Snow Business

It started snowing in earnest yesterday afternoon. The project team was out to lunch. We watched it fall outside the window. It blew in, white like the sky. It didn’t stick. The temperature hovered around 34 degrees. We drove back to work, a little excited, like gradeschool kids hoping for a reprieve from school, watching and waiting.

I dug back into editing a Board briefing. I’ve been working with the newest interim director for our department. The old one lasted about 6 weeks. He wanted to retire for real.

“Hey, you need to look outside,” my co-worker said, poking her head in the door. “The flakes have changed.”

We know rain up in here. We know the difference between showers, drizzle,  downpours, sprinkles, mist and my personal favorite “mizzle”. Snow is a whole different animal. We get a little giddy. Snow is like the cute boy we crushed on in high school, but never dated. He was out of our league. So when he shows up on our doorstep, all white and dazzling, we swoon a little. It’s magical.

I stepped to the back door. Peering out the window, the flakes were monstrous. And piling up.  The state, also located in Olympia, closed its campus at noon to let workers get home before the roads got too dangerous. I wondered what to do. Our department director cancelled our monthly cross-divisional meeting and said we could go home if we liked. But we’d have to use our leave time to cover it. The County would remain open.

back door snowy at work.jpg

(“Doot, doot, doot, lookin’ out my back door…” Methinks the garbage cans only add to the back-door ambiance.)

“You should go home, Susan,” one of the project managers urged. “You have a long commute.” His face mirrored his concern.

I sort of love these people. I only live about 23 miles away from Olympia. It’s not that bad. Others drive all the way from Tacoma, near the storm’s epicenter. I didn’t really have enough leave time to justify going. I said as much.

“I will talk to our director. I will donate some of my time,” the project manager volunteered. He strode out the door.

I was touched. He wasn’t able to do it, as I didn’t qualify for shared leave, as a snowstorm isn’t considered an illness or injury. I loved the sentiment, however.

I peered outside again. At least an inch covered the parking lot. Olympia was getting slammed. The toughest part would be getting out of the residential areas and onto the highway. I figured 101 would still be okay due to steady traffic.

I decided to leave. I would take the vacation hour hit and get out of Dodge. Hiking out to the 2 inches of snow already down, I found this.

Pepper car snowy.jpg

The parking lot only held about 1/3 of the usual amount of cars. I brushed the snow off the windows and doors and climbed in. I gingerly made my way to the parking lot exit, sliding a little. I eased out onto the road. Up ahead, cars blocked the intersection. Bumper to bumper, they lined the entire street. I inched along, trying to be patient. It took 45 minutes to get to the first light, about 7/10 of a mile away. Cars moved aside for those entering or exiting the main drag. It heartened me, the grace and kindness showed by my fellow commuters. We all had the same hive goal: get home in one piece.

Once I reached the highway, it was smooth sailing. I breathed a prayer of thanks as I motored home. Just before Mason County, a bright spot in the sky appeared to my left. The sun was trying to burn through the cloud-cloth covering. As I continued to drive northwest, the snow turned to light rain. Just after entering Mason County, it turned into blowing snow again. Shelton had less snow than Olympia. Seems it had started up again when I hit town.

Today, it continues. We’re up to 2-3 inches, with more on the way until late this afternoon.

I threw balls to Dakota this morning in the darkness. City grit trucks powered up and down the road. The snow cast an eerie glow. Flakes danced and glittered under the streetlights as they floated to earth. Drifts sparkled under porchlights. We lost balls, then found them again. Snow caked on the tennis balls. Dakota couldn’t grip them well. She ate the snow, licking it off, then mouthed them again.

It’s been an emotional week, a rollercoaster. Right now, though, it’s very quiet. It’s time to switch gears. Time to spend time with family, doing things around the house. Ruby returns from a youth conference later today. Praying for the safety of all those people, and a continued infilling of the Holy Spirit. I know the Lord will use this time for the best. Even as plans get cancelled and our immediate options dwindle, He is still good. He still makes beautiful things. Let this enforced rest restore us for what comes next.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

 

 

The Moment

fall sunset.jpg

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It’s Friday. Well, okay, it’s actually Wednesday. But tomorrow is Thanksgiving and it’s the end of the work week after 5:00 p.m. today.

So much to say. Jonathon’s getting more opportunities to make money. He will start teaching, a master’s degree course, on December 3. He also proofread a an algebra textbook and made some bank there. He’s really taking off. God is so good.

I worked for Microsoft last week, taking notes at the fall PAC. It went well, if a little long. Ended up with 105 pages. I wrote a novel, folks. Not a good novel, but a novel. Over 40,000 words. Wow. Crazy.

We headed home a day early. Thursday morning, we packed up. I got settled in to work at the dining room table. Suddenly, I had company.

“Mom, can I sit here?” Ruby looked at me. She wanted to draw at the table.

“Sure,” I thought. But I wondered if I could keep concentrating with someone else sharing the space.

“Mom, I’m gonna make a beat,” Zac announced. He set up camp at the table, too. He opened his laptop and laid out his mini keyboard and speakers. He flipped on the fake fire and started sampling melodies. Aloud.

