What happens after?

I had a nightmare. It is rare for me to have nightmares. Even as a child I can only think of a few times I went crying to my parents’ room to seek comfort, to seek the reality that would put aside the fear.

Nightmares – the stuff of our imaginations and, more than anything, fear of the unknown.

In my grown-up life the nightmares flee before reason. I ask first – is this possible? If the answer is “no” the problem is solved, and the fear is gone but if the answer is “yes” then I ask – “What might I do to avoid this possibility?” In recent times there is also the problem that I can do nothing to avoid the possibility so then I must ask “What happens after?” 

What happens after is something that occupies my thoughts and my nightmares these days. 

If I get sick and die does not trouble me as I know what happens after! But if I get sick I might have difficulties recovering both health wise and economically – what happens after?

If my children are affected because there is illness in the family or lost income – what happens after?

When we come out on the other side – what happens after?

That last one is the stuff of nightmares. I want to be in charge of my own future but can do little and all we hear about is what is happening now. What happens after?

For now, all I can do is act cautiously to avoid any illness on my own part, encourage everyone I know to also act cautiously and pray someone has or is working on a plan for What happens after.

COVID-19 update

COVID-19 is causing issues for everyone….let me rephrase that … it SHOULD be causing issues for everyone. Everyone should be thinking in terms of “You are infected. What is the responsible thing for you to do to protect others?” Unfortunately, there are a lot of folks out there congregating in large groups on the beaches of Florida and other places as if they are immune. According to the CDC there is no such thing as “immune”. There are some who are not severely affected but who can carry the illness to others. So…please for my sake and for those in your life who are in the vulnerable group. Act like you have this illness. Act like you do not wish to make any one sick.

Me? Well I am currently well. I am in the vulnerable group for multiple reasons: age, diabetic, asthma, heart murmur and most recently, blood type A may be more vulnerable than type O, but I am currently well.

My life has changed – I’m working from home. As we are not printing bulletins and the office is not open, I can do my Good Shepherd work from my sofa! Much of my work for St. Columba can also be done from home but I do need to take care of accounting chores that can only be done in the office. I am there for a few hours Monday afternoon. This also helps folks know that we are still church as various people take some time to be in the office. We are careful! If more than one person is in the building social distancing applies. Food Bank is being staffed by less vulnerable people and the vulnerable have been temporarily “fired”! Good Shepherd’s a lunch location for the local school district. The normal community dinner is taking place but as sack lunches.

Community is being maintained with services moving online using Facebook Live and/or Zoom. iMessage chats, Google Hangouts, phone calls and email all help to keep us in touch with each other.

We need to be in touch! It is a general part of the human condition that we need others. Even the introverts, and I am one, need to be in touch even if we cannot actually touch.

So stay in touch! Stay Well! I hope to see you in person soon.

Lent 2020

I have observed Lent in some fashion for many years. Generally it is more about doing something rather than not doing. There are exceptions – meat is not eaten on Fridays in Lent although I admit I generally forget at least once. I have seen lists of ideas to “give up” including various attitudes. One of my favorite lists is found at this link https://www.yourmodernfamily.com/10-lent-ideas/

I especially like the idea of not buying something unless you truly need it. Bottom line many of the items on the linked list are good ideas for life in general not just Lent. That is actually one of the things I learn every year – a new pattern that becomes a part of my life.

Some years ago the “thing” I added for Lent was to spend a measured amount of time in prayer outside of Sunday. It was something I had always done sporadically but making it a true part of everyday changed me more than any other one thing. Well becoming a wife, mother, grandmother, widow don’t count.

I have in recent months found myself to be less than patient, less than polite in certain circumstances. I have been working on this but am still finding myself wanting so it is a goal, not just for Lent, but for Life to work on it. Each day I will include in my prayer time a request for help to be a patient, polite face to the people I serve.

Do you have plans for Lent? If not I recommend finding something to include in your life that can make the lives of those around you better and do everything with love. You may be surprised at how much your life changes.

Primary in Washington – that is the STATE not DC

Washington Sate primaries are run by the parties so, of course, they want to know which party you favor. This rule – must choose a party for your primary ballot to count – has been in place since late 1990’s.

