Sunday, September 26, 2010

Silver Linings

Do you ever feel like this?  The world, your problems, your particular situation is just too big.  Well, there are always silver linings.  Always.

Let me tell you a story about my friend Amy, who is my sole salvation at work, and her lovely family.  A couple of weeks ago life was crazy as usual.  Only on this particular Saturday one curve ball after another was thrown at her.  Her teenage son was having a dinner party for Homecoming at her house.  She was to be the cook because she is marvelous at it and is willing and is generally a good mom like that. 

So being the good mom who also knows her boundaries, she ordered some side dishes from work because she is also smart like that.

Her day started roughly at midnight the Friday night leading to Saturday.  It started because she realized that there was a final count due for an event on Saturday that she never received.  It's one of those things that if not checked on then you could potentially throw both staff and chef's "under the bus" so to speak.  So up she gets and logs onto her email at work to find the very message she was looking for giving a count change to 250 box lunches to be delivered at 11:30.

She kindly waits until 6:00 or so to text this information to the involved parties.  But you know how it is sometimes... You know you can't do anything until 6 but that doesn't stop you from worrying about it the entire rest of the night.  Yeah, it wasn't that restful for her.  But 6 rolls around and everything is taken care of.

At approximately 11:25 she drops in to the kitchen to pick up the items she has ordered from Chefland.  While there she sees a staff member wrapping cookies.  She says "Hey staff member, why are you wrapping cookies?"  Staff member says "This is stupid and I hate it. No one prepped the box lunches and now I have to do it whine whine whine, blah blah blah."  Amy responds with a panicked "you mean for the box lunches that are to be delivered to an off-site location in 5 minutes!?!"  Staff member "yeah.. blah blah blah, whine whine whine."

Amy immediately wishes death on all stupid people in the world... maybe not all but at least the portion that have reared their ugly heads this particular Saturday morning... and takes charge of the situation.  There are 80 more lunches of the 250 that need to be packed in to their boxes.  She takes over the wrapping of the cookies, gets help from other apparently stupid staff and whips things into shape all the while muttering in her head "seriously! seriously! what would have happened if I hadn't shown up!"

The lunches are late, the customer isn't all that pleased but at least it wasn't as bad as it could have been right?  And now she is free to take her food and reconvene at her own home and handle the situation there and she lived happily ever after.

Or not.

You see that particular day there was also a wedding... and a wedding cake.  She had met with bride and mom of bride for at least 8 gazillions hours discussing the intricacies of the wedding cake and had gotten herself invited to the wedding.  I picked her up because I wanted to take some pictures of said cake to put on our website.  So off we go. 

Two things should be taken into consideration at this point.
1.  The bride's thoughts on the cake were "the groom could not show and it would be better than the cake being wrong."  No pressure.
2.  The baker had asked if he could arrive at 5 (one our before the reception) to set up the cake.  Information was passed on to the mom of bride and all were satisfied.

That is until we showed up at 5:40 to take pictures of the cake and there was no cake.  And there was no baker answering the phone to assure us of a cake on it's way. And there was a panicked bride running around with a floral bouquet in one hand and a diet coke in another threatening to hyper-ventilate. And there was a mom of bride with flames coming out of her eyes.  Amy and I spent the next 30 minutes with cell phones on re-dial all the while reassuring said stressed bridal party that everything would be okay and didn't the decorations look lovely. 

At 6:20 the cake arrived, it wasn't exactly what she wanted but it was at least there.  Bridal party calms down, everyone gathers around the cake and oohs and aahs.  Snap snap of the camera and we are on our way.

As I am driving Amy back to her house and the dinner party that was to arrive at any moment (snap snap of camera was supposed to be a 10 minute venture tops) when her phone rings.  "Hello... The grill is on fire?!... Calm down.... I'll be home in 5 minutes."  At this point we both start laughing cause it's the only response we have left.  Her phone rings again.  "Hello... You used a fire extinguisher to put out the grill.... Was the chicken still on it?...  Okay, put it in the oven I'm on my way."

As we drive up to her house there is a haze over the neighborhood as evidence of the grill fire and the homecoming party is walking up her drive.  I drop her off amid not so stifled laughter and wish her well.

As I'm on my way home I get a text:  All is not lost. Bryce (her son) and his cousin are dressed up as French waiters with penciled mustaches and thick French accents.  Apparently they were in character the entire night, had finished cooking the chicken (which was not subjected to the fire extinguisher) and entertained the guests.  The party was a hit and everyone wanted to come back again for another round.  But because family is what it is, little brother of Bryce waited  until the bitter end of the evening to introduce him to the French foreign exchange student.  Suddenly Bryce didn't feel so good.  Fortunately she got a kick out of the whole thing rather than being offended by the American version of an over-the-top French waiter and all was still right in the world.

