Showing posts with label Work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Work. Show all posts

Monday, March 04, 2013

Really? You need a rule about that?

Today I had to chase a group of teenagers off the roof, where they were skateboarding. Of course they didn't understand why I wouldn't allow them to do that. As one young man told me, "Then the church should change the roof so that that we're not tempted to skateboard it!"

I think that "No skateboarding on the roof" is going on my list of Stupid Things I Never Thought I'd Have to Say. (Other favorites on that list include: "You're not supposed to date other women when you have a wife at home" and "I don't know why God put buggers up your nose, but until we figure it out don't pick your nose.")

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Sometimes you just have to step away from the madness

It's been one of those days. Actually, it's been one of those weeks. So I told my boss that I was taking a long lunch, and I went over to the park to knit. Which turned out to be exactly what I needed!

And if knitting socks in the park wasn't enough, I'm on my way over to meet my knitting group for an evening of dedicated fiber and friendship.

Yep. It's one of those days. (She says with a grin and a happy dance.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sniff, giggle, cough

Even when I'm feeling totally miserable with a horrible cold (I hate winter!), the orange key to the Volunteer room makes me giggle. And the reaction of my volunteers, who have no idea why I'm so tickled, makes me grin even more!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Today was a good day for dressing up a bit

My Friday volunteer is on vacation, so I got to dress the altar.  I don't think I did a bad job, considering the pathetic choices I had for flowers. It was even kind of fun.

For Christmas, Mom gave me a headband that she knit. It was so cute, with an adorable bow that I'm much too old to wear but couldn't resist. I liked it so much that I decided to knit myself a couple more. This one was started Wednesday, and finished Thursday at Knit Night using the Anthropomorphic pattern and Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn. I love the way it turned out. It's a bit wider than I prefer, but it's very comfortable. I'm thinking about trying it using fingering weight yarn in order to make a narrower band.

I did have one complaint with the pattern. It clearly explains that it was designed as a copy of a headband seen in a popular store. In other words, the designer reverse-engineered someone else's design to write her pattern. Actually that's not my complaint, especially since it's a free pattern. What I disagree with is that the pattern goes on to state that you can't copy or distribute the pattern -- even though it's free! -- and you can't make the headband to sell or in any way earn money for it without the permission of the pattern's author. I guess from now on I'm going to have to do my own reverse-engineering when I see a design I like.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A season of chaos

To be able to function properly, I need order and organization. I really can't cope well with chaos. So naturally, life managed to arrange itself so that construction on our volunteer office started this week. We had to move everything from the volunteer office into my office, with just one hour notice. Yep. It's a mess. And none of us (the volunteer or I) have any idea where anything is. Naturally this is the week that I have three bulletins and a monthly newsletter to produce. And our bulletins aren't some tiny affair. No, I'm expected to include the full service for people to read along with (since the pastor changes things each week, it could be confusing without a program to follow), the prayer list, the announcements for all of the scheduled activities, as well as any other important notices for the congregation. Typically the bulletin is a 12 to 16 page booklet. Our newsletters can run 16 to 24 pages, not counting the photo pages. The stress and the mess have turned me cranky. (There would be a better term for it if I worked someplace other than a church.)

It's rather ironic that working in a church has caused me to lose the Christmas spirit.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Knit faster, she's naked!

Because of a staff meeting, I was still at the church when the choir started arriving for their weekly rehearsal. As I was gathering up my things to leave, the organist came into my office with a very odd expression on his face.

"There's a naked person in the sanctuary," he told me, clearly expecting me to do something about it. It took me a minute to process the sentence. After all, you don't expect naked people to wander into church. And if they do, shouldn't the pastor be the one to reach out to them? I really don't think nudists were covered in my job description. But obviously, something had to be done so that the choir could concentrate on their music.