I object. I have never chosen a party and would prefer to not start. Last primary I did not vote but have not decided what to do this time around. I do plan to wait until next week when the number of remaining candidates will be reduced. At that time I will decide if I feel strongly enough towards any particular candidate to be willing to affiliate with a party.

I also want to protest the assumption that the current president must be the candidate of the Republican Party so I might just declare republican but write in “anybody else”.

Choices. It is my choice and more than anything I appreciate that I have an opportunity to make a choice.

You can’t do just one thing

When I was young my parents covered the beautiful hardwood floors in our living room with wall to wall carpet. It broke my heart as I loved those floors but that is not what this is about….

The carpet made Mom realize that the room needed to be repainted. Repainting the room led to a desire to recover the couch which led to a desire to replace my Father’s very worn chair which led to…… you get the idea. She could not do just one thing.

Today I had a similar experience but with cleaning. It started in a whole new place with cleaning the dishwasher! When getting out more Jet Dry I realized the under sink area was…smelly. Ah me….something I threw out recently missed the garbage, fell behind the can and was now creating a less then joyful mess! So now I needed to take everything out from under the counter and clean the area throughly. That led to an extra cleaning of the counters including the WAY back corner I have to stand on my stool to reach. Pretty soon I was elbow deep in all kinds of places – the filter for the washer and dryer, the vacuum cleaner filter and hoses. Suddenly I sort of wished I had not decided to clean the dishwasher!

An odd example of you can’t do just one thing!

Grief Anniversaries

Of course, a loss colors birthdays, the date of death, the final services, holidays – most recently Valentine’s Day – but it also colors remarkably ordinary days and occurrences.

Not long after Glen’s death I discovered one of those ‘normal occurrences’ centered on a fork. One morning at breakfast some years before his death I gave Glen a salad fork with his egg. He made an off-hand comment which became a tradition of ‘breakfast fork’ rather than ‘salad fork’. I took out a fork for my breakfast this particular morning, noticed it was a ‘breakfast fork’ and burst into tears.

There are good things and bad things about Facebook memories. They make me happy but can also trigger a grief anniversary. I thought perhaps I should delete the ones that make me sad but recognized that these moments are also full of joy! I had my husband for 45 years. First met him at 15, had other lives but returned to each other and married at 22. I’d have to delete a lot of my life if my goal was to remove grief anniversaries and avoid some extremely satisfying activities and items.

Do I never again watch a football game because I remember sharing the Super Bowl win of the Seahawks with Glen? Do I never step foot in a horse barn again because I think of Glen’s loving care of my horse when I had foot surgery and was non-weightbearing for 10 weeks? Do I forever avoid certain songs?

No! I adapt! I recognized recently I was avoiding wearing a pair of truly beautiful turquoise and silver earrings Glen gave me. I was looking for something else in my jewelry box one morning when the earrings came to my hand. I cried as I used silver polish to clean them up then rejoiced as several times that day someone commented on how lovely they were.

I will rejoice in the memories even as I cry. I will rejoice in knowing how much he loved me. I will rejoice in knowing he will be remembered by many and affected the lives of not just our family but of those God sent him to serve.

I will rejoice!

Christmas 2019

Here we are again! I like these catchups.

As usual I use Facebook and my blog a lot so again this year will recap rather than give lots of details. I will post this to http://www.phoebesplace.org and Facebook as some friends only access Facebook or the blog not necessarily both. I started to write “my non-internet friends would get a hard copy” but realized my non-internet friends have either died or have a family member who can share this with them so there is no longer a need for hard copy.

Family

  • Jessi, Brandon and the kids (Eion and Emma) no significant changes there except that the kids are really growing!
  • Jenn is still teaching pre-school in Redmond, but recently moved to Kirkland where she shares a two bed apartment with a friend from St. John. She continues working part-time at St. John’s in Kirkland where she is in charge of children’s ministries. She is continuing work on her college degree in Early Childhood Education through a program at Bellevue College.

We have plans! In January the new Fiddler is coming to the Paramount in Seattle. Jessi is gong to fly up and we will celebrate Jenn’s birthday and – yeah this probably seems odd – attend a performance on the 14th which is three years after Glen’s death. Glen and I once played Tevya and Golde so this occasion is a celebration and remembrance of life – good life! – and 45 years of marriage.

