Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?

Wherefore Art Thou, Emajean?
A Friends of the Library Mystery, part X
(for earlier parts, click here)

Running after the child was liberating. The researcher felt free of the restraints and conventions of her life. She was soon out of breath though, and slowed to a walk. She could hear the laughter of children, but no longer see them. Ahead on the right was a copse of trees, so she angled her path toward them. As she neared the area, an older boy stepped out. He was dressed in the kind of clothes she’d seen on the male figure in the photos.

The boy stood in a defiant stance with his legs in a “v” and his arms angled on his hips. “What are you doing here?” he demanded. The researcher thought a moment and replied, honestly, “I don’t really know. I was trying to find out the answers to a mystery, and it brought me here.”

He squinted in the bright sun. “Where did you come from?” he asked.

Again the researcher hesitated, “I’m . . . I’m not sure. I was at the library and then . . . I wasn’t.” She looked around her, as if searching for something. “I think I had a bag, and a computer, and I certainly wasn’t wearing these clothes . . . “ her voice trailed off as the boy’s eyes widened with incredulity.

“You must be a ghost then, and we don’t play games with ghosts!” he exclaimed.

“No, I’m real! I remember – I was looking for a girl named Emajean. Do you know her?” she asked quickly.

The boy, who had been about to melt back into the trees, paused. “Maybe.  Maybe she was the little girl you were chasing when you came here. But why do you want to find her?” he asked.

The researcher shook her head, frustrated. “I’m not sure I remember why. I just remember that I need to find her. Can you help me?”

He gazed at her and then seemed to decide something. “No,” he said with finalilty. “You can’t see her,” and he began to fade into the copse.

“No, wait!” she cried, "Are you Walter?", but it was too late. He was gone and the noises of all the children were gone as well.

She looked around her, hoping to see any kind of structure that would be evidence of people. In the far distance she saw a shape that looked like a barn. The researcher squared her shoulders and began trudging towards it. Suddenly her adventure playing Tag wasn’t much fun anymore.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blessed Silence

Wow.  Today was my Bible Study class.  It was my small group's turn to serve in children's. The idea is that the members of the group are divided up between the children's classes and the leader (me) floats between, visiting with her core group members and being an extra pair of hands where needed.

In theory, it works.  But this morning I didn't get any farther than the 12-18 month olds.  They had a screamer and needed an extra set of arms.  I was those arms.  He didn't scream the entire time, but when he wasn't screaming, he was crying really loudly. It was just separation anxiety, but to him, it was a real terror that he would never see his mommy again.  The only thing that calmed him was for me to sit with him away from the others and read stories. I had to read them really loud to get his attention. Then as he quieted to listen to the stories, I could drop my voice and read normally. I now have memorized the entire toddler Bible...

I have to say that God's sense of humor is still intact, even if mine is a little tattered right now. He knows I thrive in order and quiet. But it wasn't about me this morning, it was about Him. He wanted me to be looking to Him for sustenance.

I am NOT a person with an excess of sympathy and mercy, especially in the face of uncontrolled screaming. But I am practical, and someone had to hold the child so they could get onto the lesson with the others. So as I sit here ruminating upon my morning I conclude:

1. It is a privilege when mothers trust us with their babies so they can go study God's word.
2. This level of separation anxiety is a normal developmental stage. Praise God for normal development.
3.  Screaming lungs are healthy lungs. Praise God for healthy lungs.
4.  Anyone who works in this age group needs to bring ear plugs. Amen.

I'm grateful that I'm home now for at least 90 minutes by myself to regroup.  And the bird isn't making any noise.

Blessed Silence.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Muffed Target

This fun meme, hosted by Thom, by way of Gattina, allows us to be irreverent about our own mess-ups.

I think it's better to admit we're not perfect than to try to hold it together all the time! So in the interest of imperfection, here is my muffed target for the week!

Looks like some alien creatures under a microscope! It's actually our neighbor's Christmas display, buried in 2 feet of snow with snow still falling. During our big snowstorm last year they invited everyone up to their house at the top of the street for a snow party. It was SO MUCH FUN . . . and we worked so hard trying to get through the drifts to get there and back, we burned off any calories we consumed!

Thanks, Thom!

Juliana kindly suggested that with a little contrast this would be a stunning photo -- so this is for here.  I actually did have a GOOD one, but for every good photo there are a NUMBER of bad ones too!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Microfiction Monday

Microfiction Monday occurs each week when Susan at Stony River gives us a photo or illustration prompt. Our task (and yours if you choose to join us) is to write a story in 140 characters or fewer.  No cheating -- the 140 count includes all punctuation and spaces. Once you've posted yours, go back to link to Susan's...

