Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just a very quick snip of sentimentality in the midst of a day of catching up on laundry

In the process of getting our whole household sorted and packed up to move, I find it increasingly hard to keep up with the regular stuff.  Besides that, the pile of "not sure where to put this" stuff is growing exponentially. 

The living room is a twisted, jumbled wreck of boxes and bins that are either 1) waiting for those few more things that I just know I will find to fit in them; or 2) filled with the miscelleny of life in a ten person household and waiting to be sorted.

Besides that, my couch had been, until the last hour or so, heaped high with clean laundry, some folded, some not.

To get to the chair I like for my morning coffee, I have to wend and wind my way through the mess, planning the route ahead of time to descry a way through, and looking at each step before setting my foot down.  And all this without spilling my coffee. 

I've mostly managed to keep the dining room table mostly clear.  But we have a second table in our dining room, still sitting there from before Christmas when Jeremy came with his gang.  Every time we've gotten it cleared off, it fills up again before we get it out of the room.  And now that we're trying to pack to move, it has become an extra place to stack and sort and store temporarily.  Which leaves us squeaking and squishing our way around the regular table and seats when we have to sit down to eat or answer the phone or anything over that direction. 

And I so I deemed today the day to get caught up on folding the clean clothes and sorting out all the bits and pieces of packing that has stacked up.

I find that I'm just ready to be done.  I'm not in a hurry to leave this community and this town and these friends.  But if it has to be done, I'd just as soon it just BE DONE. 

Something that is perhaps unique to a pastor's family situation, is the attachment we feel to two communities.  Our hearts are in two places.  We are attached to these people here, and caring for them in times of happiness and sorrow.  They've been our family for the last thirteen and a half years.

And yet we're eager to form those same attachments with our new church family.  Different ones have been periodically calling to check on things since Joe accepted the call.  But in the last week, we've had more calls from more people.  Asking about Joe's preferences in scheduling things in his first few weeks there; asking about our preferences about paint or other household repair issues; and so on. 

Today one of the ladies called to ask about window shades.  She and some of the other ladies noticed that the current shades were nearing the end of their lives.  And so she and her husband had purchased shades for some windows and were wondering about doing more before we come. 

It's a rare thing in today's world to feel such love and care and support from people that one doesn't even really know.  It's a gift in this broken world to see the members of Faith showing such love for their new pastor and his family.

And we see the same love here, too.  Our people here have offered to help in so many ways.  Some have taken a load of stuff to the thrift store or metal recycling.  Another friend has picked up several loads of boxes and other packing materials from a local business.  Others have come to help me clean or pack.  Another friend taught Sophie how to finish the binding on the quilt she started long ago, and will take time from her schedule to teach Clara with the same.  She also bought the kids a bucket of ice cream and some Fruit Loops as a special treat.  Others bless us with gifts of money or food items to help out during this time.

And it's not becasue they are trying to hurry us away.  It's because of the blessing of love between them and their pastor and his family.

I find myself constantly on the verge of tears, thinking of leaving here.  And also emotional when anticipating the joy of being in a new community of similar love and support.

But to add one more thing to my precarious state, ... the snow melted.  That is usually not a bad thing.  It is this time, though, since it exposed my new flower bed that the kids and I put in last summer.  Oh, I was looking forward to finishing it off this summer and nurturing the young plantings through another growing season, enjoying their growth and beauty. 

We had planted a clump birch out our living room window the first summer we were here.  We had to replant it twice because of damage from weather, kids, and youth group outings.  But finally it's a wonderful clump of white and black boles and silvery green leaves.  When I first planted that birch I envisioned it surrounded by a perennial bed, with a raised hill curving around one side.

I imagined.

And dreamed.

And hoped.

And had babies.  And mowed lawn.  And planted vegetables.  And put in other flowers here and there.

Finally last year was able to create my long awaited landscaping.

And this spring, we will leave before I even see it coming back to life after it's first winter's rest. 

