Friday, October 29, 2010

Dealing with Loss ... Loving in Life

My emotions have been ragged this week as I approached the loss of a man I cared for deeply when I was young.  To be honest, I'm not sure I can find words to make sense of what is going on inside my heart.

A college professor, mentor, friend, committed suicide this week and I can't understand why I am so devastated, but my heart just hurts and that hurt keeps pouring out of me in the form of tears.  I haven't seen him in quite a few years, haven't communicated with him in several years, but I always knew that there would be time.  There wasn't.

He was a force ... a passionate, musical, demanding force.  He taught me how to work with groups, his conducting class showed me how to lead people and how to bring out everything I could from them musically.  His joy and exuberance gave life to incredible musical dreams for many students.

I spent the summer with him after I graduated.  We worked together preparing the summer musical - that year it was "Man of La Mancha."  I stayed on campus as the rehearsal accompanist and had the best time as I experienced his treatment of the music.  He introduced this young, inexperienced Iowa girl to Chinese food!  He made me feel so important as he picked me up and took me out to dinner - simply to say thanks for what I had done for him.  He probably had no idea how much it meant to me.  We worked hard that summer and I had one of the best times of my musical life.

When I got the email notification from Coe College that Rich Hoffman had died, I was in shock.  I knew he had been battling pancreatic cancer and assumed that it had finally taken him.  I cried tears of loss and then realized that life kept moving on, so I needed to keep busy with what I was doing.  Later that evening, one of my close friends emailed me that he had been found in his car, in his garage ... it looked like suicide.

My emotions changed from the pain of loss to a sorrowful ache at the loneliness and desperation he must have felt.  Assumptions are being made that he'd had more bad news regarding the cancer and his death was imminent whatever way ... he chose this way.

I've known of people that committed suicide, but I don't believe I've ever felt it so closely.  There is such an aching feeling of sorrow, knowing that person was alone, with no one standing there to assure them they were loved and cared for and that there would be understanding for what their choices were going to be.

This morning I spoke with a pastor friend of mine - Craig Finnestad - and asked how he counseled families that deal with loss through suicide.  He gave me a profound thought to consider.  When our hearts deteriorate, they stop beating and we die.  When other organs deteriorate, they cease to work and our bodies die.  The mind is yet another part of our body and when it finally deteriorates, our body may die.  Even if it is a short term level of desperation and insanity, we have to know that it can cause our death.  And since God is not bound by time, we can't know what happens between a person and God in those moments just prior to final death.  That isn't ours to judge.  Because our mind has deteriorated to the point of death, does not mean that God rejects us from heaven.

That really made me think.  My parents had a friend commit suicide and I remember evenings just after that event as they sat around and discussed the ramifications surrounding it.  Neither could accept that a God who loves us so much and spends our lives wooing us to Himself would punish us for not being able to hold up against seemingly insurmountable pain and agony.

The world is a lonelier place for those of us left behind - but that happens whenever we lose someone we love.  It hurts me to know that loneliness generally surrounds suicide.  But, the moment Rich was gone, those painful fears and terrors, pain and agony that he faced were gone as well.

We can rejoice in his life, pray for his family and those that were close to him and love those who are close to us.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A good deed and a bit of entertainment.

Sometimes a good deed gets a girl a lot of entertainment!

I realized that there was no 'chocolate' in the place.  At least nothing that I could just jam into my mouth.  So, time to make the cookies!  I had just enough ingredients to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies and I did.  Because I like them to happen quickly, I make the bars - and I love those chewy things.

As I pulled the pan out of the oven, guilt tried to take over.  What in the world would I do with all of these except eat them?  Who needs that?  Since I have to go in and take a proctored exam on Thursday, I figured I would take a batch to Sue and Ralph, but that still leaves me with too many.

Wait!  There are some hard working guys working on the bridge.  It was lunch time and I'd bet nearly anything they wouldn't mind some warm, chocolate chip bars.  I packed them up, got in my Jeep (too wet, windy and cold to walk this) and headed over.  The large equipment was running and there wasn't a soul to be seen anywhere.  Hmmm ... a pickup truck down in the park.  Since it was 12:30, it had to be a lunch break and I was gonna check it out.

