Friday, March 31, 2006

what i will NOT be doing on sunday evening

Did anyone happen to catch the following CNN article today?

Holy Poor Sportsmanship! Youth Minister Charged After 'Dodgeball Rage' Incident

I have to admit, I laughed out loud in spite of myself. It sounds like it should be a headline from The Onion. I can picture this poor guy thinking "What's wrong with a harmless game of dodgeball?" just before getting beaned in the head by a 16-year-old with a strong arm and accurate aim. I mean, come on: who really thinks it's a good idea to gather a bunch of teenagers together for the sole purpose of pegging each other with a rubber ball? Who thinks it's an even better idea to jump into the middle of the fray? Recipe for disaster.

I can't decide what's worse: that this happened at all, or that it's front page news on Either way, I'm pretty sure we will not be playing dodgeball at youth group this least, not anymore.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

the anti-rip-off

I'm in the process of trying to get my jetted tub fixed. For the past year, turning on the jets in the tub has caused water to gush through the light fixtures in the kitchen ceiling. Probably a bad sign, no? Every time I use the tub, it is decidedly unfulfilling because I can't turn the jets on for fear of electricution and flooding. I haven't had it fixed sooner because there are no access doors to the pump and pipes; consequently, I had to have the siding ripped off around the tub just to get to the leak.

I talked to this handyman last week about coming by to fix it - he came highly recommended by a couple of people at work. Relatively young guy, probably about my age or a little younger. He dropped by this afternoon to take a look. He showed me where the sealant had come loose between the pipe and the pump. He said it was a pretty easy fix that I could do myself and told me exactly what I needed to get at the hardware store for the repair. I thanked him and asked him how much I owed him for the consult. He said, "Oh, don't worry about - you don't owe me anything. I just do repair work after my day job to make a little extra money and help people out who need it."

It seemed to be such a change from the often-expensive fee that plumbers and electricians usually charge just for showing up. It's unnecessarily kind acts like this one that restore my faith in the goodness of humanity...or at least help me get my hot tub fixed for cheap.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

how the mighty have fallen

It's 10:00 PM. I'm sitting in my office having just finished choir rehearsal. I checked the basketball scores on to see what I missed...and now I'm afraid to go home because DUKE just LOST. I've never seen Colin get super-pissed, but I imagine that if ever there were a time when he might be throwing things and screaming at the top of his lungs, it might be now. Yikes.

So much for my brackets.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

just what i needed

Salvation comes when you least expect it...and from unlikely places. I've been feeling more than a little overextended the past six weeks - as evidenced by my lack of postings on this blog - and I've been approaching a point where I need to slow down and take a break or risk total exhaustion and burn-out.

So, I was completely caught off guard when Virginia, the organist and director of the choir for the 9:00 AM Sunday service, walked into my office on Monday, told me I had been looking overly tired at rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and asked if I wanted to take off from Wednesday night rehearsals until after Easter. For those of you that know how constant, demanding, and consuming the choirs are for me, you realize what a coup this is and how grateful I was (and still am) for the surprise suggestion. I feel blessed to have been given this little reprieve when I expected it least and needed it most.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

o me of little faith

It's been a beatiful few days, warm and spring-like for the most part. The kind of weather that allows me to thrive. Over the weekend, I began building vegetable garden beds in my backyard. I've never had a vegetable garden in my adult life, and I only vaguely remember helping my parents with the one we had when I was about five.

This vegetable planting has resulted from the confluence of several items. While the idea of a vegetable garden has always appealed to me, I've never had anyone who could instruct me as to what to do. (Given my natural knack for killing plants - ten, yes, TEN azalea bushes - this is an absolute necessity.) Nor have I had anyone willing to help with the manual labor of gardening on a regular basis. Thankfully, mercifully, Erin has taken on both of these roles. Brave girl. Couple this with my new-found focus on vegetables as a consequence of giving up meat for Lent, and suddenly a vegetable garden seems like an absolute necessity!

But here's the thing: seeds are small. REALLY small. Tiny. But plants...plants are big. Plants are hearty, leafy, fruitful. We started planting these tiny seeds in miniscule trays that barely hold an ounce of soil. We buried a single seed in each one and covered it with a few granules of wet dirt. All I could think was, "No way." Erin said, "Trust me. They'll grow." I shook my head. "No way." I mean, those things are tiny. "They'll get lost in there."

That was four days ago. This morning, there was life where there was no life before: little sprouts of green as my lettuce had begun to germinate and sprout.

Maybe I should reconsider how much faith I really have...

Friday, March 10, 2006

and one to grow on

So. Today is my birthday. Twenty-nine. Counting down the days to 30.

