Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Show and Tell - Memories Are Made of This III

So - one more morning with Peter. We've covered a lot of ground. I think he'll be okay. I know I will. The walls are empty of anything except nails, the shelves are barren - and Peter doesn't know what he'll ever put on them. My little 10' by 10' home away from home is no longer mine. It took me 3 days to get everything home, and now it is all sitting in the middle of my living room floor. I have no clue where I am going to put all of this stuff. It is all so sentimental to me.

Between the missionaries who have come to our church and the faculty going overseas for their projects and my son traveling to Africa, I had three shelves full of lovely souvenirs. I wish I had labeled them all. The plate is from Guatemala. The little blue egg hanging up is from Russia, the little white pot is from Cancun. The little card has a zebra from Africa. The wooden hand with God is love, the star, and the nativity scene is from Israel. The dust is from not having time to get it off the shelves, and being too lazy to remove all the "stuff."

The blue and white cows are salt and pepper shakers from Poland. The wooden paddles are from Sweden. I can't read the words on the other side of the beautiful cup - I can't believe I didn't mark the bottom. I know it's from one of the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe.

The beautiful green jewelry box is from Korea. The little pottery saucer is from Romania. The heart-shaped box is a wedding favor from Peru. The little tray and the Eiffel Tower are, of course, from France. The miniature spoon is from Switzerland.

The wooden bowl and camel are from Morocco. The little colorful plate is from Germany. The wooden box is from Madagascar. The sand picture in the bottle is from Hawaii. The beautiful hummingbird blown glass was a gift from the person whose job I worked in my first of two long-term temp jobs before I got this position.

The bowl wall hanging and the small picture on the right are both from Mozambique, and are made from banana leaves, believe it or not. The pencil holder is from Swaziland. The egg holder is from Poland. The little nesting dolls are from Russia. The straw bag is from Hawaii, the cup is from Bulgaria, and the little red bag and the woven matt are from Saudi Arabia.

The people have made it worth getting up and going to work every day. The 870 students (give or take 50), have made it a constant challenge and have given me great enjoyment.

"Gentle Ben" hired me - green as could be. I didn't know what an MSW was, but I was pretty sure I could figure out and coordinate the program. I must have gotten that from my dad! Ben was so great to work for - he appreciated everything I did and made sure I knew it. He and his wife, Georgia, were a great team - they still come in often because they run an animal-assisted therapy program through the School of Social Work. She used to make the food for our retreats, and helped us decorate and serve the students for graduation. She was the ultimate hostess at our annual Christmas party (before we had to quit calling it Christmas, and had to become politically correct - after he retired). They have the most beautiful home and we felt so welcome there. DC never enjoyed his work social events, but he loved going to mine - the faculty and staff were so much fun.

Ben and Georgia took me out to lunch last week as a retirement celebration - we had such a good time.

Tip and I started the same day. When she left after ten years, it wasn't as much fun any more. She and I shared alot of "kid" issues, and she was my prayer partner the entire time. She still is, for that matter. She was technologically so far beyond me - I would always ask her how she knew how to do what she was doing - she said "you just have to play around and figure it out." I kept telling her it wasn't play for me, it was hard work. She was always amazed at my memory for details in my life. I had written my Christmas letter the first year we worked together, and I had her read it over for me. She said she wished she had time to write a Christmas letter. So I wrote one for her - she couldn't believe I could remember everything that had happened to her that year that she had shared with me. It was so funny. I don't think she ever got it sent out. We still keep in touch, and I hope I get to see her this summer.

"Karla with a K" was another character in our cast. She was our work study student for 4 years, and we hired her for an additional year after she graduated. She was in her early 30s when she came to school. She had the kind of wit about her that allowed her to say the most insulting things to people and they would not take it as an insult. They would laugh. If I had said the things she did, I would have been fired! She eventually went for her MSW at a different school - she said she couldn't stay here for her master's degree because she had bossed our faculty around for 5 years and she didn't think it would be a good idea to be in their classes. She told me that I was responsible for her getting into grad school elsewhere, because she listened to everything I griped about that applicants did, and did the opposite.

