Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Surfing Headlong into the Gigantic Wave of Work

I find myself awash with things to do.

AWASH, I tell you!

In my mind there is this tidal wave. It's fairly large and rolling in fast. But there is a distinct difference between this wave and others I have faced.

Usually, when I see that white capped monstrosity forming on the ocean horizon, I stand fast on the shore. Bracing myself. Waiting. Hoping that I will make it through alive once it arrives.

Not this time. This time there is a surfboard beside me. It's skinny and worn looking. I grab it and run into the water. I am a surfing novice, but I am not going to stand there doing nothing while that menacing beast of water comes ever closer. I am going to get out on the water and meet it head on. I am going to do my best to ride that wave. I will teach myself as I go along. I have, after all, had a lesson or two. No more cowering. No more hesitating. I'm going for it. Though I may be afraid at first (terrified, actually), I will find my stride. Soon I will start to enjoy myself. And before I know it I will be having the time of my life, reveling in the rush.

For now, I am on my stomach, paddling towards that wave. There are giant butterflies of anxiety barraging my insides. But I grow ever confident the closer I get.

Now it's time to ditch the metaphor and be literal.

I really do feel like all this work is suddenly coming out of the woodwork. These are things I knew I was going to have to work on at some point. And for my first three months here I have been mostly standing on the shore (sorry, I know I said I was ditching it). No more. Things need to happen.

Let me introduce all of you briefly to my projects.

1. "Kids Can Grow"-I have talked to many of you about this particular program but some of you don't know about it. "Kids Can Grow" is an experiential gardening program for children and their parents. Both parent and child attend 6 monthly meetings spanning from spring and going into the fall. These meetings are basically educational and interactive training sessions and last about 3 hours. At each one of these, participants learn how to build a raised bed garden and begin planting in it. As time progresses, they learn how to transplant, water, maintain, and harvest their garden beds. It all stems from this concept. Smaller gardens built on top of the ground organized into squares in which you plant your seeds. There is less weeding, watering, thinning, and overall maintenance required. Parents and children learn together, with most of the ownership going to the children. These family groups are then given their own materials to go home and build their own garden. This increases the child's feeling of ownership and control over their own space. They chose what goes in the garden. They are responsible for it. Through a 4-H component, kids are then able to harvest their plants and show them at fairs to receive ribbons and rewards. It's an exciting program the unites family units, teaches children how to be more self-sufficient, encourages spending time outdoors, and provides education about horticultural and environmental topics. At each monthly meeting, kids participate in fun and enriching activities that tie into the theme of the day. The last component is the home visit. Each child and parent is visited for an hour once a month so their questions can be answered and they can be offered any help they need. That way they don't feel completely cut off once they start building their own home garden. There is a lot to it, but I am ENDLESSLY excited about getting it going.

2. April Ecology Day Camp-Every year Merryspring holds an ecology day camp in April. It lasts a week and meets for about 3 hours every day of the week. Kids sign up and pay $75 to attend. This year we are going to focus on different aspects of an ecosystem. Things living and non-living, habitats, plants, animals, humans. Each day we will take a hike to a different point of interest at Merryspring. We will work in our nature journals and participate in a variety of activities that apply to the topic of the day.

3. April "work party day"-Every year Merryspring holds a "clean-up work party" day. This is a day where we try to get as many volunteers to come to Merryspring to spiff things up. Mulch and clean up gardens. Remove dead plants and branches. Rake. Make burn piles. And this year we hope to clearly mark some of the trails. This year we are also doing this in conjunction with a local gardening store called Plants Unlimited . They are holding a Green Fair to celebrate the green efforts of local organizations and non-profits in the community. So, at Merryspring we will spend the morning working and then hop on over for fun and festivities at Plants Unlimited.

4. Camden Hills Regional High School Service Learning Project/Installing an Interpretive Trail-So, for those of you who are not sure what a service learning project is, it's exactly what it sounds like. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it. That's all your going to get from me. I don't want to explain it. So GO TO THE LINK. Last week I sat down with a member of the school board from Ashwood Waldorf School in Rockport, Maine. They are interested in doing a Service Learning Project at Merryspring. Something that fits our needs but has the potential to teach the students and provide an actual service. They also want something that they can come back to year after year and expand/improve on. We talked about logistics and tossed around a couple ideas. Until finally I decide to speak up and say what had been at the front of my brain since the meeting started. Why not have the kids work on an interpretive trail? Merryspring want's one installed (something they asked me to help oversee) and it's the perfect learning tool for kids. Plus, the first stages of it are easy to implement in two months (which is how much time we have before school is over for the year). We started talking, I described what my vision was and how I thought it could work. I we determined to make this happen, now that it was out. The guy from the school, Doug, was just as excited as I was. Ray had some doubts, but I put a stop to those every time one came out. I was the doubt exterminator. And so, THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN!

