Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Such a Job

My job is so strange, I don't know how to process most of what I do.    The feedback from families is that I am a peaceful presence, that I provide calm at a time when they are frantic, that I renew their faith at the time of loss.    They are embarrassing in their praise of me.    (Dr. Cranky rightly points out that they feel that way because they are desperate, and I am the only one there, which pretty much sums it up.)   Although my work with them comes very naturally and easily, I often feel like a hypocrite.   I think they would not recognize the Real Me.   At work, I am  a projection of their own faith, their own core values.    I want a way to show them that when they let me into this sacred space and convince themselves that help has come in, they are actually seeing a reflection of their own strength, already there.    They say they are comforted by my prayers, but don't recognize that I am only praying out loud the things they've already expressed.   After their loved one dies, when they walk out of here alone, I want them to know that they are enough, that they take everything they need with them.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What I Did For My End Of Summer Vacation

I am just back a wonderful week in the Pacific Northwest, where my 3 siblings and I gathered for my only niece's wedding.   My son came, too, which was a wonderful treat for me, even though he flew in later than we did and returned earlier.   All in all, I had the best time ever.
 My brother, father of the bride, rented a 45-foot boat to take my sister, other brother, and me from Anacortes, Washington, to Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island.  We spent the first night on the boat.  My oldest brother and I tried casting a few flies in the Anacortes marina, while a seal kept a close eye on us from an adjoining dock.
 The next morning we took the boat to Orcas Island, where we met up with my niece, her intended,  his family and their friends.   My brothers, sister and son and I stayed together in a pretty cottage on a harbor. 
 The bride's father (my brother) held a salmon bake for the 80-some guests, and they all seemed to enjoy it.   The groom's parents hosted a hoe down, with a square dance caller, which I hear was pretty fantastic.
 The wedding was absolutely beautiful.  Perfect.  


The party afterward was fun, with northwestern food that was beyond my level of appreciation.   People raved about it, but my sister and I went hungry, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

The next day, my son flew back to Michigan to go back to work,
 and my siblings and I got back on the boat.   We had planned to tour the Pacific waters around the San Juan Islands, but the newly married couple asked to join us for an afternoon picnic on the boat, and we were happy to oblige.   It was great fun to get to know my niece's new husband and spend time with her, a relaxed and happy couple.   We tried a little fishing, but only the bride was successful and not very successful at that -- she caught an enormous starfish. 


 After we dropped the bride and groom back off at their honeymoon island,
we walked to a local restaurant that turned out to be a hidden gem, with its own organic garden and free range chickens.   Wild blackberry cobbler with homemade ice cream for dessert!   We were on Deer Island and, sure enough, we saw deer.  
My sister also saw a shooting star as we walked back to the boat in the dark.   Really a perfect day.

More cruising, more eating, more time with our bros, and then back to Seattle for a night at my brother's house, up early the next day to get to the airport.    Except for the exhaustion, it was all good!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What a Gas

I spent 4 days and nights on a boat with my siblings last week.   Loved every minute of it.   Offered to pay for gas.   Thank goodness my brothers refused!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Yee haw

I went to a hoe down tonight. Fun. But I drank my 3 glasses of wine way to fast, on much to empty a stomach. And have to get up at 6 am for a scenic boat ride. Time for this cow poke to go to bed. Let others in the party (like my brother, the father of the bride, and his girlfriend, pictured here) party on!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The leaves are turning.  The fields are golden.  Michigan is beautiful this time of year.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Chapel

I am still working on the old chapel at work.  When I took the job, it was a bare, cold, specifically Catholic space.    There was holy water, a St. Joseph Bible,  an altar,  bright lights, and not much else.

On my limited budget and dearth of creativity, I have added curtains that I made with a simple pocket seam on lengths of shear fabric.  I 'borrowed'  plants and fountains from other areas of the building, and dragged in some soft seating.  I put out different translations of the Bible, and a small library of inspirational readings.   When I get a few minutes, I will disassemble the altar and turn it into plant stands.  A new sign has been ordered and it will be called a reflection room once it's done.   It's not finished yet, but it's in progress!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day

In the true modern spirit of Labor Day, I am not doing much of anything today.   My big task for today was to try on a variety of my-closet outfits, trying to find something to wear to the wedding without shopping.   I don't like the shop and, more importantly, I can't afford to shop -- sheesh, the trip to the west coast will temporarily dry up my budget -- so it's going to be The Closet or Bust.   I will be wearing black, that's almost certain,  because my closet is heavily tipped in that direction.   It boiled down to the choice of black pants or a black accordion-pleat skirt that my sister talked me into, and a top.    None of my tops are fancy, cotton tanks, a couple of poly and velvet shirts.    At this point I am thinking black slacks, back flats, black accordion-pleat top, and a shawl or jacket or something to give it a little pop. 
Not sure about the something.   A jacket seems too structured, and I am not sure I have the flair that's needed to pull off a shawl.    I do have a pretty, old (1950s?)  burgundy, embroidered shawl, but I wonder if black and burgundy is too dark for the celebratory mood. 
I would consider buying a more colorful sweater or wrap if I see something that appeals to me, since I could use it again.     I don't want to seem un-festive, and the slacks and top are pretty much what I would wear for everyday.   But the wedding is outside, in the northwest, and the weather uncertain, so I think that's probably what I'll settle for.   I feel like this dress-me-project has taken WAY too much energy already!

What I should be doing is working on next weekend's  day-retreat, which I have set up for some of our hospice volunteers.   I am doing an intuitive art project, using collage, with the ladies, which I hope will open some discussion on our hidden talents, and I haven't done anything yet except think about it.    I promised to make soup and dessert for that, too, and I need to decide what I'm making and get a grocery list together!    Time to leave vanity behind me and put a little labor into my Labor Day!

'Hope you are all having a nice holiday!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Nothing has changed, but I feel so busy lately, like there is barely time to catch my breath.   It feels a little too much like dread.   My old friend Dr. Cranky suggested that being around so much death and dying in my hospice job is taking a toll on me, but I suspect I am just getting old and out of shape.  

Still working on the big what-to-wear for my niece's wedding.   I loved the reader-idea of silk pajamas thanks, spindlemaker!), but unfortunately my age/body type/general lack of fitness and grace would make that a decidedly UN-glamorous look.    I finally came up with a modest idea of my own and shared it with my pesky baby sister.   The little stinker called me later that day to say that SHE had gone to the mall and tried on MY idea, and that she loved it, bought the whole outfit and couldn't be happier.    Just as well.    She (1) cares more about clothes, and (2) will look better in it anyway since she is taller and prettier and blonde.   But it's back to the drawing board for me.    Either inspiration will strike me again or I will wear something from my pitiful closet.    The one thing I've learned about weddings (and funerals) is that nobody is going to remember what I wore, so I'll keep looking, but I'm not all that stressed about it.  Yet.

Besides the upcoming wedding trip to the west coast, I am mentally trying to work out trips to New Orleans and Sanibel.   It would be a lot easier to plan if I didn't have to work.    Even a part-time job is something to be reckoned with.  Of course, it would be a lot harder to pay for without the job.   Note to self:  next time, be independently rich.

We are moving into the prettiest time of the year here.   A few trees down the road are already starting to show some fall color.   My garden has erupted in riot.   The herbs can't be contained, there are tomatoes daily, and my zucchini plant has finally produced enough for a few batches of zucchini bread and grilled zucchini.   I haven't seen any baby pumpkins yet, but the vines are covered with blossoms.   Life is good.