We have had two Bobs, Brad, Bruce, and Ben all at the same time. Big Bob rode his bike to work every day (as does Brad) with his pants legs rolled up to avoid getting caught in the chain. He'd forget to put it back down before going to class. Karla would remind him. He was a jazz musician. He told the greatest stories in his booming voice - we really missed him when he moved to another program.

The other Bob has been my closest colleague in the admission process. He is brilliant - has several master's degrees and his doctorate. He has the most amazing vocabulary. But he can't remember students' names to save his soul. I will miss Bob.

Victor - the gourmet cook. The consummate absent-minded professor. So gentle. His most oft uttered phrase is "Oh, well." He takes everything so calmly. I wish I were more like him. I will miss him.

Maria was one of the children sent over from Cuba in the 60s when Castro was threatening to remove the children of professionals from their homes to indoctrinate them in government schools. She and her brother were airlifted out of Cuba when she was four, with many other children, and landed in a convent school in Ohio. They eventually were reunited with their doctor father and attorney mother in Florida. I will miss Maria.

Joyce is the office manager and works with the undergraduate program. She is an extremely organized person. She has never thrown anything away. She has a very generous heart. She still has a bit of her Chicago accent after 30 years in Colorado. I will miss Joyce.

There are many others, but I don't have time to write about them all, and you don't have time to read that much. The work study students have helped us so much - and I have been fond of many of them.

Tom Sutherland - remember that name? He was the professor who was teaching in Beirut, Lebanon when he was kidnapped and held hostage for 2,354 days. He was a professor here for 26 years before he went to Beirut. He had a hero's welcome home when he was finally released. What a goose-bump-raising memory that is when he returned in 1991. A sculpture garden on campus was dedicated to him.

Last, but not least, my sweet husband had these sent to me today, to take to work tomorrow to celebrate this momentous occasion. He's also throwing a party at home tonight!

For more Friday Show and Tell stories, stop by Kelli's blog, There Is No Place Like Home.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Memories Are Made of This II

At the end of the work day Friday, I will have driven approximately 85,100 miles to work and back. I have watched the space between my town and the university town grow incredibly. I used to see this young lady riding her bike to a vet clinic every morning - now I can barely find the little building among all of the houses, business, and apartment buildings. Thankfully there is still some empty space between the two towns, which has been mandated by the voters of our county - so we can still see the mountains on that drive.

There is a tremendous crew of young people who buzz around the campus in spring and summer, planting and caring for flowers and bushes. The peak time will be a bit later in the summer, when many visitors will be on campus for conferences and conventions. In my last stroll around, I thought I'd share some of the beauty.

This lovely rose garden is on the patio of the student center - I loved to read where this young man is sitting on this beautiful summer day.

One of the most special spots on campus is The Oval. There are dozens of hundred-year-old trees around this beautiful spot where many weddings are held, and many races are run. Every year there is a canned food drive on campus, and the cans are stacked around the entire oval, several layers deep.

There are some very old and architecturally interesting buildings - such as the Statistics Building, which was refurbished to its original stateliness in recent years - they uncovered beautiful stained-glass windows in the upper levels, which had been painted over sometime in history.

The very first building on campus, which had served as the administration building at some time, called Old Main, was burned down during the turbulent 60's. This is the current Administration Building.

There was a whole little colony of squirrels having a wonderful time playing in the grass, running up and down the trees, chattering, making an incredible ruckus - really fun.

This project, built by some engineering students, is a favorite spot of the girls - they love walking around campus. This is a favorite spot for pranksters - just a bit of soap and the bubbly mess is amazing. And quite a chore for the facilities folks to clean up.