5. Summer Tuesday Talk Series, Fall Tuesday Talk Series, plus Winter and Spring presenters for next year-My ongoing project seems to be to contact, follow up with, set up, research, brainstorm, dig around for, and hound current and potential presenters for these Tuesday Talks. Easier said than done sometimes. And not only do I have to find and set up all the presenters for the rest of the year this year, I have to set them of through the spring of next year. That's what last years volunteer did for me. And it HAS been helpful. It's just hard getting in touch with people and getting a response out of them.

So, besides couple other little odds and ends, those are the projects that make up the wave that I am currently stroking towards. On my tiny surf board.

I have to find consistent and willing volunteers for "Kids Can Grow". We have to find out where we are going to get our lumber and get donations from a lot of places. I have to get the "Kids Can Grow" press release out so that we have participants by April 20th. That is the day of the orientation and they are supposed to attend. So in general there is a lot that needs to be done to get "Kids Can Grow" off the idea shelf and onto the "this is going to happen" shelf.

I still have to write out most of the curriculum for the April Ecology Camp and purchase materials and make things and prep for that in general. We have had only one family respond and register their twin daughters. No one else so far. Sad.

I need to Board to step up and tell me they are going to be at the work party day to help head up projects. And we need to get a concise list of things and projects to do. Gail and I need to walk the trails.

For the service learning project, what DOESN'T need to be done? I walked the trail we would like to use for it but it has a lot of problems. Like being well enough marked that people can find it. Boggy areas. Lack of easy access in places. It's just tough. And the more I think about it, the more I doubt that they can get things completed, even in a basic way, by the end of May. ACK!

And because all of these other projects need so much work, finding speakers to come in on Tuesdays in the Summer has been put on the back-burner. Blah.

But things are getting done! And that's all that matters. I don't feel useless! Though I do still feel like I have a desk job. Ug.

Happy Payday everyone!

Oh, is that just me? Well...

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, March 21, 2011

On The Situation aka Decisions Made Easier

You all know how challenging it's been for me living where I do.

Scratch that. Except that it's 20 minutes from work the "where" is pretty nice. Lets get to the heart of the problem. It's the WHO and always has been.

You may or may not know, but for the past month or so I have been looking for a new place to live. Somewhere closer to work, with a different kind of person, similar rent. A couple weeks ago, a place like that was offered to me.


Luckily, I am a fairly level headed person and did not express my first reaction verbally.

My second reaction: Yes, I want to move out but there are a lot of things to consider first.

So I considered. And here are the facts.

Her name is Kathy and she is a member of my Branch. She lives in this good sized house alone and is packing up her things in an attempt to sell her house by the end of the year. She is looking for someone to live there at LEAST through the summer and perhaps longer if no one is buying by then. Rent is $100 more than my current rent. I would have a large room to myself and my own bathroom. I would be able to use the kitchen whenever. She has a microwave. She has wireless internet. The house is located down the road from the middle school in Camden. It's a 20 minute walk to work, a 10 minute walk to the nearest local market, a 10 minute walk to the laundromat, and a 10 minute walk to downtown Camden and the ocean. You can see Mt. Battie from the window of the room I would eventually be in. It's a lovely house located in an ideal location.

Here are the reasons I would NOT take this opportunity: The increased rent. I'm poor enough as it is. Leaving behind a house where the ocean is so close I could sprint and be there in about 30 seconds...maybe more...but still. Having to pack up all my stuff and move it again keeping in mind that I might have to do it AGAIN if I had to leave after the summer. And the number one reason I would strongly consider staying is if it was an inconvenience for R/L lightsleeper or if, when I talked to her, she felt that having me there was important for her financially and socially.

Let me preface last nights conversation with miss lightsleeper with a little bit of information on the conversation I had with her just after I wrote THIS blog entry. Lightsleeper had just checked out some new movies from the library. This is her primary form of movie rental because she no longer has a Netflix account and there are no movie rental stores to be found ever since Movie Gallery went under. As she usually does, she presented me with all the titles telling me what interested her about them. Several of the were films that were rated R. Previous to my conviction to not watch R films anymore I had watched 1 or 2 R titles with R/L. So she assumed that I would be fine watching some of these other films. I decided that now was a good time to let her know that I would no longer be watching rated R movies.

