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Archive for July, 2011

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Wow! What a day!

Yesterday I walked to the school I worked at, to do a few finishing touches on my summer job. It took almost an hour to walk there. I arrived there around 9:30am, and came home about 10:30pm … there were more finishing touches than I had realized. It was a fabulously productive day, and heck … I’m getting paid by the hour, so how bad can it be?

My sweet boss lady and I laughed, and cried and figured out all of the world’s problems … plus we got a butt load of work completed.

Then, today I had to work at home … a very different work.

We (by we I mean a great guy who we hired) are building a beautiful brick patio. And we ran out of bricks (I thought we were sure to have enough … so much for my advanced math skills). Fortunately our ‘great guy’ is away on vacation this week, so we had some time to collect more.

So, onto the websites to buy and sell goods, and, sure enough we found a man with almost seven hundred red, zigzag bricks, that were just the right price (cheap).

Hubby booked a rental truck that could hold so many more than our van, and at 9am this morning we left the house to pick them up.

Hubby, our 11 year old son, and myself piled into the truck, with our directions to the sellers home. The traffic was insane as we drove out of the ‘burbs’ and into the ‘urbs’.

We arrived at our destination, and met the delightful seller. He was a man who had immigrated to Canada in his early twenties. He spoke with an accent that told that he had left his motherland when he was too old to lose it. He was kind (he helped us load the bricks in the truck), and offered a deal (with hubby asking for one). And, once we were ready to leave, his delightful wife came out with a tray of glasses and a pitcher of water for our refreshment.

We did need to make two trips, as hubby was concerned about the possible effect of the added weight on the truck.

When we were heading home, for the second time, I was certain that it was midnight, and not mid afternoon. My eyelids were so heavy that I lost the battle a few times, and lost consciousness for untold amounts of time.

So, we came home, and hubby had a hot bath drawn for me … NOT! There was a truckload of red zigzag bricks to unload, so that the rental truck could be returned. I was so not into the unloading this time … the rarely used muscles that I had been pounding all morning were cry out for mercy, and I am sure that I was hearing them threaten strike!

I had also had enough with ‘the guys’ by this point in the day … if I had a dime for every time one of them passed gas … (and denied it) …

But the load did get unloaded. We even sat down to a warm, home cooked dinner … thanks to my handy dandy slow cooker, and whatever it was that motivated me to get something cooking early on in the day.

Then the guys were off to football, and I got to enjoy peace and quiet (once I was able to usher our eldest daughter off to an event). But, since I was already dirty, I figured I would head back outside to build my new gate.

And that is what I did. I had purchased the kit weeks before, and finally got at it. It was really simple. I just needed 2X4’s, cut to the size of gate I desired, and them attach them to the metal corners from the kit (and that was easy). My gate didn’t get finished, as I need to head to the hardware store to purchase slats for the gate … but oh how good it felt to build something.

I know that the saying “all work and no play make … someone … a dull guy/girl” has truth to it, as balance is such a very important factor in our healthy lives. But the last two days of work (one at a desk … I am sure that by hour number five my butt had actually become flat … and the other loading and unloading bricks … every fiber of my being aches) have breathed a terrific breath of satisfaction into my weary body.

Maybe we are made for work … and for variety?

😉

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Finally, after ten months of school, and then spending June and July working at a second job, I am able to really enjoy my garden!

Yesterday I spent the day in the garden. I was pruning, and mowing, and trimming, and watering, and weeding, and feeding. It was glorious! I got filthy dirty (I do not even seem to be able to water my flowers without getting dirty), and used muscles that ached the next day (heck, they ached as they were being used), and not one minute of it seemed like work.

Truly my day was all about recreation.

As I was out in the fresh air, and sunshine (oh, and how we have waited for sunshine in this area … unlike most of North America which has been hot and dry), I enjoyed only the noises of the birds, the squirrels and my neighbors little grandchildren. I attained great satisfaction, for jobs finally caught up on, and great head space at just being quiet for the better part of a day.