It creates a strange mix of sadness and excitement, and tears of joy and frustration, when I  contemplate, among other bigger things, my flower bed here and the newly painted living room walls in the Clara City parsonage.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting ready to move

So, we have shifted from an effort to rearrange rooms (see index tab "Room Upset 2014"), to preparing to move.  Here are some highlights, starting with those relating to the Room Upset:
  • Just before Joe got the call for Clara City, as in, the day before, we finally had finished Sophie and Stella's orange room.  Sophie had requested an orange room shortly after she got a quilt from her Grandma A. that was bright colors with black: orange, green, purple.  We had gradually gotten some items for her in those colors, a lamp, clock, storage containers, etc.  Kyle N. painted the bunk bed in a bright green.  We had bought and installed wire shelving for the closet. 
  • Our poor youngest girls were finally moved into their own room.  Or at least their own beds.  Clara and Sophie still had several piles and bins of things to remove from when they shared that room.  But at least the girls had their own beds for the first time in months.  
  • We got Clara and Sophie's stuff moved out.  Since we knew by that time that we'd be moving, they simply sorted and packaged most of this for the move.  
  • And seemingly strange, yes, ...  we moved Clara and Sophie's empty dressers into the garage and moved Inge and Donna's into their room.  Why, might you ask, would we bother moving dressers into a room?  Because we'd been squeezing past them in the hallways for the last four or five months.  With all the hauling and carrying we knew was coming, we wanted to clear the hallways.  

Sophie's custom shelves
The Orange Room and the Orange Lamp
The Purple Trip and the Purple Clock and the Purple Cork Board

That's the summary of the tail ends of the Room Upset.   The highlights of the move operations follow.
  • We started by sorting books.  Books and books and books.  Besides an extensive home library we had boxes and boxes of homeschool books to organize and figure out what to do with.  Most of these had been boxed up since we quit homeschooling and changed our school room into our Louisa room.  But in that time the boxes and been shifted and spilled and restacked and respilled and it was simply chaos.  We worked on books for about a week.  And even then each new thing we started we'd find more.  But most are either packed, gone to Goodwill, or waiting to be sold or given to other homeschoolers.  
  • We have all the stored-for-later-use shoes, boots, jackets, coats, snowpants, etc, sorted and packed.  Except those, of course, that are currently in use or that I find while digging through other things.
  • Joe's parents came for a quick weekend and helped with many little sorting and packing jobs.  Primarily they did some of the lesser used and more breakable kitchen and dining room items.  
  • Kim and Todd C. brought us pallets and more pallets.  We know that with the spring thaw comes a very wet garage floor.  And we knew we wanted to use the garage to store the packed boxes.  Joe and Matt gradually cleaned out areas of the garage enough to start to organize the stuff.
  • The kids and I have sorted and packed many/most of the toys.
  • Clara has been such a trooper to haul and haul and haul many stored boxes up from the basement for me to sort.  
  • Sophie and Clara (who are homeschooled) have been busy helping to keep up with regular household tasks such as dishes and meal prep and laundry, along with their studies.
  • Joe has all his guns and ammo sorted and ready.  
Some of our book sorting
Some more of our book sorting
Donna and I working in the living room
John and Stella helping Grandma
Grandpa cutting packing bubbles for Grandma
Grandma and Grandpa packing some of the dishes
Garage Chaos
More Garage Chaos
Garage Order
And besides all this, we've gotten many details of the move worked out:
  • Primarily the dates.  Joe will preach his last sermon here on April 12.  The churches here have planned a joint service that day with a meal following, so we will be able to say our goodbyes to the members of all four churches at one time.  Our new congregation is sending a semi up here on Monday, April 13, to move us down there.  It is their hope/tentative plan to rent a semi trailer for some extra time, so that we can gradually move in rather than having trip over boxes while trying to figure it all out.   And Joe's installation at Faith Lutheran Church in Clara City will take place on April 19.  Our new church family is planning a hog roast to welcome us and to thank Pastor Muehlenhardt who has served them during the vacancy.
  • We have all the details worked out for the kids' schools.  Sophie, Clara, and Inge are homeschooled now.  All will be homeschooled after the move.  Next fall, all will enter the MACCRAY schools.  We're excited for this since the Jr. High and High school are right in the same town, and the elementary schools are each only seven or eight miles away.  This is only half as far as our nearest school is now!  Elsie is currently doing PSEO work at Bethany, which allows her to get two years of college under her belt while she finishes her last two years of highschool.  And we've just found out that she will be able to continue to be enrolled in Oklee while doing this, so that she can still graduate with her Oklee classmates.
  • Big Kids' summer plans: these are still in the works.  Somewhat.  Elsie will be living with us and hopes to work at the Clara City Care Center as a CNA.  She would have preferred to stay in Mankato and keep her same job, but Joe and I feel that as a 17 year old, she still needs the time with her family.  She, understandably, does not agree.  But I hope it will not be too miserable for her.  Clara may or may not stay up here with Tiffany's family.  Clara has been working for Tiffany doing babysitting, housework, and outdoor chores, and learning from Tiffany livestock husbandry skills.  And she's bought from Tiffany a filly in exchange for some of her hours.  They have plans to continue training on the filly this summer, which is the reason Clara wants to stay.  Louisa is (this week) planning to stay in Moorhead for the summer, but I'm not sure she's decided for sure.   I keep hoping she'll decide to come stay with us in Clara City, but she has a very good paying CNA job in Moorhead.  I've encouraged her to be sure to calculate food and rent when deciding which options would really be a better deal.  But I suspect she is calculating based more upon my boring meals and all the dishes she might potentially have to wash in Clara City.  We shall see.  And Matt has found a place to live up here until he can move to Moorhead in the fall when he plans to start classes in Law Enforcement and/or Criminal Justice.  Along with his USMC drill weekends and annual training, he will be able to continue working for Quinten (Nelson and Nelsons Construction) throughout the summer.
Of course there are many, many things left to do.  But we go one day at a time.  We trust God to provide what we need, whether it's patience, time, energy, brain power, help, health, strong bodies, well behaved kids, etc.