I pulled into the park, walked toward the truck.  No one stirred.  No one at all.  I got up to the truck, raised my hand to knock on the window - kind of waved ... nothing.  They were sound asleep!  Three of them.  Lunch break - nap time, whatever.  I wasn't getting anything.  And I couldn't bring myself to wake them up.

I came back to the cabin and then started to worry.  Oh, I hoped they were sleeping and not dead.  Well, surely by 1:15 they would be ready to go back to work and I'd be safe waking them.  So ... back I went.  I didn't see much movement, but by the time I got to the truck time (I was going to sound an alarm if they didn't respond), they were chuckling and opened up to me.

"Hey guys - I'm glad to see you're alive!"  Yup, they laughed.  I told them who I was and what I had for them.  Are there any young men out there that don't like homemade chocolate chip cookies? 

Next time I'll wait until after the 1:00 hour.

I had cookies for them, for me, for my friends as a thank you and all was good.  I hope I haven't stopped them from napping over their lunch hour tomorrow.  But, I'll bet they think about it before dropping off to sleep! :)

Now ... back to studying Greek and the rest of the insanity.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Save Our Piano!!!

Here's a fun letter that was sent to Carol and me when Dad was preaching in West Liberty.  He didn't actually feel like his ministry was successful there. It was one of the more difficult pastorates for him and when he left, it was the only time he felt that he had failed.  One summer, he received this letter and I'm not sure why he opened it since it was addressed to the two of us girls, but he did and he also chose not to tell us about it until long after we had left.

I found it today.  I took a break and started digging into the things that I brought back from his house.  It was sent in 1982.  Carol and I were home for the summer and we did special music pretty regularly.  This poor, old lady showed up one Sunday morning and freaked out because the music was too loud.  She was so concerned about the fact that it wasn't sweet and heavenly, she needed to ensure that we knew what church music was to sound like.

If I recall correctly, that Sunday we had performed a piece that was a glorious piano solo underneath beautiful vocals.  Carol was on microphone and I can guarantee you that if Dad couldn't hear the vocals, he would have changed the levels - he was quite a stickler for understanding words clearly.

This is an anonymous letter, though at the time Dad knew exactly who had sent it.  Too many times we let these anonymous complaints alter or change how we approach ministry.  We question what we know to be right because one person complains.  Dad never did that.  He shouldered the responsibility for the decisions he made and shrugged off things like this.

Several years after we had left the community, he dug this letter out to show us.  He was laughing when he did.  It meant no more to him than that, but he knew that had he told us about it at the time, it would have stifled our enthusiasm in sharing our music and that was the last thing he wanted to have happen.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned ... from this letter and from his response ... but I'll leave those to you.

For now, I just chuckle as I think about her descriptive phrases for my piano playing and for her expectations of church music ... and her considerable concern for the safety of the piano in that church!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Packrat or no?

I got a call today from Dave.  His mother was married to Dad until he died.  Priscilla has moved to Denver to be closer to her sons and Dave is cleaning out her house, shipping her furniture out to her and getting rid of everything else.  There were a few things left in the house that they thought our family might want so in the process of all this, they set aside a few boxes.  I went in to get them this evening.  Good heavens, more books! 

And rock collections!  Dad had saved the rock collection I assembled when I was in 6th grade.  The rocks are still labeled and sorted out into their little spaces.  Oh my goodness.  I'm awfully thankful that Carol is teaching 6th grade and might be able to make use of these in one of her units.  I'm also thankful that Mom and Dad didn't save my dead insect collection.  Oh, that was back in the days of t-pins and dead bugs.  All neatly labeled and stuck to boards.  I can not believe that I did that project.  It just makes me shudder thinking about it.  Mom and I spent a lot of time in the outdoors that year with a butterfly net.  Blech.

There is a box filled with Grandpa Greenwood's sermons.  Another box filled with old Guidepost magazines for Carol.  Another box filled with very, very old small group studies.  What in the world am I going to do with that crap?  However, Max might enjoy the strange tracts that I found in yet another box. There were a few treasures amongst the crap.  Tomorrow night I'll go back in and finish going through Dad's filing cabinets. 