It is so thrilling to see the evidence of my blood, sweat and tears in the garden. I love to watch the contents of bulbs and tuber emerge from the soil. I love to watch a rose bud open slowly, day by day, and then produce it’s visual beauty and delightful scent, that can reduce stress in one whiff. I love to see each year the new growth of the boxwoods I had planted, simply by slicing off a branch of a larger one, and sticking it into the earth. I love to watch the lilies grow taller and taller each day, trying to guess which color they are, until finally they open up to reveal the beauty within. And oh, how I love to see the springtime buds on the grapevine, emerge into tendrils that reach far from where they began, to be followed by the minute clusters of ‘baby grapes’ that, like a newborn baby, grow bigger every day of summer, until they are finally mature, and ready to be tasted.

I love my garden!

But, I don’t love everything about my garden. There are irritants and pests there too. Like dandelions! I have been on a mission for two summers now, to rid my back garden of the weed. When I have the time, and have my trusty week puller thingy in hand, I am like a can of raid on ants! And, my persistence is working (if you ever drive by, you will know that I have not transferred this persistence to my front garden).

Then there is the slug … evil personified! Not only do they love to eat the lovely green leaves on my flowers, but if I come in contact with their slime, it is like some kind of gel crazy glue. It won’t come off easily, and sticks to everything in it’s path … even my ever-curious beast won’t go near them. Of course they do provide great entertainment when i get out my salt shaker!

And then there are aphids … who are on a constant mission to ruin my deeply loved rose plants. Every spring I will be marveling at how beautiful the fresh new leaves on my roses look, and then, there they are. Those tiny little green buggers … nibbling away at my fresh leaves like a teenage boy at an all you can eat buffet. Truly they give me reason after reason to love ladybugs … who think aphids are just the most marvelous treat … hum, note to self : go purchase ladybugs today.

My garden is where I am Mother Nature, and my goal is to protect everything I love within my garden … it is truly a place where I am a mother hen figure. But, I am sadly not able to protect my green ‘babies’ all of the time.

It is really my place in this world of understanding the beauty of our creation, of understanding the complexities of surviving and thriving, of understanding how evil and destruction can come our way due to no action of our own, and understanding how very much we the created are loved by the Creator.

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Halfway …

As of last week, I am halfway!

Halfway to what, you ask?

It could be halfway to school starting … oh no, not the dreaded ‘s‘ word!

It could be halfway, as in middle aged … no way baby, this chick is going for 100!

It could be halfway to paying off our mortgage … in the immortal words of Cinderella, “a dream is a wish your heart makes …”

It could be halfway to vacation destination (Cannon Beach? New Brunswick?) … nope … sadly still slogging away!

It is none of these.

Last week I reached the halfway mark of my weight loss goal … thirty pounds down, and thirty more to go. Hurray, all that hard work, saying ‘no’ when I really wanted to say ‘yes’ to my favorite treats. All those miles of walking. All those celery sticks and salad. All those times I had nothing, when what I desired most was cheesecake.

Hey, it’s time for cheesecake, to celebrate! Actually, even though it is only 8am, as I am writing this, I could really go for a slice of cheesecake right now … the variety really doesn’t matter. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water (and my pants feel tighter … sigh, I have reached the point of weight loss that my own brain becomes my enemy … aka, my accountability conscience).

This weight loss stuff is quite the journey … really more like a slow motion video than a journey. Back in January I began this process (no, this was not a New Years Resolution, it was more of a response to the fact that my hubby was dropping pounds like my beast drops poo! So I figured I better keep up with his fine example … it might have also been in response to that ‘sweety’ at church who said, “so have you been finding all that weight your husband has been losing?” … deep breaths … deep breaths … deep breaths! But, I digress).

Somehow, unlike other weight loss phases of my life (oh yes, I’ve been this size before … heck I have been anywhere from a size eight to a size twenty-four over the past twenty years), this time I have not gotten all depressed when I go through those ‘plateau’ phases. And I don’t even feel tempted to stop eating well … I guess it is because, this time I have finally got it through my thick skull that it took all these years to pack on the pounds and ounces, and it will probably take years to take them all off again … and then it will take the rest of my life (decades) to keep it off.

