Monday, January 30, 2006

I do still have a brain, after all

Now, on first blush, one would think that spending many hours poring over nit-picky details of a church conference constitution sounds like an exercise of the utmost boredom. Ahh, but when it is done in the company of a group of people who have many differing ideas of just what changes need to be made and with precisely what wording and what changes might actually be accepted by the constituency at large...and yet are very respectful of one another, then it becomes an fascinating experience...particularly enjoyable by one who'd begun to be convinced that, whatever brain used to lodge under that thinning and graying hair has long since taken itself on a long and extended vacation...

Friday, January 27, 2006

I have a van again!

I'm so tickled. I've really, really, really missed having a van ... and now the OC has bought me a brand, shiny new one! I'd always felt like our old Caravan was built for somebody taller than I, so he only looked at vans with electrically adjustable driver's seat and pedals (adjustable pedals, imagine that!). Anyway, what we ended up with is the Touring Chrysler Town and Country minivan. It's the long wheel base version with leather seats (ahhhhh) and seats that fold away into the floor to allow for hauling cargo but are right there ready to open up when needed. This photo shows the middle bucket seats up with the divided back bench seat folded away.

The color is "magnesium" which is a sort of dark gray with teensy flecks of teal and blue that show when the sun shines on the finish. Gray, it turns out, is a great color for hiding winter's dirt and salt. Maybe that's why it also seems to be a very popular color ... as I discovered yesterday when I had to search and search over many rows of a shopping center parking lot before I finally found it. (blush)

Ahhh, but, oh, how I purrrrr every time I get in it to drive anywhere (or even think of my lovely new van). Qwerty is equally thrilled to have the PT Cruiser handed down to her...and Alicia was more than happy about the great deal she got on the old Concorde. It's nice when things work out so that everybody's happy. ;-)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Important lesson learned

Lit candles and open maps do not belong on the same table. Oops.

Fortunately, the OC spotted the results of their combination just as the flames approached 8 inches and was able to extinguish the fire so no harm was done...except to the map. It looks like I'll be making a visit to AAA in the morning to pick up a replacement map.

Lesson learned...


I'm beginning to think perhaps, instead of calling this My Empty Nest, I should have used something more like My Grand Central Station. :-) Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I love having people coming and going!

It's been quite a ride recently. B was here and needed a middle-of-the-night ride to the airport well over 2 hours away. Grammie came for a (delightful) week and needed not only companionship, but also to be taken to a series of medical tests and evaluations (with an excellent local internist).

Then it was time for D to return to college. Sounds straightforward, right? Not this time around. See, over her vacation, D decided to apply to an accelerated program to become an Adult Nurse Practitioner...and it's a thousand miles away! The morning she was supposed to be packing up to return to (her nice, close, two-and-a-half-hours-away) college, reality set in--this could be the beginning of the end of our house still being her home.

D was in one part of the house procrastinating on packing, I was in another part, feeling sad and not getting much done, either. And whenever our paths crossed, we snapped at each other. Finally, the light dawned, and I went to her, led her to a couch and pulled her into my lap...where we cried on each other's shoulders for quite awhile. After that, we both calmed down and were able to get done what needed to be done. Ah, tears are indeed healing!

The morning the OC drove away with Grammie, I barely had time to notice that I was the only person in the house--I was too busy scurrying around changing sheets and starting on the more essential parts of the mountains of our laundry that had accumulated while others needed the washer--before heading off to a committee meeting at the church conference office.

Then there were the many details of another big project that occupied the next two days (more on that in a subsequent entry) and it wasn't until this morning when I have nowhere that I need to go, that suddenly the house seems very, very quiet...and very empty. Even the cat seems to sense it as she's been hanging around nearby all morning. Of course, the snow falling outside that muffles even outdoor sounds may have something to do with that silence. ;-)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

REAL bread last!

It turns out that it wasn't my fault, after all. Well, it was, but it wasn't. It wasn't anything I did, but rather what I didn't do or didn't change. Confused yet?