From the back of the dimly lit sanctuary, I saw the naked woman sitting in one of the pews in the front of the church. As I went down the aisle toward her, I recognized her as a faithful member of the church. I also, thankfully, realized that she wasn't naked. The back of the pew had hidden her tube top from view, leaving her bare shoulders and back to give the impression of nudity. I imagine the organist, waiting in the back of the church, got a bit of shock when I slid into the pew to give her a hug instead of covering her up with with the shawl as planned.

Away from work, I've been spending a lot of time tatting. I am totally obsessed with the fun of flipping shuttles around to make rings and chains. I finished the second bookmark, using the spiral bookmark pattern I found on Threads of a Tatting Goddess blog. I clearly need more practice; there are a lot of sections that didn't turn out very well. But even with all the mistakes, I'm very impressed with myself.

I also found a pattern for a tatted bookmark using a jumbo paperclip, and for the past few days I've been obsessively making rose clips in various colors. I even got adventurous enough to try adding beads!

But don't worry, I haven't given up my sock knitting. I'm halfway through a pair of Cookie A's Crest socks using Knit Picks' Stroll in Dandelion. This has to be one of the most difficult patterns I've ever attempted to read. It's also one of the best designs I've ever had the pleasure to knit. I love Cookie A!

Friday, August 03, 2012

A little fiber bling

I've gotten a reputation at work for never throwing out anything that can be reused or remade into something useful. It comes from my years at the ADT, where I was expected to come up with fun crafts and projects at very little cost. It's hard to stop looking at everything from the "save a penny" viewpoint, even though I'm in a much more affluent environment
So I get teased a lot by my volunteers. Today was a good example of that. We were working on mailing out the monthly newsletters, and managed to use up two rolls of closure stickers. Grace* held up empty cardboard tubes from the packages and asked me if I was going to paint them and turn them into bracelets. I gathered up all my dignity, and assured her that I had no intention of making them into painted bracelets.

Silly girl.

I took the tubes home, got out some of my hand spun yarn, and turned them into pretty fiber bracelets.

*I've come to realize that it's inevitable that I talk about my volunteers, since they play such a big role in my everyday work life. In order to preserve at least a little bit of their privacy, I've decided to give blog names to my everyday volunteers. (I'll have to wing it with the once-a-month volunteers, since there really are too many for me to keep track of.) I considered using Vol#1, Vol#2, etc but I couldn't decide who was my #1 volunteer. So I'm going with Faith, Hope, Charity, and Grace.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

I love getting mail!

I only have 1 1/2 skeins left to knit on the cabled shawl!
Today turned out to be a very nice day. I've been struggling at work, between the lack of sleep (that's left me unable to focus and without any patience) and the diverse and unrealistic expectations that occur when you are working for a committee rather than a single boss. I could function despite the lack of sleep if I had only one person to answer to, since I wouldn't have to translate which "top priority" was actually a "top priority" and not simply a whim brought on by a random conversation in the grocery store. Similarly, if I could just get a good night's sleep, I would probably find the random instructions amusing rather than insulting. So far I've managed to keep in mind that this all shall pass, and rainbows will appear and butterflies will once again poop on my head. (I know that didn't really make sense, but I'm living on 2 hours of sleep a night.)

Anyway, despite my grumpy impatience, today turned out to be a very nice day. I received TWO thank you notes in the mail. Family members of two (of the three) memorial services I helped plan this month wrote to let me know that they appreciated my help. Both notes were very flattering, and sweet, and made me cry. One note (from the young boy's aunt and uncle) included gift cards for a night out -- totally unnecessary on their part, and unexpected, but greatly appreciated. What I really liked, though, was that I did my job well enough to have made a difference. When I worked at the ADT, I knew I was making a difference in people's lives. It's nice that even as just a church secretary, I can still do that.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm getting too good at this.

Today was the third funeral we've had this month.

And to think that I thought it would be fun to have the pastor away for the summer.

Do I have the authority to deny any future vacation time for my boss?

Friday, July 20, 2012

He was just a boy.

Yesterday I was asked when I was going to start updating my blog again. Today was probably not a good day to come back.