And really that is the biggest battle in this exercise (pun intended) of weight loss, but really in battling any bad habit. The need to realize that, although we live in a ‘microwave’ society, where we can access what we want, and when we want it (from hamburgers to movies to education to money from a cash machine) there are some things that take time to access, to achieve.

In this time that we are living, cash is quick and easy to access … and debt, along with that!

Sex is quick and easy to access … and loving, meaningful relationships are not.

Food is quick and easy to access … and our belts constantly need readjusting.

The things that are truly good for us, are not quickly accessed, and the habits that are bad for us, take immense strategy, commitment and determination to overcome.

And so I will continue plodding along on this quest to, not just a smaller pant size, but to a healthier me. I also know that although it only took six and a half months to loose the first thirty, it will probably take another year (or more) to take off the next thirty. And that’s okay, because I have learned that things that are good, are worth taking the time to achieve.

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“… a Writer …”

“I didn’t know you were a writer.”

Those six words were the sweetest I had heard all day …

For those of you out there in blog-readerville, I realize that compared with the the writings of C.S. Lewis, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Charles Dickens, I am a pre-beginner in the school of writing. I also realize (and my high school English teacher would agree) that I have the grammar skills of a pygmy! But who gives a rip … someone called me a … writer … (I think I hear violins!).

I don’t think that there is a new title I more desire, at this stage of my life, than that of writer. I am already a child of God. I get to be called ‘mom’. Hubby calls me many things (ditto ‘sweetie’ 😉 ), and with that came daughter-in-law, sister-in-law and aunt. I was born a daughter, soon after was followed by sister. I was always my grandmother’s favorite (only) granddaughter, and with that came niece and cousin. I am also Special Ed. Assistant, employee, friend and slave to the beasty.

But, to be called ‘writer’ … oh, how that does my heart good (I said that with a African American, Southern drawl in case you couldn’t hear it 😉 ).

I have this secret (okay, not so secret … my hubby and kids would tell you that I just do not shut up about this) goal of being ‘discovered’ by Oprah … now, don’t you all … y’all go and snicker when you read this! This is my dream, people! And I figure if anyone knows anything about seeking out an impossible dream, with passion, it is Oprah Winfrey … besides, she’s also got a staff, and the connections to put me on the New York Times Best-Seller List. And that is my, now not so secret, goal. I have, if not the gift of writing, the gift of dreaming. Dreaming and writing … they go hand in hand.

When I awake each morning, I cannot wait to sit and write. When I go to bed at night, I close my eyes and force myself to not think about what I might write about in the morning, for fear it will keep me up ’til the wee hours of the morning planning and plotting my words. Since I started daily writing, four months ago, it has become my daily activity that symbolizes the wind beneath my wings. It gets me up in the morning, it gets me through my day (no matter how butt-ugly it might be), it helps me persevere, it helps me keep my sanity close to intact …

… i t  b r e a t h e s  l i f e  i n t o  m e.

Through daily writing I have felt the presence of my Creator more acutely than just reading the Bible and praying. It is as though He is writing with me (maybe not all the time … my cheeky, Devil’s advocate, pushing the limits type of personality are certainly not always very Godly), and, often I start writing with one direction in mind, and it is as though someone else moves my thoughts and words in a very different, very much better direction.

I feel like when I write, it is therapy, it is passion, it is my voice, and I feel as though it is a team effort. The team being all those who cross my path each day, from my loves to my students, to my friends, to strangers who pass my way, to the God who taps out on the keyboard through my eager fingertips.

And, if Oprah never does ‘discover’ me, if she never reads a word I write, if I never pick up my ringing phone to hear “Carole, this is Oprah Winfrey,” that is okay too. Because I write, not FOR Oprah, not for my friends and family, not even for me …

I write, because, once I got started nothing within me would allow me to stop. And, if that, more than my pygmy grammar and pre-beginner writing skills makes me a writer, than I am free to be called a writer 🙂

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Well here it is … Mammo Day … and it is definitely NOT a ‘holi-day’.

