Wednesday, November 27, 2002

What I'm thankful for today

Yesterday, we had no heat in the building. Something was broken on the big ancient boiler and needed to be replaced. The prediction was that it wouldn't be fixed until late today. All day Tuesday, we wore our gloves, scarves and coats, if we had them, and plodded on with what we had to do until we just couldn't take it anymore. I snuck out three hours early with a bunch of reading and curled up at home for the rest of the day. Having a virus makes being cold even worse. The shelter was going to be chilly that night, but everyone could take extra blankets. Someone scrounged up a space heater for our poor volunteers who had to stay up at the desk half the night. All of us were dreading today which was going to be even colder. This morning, I wore a turtleneck under a big wool sweater and contemplated putting on long underwear. I didn't need it, though, because when I walked into the building, a big blast of warm air greeted me. Ah, heat, how we do take you for granted!

Dragons are another thing. I like dragons a lot. Not those collectible pewter and crystal things, but the idea of dragons. In my opinion a good dragon can save a story just as easily as a well-written sword fight. Alan rented Reign of Fire for us to watch last night. It was an okay rental. We liked the movie a lot up until the end. My major quibble with it was this, when you have a movie with dragons, the dragons should be a major part the movie. There just weren't enough dragons. The dragons were very good when we could see them, but they needed a few more attacks and scenes of the dragons in devastated London. Despite this, not enough good dragons is better than too many bad dragons and I'm thankful for that.

Friday, November 22, 2002

The quote of the week comes from Karen, imagining what creepy, bondage guy was thinking at World Fantasy. "What a beautiful aura on that woman. I'd sure like to see her in leather." Thank you, Karen, you made me laugh out loud.

"Their commitment to one another mirrors their commitment to serving others." I just got back from the 2002 Virginia McKnight Binger Awards in Human Service ceremony sponsored by the McKnight Foundation. The award "recognizes exceptional volunteers who demonstrate the difference one person can make in serving others" in Minnesota. I've been privileged to know three of the honorees for the past eight years through their volunteering in the overnight shelter. All three have been with the shelter since it opened 20 years ago. Fern and Ed Ostberg have been volunteering as a couple for 54 years and are truly an inspiration. Andy Benjamin brings an incredible energy and commitment to his volunteering. All three amazing people volunteer for multiple agencies which makes it difficult to list everything that they do. If you need some ideas on the difference one person can make or just need reassurance that the world isn't a horrible place, you should follow the link to awards and read about these 11 wonderful people.
Grandma has been in the sub acute care unit at a nursing home for about a week now and she probably will be there for another week. She fell off a step ladder while putting away her Halloween decorations. She cut her head in two places, but didn't notice it right away because she doesn't remember falling. Suddenly, she was on the floor, bruised and in pain. She noticed her finger was bent out of a joint so she grabbed it and yanked it back into place. The only reason she sought out help after the fall, much later, was that she kept on falling. On Wednesday, we went to have an MRI done on her head. There was a lot of paperwork and questions aiming to find out if she had any metal in her body. One of the questions asked about welding. Grandma was a welder in the shipyards in Portland, Oregon during World War II. Ask her about Rosie the Riveter and she'll tell you the welders were the tough ones not the riveters. My grandma is 5'2" and 90 pounds soaking wet. Tatoos count as metal, too, so I had to ask her if she had one. I didn't think so, but you never know. She laughed and shook her head like I was crazy. You never know. Afterwards, one of the women helping us said she was a peanut. I'm not sure what she meant exactly, but it was intended to be flattering. The food is horrible in the nursing home so we went out to lunch on our way home. She told me about dinner the night before. She was sitting looking down at her plate and pushing her dinner around hoping that another configuration would be better. The woman across from her asked, "How can they ruin an egg salad sandwich?"