Her reaction was less than ideal. She first asked why. And so I told her about not wanting to clutter my mind with language, violence, and sex when I didn't need to. I also mentioned that once you see, read, or hear something it remains in your mind in one way or another. She seemed unhappy with this decision I was making. She told me that I shouldn't let my church limit my experiential growth through movie watching. "You're church will survive if you watch a Rated R movie." Her words.

Keep this conversation in mind. For it is now time to delve into the realm of the conversation I had with R/L lightsleeper last night. Bear with me.

It started off with me sitting on the couch and her standing in the entryway to the kitchen. And so I asked, "what would be your reaction if I told you that a member of my church has offered me a place to live in Camden?"

I had thought a lot about how to word this beginning statement. I am now glad that I used the words that I did. Had I not, I would not have gotten the same reaction out of R/L and things might have gone differently.

She thought for a minute and then said that she had two initial reactions. I asked her to share. She said that she had to think of how to best word them. This caused my stomach to drop. She was going to say something about leaving her high and dry and giving up on an improving situation or something like that. She was going to turn this conversation into one about her (as she often does I have found). But no! This is NOT what happened. Here were her two reactions.

1. She thinks that I might be happier with that living situation rather than staying here. (Phew! Okay, so far so good. At least we agree on that.)

2. (before giving this one she fidgeted and thought for a while. Doing her compulsive swallowing thing. She said things like "ooooh, this is a tough one." and "I'm just going to be honest because I am an honest person." And then continued.) She said that she sees me as a wonderful and delightful person with a strong mind and a healthy curiosity. She can see that I am growing and exploring as a person and that moving in with a member of my church in Camden would limit me and cut off my personal growth.

Oh, okay that's a...wait, what?

I kept eye contact as I quickly jotted down some of her choice words into the notebook I had for keeping notes on the meeting. She said she "doesn't want me to become religiously narrow minded." Her words.

I asked for an example of where she thinks this might be a problem. I told her to continue to be honest. She wont offend me. I am not easily offended when it comes to religious discussions.

Now remember that conversation I mentioned earlier on R movies. This is the example she brought up. She said that it "worried" her that when I first arrived I was willing to watch R movies. And then a couple weeks ago I told her that I wasn't going to watch them anymore. I also jotted down some of the more opinionated words she used in describing her reaction to this new conviction. And they are "eew" and "yuck". Her words. I am not making this up. These are the same words she used last week to describe her opinion of uneducated people who live in rural settings aka "hicks". She continued to tell me that she feels that I am very intelligent and shouldn't limit myself in the things I could learn and experience by watching R movies. I shouldn't "censor myself". And if I want to do something that I should just "do it" regardless of religion.

I accepted all this silently, occasionally nodding my head in understanding. I could have been offended. I could have been angered by her words. Well, HONESTLY, I was a little distressed that she saw me as the kind of person who would make an uneducated decision. Every decision I have made concerning the standards of the church has been made after a lot of self reflection and consideration. I never make a decision blindly. I DECIDE FOR MYSELF. R/L just doesn't know that about me. Or understand my religion. The feelings I felt most strongly were relief. And a little bit of sadness for her.

I told her that I really appreciated her honesty and her willingness to communicate. I told her that some of the most stressful relationships I have had with people were when we didn't communicate and weren't honest with each other. And this was all honest. I was truly grateful. Had she not been honest and told me that her opinion of my decision to not watch R movies was "yuck" it might have made my decision to take this opportunity and move out a little harder. She has, in fact, made it easier. I didn't say this out loud, of course. I'm honest, but there's no reason to create unnecessary animosity.

I did ask if the reason she had a tenant was to help supplement her income. She said yes but that if I did decide to move out she would need 30 days. Also if I moved out she would not think less of me or resent me.

Boy! She was making this a lot easier than I expected.

So, in conclusion-I may have to pay $100 more and I might have to find yet another place to live in at the end of the summer (though I might not), and I wont be able to see the ocean outside my bathroom window. BUT I will be able to put less stress on my car. I can walk to work. I can walk to the laundromat. I can walk to the library and to town. I can live with a member of the church and not worry about cigarette smoke and excessive drinking. I can live with someone who just might be a true kindred spirit.

Kathy is so humble and generous. Kind and understanding. And patient. The complete opposite of R/L.

