Monday, October 10, 2011


Oh the joy of celebrating life with pie(s) in the face. In this case, there were two: one was chocolate, the other banana cream.

These were home-made, and from what little actually made it into my mouth, absolutely delicious.

As some of my long time friends know, for many years I carried out the tradition of getting a pie in the face each year on my birthday. I THOUGHT I was all done with this silly bit of nonsense once I turned 50. Last week I celebrated my 54th birthday, so it has been a while since the last time I did this. However, this was my BEST birthday in many years. Between landing my new job and making some excellent connections with people I care about, it just felt like everything in my life is swimming with blessings right now. I was so grateful and giddy with how things unfolded, what can I just made me want to do another pie. Only this time I did it with a twist.

Last week we had mid-term exams in my Introductory Sociology class. I told my students that anyone who earned a perfect score on the test would get to hit me in the face with a pie. How's that for incentive for students to study?? There were two students who made it, so they each got their own pie. At the end of class tonight the whole group went with me outside to the college lawn and there we did the official SPLAT. It was great. Sticky, for sure, but great.

Life is sweet - and if you don't believe me - honestly, there's nothing to kick start your sense of humor like a nice gooey pie in the face.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Stronger at the Broken Places

I originally wrote this post back in 2007 over on my other blog, Life By Design. I'm repeating it here now for the benefit of a particular friend who is going through a hard time.

I once had a wise teacher who told me about making balsa wood airplanes as a child.

While flying them out in a field on a windy day, one of his favorite planes crashed and broke. He was sad to see the crumpled, shattered body lying in a heap. It appeared to be utterly ruined.

However, after the initial disappointment, he picked up the pieces and carefully, painstakingly, glued them back together. Then he left it for a while to sit and dry. Finally, when he was confident it was ready, he took it back out to fly again.

Amazingly, that repaired plane became one of his best flyers. Although scarred and perhaps less beautiful that the unbroken planes, that one was so sturdy that even when it took an occasional tumble, it didn't break again. It had become stronger at the broken places because of the glue.

Our lives are often like that. We have heartaches and disappointments. We have circumstances that make us feel as if we have crashed into the ground. But if we can pick ourselves up and glue those crumpled pieces of our heart back together, we too can become stronger at the broken places, with new found resilience to face the storms the world may bring.

During a particularly difficult time in my life, I received the card you see pictured here. As it says: "Sometimes when you least expect it, life gives you a big ol' sock in the nose." Then, on the inside it reads:"Not to worry. With time the pain will pass, and from it you will have gained experience, which gives you information, which gives you objectivity,which gives you wisdom, which gives you truth, which gives you freedom from having to get a sock in the nose again." Every now and then, when I am facing struggles in navigating the current of my world, it helps to pull out the card and to remember the story of that broken airplane.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Happy Happy Birthday to ME!

I just had the BEST BIRTHDAY I've had in years. From start to finish it was just an amazing day.

1. I got the job that I had been hoping for. More money than I had expected AND the possibility of tuition reimbursement for a grad program I've been looking at. YIPPEE!

2. I had some amazing connections with family and friends.

I went out to dinner at a la-dee-dah fancy restaurant with my husband, my brother and my sister-in-law. (Although I've been told they have the best steaks in town not one of us ordered a steak. But the duck, the halibut and Ahi Tuna were stunning!)

I also had some great phone calls/emails/cards that brightened my day. In particular I had a great talk with my cousin in Renton, WA and my brilliant-and-delightfully-kooky inventor kid brother in California.

3. I was still on a spiritual high from the recent worldwide conference of my church.

Put that all together and life is just bowling me over with blessing right now.

There is a small town in Gooding County called Bliss, Idaho. But I'd say I've found my bliss right where I am.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

October Yard Photos

One of the things I love best about my yard in the fall is the grapes that grow all over the back porch. They are very yummy and they smell absolutely divine.