For the last year or even two, I've been having trouble with my homemade bread. It used to be that I was known for my lovely, yummy, soft-as-white bread made from freshly-ground wheat. It began to seem that my bread wasn't rising as well as it used to. I tried all sorts of bread-baking hints--use only filtered water, add the salt later, get new yeast, add a crushed vitamin C tablet, let it rise only twice instead of three times. But, the problem just seemed to get worse. My "flat bread" was becoming a family joke!

Finally, I ordered another fresh package of "instant yeast" from the co-op and tried again. Yikes! That batch was even worse; it scarcely rose to the edges of the bread pans...and soured in the hours it took to rise that much. That did it! I decided the problem was all the fault of that compressed Red Star Instant Yeast and hied myself off to the grocery store to buy a jar of regular Fleishman's Active Dry (AKA "slow") yeast...and...

Oh, JOY! Bread. Real bread. Dough rising up to become lovely, soft, puffy magic! Ahhhhh.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Nothing so constant as change

Yes, I know it's been too long since I've written anything here...but how can one write about an "empty nest" while it isn't empty?

First D had this whole end-of-rough-semester-stresses-and-I-hate-the-dorm-noise-so-I-need-to-move-into-an apartment angst that necesitated my going down to the college to help bring back all of her belongings just in case the apartment worked out (it's not happening--at least not this semester). A friend also came along for a long weekend before they both went off to the wedding of mutual friends, so the house was anything but empty for a few days there. BTW, Motorola Walkabouts really simplify driving three cars caravan-style late at night--especially when two of them are piloted by exhausted college students and the third by a concerned parental type.

Then, I had just a few hours to get linens laundered and the guest bed remade before B brought Grammie for Christmas week. That added a new dimension to things as Grammie tends to forget the answers to questions she's just of course she needs to ask again. The loading of the dishwasher is always a fascinating process. Anyway, she's a sweetie but does pick up on ambient stress and I, at least, was rather stressed that week, mostly over public performances.

The wind ensemble Christmas concert went amazingly spite of my beginner status (yes, there were runs and trills that I simply didn't play) and afterwards I was able to sleep nights again, LOL.

The acoustics in the old chapel in which we played were amazing--I could actually hear myself playing! Scary thought, that...

The performance, I confess, was greatly enhanced by several musicians ("real" musicians of the "actually get paid to play" sort) who joined us for the concert. Lest you suffer under any illusions that that this is more than an "accepts all comers" sort of musical group.

My little class of 1st-3rd graders had so much fun acting out their SS lesson the week before Christmas that they begged to be allowed to do it for the whole church.
So, I got busy scrounging and sewed up some more costumes and the day before Christmas they wowed the congregation with a very well-done portrayal of shepherds and angels. Alas, distracted with all the last minute delegation and overseeing of various support roles, I forgot to hand the camera I'd brought along to the OC. So, in order to show you the costumes I made, I am simply forced to post photos of grandchildren instead of SS class children. What a handy excuse. ;-)

So then it was Christmas (yes, we'd all scurried around and made sure that there were ample presents for Grammie to open) and my sweet family gifted me with a cool all-in-one printer/fax/scanner/copier and the dear OC reminded me that months and months ago I'd said that the one thing I wanted for Christmas was to go to Florida in February and he's taking me to Florida in February!!!!!!

Then there was the Day After Christmas In-law Extended Family Dinner which was lovely...until the why-can't-we-all-communicate-and-work-together-with-Gram's-care confrontation. Sigh. After two stressful hours, a new plan was in place. Hopefully, this one will, indeed, include more cooperation. I'm not sure which is harder--to lose one's mother suddenly and unexpectedly or to have to watch her steady decline while doing everything possible for her to remain in her home as long as possible.

There were a few quiet days with just our happily decompressing college girl here and then a delightful surprise: #1 son-in-law was on our side of the continent and we were able to steal him away for a couple of days. What fun! We had an absolutely wonderful visit--he helped set up my fancy new printer/scanner, fixed us up with wireless internet throughout the house and deciphered the mysteries of our GPS gizmo. The weather was beautiful yesterday so we made a foray into geocaching. What fun!

After a wee hours start, he's now en route home to his loving family and we wait to see what interesting change will happen next around this apparently only occasionally empty nest.