Today, I helped bury an 18-year old boy. He was loved by his mother and father, adored by his brother and sister, admired by his friends, and liked by just about everyone. There were over 400 people at the service. For many of them, the teenagers, this was the first time death was personal and real.

It was a senseless, unnecessary death. (And yes, any death of a child is senseless and unnecessary.) He was a good boy. He attended church with his family (most of the time). He even volunteered at the church on occasion. When his family needed him, he helped out. (And there were many times this past year that the family needed help - it's been a really rough year for them.)  He was also a normal teenager. He had fights with his mother and father, and with his siblings. He stayed out late with his friends. He drove fast. But he always came home.

Until this past weekend, when he couldn't come home anymore. He couldn't come home because he was riding too fast on his motorcycle and didn't survive the crash. And his mother will never be able to hug him, or tell him that it's going to be alright because it won't ever be alright again.

I had to help his mother plan the funeral service. I organized the music, and the scriptures, and helped sort out which photos to include on the service bulletin. I typed the sermon for the pastor. I coordinated the donations that their friends and neighbors gave to help pay for the expenses. And I held his mother's hand and cried with her.

The entire week, as I tried to do my job with love and compassion for the mother and father, all that kept running through my mind was thank God I never had to face this. Pray God that I never have to suffer this.

The funeral was today. I stayed late, finished up the paperwork and helped clean up the sanctuary. Tomorrow, my life will go back to it's regular routine. I'll probably sleep late, meet some friends at Starbucks, maybe complain about how unfair life is. His mom will wake up, only to remember that her son is dead. She'll know how unfair life is.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A (self-) catered affair

I did it! The Volunteer Luncheon was a great success. I had 13 of my office volunteers show up, and they all seemed to enjoy the meal. I made ham and cheddar quiche with spinach salad for lunch, followed by cupcakes and cookies for dessert. I did all the cooking, and a friend from the church volunteered to assist as waitress. It was fun, and I think it is going to become an annual event.

I mean, I've been a little nuts (and obsessed) for the past week or so, but it was totally worth it.

The cupcakes turned out great, once I had the complete recipe for the lemonade ones. I also made chocolate coconut cupcakes. Originally I had planned on filling the chocolate ones with a creme filling, but I didn't have enough time thanks to the lemonade fiasco. But since nobody knew the chocolate cupcakes were supposed to be filled with creme, it didn't really matter that they weren't.

I was really pleased with my "cupcake stand." 

Yes, I think I did good. And I think I'm going to go get one of those leftover cookies...

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Who are you again?

I don't have much to say today. I'm feeling very depressed. I made arrangements to see an old co-worker, and it just wasn't the thrill that I thought it would be. I wasn't expecting hugs and tears of welcome, but I also wasn't expecting distraction and inattention.

Oh well, they say you can't go home again.* I guess that applies to jobs that you felt were your home, as well.

*Note to my daughter: YOU can come home anytime. So disregard the second paragraph above!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter!

Normally, I think of family, church and chocolate for Easter. This year was a little different. The emphasis was church, bells and butterflies.

We didn't have our usual family egg hunt. The family egg hunt has been carried on since the early 1920's. (Okay, I might possibly be exaggerating, but not by much.) It started when my grandmother was a little girl, and this is the first time in the history of the family egg hunt that the tradition has been broken. (Okay, I'm exaggerating again. I happen to know that my cousin held a family egg hunt up in New Jersey, so the tradition is still intact.) But this is the first year that I couldn't coordinate my children's work/school schedules.

Besides being disappointed that none of my kids had time to find plastic eggs with me, I was also upset that none of them went to church with me. Okay, I understand that getting up and leaving the house at 5 am in order to attend sunrise service is a hard sell. I honestly expected to go to that service alone. (I hadn't expected to find the church standing room only, though. This new church has a lot of really die-hard Episcopalians. I love it!) I did think that at least one of them (probably not the one living in NYC) would make it to the CCBR service with me. It was the last bell choir performance of the year, and I thought I dropped enough hints ("I really think you should come hear me play the bells, considering all the school/sport/band events I attended over the years to watch you"). All I can say is that they missed an amazing performance, the likes of which will never be matched. (At least, it won't be if we start practicing a little earlier in the season.) Since I was the only ringer (hey, it's not my fault that's what we're called) smiling, I managed to garner enough compliments to enable me to forget my children stood me up.