Here's this week's illustration:

My story:

She still wears a braided chain
 made of finest silver from the north of Spain,
a locket, that bears the name . . . 



Yesterday my daughter and I sat at a booth for our town's Multicultural Festival. This is a full day event at a plaza by the lake. There are three stages, many vendors, great food, and so much COLOR!

Our booth was to promote Friends of the local library. We had planned to do a story time but we were so close to the stages, people were not only distracted but the music was too loud to read over.

But we DID have a giveaway -- we had four boxes of children's books left over from the children's book sale and we gave them away free. We managed to get rid of all of them!  It was so fun seeing the kids get excited about FREE BOOKS!

The stage we were near featured dancers from various places, including the Middle East, Bolivia, US cloggers and tapdancers, and African drums.  VERY cool.

But the BEST part of the day was the opening ceremony in which 23 people from 19 countries became U.S. Citizens by participating in a naturalization ceremony! Twenty-three people CHOSE to swear an oath to protect and defend this country, forsaking allegiance to all others.  Two of those people are already on Active Duty in the U.S. Military!

This is the actual text of the oath:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

After the swearing in, when we ALL said the pledge of allegiance together, I choked up. Now, I'm a mushy type of person for these kinds of events, so that didn't surprise me. But afterwards, when I turned around and looked at my teen daughter, she was wiping away tears as well.

I wonder if most of us really appreciate the accident of birth that made us Americans to begin with . . . that most of us didn't have to work hard to first, get here, and second, learn everything necessary to pass the citizenship test. This is INDEED a great country, and we are privileged to part of it.

Here are the flags of some of the countries represented yesterday:


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Random Dozen

Go to Linda at Second Cup of Coffee to join in.  Copy the questions, answer them on your blog, go back to her to link up!  Easy to do, fun to visit folks.

1. Have you, or has someone close to you, ever won an award for anything? 
Sure, but I'm still waiting for that fabulous cash pay-off!

2. Who is the nearest relative to you who has served in the US Military?
Me.  I was an Air Force Jag for 4 years, and then served 2 additional years in the Maryland Air National Guard.

3. Share something that stirs the patriotic spirit in you.
When I was on active duty and the day ended with the National Anthem while I was stationed in a different country, there was nothing more patriotic than standing at a salute throughout it. This country showers so many blessings upon us, and so many look upon them as entitlements rather than gifts. For people born here who don't appreciate them fully, they should talk to people from other countries who will do ANYTHING to become an American. Those people know a good thing when they see it!

4. Where are you in the birth order in your family? Do you think your "placement" made a difference in your personality?
I'm the middle child. It makes me want to be a peacemaker . . . except when I'm being the instigator.

5. Name one trait you hope you carry that was evidenced in your parents or grandparents.
Kindness in my mom's dad, particularly.  He was mostly deaf, and my grandmother was ill for a very long time, but he never waivered in his kindness towards others.  I know it's probably more recessive in me than them -- ask my son who ran through my level of sympathy for his broken arm in about 2 days.

6. If female, do you prefer wearing a skirt or pants? If male, shirt and tie or polo?
It depends on the day - sometimes skirts, sometimes pants. Rarely one piece dresses.

7. Approximately how many times do you wake during the night? What do you do to go back to sleep?
Once or none, and I go back to sleep.

8. Share a favorite movie quote.
If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird.

9. What is your favorite Fall candle scent?
I don't use scent candles.

10. What is one Fall activity you're looking forward to?
Planting bulbs next week when I get some time.

11. Tell us about a pleasant surprise that happened to you recently.
My husband gave me his netbook, cleaned up, and ready for me to use.

12. What was it like when you first met your in-laws-to-be?
About the same way it is now. I realized there was a reason their son kept them at arm's length.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Muffed Target

Wow - how did it get to be Tuesday again so quickly?  Here's my muffed target for the week.  Don't worry -- there are plenty more where this one came from!  If you want to express humility and humanity, join Thom in this great meme where even the best photographers (not me) have something in common with the little people -- TERRIBLE PHOTOS!

