Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye, 2014

This is one of the rare years when goodbye is rather enthusiastic.  It's not that it was a terrible, terrible year (though parts of it were), but that there was not a lot of positive to set it apart.  The days rather plodded from one to the next.

I am not alone in feeling this.  I'm not sure why it seems such a global feeling.  The economy seems to be doing a bit better.  Gas prices have dropped.  Yes, there is conflict out there, but there is ALWAYS conflict out there. 

Locally, we seem to have shootings and stabbings on a near-daily basis.  It reminds me of when I first moved to Oklahoma and was so shocked that there was murder done every day and reported on the news.  I really felt I had moved to the wild, wild West - but really, all I had done was move to a place that was a little ahead of my own home town in that regard.  People are more connected with each other but more disconnected with the present.  This is never more evident than when driving around town.  I am beginning to think I'd like to give up driving and rely on my bike, my feet and the city bus.  Driving is no longer pleasurable to me because there are too many people who drive right through the red lights or into my lane.  I feel like I'm going into battle every time I get behind the wheel of a car and just trying to stay alive until I reach my destination.  I don't even live in Atlanta or New York or London where the drivers are even crazier.

Celebration seems beyond me - at least the kind with cheering and waving of arms and loud, crazy laughter.  My celebrations this year have been quite tame, devoid of glitter and cheer but full of thought and reflection.  Is this a function of getting older?  Or is it because of the things that have happened to me and to my loved ones this year; that the crazy enthusiasm has been replaced by a tamer sort of gratefulness?

So tonight I will bid farewell to 2014.  I won't make it to midnight or hoist a glass of champagne as confetti rains down and fireworks go off.  I'll be asleep in my bed, dreaming of a better tomorrow and making plans to see that it is, indeed, better.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I'm sorry... did I say it was crazy? Little did I know there was more crazy ahead.

Oh, my.  I thought there was crazy when all the "mirroring" was going on at work which developed so many technical issues that we stopped mirroring so that the folks in Jacksonville could work on them.  I don't know when things will be resolved to the point where we'll be able to make our switch, but in the meantime, we'd let all our "extraneous" employees go - which probably shouldn't have happened until we'd firmly switched, but bureaucracy really likes deadlines and when that one came, out they went...  The result is that my husband and I are working some pretty wacky hours that rarely coincide unless the son is in school.  And we're all getting tired. 

We thought THAT was crazy.  We didn't realize that family drama would also need to be accounted for.

Maybe drama is too strong a word - this happens to every family everywhere at some point.  We lost a member of ours.  My father-in-law passed somewhat unexpectedly, with burial arrangements down in South Florida so we all had to trek down there for our goodbyes and then come home and figure out what to do about my mother-in-law.  There was lots of culling and donating and selling and shuffling things around, but I think we may be settling down a little.  I hope these aren't famous last words.

All this to say that I hope to do some posting soon.  It feels like a respite from the crazy is right around the corner and there are things I want to say...

See you soon!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Life is Crazy

We are in the midst of a huge overhaul at work (details to come, if you're interested), which means I've been working 9-10 hour days, sometimes longer, and coming home exhausted - just enough life to eat dinner and be a zombie in front of the tv for an hour or so before falling asleep.

Ironic, because I've been thinking things (possibly profound, who knows?) that I'd like to get down here but just haven't had the mental power to do anything but work stuff.  I'll be back.  Probably by the end of the month (God, I hope it's all settled down by then!).


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Majestic Ships Leave Wide Wakes When They Pass

Dear Alison,

You have not gone far from my mind since I knew you'd left this world behind to join with God in the next one.  You are with me in my car, at the store, sitting at my desk and in my dreams.

I have known you for 25 years, ever since I came home from Oklahoma to start over again.  I'd heard about you before I came home though.  My parents often wrote of you in their letters to me, and a little jealous spark existed because you seemed to have moved into my family "spot" in my absence.  That spark disappeared as soon as I met you - I knew exactly why they loved you.  You were fun and bright and your personality just fit in so well with my family.  It felt like they'd gone out and FOUND me a sister (goodness knows, after 6 boys they quite trying to produce one for me).

