted on her door.

Apparently she has a problem with one of her sisters leaving food (or at least dirty dishes) in her room and wanted the practice to cease. One (or possibly both) of her sisters decided to add to the list of things not allowed and then the race was on...
P.S. I think the prohibition on "cats running (or runing) for office" is my favorite.
P.S.S. At first I thought that part was written by her oldest sister, but the spelling gave it away! The eldest is a spelling machine!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Baking Time

Why am I always taking bread out of the oven after 11 pm?

I need to change my baking time. The thing is, it takes time, and the only time I've had lately has been after 6. And there are several long intervals when you're waiting for stuff to rise.

I do think I've made all the major changes to this recipe that I'm going to make. The original didn't have enough salt. And the baking time was too long at too high a temperature. And it needed a bit of oil added so it would brown.

Here are some things I've learned:
  • Take the starter out of the refrigerator right when you get home from work. (cold starter isn't going to work as well)
  • Feed the starter before bedtime, which gives it all night to do its stuff. (some things just can't be rushed)
  • This SHOULD have you baking some time the next morning. (if you are free the next morning)
  • If you don't add enough flour, a free-form loaf (one without a pan around it) will spread rather than rise.
  • Homemade bread is habit forming! (which is why I'm up writing this while waiting for the timer to tell me to take it out of the oven and then go to bed)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Sad Question

I was asked a question today that startled me.

A lady came by our church office and in the course of our conversation, told me that they were in the process of adopting a child. They had been attending another church in the county but were interested in ABC.

Then came the question: "Did we allow...?"
She stopped and didn't finish the question that way, but wanted to know if a mixed race child would cause a problem here. I assured her that their child would be welcome. There are other kids at ABC of mixed heritage.

After she left, I thought about the question and the concerns behind it. Are there people in our church who would not welcome this family? None come to mind, but I am a newcomer here. And what kind of people are we if we would turn a family away because of what their child looked like? And if I saw that happen, what would I do? Shake my head and inwardly scold the church member who did the rejecting? Or would I have the courage to confront them with what I really felt about that attitude? Would it matter if the member could influence my job security?

My reality was shaken by an honest question posed by a concerned parent. My heart ached to think that some people might stay outside our doors for fear of us. What does that say about our relationship with the Creator of ALL?

Heavenly Father, help me show Your love to all Your children, not just the ones that look and live like me. Forgive me for not loving.

Invasion of the Gollywhoppers

This time of year creates an interesting adventure for our cats. It's crane fly season. Crane flies are those insects that look like giant mosquitos hanging around doorways, sneaking in when you come or go. They don't bite, but are so large as to be just creepy. When they get in, they slowly bounce around the ceiling, occasionally dropping down low enough to be snatched out of the air and eaten by Mrs. Jones or Grisabella.

This picture is smaller than the actual size of the 50 to 100 on my front porch right now. They are just hanging around on the window screens and walls, waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Perfect Crane Fly to come along.

I've heard them called Skeeter Hawks most of my life. Daddy Longlegs is another name I've heard. But Gollywhopper and Gallinipper are new ones to me.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Music Travels

This is Mr. H on a typical Sunday evening. He plays alto sax with our church band. There is also a piano, keyboard, bass, guitar, and drums. I sing with a few others.

Pretty soon, a new instrument will join the group: Mr. H's new EWI. Here he is practicing Saturday afternoon. He's wearing headphones so he won't disturb the rest of the house. The night before, he was plugged into that Fender amp down by his feet. (If you're wondering what he's looking at while practicing, it's a basketball game on TV!)

He left this morning headed for Los Angeles: a week of living in a hotel with not much to do in the evenings.

Solution: take the EWI and practice.

Problem: It was shipped in a cardboard box which, once opened, looses some of its ability to protect the contents.

Solution: Make a case. Every instrument we have has a case. Even all those little flutes and whistles we play have a carrying case made by me. So he made a case.

After an early morning trip to Lowe's for supplies, here it is:

It's 4-inch PVC with a permanent cap at the bottom and a removable cap at the top. He put eye hooks on the side and attached the shoulder strap that originally came on his sax case. It's painted a nice glossy black.

I love the warning on the red end: Stand clear when in use.

I just hope the guards at the airport don't think it's a pipe bomb when he goes through the security gate. He may just have to pull it out and prove that it's a musical instrument. I can just see it: Mr. H jamming away, the guard (wearing the headphones, of course, because that's the only way to hear it without an amplifier) swaying to the music, and no one else can figure out why those two are smiling.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

L, Saver of Fish

L called me from her friend's house on Saturday wanting to know if she could buy the friend's fish. I said yes, knowing I'd get the whole story in as soon as she got home. She came in from the cold toting a big round bowl of water with an ugly octopus rock in the bottom. The fish was hovering in the water, seemingly in a state of shock.

It seems that L didn't like the way her friend was taking care of the fish and suggested that they clean the bowl. They did and apparently the friend offered to sell the fish to L for the price of the bowl. As L had only that morning discovered a forgotten drawer in her desk, once used for storing her allowance, she was loaded and it was burning a hole in her pocket.

When I woke her up Sunday morning, her first request was that I check the fish bowl. (Last summer, a friend had given her a fish and the very next morning we found it floating.) She was worried that she was an FK: fish killer!

I checked the bowl. All I saw was the ugly octopus rock. I looked around to see if the fish could have jumped out: Nope. The bowl is spherical, so I thought maybe the fish was just in one of those optical hiding places that curved glass creates. I rotated the bowl 360 degrees. I still didn't see any fish. "Babe," I said, "I don't see her." "Look in the hole in the rock," L replied. I didn't even know the ugly thing had a hole, but yep, there it was, and there she was. The fish was still upright and I could see her fins moving slightly as the water moved with the bowl movement. Assured for the moment that she wasn't an FK, L got out of bed.

As we have 2 cats at our house, I cautioned L to keep her door closed when not in her room. We don't want the cats to go fishing. So she posted this notice on her door:

It looks rather like a sign you might see of the gate of a fence keeping a pit bull away from the neighborhood. I keep thinking of Nemo and his buddies escaping in the plastic bags.

I guess as Lily gets used to us, she will not retreat inside the octopus rock every time we enter the room. L was able to get this picture of her this afternoon. She's peaking out of the hole in the rock. You can see the octopus tentacles reaching around the rock. Welcome to the family, Lily.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I Left Something Out

When I was indiscriminately remembering things yesterday, I left one out: Mr. H's new toy.
He has been wanting one for years, but never could justify the expense. As with most things electronic, the price comes down over time, so this weekend, he ordered an EWI (electronic wind instrument). For those of you that don't like/trust youtube, you can read about them here and here. For those of you who say "show me what it does," you can see a youtube video of Michael Brecker playing an EWI or this really cool video of an EWI-beatboxing duet.

Mr. H told me yesterday that he feels like a kid at Christmas. He is so excited.!It's being shipped by FedEx and should be here by Wednesday or Thursday. He is leaving next weekend for a week-long business trip to Los Angeles. He's anticipating taking it with him and practicing in the hotel (using ear plugs of course!) If it's not here by the time he leaves, he'll be heartbroken!