I did tell Dave that Carol and I were terrified Priscilla would go first and after Dad died we'd be responsible for dealing with her immense houseful of junk!  He's had a garage sale, completely filled a 10 cubic yard dumpster, plans on a second dumpster and will be moving stuff to his house for her and off to his niece's house as well.  There were paths moving through her home because of the incredible amount of 'stuff' she had. 

Max and I have tried to purge our house of the extraneous stuff that we have laying around.  It doesn't go quite as planned when it happens, but one of these days we'll have it whittled down so that Carol doesn't have to panic at the thought of us dying in some hideous accident, leaving her with a household of stuff that she doesn't know what to do with. 

Both Dad and Priscilla were terrible packrats.  I managed to take on that terrible habit for the first 40 years of my life.  Any bit of sentimental meaning meant that it had to stay in my world.  The scary thing has been looking at things that obviously meant something to me twenty years ago and not having any idea what that might have been. 

Do you collect or purge?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Games People Play

I know ... I know.  I've not attended to this blog well in the last few days.  I didn't really ever consider that I would get to the point where there were no more interesting words in my head.  But, wow ... when they start dragging words out of my head at an alarming rate, I seem to evaporate into blackness up there.

I am posting some on my other blog - Pour Out a Blessing.  You will find more of the day to day things that I'm learning in my classes there.  I don't post that link too often on Facebook and Twitter, but if you want to receive an email from me every day with that blog post, just let me know your address and I'll get you on the list!  You can send me an email at nammynools (at) cox (dot) net.  That's where I've pulled apart a lot of scripture and hopefully you can learn with me as I go.  I will warn you, there are days you have to go through my Greek lesson with me.  I try to make it as painless as possible, though.

Would you believe that my favorite class is Greek? I think it might be because it's so straightforward.  There are rules and things to memorize.  I either get it or I don't.  If I don't get it, I keep plugging away until I do.  The other courses I'm taking are a bit more subjective and I'm finding that it's not necessarily thinking outside the box, it's more like trying to figure out which way they want me to think so that I can make the grade happen.  I suppose I knew that was the probability - however, I think it is one of the most horrendous things happening in education today. 

I was telling Carol last night that this is a frustration for me.  I spent the first 25 years of my life figuring out what the game was and then playing it very well so that I could ensure success.  At some point in the last 25 years I began rebelling against the game and found a desire within myself to see if I could change the game so that more people could understand what the rules were and maybe more people would be able to play.  If I could effect change, I gave it my best shot.  More often than not, I found that I was eliminated from the game before I was finished, but every once in awhile, I'd look into the playing field and find that subtle differences were showing up and the change had actually worked.  I just needed to get out of the way.

But, being back in an institution forces me back onto an unfamiliar playing field.  I'm doing my best to understand the rules, but I still get really annoyed at the fact that they really exist in all of their colorful glory! 

Carol told me it would be best if I just accept it for the next few years - get through the program without upsetting the referees and once I was on the other side, if given the chance, go for the changes.  We'll see.

She's right, though.  I had a few days last week of pure frustration.  A large institution doesn't give a hoot in hell if I don't like the way they organize their rules - even if I see that it would make so much more sense to rearrange them.  I'll play for awhile.  I'll keep getting frustrated.  Every once in awhile I have fun playing ... maybe as I get used to it, I'll find other ways to keep myself entertained.

Do you have a game you have to play?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do you like to fly? Not me.

I know, I know ... it's been a couple of days and I went away.  But, wow!  I've had a lot of writing to do this week.  And a lot of reading and a lot of studying and a lot of ... well, you get the idea.  Thursdays are generally a fairly easy day for me.  Uh huh ... not this week. 

I really thought that I would have time to sit and think about a blog post today and wow you with some incredible bit of ... well, I'm tired and I can't even come up with a word to end that sentence.  Sigh.  Yah ... it's been that kind of a week.