So, silver linings?  Amy was able to enjoy the evening with the best of them despite the stressful/horrific day thanks to her own sense of humor and that passed on to her family.  Laughter really is the best medicine... which means I spend a lot of time heavily medicated.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Customer Service

I've been thinking a lot today.
About how much I can handle.
How much can I take before it "does me in"?
How far does customer service go?
How far does "exceeding expectations" go?

Work has been a bit beastly as of late.  As evidence of this I bring my 57 hour work week to the judge's attention.  I feel fragile.  I feel over-worked and under appreciated.  K, so I know that my efforts are appreciated, but... 

How far do you go to do the job?

Where is that line in the sand that says enough is enough!  I'm done, I'm finished, I refuse to do more!  And where does that cross into the personal life as well?

I think I have been so long in the customer service field that I have lost all sense of reality.  "The customer is always right."  That's okay except sometimes the customer is dead wrong.  Sometimes we really can't do what they want.  Sometimes the impossible is all that is expected and no matter how hard you try, it simply is not going to happen.  Sometimes those customers don't even know what they are asking.  And sometimes there are absolutely no boundaries to guide your decision.

I'm tired of it.

On my way home from Bridal Fair today (hence the extra long work week) a scene popped into my head.  It's from Life Is Beautiful, one of my all time favorite movies.  The uncle explains to his nephew, Guido, about service and how far to bow to the guest as a waiter.

"Think of a sunflower. They bow to the sun.

But if you see some that are too bowed down...

it means they're dead!

You're serving. You're not a servant.

Serving is a supreme art.

God is the first servant.

God serves men, but he's not a servant to men."

I don't want to be a dead sunflower.
I don't want to feel stretched too thin.

Just throwing it out there.  Boundaries are a good thing.  They guide us, they help us make good decisions... or at least decisions we can live with.  Decisions that won't keep us awake at night.

Perhaps my Monday will be spent finding those boundaries.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Embrace the Bouf!

This is Serious business.

I have a made a decision of great importance.

It's been a long time coming.

It has to do with my hair...

This hair.  This frizz.
This hair that has been subjected to instruments of torture such as:
And this:
And this:
See how it's kept hold of the hairs it has ripped from my head!
All in an effort to have hair like this:

What I have finally realized is that I will NEVER have hair like that! 
Simply not an option. 
So why fight it.
embrace it.
Embrace the bouf that is my hair.
Embrace the natural curl
Embrace the impossible amounts of body.
Embrace the shadow it creates on the sidewalk.
Embrace the way it actually balances out my hips!

There are perks you know.

I am Lora and you'll know it's me by my impossibly large hair.
Humidity makes it worse.
My best friends are bobby pins.

It's freeing really.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's a Major Award!

My husband called me at work today.

David:  Guess what I just won?

Lora: Umm. I don't know.

David:  A set of 400 Legos!

Lora:  Cool!

David:  Yeah, we had a competition and my group won!

Lora:  That's great.  Now when we have kids over they will have something to play with!

David: (slight pause) Um, but I want to play with them too.

Lora:  You can still play with them but kids can play with them too.

What a relief it wasn't a leg lamp!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A little of this

Lora: I'm sorry I'm such a snot and a brat but your' stuck with me.

David:  Well snot is sticky.

Lora:  I am the booger on your shirt of life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


So many moments in life are like a sunset.  You go about your business, hardly paying attention, when the color catches your eye.

It almost takes your breath away. 
You want to capture it, just that way.  With the light illuminating the edges of the clouds.

It changes so quickly. 
The clouds shift, the sun lowers

The colors begin to fade.

Until at last you are left with the smallest remnant of what once was.
Everything back to normal.
The daily grind.

My sisters, sisters-in-law, and my mother all went to Time Out for Women last weekend.  It wasn't nearly as relaxing as hoped for, at least for me.  I was selling lunch tickets right up till the opening prayer of the Friday night event.  Then it was an early morning and no relaxation for me until the last person who purchased a lunch ticket was through the line on Saturday afternoon.

But despite the stress of a risky event that was pushed through by myself regardless of what upper management said (and turned out to be a huge success by the way), there were those moments of brilliant color to catch me by surprise and leave me happy, radiant, speechless, teary, and at peace.

The color was the friends and the laughter.  Hearing my name shouted above the crowd and turning to see a dear friend whom I thought was in the Caribbean
Friends from wards and days gone by catching my eye and sharing a quick hug and a smile.
People, women, I haven't seen in over 7 years showing up and exchanging greetings.

The color was in the music that brought peace, laughter, comfort.
It was in the messages given that refilled my mostly empty cup.

Like the sunset they fade.  The feelings lessen.  I start to forget the comfort those words, the music, brought as the daily grind becomes the reality once again.

But there's always the memory.  The remnants of the sunset that have left images in my mind's eye.  It's not as vibrant as reality, but it is enough to help me remember at least some of it.
Regain some of the feelings.  Give pause to sit and ponder and remember the color that was so breath taking.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gone in 60 Seconds

Doesn't take long to have a meltdown at my house.
ps, this is my nephew Jax.