Over the years, we had varying degrees of closeness.  Sometimes very, sometimes not so much...  life gets busy sometimes, but we were always friends. 

I was your maid of honor when you got married.  You looked just beautiful in your wedding gown!  I was sorry that, as it turned out, it was not a good match, but overjoyed when it produced your beautiful daughter!

Do you remember...  We lived over by the stadium and you used to let us babysit when you had your community chorus events?  We loved having Cecelia.  You'd bring her over after work. Sometimes we'd have dinner if she hadn't eaten yet, play a little, read a story and she would go to sleep under the Christmas lights we had strung around our bedroom.  It was always so sweet to see her sleepy curls bobbing on your shoulder as you carried her out to the car after coming to collect her.

I'd say that there were three things in your life that you absolutely loved:  Cecelia, music and your church. 

Cecelia is obvious - your daughter was the light of your life.  You poured everything you had into raising her to be the beautiful, strong and amazing woman she is today.  I am so impressed with her and I know you were too.  In fact, there were times when you couldn't believe that she was a part of you.  She is though.  You gave her all the most wonderful attributes you possessed.

You loved music all your life.  I think you got that from your mama.  You played and taught piano to my youngest brother James AND you tried to teach my own son.  He was quite enthusiastic at first, but in the end decided that the piano was not really the instrument for him.  You and I both were sad about that because we thought he had a gift for it.  I loved your voice.  Recently, when I was painting your apartment, you were organizing your music cabinet and singing arias and hymns while you worked.  I was mesmerized and thrilled.  It was the best painting music I'd ever worked to.  That day felt so special to me and I still think about you singing in the living room while I painted the dining room.  You also played the French horn (which I found quite impressive - horns seem so difficult to me) and I truly enjoyed going to the concert you played in out at TCC.

And then there's church.  My parents met you when you started going to Advent as a young FSU student.  I don't remember exactly when it happened, but you moved over to St. John's and found a church home that included amazing music.  Two things you loved in one place!  I've been to several Evensong services there because you were in the choir and I enjoyed just closing my eyes and listening to you making beautiful music with the rest of your choir.  I know you felt at home at St. John's and you were so excited about going to Oxford, England next summer to be the choir-in-residence there.  Somehow, I think you'll still find a way to be there.

I know you probably never thought that one person could make such a difference to so many people - but you did.  Driving in my car this morning, one word kept popping into my head when I was thinking about you.  If you were here now and I told you, you would blush, then laugh, then kind of wave it away because you wouldn't think that this word applied to you at all.  The word is FIERCE.   You may have been the quintessential lady, fond of romance novels, floral prints, hats, Desert Rose china and tea parties - but you. were. fierce.  Fiercely loyal.  You defended people's rights in love, politics and insurance fiercely.  You had a strong sense of right and wrong and would fiercely argue when you felt the need.  You were fiercely generous, giving as much of yourself as you could to those you loved - and you loved fiercely too.  My mom thinks you were intense, but in my mind, you are fierce.

You have been such a friend, such a force in my life that it's hard to say goodbye.  I am comforted in knowing that when you left, you left all your worries, all your stress, and all your pain behind and took with you only love.  The love of your daughter, of your mother, and all the other people, including me, who loved you.  Go sing with the angels, Alison.  God is listening and He is pleased.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Finding my Style

My church has a small group of people who meet on the 4th Thursday of the month to paint together.  It's not a class, just people bringing whatever project they're working on.  I decided I wanted to give it a try so I bought some paint and some brushes and went.

I thought I'd try watercolors.  I had no idea what I was doing.   My first effort was this dragon.  It started with a line and turned into this:

The second time, I tried something a bit more deliberate.  Still not what I was looking for.

I thought about the stuff I'd done that I liked.  How I did it, what materials I used...  I remembered this thing.  In my pictures list it's called "Womb".  I also call it "Onion".  It's not my favorite.

Then there's this.  I call it "The Music in Me" and it started with a line, drawn with my eyes closed.  Then another and another and finally, I opened my eyes and decided what it looked like to me.  I LOVED this one:

So a couple of days ago, after my newest nephew was born, I was thinking about this new little person in my family and closed my eyes.  I drew a line.  And then another one.  And another one.  I opened my eyes and it looked a bit like a swaddled baby being held in someone's arms.  So that's what it became.  Tonight I took my doodle and turned it into a painting.

