September 28, 2010

A Futile Quest for Perfection

In Natchez, Mississippi, you will find a house that is frozen in time. It's official name is Longwood, but it is also known as Nutt's Folly. The owner was Dr. Haller Nutt, a man who was not blessed with good timing.

 Source: Wikipedia

At six stories and 30,000 square feet, it is the largest octagonal house in the United States. Work began on the house in 1860, but in 1861, when word came that the Civil War had begun, workers stopped what they were doing and walked out, dropping their saws and hammers on the floor and leaving paint brushes in open cans. Only the exterior of the house had been completed. Thirty-two rooms were planned, but Dr. Nutt was only able to finish nine rooms on the first floor, apparently mostly with slave labor.

In 1862, Dr. Nutt and his wife, Julia moved into the finished first floor, along with their eight children. Dr. Nutt died before the war ended and Julia continued to live in the house until her death in 1897. Many of the family's furnishings remain there for tourists to see. I remember seeing the house as a child, during Natchez's Spring Pilgrimage. As we went up to the second floor we saw the workers' tools strewn about, clearly showing the passage of time. I wondered what it would be like to live on the first floor, with those eerie unfinished floors above, serving as reminders of what would never be.

There is a house in my city that is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Oh, it's a another grand house, and it was built to fulfill someone's dream, but while it was completed long ago, only the caretaker's apartment has ever been inhabited.

September 25, 2010

I Love My Job!

I have had my nose to the grindstone more than usual this week. I've told you before that I work at a private high school. September is normally a hectic month, and this year we decided to add something else to a month that is already full...we're changing our website to a new host company. Friday was the deadline to get it done. Did I mention that the group of us who were transferring all the information from the old site to the new have limited expertise in these matters?

We also had two evening events this week - along with the extra work that each brought. As a result, everything that needed to be done on the website had to be squeezed in at all hours. I had two pages left to set up Friday night, and in the midst of a reception - the final evening event for the week - I spied a computer and logged on and finished those pages. There are still finishing touches to be done, pictures to add, and undoubtedly links to fix, but the basic information is there.

Despite all the stress, it has been a fun week. My coworkers and I have laughed together as we have dealt with HTML quandaries. We have pitched in to help each other meet deadlines. Tuesday night, I crawled under desks to swipe phones for an evening phonathon. The parents who helped with that phonathon were a blast. There were cookies in the faculty lounge two mornings this week, always a bonus. Our daily faculty/staff trivia game started this week. Hallways were filled with smiling students. When I went to the cafeteria for lunch one afternoon, I coud hear the drum corps practicing. And when I left the reception Friday night after a 13-hour day, I could hear the crowd cheering in the football stadium as I felt the cool evening breeze.

You don't get those things in every job.

And what was the purpose of Friday night's reception? It was to honor two graduates and a former coach for their achievements, not just while they were at our school, but throughout their lives. As I listened to the speeches that preceded the reception, I was reminded again why we do what we's all about preparing kids for life.

And oh yeah. This post fulfills prompt #5 from Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop...10 Reasons why you love your job.

Until next time,

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men..." Colossians 3:23

September 21, 2010

Good News About Those Few Extra Pounds

I can't cite the source, but when I was a teenager, my mother said she had read a quote from Ingrid Bergman where she said that there comes a time in every woman's life where she has to chose between her face and her body. I remember what brought it up. We had just seen Murder on the Orient Express and Mom was commenting on how great Bergman looked at nearly 60. Ingrid had chosen her face over her body, and didn't mind carrying a few extra pounds as she got older. Sure, she was a little heavier than she had been at the peak of her career, but she was still beautiful.

Source: Google Images
I have always thought that made sense, but I nearly did cartwheels when The Wall Street Journal presented evidence in support of Ingrid's theory last spring, in Why Carrying an Extra 10 Pounds Might Not Hurt.  The  article was based on a study published in February in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study included about 9,000 men and women.

The article explains that a little extra weight does more than fill in the lines:

A little extra fat may also act as a natural face-lift. Last year, the Archives of Dermatology published a study that said, as women grow older, those who are overweight appeared younger than those who were normal or underweight. That is because a little fat provides more structure for the skin which can combat the sagging that comes with age.

What's more, it can help with osteoporosis, which I've long suspected. It just seemed to me that carrying a few extra pounds would be the equivalent of walking with weights. Apparently doctors are coming around to my way of thinking, that one way to strengthen your skeleton is to avoid looking like a skeleton.

It's not a free pass to let ourselves go. Too much belly fat is still bad. A healthy diet and exercise will always be important, but we don't have to take it to the level of an obsession. We don't have to stress over 5 or 10 extra pounds. Hallelujah!

