CRAZY Weather! This past week the weather was normal for here - totally crazy and impossible to guess what it was going to be like. The humidity ranged from 100% to 31% but was usually in the 75-90 % range. We got some snow during the night on Monday and woke up to this.
Plants outside our front door
Holly shrubs in the driveway of the complex
But by the time we arrived home from work that afternoon, almost all of the snow had melted and I noticed that the little purple pansies were still hanging in there and blooming despite the cold and snow.
Some of my family may remember their grandma or great-grandma singing "little purple pansies touched with yellow gold..." Made me think of them when I saw these blooming in the flower bed here at the complex - even after the snow.
We had a couple of days of sunshine but the temperature never got above 42 so it was too cold to spend much time outside. By Friday morning it was raining again but the wind started to blow and blew the rain away - left just the 25 mile per hour wind with a temperature of 30 degrees - the wind made it feel like 11 degrees!!!!! Saturday it was nice and got clear up to the mid 40's so by mid-day we thought we might venture out a little.
CRAZY cute sisters - These cute sister missionaries stopped in the office before a lesson - they were on exchanges which means one of the sisters is from a different area. The sister in the gold coat is Sister Rudy and she serves here in Portsmouth and she and her companion are currently teaching a Hispanic hair dresser and a Filipino lady. They teach them at the church and usually stop in the office either before or after the lesson. They are SOOOOO full of energy and have a baptism planned for the Filipino lady for February 14.
CRAZY at the office!
Monday morning we had our first quarterly interview with the mission president. I had no idea what to expect and thought he might want an accounting of all the mistakes I have made and had to correct while dealing with the finances. That wasn't how it went at all....he basically wanted to know if we were enjoying ourselves and if we felt like we were making a difference. I had to confess to him that I am still too timid to come right out and ask people if they will let the missionaries come teach them.....he told me that was OK to just be me and let people get to know me and things will happen as they should. He really is a very caring man, but when Elder Ashton told him he sometimes feels like he is not doing enough or is doing something wrong, President Baker assured him that was not the case at all...he said, "You've probably noticed that I am usually in a hurry and am pretty driven to get things done so sometimes I think I may come across more brusquely than I mean to." I sat there quietly biting my lip because I don't know anyone else like that unless it would be Elder Ashton ;-)
Wednesday afternoon about 2:30 I answered the phone and was surprised to hear a strong Spanish accent say something about New York....but I missed the first part of the sentence so I asked the person to repeat who they were. Then I heard very clearly, "I am the consul for Chile located in New York City. I work with the government to see that nationals are being treated fairly." He went on to say that he had heard we had a national in our mission and he wanted to speak to 'El Presidente' as he had been told the national had an accident and was not receiving proper medical treatment. I told him the President was traveling around the mission and could not take his call but I would get a message to him to call the consul. He said "very good" and I started to breathe a sigh of relief. Then he said, "What do you know about this national?" My heart immediately sped up because the tone of his voice made me think I was being questioned as if I had done something wrong! Of course, because of HPPA and mission rules I couldn't tell him much - only that the Elder had been in an accident about 10 days prior and that he was getting medical treatment. I sent the President a text with the information and was glad to let him handle it from there!!!
Thursday 18 utility bills came in the mail. I process payment for the bills on the day they come in so we won't be charged any late fees and I was busy going through the bills when I noticed one for $514.00. I nearly choked at the bill....then I realized that it was for one of the properties in rural North Carolina where the rent is cheap and the utilities are high - usually because the apartments/houses don't have much insulation. I think that is the first time I have seen a $500+ utility bill and hope to never see one for my home!
CRAZY good food
It was Sister Baker's birthday this week and we knew she would be traveling around the mission so we wouldn't have an opportunity to get her a cake on her birthday. So, on Monday, those of us who work in the office took she and the President to lunch at Red Robin. We learned how they stay so slim and trim....they ordered one entre and shared it - but they both ordered their own ice cream shakes :)
Thursday we went to dinner at Sister Fly's house. She is a widow in her late 70's and was feeding the Elders dinner...mission rules are that there needs to be a third male in the house for a single woman to host the Elders so we were chosen so Elder Ashton could be the 3rd male. I sure was glad - she served us "comfort food" of meat loaf, mashed potatoes, vegetables, hot rolls and blueberry pie. She is a nice lady and as we visited with her a little after we also learned that she has strong opinions about some things! She said her family loves to talk politics and I think I saw Elder Ashton's ears perk up at that ;-) I deftly changed subjects before the two of them could get in a long, drawn-out political discussion. I guess all those years of working for the state taught me some things about avoiding taboo subjects;-)
Friday night we took Elder and Sister Wilson to dinner at Plaza Azteca.....they are the other couple that work in the office with us, live in the same apartment complex in a different building, and we ate Thanksgiving dinner with them and their son. They will be leaving to go back to Boise the 1st of March. We will miss them. They are really fun to be around and have given us lots of tips both for how the office works and of things to see and do around here. I learned that Sister Wilson and I think alike - we are both rather independent women and miss being able to jump in our car and go and do whenever or whatever we want :) We decided a couples mission is to get us prepared for the next life cause we don't think the men will be going off to "work" and we'll have lots of togetherness ;-) We had planned to walk to Plaza Aztec because it is literally across the street from our apartment complex but the cold and wind put a stop to that! The restaurant was EXTREMELY crowded - and the food was really good so I guess the two go together.