Me

  • I am enjoying my apartment in Auburn. We do have occasional issues with police in the parking lot, occasional missing packages and the elevator fails to work now and then but basically I like it. 
  • I’ve been having a bad time with my right hand so have not been playing my flute as I don’t have the grip to hold it but a shot in the base of the thumb has allowed some improvement. 
  • I still work at St. Columba about 5 hours/week, do two days a month of Godly Play at the preschool for St. John in Kirkland and as of September am the Parish Administrator for Good Shepherd in Federal Way for 15 hours/week.
  • I continue as president of the assembly for Olympia for Daughters of the King and am the database guru for Come and See … Go and Tell the Cursillo community of the Diocese of Olympia.
  • I’m in my second year of Education for Ministry (EfM). My group meets on Monday mornings on the grounds of St. Mark’s in Seattle. It works well to take public transportation.
  • Time commitments to Good Shepherd and St. Columba mean I’ve dropped Silver Sounds, but I do still sing in St. Columba’s Singers.
  • Walla has been in training at Canine Companions for Independence in Santa Rosa since August. I miss her even though she actually went to a second puppy raiser some months before going to training as my vestibular migraines were making it hard to really work her training. They report she is doing well.
  • Swimming and other exercise other than walking have been neglected lately as timing is not as open.
  • My church friend and I continue going to the Seattle Symphony.
  • Various activities at St. Columba continue
  • The PT for my balance issues continued for some months. It helped some and, if nothing else, helped me know I do compensate really well. I traded my Apple watch for a newer model with fall detection. I continue to have issues in low light situations because I can’t find a focal point but am learning to compensate fairly well. A new discovery – Christmas sweaters with flashing lights are a nightmare! Recently one triggered a full on PAINFUL migraine in addition to balance issues.

Love, Christmas Blessings and hopes for a Joyous New Year!

“Random”

According to Ramsey theory , ideal randomness is impossible especially for large structures. For example, professor Theodore Motzkin pointed out that “while disorder is more probable in general, complete disorder is impossible”. Misunderstanding of this can lead to numerous conspiracy theories and misunderstandings. I got off on this subject because of a news item today about the military draft that ended in 1973. It was based on a “random” selection of birthdates which many complained was not truly random.

My issues with the idea of random came when I was asked to “randomly select” medical samples for testing. I used a simple random number generator to choose which samples would be used. Problem was that the person in charge saw a pattern in the dates, times, sex, blood types or sample numbers of the resulting group and so felt the result was not truly random. One of his complaints was that all the samples selected happened to all be A+. I pointed out that over 90 percent of the samples were A+ so it would be natural for a large number of the random samples chosen to be A+. For example, if a group has 10 red balls and 90 black balls a selection of ten from this group will not necessarily result in 1 red and 9 black. There might not be any red at all. Similar issues came with time – most samples were drawn between noon and 2:00 with very few drawn outside that timeframe, most samples were from males, so I wasn’t too surprised that all samples chosen were male and all were drawn between noon and 2:00.

The final “random” sample list was chosen by printing the sample numbers on slips of paper, dropping them in a hat and drawing slips. Even then most samples were male, all were A+ and drawn between noon and 2:00pm a very good representation of the samples and not unexpected based on the distribution of the original data. The doctor in charge changed out some of the samples to include additional females, some drawn outside the noon -2:00pm timeframe and at least one sample that was not A+. He created a sample list that suited his idea of what “random” should look like.  

The Macy’s Star and Customer Service Thoughts

As a kid going “Downtown” was a treat! It meant clothes shopping because there weren’t the local malls that there are today. Mom and I would go by bus with the plan to spend some hours and also to have lunch. Lunch out was a special treat!