I leave home with a few minutes to spare, so that I will have lots of time to find parking (if you knew where I lived, and how … quaint the hospital, you might be laying on the floor laughing). When I get my sorry butt into the hospital, and then get lost, before finding out where I was supposed to be.

As I followed the signs to ‘the clinic’, I was certain that everyone who I passed knew … that they knew where I was going, and what would happen there, and that they were whispering to others as I walked passed saying “she’s going for THAT appointment (because SHE is over forty!).” It was a very humbling walk down the hallway!

I reached ‘the clinic’ and opened the huge, enormous, heavy, squeaky (and any other adjectives that make you feel a sense of foreboding). The room I walked in to was pink … no, not just pink, Pepto Bismol pink … I cannot say that the color made me feel more at ease, honestly it made me feel rather nauseous!

The lady at the desk was all business … “health care card … fill out the top sheet … keep the bottom sheet.” I obeyed all of her commands (I cannot for the life of me remember the questions on the form … hum … something about age of first menstruation, any relatives with breast cancer, and a question that made me feel young … something about menopause 🙂 NOT ME), and returned her clipboard … I think it might have been special to her! That still provided ample ‘worry time’ as I awaited my turn (hum, is this what a man waiting to be called in to have a vasectomy feels like?).

Then, the instruction that brought me back to thoughts of the guillotine … “now step through that door, remove your bra, and put your blouse back on.” Sigh, this was the moment of door #1 (the change room), or door #2 (the exit) … and I grudgingly walked through door #1 … more pink (blech).

The change room reminded me of a retail clothing store … four ‘closets’, each with a curtain for a door, and a low shelf in each brimming with magazines. I followed ‘pink lady’ #1’s instructions … and waited … and waited. And listened … there was a screening being done on another lady … I could hear some of the instructions … ‘lay your purse on the chair’, ‘come over here’ and then the instructions mimicked the teacher’s voice from Charlie Brown comics.

But, I figured that since I could hear voices (even if they were mumblings), I could also hear shrieks, screams and cries! So, I developed my escape plan … if I heard cries, I was out of there (even if it meant racing down the halls of the hospital without a bra on under my blouse … I am sure that has happened in a hospital before). So, I flipped through my copy of People magazine, with my ears on alert for distress … nothing. Then, mere moments later, out came the patient … that was IT?

As she descended to her change room, I said, “so, you survived?” And she said, “yes I did … it is not enjoyable, but it is not so horrible either.” But before I could pelt her with more questions, THE DOOR (to the torture chamber) opened.

And I heard my name, spoken softly, and gently … but it didn’t quite feel ‘safe’ coming from ‘pink lady’ #2’s lips.

I was laying my purse on the chair, before she even started instructing me (I was hoping that if she thought I was a ‘keener’ maybe she would excuse me from this test).

There it was … the Mammo device/machine (aka, the instrument of mass torture and potential destruction). Except that it didn’t look so awful. My eyes were scanning it all over for the ice cold, metal paddles … there were none.

And the Mammo technician, her name wasn’t even Ingrid or Helga! And she was soft spoken, and rather nice.

And, it lasted, maybe seven minutes … tops.

And, it really was not so bad. I felt no pain (and I am a pain wimp … I was the sort of pregnant woman who made statements like, “I am in love with the epidural doctor”). I mean none. Oh, it was a teeny bit uncomfortable, but that lasted seconds.

In no time, I was sent back to my closet to re-dress, and leave. And really, the appointment was so quick, so painless that I felt no reason to even stop and ‘reward’ myself with a coffee drink.

According to http://www.worldwidebreastcancer.com (check out the ’12 Signs of Breast Cancer’) the main cause of death in women with cancer. In 2010 about one and a half million people, worldwide, were told they had breast cancer.

And ladies, touch your tatas! Learn how to do a self exam (ask your doctor, check out the web). Women, this is important! If we do not take care of ‘the girls’ who else will?

Did you know that early detection of breast cancer can mean cure rates of about 90%?

It is worth it ladies … for your family, for your friends, for yourself and the fulfillment of your life’s purpose. So, don’t shy away from this appointment.

Now to wait for the results …

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