Although I didn't get to have the family egg hunt, I did get to participate in another wonderful Easter tradition. CCBR does a butterfly release every year. It was beautiful! And then I remembered to pull out my camera. Sigh. Luckily one of my favorite kids agreed to model for me. (Don't you love her nail polish?) 

I didn't get a picture of the butterfly actually flying away. We coaxed prodded, but the butterfly just sat in the envelope. I finally turned to see if anyone had any ideas on how to get it out of the envelope, and the darn thing took off as soon as my back was turned.

Despite the lack of pictures, chocolate, children and plastic eggs, it was still a pretty nice day. After all...

Alleluia, Christ is risen.He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On the inside, looking out

Tom let a bird into church today. I don't think he meant to, although as a pastor I supposed he should encourage all of God's creatures. But a blue jay really isn't happy inside, and this one kept running into windows trying to find a way out instead of using the doors we propped open for it. At one point, the poor thing literally knocked himself silly, and we thought for sure we would be burying it before the end of the day. But Tom managed to coax the bird outside, and it flew off without a backward glance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Organization is the key to a happy office


I've been at the church for three months (or close to it), and I finally feel like I have a handle on the job. It's a wonderful place to work. I still love the people I work and interact with. I have enough variety and creativity to keep the job fun. And there's never anyone throwing tantrums or making derogatory and/or political statements.

I've probably said all that before. But really, except for the fact that I miss my students and I don't make nearly as much money, this is a much better job for me.

Now that we've made it through Christmas, and before the financial report obligations of the new year start, I had a little bit of extra time. I decided to use it to rearrange my office. It's a big office, but everything seems to end up being stored in it. And really, there's no need for me to work in a storage closet anymore.

So I took a day, and with Rose's help (one of my wonderful volunteers), we cleaned out all of junk. Some of it was stored in the actual storage rooms. And some of it (four huge trash bags) was thrown out. Then we rearranged the furniture. I still want to get a small table with better chairs for meetings. Otherwise, I'm really happy with the new arrangement. The room seems so much brighter now!

Monday, September 19, 2011

I love my new job.

I have a big office that came with a computer...

...and a great view.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A 50x50 update

Sadly, here's my update on the 50 by 50 list. I wish I had a bunch of items that I could cross off. But that would mean actually working on the list. Instead, I keep changing my goals and going off on other tangents.

9. Take a trip to NYC. Naturally, I haven't been able to do this yet. However, I did get an invitation. For my birthday, my three children have offered me a trip to NYC for a week in October. I've always wanted to go to Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival. (Okay, I haven't always wanted to go, but only because I didn't know about it when I was younger. Now that I'm an avid knitter/spinner/weaver, I really would love to go since this is one of the biggest fiber festivals in the country.) The birthday trip from the kids includes Rhinebeck. They really are amazingly wonderful children. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if I can accept, since I literally just started my new job which means that I don't have any vacation time coming to me yet. But I'm going to talk to the powers-that-be, if I can figure out who that would be, and see if I can flex at least a few days off. Keep your fingers crossed for me! Even if I don't get enough time to make it to the festival, I might be able to still get up to spend a few days visiting with my daughter.

12. Write 50 thank you notes. I am a really bad person. Because a good person would have written several notes by now. I owe thank you's to so many people. And even though I sent emails thanking them, a handwritten note would be so much better. I really have to make this goal a priority.

13. Go to SAFF in October (or any of the big fiber events). If I can talk enough time off from work, I may be attending Rhinebeck. Which is way better than SAFF.

