Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Home being a relative term"

That is a direct quote from my youngest, B.  It came out of her mouth on Monday as I parked the car in the garage and said, "We're home!"

See, we weren't really parking in our garage in our home.  We were parking in a friend's garage in a friend's home - a very generous friend who is out of town and said we could stay there.  So it is "home" for now, but it isn't really "home" - hence, home being a relative term.

We want to be in our own home, but there's a bit of a problem.  We were hit by a tornado last Friday night.  We are safe, and the damage is relatively minor, but work needs to be done before we can move back in. 

This is my first tornado.  I think I am actually more afraid dealing with the consequences and the unknowns afterwards than I felt during the storm.  Had I known better I probably should have been afraid during the storm.  The sky had that green cast you hear about with an incredibly eerie calm to the trees plus lots of lightening.  Your typical storm has gray to dark clouds with lots of wind, so this was like nothing I'd ever seen up close before.  And the combination of the 3 happening together plus warning sirens made me grab B and head to the basement.  We have a basement garage, so we sat in the car and waited for the storm to blow over, trying to catch weather on the radio where possible.  Within about 3 - 5 minutes, the car started to shake.  That was an interesting experience - one I don't anticipate feeling again - sitting in a car in a closed basement garage with strong enough wind to shake the car.  The power went out and we were in darkness except for car dome lights and flashlights.

After it was over I left B in the car and went to see what was happening.  My first clue something was odd were the tree limbs in my bedroom windows.  The force had knocked the screens in.  My next clue was the wet hallway.  My hallway is not usually wet.  So I went to the front door to look outside.  Even in the dark I could see enough damage and debris around me that I remember thinking, "Oh, this is what it looks like on TV when they show damage after a tornado.  I wonder if we had a tornado." 

We could not get my car out of the garage that night due to the debris in the driveway, so my daughter, S, came and picked us up after work.  She couldn't drive all the way, so we had to walk to her car, about 1/2 a mile or so away.  Thankfully there was power and no damage at her place, so we spent the night there. 

Side story to this whole soon as I get to the basement,  I receive a work email about a production problem.  Such is the nature of my job.  I do system support, so I can get asked to help at any time.  I sent back a quick reply that I could not help since I was sitting in the basement due to weather.  Emails continued to go back and forth among the 3 folks working to resolve the problem, and I eventually was able to tell 'em about the tornado.  Of course they were kind and understanding and one person offered to let us come there if need be.  Once I arrived at S's place, I said that would not be necessary and found out that the problem was still just that - a problem.  So I logged in and took a look.  I was pretty much wide awake at that point anyway, so why not, right?  Thankfully I was still in shock, so that helped me find the problem.  Had I tried an hour or so later or even the next day after the shock had worn off, I probably wouldn't have been any help.  Shock is a funny thing.  It is surprising what you can get done while in shock.

The next two days are somewhat of a blur - lots of waiting, some clean up, fatigue plus celebrating Easter as a family at S's apartment.  My oldest son was also traveling back from California, hoping to land late Sunday eve at the airport that had also been hit by the same tornado, so there was a good dose of concern thrown into the mix. 

By Sunday eve, B and I had moved into our "home being a relative term" home.  It really is a blessing - a bit of a God thing, if you will.  We just happened to have the keys to her place already.  We've maybe only had the keys to her place one other time when she was out of town.  So why now?  I guess Someone knew we'd need them.

Do I know what tomorrow holds?  Nope.  I know what I plan for tomorrow, but ya know, I didn't know what Friday night held.  I thought I knew, but sure enough, I didn't.  And ya know what?  It's still not an 8.9 earthquake and tsunami aftermath that I'm dealing with.  And I'm still a marble snob.  I didn't lose the marble slab or the marble rolling pin.  And maybe, just maybe, the telling of this story in this blog is a bit like writing my blessings in stone - recording it to remind myself how much I have to be thankful for - our safety, family, and a home to stay at...home being a relative term and all...

