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I don’t speak boiler.

16 Jan
My week at church has been chilly.  And it’s only Wednesday.
It all began on Sunday.  As I prepared for worship [after hurting my back by walking], I noticed the sanctuary felt chilly.  Fifty-nine degrees chilly.  I fiddled with the thermostat and found everything as it should be except for the fact that there was no heat.  I happily turned the problem over to the men who called the other men to come in vans and shine flashlights in the boiler room.  The thermostat began to go up just as everyone was leaving church for the day.  If it is cold again tomorrow, treasurer Bob told me, just call the heating&cooling guys.  Okay, Bob.
I wasn’t in the office much Monday morning because, well, I slept until 8 and took the morning slow.  [I hurt my back by walking.  Remember?  And I knew I’d be at church thru at least 9 that night.]  I went to the Austin High School to have lunch with Mary, a member, who heads up the nutrition/foodstuff for the Austin district.  She works with fun people; it was fun.  I got back to the office and watched the thermostat in my office slowly decline.  66 … 65 … 64 … 63.  I called the heating&cooling guys.
Guy: So, uh, what’s wrong?
Me: There is no heat.  I’ve watched the temperature go down since I’ve been here.
Guy: No heat, huh?  Have you been in the boiler room?
What I wanted to say: What the hell would I do in the boiler room?
What I actually said: No.  Bob just told me to call you.
Guy came.  Guy called other people.  Guy said he thought he found the problem and he’d be back Tuesday.  Fast-forward.  Guy had been at church for many hours yesterday, finally gets ready to leave, and stops in my [freezing] office to give me the scoop.
Guy: No heat for at least two days … need new parts … I’ve been on the phone forever with warehouses and distributers … burners … cats … you’d better get some space heaters … good luck.  [paraphrased.  and maybe nothing about cats.]
I just nodded, pretending to understand at least one tiny bit of what he said.  I understood enough to call a trustee who then called another trustee who together brought industrial diesel heaters [the kind you use in barns] and space heaters.  They will stop by periodically to turn them on so water doesn’t freeze and walls don’t split and hell doesn’t freeze over.  [Did I just say my church is hell?  Not true.]
God bless the farmer trustees.
They speak boiler.  I do not.

the queen of dumb injuries.

15 Jan
I once popped my knee cap by sitting down.
Have I told you that story?  I was in high school and still riding the bus home from school.  I got on the bus this particular fall day and just as I was somehow twisting my body to sit in the seat, the bus started to move, and that caused my knee cap to pop.  My knee cap was seriously sticking out where it should not have been sticking out.  
I tapped Matt on the shoulder.  Matt was, at the time, one of my friend’s boyfriend.  Look at my knee!  He looked, said, That’s not normal! and then sat back down.  The bus driver could see there was some kind of commotion in the back but I assured her it was fine.  The knee cap popped back into place without much prodding and, really, it did feel okay.  Not too much pain.
Until it was my turn to get off the bus and I could barely make it down the aisle and across the road.  I stayed at the end of the driveway while my dad backed the pickup to where I was and then took me to the emergency room.  I was on crutches and had a knee brace.
That was dumb injury number one.
Dumb injury number two?
I hurt my back.  I feel about 84 when I say that.  I’m on a steady diet of ibuprofen and watching me get out of bed to turn off my alarm is painful, both to do and to watch.  How did I hurt my back?
I was walking.
It was Sunday morning and I was walking to church.  I had my computer in my purse slung over my shoulder, as I always do, and I stopped at the mailbox to grab the church mail from the weekend.  As I walked across the parking lot, I could feel something beginning to happen in my back.  It started to spasm and, well, hurt.
Did you slip on ice? people ask me.  No.
Did you step funny?  Nope.
Did you twist weird?  Not that I recall.  
I was walking.  The queen of dumb injuries rests her case.

merry christmas, mabel.

27 Dec
You know you’ve made it and you’ve been accepted into a congregation when your dog gets Christmas presents.
It was handed to me last Sunday morning.  The tag, right below the bow, said To: Mabel.  From: Shad and Gracie.
I let Mabel open it when I got home that morning.  She loved it.

Mabel is at the kennel now, while I’m home on vacation/for Geep’s funeral.  I dropped her off on Christmas Eve morning and I received a phone call Christmas Eve night.  Mabel had been in a fight.  A dog scuffle.  She tried to take a bone from another dog and got her hind quarters handed to her.  There was a nick out of her ear and a gash on her butt.  Poor Mabel.

a thankful november: first graders.

1 Dec
I know it’s December.  December 1st.   I KNOW.  Calm down.
I was going to write this yesterday but I didn’t get home while it was still yesterday.  Lefse making went late last night [and was awesome.]  More on that to come.  [Three batches, four friends, two griddles, and no catastrophes!  There is a movie title in there somewhere.]
But before the lefse making began, I went to my Friday afternoon gig – helping first graders with sight words.  It’s super fun because we’re starting to get to know each other.  I walk in the rooms and they wave.  Before I leave the room, they yell in unison, Bye Ms. Stolen.  They tell me stories about their elves on the shelves and show me their candy cane picture proudly.  It’s fun.
My favorite part is when they have to make up sentences with their sight words.  For some reason, I think I would struggle with the exercise.  I don’t know why but I’m always amazed at how fast they are.  And how fun the sentences are.  And how they smirk when they say them.  My favorite?  The word: old.  The sentence: you’re old.  smirk

sh*t Molly does.