(I discovered one reason I have a problem conversing for a long time with R/L. Her conversation and manner of speaking always seems so aloof. "Better than you". That's probably just me interpreting wrong, but when it comes to food, I know it's not. She goes beyond foodie and kind of into the food "snob" category.)

I'm not foolish. I know that if I move now it might not be in a perfect situation. I thought living with R/L would be perfect. Look what happened? Still I can't help but think that this can only be an improvement.

So, next steps? Wait until Kathy gets back from D.C. and tell her I want to movie in. Wait until the end of March to tell R/L lightsleeper. Then pay for all of April and give my 30 days notice. Live with R/L for another month and all during that month work on moving my stuff to Camden in stages. Not all at once. So it's not daunting. At the end of April, move in with Kathy. Live there for April, May, June, July, August. Maybe September, October and November. Hopefully find more peace and happiness with the situation.

There you have it. The situation an how R/L made the decision to move to Camden easier and not harder.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On another pony, Making food, and a New York weekend

I know I say this about every post with photographs, but this time I really mean it.

This on is EPIC. A DOOZEY. I have photos from FEBRUARY I haven't posted and then as many as I could narrow down from my 300 ish photos from New York. I have 120 photos in my blog folder to out on here. That number may be cut down, but don't count on it. So...enjoy if you can. This one is going to seem never ending.

First things first. I couldn't post these before because they were part of a birthday gift for Kirsti. But here they are, the work in progress photos of War Pony from the My Little Apocalypse Pony. If you remember this post, I already made Pestilence for a co-worker. That pony was made fro an old recycled pony. This one was made from a blank white pony purchased from Amazon. So, in the interest of making this post as text-less as possible, lets move on to the pictures.

Stage 1: Coloring the hair
I used red marker. It worked fairly well but still rubs off a little bit.
Stage 2: The eyes-pinkish with black eyeliner like outlining. Easy peasy.
Stage 3: The first coat. It took me a while to get the coloring to be what I thought was just right. Lots of mixing. Ew. At this stage she just looks bloody.
Stage 4: The second coat-THERE it is. Looking good so far.

Stage 5: The armor-This was a tough one. I wasn't sure how I was going to get her to look like this . But I found some gold puff paint that, when dried, worked pretty well. A little sparkly but close.
Last Stage: The symbol. I needed something easy because I am NOT an artist. So I went with the Native American symbol for War. Nice and simple.
Finished product: front shot
Finished product: Angle shot
Finished product: side shot-The lighting on this chair was pretty great!

So there she is. In all her war glory. The only this she was missing was the ability to breathe fire.

Moving on. I baked at one point. It was a grand baking day, and I am going to include some photos of that wonderful day

Here is everything laid out in preparation.

This is the infamous Kitchen Aid NOT TO BE USED

Oh, Em. I LOVE the apron you made me! And is that the BYU hoodie Kirsti got me? I think it is!

Mmm...muffin mix. Yeah it kinda looks like vomit, but whatca gonna do?

Bread dough for pizza crust
COOKIE dough for candy bar cookies

And this, my friends, it my made from scratch pizza sauce. Turned out pretty good, if I say so myself, and no sugar added.

Speaking of sugar, man did these cookies look good before they came out of the oven. I can't say the same for after.

This is the end result of the pizza

And the wonderfully wonderful result of the Good Morning Muffins (thanks again Em!)

And this is all the resulted of what I mad. Two giant muffins, a bag of leftover candy, a bag of candy bar cookies and at least two dozen muffins!

And the resulting mess.

This is unrelated, but here is an awesome breakfast I made for myself earlier in the month of February. Choco-chip pancakes, fruit salad, fried egg, and fried potatoes. Woo!
Also completely unrelated...The snow on a bush next to the porch.

Also unrelated, I can't get over how lovely it is down this road sometimes.

Okay, now it's time for the really LOOOOOOOOOONG batch of photos. The ones I took from NYC. I'm telling you, I weeded through a lot of these.

Lets begin.

We stayed at the Day's hotel on 94th street in Manhattan. This is the view out the window from said hotel. We heard gunshots the first night.

As I began to walk away from Broadway and towards Central Park, the buildings got more residential, and therefore nicer looking. Except for the blue tarp to the right.

Pah! This made me smile. I want to grow a squid out of a flower pot!

This didn't make me smile. But it made me wonder what happened. And why nothing has eaten it yet.

The only reason I included scaffolding is because one of my strongest memories of NYC from 1999 was all the scaffolding on the streets and feeling afraid it was going to fall on my head. Things have not changed that much.