Last week I told you that my friend up here helped get rid of our old, red van.  Yesterday he came in with his skid loader and pulled a bunch of felled trees in our meadow to the middle where we have a burn site.  What a great guy!  He and his wife run the local airport (he's a pilot and teaches flying at the local community college as well).  I'll head up there tomorrow with a loaf of bread and a thank you card.  They take really good care of me when I'm here at the cabin and I truly enjoy them.  He hasn't pushed me to go up in an airplane yet.  I'm pretty sure I've made it clear that it terrifies me and makes me sick to my stomach.  Maybe one of these days I'll go in and take the ground coursework so that I can understand more about planes and how things work.  That might help rid myself of some of the terror.  I hate flying.

Here's a story for you.  About twenty years ago I was flying back to Omaha from San Francisco.  Probably the San Francisco - Denver leg.  I was towards the back of the plane in the middle seat (joy) and an odd woman sat down in the aisle seat.  Not one to be rude, I said hello and opened myself up to conversation with her.  She was having none of that.  She wouldn't talk to me, wouldn't look at me, in fact ... she pulled her magazine practically up to her face so that she could avoid all contact.  When the steward came around offering drinks, she grabbed (yes - reached out and grabbed) the glass of water and with her eyes darting around, proceeded to pour something into it.  I could have sworn it was charcoal.  Sigh. She stirred it until it was a sludgy mess, drank it down, then grabbed the vomit bag in front of her seat.  Nope, didn't take long.  She didn't bother to get up and go to the bathroom, just vomited right there beside me.  I asked if she was ok.  Not a word, she just glared at me.  I don't remember what she did with the bag, but I know that I just wanted to huddle underneath the seats - I think I was afraid the witch would bespell me or something!

I've never been one of those people that had entertaining company on flights.  Yah ... it's not a great joy for me.  I'll just drive to where I need to go.  Much more fun!

What is your strangest flying experience?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Not so fond of bugs

Right now I'm tired of bugs. 

It's that time of year and between the Box Elder bug

and the friggin' Asian beetle

I could find reasons to scream at the insanity of it all.

So, I just did a little bit of research and discovered that those stupid beetles are migrating right now.  The common lady bug moves into upper elevations - we like them.  The Asian beetle likes the lower elevations and is moving toward the warm.  That's my cabin, just FYI.  I haven't swept out the porch yet, but by the time I get to it, there will be a carpet of dead beetles.  Oh, and don't touch them - they stink! 

The beetles and box elders crawl up the screens until they find a hole and then make their way in.  The thing of it is - they simply don't live that long - as soon as they're in - they die, so it's just more mess to clean up. 

This is one of the nice things about throw rugs on the floor - I can pick up the rug, go outside, shake and beat it - and then sweep up the concrete.  (do you remember when they called it wall to wall carpeting?)  Well, NOT having carpeting right now is a blessing. 

Poor Carol (ok, so do I - we were cruel) remembers a time when all of us were up here and Jim and I sent her to tears because we kept tossing box elder bugs on her.  She totally freaked out about bugs.  Since they were relatively harmless, we knew we weren't hurting her, but we certainly made her crazy.  Now, she gets to deal with her own house and has to handle bugs, snakes, small rodents in the yard and all sorts of oddball things.  It stinks to grow up!

If I remember, this migration lasts for a couple of weeks and a couple of good frosts will pretty much deal with it.  But until then, I think I'll just be annoyed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Birthday cake from Edward Cullen!

Sometimes it is good to hang with people that know and love you.  This picture of my belated birthday cake tells it all!

First of all, I'm accepted even though I have an unnatural affection for a fictional vampire that is played by a young man who could be my son (by age).  Secondly, while my birth year is 1959, I have explained in no uncertain terms that after my 50th birthday, I was going to move backwards through the years.  That is obviously understood and accepted. 

Trust me, if I could eliminate all health problems, have years ahead of me to learn all there is to learn, I might bare my neck to a good looking vampire. 

But since that really isn't an option, I'll move forward with my life as I know it and be really grateful for friends that treat me like family, get me and do weird things like offer me a Twilight / Edward cake for my birthday! 

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Weird little pieces of pottery by Mom

I can't believe I haven't shown you some of the weird and wonderful things that Mom did with clay. 

I was looking through photographs on my drive tonight and got caught up checking these out, did a quick search through my blogs and didn't find any reference to them.  If I have told you about these before - whoops, sorry!