So even though I am afraid, unsure of myself and how the insurance plays out or the timing of the repairs or when we can move back in, it's all ok.  I am confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 

Oh and here's one final blessing or silver lining out of this whole thing.  I had set a goal to clear out the freezer by the end of May ready to start baking my daughter's wedding and groom's cakes.  Well, now I'm a month ahead of schedule! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Write your sorrows in sand and your blessings in stone

You're right.  That isn't an original.  In fact I just saw it on the wall as I was finishing up a massage.  Yes, that is right. I had a massage today.  Talk about a blessing to write in stone.

But it fit right in with something I'd been thinking about earlier today.  And yes, if you're counting, this is three blog postings in one day.  Ah, the benefits of a vacation day!

Anyway I woke up this morning to the sound of birds singing.  Yes, it is spring!  So I'm laying in bed thinking that I can hear the birds.  And then I stop and think what a blessing that is.  And then I stop and think what a blessing it is that I can hear.  Just that.  I can hear.  Today I can hear.  It's not that my hearing has been in any question or an issue recently that I should be extra joyful that I can hear.  It just struck me that I can, and am grateful.  I can hear.

I can see.  Today I can see.   Tomorrow, who knows?

I can receive and enjoy a massage. Such a luxury!

I can swallow.  I can breathe.  I can sleep.  I can stretch.  I can walk.  I can run (not fast or long, mind you, but I can run.)  I can laugh.  I can cry.  I can smell.  I can taste.  I can cook for myself and for others.  I can run into old friends and greet them with a hug and a smile and love.  I can write these blessings.  I can remind myself to remember my blessings.  I can choose to not complain.

And I think that's what I need to remind myself most.  I can choose to not complain.  No matter how I may be feeling about any situation, I am blessed beyond my ability to list.  Yes, I have had sorrows.  We all have.  I can remind myself to write those in the sand, where water and wind wipe them away quickly.

And I can remind myself that no matter what tomorrow brings, whether sorrow or blessing, it does not wipe away or diminish the blessing of today any more than the blessing of today removes the sorrow of yesterday or make it less than it was.

But complaining is an easy, lazy activity.  It takes no thought to complain.  It takes no heart to complain.  It is something that we all do quite well and are very practiced at.  In contrast it is usually an intentional activity to list blessings and choose to focus on those.  Similar to writing them in stone - it takes work to write in stone.  It takes time and thought and even tools conducive to accomplishing the task. 

But it is a worthwhile task that changes both the writer and the stone and the reader of the stone, for chances are that there are many common blessings that we all share and so easily forget - especially when life is good and sweet and the blessings abound even more. 

Such is the nature of all of us.  But today, I can hear.  I am blessed.  And I remember that I am blessed.

Pics from The Marble Snob

Up to this point I have not posted any pics of anything I've baked, in part, because I needed my daughter to point out the icon to use to upload pictures.  Ok, so that's not just part of the reason, that is the entire reason.

Sigh.  I have so much to learn about blogging...

Anyway here are a few pics.  They are just taken with my phone - no professional camera here, so be gracious, please...

The marble snob begins.  Yes, that's right, this spoiled brat has a marble rolling pin and a marble slab.  It is WONDERFUL!!

This is a variety of danishes that I took into work on my boss' birthday recently.  We have cream cheese, blueberry cream cheese, strawberry cream cheese and chocolate croissants.  You know it's a good danish when you take a bite of the blueberry cream cheese and you don't immediately start thinking about what you want to do the next time to improve them.  That wasn't so much the case with the chocolate croissants, but I know what I'll do different next time, so it's all good.

This was a pyramid gauteau I made for a family celebration recently plus little mini pithiviers.  All that rise on the pithiviers is strictly from layers of butter and steam.  Amazing!

This is actually an image taken from before I became The Marble Snob, so even doing these doughs with a normal countertop and wooden rolling pin doesn't come out too shabby....notice the two chocolate leftover croissants innocently hanging out in the middle.  What I want to do next time is a combination of this version and the other version on top - include a homemade pain in the center but also sprinkle shaved chocolate in all of the layers before rolling.  It could be good.  I'm jus' sayin'...