My first two mornings with Peter have gone pretty well. He is incredibly young, but very bright and a pleasant, polite young man. He will be younger than most of the students he works with. I have 3 more half days with him - it won't be nearly enough. But we'll do the best we can. I did get the memo today that there will be a bit of a get-together Friday morning for anyone who can make it to say good-bye. But many are gone for the summer.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Memories are Made of This

You know of my angst over the writing of my procedures manual, if you read me more than once in awhile. It was the worst project I've had to do in all of my years of working. I have never had to do it before. It was so hard, because the job I have been doing for 15 years has grown into part of me - everything I did was so instinctive and natural. To put that down on paper (rather computer screen) was very painful. I came up with this crazy analogy - it reminded me so much of "that horrible process" I went through a couple of weeks ago. The process was so much worse than the procedure. The "cleaning out" of my brain and putting it down was so miserable. But finishing it last Friday felt amazingly wonderful. I left it for a wonderful work study student to put together into a notebook for tomorrow morning, when I begin the process of "training" for a week. I could not believe the result - about 15 pages of written processes, with 104 documents attached to those processes. No wonder I'm so tired!

So Friday after I finished, I decided to take a tour around campus to take some pictures of my favorite memories. For 11 years I worked full-time and spent my lunch hours mostly at the student center. I was always up for delivering something somewhere on campus - I loved walking around there (but only in good weather - the other times, I preferred to send a work study student!) But most of the time it was nice enough to walk - and read as I walked. When I went to part-time four years ago, I have really missed this time of getting out of the office and onto the campus.

Something really unusual and unexpected happened as I did my final walk-around. Remember a few weeks ago when I did a post in which I stated that there were only two things I was going to miss? Those two things - the students and my colleagues. Turns out that really wasn't true, evidently. As I walked around and took pictures, so many pleasant memories came to my mind that tears formed more than once. I never thought I would be so emotional about the end of this part of my life. The first 10 years were so great (the last 5 not so much). The fact that there doesn't seem to be any formal send-off planned has been hurtful, but I will walk out the door Friday with no regrets.

So - come with me around campus as I remember the "good old days" from my time in this position. Most of those 15 years have been spent in this building - nothing pretty about it. You can tell the era of the buildings by the style - what architect in the 60's thought those concrete circles were decorative is beyond me!

I love to watch the students relaxing in this area outside of our building - often they use their backpacks as pillows and take a little snooze. Often they actually have their classes out under these trees.

This sculpture was placed in the middle of the street outside our building in their quest to make this a walking campus - no more driving through. It was frustrating for awhile to restructure our way to work and place to park. But it does make it much more peaceful.

The north side of the building is much more pleasing to the eye than the south!

Walking north from our building, we head toward the library and the Student Center.

This is a lovely angle of the library - but do you see those strange-shaped coverings? They were designed, I believe, for asthetic affect - but truthfully, they are a real pain in the neck when the snow is melting or it's raining - the water drips all over everyone's heads as you walk underneath them.

The Ram mascot done in bronze stands guard over the south entrance to the library.

I love this view that looks out to the west. If you have need of a quiet place to study (remember when all places in the library were quiet? They have a coffee cart on the main floor!), you can go to the third floor and situate yourself with a view of the mountains - and try to study or read! The library was devastated during the $100 million dollar flood damage 11 years ago next month. You would never know it was so badly hit.

Heading north from the library, to the right is this huge new four-story building in process. It's amazing to me that I did not know about this big project - in the days when I was out on campus every day, I would have been watching it happen from the ground up. Last I knew, they were just beginning work over there, but I had no idea this large building would go up so quickly - I don't even know what department it is going to house. What is sad to me, though, is that there used to be a lovely green, grassy area there where students sat under trees and studied and visited. During Holocaust Awareness week, there were always flags planted in the grass to indicate home countries and numbers of those who were slaughtered by Hitler's regime. At the same time, Jewish students took turns reading off the names of the victims at a podium inside the Student Center - hour after hour after hour. It was eye-opening and heart-breaking.

On to the Student Center - the hub of the campus. It is a little town of its own - with banks, a beauty shop, about 8 restaurants in a food court, the book store, a convenience store, a florist shop, a very popular coffee shop.