I'm sure that if I had been trying to take a photo of the dock this might have sufficed. But I wasn't. I'm not sure what the target was . . . but it was MUFFED!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Microfiction Monday

The lovely and talented Susan at Stony River challenges our weekend  brains on Monday with a puzzle that involves math and words.  It wounds like a ghastly endeavor except -- it isn't!  The word part is that players write a story based on an illustration she provides.  The math part is that it needs to be 140 characters or fewer. Fortunately, she has a character counter to keep us honest!  After you post the photo with your contribution to great micro literature, go to Susan's to link up, and then visit the other players. It is truly amazing what different people get out of the same darn illustration!

Here's this week's illustration:

“Keep your eyes closed! It’s a surprise!”
He trusted her to keep him out of cow pies.
“Oops!” she giggled. 
Good thing he loved her.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Girl Makes Me Laugh

The teen girl just came home from school and came into my office to check in and talk about the day. I reminded her that we have a meeting at her school tonight to which the students are invited, but not required to attend.

She said she is tired and just wants to do her homework and go to bed early so she probably won't go to the meeting.

Then she folded her hands and leaned toward me and put on this Deanna Troi (Star Trek) face and said, "tell me how you feel about that."

I answered, "bereft."  

She said, "I see. But how does that make you feel?"

I answered, "ever since my daughter came back from Canada she has no time for anything other than dreaming about riding horses and dreaming about her boyfriend! It feels like ^&*^&*!"

She leaned closer, and in a very patronizing tone asked, "well, how do you feel about your mother?"  Then we both burst out laughing.

Seriously though, I'm okay with her distraction. She had a wonderful time, and I'm glad to see her happy. And this little interchange reassured me we are okay!

Random Dozen

If you like to visit others and say kind things, this is the meme for you. Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee gives us 12 questions each week and we answer them on our own blogs, and then link back to hers. Then visit others and say nice things about their answers. Simple, no?

So join us!

1. Do you do garage sales? If so, tell me about one great find. If not, tell me why not.
Generally, no. Why not? Too much junk in my house/life already. Don't need to add more!
2. Name the last thing you fixed.
I edited a manuscript for someone in my writers group.
3. Name your A) Favorite item of makeup OR B) Favorite tool
My favorite tool depends on the season. Looking at my yard right now, I'm thinking flame thrower. Just start with a new canvas.  Sheesh.
4. Which room in your home needs organizing more than any other?
The one the other three people in my family are occupying. Wherever they are they shed stuff.
5. Which room could use re-decorating?
All of them! Hah!
6. Share something unique about your town.
It was one of the first planned communities back in the 1960s and some of the interesting architecture of those days is still around.
7. If you could send a one-sentence message to your great-grandchild, what would it be?
Life is too short to live without love so love extravagantly, the way God loves you.
8. Do you Facebook? 
I have a FB account, but I don't log on much and when I do, I'm usually sorry I did.
9. Describe your favorite shoes.
Comfortable sneakers.
10. Do you listen to more talk radio or more music radio? What kind of station is it?
I flip about 1/3 time each between three stations: Public Broadcasting, Oldies 100 (Classic Rock), and Christian Music station.
11. How far would you travel for a really good (favorite) meal?  About 5 miles to here.

12. If you were totally honest with yourself (and us) what should you probably be doing right now instead of blogging? Did you see the answer to #3?  The yard.  Or the laundry. Or something else equally stimulating.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Muffed Target

Photographers should be humble.  Really bad photographers (like me) should be even more humble. Sure, I could delete this shot, but why not participate in Thom's meme (that he took over from Gattina) . . . muffed target.  We've all got 'em...are you brave enough to show 'em?

If I knew what the heck this was, I'd tell you.  I think it was "too dark" to be taking pictures on the lake from the shore...last summer. But it might be something else entirely.  And why is it still in my files? Too lazy to clean them out.

Thanks, Thom!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Microfiction Monday

Microfiction Monday is when Susan from Stony River gives us an illustration, and challenges us to write a story in 140 characters or fewer. Why 140? Think tweets...

Well, I don't tweet, but I play this meme because it's short and fun and the people who play are the brightest stars in my blogosphere.  SO come on, try it!

Here's this week's photo:

They had the same goal.
One would end up married with 8 kids.
The other would be the eternal party girl.
Who achieved the goal?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ha Ha on Me

I just realized after about 2 months that my header made me 10 years older. I had typed that the far right photo was in 1957.  I wasn't even born in 1957!  The photo now says 1967 and it's correct!

Wowza Week

This past week is just one fast blur!  My blogging shows it, too!

