Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Word of Warning

Be careful what applications you have installed on your cell phone or your computer, and what they're set to do automatically. I've heard that some people's cell phones will automatically upload any photos they take on their phones straight to Facebook. You don't want this.

I heard about a friend of a friend of a friend--a married, church-going woman--who took a very risque picture of herself (one would hope for her husband), only to have her altogetherness appear, unbeknownst to her, on her Facebook page. The friend who spotted it told her about it, but it was on display for the half-hour it took for the woman to get to her computer and delete it.

Not that I expect any of my blogger-buddies to strip for their cell phone cameras, but DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009


This whole idea of having a job sure cuts into a person's free time!

Of course, the paychecks help keep that person off the streets, but still...

In the mornings over breakfast, I have a little time to poke around my favorite blogs or check the news sites to see what's happening, and then I have to leave for work. There's usually something that comes up, though, that reveals my lack of allowing enough time.

A couple days ago, I had all my stuff and was setting the alarm on my way out the door, when I realized I was still wearing my slippers. As cute as my slippers are, I had to put everything down and go get some real shoes, then start over with my out-the-door routine.

Another day I hadn't allowed enough time to brush my teeth, but as I told my children repeatedly when they were little (and as my now-adult daughter has told her friends), there's always time to brush your teeth. So I did, then grabbed my stuff, set the alarm, locked the doors, and when I was halfway to my car, I remembered that I needed earrings. Well, there is not always time when you're already late to go back for earrings.

At work, the internet filter blocks some websites. If you try to go to a shopping site, a warning pops up telling you that you have only one hour of online shopping time (one time an in-house newsletter had a link to a site where we could shop for gifts that acted as a fund-raiser for a group helping our underpriviledged clientele, and I got the pop-up). I don't know if that hour is over a day, a week, a month, or forever while you work there.

Another thing is that the filter/firewall refuses to acknowledge the potential work benefits of employees visiting any blogspot sites. Even at lunchtime! So my blog reading and updating times are limited to breakfast and after work.

And after work, I've still got some settling in to do. Plus other things, like fighting my parking ticket, which I finally did last night after I got back home from visiting Santa and the Missus. Yes, I'll be doggie-sitting again, starting Saturday, when Mr & Mrs Claus leave for a weeklong cruise, and that will cut down on my internet access even more.

In the meantime, I've got my shed up, two shelving units installed (once I went over to Home Depot and bought a rubber mallet) with much banging on metal. Good thing the next-door neighbor is hard of hearing! One more shelf to do, but I had Bible study and an AAPC meeting and other get-togethers to attend. Grocery shopping usually has to wait until things are desperate.

Oops! I'm out of time. Better go brush my teeth and hit the road...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fighting the Taliban

Over the weekend Pakistan sent 30,000 troops against the Taliban in that country.

A successful operation is vital to Pakistan's stability. Over the past two weeks militants have launched a series of audacious attacks across the country, including the suicide bombing of a United Nations office in Islamabad, three simultaneous attacks on police sites in Lahore and, most brazenly, a 22-hour siege of the army headquarters in Rawalpindi last weekend. Authorities said that most incidents were orchestrated by Waziristan-based commanders.

But President Obama is happy to have the Taliban as part of Afghanistan's government. His beef is only with al Qaeda.

The sharpened focus by Obama's team on fighting al-Qaida above all other goals, while downgrading the emphasis on the Taliban, comes in the midst of an intensely debated administration review of the increasingly unpopular war.

Obama's developing strategy on the Taliban will "not tolerate their return to power," the senior official said in an interview with The Associated Press. But the U.S. would fight only to keep the Taliban from retaking control of Afghanistan's central government – something it is now far from being capable of – and from giving renewed sanctuary in Afghanistan to al-Qaida, the official said.

At least somebody in power understands the threat of the Taliban. Too bad that "somebody" isn't in Washington.

What Obama plans on doing, exactly, in its efforts to "not tolerate" the likely event that the Taliban would try to take power is beyond me. And probably beyond Obama too.

What a wussy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Have a Shed

The young skinny guy who helped me break into my new house a few weeks ago came over and helped me put my shed together.

It was a two-man job. I put the shed next to the fence by the next-door neighbor's yard. At a couple points in the assembly process, I had to use her ladder in her back yard, so I could hold the parts at the back of the shed that needed holding. Our neighbor was really sweet, and she even left her garage door open for us, telling me to close the garage door when we were done.

I had no idea how long it took, just that it would have taken way too much longer if my helper hadn't brought his drill with the screwdriver bit. When I came in after straightening up, I was surprised that it was almost 11:30 pm. It didn't seem that late.

