In Other News

Warning: This post is random. Now you know. And I wrote it yesterday but couldn’t post it because of the intransigent internet.

This morning, I spied a tangerine sliver of a moon. It glowed orange over the city. As the day lightened, it reverted back to silver. A single star sat next to it, a master jewelry setting if I ever saw one. It dazzled and delighted me.

You might be wondering what’s up with me. It’s been awhile.

Last night as I walked from Building 1 to my car, I had a close encounter. The air turned late afternoon pink. It was cold but dry with the beginnings of a gorgeous sunset. Another gal who works in courts, name unknown, was walking alongside me. And I suddenly came face to lips with a small, winged bug. Without realizing it.

I swallowed said bug.

summerbug

It didn’t go down without a fight. I choked and sputtered and swallowed. It’s January, folks. What the what?!

“I think I just swallowed a bug,” I said to my walking companion. Because I could not believe it.

“It was too lazy to get out of your way,” she replied.

I laughed and choked some more. Let’s just say this didn’t help my voice for worship later in the evening. I told the worship team and basically blamed every gurgle and voice crack on the bug. That puppy took revenge all night. Is there a spiritual application here? I can’t find it.

Shifting gears, school is going well. I’m getting good grades and staying on top of the work. Jonathon has been a great help to check my APA formatting and whether my tone is scholarly. He’s an online adjunct professor for Concordia now and he attended Capella. He knows the biz.

professorwithglasses

I’m still not entirely sure what “scholarly tone” means, other than to leave “you, you guys, me and y’all” out of the writing. I get to include “others, one, them, they”. I hope they feel special.

Work has picked up a bit. I attend a lot of meetings on projects that aren’t mine and I take notes. Then I edit said notes. This week, the meetings have become contentious. They start out fine and then, wham! Out of nowhere, an uppercut. Parties who had informed us of their needs do a 180-degree turn. “We don’t need that. Why would you think that?” Oh, because you said it 3 months ago, or a year ago, at the very inception of the work. It was only the impetus for this whole project. But whatever.

olivertwist

 I understand that I work in a political environment. Needs change. Priorities shift. I also understand the scrapping for whatever project funds are available.

But some days, I think I might need to retire early. Blame it on the bug.

Mastering the Degree

So, I have some news. I started a master’s degree program this week. I know. It was sudden for me, too. Recap: I’ve been looking for another job for nearly all the 17 months I’ve worked for Thurston County. Ideally, it’d be great to be back in Shelton, working somewhere or from home. But that hasn’t panned out.

I was stalking indeed.com’s job boards again on January 2. We live near Olympia, which is the state capital. Translation: the bulk of job postings are government-related. The job descriptions seem interchangeable and often offer less money than I make now. The positions that catch my attention are outside the regular administrative assistant type of gig. Those jobs require a bachelor’s but in business administration, public administration or communication, or a related field.

My B.A. is in music, as most of you know. I’ve considered it “related” to communication. I mean, you see the connection, right? Music IS a form of communication, isn’t it? Turns out it gets – or got – me in the door, but no further. I’ve applied for several things within the County and other places. Not even a call, just the usual bot-generated emails telling me the field was “very competitive” and to “keep trying”.

As I stood there, trying not to feel discouraged again, an idea dropped into my head.

“I should get a Master’s Degree in Public Administration,” I said. Aloud. Enough of this pussyfooting around.

Huh? What?! Where did *that* come from?

I can only think of One source.

As I mulled it over, drinking my coffee, excitement started to build inside me. This could be good. Uncle Google says I can become a project manager or even a city manager with a master’s degree in Public Administration. In other words, the sky’s the limit.

Boy, do I love the sound of that. For too long I’ve had no vision. I work with great people and I consider them friends. But there’s little to no opportunity for advancement after all. I work in the lowliest department in the County. Kind of like Nathaniel asking, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” upon hearing about Jesus’ provenance, the question is, “Can anything good come from Central Services?”

Yes. Definitely. And not just me. Ha!

This, folks, is the latest adventure. It’s 7 quarters long, if all goes well; I’d like to graduate sooner. I got registered, applied for financial aid and enrolled in two days. I completed orientation – all online – over the weekend. I finished the first homework assignment and heard back from the instructor that it was “well done”. I sense God’s favor already.

I keep surrendering this up to Jesus as I go – the financing, the timelines, the added hours needed for reading, reflection and writing. I know that where He guides, He provides.

And off we go.

 

 

 

Got Tuesday?

tire

I awoke with a start. What was that? I listened. I looked around the dark bedroom. Something moved in the carport below me. Or was it in the eaves next to me? I listened again. It was in the eaves. Some animal planned to move in. I could hear scrabbling and scraping.

My watch said 4:30 a.m.