Now that I'm getting the hang of it, maybe you will see a few more pics.  And if I can ever get a decent pic of me, I'll try to include one of those, too!

I am confident of this

I LOVE the movie, The Sound of Music.  It is my all time favorite movie.  Not just my favorite musical or my favorite family movie or my favorite movie from childhood.  It is my all time favorite movie.  It came out when I was a mere 4 years old.  (If you are so inclined you can do the math and figure out how ancient I am.)  I remember seeing it in the theater.  I remember wanting to BE Julie Andrews when I grew up.  I still do.  I remember playing Gretl when our 5th grade choir put on our version of The Sound of Music.  I was the one chosen as Gretl because I was the littlest one in the class, and I probably did a phenomenal job of falling asleep on the stage steps to "So Long, Farewell."  I'm sure I did. 

Anyway I still love singing along with all of the songs, and someday I want to host a Sound of Music party with a bunch of chickas (and hunks, too, if they are man enough to handle it!) so we can watch the movie and sing all the lyrics and dance and boo and hiss at the Barronness Schroeder and sigh when Maria and the Captain fall in love and ooo and aahh at my very most favorite scene from the entire movie - when Maria is marching down the aisle in her wedding dress with the train trailing behind her and the song "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria" singing in the background.  Even just typing this, I get tears, because I love that scene that much.  (Yes, I am a sappy wimp!) 

Or maybe the tears are because that was such a grammatically horrific run-on sentence. 

Nah, it was the sappy wimp reason...

And someday I want to take a trip to Salzburg with seven of my closest friends and sing "Do-Re-Mi" on bicycles through the streets and end the song on those famous steps.  And dress in re-cut curtains.  Ok, maybe not the re-cut curtains part but everything else, definitely.

But the song "I Have Confidence" is my least favorite song from that musical.  I hardly ever sing those lyrics.  It isn't a bad song, per se, and I get why it's there.  Maria has left the Abbey and is headed to become the governess for the Captain's seven children.  Scary prospect, no doubt.  And Maria is justifiably nervous, so she sings this song to herself to make her "feel" the confidence she doesn't really feel.  Not a bad coping choice.  I get all of that.  But there is one line in the song that trips me up philosophically or theologically if you will.  "I have confidence in confidence alone."  Um, really?  Now possibly Rogers and Hammerstein just needed 11 syllables to fill out a set of notes and create a bridge and it means nothing, but it's stuck with me.  Does having confidence in the idea of confidence actually give a person courage and confidence to move forward?

I saw a video clip recently of a little child on the end of a diving board afraid to make what appears to be his first jump off into the pool.  We see water, so we know that he isn't automatically going to hurt himself when he jumps.  And we presume that since there is a videographer taking pictures of this little guy, he has the skill set to jump and survive.  But he is clearly afraid.

Then we see a pic of his mother.  She is in the water with her arms outstretched, smiling and encouraging him to jump to her.  And he jumps, and he lands in her arms, and he laughs, and he's ready to do it again.

But did you catch that?  He was jumping to her.  He had confidence in her.  He wasn't confident in himself or in his swimming abilities.  He had confidence in his mother, because she had proven herself to be trustworthy to take care of his needs all the years of his life - his entire lifetime.

Which takes me finally to this blog's title - I am confident of this.  I am not just confident.  I am confident of a this - of a something or someone else.  I am not just confident in the idea of confidence as a means to bolster and hold me up against an unforeseeable future.  I am confident of something more, something trustworthy.

And that yields courage and strength to move forward - to "feel" confident even when I don't feel it.

And who knows, maybe someday I'll sing the lyrics to "I Have Confidence," too if I ever find that Austrian Abbey live and in person. 

Oh, who am I kidding?  If I am ever able to do this dream vacation, I will sing every line from every song from that movie with much joy.  And probably sing each one more than once!