Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mouse Tails

I am well known for being unable to kill creatures that have found their way into my house. I have a catch and release policy for most things. I once spent 3 days trying to discourage a cricket from residing in the door frame next to my office before resorting to bug spray in desperation. I have carried poisinous insects out to distant fields and released them and will shoo a bee out of the house rather than dispatch of them.

That being said, I have no tolerance for termites, roaches or ants in the house. Ants, if allowed to live, will go back to the mound and tell all the other ants where to find all the good stuff inside the house, so they have to go. Termites will eat your house, and roaches---ick!

Add mice to the list. When I came home after dark last night, turned on the kitchen light and there, as bold as you please was a mouse sauntering across the back of the countertop, I freaked. I would prefer a humane trap and releasing in some field far, far away, but at that moment it was kill or scream. So I turned the whole matter over to Steve who has no patience with my tolerance for vermin, and even knowing what it would mean, I asked him to take care of it.

I awoke this morning and with great trepidation entered the kitchen. There, in the middle of the floor was our little mouse, who never saw it coming. I confess to being unable to deal with dead creatures, so like a coward, I left the little critter for one of the male members of the household to find and dispose.

I am still thoroughly creeped out by the idea of those little feet traipsing across my counters, leaving footprints in the butter. I am barefooted, but not without the creepy feeling that soon little feet will crawl across my bare toes and perhaps take a nibble. EWWWWWWW!

So much for Disney. So much for Despereaux ("The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo"). When it comes right down to it, I am at least an accomplice to murder most foul. I couldn't help but think of a friend who was looking into getting mice as pets. I think she settled on gerbils (which are one and the same, it seems to me). Strange how our perspective changes. As a child I had gerbils in a cage in my room, procreating and recreating all over the place, eating their young...the whole deal. I think eating their young is when my feelings toward them changed. They were no longer cute and cuddly, but utterly foreign and creepy.

It was the same year we had an infestation of mice, as happens every so often here in town. I cried and sobbed as Dad killed them on the back porch. He, of course, had no illusions about the sweet nature of the critters, but saw them as carriers of disease and filth, who would eat everything they could get into if they weren't dealt with. I, not yet having come to terms with the nature of the beasts, saw them as little different from the pets I so lovingly fed and played with in my room mere feet away.

Ah how time changes us. And last night, had there been no men around to take care of matters, I have no doubt I would have taken care of things, but I would be inwardly shrieking from the top of the table the whole time. Oh. What was that? I think I felt something touch my foot. I'm going now to put on my steel reinforced boots. Eeeeek!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


One of the desires of my heart is being met. I love to sing. I always have. As far back as I can remember I have been singing. I sang with my dad, who would punctuate our duet with his amazing trumpet; I sang while my mom played; I sang trios with the girls up the street; I sang in choir; I sang solos; I would sing anywhere, anytime. I need to sing in the way some people need the ocean, or coffee, or art, or their workout. I can live without it, but without it the days seem gray, and I cannot ever seem to feel fully alive, fully me.

It's not just singing, because I am never content just to be in the chorus. I love to sing where my heart is out there. I love to pour myself into the music. It is the time when my heart is most in tune with my beliefs, where my head and heart meet and I am one. And yet that music which is often sung alone to my Creator for the sheer joy of it, must have other outlets. I must express my heart, my worship, my belief, trust and faith in my Father, my Heavenly Daddy, the Awesome and Mighty Creator God not just alone, but to others. How else to share that He is all we need? I am not a person who expresses passion easily--except in music and writing. But writing is solitary and I can hit send or publish and it's out there, and should I choose, I need ever know what another soul thinks about what I say. I need never know a response. But with music, it is so immediate. Not just the response, but the participation.

I have once again, after many dry years, found an outlet for my passion. I cannot tell you how much I love my church, Community Church of the Rockies. There are so many reasons, and perhaps someday soon I will express them here, but if there were no other reason, I would be grateful because they have given me the opportunity and blessing of leading worship. Oh to hear the congregation singing praises to their Creator, led by the most unworthy of people. I am beside myself with bliss. Here and there I can pick out a voice in the crowd of someone so thrilled with their Savior that they make a LOUD and JOYFUL noise. To see the love on their faces, the joy and the emotion that I often felt lacking in other places I have been...I can't really describe it. To see reflected on their faces and in their voices the joy and praise and worship of our Savior that is in my heart is inexpressably sweet.

I feel blessed to follow in the steps of Miriam who led the children of Israel in worship in the desert by the shores of the Red Sea. More on this another time. Suffice it to say that I am thrilled, energized, and so very blessed to be able to do this.