And although it didn't exactly fit into any of the above paragraphs, I want to thank Barb C. who has brought us several Suburban loads full of boxes and Chris V. who dragged a absolutely huge bag of  packing bubbles home from Digi-Key.  We've had gifts of food.  We've had the support of many prayers.  God is good. 

Oh, and we made a quick trip down to Clara City to visit a little and to see the lay of the land.  Marsha P. and the other ladies helped me to pick out paint colors; and they have been busy painting some of the rooms down there.  Marsha has been my main contact at our soon-to-be home and I appreciate all the questions she's answered and measurements she's taken, etc.  Jeffrey L. has been so helpful to Joe in getting everything ready for the move.  He and the men have had many decisions to make to help us settle in easily.  They are putting a new bathroom in the basement of the parsonage and are working on finding some sort of space for the pastor's office.  Joe's vast pastoral book collection, which he indeed uses regularly, needs a home with much wall space for shelves.

And speaking of books, I ran into Sheryl W. yesterday while getting my hair cut at Gelene L.'s.  Sheryl mentioned several boxes of Old Norwegian books, some pastoral, that her dear departed mother Ragna had wanted Joe to have.  So, Joe, I think I forgot to tell you last night, but you will be getting some more books before we leave. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Geeky redneck ingenuity

The right hinge on my laptop broke shortly after Christmas.  I used traditional gray duct tape to hold things together.  My charging cord has two bits of duct tape, one silver and one orange, at opposite ends, holding things together.  My disc drive stopped working when I dug out the pre-school and kindergarten computer games for Inge a year or so ago.  I guess the old Windows 98 games were too old, and so messed up my drive somehow.  My screen flickers sometimes, as though it's about to give out.  And there's some sort of fan problem that causes the fan to periodically stop working and the computer to shut itself down.  I always try to sit with it propped up so that much air can get in. 

And then yesterday my second hinge gave out. 

Joe said I could probably get a non-functional case for my laptop, for about $30, and then switch out the innards into that one.  But with all those other little things, and the move coming up and ensuing change in income, ... I don't really want to spend the money. 

Today, when I probably ought to have been packing, I found myself challenged to do a little engineering.  Home computer repair using duct tape and shoe laces.  I'm pretty happy with the results.  I feel sufficiently ... accomplished.  I think it competes well with the steel can/2x4/duct tape cup holder Joe's dad made for our creeper van. 

view of the top; note the residual silver duct tape peeking out

view of the bottom, featuring the support string for the side braces

Note the snazzy half hitches on the laces that allow for adjusting the angle of incline

Just another view of my masterwork

One has to shape the tape around the various edge portals

The other edge with portals handily exposed

But wait, ... what about that disc drive?  I know it doesn't work anyway, ... but still, ... it looks like she taped it shut?

No worries.  A foundation layer of tape facing upward keeps the supporting tape from sticking, but still offers a surface upon which to add the vast layers of diagonal tape strips to keep the shoe lace from shifting when the weight of the screen is applied