Mom was kind of a nut.  She had a wicked, weird sense of humor and would get away with whatever she could, whenever she could.  She was always very careful about her audience, but sometimes she just couldn't help herself.

Her father was even worse.  His bawdy, strange sense of humor was just as wicked and weird and he didn't have quite the sense of propriety that mom did.  Like the time when we lived in Morning Sun - a little town in southeast Iowa.  He had taken a trip to Hawaii and came to the parsonage to visit us.  He had slides and wanted to show the family his trip.  The only open white space in the house was the large shade that pulled down over the picture window in the living room, so Dad obediently pulled it down and Mac set up the slideshow.  Beautiful pictures of scenery, interesting photos of people.  On and on he went through the slides until he hit a series of naked women.  He just kept clicking away until all of a sudden Dad's face went ashen.  Mac's eyes took on a hideous glint.  Dad rushed outside, realized that you could see the entire slideshow from the street, which happened to be the main street through town and that the pastor was showing pictures of naked Hawaiian women to the entire community.  He pulled the plug and Mac just laughed and laughed.

Mac called anyone that annoyed him a 'bloody bastard.'  I don't think I realized how much time he had spent around our family.  But as the story goes, as a very little girl, I picked up on his phrasing.  Only I called people bloody beasters.  And it stuck.

Well, one day, Mom was throwing pots on her potters wheel and one flopped.  She turned it over on its side, added eyes, feet (with toes no less), ears and a strange little pigs tail on the back and called it a 'beaster.'  Just because.  It really makes a great candy dish.  You'll notice that the big toe on the back foot is sticking up a little bit.  That's because Mom could always tell when I was excited or stressed.  My big toe went right up.  I've managed to tame that - I have too many 'tells' at it is!!!

The next piece that she made - and she made several of these - was the Diggly.  I don't know if I ever knew a story about how this came about, it was just something that she got into her head.  Dog, Pig, Lion = Diggly.

This lives with Carol now.  The worst thing is, we all know that a bunch of Mom's creations were given to friends and family over the years.  They've probably been passed down to people that have no idea what they are or where they came from and have traversed many a garage sale. 

However, one of my cousins was thinking about me.  She walked into the print shop one day with a strange little creation.  Mom had given it to her years and years before and she wanted to make sure that it got back to our family.  It was another flopped pot, but Mom cut some holes in it, gave it feet and a tale and some eyes.  It's a fabulous candle holder and looks like a dragon.

These are the stranger things that we've got around.  I'll post some of Mom's more normal pieces another day.  Yes, it makes me happy to know that I've come from such a creative person.  Even if she was a little odd.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Goodbye, old friend

Yesterday I said goodbye to a long time friend of the family.  For that matter, it had been a long time friend to many kids and adults over the years.  I'm talking about the old, red van. 

Dad bought a 1978 Chevy van to replace another van that was no longer trustworthy to transport precious cargo around the country.  This was no happy, family mini van - it was a cargo van that was heavy duty.  Dad was proud of that.  That van took his family everywhere - on vacations, short jaunts to the cabin, trips to see family; moved his kids in and out of college and into first apartments ... and back out of them, we used it every time we moved to haul stuff across Iowa so that the additional weight wouldn't tip the scales of the moving van (Dad was a cheapskate! He didn't want the company to charge him more for his huge library of books and other really heavy items).  It took youth groups on trips for workcamps in Kentucky and Tennessee, into North Dakota and wild, excursion trips to the Boundary waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and white water canoeing and kayaking in Wisconsin and Missouri.  He hauled kids to retreats (this is one picture I have of the youth group getting ready to leave Camp Golden Valley after a weekend retreat):

It was the second car for the family, so if we weren't driving a Volkswagen or Subaru, we were driving the van. 

Then one day, it was no longer needed to haul large groups of people.  The three of us kids had moved on in our lives and owned separate cars.  Dad brought it up to the cabin to live out the rest of its life, using it to transport supplies as he built the porch on the cabin, brought in appliances and became the van that Jim's kids enjoyed driving around the meadow.  They used it to haul the trailer filled with dead branches to a burn pile.  Every year it seemed as if someone needed to do some work on it just to make it run a little longer.

