Sunday, April 25, 2010

Odds and ends from my trip

While on the plane, I watched Survivor over someone's shoulder. I don't get the appeal.

I'm glad to leave the high desert even though it's beautiful, mostly because my nose is cracking and bleeding.

I'm also glad I had charge left on my Zune so I could listen to music.

While at the Oregon Youth Challenge program, I saw this slogan:

People may not believe what you say. They will always believe what you do.

So I’m sitting on the plane next to a man who was happy to tell me about his wife and four children, ages 22, 20, 18. and 16 and how his children tell him (and his wife) that they want marriages or relationships like their parents. And yet he’s gone two weeks at a time with a few days in between the trips. Is that really what his children want?

What do they want to emulate?

I just eavesdropped/watched some episode of Survivor (guy in the next row across the aisle has it on his iPad), and in this episode family members were brought in. It was clear to me who really truly had a close relationship with the visiting person—the actions were so loud that even though I couldn’t hear the audio track, I didn’t need it.

Some of the contestants clearly had very strong family bonds with those who visited them. You can fake hugs but unless you are an Oscar caliber actor, I don’t think you can successfully fake the emotion and strong family bonds. I want that with my family.

I think I have it with my younger son and his family although I want more, I want them to know in their hearts of hearts how much I love them and how committed I am to them. I have work ahead of me with my older son, and so does he. That kind of relationship is a two-way street and I’m committed to doing my part.

My parents showed me this kind of commitment this weekend. My mother made a point of telling me how proud she is of me—my favorite line was when she told me I looked too small to be so important in what I do. But her words, while fantastic, didn’t say as much as her actions (and my dad’s actions) did. They drove six HOURS to see me for a few hours and have dinner with me. While I might want to argue with what my mother said, her actions practically hollered at me. And I am humbled and thankful for that message.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Time v money

Here’s a sort of math equation for you. Let’s say you can cut 15 minutes off your 80 minute commute—but it will cost you an extra $2.50 every day. Now let’s say that in addition to shortening that commute by 15 minutes a day, you can also avoid the one interstate you hate with the white hot passion of 10,000 suns—for that same $2.50 a day.

Would you spend the money?

You’re looking at spending an additional $12.50 a week for each week you drive all five days. Or put another way, you’ll spend about an extra $615 a year assuming you drive five days a week for 49 weeks.

You’ll get back around 75 minutes a week or just over 61 hours if you drive five days a week for 49 weeks. Plus you’ll drive almost 7 miles less a day—or 35 miles fewer each week or 1715 fewer miles for the year.

If I take the Tobin Bridge route to work, I spend the money and save the time and miles. I started taking that route last Thursday and so far it’s worth the money. We’ll see how the situation plays out if Kent remains unemployed after his severance package runs out. Then I’ll probably need to look at what gas, and wear and tear costs and see if I’m saving enough there to cover the toll.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

With a vengeance

I’m pretty good at paring my things down; I’ve never been much of a pack rat (although I was married to one in my first marriage). I’ve talked before about how many times I’ve moved over my life and I do think Kent is right—I constantly prune my belongings in anticipation of the next move.

But when Sal’s delivered our salvaged clothing and household items, Kent and I both knew it was time to be utterly ruthless. (Kent used to be a pretty good pack rat himself and decided seven moves ago he was done with that, so now he purges with the best of them.)

Before we could do the sorting and tossing, though, Kent had to make things safe for our cats—especially Wally. Sal’s delivered almost everything on hangers and covered with plastic bags like you’d see at the dry cleaners. Then the hangers had been rubber-banded together. Well Wally likes nothing better than to eat plastic bags and rubber bands, so Kent spent about 90 minutes just taking off the bags and the bands.

We spent yesterday going through over 20 linear feet of hanging belongings. We needed to determine which items just hadn’t been saved (most actually had) and after that the purging began in earnest. You can get a glimpse of the stuff we went through in the slideshow to the left. At one point our queen size bed was entirely covered to a depth of about 18 inches with items we were donating to Goodwill.

We also had to sort through our shoes. While we’d done a rough cut last fall, we needed to finish that chore up and it was not a lot of fun because at this point we had mostly ruined shoes left—and when I say ruined, I mean shoes with mold growing on them and stinking of mildew.