I think I may have found my style.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fun Monday, June 23, 2014 - Your Latest Project

Sometimes it feels like my whole life is a project!  I'm always crocheting, sewing, painting, rearranging... something is always going on.  THIS is the latest one...

When we moved into this house, my son was 8 years old.  He loved our old place in Wakulla, and was fond of the one we'd just left - but he felt a little dubious about the new house and his new room.  One day, he came to me and confessed that he missed his forest room from the Wakulla house.  Could we paint something like that in his room here?  We did.  (Other pictures here.)


Well, he's not a little kid anymore...  One day he rather sheepishly asked if we could paint his room and get rid of the mural.  It looked too much like a kid's room and he didn't want his friends coming over and seeing it.  It made me sad, but it's his room and he's NOT a little kid anymore.

I let him pick the paint - Blue Ribbon from Lowes:

But it looks TARDIS blue to me...
He says quite vehemently that is NOT tardis blue (not a Dr. Who fan).

Anyway, I got him his paint (with primer) and we painted.  It looked awful.  Splotchy and uneven and dark.  The smell was pretty intense, at least to me, and I knew it would be a while before I could bear to open that can of paint again.

Fast forward a few months.  The kid has gone off to camp, so I told him I would paint his room while he was gone.  In preparation, he pretty much cleared his room of clutter and donated a bunch of stuff (so proud of him!).  After he left, I started.  It took a couple of days because I painted walls AND woodwork, but the second coat did the trick - it actually looked good!  I put up new curtains and rearranged his room a bit but it definitely looks like a young adult's room now.  He is VERY happy with it!

That's what I've been up to - what have YOU been doing?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Fun Monday - June 16: When I grow up...

I always envied the kids who had a clear-cut idea of what they wanted to be when they grew up.  My high school graduating class has numerous lawyers, a few doctors, business men and other varied careers.  The closest I ever came to knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up was a veterinarian.

And mostly, that was because of this:

I LOVED James Herriot.  I wanted to BE James Herriot - even with his arm disappearing inside a cow.  I thought this was my path in life and even spent a summer working at a vet's office caring for animals, cleaning cages, holding them and even watching surgery.  I think it was the smell of blood during surgery that made me realize that being a vet was not for me.  It didn't make me sick, but it was unpleasant enough that I didn't want to be around it every day.

All of this left me at a loss.  A few years went by while I tried on different ideas and discarded them all.  My actual "career" was an accident. 

Being in the "gifted" program at school, I did a lot of different things, but when I was in high school they decided to try an "Executive Internship" program, where the student would leave school for 6 months and try out a career for school credit.  The other people got spots in the Governor's office, the Forestry division, at the newspaper...  and I couldn't figure out what to do.  On the last day before I had to forfeit my spot, my dad called the general manager at the public television station and asked if he could use a free employee for a while.  When he said yes, Dad told me to jump on it and make that my internship.  I did.

As it turned out, I loved doing it.  Not just running a camera or floor directing or running the audio board, editing or doing graphics... I loved that I worked in public television.  I did that internship and when I graduated from school in January, they hired me in February.  I continued working there until I got married, then  moved to Oklahoma where I did that for a while at a commercial station.  I added film-editing and paid voice-work to my resume there, but it wasn't public television. 

I worked for the FAA for 5 years at their Air Traffic Control Training Academy as a word processor.  I briefly contemplated becoming an accident investigator, but my then-husband was dead set against it.  He was pretty much against anything I wanted to do, so eventually I left and came back to where I grew up and got a job in television production again, doing local news and commercials for the CBS affiliate because that's who was hiring.  When I heard of a spot opening up at the public TV station though, I went and applied.  A friend from long ago was doing the hiring and when he asked me if I could do Traffic, I said yes.  Then I asked what that was.  Luckily, he knew me well and knew that if I said I could do it, I could.  I've been doing this for 23 years now.  I still enjoy it and I still love working for PBS.  I don't make a lot of money doing this, and I'm not changing the world with my career, but I like to thing that being a cog in the machine that brings you PBS programming, I'm doing my part to make the world a better place.