School started on Tuesday so after the 2nd child left you'd think my life suddenly got less complicated but . . . you would be wrong! I went for a long walk with a friend and then came home to redistribute the items the tornado that had whirled through my house had repositioned. The tornado has two names, curiously similar to the ones my children's as if they were SURPRISED that school started on the 7th!

When they got home we began the going through and signing masses of papers they brought home. They are both on block schedules, so there are two sets for two days in a row.  Some need to be returned, some returned with checks attached, some to be read and laughed at, some to be trashed immediately.  I looked at my husband and said, "multiply this by how many kids in Fairfax County? How many trees do we kill each fall?"  He smiled smugly and said, "don't stress. I still have stock in Weyerhauser."  Okay, now I feel better.  NOT!

So Wednesday we did Leaders training for my Community Bible Study class all day. Then more school paperwork that night. And phone calls.  LOTS of phone calls this week - some I had to make and some I received that gave me further taskings.  I am so NOT a phone person.  It was a little bit stressful.

Thursday was actually a treat -- I got to spend a couple of hours in the 18th century looking at old records at the Virginia Room (the genealogy room of our local library).  Then met the daughter's boyfriend's mother for lunch. Man, I hope the girl stays with this kid for a while because I really like his mom. We have so much fun together.

Friday I had to take the boy to have minor surgery on his foot which meant going to the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda. That place holds happy memories for me because that's where daughter was born! Son didn't mind the surgery as much as the big needles they stuck him with to numb the foot. BIG needles...

Last night our Youth Group did a really cool annual thing called The Godfather. It's an outreach event that gets every 6th grade and up and as many friends as they can get there to participate in. They divide into teams and the Godfather gives them tasks to do at our local town center. The adults take them over (everything has been cleared with Town Center security beforehand) and then they take off running. I was with a younger team, so I stayed with them.  They film all of the tasks.  Some of the tasks:

1.  Build a human pyramid in front of the movie theater.
2.  As a group, sing a song at the ampitheater. (My group started with YMCA and ended up with the ABC song because they didn't know the rest of the words!)
3.  Stand on the circles of the fountain without getting wet.  (There's a fountain that shoots up water on timers from the ground)
4.  Find a poster of a book at Barnes & Noble and act out the illustration.
5.  Do a tap dance in front of the Tap Room.
6.  Play duck, duck, goose in a public location, but instead of duck, duck, goose, it was human, human, any animal. The person tagged had to make the noise of that animal and chase the tagger around while being that animal. Fortunately, no one said "snake."
7.  Ask a stranger to marry you.

and lots more.  Other people from the church were strolling around in costume and the kids had to find them and answer questions from them (football fans, movie guy, couple with a baby, Big Easy - the Godfather's sidekick).

The Godfather is a former member of our congregation who is a FFx Cty cop which helps things a lot!  Last night to begin everything he came to the church in the back of a car with lights and siren, and was escorted, in handcuffs, by another cop into the church.  The kids' eyes were as big as dinner plates.  It was HILARIOUS.

Next Sunday all the kids who participated are invited back to watch the videos of the tasks, hear which team won, and eat pizza and cake. A short talk on what the difference is between The Godfather and the Father, God will finish the event.  Daughter has friends who have come to this for 3 years because they have so much fun. It really is the highlight of the year. Daughter read blog and wants me to add that this a very NON-churchy event which is what makes it so easy to invite friends to.

Oh yes, our youth pastor said if there were 75 youth involved, he'd dye his hair pink, purple or orange for 2 weeks. When we got back to the church he told us there were 48 of them, but the Godfather told him to count all the drivers, and if there were more than 60, he had to do it for 1 week. There were 66 -- so for one week (including the day he's preaching) he will have (the kids voted on it) PINK hair.  Can't wait!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Muffed Target

Thank you to Thom for taking over Gattina's meme. It gives us an excuse to post those photos we should never have clicked the shutter on! Pick one, post it and link up!

Not only is the photo not centered, but his form is pretty terrible too...I could have waited for a better opportunity, for sure!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Microfiction Monday

Susan, at Stony River, has given us another one!  Get out your abacus, and red pencil, and slash your story down to 140 characters, all spaces and punctuation included. Then post, link, and visit!  Easy-peasy!
Note: I really must remember to link after auto-posting. Sigh.

This week's illustration:

Luke discovered that thumbing his nose at the ocean was an exercise in futility and stupidity and a waste of good hair.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Timing Is Not Always Everything

Each year it seems as if holiday decorations get earlier and earlier. No matter what the holiday is, the decorations and candy are in the stores at least two months before the event. My children have also noticed that the Back to School sales start in July. In our state, the Back to School "tax holiday" was the first full weekend of August. Our county doesn't start back until September 7!