This is a Swedish Marionette house in Central Park. I really wanted to see a show but wasn't able to because of my choir rehearsal.

This is a view of the distant city across a pond from the steps of "Belvedere castle"

And the Plaque. Now I can't remember why it was originally built but it is now a weather observatory.

There it is.

Then we have the monument in front of the Museum of Natural History. It is going through a kind of face lift. The front of it is covered with designed tarps to try and hide the fact. A lot of construction was going on amongst the displays as well.

I liked this. It was in the entrance lobby.

A dinosaur. It didn't come to life. That only happens at night.
aHey look! I say Moose fighting up close in Maine!
I thought it was funny that in the Bobcat display they had it stalking a poor helpless bunny.

Giant Native American canoe.

Largest piece of Stibnite on public display. How cool is that? It looks alien.

My favorite creature in the whole wide world. Look how cute it is! I want to study these. For real.


Speaking of giant, that is one huge mosquito.

More giant bugs! Ahhhhh! So cool.

My favorite display was the biodiversity room. It showed only a small glimpse of the species that are found on the earth.

More biodiversity.

Next to orchids, this flower is my favorite in the world. It's HUGE and SMELLY and CARNIVOROUS! How cool is that?

Ahhh! Octopus!

The only extra exhibit I paid to see was the butterfly room. I can't help it. If a place has butterflies, I'm there. Don't ask me the species. I haven't looked them up yet.


Wow, look how big that moth is! Oh, you can't tell because there is no scale comparison? Well, it's bigger than a larger handed person's hand.


AHHH! Eyespots!

This lovely specimen WANTS you to remove the butterflies from plants. He's a bully butterfly.

See if you can count how many butterflies are in this photo.
I like this one because you can see the plant through it's spots.

Count the butterflies again!

Right as I was going to leave, this one landed on my coat!

Here it is on my hand. Woo! Success.

And the ever and always lovely monarch.

Um, these are giant lizards eating a hog. Woah. I didn't know they did that.

This kind of weirded me out. There are amphibians that have eggs that live under their skin and when the eggs hatch the babies come out of their skin!!

Dino-bird AKA Archaeopteryx

Woah. This flying dino had a really big head.

Extinct turtle that flies. Or swims in the air.


I love this poor thing. The Irish Elk. Victim of runaway sexual selection. He was just trying to look handsome for the ladies! Then one day he couldn't run away from a predator with that rack.

Extinct giant armadillo!

A view from Central Park

I really am still wondering how this happened.

I really liked this building.

"Strawberry Fields" memorial. It was really crowded. I wanted to get a pic of just the memorial but there was a line the get your picture taken ON the memorial. There was a guy playing "Come Together" on an acoustic guitar. It was neat.

You could see the LAWN at central park! A lot of Maine is still covered in snow. It was so nice to see green.

One of the many Central Park Bridges. This was one of my favorites.

Bench memorial.

My other favorite bridge arch in Central Park because it is so earthy and unlike the other arches.

I know this should have been earlier but I am too lazy to move it. This is the Natural History Museum.

A view down one of the streets...maybe 87th??

Old vine covered building

View one of the Greek Orthodox church we sang at.

View two. I REALLY wanted to get pictures of the inside. There were chandeliers and it was SO beautiful! But I left my camera's memory card in my computer the night we were performing here. UG!

Rachmaninoff actually lived just a couple blocks away from the church we sang at! And we sang one of his pieces! I thought that was pretty neat.

Find the Squirrel

A stone chess board in NYC! Weeee!

Monument for Soldiers and Sailors.

This is just a small part of something someone wrote in chalk around the monument. The whole thing was as follows.
"As you walk across the sculpted mile that's always on display,
Stop at the big white spiral-not here but on the other side it lay...
Stop and take a seat...
Look above your head...
You can't catch me unless you read the nature to be read."

Joan of Arc monument

View of the part of the city I didn't see, across the reservoir.

Building. A church maybe.

Find the squirrel II


Someone's house number. Isn't it cute?
For Elise, the fireplace at our old hotel. Yes, it was a days, but I am pretty sure this hotel is old and renovated. The elevators only hold 4 people! And are so SLOW! And it's all windy and hard to find your room. Like the stacks at Ellis Library.

And last, there are the stairs at R/L's house. Steep and scary. I feel like I am going to die on them some day soon.

So. There you have it. The photographed chronicles of many events in my life recently. If you want to hear more about NYC, call me. I am DONE with this entry and am going to type no more!

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