We did get one very nice surprise. We’d both written off our down booties as ruined just because they’re down-filled and we knew they’d been below the water line. I sure didn’t think they would have been salvageable. I opened up one of two boxes from Sal’s and there they were, all pristine and just waiting for us.

We filled the back seat and cargo area of my CR-V with items to donate to Goodwill. I'll probably find more things to donate but we made a lot of progress yesterday.

Edited to add that the quilts my mother made me look to be fine. So that's more great news. And also here's a picture of the cats after Kent did the plastic/rubber band removing exercise. Clearly they were worn out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

At last

Chloe is a very sweet kitty, and has fun little quirks of her own but I don't write about her much mostly because she doesn't photograph well. I have lots of pictures of her in the same position--curled in a ball.

Yesterday Kent got her in one of her dead poses. We see her like this often but she always moves before either of us can get a picture.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Compare and contrast

I’ve been working at my job in NH for just over two months now—and I do love it. The job is great, the people are fun and some of them are so smart I know it makes me work harder because I don’t want to be the dummy.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a long commute. In early 2000, my ex told me he’d accepted a promotion that required him to move to Nashville, TN. Our younger son was finishing up his junior year of high school, and my ex (naively) thought that Ben would just go with him. Well no—you see, one commitment we’d made to the boys was that they would graduate from the same school system and I wasn’t going to break that commitment to Ben, especially not for one year of high school.

I moved from Kansas City, MO back to Lawrence, KS in May 2000. That meant I had about a 120 mile commute round trip—only with rush hour. To be honest, I hated the commute, every single part of it. A lot of the hate was because I drove with the rush hour traffic and anyone who knows me will tell you patience is not one of my strong suits. But I’d have done anything to make sure Ben graduated from the Lawrence school, and the drive was worth the frustration.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m not chafing over this current commute. After all, it’s longer and Boston traffic can sure get stacked up. All I’ve come up with is that (a) I’m driving opposite rush hour and (b) Kent’s unemployed. Much as when Ben needed to live in Lawrence, I will do whatever it takes to keep our little family going—the bonus is that I love this job far more than I did that job in 2000.

PS Our second grandchild was born on Sunday--a boy! You can see pictures here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sort of

We had a great visit with Ben and Jen and Alison in Virginia. Spending time with them is always a treat and even though it was a quick trip, we packed in a lot of visiting. Ben is an assistant pastor in Virginia; previously he was a youth pastor in Michigan and before that also in Kansas. In fact that’s partly how he put himself through school. Whenever we’ve visited him, I’ve had a great time going to church and seeing him in action. And every time I do, at least one person will ask or tell me how proud I must be of him.

And you know, I am proud of him. But not just for the reasons people think.

He’s chosen a profession that fits him well (he would probably argue with me that the profession chose him—fair enough), and he excels at what he does. I’ve heard him preach sermons, lead worship services and seen the way he’s positively affected teens in the programs he’s run. So yes, I’m proud of him for all of that.

But I’m far more proud of how he acts as a husband and father. He could have the most menial job in the world but if he was the same with his wife and child, I’d still be super proud.

Just as there’s righteous anger, I think there’s righteous pride too. The pride I feel about Ben is because of how he is, not for anything I did. I like to think he’s the way he is in spite of my parenting mistakes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I have a couple of updates etc. but I just realized it's after 9PM. Which may not seem late to you normal people but for me, that's practically the middle of the night. OK not really, but I do need a solid eight hours of sleep and I do get up at 5AM so I'm late, I'm late for a very important (sleep) date.

Meanwhile, here's a cute picture of Kent and Alison from Easter.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter's coming

And we are headed to Virginia--Smithfield to be exact. We'll be visiting Ben, Jen and Alison and heading back to Boston on Monday. In addition to looking forward to seeing family, Kent and I are really looking forward to the sunshine and near 80 degree temps they're experiencing.

In fact, I'm not packing my vitamin D. Crazy!

In other news, we didn't pass our inspection. The inspector believes we need a range hood, she says it's an architectural requirement. We are gathering more information before we meekly roll over and spend another $1,000 on something the code doesn't seem to require. This may be a losing battle, so stay tuned.