Monday, January 04, 2010

Cold ... and warmth

Everyone is complaining about the cold. I've decided that I'm going to just play along and do the same thing. I don't intend to rebel against the norm or try to make up some kind of namby-pamby pollyanna reason why we should be positive about this. I'm right there with you all - whining and complaining about the cold.

The thing is, I complain even more strongly about extreme heat. If the outside temperature approaches 95 degrees for more than one or two days in a row, I'm annoyed.

So, I'll just admit it. I'm an old lady who likes temperate climates. Neither the equator nor the Arctic Circle would be a top pick for my place of residence.

With all of this cold weather around me, I've been inside. Reading books, studying texts, writing blogs. It's what makes me happy anyway!

Last Wednesday evening I had dinner with friends that I'd never met before. Well, out of eight other people, I'd met one. The man who lives up here by our cabin is a wonderful guy. He's a pilot and he and his wife own a flying service. They invited me to dinner along with 3 other couples, 2 of whom are neighbors in the area. They wanted me to get a chance to meet people around here. What a wonderful evening!

It is so wonderful to be with people who love this area as much as I do, who are passionate about their lives our here, even when it's a frozen tundra, and who watch out for each other and care about what is happening in each others lives.

The funniest thing for me was the amount of hunting conversation. I just smiled and nodded. They take this seriously! Of course they do. I walked into my friend's home and saw three huge deer heads mounted above the fireplace (it is an immense room with a 26' vaulted ceiling). I knew right away that I was in a group of people that spent much of the winter in the woods with their guns.

Conversation prior to the meal with fun, with everyone gathered in the living room. But I got a chance to laugh again (to myself) after the meal, when the women moved to the living room and the men moved to a sitting room. What the...? Where ... ? Ok...

You see, I remember that happening when I was a kid and we'd gather with groups of my parent's friends for dinner, but since I had grown up and made my own friends, we'd become much more comfortable staying in mixed groups - the conversation always seems to be more interesting that way.

There are a lot of subtle differences between living in the city and living in a small community. Many of these I just absorbed as I became comfortable living in Omaha. But, more and more, as I move in and out of the rural communities around the cabin and into city life in Omaha, I'm discovering them.

I will process on some of these - some are so subtle that they're difficult to describe - like the manner in which people eat. Not their manners, but the way the approach a meal. It's different. It seems to be so much more comfortable and fulfilling here. Fewer worries about what they're eating and how they're eating. Maybe it was just the home I was in, but since there were at least 4 different homes represented there, I'm not so sure.

I still can't get past the fact that though making a living is a top priority for them, making money isn't. I woudn't be able to find someone to plow our driveway at home without ensuring that we would pay good money for it, but when I said thank you to them for taking care of my lane, I was assured that they had so much fun with their skid loader, they just wanted to have more places to play!

This is fun for me, watching the differences occur around me. I need to be better about writing them down so it can be fun for everyone!

Friday, January 01, 2010

A New Year - Excited!

I suppose that today should be a day of reflection and a day of looking forward. Instead I slept late and then started scrubbing things down. We have VERY old appliances here at the cabin and at some point it just became nearly impossible to keep them clean (stove/oven and fridge). I could barely stand it! So, I attacked both of them and they're much better.

What better way to spend New Year's Eve and New Year's Day than cleaning, right? I had Star Wars playing in the background. I know those crazy movies so well that I don't need to actually watch them. I see the action happening with just the sound playing. Every once in awhile, I'll glance at the screen because I love a scene, but for the most part I like the noise.

I am really looking forward to 2010. You see, I turned 50 last year and didn't like it. I don't feel like I am half a century old (well, that was an ugly phrase) and I hate the idea that I probably have less than 50 years ahead of me to accomplish all of the things I want to do. With that reality staring me in the face, though, I figure that it is definitely time to make changes.

Last fall I started with a couple of classes through University of Phoenix. Since I hadn't been in an organized learning environment since 1981, I was quite worried about how I would handle that situation. I did fine. Which gave me the courage to explore further learning opportunities. One of the things I have regretted is the fact that I never advanced my education. No Master's Degree, no doctorate. That was a bitter regret.

I have applied to Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky to get my Master's of Divinity. No, I'm not intending to be a pastor.

Actually, that's almost funny. When I was growing up there were two vocations that I never wanted to have anything to do with. I didn't want to marry a man who was a farmer (those women worked way too hard) and I didn't want to marry (or be) a pastor). I was pretty adamant about that.

I obviously didn't marry a farmer and I'm still adamant about the whole pastorate thing. But, the MDiv will propel me towards the doctorate and I'm hoping that as I move through the program I will be able to identify exactly what it is that I will do when I'm finished.

Asbury offers me the chance to do 2/3 of the degree online. I'll be glad to hide at the cabin to do this. I will have plenty of time, peace and quiet to study and work, while hopefully continuing with the study and writing that I enjoy doing for myself. There will be intensive weeks of classwork on campus, but this degree can actually work for me.

The application is in - every piece that I needed to deal with is finished. I had to write a personal history using their guidelines that took me much longer than it should have taken. But, it's finished and submitted. Now I simply need to wait for their acceptance into the program and work through financial aid.

In 1984, I had intended to leave the job I was in at the time (Christian Ed and Music Director at a UM Church in Spencer, Iowa) and head to Asbury for my Master's Degree. Life took a rather strange turn when I opened a printing business instead. I am so excited about the fact that I am finally moving towards getting the degree that I've always dreamed about.

Yes - 2010 is going to be an interesting year!