Although our veggie garden is still going strong, most of the flowers in the front yard (except for our faithful roses) have slowed down or stopped.

There are a few exceptions: Aster, Dahlias, & Marigolds are still looking nice.

In the back yard I've got mostly yellows now, with Fireworks goldenrod, sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)and ligularia blooming:

I've got a couple spots that are still showing other colors (last remaining pinks of my hollyhock, some purple butterfly bush and phlox) Soon though I'll begin to get the deep reds from my burning bush, Virginia creeper and the Japanese maple tree.

I definitely want to plant a few new things next year that will give me more variety this time of year. Perhaps I'll put in some mums? But for now, it's all I can do to keep up with squash, tomatoes and cucumbers that are still producing with profusion.

I've heard it's supposed to turn off cold by the end of next week... before you know it will get a freeze and then it will be time to put the garden to bed. I'm ready.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

How Much is Enough?

Once again I am waiting on pins and needles to see if I get picked for a job I have applied for. My interview went very well and I've heard back from three of my references that they have been called, so I know I am in the "finalist" stage, but the deal is not set yet.

I REALLY want this job for a number of reason. I think it would be a good match for my current skill sets, but would also give me room to grow both personally and professionally. Also, while my current position has been great on a lot of levels, the grant funding is ticking away with a definite end point. I am like yogurt with an expiration date. That job will definitely evaporate in the spring. So sometime between now and then it is critical that I find a new position.

The last time I was unemployed I had my husband's salary and benefits to fall back on. Now that he is retired, that is no longer the case. So the fact that I've got a firm lead sooner rather than later is a very good thing.

There's just one bit of a wrinkle in the soup. The job I'm up for is only funded for 20 hrs per week. That means I will take a BIG hit financially to jump ship at this point. It does have full benefits, a true rarity for a part time job. Also it IS very much a professional leadership position with a high level of responsibility. It's simply part of a contract with a skinny budget, so a half time director is all they can afford.

I do not know yet how much the salary will be, but I suspect it may be less than half of what I am currently earning. Add that to the fact that my present position pays substantially less than the last two jobs I had prior to this and clearly it translates to me moving in the wrong direction in terms of income. But I know I am not alone in that. Welcome to the Great Recession where pay cuts and underemployment are rampant all across the land.

Still, other than the money, in ever other respect this job sounds like something I could really sink my teeth into. It is for a non-profit that has an excellent reputation. They've recently won a national awards for flexibility in the workplace. People I've talked to about the place say it is a phenomenal outfit to work for. I had previously met the exec director who I would report to and I believe he would be a great boss. Most of all, this feels like a job where I could make a positive difference, and that is something that really matters to me.

So I've been giving a lot of thought to what my line in the sand is in terms of dollars. How much do I have to earn in order to take this job IF it is offered?

We live in a country that assigns merit and worth to people based on titles and dollars and how many shiny things we own. I am quite capable of seeing the silliness in that sort of thinking. I absolutely recognize that there are far more important quality of life aspects to a job than how big the paycheck is or whether I get a nice office. Still, I do have certain household expenses which must be covered. It really wouldn't matter how much I liked my job if I had to worry all the time about not being able to pay my bills. So, I'm going over the family budget and trying to determine, at what point do the scales tip between taking a job I think I could love which pays poorly vs. keeping a better paying job that I know is time limited while I look for something else?

As I look at the job market in town for what other sorts of things I might be able to pursue if I let this one pass by me, I'm being careful not to let myself get all tangled up in the bird-in-the-hand vs. bird-in-the-bush delusions. (Since right now I'm comparing the bird NOT in my hand to a bush I've yet to identify, it's even more complicated.) I'm not the least bit afraid of working hard. I just want to work in a place that has a culture of professionalism where people have integrity and treat each other like grown ups. Is that so much to ask?

It will be interesting to see how this whole job thing plays out... hopefully I will hear relatively soon. This limbo land of not knowing is wearing kinda thin.

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