This is so much a part of the landscape now that it seems normal and we just chalk it up to China needing to keep all their people employed making stuff Americans don't know they need.

Now the non-profits and charities are jumping on the bandwagon. Yesterday I was accosted by the firefighters collecting for MDA and I got a little annoyed.

Raising money for MDA on a national scale started in 1955.  Jerry Lewis did the first MDA telethon in New York that year.  It went 16 1/2 hours and raised $600,000.  Since then, the telethon has expanded to encompass the entire Labor Day weekend. Each year it was bigger and flashier and goopier than the year prior.  And that's fine -- I don't watch TV and even if I did, I could turn it off or tune it out.

But in extension of the MDA telethon, several years ago the Firefighters across the country started their "Fill the Boot" campaign for MDA. They stand at major (dangerous) intersections and weave between cars collecting money for MDA. Around my house, to get to and from the places I go every day, I have to go through 3-4 of these intersections.

Let me say here that I have NO problem with people collecting for charities. And if the firefighters want to do this, it's a good thing. (If I were a competing charity I might question the use of county equipment and personnel for so singular a purpose, but I'm not a competing charity so we'll leave that argument for another day).

My beef is that they are now doing it for SIX days. If they start on Wednesday, and go through Monday . . . you do the math. When my kids were little and it was one weekend, it was fun to give them each a dollar to give to the boot. Now I'm just worn out from trying to avoid being a Scrooge.

The wiseGeek gives this as one of the reasons for donor fatigue:
In other instances, people grow frustrated with constant appeals for donation. Charities which constantly send out mailers, hold phone drivers, and use other tactics to ask for donations can tap out the patience of their potential donors, who start to feel irritated, rather than philanthropic. Many charities try to stick to one major campaign a year for this reason, although donations are of course welcome year round.

and they add:
Charities can take steps to avoid donor fatigue such as launching limited, concise campaigns and demonstrating the work that they do for interested donors.

So are the charities listening?  LIMITED. CONCISE.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Random Dozen

Linda at 2nd Cup has posted some new questions. It is simple to play:
a. Go to her site and copy the questions on Tuesday
b. Answer and post them on your site on Wednesday
c. Link to her site with your answers
d. Visit others who have linked and make some new blog-friends!

1. What insect are you most afraid of? Feel free to post a picture.
I really dislike things that sting. So probably these guys:

2. What is the greenest/most organic thing about you or that you do?
Simply living -- breathing, taking in calories, expelling them -- all that is 'organic'...but I guess if you want to know what we implement in order to be good stewards of what God has provided...I guess the greenest is that my car is a hybrid, our new roof is an energy saver, and we try to remember our reusable bags.
3. Tell me about a recurring dream that haunts you.
My kids need me and I can't get to them.
4. Have you ever missed a flight? What were the circumstances?
5. What do you consider your best feature?
Logical thinking.
6. What was the last concert you went to?
We do a Coffee House at our church each spring and fall and the concerts there are pretty good. I'm not much on conventional concerts - I don't like crowds or loud noise.
7. Describe the most embarrassing church moment you ever experienced.
Can't think of one at the moment, but I know there are some. This past Sunday there were some people clapping to music off the beat but I wasn't one of them.
8. Are you a whistler, hummer or singer?
9. George Washington Carver said, "I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in." What is God saying to you through nature today, or this very minute?
Get off the computer and come out to see my beautiful world I created just for you.
10. On September, 1, 1752, the Liberty Bell arrived in Philadelphia. What memorable event will take place in your life on September 1, 2010?
No plans for anything memorable at this point -- looks to be ordinary, i.e. gym, clean house, cook dinner, etc. Maybe I'll go to the Farmer's Market, but that's not really memorable, just fun.
11. Taco Bell or the Liberty Bell? (You must choose.) 
Love the food but love the principle symbolized by the Liberty Bell more.
12. Do you believe men and women can have purely platonic friendships?
Okay, I've answered this both ways and erased both times. Let's just say God wired us to respond to the opposite sex. He can also enable us to overcome that wiring and keep things cool...but it is very, very, difficult. For women, if a man is kind and supportive to us, that represents relationship and we respond accordingly. For him, our appreciation of this in him says "GREEN LIGHT."

Whew, some tough ones this week! Thanks, Lid!