16. Finish or frog the 10 existing WIPs. I actually got to cross off one of my long-standing WIPs. The lemonade sweater was frogged and then knit into a shawl that I actually like.

23. Start recycling  at home (for at least 3 months). It's been over 3 months, and my recycling bin is still in use. I think I can call this goal a success.

41. Change my job. Although it wasn't what I had in mind, I have totally changed my job. As of this week, I am the Administrator of a church. It's a little bit of a commute, so I'll be moving when my lease is up in October. I think I'm really going to like this job. I get to do a lot of different things, so it's not going to be boring. The people are great (although I do miss my students). Best of all, there are no angry rants or politic bullying.

44. Podcast twice a month for 9 months. I have tried twice in the past week to record the next episode of the Lilypad. The first time, I erased the entire thing because I went off on a tangent and never came back. The second time, everything went beautifully. It sounded great. But I wanted to tweak it just a little bit, so that the intro music and the conclusion music merged a little smoother with my words. Unfortunately, I was very tired and didn't remember to save as I went along. There was a system crash, and my files were lost. It took every bit of willpower to keep the computer from being lost. I'm having tech service done with the computer this weekend, so I might be able to record on Sunday.

It's a pretty short list, considering how long it's been since I updated it. But on the plus side, at least I was able to cross off several items. So that's a good thing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's so hard to say goodbye

I had a call from my old boss. She needed help figuring out what reports had to be done and when they were due. So I loaded the files from my computer (I had them all, since I had been using my personal computer -- they had never gotten around to providing me a work computer) onto a flash drive, and I went in to help her out.

It was the right thing to do.

It was also a chance for me to say goodbye to my students. I wasn't that keen on seeing my co-workers, since none of them had bothered to try to get in touch with me when they realized I was gone. (I admit to still having hurt feelings.) But I did want to see my guys at least one more time.

And I'm glad I went in. My boss surprised me with a "Good Luck, Sandi" cake and flowers. More importantly, I got to talk with each of my students one more time.

Then I got into my car and drove away one last time, crying my broken heart out.

I gave the flowers to my mom. And then I sent out three more job applications.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Adjusting to life on the outside

I guess this is my new office.
Still no window view!

I spent the weekend moping around. I cried for myself, and the job that I already miss more than I expected I would. (After spending so many of my weekends working, I couldn't figure out what to do with myself.) And when I wasn't pitying myself, I was crying for my students and the huge losses they were going to have to suffer through. (Too many service providers are finding themselves in my position, out of work because the funding just isn't there to pay them.)

But today is a new day, and I am determined to go forth in a positive manner. (Doesn't that sound good? I worked hard to be able to say that!) I decided that I was going to stick to a regular work routine. So this morning I got up early, as normal (not that I really had a choice, since Becka still had to be at the bus stop at 6 am). I went to the gym and spent time on the treadmill. Then I got dressed up, and spent a couple of hours in my "office." I've updated my resume, and started organizing my personal files and receipts. I feel very virtuous.

Okay,I probably should admit that I also spent a couple of hours knitting with my friend Paula at Barnes & Noble. Because what's the point of having all this time off work if I don't have some fun.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

It was April Fools, but true.

Warning. This is a long post that tends toward the ranting side.

I was laid off yesterday. After six years with Exceptionalities, after all the love and devotion and dedication that I had given the agency, after all the extra hours I had put in because things had to get done whether they paid me for it or not, after coming to think that Exceptionalities was my life's work -- I was laid off. With the funding cuts, difficult choices had to be made. And one of those was that the administration had to be cut. And even though I was the one who kept the place going through my boss' cancer and the madness of our long-time program supervisor's retirement, my bosses decided that the new administrator was more valuable than I was. All my time and dedication earned me two weeks severance and a payout on my accrued vacation time. (Vacation time that piled up because I hadn't been able to take any time off while running everything for so long.) I'm bitter. I'm angry. And I'm mostly sad.