Alrighty then. How would THIS work? With all those pages to edit, I wondered if I’d be able to focus. I had already done the autocorrects for the partner comments and a little of the overall spell check.

I sighed inwardly. Then I got down to it.

“Mom, what do you think of this?” Zac played a melody in a minor key. It sounded like an old player piano.

“Creepy,” I offered. I continued fixing all the contractions that looked like don’t’. You can run a macro for that. Huzzah.

I hummed along. Rex sauntered in and lay down by the fire. I knew it wouldn’t take long. He loves to be warm. Dakota started barking. She could see me through the rotunda’s glass door. I let her in. She trotted into the dining room. Rex hissed at her but didn’t move. Dakota sighed and laid herself down on the other side of me. I should have taken roll call.

I peeked over at Ruby’s drawing. She was coloring in the dress on a little girl she had drawn. Pink. Nice.
“Looks good, Ruby,” I said.

She smiled.

A peace washed over me. The fire sparkled. The kids chatted back and forth, ribbing each other. Rex passed out. Dakota wandered in and out, sniffing each of us, looking for treats.

It felt magical. Could I someday have a telecommuting job? I soaked up every minute of it. (Yes, I finished the editing.) I know how rare these moments are. With Thanksgiving tomorrow, I just wanted to say how thankful I am for this life, for now. We can’t relive moments. We can only live in them.

 

Counting Stars

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Last night, as darkness fell, we drove away from the Isham home in Fall Creek.

“Can we go stargazing?” Ruby asked.

Immediately, all I could think of was staying up later (yawn!) and mosquitoes. I didn’t want to get bitten again. I figured I would bow out and let the night owls get after it. I know I don’t do well on little sleep, and I don’t sleep in well.

We put Ruby to bed for about 90 minutes. Then I got sucked into watching some TV with Zac and Jonathon. “The Office”, to be precise. Yes, we’re late to the party. But what a party! We looked up and it was 11:00. I rousted Ruby from her bed.

“Just a couple of minutes,” she said, groggy. She closed her eyes.

Uh oh.

“We’re leaving now,” I insisted.

She got up. We left Zac to mind the fort and headed out. Jonathon drove us out of Sun Prairie. We passed the highway interchange. We drove until the city lights disappeared. We found ourselves on a little road marked only with a numbered reflector. The waxing gibbous moon poured down on us.

“Might not see much, Ruby,” I said, trying to temper expectations. “The moon will outshine most stars.”

Jonathon pointed out Mars, visible from Ruby’s passenger window. Ruby and I stepped out of the car. A creek burbled on my right. Insects chirped and squeaked in the meadow. Everything else sat silent and still, save the insect chorus and creek chatter. Stars appeared, gleaming above us. We stopped and gazed. If fireflies blinked around us, we didn’t notice. I picked out the Big Dipper, the only constellation I remembered and recognized. We turned around and around, just looking. A fog rose off the fields, silvered in the moonlight. A peace filled us.

As we drove back to Sun Prairie, Ruby continued to keep an eye on the stars with her window rolled down. The aroma of fresh baked bread from a nearby factory rolled over us. The town lights got brighter, more regular. We found our way home.

I don’t want to lose wonder. Somehow, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we forget to look around. Moments pass. Children grow up. I’m grateful not to have missed the moment.

psalm 14 poster

Sewing Lesson

thread and needle(source)

“Wake up, Ruby.”

I gently pulled on Ruby’s foot encased in a Halloween sock. Then I pulled harder. She didn’t respond. A little more and she woke up.

“Good morning!”

Ruby peeked at me and stretched. She’s not a morning person. But I was in here for a purpose.

“I need a needle and thread to sew this button on.” I fished the metallic-toned button out of my pocket to show her.

“Do you know where a needle and thread might be?”

Ruby, still groggy, looked at me.

I repeated my request. I should also mention she’s struggling to hear of late, as fluid has collected in her ears. Dr. Daniella says so.

Ruby shook her head ever so slightly.

I sighed.

“Ruby, you have all the sewing stuff in your room. You have to have something.” I couldn’t keep the exasperation out of my voice. I’d asked her at least 2 times before to collect the materials for me. I hate to excavate her room. Even when she “cleans” it, it remains a messy abyss. It takes a village. Truly.

She didn’t like that. She threw the covers over her head, but not before I saw the scowl on her face. Waking up is hard to do.

I walked over to the light and turned it on. I searched on her capacious desk. What was that? A large spool of black thread. I shifted some papers around and low and behold, I found a packet of needles…with needles inside it. Then, I spied purple-handled safety scissors. Voila!

“Thanks, Ruby!” I said as loudly as I could before stepping out the door. I left the light on.

I want to tell you this is the first time I’ve sewn a button back on these pants. But it isn’t. This is the second time. Which says either: a) I got too fat and poor lil button couldn’t handle the strain, or b) I sew poorly.

Let’s go with b.

It took me awhile to get the needle threaded. The eye was tiny and I kept missing it. I considered asking Ruby to help me but reconsidered it as a fool’s errand. Finally, the hardest part was done.

