Monday, March 30, 2009

Random Stories: Short Vignettes on Recent Life Happenings

Miracle on Sycamore School Road

Every so often, a month has a fifth Sunday in it. On such Sundays, my church has a potluck luncheon as an opportunity for us to feast and fellowship together as God’s children. Yesterday was one of those Sundays. After partaking of the delicious bounty of food that had been spread before us, the congregation had the chance to participate in a Silent and a live Auction.

There were about 15 items up for grab in the Silent Auction, including a Pamper Yourself white wicker basket containing various bath products and a lovely lavender scented candle. Although I had donated the item, I thought about bidding on it! Other items were a soup supper; a bling-bling pearl and silver necklace; several CDs of contemporary Christian music; and some religious wall hangings.

The main attraction, however, was the Live auction, in which a beautiful, hand-made quilt had been generously donated by one of our church members. (I would say “church lady”, but that has SNL connotations that are not all that complimentary!). I had my heart set on getting this quilt, and making it a gift to my sister, and figured I could go as high as $500.00. Surely that would be enough to win me the coveted quilt!

The bidding began at $50.00, but quickly escalated and eventually narrowed to an older church member and me. I left her in the dust at about $490, and figured the quilt was mine! But NO! All of sudden there was another bidder against me! It was a friend, Christa, who sings in our church choir. Having told her prior to the auction that I wanted the quilt for my sister, I was somewhat surprised to see her actually bidding against me! Looking back on it, I now remember seeing her I-know-something-you-don’t-know smile – meaning, she was up to something! Little did I know what!

Bidding had reached a fevered pitch. The congregation would gasp as increments of ten dollars were bantered between the two of us. Christa and I haggled and haggled until her bid reached $590. It was a lot of fun, but I had to stop. With only $500.00 to bid on the quilt, I was insane to continue bidding. I’d be selling plasma for the next year, but it would be worth it. Yet – I stopped. I gave Christa a big hug and congratulated her on the win. It was a wonderful feeling to know that we had raised so much money that would be used for children and youth ministries.

I watched as Christa wrote out her check, folded the beloved quilt, and laid it in the very chair I’d been sitting in and said, “It’s yours.”

“You’re kidding!”

“No, I knew you wanted it for your sister, and now she can have it.”

After several (admittedly and ashamedly feeble) attempts to resist her kind and thoughtful offer, I humbly accepted the quilt and gave my friend another big hug. I was almost in tears as I thought about what had just happened and how my sister would feel hearing the story and receiving the beautiful quilt.

Later that same afternoon, I met my sister in West, Texas (along I-35 south of Hillsboro) in order for her to take my beloved Chihuahua, Domino, for the week. It was then that I related the Miracle on Sycamore School Road (the location of my church), and presented her with the quilt.

It was a moment of shared love and joy for two sisters. My thanks to Cindy for creating such a beautiful quilt, and to Christa who so lovingly gave of herself so that my sister could have the cherished quilt.

DISCLAIMER: The picture at the top of this posting is not of the actual quilt. I just found a heart quilt and inserted it. As soon as my sister gets me a picture of the real quilt, I will add it to this posting.

The Golden Hour

Some of my gentle readers may have heard about the Golden Hour. From a medical standpoint, this refers to the critical time that trauma victims have to get the much-needed medical attention for their injuries. In other words; the sooner, the better. Wikipedia has this to say on the topic:

“The golden hour, from an emergency medicine perspective, is the period of time that occurs within a few minutes to several hours following injury. It is well established that the victim's chances of survival are greatest if they receive care within a short period of time after a severe injury. The ‘golden hour’ is not a rigidly defined time frame. Rather it is the core principle of rapid intervention in trauma cases.”

Saturday morning, I helped to proctor entrance exams for prospective students of my school. I administered exams for Advanced 9th grade students. As an aside, there were 52 math (problem solving) questions. I could answer about 4 of them. YIKES!!! Remember: this was a 9th grade level exam. But I digress from the point of my story…

What does proctoring exams have to do with the Golden Hour principle? Usually I arrive at my desk in the Library around 7:20 a.m. each morning. This means I rise at 6:00 a.m. each workday morning. Since we were to be in our testing rooms by 8:30 a.m., I arose at 7:00 a.m. that Saturday.