We really are back

I had someone email and wonder if I was home yet... Yea. we're home.  And crazy busy which is why you haven't heard from me in awhile.  So without further ado, the last leg of the trip in one blinding barrage of photos.

on the hike

Have I every mentioned that I love this guy!
If an M&M falls in the forest and there's no one around to see, should you still eat it?

It was a very steep drop sometimes.
The destination: Lost Lake

Sometimes you get desperate for food on the trail.  Or you have to do something stupid because your husband won't stop taking pictures of you while you are emptying your shoes of debris.

Church Rock:  this was on the way home. Why bore you with more details.

Last shot on the way home before freeway land and Utah traffic.
The end.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NM Day 3, 9/2/2010

Wednesday.  Wednesday was the day we were going to brave the car once again and do the famed "Enchanted Circle" of New Mexico.  So in the car we got? went? drove? and headed to Eagles Nest.  On the way we saw this:

We named it the Veganess Monster (Vega being field in Spanish since it's clearly not in a Lake)
Check out the pointy teeth.

Wow, that's all I have to say.

When we reached Eagle's Nest and I got over the fact that it wasn't a Hitler museum, it turned out to be just a small town.  There was a lake, but that's all.  And perhaps it was the angst of being in the car again, but I didn't take any pictures.

Next stop was the Vietnam Memorial

Part of the memorial is a chapel.  It was small but it was effective.

David and I went around the front of the memorial to take a few more pictures and there was a Vietnam veteran sitting on a bench overlooking the valley.  We didn't say anything and all we shared was a glance.  But I couldn't help but notice the sound his leg made as he walked away.  At first glance you couldn't tell anything because his jeans covered everything well, but as he walked there was the accompanying mechanical sound and motions.  He had a prosthetic leg.

It got me thinking.  I've never been comfortable with Vietnam.  I am a history major and I eat up everything WWII along with Civil Rights, slavery, etc.  But every time Vietnam comes up I'm all of a sudden uncomfortable... and that saddens me. 

Vietnam was not a popular war.  The men and women who served didn't have the privilege of fighting "the Good War" as WWII was often called.  Vietnam was not about our freedom but that doesn't mean the men and women who served their country are any less than those who serve today.  Or those who served before them. 
I have ignored it because it confuses me.  No clear cut lines.  No clear cut good or bad.  Just confusion. 
I'm glad we went to the memorial.  I'm glad I saw the veteran. I'm glad for the chance to understand it a little bit better if for nothing more than to understand those who had to suffer through.

We did more than just the memorial but I confess, I wasn't it the best of moods.  We went to Toas and the drive there was absolutely beautiful but we didn't stop to document.  The road was too busy and narrow.
We did spend time in Toas, visited the Kit Carson Museum, walked the streets and of course sampled the food.
We enjoyed our time.

On the way back I got a picture of this tree:

It's a bit difficult to tell from the picture, but the vine has almost completely covered the skeleton of a tree.  I thought of the beauty that comes even in death.  A simple flowered shroud to bring beauty for a bit longer.
It seemed an appropriate all considered. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

NM Misc... for miscellaneous

So, there were a few things that we got a kick out of as we spent many an hour on the road... and I mean many an hour.

It's fairly common to see wildlife crossing signs in Utah.  They mostly have deer.  We were quite delighted by the  many other wildlife signs we saw.

Thought it would be fun to share.

Deer, very common

Cow, more common than deer

Ooooh, Elk! Don't see that every day

Ram, another uncommon one

Firetrucks.  You never know when a wild one will cross your path.
(Ok, I know it's for safety and it's serious, but it fit in so well with everything.)

But how about those wild cowboys!  Seriously, gotta watch for those.
Especially when followed by this:
Apparently this is what you get when the cowboy is thrown. Very dangerous wild steed.
And don't be fooled by those tractor lovin' farmers! All crossing the road willy-nilly.
And my all time favorite NM sign:

Never know when you are going to get hit by falling rocks and a cow.

NM day Two 9/1/2010

Day Two: Questa.
We decided that after the 15 hour drive to get to Red River the day before, that perhaps Wednesday would be time to take it easy, relax, see something not too far away.  So we headed to Questa which is part of the "Enchanted Circle" which will be discussed further in another post.

We were hungry so after much searching, we ended up at:

The windows looked like this and it just had so much character:

The best part was that it was family owned and run and the lady in charge reminded me of my Aunt Marie.  Her dress, her height, even some of the things that she said and how she said them.  I curse my personal inhibitions and wish that I would have gotten a picture with her, or at least more of the restaurant itself.
Oh, and her beans brought my directly back to my aunt's house. AMAZING.

We then headed to:
Where the Rio Grande and the Red River meet. 
We saw lots of this:

And then we saw this:
And then some gratuitous pictures of ourselves because hey, it's our trip.  We should look like we're there.
I like this picture because you can see David's arm holding the camera in his sunglasses.

Oh, then we went back to our condo to really relax and saw this outside our back door:
End of day two.  Or at least the exciting/semi-interesting to you parts.