Rhodes department store (closed years ago), The Bon Marche (later The Bon and now Macy’s), JC Penney (closed), and Fredrick and Nelson (later Fredrick’s, now closed) where the standards. There was also Best (later merged with Nordstrom) but we went there only rarely as the prices were generally higher. It depended on what we were looking for where we went. Simple clothes for school: Rhodes or JC Penney, something a bit more special The Bon or perhaps Fredrick’s. Mom and I made a lot of my clothes and never bought a fancy dress, but fancy dresses were frequently copied from something we saw at Fredrick’s or Best. Lunch was usually in one of the department stores but we saved the Tearoom at Fredrick’s for a special Christmas treat.

Christmas was a particularly special time. We would watch the trains in the window at The Bon Marche, explore the toy department and see if the Fredrick’s windows were the same or had changed this year. Of special import was the gigantic star on the corner of The Bon. It is good to know that it will be repaired and in place this year, but it is sad that Macy’s will be closing in 2020. Effectively that means Nordstrom’s will be the only department store left in downtown. Sorry Ross and similar lack class so don’t count. The department stores of my younger years had class and, like Nordstrom’s, a guarantee that can’t be beat and service which was deserving of the name.

I’m kind of wandering….started out thinking about The Star and now am thinking about the service, or lack thereof, that is provided by the stores of today. Every Monday I take the bus from my home to St. Mark’s Cathedral for my EfM (Education for Ministry) class. Afterwards I take the bus home which takes me into Downtown to change buses. It is not uncommon for me to do an errand or two along the way. I was recently in Macy’s. With Christmas coming I thought I’d look for a fancy sweater – NOT an ugly Christmas sweater but a nice one that was not too Christmas specific. I found one I liked a lot and it was really inexpensive! At the Customer Service counter I was told I could get faster service if I went….point down an aisle…over there. I considered not moving as there was only one person in front of me but…Ok – I went. There was no one at the counter, no bell to ring to get someone and no one in the area at all. I started back towards the counter I’d been at originally but there were now 5 people in line. <sigh> I walked back towards counter #2 but there was still no one in the area so I left the sweater on the counter and left. This is the third time in two months I’ve not made a purchase because I could not find someone to wait on me. I guess I’m not too surprised they will be closing. Perhaps though I’m being saved from myself as I did not really need to make the purchase. Still….I really liked that sweater.

Graduation season

It has been over 50 years since I graduated from high school, but I do think about it at graduation season for the latest “babies”. “Babies” that would not make me popular, but they do seem to be such babies. Ah me! I was one of the babies in 1967. So full of ourselves and certain we knew all things and were destined for big things! Life is not about certainty, but it is about BIG things. Unfortunately, we do not recognize the big things until long after they happen to us.

Life is about growing and moving forward with one thing folding into and making possible the next. Frequently the experiences that move us forward have nothing to do with where we thought we were going!

I was going to be a chemist. I was going to help discover important new products. What I discovered instead was a love of math and computers and of helping others find ways to be more effective and efficient in whatever they did.

While in college I rather quickly changed from a major in Chemistry to Math. Along the way I was also encouraged to look at teaching in elementary school not junior high or high school. I was little: 5’3” and weighed 103lbs. soaking wet! I also looked young. Doing September experience in a junior high I was asked for my hall pass! I was wearing a suit and heels, but the teacher thought I was a junior high student. This was embarrassing at 22!

I’d decided as a math major, I should learn something about computers. To help pay for my expenses I worked in the computer center where, to my surprise, I discovered I loved working with computers! The scene was set.

Teaching elementary was definitely not something I wanted to do. Unfortunately, as a woman looking for a job in Data Processing in 1972 only key punch or something secretarial were available to me. I became an Escrow Analyst for a loan servicing company where my typing accuracy and math skills were valued. Eventually my experience in college in the computer center paid off as I was hired as an operator for a computer that was very similar to the one in the computer center. That led to a systems analyst position which led to data systems specialist and my education background led to teaching adults. A long the way I achieved a master’s in software engineering and a master’s in education with a specialty in designing/developing education materials for face-to-face and online learning.

Finally, I was helping people be more effective and efficient! It took a lot of years and it is only in looking back that I see the movement towards a goal I did not know I had until I had reached it.

I am basically retired in that I do not have a full-time job, but I still do work that I hope helps people to be more effective and efficient. I’m not sure I’ve accomplished any truly big things, but I am certain I still make contributions to the lives of those around me and I do help them be more effective and efficient.