Strangely, I don't have that "digging my heels in" sensation that I've sometimes had on other birthdays, that knee-jerk Peter Pan "I won't grow up" feeling. I have no idea why. But it's nice. And freeing.

It doesn't hurt that today is the first day this year that has really, legitimately felt like spring. It's that first day of good warm weather that makes me want to laugh - almost maniacally - just because it's so beautiful outside. I am thankful that some cosmic coincidence has landed that day on this particular date this year.

Birthday. Day off. Incredible weather. Dinner plans with Erin later. I can't imagine that it gets much better than this.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

so, what's in the box?

Despite the fact that she is almost 90, my grandmother is still a very sharp, very "with it" woman. For the most part she acts as if she is 15 to 20 years younger. At Christmas, she always sends tasteful gifts: a stylish scarf, a pair of nice gloves, an interesting book, etc. - she is always very thoughtful. However, she seems to use my birthday as an occasion to exercise her practicality. Every year she sends me a care package for my birthday, and every year it includes items with which to stock my pantry. She either thinks that I am starving, or that I don't know how to shop for myself...or perhaps both.

The thought is endearing, but it's the curiosity of some of the items themselves that make me wonder what she was thinking. It gets weirder every year: I didn't even know some of these existed. Here is the inventory of this year's birthday box:

1 bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies
1 box of Orville Redenbacher "Mini Bags" of Smart Pop
1 package of generic caramel dipped shortbread cookies
1 box of Suddenly Salad Creamy Parmesan Pasta
1 box of Pasta Roni Chicken Quesadilla-flavored Pasta
1 package of Lipton "Asian Sides" Chicken Fried Rice
1 bag of Idahoan Butter & Herb "Just Add Water" Instant Mashed Potatoes.
1 "Lunch Bucket" pasta & chicken
1 package of yellow cornbread mix
1 package of brown gravy mix
1 cannister of French Fried Onions
1 "Lunch Bucket"-style spaghetti rings & franks
1 can Campbell's Split-Pea with Ham & Bacon soup
1 package of Chicken of the Sea shrimp

If I'm ever forced to build a bomb shelter and hide out in it for a couple of weeks, I think I'll be all set.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

in the waiting line

Having been awake far too long already today, I find myself being distracted by the most inconsequential minutia. This morning's inane burning question is this: When I use the drive-thru teller at the bank to make a deposit, it takes - on average - approximately 60 seconds from the time I put my checks in the container to the moment when the teller says, "Have a nice day." Maybe 90 seconds if I'm getting cash back. Why, then, does it often take the person in front of me upward of 6 or 7 minutes to do what they need to do? A deposit is a deposit - ceteris paribus - and shouldn't vary too much from one to another. So what are those people doing, anyway? Have they asked for cash back in nickels, dimes, and quarters? Maybe they want 50 crisp singles with no folded edges to feed the vending machines at work? Or perhaps they're submitting a loan application?

I don't know. It's a little baffling. I assume these are the same people that are able to drag the grocery checkout experience into a 15-minute ordeal, as well.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

crossing the finish line

These have been two of the busiest weeks of my existence...and finally they are coming to an end (Hallelujah!). It's as if every time I blink three days and 80% of my energy are lost. I spent 8 of 9 straight nights doing work-related things. We had our big Mardi Gras fundraiser at the church on Tuesday night, two services on Ash Wednesday, and then the grand finale of the work week on Thursday evening: the entire choir got booted from rehearsal halfway through because we were ill-prepared on a piece that should have been more up to snuff. We didn't even practice the two anthemns for Sunday. Unbelievable.

The weekend did bring some reprieve, though. I had a Friday happy hour gig with Oak Lane, the folk/bluegrass band I've been playing in. Not a bad start....but Saturday was the real redeemer of the week. After a Joe's Inn Saturday lunch that was so late it almost qualified as dinner, Erin and I went to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, which I hadn't visited in over a year. The best part was that we saw all these exhibits I'd never experienced - or certainly had never appreciated - before. I finally learned to which time periods "Art Nouveau" and "Art Deco" refer. I even felt vague affection for a Frank Lloyd Wright chair - it's probably the only time I've ever actually looked at furniture in a museum and paid attention.

On top of everything else going on this week, today was Youth Sunday at the church. At the 9:00 service this morning, the youth ran everything in the service: they were the officiants, the preacher, the ushers, the acolytes, the readers, the musicians, etc. And all of them fulfilled their duties with much more poise than might be expected of people their age. They made me feel proud and privileged to have the job that I do.

And now, I plan to revel in the end of the week (or the beginning of a less-busy week, I guess) with a nap before Youth Group tonight.