Thus, the Golden Hour of this story refers to the extra hour of sleep I got on this Saturday morning. I couldn’t believe the difference that it makes – rising at 6:00 a.m. versus 7:00 a.m.

Oh! The testing went well, and I look forward to the “little something extra” in my next paycheck. Sure beats selling plasma.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Dance Lesson: Then and Now

The young women were beautiful and the young men handsome. While some came “drag”, most of the young people came “stag”. All were well-dressed, well-groomed, and well-behaved. To what am I referring?

I was asked to help chaperone the High School dance at my school last Saturday night. Originally scheduled as a Valentine’s Dance – but due to a conflict on the original date – the dance had been rescheduled and subsequently re-named a Mardi Gras Dance – though well past the date of Fat Tuesday. I suppose just calling it "A Dance" would have been lame.

I arrived fashionably on-time – meaning, the time I’d been asked to arrive – at 7:00 p.m. E
ven though there were a few students milling around, the Gym was mostly vacant. Things began to pick up, however, around 7:20 p.m., and by 7:30 p.m., things were in full swing.

As many of you already know, Margaret Mead was an American cultural anthropologist who was frequently a featured writer and speaker in the mass media throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Note, please that the 1970s were the coming of age years for this writer.

People watching has long been one of my favorite pastimes – although I rarely have the time to indulge this small delight. Chaperoning this high school dance gave me nearly three hours to “play” at being Margaret Mead; that is, observing young Homo sapiens in their native habitat, engaging in their courtship rituals.

I noticed a number of things at that 2009 dance that were quite different from a 1970’s dance. In no particular order, here is what I observed:

1970s Girls’ Dress
Long, floor-length dresses, often referred to as “a formal”
Modest apparel that left something to the imagination
Shoes, though perhaps excruciatingly uncomfortable, were worn at all times

2009 Girls’ Dress
Short dresses were the norm; a few girls had knee-length dresses (which I found more attractive on them than some of the skimpier ensembles)
Lots of strapless/backless dresses – some I personally would consider somewhat immodest
Outrageously high-heeled shoes which were discarded upon arrival into what looked like a Shoe Mosh Pit – “dancing” took place bare-footed

1970s/2009 Boys’ Dress
Not really much of a difference – I suppose the pendulum has swung around far enough that 70’s clothing really is making a come back. Even the boy’s hairstyle of today reflects that of the 1970s: longish and casual in nature

1970s Dancing
Exclusive boy/girl dancing with “real” dance moves
Dancing usually reserved for “the one that brung you”
(I never would have considered dancing with someone who was not my date –
and I always had a date!)
Those not dancing were not on the dance floor were seated at tables or were standing and talking

2009 Dancing
“Dancing” could be defined as standing on the dance floor while talking and gently swaying with your partner, or in various combinations of boys and girls
Some, though not much, exclusive boy/girl dancing
Girls dragging boys by the hand to the dance floor where the “dancing” was performed
Girls dancing with other girls in groups of 3 or more
Boys huddling together talking with hardly any “swaying”
Large groups of boys and girls just standing on the dance floor talking

1970s Transportation
We usually arrived in a car with our date
Sometimes, two couples would share a ride

2009 Transportation
Young people, though usually it’s their parents (or their parents’ money) will rent a limo for the evening to chauffer a group of the young dancers to and fro’

There were, of course, other differences, but these were the ones that were most striking to me. Not intended as a criticism to the youth of today, my intent is only to compare. Having last attended a dance (and a college dance, at that) in 1979, I realize that like most other things, change happens: trends change; style changes; traditions change; in general, times change.

Still, it was a fascinating look at Today’s Teenager. One thing, however, remains the same for teens of all generations: for all their outward glamour and pseudo-sophistication, they are normal teens doing what normal teens do – getting together with friends for a good time.

And I’m glad to say, everyone did have a good time (the chaperone included) while also exemplifying good judgment, character, and propriety. Who could ask more of a teen from any generation?