Saturday, March 22, 2008

New Church Calling

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to be the Home, Family and Personal Enrichment Leader for my Ward's Relief Society. I think this is going to be a lot of fun!

Basically I am charged with arranging activities for the Relief Society sisters that in some way enrich or improve their lives, homes, family or spiritual development. I have a committee to work with me and they are wonderful and intelligent and so willing to work to make these activities successful. We must hold 4 activities during the year and then there are small, or special interest, groups to fill in the gaps. This Ward has always had more successful big activities and the small groups are kind of struggling along. And if I'm honest, I will have to admit I haven't quite caught the vision on them.

The first activity is one we partially inherited... The speaker was already arranged by a past leader. On April 22, we have Joy Bossi of the radio and tv program Joy in the Garden coming to give us gardening advice. Not just as the leader getting a successful activity right out of the gate, but I'm personally excited for this presentation! Remember that big empty garden spot?

Then there are no general activities until September. Traditionally that has been a Back-to-School night, but I'm hoping this year we can agree on something a little different. I'd like to do a service auction...

And finally there will be a spiritual evening in November to set the tone as we prepare for the holidays. The Relief Society President arranges the speaker normally, so we will just have to plan the evening and any food.

Between now and September, though, the small groups need to fill the gap. We've bounced some ideas around that include a Mom & Tot Exercise Group, a Family History Group, and an evening to learn to make bread and strawberry jam. I know how, but I still think that would be fun... and yummy!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

7 Qualities of a Good Wife

This afternoon I was bored and aimlessly poking around the web reading whatever came up that looked interesting. E Lawrence Welch's Blog caught my eye and got me thinking. Lately I've been lamenting my utter lack of what I tongue-in-cheek call man-chasing skills even though I've found a man I'd surely like to chase.

Maybe my problem isn't skill, maybe it's my outlook on me that's flawed. Maybe I need to rethink some things and work a little harder on being a better me before I try to become part of an 'us.' At this point it would be easy to digress into a nitpicking fault-finding hullaballoo of a pity party. Goodness knows I've got some bad habits and who knows how to beat me up about them better than me? Afterall, I've had 40+ years to bury skeletons and dig them up again to rattle their bones. But would that really be constructive? Well... it hasn't worked so far so maybe I should try something new.

I was particularly intrigued by Mr. Welch's post titled 7 Qualities of a Good Wife. Dig around his blog and find this one. It's worth the read, as is his 7 Qualities of a Good Husband. I tried to imagine how my personality and habits fit into each of these 7 qualities. Maybe I do have a shot at catching Mr. Wonderful afterall!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rainy Thursday Night

It's been raining off and on most of the day... kind of gray and melancholy and a bit cooler than we were enjoying for the last several days but so clear and clean when the sun would break through that it would nearly take my breath away. I guess some people would call this Seattle weather. I rather like it.

On a lot of the trees you can see the first hints of swelling buds. A few in sunny sheltered spots are even starting to turn green. I love that promise of spring! It's so hopeful and energizing and full of hope. It makes it hard to be cooped up in an office all day. I think I'll start walking at lunch time. There are two nice parks within a block plus the plaza at the Church Office Building and Temple Square and the roof-top garden at the Conference Center to wander and explore and study the gardens. At worst I'll get some really over ambitious plans for my garden and being out in the fresh air moving around will be really good for me.

I've been watching the green stuff starting to poke up in the flower beds with curiosity... and I have some of the big hyacinth starting to bloom. There are a couple of dark purple ones on the side of the house and some pink ones out front. Those are kind of a surprise! There are lots of other leaves that look like they might be tulips and the whole flowerbed on the west of the driveway is jam-packed with what I *think* are grape hyacinth. That might be kind of pretty when they bloom. It looks like whatever is there has been allowed to take over and naturalize for many many years. This spring will be interesting as I see what comes up and start making decisions about what to add to it.

One thing that I had at my old house that I miss here is violets. One flowerbed by the door was full of them and in early spring (now) they smell so good! It's a very delicate and faint scent, but completely and intoxicatingly beautiful. Maybe I'll have to transplant some...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Progress Notes

A collection of updates to former posts...

REMODELING: I could just about ask, what remodeling? In the last 6 weeks the following has been accomplished... my kitchen sink is now affixed permanently to the countertop and the trim is down between the hearth and floor in front of the fireplace. Oh, and the stairnose molding is glued down again on the steps leading from the kitchen to the back door. It was some of that super-duper high tech polymer stuff that would NEVER come loose... uh huh, sure. Took about a week to wiggle and about three more to come all the way off. I know I sound like a broken record, but I am so sick of living in a construction zone. My humor with "camping" here is long gone!

GARDEN PLANNING: Still working on solving the water issue. Maybe if I get a tax refund... Guess I should get busy and get that chore done, too! But just in case I get water there, I have a basic drawing of what goes where and it passes Master Gardner Jim's scrutiny.

WORK: That's been a challenge the past week or so. I hope it's just the ebb and flow of things and not a signal that I made a bad choice in accepting the job. Sarah and I have argued about a bunch of unwritten "policies" several times the past week. And I'm just as much a bull dog as she is so the harder she insists that it's one way, the more I resist and say "prove it."