No use trying to fall back to sleep. I got up and got going.

The day progressed normally. Jonathon was down in Portland for the day, so I needed to take both kids to school. I drove Zac in. We talked about the new classes he has this semester. Myths and Legends piqued his interest.

“Mom, she’s only covering Greek and Roman legends.”

Bummer.

When I got home, I walked toward the back door. I heard a hissing noise.

“Mom!” Ruby said. “Your tire has a hole in it!”

Yes, indeed. Either that or a large invisible snake suddenly moved into the chassis. Anyway,now what? I already cleared coming in late with my bosses. Guess I’d be a little later.

Did I mention I don’t know how to change tires? Yeah. After filling Jonathon in on the problem, he suggested calling Dad or my brother. But the mechanic I work with was closer and already at work. He agreed to help me.

“Ruby, we’re walking to school today,” I said. I thanked God once again that we live in town and nothing is far away. The day was humid and gray but not rainy.

The mechanic showed up. He pumped up the dying tire enough for me to drive to Les Schwab for repairs. Then we drove in to work together. It proved an easy fix. I drove over a nail, natch.

Last but not least, around noon I picked up my sack lunch. I peeked in the bag to discover a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, orange and Cheetos. I couldn’t stop laughing. Guess who had my lunch?

Thanking God for Tuesday.

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Snowish

snowy-morning

It snowed yesterday. So far, this has been our Snowmageddon of 2016. We were supposed to get somewhere around 6-8 inches. The City shop prepared by filling up dump trucks with sand and gassing up the snow plows. They tuned up the road grader. They recruited crews to plow through the night. Others were scheduled to report in at 4:30 a.m. All i can say is somebody better be on coffee duty.

We got 2 inches in town, at my house, which is near sea level. And that’s just barely. Folks who live near Hood Canal got more. People fled from work early, worried about getting stuck roadside in the snow. The school district placed a special robocall announcing that they reserved the right to close early, and for parents to be ready. The snow started around 4:30 here in town. It moved up the I-5 corridor from Oregon. I love it when the weather pattern follows the paved path. Why reinvent the wheel? Makes so much sense.

I’m sitting here drinking coffee. The furnace pumps out warm air. The only ones up are me and the cats. I have no idea where they are. It’s quiet. As the snow melts, it drips. I hear rivulets coursing down the driveway and off the roof.

I’m breathing in peace. Things are turning right side up again. The snow, blanketing everything, feels like a new beginning. I’ll take it.

 

First and Last

back-to-school 7

It started raining in earnest yesterday. First, a light drizzle, like an appetizer, then it bucketed down. We may have a few more hot days, but the stuffing has been knocked out of summer.

The kids started back to school yesterday. No pictures, because in Zac’s case he wouldn’t let me, and I totally forgot with Ruby. Zac’s added AP Government, Honors Chemistry and Human Anatomy to his class load.

We went to Fujiyama last night to celebrate the start of school, a Japanese restaurant where they cook dinner in front of you. The chef does tricks with eggs and beef fat. You sort of have to be there.

“Mom, you didn’t ask me about my day,” Zac chided with a smile while we sat around the table.

“Okay, Zac,” I said. “How was your first day? Tell me all about it.”

“Well, Honors Chem has only 13 students. I guess lots of kids got scared off, hearing how tough it is.”

His face portrayed mixed emotions. His voice sounded a little apprehensive but also excited. He hasn’t truly challenged himself before. I think he’s kicking the tires on his abilities like some men stroll around a sports car and think, how fast will it go if I really open ‘er up? Zac is ready to punch it. I can’t wait to see how this year goes.

“And Ruby, how was your first day?”

We both pulled back from the huge metal grill in front of us as the chef lit our food on fire.

“Well, it was good. I like my Spanish teacher. She has a good sense of humor.”

I should mention here that her teacher, fresh from Spain, spoke not a word of English on back to school night nor when we dropped Ruby off yesterday morning. Intimidating, to say the least. But perhaps total immersion will get the job done.

Ruby rode with me on the first day of school as a special treat.

“Where is Dad going?” she asked as Jonathon pulled out.

“He’s going to meet us at the school,” I said. “He wants to be there with you, too.”

“Oh,” she said. “It’s kind of embarrassing.”

I chuckled. And so it begins.

I’m praying this year is even better than the last.

 

 

Winds of Change

leaves blowing off trees

Last Saturday, it clouded over. The wind chilled and blew. Prematurely dead leaves rained down, pushed from their homes into a nomadic existence on the ground. Summer, it seems, had turned a corner. This weekend proved similar. I had both the front and back door open in the morning, but the back door kept slamming shut.