I hope you have found the things that God created for you to do. I hope that you see them as acts of worship, and are thrilled to be doing them. I'm fairly certain that our calling should not be drudgery, at least not very often. May you find your passionate place for serving your Creator, the place that puts a song in your heart and on your lips. Oh joy.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Fitter's Funeral or A Funeral Fit for a Fitter

We drove to Brighton today to attend the memorial service of Bob Taft, a fitter in Local Union 669. It was close to 100 miles one way, but honoring Bob and letting his family know that he was valued is important. The past couple of days I've heard stories from Steve I have never heard before, like his first day on the job, he was working for Bob Taft. After driving at least 1 1/2 hours to the job, Steve realized that he had left his work boots at home. Bob gave him 1 hour to go get boots and get on the job. Steve found a Goodwill, but all they had were size 12 black boots (Steve is a size 9). Bob laughed and told him they were the wrong color (cause clown shoes are usually red). Another time while working with Bob for Steve's dad, still a new apprentice, Bob sent Steve in search of a particular kind of wrench and gave him a detailed description. Steve dutifully emptied both gang boxes looking for the wrench. In walked his dad. "What are you doing?" Steve told him. "You idiot, there is no such thing." So Steve had to clean up the mess quickly and get to work while Bob laughed.

I'm not going to say much about Bob. I never worked with him and only met him a few times, though Steve has known him for 20 years. The people who knew him best seemed to be the guys he worked with and his family.

Fitters are an unusual bunch. When invited to a company party at the Lakewood Country Club, a couple might wear a suitcoat and tie, more will wear khakis and a nice golf shirt, and even more will come dressed in jeans, with either a long-sleeved button up shirt, a sweater or a t-shirt. Yes, I said t-shirt. At one party, one of the wives came in jeans and a sweatshirt, the kind with a screen printed picture on front. It's interesting.

When attending a fellow fitter's funeral, a few will wear suits. I'm glad Steve is in this group. I think it shows respect for the family. For the rest, the attire listed above will also be seen, but today, with temperatures reaching near 90 degrees, there were no sweaters or sweatshirts, but there were t-shirts with the sleeves torn off, shorts, denim capris, and everything in between. One of the guys was in his leather biker vest, chains hanging from pockets, belt loops and other places I couldn't figure out.

Years ago I would have been horrified and felt that this showed a lack of respect, but I think I've learned by now that there is no pretense among these guys. They would feel stiff and unnatural in a suit, or anything upgraded from a dress t-shirt. They likely don't even own anything like that because they don't need it. Outback Steakhouse does not require dressing up. They don't go to many funerals. Guys in the trade often retire at 55 or so. Their bodies take such a beating that they will quit carrying the heavy loads, retire and go do something else. By the time you reach 55 or so, you aren't accustomed to your friends dying.

Bob was 51. So young. And Bob was one of the last ties to Steve's dad. There is almost no one out there who remembers working with George, but Bob did. Bob was going to come and work for us in a couple of weeks. Steve was really looking forward to it. Bob told Steve, "We'll make the old man proud." For Steve, it's not just the loss of a man he really liked and respected--a friend--but it is yet another reminder of the loss of his dad.

So I go to funerals. It is something I believe in, though others sometimes refuse to go because it makes them too uncomfortable. At a seminar recently one of the speaker said (it was either Rudy Guliani or Colin Powell) "Weddings optional. Funerals manditory." By which he meant that when you have people around you, be it work, friends, church, whatever, you can go to the weddings if you want to, but you must go to the funerals. People need to know that their leaders, their bosses, whatever, care about them. Attending a wedding is fine, but you aren't needed there. Times of crises and sorrow are when people need to know you care. I so believe that. Soloman said that it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of mirth, for a wise man will take it to heart. (Ecc. 7: 2? 4?) So, not only do I go to show respect and honor for the deceased and their family, but to remind myself that life is short and to value what is important, not what is temporary.

So when we were discussing yet again the finish on the living room walls and ceiling, I just said, I'm not going to fight about this. I prefer it a bit more textured than you are talking about, but this isn't worth arguing over. I need reminders of that. Remember that when you have your disagreements. I try to put disagreements to this test: Will it matter in 5 years? If not, it doesn't really matter and isn't worth fighting over. I forget to do that so many times and wind up getting worked up over temporary, trivial things. Bob's family can never get stressed over his mullet, or any annoying habit he may have had again. They can't have petty arguments with him. That's worth remembering.

"...and they let me in, in a housedress."

A little late posting this photo. It was taken at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse on Mother's Day 2006. Aren't my guys handsome?