Monday, November 18, 2002

I've gotten a nice response from people on the focus on positivity, so we'll continue it at least for this post. Do any of you remember when the saying, "Commit random acts of kindness and senseless beauty," was going around? According to my Internet research, the saying started in 1982. So, it's been around for twenty years and that makes me feel really old. I was working for a commercial interior design firm when I saw an article on it in Glamour and I showed it to everyone. They took the saying to heart, putting it up on a wall with spotlights so everyone passing by through the Minneapolis warehouse district could see it. The following sites promote the practice of the kindness part of the formula, the generosity game and the random acts of kindness foundation. Good stuff, but I don't want to forget the senseless beauty part. I don't think we have enough of it in our lives.

I'd love to come up with a list of random acts of senseless beauty. I used to be a gardening magazine and seed catalog junkie. Actually, I still am a junkie, but I am in recovery. Anyway, I hated for all the pretty pictures of flowers to go to waste when I recycled them, so I started cutting them out and putting them in people's mailboxes at work and sticking them to envelopes going into the mail. Some people thought I was really strange, but most people really liked it. Other than planting bulbs, which you can't do during the most of the year in Minnesota, it was the cheapest way I could think of to share my love of flowers. So send me your senseless beauty ideas and be kind to each other as Ms. Bond says. And dance. Dancing is a kind of beauty, isn't it?

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Continuing our effort at positivity, I will now discuss the Agent Cooper method of anger management. Alan developed this after we watched the entire Twin Peaks series this summer while he was battling carpal tunnel and tendonitis and couldn't type or write. Agent Dale Cooper met the challenges and adversity life threw at him with a big thumbs up. In one scene, he lies on the floor of his room bleeding from gunshot wounds while an ancient, oblivious hotel employee ignores his plea to get a doctor. How does Cooper respond to the man? He gives him a thumbs up.

According to Alan, part of the effectiveness of the method lies in the kinetic motion, the thrusting out of the arm for the thumbs up. It does seem to work. (In fact, I just now got a thumbs up from Alan when I told him he wasn't really looking for the mustard, if he didn't find it in the refrigerator, because it was there. And it was.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

I was really crabby when I left work last night. I was mad at Microsoft. I was mad at our patchwork network made out of donated computers. I was mad at myself for wearing a light-weight coat. It was warm when I left for work, but freezing cold now that the sun was down. I pulled out of the parking lot hunched over the steering wheel and cursing myself for not bringing my gloves that morning. As I got to the end of the alley, I stopped next to about 20 guys standing in the dark, all waiting the final fifteen minutes for the shelter to open. Most of them were bent over from the cold, too, with their hands stuffed in their pockets, and their collars pulled up to their chins. Many of them pulled their hands out to wave at me and say, "Good-bye." I suddenly realized how stupid all of my complaints were. When I hit a traffic jam a few minutes later, I turned the radio to an oldies station and sang along with the Doors, CCR and Motown the rest of the way home.

Keep up with me here, "In with the good... out with the bad... in with the good... out with the bad..."

Monday, November 11, 2002

"Hello, salty goodness." Quote of the week from Sunday night's episode of Angel.

After a wonderland week where friends decended on us from all over for World Fantasy, reality hit. All week we had bad colds, bad news and the house seemed really empty without our house guests (or as empty as Alan, Burt the dog and three cats allows it be.) Lately it seems like I've entered a not-so-nice alternate world. The only consolation is that, if I understand quatum physics correctly, somewhere another Kristin lives in a world where the Republicans didn't win, friends lives are happy and sane, and she is finding the time to write everyday. Hugs to everyone. You know who you are.
Winter Happens - Be Ready!

"Any one who has resided in Minnesota for 12 consecutive months already knows that winter happens sooner or later, and we have to be ready for cold and snow." Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Winter Hazard Awareness Week was last week. I got a neat little packet of information covering everything from outdoor safety to indoor air issues and immunizations for winter vacation travel. If you live in a northern clime I'm only going to ask you once, "Have you got your little coffee can survival kit ready in your car?" If not, here's what you need: candle stubs and matches, metal cup, red bandana and plastic whistle, pencil and paper, change for phone, first aid kit with any essential medications, plastic flashlight with spare batteries, two large plastic garbage bags, safety pins, and candy bars. I usually keep an extra pair of boots, a small shovel, a blanket and some kitty litter in the trunk with my jumper cables, too. You only have to be stuck on a rural Wisconsin road once to learn your lesson.