Note the two palm trees in the background. The first one is a living palm tree and is wrapped in what looks like plastic wrap right up by the fronds - I think that might be to keep them alive. The second one is "unreal" and the fronds are lit with bright green lights at night :)
The weather was FRIGID when we woke up on Saturday - much too cold to spend any length of time outside so we decided to get some much needed work done around the apartment.
Laundry is always waiting on Saturday so we started on that first. Although I am not washing in a wringer washer like my mother did for many years, I feel like I have taken a step back in time and really miss my front loading machines on a platform.....they are so much easier for this old body to deal with!
Note that the washing machine is not the super capacity so it won't hold as many clothes. Also note that the knob is broken so my fingers grip the spindle tightly to get the setting right on the washing machine.
The dryer with the iron and distilled water ready to go as soon as I get Elder Ashton's six white shirts washed and dried. He has been great about ironing his own shirts but I decided to take pity on him and iron them for him this week. Neither one of us really want to iron that many white shirts so we are discussing whether we are willing to part with $12 a week to have someone else do it for us......haven't decided yet.
Next item of business on a cold Saturday morning was some cleaning......and I have learned since being here in Virginia that it doesn't matter what brand of cleaner I use or what location I am in, cleaning is NOT my favorite thing to do. I love it when it is done, but not during the process :)
By this time it had warmed up to the low 40's and Elder Ashton decided he wanted to go check out a cemetery close by. I really needed to have my hair trimmed and shaped so I suggested that he drop me off at Great Clips and go on to the cemetery. I thought I would have to wait awhile for the haircut and that it would work out just about right for timing. He dropped me off and told me to call him when I was done. They took me right back to trim my hair so I was done in about 20 minutes and I really didn't want to interrupt him.....I thought about it a few minutes and thought I would try to walk home - about a mile. I made it about 2/3 of the way!!!! I know 2/3 of a mile might not sound like much but given what my walking ability has been in recent years I felt like celebrating in a big way!!! And the brisk fresh air felt really good- especially since the sun was shining! It was great to get that exercise in the fresh air.
Elder Ashton picked me up and brought me the rest of the way home and I suggested we try out the new Kroger grocery store that is not too far from us. When he learned where the grocery store was he said he wanted to go that way anyway and check out another entrance to the dismal swamp so off we went to do that.
We drove to the Washington Ditch entrance. You may recall that George Washington was involved in some attempts to drain the swamp....this ditch was one of those attempts. You also may recall that the swamp became part of the underground railroad to help slaves gain their freedom.
When we got to the parking lot to start walking the trail/boardwalk, my leg muscles told me they were still too tired from my walk toward home from the hair salon so I told Elder Ashton I would sit in the truck and enjoy the sunshine while he set out to hike the 3/4 mile trail.
I was sitting there basking in the sun and looked up to see this cute little bird "parked" illegally on top of the disabled parking space sign.....I know he wasn't disabled because before I could get out of the truck to get a better picture, he flew away!
Since I was already part way out of the truck, I decided to walk a little ways along the trail and found some pretty interesting things.
Some areas of the swamp really do look like this, but I was too nervous to stand in one place very long....I kept thinking of the warning sign about snakes but then I reminded myself that snakes are probably curled up trying to keep warm in this cold weather but didn't want to tempt fate.
I thought this tree with the large growths was quite interesting and when Elder Ashton and I met back up I asked him if he knew what it was. He said he didn't know for sure, but he thought when trees got old, they sometimes grew strange bumps......hmmmmmm-sounds like humans when they get old and strange bumps and lumps start appearing ;-D
Moss growing on a clump of soil attached to an overturned tree in the swamp. If you look closely at the blue you can see that is the sky and surrounding trees reflected in the murky water around the mossy stump/roots.
More moss an another tree stump across the boardwalk.
Since the headquarters to the National Wildlife Refuge were closed for the weekend, Elder Ashton was unable to get more detailed information about the biking trails so we decided it was time to head back and finish up the laundry. Along the way we saw huge "new" homes and some that looked to be hundreds of years old. We thought this one was picturesque.
Last stop, the new Kroger grocery store. Look at Elder Ashton quickly loading items onto the conveyor belt - so far I have been unable to convince him that we really don't have to be in a hurry all the time - that we are not on a strict schedule, especially on the weekend!
Although the week was CRAZY in some ways, it was also filled with small miracles and blessings for me and the people around me. The mission nurse came into the office one day and when she made it back outside to her car, she had lost the security fob for her car and had no idea where it was. She came back in holding the fob and said she had a distinct feeling that she should go back into the building the way she had come out (retrace her steps exactly) and their she found the fob.
Do you recognize small miracles/blessings that occur in your life on a regular basis?