Thursday, July 26, 2012

How I Use My College Degree (a random post)

This afternoon brought about a brief, yet wonderful, lunch with a dear college friend. We reminisced about some hilarious college moments. Some less than instructional classes we took, and the moments and relationships that were the real learning experiences of our college years. 

I don't regret my education one bit. Sometimes, I wonder whether I should have avoided some of the debt I incurred by going to a private liberal arts school. But overall, I am a sum of the parts of my life decisions. Beloit College is a huge part of who I turned into. But was my creative writing major integral to the career choices I made there on out? Meh. I dunno. I still write some (See this blog? This is writing!) but I'm no "writer". I learned plenty in college that I use on a daily basis, but it's fun when I am surprised by a task where I get to use something I actually learned in class.

One thing I learned in college was how to pull off a project at the very last moment. Procrastination and I were best buddies back then. Lucky for me, I work in a job where last moment tasks abound. 

Check out this 3 hour set design I tossed together (with my team's help) for a worship night this week. The set pieces existed already, but we 1) covered it teacher-bulletin-board-style with brown painter's paper, 2) popped it with a giant cardboard picture frame, & 3) spray painted thanks in many languages. Add some candles and other random frames and - Boomski!- set designed. Thank you Set Design class from senior year.

And when I went to Big Stuf, knowing I would have to suffer the 15 hour bus ride there and back I sought out a travel pillow at the local pharmacy. No luck. (Turns out they only stock them at Christmas. Like that's the only time when people travel. Come on.) So I toss together this gem from a quick pattern of my own creation. Thank you Costume Shop Employment when I learned how to make patterns.

Each and every day on a regular basis I am editing and arranging and designing and calculating. Maybe I'm not a writer on the clock, but I'm sure using the skills I acquired during my early 20's. Of course, there are times when nothing could prepare me for what I would do on the job. Thank goodness I work in a place where my job is full of weird surprises. (Like this crazy video I made with my team. Seriously, my job is awesome.)

Anyways, it is good to take a moment sometimes and recognize the way my skills and talents are used. It's really satisfying to see years of training and hard work come to fruition, even if it is through little projects and moments of success and not grandiose finales. Just because I'm not a CEO of my own company, a famous performer or artist, or even a published author doesn't mean I haven't seen great success in my life. It's easy to overlook amazing accidental successes if you get caught up in the lofty goals you originally set for yourself. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beautiful Beach Week (and) Big Stuf

The past couple weeks have been a blur. I've been busy busy at work, moving friends into a new home (and consquently losing my internet hook ups- anyone got an awesome internet plan for cheap they wanna clue me in on?), seeing a fellah I'm pretty jazzed about, painting lots at the office, planning for big events, and then finally- chaperoning a trip to a church camp (Big Stuf) in Panama City Beach for 5 days. It was an awesome trip. I got to know some kids really well, made some closer friends, spent some time enjoying beautiful scenery, and witnessed God's work in a place where it was impossible to ignore His creation.

Sometimes the stormy moments were even more beautiful than the blue skies. 

I love the way this woman's hair is blowing away. And the overexposed sun. 

Some friends on the beach at dusk. I love these people. And below, this is just a glimpse of what 1,600 young people look like when they are reading and meditating in God's word on a white sand beach. 

Patterns in nature fascinate me. Especially ones created by creatures. Look at those darling bird tracks! I would love to see a fabric with a pattern created out of bird tracks. And those tiny holes in the sand. Are they the work of a hermit crab breathing under the sand? Or do the grains just settles in these patterns? Science geeks, go ahead and inform me. 

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Floridian food at least a little. For the most part, we ate cafeteria style at the camp, but one evening we went for dinner at a kitschy, beachside margarita joint. I split a tasty grouper po'boy with my pal in order to leave room for a really tasty pie. In fact, it was kinda...

I'm already missing the beach and the atmosphere of camp. Some of the students were already mourning camp as the bus pulled out of the parking lot. I tried to console them with my theories on how the "place" that they miss doesn't exist anymore since the same people will never inhabit it at the same time ever again

The whole experience reminded me of my late teenage years, working at Interlochen for summer camp. Those were summers full of puppy love, skinny dipping and mosquito bites. I was shaped by those moments, but oh, I thought I would never feel the same again. And I have frequently seen glimpses of that same belonging, that same passion for life in my adult friendships and relationships. It's easy to see the end of an experience as a loss. But really, as the experience will inform your future decisions and shape your future self, it never does leave you.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Visiting Amish Country

While in eastern Ohio for the Huff Family Reunion, I spent a good deal of time touring the rolling amish country hillsides with my Grammalo (my dad's mom), my parents and my aunts and uncles. 