HEALTH: New job = new insurance = new doctor. Ran out of thyroid drugs so I found a doctor with an office in a somewhat convenient location and went willing to do the obligatory blood draw to get a new scrip. That's ALL I wanted from him. But oh no, there's the poking and prodding and sticking things in bodily orifices and my personal favorite, the interrogation. Then he says, "You're blood pressure is unually high today. Here's a scrip for.... blah, blah, blah. Come back next week so we can find out if something is wrong with your kidneys that causing the BP to spike." No!!! I don't have the time or patience to be sick right now and experiment with a bunch of new drugs/dosages and endure (and pay for!) endless tests. This is why I HATE doctors! I guess I'll keep the Thursday appointment and let them run that first batch of bloodwork, but if there's not something compelling there I'm putting the kaibosh on taking it any farther. I have a history with periodic inflammations that produce some rather dramatic symptoms which go away before they can even get all the tests done. And I really think this is just another one of those episodes. My BP is down, my heart rate is down... on their own. I feel good enough that I puttered and shopped and was on my feet going all day today.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Cop Cars At MY House

Coming home from work tonight - a little late I might add - when I turned the corner off of 1100 West onto Simondi, I could see two cop cars parked in front of my house. Now that's a sight that kind of makes your heart seize up and beat a little faster! So I hurried along, thinking to myself "Oh no...."

Closer to home, Gary stops me and asks what's going on. Great... the neighbors have all seen the cops, too, and think I've been leading some secret criminal life in that always dark back bedroom and am about to get busted and hauled off to jail. Wonder how many of them were sneakily peeking from behind pulled drapes?

Well... the story just goes downhill from here. Totally anticlimatic. Don't know what the cops were out here for - they never came to my door. They were talking with one of the neighbors five or six houses up the block. Not long after I walked in, one of them left. 10-15 minutes later the other walked back to his car with some papers in hand and after sitting in the car for a few more minutes, he left too. Guess this will have to remain one of life's great mysteries!

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Last summer, I had the opportunity to spend some time reflecting on what makes great neighborhoods as I prepared to host my first barbeque at my new house in commemoration of Night Out Against Crime. The party was fun and it was great to get to know everyone a little better. Starting to think about the coming summer season, I've had neighbors on my mind again. Here are some of my thoughts...

Great neighbors make for great neighborhoods! And I think I've got some of the greatest neighbors in the world!

So, what makes a great neighbor? It takes more than a random collection of people sharing a common geography to truly be called neighbors. Neighbors know each others' names. They wave and smile and stop to chat. They look out for each other. They share garden produce, child-rearing advice, a great new recipe, a job lead, chicken soup when the whole family is sick... and thousands of other things big and little that make life better. They share good times and bad. Simply put, they are friends. That's the kind of neighbor I'm striving to be.

I also gave a lot of thought to some of the examples I've had to follow. A little more than year ago, I watched a friend work through a bad time when one of the neighbors in her cul-de-sac died from unanticipated complications during childbirth. The grieving husband, now with 6 small children to care for alone, was enveloped in love by his neighbors. And it wasn't just the expected gestures of condolence cards, babysitting and food for the funeral luncheon... The entire neighborhood also pulled together to deep clean the home before out of town family arrived, finished and partly furnished the plumbing/electrical/drywall to make bedrooms and a bathroom in the basement, stocked the pantry, and brought them cases of diapers, baby wipes, formula, etc. He had only to concentrate on getting his family through this tragedy – their physical needs were met, most often before he could even think of them to ask for help. These neighbors have a sincere love and consciously look for ways to show it by serving each other.

The folks in this neighborhood really like each other, too. They chose to do fun things together throughout the year. I find inspiration to create our own neighborhood traditions in their annual Easter Breakfast and Egg Hunt, summer Crawdad Party, Halloween parade, and some really fun Christmas customs. Outside of these events, they also share dinner together often as an impromptu pot luck on Sunday afternoon.
Because they love each other AND like each other (and there is a difference), they’ve banded into a tight-knit neighborhood that none of them want to ever move away from. This is the kind of neighborhood I want to live in. And I think I do!

I have neighbors I love and serve and who love and serve me. Alan (+ kids) and Ken make sure my walks are shoveled in the winter. Ron gets home from work before I do on Friday and always takes my garbage can back up by the garage where it waits while I fill it again. (I can't tell you how thankful I've been coming home on a Friday night when it's cold and dark and I've had a hard week to find that last disagreeable task is taken care of for me!) Mandy and Jason came running over very late one night to save me from who knows what... only to have a very comical encounter with my handyman where he told them he loved them even if they aren't Mormon. I have a play castle (with swings, a slide and climbing bars) that's filled with neighborhood kids all summer long and I hand out otter-pops like I own stock in the company! I take cookies to neighbors I notice aren't feeling well and stay to visit for a few minutes. We loan that proverbial cup of sugar (or teaspoon of soda) to each other and then return it with a sample of whatever needed that one last ingredient.

The traditions and examples of how we love and serve each other are different than what happens in other neighborhoods, but then this isn't other neighborhoods. The magic of being neighborly comes in the noticing and celebrating what's good in those around us. "Good" makes people easy to love and it makes it easy for them to feel loved. And when you love and feel loved in return, you know you're in a really great place!