Last year, it got parked in the meadow and nature had her way with it (that's it down in the meadow, covered with snow - on the left hand side of the photo).  From the harsh winter to no fewer than five floods, the van was finally ready to see the end of its life.

So, I asked my friend up here if he knew someone and he certainly did.  Yesterday, his friend showed up with a trailer and his two little grandsons.  It took a lot of activity (because of the adorable grandsons - read:  active, little boys) and it was pulled onto the trailer.  He took off and had no idea of the number of memories that van carried with it.

It was strange to see it being hauled away and to realize that after 30+ years, another piece of my life was now a memory.  There is no grass where it has been parked, but I know that soon nature will reclaim that space and we'll forget exactly where it was parked.  We may forget the van, but the memories that surround trips taken in it will always be there.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Do you love the water?

Are you one of those landlocked Americans that desperately loves the ocean?  My poor mother was.  She grew up in Boston and when she moved to Iowa at the age of 20, that was really difficult for her.  When she and Dad purchased the cabin, one of the features that was definitely an extraordinary gift for her was the fact that it was right on a beautiful river.  She could walk down, put her feet in the water and feel the freedom that the flowing river offered.  We three kids spent a lot of time in the river.  A lot of time!!!  And as you've seen in past posts, the river has spent time in our meadow.  We have quite the intimate relationship with it.

As I lay in bed last night, I was chuckling.  Hanging over the bed is this painting.  Yes ... it's black velvet.  No, I have no idea why we have it, except that Dad liked the image and the only place mom would let him hang it was here at the cabin where only very good and trusted friends might see it.  If they laughed, it was when he wasn't looking.  I don't know that he ever understood the hilarity behind it.

Now, hanging at the head of the same bed is that small painting of a mountain lake.  We're really not certain whether Mom painted it or not.  It kind of looks like her work and I can't imagine we have a painting on a canvas without a frame if she didn't paint it.

Then, hanging over the area where I work is this amazing painting.  It is six foot long by more than 3 feet high.  Mom had stories to tell about this painting.  You'll notice a backpack in the lower left up against the tree.  She painted this from a photo that was taken on a youth group trip to the Boundary Waters canoe area.  Now, see that little island out there in the middle?  Mom had an interesting relationship with the kids in our youth groups - the boys especially.  It's a good thing Dad was around most of the time - he managed to save her from most of their hideous tormenting.

When they got to this area, she had to go to the bathroom and there was no place readily available for privacy.  She begged one of the young men to take her out.  As soon as she got out of the canoe, he left and came back to the mainland.  Of course she didn't realize it right away ... but, when she did ... all Dad heard was his name bellowed quite loudly.  He laughed all the way out to get her, but he did go.  

This painting was a labor of love for her and it always had a prominent place in our homes.  When Dad died, it was the only thing we really cared about retrieving and since there are three of us kids, it seemed as if the cabin was the perfect place for it to hang.

As I look back, Mom always found ways for us to be in the water, around water or on the water.  We lived at the swimming pool, before we moved to a town that had a public pool, we always had an immense pool in the backyard.  We learned to swim in a lake nearby and whenever we were visiting out east, we spent time at the ocean.

I guess I never realized how much of an attraction the water had for Mom, but when I started looking at these paintings, I put it all together - and tonight, I shared!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Nothing much

Today I needed to read a portion of two books.  I was to read three chapters in the first book and about 18 pages in the second.  Yup, managed to flip that around.  And by the time I was well into the wrong book, I realized what I had done.  I tried to get my head wrapped around the concepts in book two so that I could go for the entire three chapters and had to just give up.  This is way too much information to process quickly.  Absolutely nothing like a good mystery novel!

The last few days have been spent intensely memorizing Greek so that I can pass online quizzes with some sense of achievement.  Wow.  The thing is, I can get this stuff memorized, but unless I practically live with it every day, it fades pretty quickly.  But, I love it, love it, love it ... so I'm pretty motivated!

Combines, gleaners, tractors and other assorted farm machinery has been rumbling up and down the road today.  The farmers are working like crazy to get harvest finished.  It's such a glorious thing to watch happen.  I love the precision with which they maintain their land.  Just incredible. 