I'll have more updates, maybe even pictures, another time. I need to go to bed now.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bread Baking and Sweeping

I'm one of the people who take turns writing The Bread. It's a Christian devotional distributed by email that was started back in 1994 by a guy I used to work with. The Bakers, as we're called, write for a work week, and this week is my turn, though my deadline for finishing them all was the middle of last week.

I have a link over on the side to the archives for the Bread (in the Herding Group), but that hasn't been updated since early 2007, because I'm the one who was updating it, and I misplaced the new password from when Blogger made us switch to Google accounts. I came across the password again a couple weeks ago, when I was packing, and I set it aside, but it got put in a box somewhere, so it'll probably be a while before I find it again.

Normally, I don't use this blog for writing about Christian topics. The Bread is my outlet for that side of my life. But since I've been blogging about my move, and today's Bread has something to do with that, I'm posting it here. I hope it gives you a little different perspective on things.


Philippians 2:5 - 7 “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.”

Isaiah 64:6 “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.”

I moved recently, and one of my tasks in getting the house ready for the new owners was cleaning out the shed. Once I got all my stuff out, it was time to sweep the cement floor.

After six years of living there, the shed had accumulated dirt and bugs and spider webs and empty spider egg sacs and snail poop. I took the big push broom inside, with the sun shining through the open shed door and started to sweep. But the broom only stirred up the filth as a foul dust that hung in the air, lit up by the sun. I couldn’t bear to breathe it, so I’d take a deep breath outside and hold it, step inside, sweep a little, then go back outside to breathe again while the dust settled.

And as I watched the dust, knowing I needed to go back inside, I realized just what our Lord had done. The Father sent His Son to dwell among us in a world more foul to Him than my shed was to me. And when I came to faith in Jesus, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in the filthy shed of my heart, working a little at a time to clear away the disgusting habits and rotten thoughts.

The difference is, though, that the Holy Spirit doesn’t leave when my heart is like filthy rags (or dirt). He stays. He works on improving me and making me more and more like Christ. And one day, when my time on earth is over He will set the broom aside and I will be gloriously clean because of the work that He has done in me.

When was the last time you thought about the totality of the sacrifice Jesus made when He came to dwell on earth to save you? May thanksgiving and praise to Him flow from our hearts and our lips because of what He has done for us!

Monday, October 05, 2009

October Calendar Photos

How could I have forgotten that it's a new month?

The family's calendar photo for October is from Glacier National Park, my favorite place on the face of the earth.

My patterns calendar has another of those pictures of stuff for sale that I love to take, this time season-appropriate pumpkins and gourds.

SNL on Obama's Accomplishments

It's finally OK to mock Obama. Saturday Night Live did it, so now you can too.

Here's the SNL skit that started it all:

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Calling Out the Marines

Since last weekend, when I moved and left all my furniture out on the patio, I've been trying to figure out how to get my furniture into my storage unit. The logical thing would be to rent another U-Haul and have the same helper as last week, but my kids each had something to do this weekend so they wouldn't be available to help.

I stopped at the Assisted Living place yesterday to see if my buddy there and his dad could help me with the furniture, but they weren't around when I was there.

Today at church, I asked the tall Marine who had helped me move my bed into my room at my friend's house. He has a big pickup truck. He was busy, though, getting his house ready to put on the market. But he suggested another Marine with a truck who I haven't met yet but who is good friends with the not-as-tall Marine in my Wednesday night Bible study. The three of them discussed who could help and what time I'd need them and how much furniture it was and whether it would all fit in two trucks for one trip to storage.

After church I stopped at the storage place to be sure my access code worked. It did. Then I measured the inside of my storage unit and decided where I needed each piece of furniture to go.

At 7:00 pm, all three of the Marines arrived in two trucks. I had cleared access space for them, to make the moving of furniture go more smoothly.

They were amazing. They picked up my six-foot-wide dressers (I have two) without even taking out the drawers, with just two of them carrying each one out to the trucks. It wasn't easy for them, but I was impressed that it was even possible without some sort of wheels.

We got everything loaded on the trucks and got to the storage place without many hitches. Just a stop at the first traffic light to tighten down the straps on one of the trucks.

My storage unit is upstairs, and they have an elevator, but it wasn't big enough to hold my dressers unless it stood on end. So these Marines pushed and lifted and got each dresser on the elevator and back off at the second floor.

They carried everything, taking turns with the tough lifting, while I directed the placement. We got it all done in a little over an hour, and there's plenty of room to maneuver when I bring boxes later to stack on top of the furniture. It felt good to finally have the furniture protected from the elements (we're expecting rain this week).