I should also mention I’ve put this chore off for, oh, weeks now. Sewing intimidates me. Ruby loves it, however. She makes things out of leftover fabric with joy. She creates reasons to sew. It’s a way to express herself.

Dear reader, I don’t see my perception of sewing changing anytime soon. But I’m glad I can do the basic things when needed. Now if I could get her to *really* clean her room…

This Week Today

It’s Friday.

Thank God.

It’s been a little slow here of late. But there is some news. We have one project manager still out on medical leave, and a project support person who is out taking care of her very ill husband. That gal took my place on the Flex Unit. I might be stepping back in on a short-term basis while she’s away.

My coworker and I have been wearing the same colors every day this week. Because…why not? Matching can be fun. Gray and red on Monday. Turquoise on Tuesday. Only one person noticed: our director. He came in on Tuesday to talk to the remaining project manager, and looked at Lisa then back at me.

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Disclaimer: This is not us (above). 

“You’re both wearing turquoise…?” he looked a little befuddled.

We both started laughing, then told him our nefarious plan. As it’s now the end of the week, he wins the prize for most observant. Nobody else noticed. Lisa did say it made the mornings easier, not having to decide what to wear. Like a uniform, only better, and no itchy tags or polyester pants without pockets. Today is royal blue and white. Anyone else up for the challenge?

And spring happened. Like, for real.

Courthouse & magnolia.jpg

I’m sure by next week, when the temps soar into the 70s (!), the magnolia tree will be in full bloom.

Jonathon bought me these. They smell amazing and are so vibrant.

stargazer lilies

Ruby, visiting with Isaac’s chick named Blue Fuzz. No relation to Hot Fuzz. Ruby is the chicken whisperer.

the chicken whisperer.jpg

And last but not least, the newest darlings of the Susan running shoes panoply. I used these babies today on a short run. They have a little bit of bright green, a spritely addition, on the toes and under the mesh. Yes, they are Asics. Yes, these are the shoes the podiatrist pooh-poohed. The new inserts will take some getting used to. But I love them. My foot is better and I think as long as I continue to keep stretching my calves and wearing the plastic half orthotics in my regular shoes, I’ll be fine.

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What have you been up to this week?

 

 

 

Petapalooza

I guess today is National Pet Day. We have a couple.

Dakota in sun

That’s our dog, Dakota. We’ve had her – or she’s had us – since August. Last night she spent 20 minutes barking at non-existent people on the pedestrian path last night. I finally went out to investigate. Some runners had made it up the hill earlier. Did one get left behind, perhaps passed out and bathed in sweat, lying facedown on the incline? We still had daylight. I walked up to the gate and peeked around it. Nothing. Dakota sniffed the gate where the two sides joined together. I could spot no suspicious activity. I went back in the house. Dakota kept on barking.

twin yearners

These are the old timers (above), Rex and Chloe. They yearn for Ruby’s leftover milk from her cereal. This is the closest they ever sit next to each other. They seem to have gotten a little closer, at least in proximity, since Dakota arrived. You know what they say: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. They sleep with Ruby every night, jockeying for position on her bed.

Chicks

Ruby’s cousins got baby chicks the Saturday before Easter. They picked up one extra one for Ruby. I think she named it Cookie. Or was it Pretzel? I guess this counts as a long-distance pet.

Ruby & chick

Last, but certainly not least, Thurston County has its own pair of ducks. They hang around, hoping for handouts. I spotted the female this morning and I took a photo as I walked into Building 1. She just stood there, as if waiting for her paparazzi to arrive.

female duck

“Oh, I did that yesterday, too!” A young male coworker stopped and scrolled through his phone to show me the photo. He got the duck couple out on a stroll.

“It looked like they were on a date. I had to do it,” he said, with an impish grin.

Indeed. Ducks dating. Who knew?

 

Friday Fast Pitch

Good morning! I know I haven’t written in awhile. Let me catch you up.

  • Microsoft PACs were last week. I had a new group, with all new faces. I swam in a sea of acronyms and accents. Then I got out of the water and back to work.
  • This week, we’re down one PM (out on medical leave), and my co-worker is on vacation. I’m lone-rangering it. Not too bad, but keeping busy.
  • My foot hurts. Really bad. I’ve done something to it. Running, unfortunately, doesn’t help it. Going in to see the doctor next week. Might get in today, if there’s a cancellation.
  • We had our Easter services last week. Those of us who brought the music got blessed by the Holy Spirit and the great turnout. It felt like a huge party! Jonathon did a bang-up job designing a brand new set and lighting.
  • Ruby’s home on spring break this week. I stayed home with her on Monday. I asked if she wanted to bake something. She shook her head no. We made chicken noodle soup from scratch at her request.
  • Zac’s spring break was last week. He took care of the animals and the house while we were gone to Seattle. We watched “The Matrix”. Again. I guess it’s a favorite of his. Zac’s out of school April 27, finishing his freshman year of college. What?! New adventures await.

As spring moves on, I find myself grateful for the longer glimpses of sun and warmer temps. Jesus does heal us. Time helps, too. Life blossoms again in fresh and different ways. Let me remember to define myself by who I am in Christ first and foremost.