I didn't have a chance to say my goodbyes to anyone. They waited until the end of the day to give me the news. To be fair, they probably expected that I would have time next week to say goodbye since I was offered the opportunity to work during the two weeks severance pay. (Really? You lay me off with two weeks "goodbye pay" as consolation, then expect me to come in to work those two weeks? Just because in the past I've always been willing to go above and beyond for my job, doesn't mean I'll continue to do so when the job is taken away.) The not being able to say goodbye hurts, though. I loved my guys. I know it's not politically correct to call the participants "my guys," but I really cared about each and every one of them. I knew their families, their histories, their likes and dislikes, their personality quirks. I fought for them, advocated for them, loved them like they were my family. They were my family. And I'm crying as I type this, because of the unfairness of it all.

The horrible thing is that I can't blame my bosses for having to make the choice. (I blame them for the choice they settled on, but not for having to make the choice.) My situation is one that is happening all over the state of Florida right now. It's the result of a government that chooses to not only ignore the needs of a population that doesn't have a voice to speak up with, but is also deliberately taking away their basic human rights.

On Thursday, Governor Rick Scott issued an emergency ruling in Florida to cut med-waiver service payments by 15%. This is a huge cut. And it was effective immediately (on April 1st) with no prior warning.

If you're not familiar with the med-waiver, it provides funding for people with developmental disabilities of mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and Prader-Willi syndrome. In Florida, there are approximately 35,000 people served by this program. Some of the people are in group homes funded by the program, and others are able to stay in their family homes with personal care providers who come in to bathe, change, and help care for their needs that the family can't physically handle. The waiver also provides meaningful day activity (education and work opportunities) so that a person isn't literally lying in bed for three years with only a television for company (as in the case of one of my students). Medical needs (such as doctors, dentists, and therapists) are also funded by the waiver.

Friday, without any warning, every service lost 15% of their funding. Personal care workers who earn only a little over minimum wage, lost 15% of their paycheck. Group homes, mostly mom and pop establishments, lost 15% of their funding. Transportation companies (the only way many of our wheelchair-bound citizens can get anywhere) lost 15% of their funds - an almost certain death sentence to the companies in these times of rising fuel costs! In fact, many agencies and services are racing around trying to figure out how to keep their doors open. Because as much as those of us in the field would like to think that we are doing our jobs out of a love for the disabled population, the truth is that all of us have bills and expenses that we have to meet. And without a livable paycheck, we can't keep caring for the people we've been caring for.

Governor Scott's decision to balance the state budget on the backs of the disabled is going to have horrible consequences, but the public won't know because the disabled don't have the voice to be heard. And it's terrible and awful, because someone should know what we're doing to them.

VG lives at home with his mother and father. His father is disabled (back injury, and his mother supports the family driving a bus for the school district. VG is blind and deaf as well as developmentally disabled. His mother relies on a personal caregiver to come in every morning to help VG get up, get dressed, and eat breakfast. VG can't manage these tasks on his own, and his father can't physically handle helping him since VG isn't able to keep his balance when walking. Without the personal caregiver and the ADT day program that VG attends, his mother will have to give up her job to stay home and take care of him. Which means that she will need to get public assistance, since there won't be a paycheck coming in to the house.

GA is 70 years old, with a developmental disability and cerebral palsy. He's been in a wheelchair all of his life. For the past 10 years he's lived in a group home. The owner of the group home is a nurse, so for the first time in his life GA is able to enjoy life without pressure sores or gastric episodes. He has been getting regular physical therapy, so his muscles are loosening up enough that he can hold a marker and color pictures. He's also been receiving speech therapy, and even strangers are able to understand his words now. He loves the social aspect of going to day program. With the cuts, his group home may have to close. And I don't know what is going to be left open for him to go to.

I could go on and on and on. I'm worried for my guys. I'm worried for the field. I'm worried that nobody is going to care that isn't in the field or that doesn't have a child with a disability.

And I'm worried that because I'm no longer there, I won't be able to make a difference.