26 Nov
Emma and I dreamed and planned this blog post as we went shopping with cousin Molly and hung out with cousin Molly.  She does wackiest things and doesn’t care one bit what people think.  Oh, to be like that.  She talks about burying food in the backyard in case of the zombie apocalypse and quotes Dumb and Dumber along with the freaky horror movie preview we saw at the theater.  Molly is frickin’ hilarious and this is the shit she does.  [Not pictured: the bbq potato chip face mask she created at jimmy john’s.]

playing the organ at grandma & grandpa’s in emma’s old prom dress.  naturally.

four inch heels for a thirteen year old?

black friday shopping is exhausting.

they sell this at target.  not kidding.

a thankful november: childlike surprise.

3 Nov
I went to Austin today to fetch sewing machine needles [it was a dire situation; my last one had snapped mid-quilt] and to return library books.  Oh so exciting, right?  I went to the fabric store.  La di da.  And then I went to Target because Target is right next to the fabric store and why oh why would I not go inside to see their fall decor on clearance?  [scored: a black metal jack-o-lantern lantern for 70% off]
Next I drove downtown towards the library.  As I drove past the Hy-Vee and neared my turn, in the open part to the my right was a hot air balloon.  You know – giant.  ‘uge.  I thought, well, that’s cool but nothing much beyond that.  I’ve seen that before.  Kept driving.
I returned my library books and as I was walking to my car again, a stranger – an older gentleman – was a couple cars away from me.  He yelled to me, Look!  A pie in the sky.  I first I thought, wow, this man is crazy and yelling about pie.  I followed his finger pointing to the hot air balloon, now floating above Austin.  Okay, pretty cool.  I smiled at him and said something lame about it taking off from over by Hy-Vee.  He said again, It’s a pie in the sky.
He was so surprised by the sight.  He was so excited about it that he shared it with me, a perfect stranger, in the library parking lot.  But he wasn’t the only one taken by the balloon.  As I drove away thru downtown, people had spilled out of the VFW and other businesses to stare up at the pie in the sky.  [This makes Austin seem pretty boring, if people go out of their way to watch a balloon.  SPAM, we need some excitement.]  
It was like a small child seeing Christmas lights, or an airplane fly overhead, or the delight a kid gets from seeing polar bears wrestle at the zoo.  If only things surprised us like that more often, eh? 

whose mom are you?

26 Oct
Hanging out with first graders is fun.  It was my second time volunteering at the elementary school, my every Friday gig.  Today, the refrain I heard over and over was, “Whose mom are you?”
I told one little red head boy with Ron Weasley-like facial expressions that I was no one’s mom.  That I was just a friend.
He scrunched his face up and asked me again, “Whose mom are you?”  
I’m not a mom.  I’m just a friend.  Is that okay?
Ron Weasley-like facial expression.  No response.
Okay.  Can you go and send Lily out to meet with me now?


We worked on sight words.  That use is a tough one.

that’s so sad.

26 Aug
At the wedding reception last night, I was one of the first guests into the room where we would be dining and wanted to find a seat that was out of the way but also easily accessible to stand up and pray before the meal.  I chose a seat at a table that had no one else at it yet and sat down.  
A group of people approached and asked if they could join me.  Of course, I said.  It was two older women [sisters] and two teenagers [daughters of one of the women]; I didn’t know them at all.
One of the teenagers:  Are you here by yourself?
Me: Yes.
Teenager: (with pity)  Awww!  That’s so sad!

———————
Yes.  Thank you.

tithing.

12 Jul
Please excuse my absence.  Life is ca-ray-zee with no signs of letting up.  I leave on a bus for New Orleans on Monday.  Posts may be few and far between in the next week and a half.  Such is life.
Even in the last five days, I have little to say, but let me tell you a Marilyn-the-administrative-assistant story.  They’re always good.
I went into work on Tuesday around 9:30.  Banker’s hours, Marilyn says.  I don’t even open my office door; I just head straight for Marilyn’s office to check in.  We exchange pleasantries and then she delivers exciting news.
The girls and I went to the casino yesterday, she said.
Oh, really?
I was the big winner of the group.  I always give 10% of my winnings to the church and I’ve decided to give that portion to Red Oak Grove.

That’s very nice of you.
She smirked and pushed a nickel and penny my way.  Here you go.

She won 55 cents and rounded up to a six-cent tithe for the glory of God and mission of the church.  
Thanks, Marilyn.

read it in your baby voice.

5 Jul
The best part of my day?

Following @HonestToddler on twitter.

Cracks me up every time.

[There was a really great pastoral visit in there too.  I was there for over an hour but it was great, insightful, and fun conversation.  They asked me how things were going for me – these are people I feel like I can be honest with – so I mentioned how sometimes the hardest part is living in the big house by myself.  Mark – who is also the custodian at church – said he’d be my friend.  He invited me over to watch cooking shows and play cards.  He’s 65.  His wife gave me garden green beans.  Deal.]

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