The guy in my Bible study asked me, as we were walking back to the empty trucks, when I expected to get my stuff out of storage. I told him I had leased the unit for a year, and he said, "Good. I'll be in Afghanistan then."

Friday, October 02, 2009

A Moving Experience

The last couple weeks I've spent almost every non-working waking hour trying to get completely moved out of my house before escrow closed. The hard part was figuring out what to do with all my stuff. What would I keep and what would I get rid of? Of the stuff I kept, what would go into storage and what would come to my new place? Of the stuff I didn't want to keep, what would I try to sell on Craigslist and... you get the picture.

One of the missions my church supports, Niños de Baja, needed washing machines (plural), so I offered them mine about a month ago, but we had trouble connecting. So I talked to one of the elders at church, who is also on the Board of Directors of Niños and is a friend, and he said it would be OK for me to leave it in the garage at church until they come later this month for a board meeting. But I hadn't taken the washer there yet.

I put the non-keep furniture on Craigslist and waited. Lots of people were interested in the computer desk, for which I was grateful, because it was too big for me to take to Goodwill if it didn't sell.

One lady said she wanted it, but she had to check with her boss (it was for a non-profit organization) about the price. She called me back the next day, and I agreed to what her boss was willing to pay. But I never heard back from her, even after I left messages.

By then, apparently, whatever was in the air shifted with the wind, and nobody was interested in the desk after that. When I posted the dryer (I had forgotten about it on the first round of posting things on Craigslist), I checked and saw that someone in my area was asking $50 for a similar dryer, so I priced mine at $45. Everybody and his dog wanted that dryer! I sold it to a guy who didn't even haggle. He just handed over the cash and we carried the dryer to his truck. Then I emailed all the other dryer responses to tell them that the dryer was no longer available.

One really cool Samoan lady came for my oak bookcases.

She couldn't fit the larger one in her minivan, so we loaded the small one in there, she paid me for both of them, and she asked what else I was selling. She and her husband had just returned to the States after spending 7 years on the mission field in Papua New Guinea, and they needed furniture for their house. I told her about the desk, but she didn't want it. I showed her the fake tree, and she said she'd take it too, but it would have to wait until she came back for the other bookcase.

She came back with her husband and teenage son the next night, and they had a U-Haul truck. They got the bookcase loaded, and she asked again what else I had. I told her about the couch (that's the fake tree in the far corner).

It was custom-built for a realtor-colleague of my then-husband's in the very late 1970s, and they had just built a new home where the couch didn't fit, so they sold it to us, and we'd had it ever since. I let my ex have it in the divorce, but a couple years later, when he was going to get rid of it, my son prevailed upon him to let my son have it, and I kept it for my son (he's as sentimental in some ways as his mom). Besides, it's a really great couch, if you can overlook the threadbareness of the fabric.

So she bought the couch and the tree, but she only had checks. No cash. Against my better judgement, I accepted the check. And then I let them take the two upholstered chairs that we'd had since 1982, just to get the things out of my house. No charge for the chairs. She really helped me get a lot of my big things cleared out.

Moving day was last Saturday. One of the guys from the Assisted Living place I worked at for about a month said he'd help me move if he could. But since it was the last weekend of the month, the only time I could reserve a truck for was a 3:00pm Saturday pick up time, and the guy had to work that evening. But his dad was visiting for the weekend from Tijuana, and he was available for hire, and I was desperate, so I agreed. The dad even had his own furniture dolly and appliance dolly, which worked out great. When I asked him what he charged, he said $10, and I told him that wasn't enough. I'd give him $20.

I had a plan: The furniture (and boxes) that would go to my new place should go on the truck first, then the stuff for the storage unit would go on next, with the washing machine for Niños last. I picked up the U-Haul truck (it had a picture of a horrid green spider on the sides - Eeeeewwww!), picked up the dad, drove to my house, and we got started.

By around 7:30 (after much toil and tribulation), the truck was loaded, and I called the elder so he could go to the church to open the front gates and the garage. We got the washer unloaded and into the garage, then I drove to the storage place.

At the security code punch thingy, I entered my secret code, and it said "Access Denied." Well, that couldn't be right. Maybe I entered it wrong, so I tried again, and again I was denied. After the third time I gave up. But I had a truck full of furniture and it was after office hours, and they wouldn't be back until Monday.

But my friend and new landlady had told me before she left for her cruise that I could put as many sheds out on the patio in the back yard as I wanted, because she never uses the patio. So I decided to take all the furniture to my new place and unload it onto the patio.