When I was growing up, I always told mom that there were two types of men I did NOT want to marry:  preachers and farmers.  I knew what living with a preacher was like and I didn't want anything to do with it.  Most of my friends grew up on farms and I knew how hard they worked.  I wanted nothing to do with that either! 

But, I have to admit that spending time traveling back and forth through Iowa farm land, watching the crops go in during the spring and come out in the fall, I have a great appreciation for the beauty of that job.  Oh, it's still darned hard work, but at the same time, these guys LOVE their great big machines.  Good heavens, the numbers of these immense pieces of machinery that I see traveling back and forth on the interstate tells me how many are being sold.  Pretty cool.

Yup, I love watching farming happen in Iowa.  It's still probably a good thing I didn't marry one ... I would have hated for him to be angry at me when I made him do all the work. (hehe)

Words have run out of my brain and aren't replenishing as quickly as I'd like ... so tonight I'm just going to stop and either read a mystery or watch some television.  Yup, that works for me!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

It's early, I'm ready for bed!

Let's see - 8 pm and I'm pooped!  I need to go to sleep.  This has been a bit of a crazy day and I don't know that I can fully identify every reason for it.  But, it started at 4 am when I woke up after having a bloody, horrifying dream.  I can't remember it at all, but I do remember waking up being a bit shaken.  Oh, trust me, it was some mystery or something that I was trying to solve ... but, it shook me up enough to fully wake me for a couple of hours.

Now, this early morning comes after a great (long) evening spent at Carol's house.  Nothing like having your sister recognize that you have nothing to do on a Saturday evening and invite you over.  ... to grade papers.  Lots and lots of papers.  I'm such a sucker.  I keep telling her that I'm the good sister.

This morning, since I now have the freedom to attend worship wherever I like, I decided to head back to Faith-Westwood and check out their new pastor.  I've been hearing good things and I wanted to see for myself.  So, I checked the website for worship times (because, crazy at it might sound, I had forgotten in the last two years).  And I know I'm not stupid, but for some reason I got it into my head (after checking the website) that worship was at 9:30.  It seemed weird, but hey, I'll do whatever ...

At 8:45, I thought that it seemed a bit off and checked the site one more time.  Ummm ... no ... 9:00!!!!  Hello, get moving ace.  I hauled myself out of here and hurried down the highway.  I was gonna be so late.  Found a parking place, dashed into the worship center and found some great old friends and slipped into the seat.  Eva looked at me and said, "Vikki's sitting there."  I looked around and didn't see Vikki anywhere.  The confusion must have shown on my face, her sister saw it and moved everyone down to leave room for the missing Vikki.  I settled in for the service, a little distracted as I was trying to see the entire room and find out who was there.  I haven't seen some of these people for a long time!

Then Vikki showed up and my sitting in her place confused her as well.  She walked past me twice, looking for her seat.  After the sermon and the introduction to communion, Vikki started looking around strangely.  When I asked if I could help, she said "I'm dizzy and don't feel well."  Then she asked me to get the man in front of us to help her get to the foyer.  I did, he did and I settled back.  Then an usher showed up asking if I was Paula.  Nope, I'm not Paula ... I'm pretty sure that I'm Diane. 

Vikki was quite ill and the rescue squad had been called.  I moved into the foyer with her keys, the elusive Paula was found and chaos hit the foyer with everyone moving in to help.  I was able to greet a few friends, but before I realized what was happening, my brain had decided that the chaos and noise was too much and had escorted my body back to my car and I drove off without seeing everyone that I had planned to see.  I'm guessing that there has been too much peace and quiet in my world.

(Vikki is ok - a bad case of food poisoning with embarrassing eruptions!)

Mindlessly I drove home, called my sister to tell her of my craziness for the morning.  I had an 11:30 am lunch engagement which I had planned thinking that church would get out at 10:30 and I'd have a few minutes to chat before heading further west.  But, I got home with time to deal with the dog, get my bearings again and drive back for lunch.

After that, Max was home from his excursion to southwest Iowa (pictures here).  I've spent a bit of time working through parsing Greek nouns in the 2nd Declension for a quiz I will take tomorrow and all of a sudden my poor brain has decided that it worked hard enough today and is begging to be shut down.