I just loved eating lunch over here - I took my book, found a spot by myself, and enjoyed an hour. I'm not one who loves to "do lunch" during my work day. Lunch time was my escape. I especially loved it when I saw students doing a Bible study together - what a joy in contrast to all of the talk of others about what they did last night or over the week-end - and it wasn't studying! I could never figure out how they get through school when their week nights were spent in party mode - and wondered if their parents had a clue how their money was being wasted.

Or you can eat in the atrium and enjoy the beauty to the west.

On warm spring and summer days, I always found myself here with my lunch and my book.

See those trees up there on the patio? They are surrounded with an iron grate - the trees are actually growing in the middle of the patio. Like this:

I was walking to one of the picnic tables one beautiful spring day four years ago when my foot went into this very hole - the tree was very uncentered in the hole - I was suddenly in the most horendous pain - I dragged myself over to the table and sat there trying to catch my breath, and figure out how I was going to get back to my office - probably two blocks across the grass. I ended up calling my office and one of our work study students went to the health center, got some crutches, and helped me get back to my office. If I had thought about it being Worker's Comp, I would have definitely called an ambulance. I was in a boot for several weeks, and in physical therapy for six weeks. It still causes me trouble on occasion.

This is a view looking down into the basement area of the student center. See that little green circle with a line through it? That is the water line during that 1997 flood that I talked about earlier.

Here's another angle - it was total devastation in so many buildings. The deeply disguised blessing is that many buildings had upgrades that were not scheduled for many years, and they happened because of insurance.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Show and Tell - and Twin Update

This is #4 in my series called "I Used To . . . " It has been fun going down memory lane and realize how very creative I used to be. I hope you're enjoying it too.

When I was in 6th grade, the Hong Kong flu hit the country, and our town and school did not escape. I was fortunate and didn't get it for some reason. But there were many kids missing from school every day. Our teacher didn't want all the kids to get so behind in math and other subjects, so she slowed way down on academics for a couple of weeks and decided to teach us to knit. She somehow supplied us each with cotton yarn, with which we learned to make dish cloths. They were to be Christmas gifts for our moms. Then she had everyone bring in their yarn scraps (of which I had none, and no money to buy any - and I didn't want to spoil the surprise by asking for money from Mom!). Someone supplied me with some odds and ends and we learned to make little pin cushions - very much like this picture (isn't it amazing what you can find on Google?):

In the 8th grade, I had a great home ec. teacher who was an expert knitter - she made lovely Norwegian sweaters with intense, amazing patterns. I don't really remember what we knitted, but I learned to purl that year.

As the years went by, I didn't knit too often until college when I decided to make a sweater for my boyfriend. This guy was incredibly tall and skinny, and I'll never forget how the sweater turned out - the arms were so long they looked like they belonged to an orangutan. I learned that I knitted too loosely.

I didn't knit again until I was in my thirties. I made myself a cute sleeveless sweater. But I found this wonderful pattern for an outfit for Kristen. I have to say I am really proud of this outfit, and her girls have been able to wear it, too - but no pictures, surprisingly. This picture was taken on Kev's 2nd birthday.


At some point I decided to teach myself to crochet. I can't remember which came first - but I think it was the shawl. I still have it and wore it to church the other day - they seem to be back in vogue. I made the little furry coat Kristen is wearing - but I bought the little crocheted hat at a craft show.


I'll never forget when I started this afghan - I had to tear out the first several rows and do them over again - I got a terrible crick in my neck. Kevin had just received an ant farm for his birthday - he heard me complaining about the crick in my neck and he said, "Mommy has crickets and I have ants!" Priceless memory. (Don't you love the Alfred E. Neumann grin?)

I'm wearing the sleeveless sweater I mentioned above.


I have not knitted or crocheted since. Maybe someday!

The twins are growing and changing every day. They are blowing bubbles, talking to each other, smiling and laughing. They're drooling gallons every day - could they be teething already??






For more Friday Show and Tell stories, stop by Kelli's blog, There Is No Place Like Home.

Yikes!! Today I must complete the procedures manual - one week with the new guy and I'm out the door!