Click here to read the full article.

Until next time,

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139:14 (NIV)

September 17, 2010

Back to Life

Here's a happy story for the weekend. It's not often that we see evidence of real-life miracles while we're eating our Cheerios, but such a miracle was featured on the Today show Friday morning. 

The parents of a 2-year-old boy named Gore shared the story of their son, who shows no signs of brain damage after his heart stopped for about an hour as the result of a near-drowning earlier this summer. When he was found in an irrigation ditch, his heart had stopped. His grandfather, a retired orthopaedic surgeon and the first to try to resuscitate Gore, said he had the color of someone who had died - which he had.

Once his heart started beating again, his temperature was kept low for a couple of days before slowing bringing it back to normal. Even then, there wasn't much hope that he would be unaffected by the experience until after an MRI showed normal brain activity.

It's an amazing story.

Until next time,

Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. ~ John 12:17

September 16, 2010

The Art of Conversation

It's already Thursday, which means it's time for another writing assignment from Mama Kat. This time I chose prompt #5, "Describe an awkward conversation you had with someone recently." The timing was perfect, as I had an awkward conversation just this past weekend.

First a little background. I live in the same town where I have spent most of my life. We moved here when I was 2, and except for a 2-1/2 year period from the fourth grade until the sixth, I have lived here ever since. It was when we moved back in the middle of my sixth grade year that I learned "you can't go home again."

September 13, 2010

Are We Intolerant?

Matt, at The Church of No People*, asked a simple question on Friday, "Do Americans have a lot more work to do when it comes to being tolerant?" 

Okay, maybe it wasn't all that simple. Regardless of how much more tolerant we are - generally speaking - than a number of other nations that come to mind, I can see where we might come across as intolerant. One guy even came up with a visual way to make fun of our appearance of intolerance:

Photo Source: A wide variety of Internet sites

For the record, I don't know that God cares much about most signs, but I do think he hates "hate" signs.

Today's post is my answer to Matt's question about whether or not I think we're intolerant, with a just couple of minor changes in an effort to tweak it.

September 9, 2010

Mom Friends

Holy cow. It's already time for another writing assignment from Mama Kat! Perhaps it was the long holiday weekend, but the week has flown by. Or maybe it's just that Mama Kat gives out too much homework because I swear I just turned one of these in and it cannot possibly have been a week.

This time I chose prompt #2: "A list of things you no longer have in common with your married/child bearing friends…and why you love them anyways."

First of all, I hate to complain, but I just can't use the word anyways in a sentence. I want to make it clear that I don't blame Mama Kat. Who was the first person to decide a perfectly good word like anyway needed an 's' tacked onto the end? I'm sure it's a regional thing. I can say "y'all" 'til the cows come home, but anyways isn't a word that has ever come out of my mouth and its very presence made it difficult for me to choose this prompt.

September 6, 2010

The News Spread Like Wildfire

My city experienced a tragic loss early Friday afternoon. A coworker received a breaking news text and within minutes it was all over Facebook. I left work to get my hair cut and, as I drove, it was all they were talking about on the radio. When I arrived at the salon, the stylists were stunned by the news. One was absolutely heartbroken  as she stared at the picture on her phone. The shock caused drivers to pull off the highway, and the 10:00 p.m. news reported that people were still stopping by to pay their respects.

What happened?

We lost a local icon.

The screens at the drive-in movie theatre caught on fire.


September 2, 2010

Dear Alec

It's time for another assignment from Mama Kat. This time I chose the prompt, "write an open letter to a celebrity." My letter is to my secret celebrity crush. But, shhhhh, don't tell anybody who it is.

Dear Alec,

I realize this is probably not your wildest fantasy, to have a Christian woman who is about your age and who lives in a red state tell you she has a secret celebrity crush on you. Would it help if I told you I'm a purple voter who lives in a red state? Really, it's more of a periwinkle. (That's the closest I could find to periwinkle in Blogger's limited color palette.) And I have never voted for the guy who refuses to even entertain the possibility of climate change. Oh wait, there was that one time, but it was only once. Surely you can understand a person making a bad decision in a weak moment.

I wish I could tell you when I realized I had a crush on you. It wasn't when you were young. You were plenty attractive when you were young, but to tell you the truth, I thought you were kind of shallow. And cocky. Really cocky.

But life has a way of taking that know-it-all attitude out of all of us. Life, and the mistakes we make. And of course, you made a whopper. Isn't it funny how Mel Gibson can make a mistake that's just as appalling and we say, "there but for the grace of God"?  (Believe me, we're super miffed, but it's awfully hard to let Mel have it after that Jesus movie.)