Holmes county Ohio, the county adjacent to my grandma's hometown- Sugarcreek, has the largest Amish population in the world. My own grandma's father was Mennonite and so our family has some connection to the culture. Now, mostly, we enjoy purchasing Amish made baked goods and crafts. 

We hit up a few little stores here and there. Some were much littler than others. Our first stop was a little Amish general store, meant for the Amish to shop in themselves- as opposed to hoards of tourists. Leave it to us "shopping pros" (I learned how to shop from my grammalo and aunts.) to break into the untapped Amish stores. The store featured Dutch New Testaments, adorable canisters of school supplies for individual purchase, tiny tiny leather shoes for tiny Amish babies, and enormous stock pots. There was also a necessary aisle toward the back with a stash of white cross-your-heart brasseries and 40 styles of stiff black bonnets. I didn't venture towards the men's aisle of undergarments, I didn't think it proper.

The next shop was Miller's Bakery. This two room, clapboard store is hidden up a hill of a twisting road with hardly a sign to mark it's existence. But the place was packed with customers both Amish and  otherwise. Oh man, I wish I could have bottled the smell of this place for you. I had a raisin bar- which is really a chewy bread-y molasses cookie with raisins. My favorite. My mom and I got caught up in the back room, filled with local crafts. I love these clothespin bags. I don't have any clothespins, but what could I make one of these for? What other useful thing could it hold?

One larger store had built a business out of a petting farm in the parking lot. You could buy a waffle ice cream cone full of feed for a dollar and scatter the food amongst the goats, bunnies, horses and more. I snapped a couple shots of some cuddly animal families.

Often, when I am shopping on vacation, I focus on collecting craft ideas rather than filling my shopping basket. I hate to transport too much on the road. Besides, most things at crafty joints you could easily make for cheaper than retail. I love the felt details on this lampshade and the idea of making oversized buttons to hang as wall art. I'm not sure how I'd do it, but this plaid mirror has got to be possible to recreate in house. And how about those boot planters? Fun, right? Makes me want to find the tin man and decapitate him. (Okay, that was weird.)

Check out that beautiful lady above. That's my Grammalo. 82 years young and still climbing out onto her roof to sweep off the leaves. Sheesh. I hope I inherited a lot of her genes.

As we drove through the Amish farm country, it was notably quiet and peaceful. There were few electric posts to mar the horizon. As it was Monday, wash day, the yards were filled with lines of pastel dresses and shirts and dark pants and skirts, flapping in the wind. I admire the Amish life. They live simply and quietly always in community with others. Their "church" meets inside homes and shifts weekly. So open, so democratic. I know that even in their society there are faults and hiccups. Still, tonight, I envy their evening times. No screens to distract them from looking up at the night sky- no electric bulb in sight. The stars surely shine brighter in their country.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

RIP Andy Griffith

Though he won so many hearts during the Andy Griffith Show, the role that made an impact in my development as a young person was as Ben Matlock. Andy Griffith was a down-home actor with silly sensibilities- always willing to laugh at himself. I adored this campy 80's/90's courtroom drama. My mother was obsessed with these types of shows. As a result, I grew up watching Matlock, Murder She Wrote, Perry Mason and the PBS Sherlock Holmes miniseries starring Jeremy Brett.

Around the same time, I started to write voraciously. And since I had very little personal experience from which to write, I wrote some seriously silly fiction incorporating elements from fairy tales or movies I saw. When I heard of Andy Griffith's death, I was reminded of one particular such tale I wrote in 5th grade. By request of my pal, Kim, here the story is in full. I now present:

The Case of the Murdered Librarian

It was a bright and sunny day. Sherlock Holmes Junior was out golfing with Ben Matlock. The cellular phone in Holmes' golf cart rang. He answered it. It was their secretary, Michelle. Holmes excitedly talked to her for a short while, then hung up. " Get in the cart" he said to Ben. "We've got a case to solve!"
The two men hurried out of the course and to the police station. The police had collected a number of clues that were of no use to them. Holmes promptly threw them away. He took the lists of remaining clues and suspects and grabbed Ben. " We must investigate the scene of the crime" he stated.
The case was a murder, the murder of  Mrs. Emmagean Wright, wife of  Mr. Clark Wright.  Mrs. Wright was killed in the city's public library. The room was Mr. Luv's office (the manager of the library). The murder weapon, Mr. Luvs gold plated letter opener.  The victim had been stabbed twice in the back definitely not suicide.
When Holmes and Ben reached the library, a cop was dragging a man that Ben found familiar to a police car. " We found this man supposedly waiting in his car for the victim." the policeman said pushing the man." I didn't do it I swear! " he yelled exasperated." We'll see about that." the policeman said and shoved him into the car.
As the car drove off Holmes and Ben could hear the man crying out his innocence." That guy went to college with me, I really don't think that he did it.", Ben said.  Holmes shrugged and slipped under the band separating him, from the library.
Inside the library, everything was hectic. Over all the noise, Ben heard the chief of police beckoning for him to come into a room.  Ben came and Holmes followed. " This is the scene of the murder. " the chief said.
The room wasn't a pretty sight.  A woman's size of a figure was placed in tape.  Blood was found no where except on the murder weapon.  Chairs and tables were strewn everywhere, so before the kill, the victim had put up a fight.
"OK" said Holmes. " We're assigning jobs here. Ben, you go find that friend of yours that you thought was innocent. Ask him if he needs an attorney." He continued, " I'm sure he'll except. Good luck!" Holmes walked over to the chief of police. "Chief " he almost whispered. " I want you to be extra careful on this room , put more men on the guard. I'm counting on you. " he said. Then he left.
The rest was up to Ben. With  help from Michelle he would prove that man innocent, then find the guilty.
Ben went to the penthouse to see that guy. His name was Mr. Jonathan Luvs. His occupant was being the manager  of the public library. He and the married victim were lovers. Ben was escorted to a metal room guarded by 4 guards. Jonathan was waiting inside. " Mr. Matlock, " Jonathan said.
"Call me Ben. " Ben cut in.
" Well then Ben," Jonathan continued, " I confess Ms. Wright and I were lovers. But I didn't kill her! "
Ben said in a comforting voice, " I know you didn't and I'm prepared to make the jury think the same. "
" Oh thank you! " Jonathan said, " Thank you very much! "
Ben got permission from Mr. Wright to inspect his house. Ben was about to leave the house without luck when he tripped over the rug and fell on to a coffee table. Something crammed into a loose board caught his eye. " Aha." he said, and put  a white greeting card sized envelope into his pocket.
Court was scheduled for Wed., November second at ten o'clock.  The court was full of people.
"Order in the court!" the judge yelled and all was quiet.
Matlock handed the judge a folder. "Your honor," he said, "my client pleads not guilty." There was a hush in the crowd.
"The prosecution calls their first witness," the judge announced. The prosecutor stepped forward.
"I call Mary Ericson to the stand," the prosecutor said confidently. Mary was sworn in and seated in the witness box. "Is it true?" He continues. "Were you having a relationship with the victim's husband?"
"This is going to be a short trial," Ben whispered to Jonathan.
"Yes," said Miss Ericson timidly answering the prosecuting attorney's question.
"That is all," the prosecutor stated with a twang of assurance in his voice.
"Mr. Matlock," the judge asked "do you wish to redirect?"
Ben stepped forward, "Yes I do." Pacing back and forth in front of the witness stand, Ben questions the witness. "Miss Ericson," he hesitated for a moment. " It IS Miss isn't it?"
"Yes it is." she replied.
"Miss Ericson" Ben repeated." Where were you on the night of the murder?"
"I was alone in my house reading a book." she answered.
"Can anyone back up that statement?" Ben said leaning towards the witness stand.
"No! But if you're thinking that I did it you're WRONG! I'm innocent!!!!!" she was screaming at this point.
"Is it true you wanted to get rid of Emmagene so you would be able to marry her husband? Is it? Is it?" Matlock asked with a strange tone added to his voice.
"Order! Order in the court," the judge yelled furiously, but the yelling went on.
"Yes, it is true," Mary Ericson screamed at the top of her lungs, "but I didn't do it!"
"We understand that a few of your friends called around the time of the murder and you didn't answer your phone, you could have done i.." Matlock began to say but was interrupted by a voice in the crowd.
"I did it !!" Mr. Wright yelled. "Leave her alone!" The judge nodded his head at the man and to guards grabbed Mr. Wright. He slowly but willingly walked out of the room.
"How did you do it?" Holmes and Jonathan asked later.
"I got a hunch from a love letter I found at Mr. Wright's house, and then I tried my luck," he confessed. "But we can still celebrate!"

So, there you go. Matlock fan fiction written by an 11-year-old Sarah in 1994. Thanks, Andy Griffith! You and your seersucker suits will be missed!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Earring Excavation - A Garage Sale Gift

My gal pal thought of me when she saw this tiny tub full of vintage earrings at a garage sale the other day. After taking a couple pairs for herself she gifted me the remaining booty. (I must be doing something right if my friends know my taste and interests so well.)

After a quick alcohol bath, I discovered that there were mostly complete pairs in the container (hooray!). I came out of the business with 15 matched earrings and another 5 misfits. As I laid them out to dry I started to think about the people who may have worn them. Some were modern, some were more traditional or ornate. I couldn't help myself but to start assigning names to each. The result? A sort of yearbook page of earrings including some superlatives. 

Now, to wear them all! I think that Summer is my favorite, though I really enjoy many of them. Can you guess the ones I don't like? (Hint: they got the old lady names.)

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