I'm a little concerned, though.  If my brain believes that being shut down for the night gives it permission to conjure up horrifying dreams, I'm going to need to have a chat with it.  I refuse to stop reading my mystery novels, science fiction, horror, fantasy, etc.,  Think that might have something to do with it?  Oh ... probably.  Some of these authors really enjoy describing the gory crime scenes.  Oh well ... just as I'm never bored during the day, I guess I'm never bored while I sleep!

I really think that I prefer the peace and quiet to chaos and insanity.  Don't you?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Lower stress levels make life more fun

Alright, here's the deal ... the last few weeks have been up and down and all over the place for me.  My stress level has hit high points and never really allowed me to relax.  I quit sleeping as well as I usually do when I'm at the cabin and I just plain didn't like it!  I haven't had trouble sleeping since those long days at Insty-Prints when I worried about everything!  Those long nights were spent with the television on in an attempt to drug myself with pure pablum so I would just drift off.  I kinda liked getting back to a normal sleep cycle.

You've probably read about my frustration level with the lack of professionalism from a couple of my professors.  I can't bear it when I don't have a way to judge the worth of my work.  And I can't bear it when there are expectations laid out for me and the authority that has put them out there won't stand up and follow them.  It's not easy being an old lady and knowing that I shouldn't actually put up with that crap. 

So, that was stressing me out.

Then, poor Max had a doctor that was just being an idiot.  He's had some health issues - slammed into the hospital a couple of weeks ago and when the doctor was continuing to tell him that he wasn't getting any better (though he obviously was) and still needed to have a surgical consult (which had happened in the hospital and the surgeon had said 'no way - this doesn't need to happen) AGAIN, my stress level began going through the roof.

After his last appt. with his doctor on Wednesday, Max knew it was important that I talk to the man.  I did and was disgusted when he began flip-flopping on information that he had been giving Max over the last two weeks.  I caught him in two lies and when I began questioning his method of therapy, I could hear the frustration in his voice.  I am not a stupid woman  and I've lived long enough to know how a lot of things work.

But, just to be sure, I called one of my best friends from high school who is a pharmacist ... and another brilliant woman.  I knew that if I could just get some good information, I could proceed, even if it meant putting this stupid doctor on the block and knocking his head around a little bit.  She gave me great information which was enough for me to formulate several plans of attack. 

Max got scheduled for a surgical consult, but walked in there with a slew of information.  Fifteen minutes later he walked out after having been told by the surgeon that he was fine, there was no need for surgery and that everything was going to be ok.  He didn't need the information, he didn't need several plans of attack.  A bright man recognized the stupidity of the original doctor and assured Max that things were ok and that yes, there was no need to worry.

We'll never use that guy again ... ever!!!  And to make it even more entertaining, one of the other doctors in the original office will be seeing Max from now on. 

Max feels better that the specter of surgery has been lifted.  My stress over that stupid situation is gone and I can finally concentrate on being happy and positive again!  Stupid, stupid doctor.

It didn't help that I read THIS article on the other day.  Don't be a 'good' patient.  Ask questions. Demand answers that make sense and don't let anyone get away with anything if you think its a bad idea.

I'll be glad to manage all the stress that I have to manage, I'm just glad that sometimes it is short-term and not long-term.  The whole getting 100% on everything I do for school is making me a little stressed, but I'll get past that - just need to be able to accept that 95% is good.  (thank you very much, Dad!)

You know, it's really a good thing that my friends recognize my insanity and love me in spite of it all.  I really am a bit crazy, I guess.

And I'm thankful that God doesn't just upend me in front of a moving train (though I keep reading articles about people dying on train tracks - what in the world is up with that?).  He's patient with my craziness as well. 

So, I'm feeling grateful and fortunate this evening.  I have most of my coursework done for the week.  Ok ... well, I'm going to be parsing nouns and verbs all weekend for Greek. (muahahaha - I'll explain that all to you one of these days.)  Out of all of my classes, I love Greek the most even though it is the one class that just makes my head hurt. 

Ok ... enough rambling for the night.  Time to make some supper and relax with a good book!