I ran 6 miles on Saturday. I pushed up the hill, the wind in my face. Once I turned right, the wind blew at my back. It pushed me along. Most of the time, though, it blew right at me, or sideways. At one point, my hat nearly blew off. I caught it in time, yet only just. It challenged me.

Fall is in the air. The sun put out its best show, pushing temps into the mid 90s last week. But school starts in 3 days. Ruby’s back to school supplies for 5th grade sit in a neglected pile for now, pink-and-gold binder, composition books and patterned pencils still in their original packaging. Not for long, though.

Anna’s Bay Chorale starts up again in a couple of weeks. Jonathon will be deep into rehearsals for their fall concert. Zac, sans school supplies until he gets a list from his individual teachers, will begin his senior year this week. Gulp.

I am ready for change. This has been a great summer, filled with sun and travel and good friends. We’ve eaten berries and watermelon. We’ve planted flowers and weeded in the yard. We’ve roasted marshmallows for s’mores. We’ve watched fireworks and looked for fireflies.

The wind symbolizes and summons change. Wind can cause a change in direction. Our thoughts turn to shirts with sleeves and long pants, as the wind propels. We start dreaming about rich stews and warm cookies. Each season has its own unique beauty. Fall isn’t my favorite, but it’s a good one. I plan to savor it.

 

 

 

Comparative Religion

religious-freedomV2.jpg

I went to Ruby’s 4th and 5th grade end-of-the-year class picnic yesterday. The clouds couldn’t decide what they were doing. It was sunny, with a cool breeze, most of the time. Hordes of kids chased a soccer ball. Others queued up for the swings. One white Maltese got walked, a lot.

I found Ruby at a picnic table. She’d already started on her pre-packaged pb&j, courtesy of the hot lunch program.

“Hey, Ruby,” I said as I started to sit. I nodded hello to the sandy-haired boy across from us.

“Hi,” he said, shooting up and sticking out his right hand. “My name is Peter*,”

I blinked a couple of times. Huh?

“Hi, Peter,” I said, taking his hand. Couldn’t leave him hanging. “My name is Susan.”

“Nice to meet you, Susan,” he said, smiling. “I’m the son of Peter Johnson, of Peter Johnson Realty.”

“Oh, right. I know who he is.”

We both sat down.

“I like your manners,” I said to Peter. Highly  unusual in 10 year olds, I thought. What’s the angle? Is he into Ruby and trying to make a good impression with her mom?

“How’s your day going?” Peter asked me.

I smiled to myself. Good manners, part two.

“It’s going well. And you?”

“Good, so far,” he said.

We ate in silence for a few minutes.

“So,” Peter broke the silence. “What do you do?”

Um. I swallowed my bite of egg sandwich.

“I work for the city.”

“What do you do there?”

“I’m in public works, “I said. I explained about the water utility (briefly) and the roads, garbage service and the like.

“Oh,” he said. He paused a minute, chewing his sandwich. “Do your guys pick up the bags of trash by the side of the road, the ones picked up by the community service people?”

“No, “I said. “That’s all part of the court system, I believe.”

I chatted with Ruby about her lunch. She liked the cookie but left the carrot sticks alone. Somehow, she’d gotten too many of them in her young life. She may never eat another.

“What does your husband do?” persistent Peter asked.

“He works from home,” I said, hoping to shut this down. It was getting a leetle awkward. He wasn’t asking anyone else questions.

“Oh, “he smirked, “so he does laundry and cleaning. A house husband. Like that?”

I laughed.

“Oh no, baby. He’s got a doctorate. He works for a university, just does it from home.” So there!

Insert uneasy pause here.

“I have kind of a personal question,” he hedged.

What now, Pete, my boy?

“What religion are you?”

Wow.

“Oh, I’m a Christian,” I said. Then added, “You know, in a couple of years, you won’t be able to ask that,” I stated, Mom warning face on.

“I know, ” he said, then sighed. “My parents told me talking about religion and politics make people uncomfortable.”

Indeed, Petey.

“You’re Mormon, right?” he said to the Hispanic boy on his left. The boy nodded.

“I’m a Christian, too, ” said the small boy in a hoodie balancing on a ball to Peter’s left.

So much for that.

“And you, Peter?”

“Yes, I’m a Christian, too. I attend Valley Christian Church,” he affirmed.

OK.

Ruby and I went off to check out the dogs at the dog park. But I wondered about Pete. Why all the questions? Is he an only child? Maybe the youngest in a long line of children, raised on grown up conversation? Future journalist in training, or simply precocious?

But really. What’s the fuss, after all? Can’t we ask questions and get to know each other’s true selves without freaking out? I don’t have to agree with what you believe or how you practice. But I don’t have to be a jerk about it. Heck, we could even become friends. We can say what we stand for and be accepted; no subterfuge required. Just ask Peter.

*Name changed to protect the curious.