We carried everything through the house, and I covered up the furniture and cardboard boxes with sheets and comforters and blankets to protect it all from the dew that had begun to fall (where are the Santa Anas when you need them?). Then I paid my helper-dad more than I said I would, took him back to the Assisted Living place, dropped off the truck at the U-Haul place, and went to Denny's with my son.

Sunday afternoon I cleaned out the shed at the old house. It was creepy. That's where black widows live, and a couple years ago there seemed to be a nest of earwigs under the edge of the wall on the side where the shelves were. I never went in there unless I was desperate. But this time I had to get everything out and make it nice for the new owners. I would have preferred to be caned by the authorities in Singapore, but I didn't have a choice. And I had to do it in the afternoon when the sun shone through the open doors, so I could see what I was dealing with and stomp on any bugs that crawled out.

Some of my stuff was ruined, from sitting for 6 years on the cement where the water could get to it when it rained. Some of my other stuff, especially camping gear, I just didn't want anymore, and when a couple neighbors came by and asked if I was moving, I offered them that stuff (not the ruined stuff, which was in the trash). They took quite a bit off my hands. And I found several tarps from camping and painting, so I took them to my new place to be better covers for my furniture.

The worst part of clearing out the shed was when I had to sweep the floor. Six years of dirt and dead bugs and old spider egg-sac casings and snail poop (with several empty snail shells thrown in for good measure) all mixed together and swirled up in the air. I'd start by taking a deep breath outside the shed, go in with the broom, sweep a little, and then leave the shed and breathe. It made things go slowly, but I couldn't bear to have any of that foul dust in my lungs. And when I got it all done, I stood for a bit and admired the result. The new owners would be pleased.

But there was still a lot of stuff left to clear out, including the big computer desk, and then I had to clean.

Monday I told my new boss that I needed to take Tuesday off, without pay of course, since I'm too new at the job to have any paid time off yet. And I started calling the donation centers to see who wanted to pick up my desk and some other bigger stuff. Am-Vets said they couldn't come until late October. Not good for a September 30th closing date! Goodwill didn't want the desk, but they told me to try the Salvation Army. And when I talked to the Salvation Army, they said they could come Tuesday. I said, "There is a God in heaven, and He is good to me!" They told me to have all the stuff on the driveway, clearly marked for the Salvation Army. I asked if it would be OK to leave the desk in 3 pieces, or did we need to put it back together? She said to put it back together, because the drivers might think it's broken and leave it behind.

I called my daughter that night, and she came over to help me with the desk. We took off the hutch, which was easy enough. And then we fought with separating the return from the main desk part, because the pegs that held it together were at the wrong angle from each other to do it nicely in two pieces. After we fought with it for a while, we got it figured out, carried it to the driveway, and my daughter put it back together while my son (who had arrived) and I loaded things into the back of his SUV.

Tuesday morning I went to the escrow company to sign papers (they had mailed them to me to sign, but I had too many questions and couldn't do it all by myself), which turned out to be a good idea, since there were mistakes that needed fixing, so we got that done in time to not cause a problem for closing the sale.

Shortly after I got back to the house, the Salvation Army truck came, and they couldn't understand why the people on the phone would tell us to put the desk back together. We had to take it apart again. So I grabbed a sandwich bag for the hardware and started disassembling it. The guys took the hutch away, and then when they tried telling me to just unscrew here and there, I was able to explain from the previous frustration exactly what did and didn't need to be taken apart for it to work right. It came apart much MUCH faster than the first time, and they drove away with everything I wanted them to take.

Then I cleaned. Vacuumed, removed cobwebs from ceiling corners, scrubbed walls, hit the non-master slow-draining bathtub with Drano (it didn't help), and all the rest of the cleaning. My realtor (and friend) came to help me finish (she's an amazing packer), and my kids did too. We got it all done by 10:00 at night. I left a note with all the keys on it, including the keys that came with the house but that didn't fit any locks that I could ever find, and then went to my new place and unloaded the cars.

Escrow closed Wednesday. After Bible study at my friend and realtor's house, she had me sign one more piece of paper, from the buyer's walkthrough. It said, "The house is in great condition." I was happy to sign it.

I now have my money from the house sale. I also have a room full of boxes and a patio full of furniture and more boxes. Tomorrow in Sunday School I'll ask if anyone is dying to help move furniture in their truck to a storage unit. If I don't get any takers, I'll probably have to rent another U-Haul (smaller, without the spider picture on it) and get it done that way.

So that's the really long way of saying, I'm mostly back now.