A to Z Challenge: Valerie

Being in a choir was not the usual thing for Val, although she did sing pretty well. This particular choir was quite a large group. They were practicing a moderately difficult program to be performed over the course of a week at a conference. There were singers from all over the world who had come for the music and for the fellowship. They were a faith based group, which made it possible for Val to feel a small degree of comfortable, but that wasn’t saying she was all the way there by any means.

She was standing in the alto section without being sure that was where she belonged. It was better than trying for notes up in the stratosphere. She was standing near another singer who didn’t seem as timid and unsure as she was. She decided they should become friends, and set about making it happen. She was good at that job even though she came across as being the quiet type at first. It just took her a while to get warmed up.

Valerie, who preferred to be called Val, was a Virginia girl with a slight southern twang to her speech. Like everyone else, her family had its share of dysfunction, but it was still a supportive, intact family. Val had finished high school and her first year at university when she met her friend in choir. They found out they shared a high love for adventure. Val also had a dry wit and a sense of humor that drew friends. She looked at life with an expectation of fun, and who wouldn’t want to be around that?

After singing in each other’s ears for a week the conference ended. They went their separate ways, but their friendship started its long distance phase. Letters went back and forth frequently. There’s something about the safety of writing to someone far away and not having to deal with judgment, for at least as long as it takes for a return letter – they became very well acquainted with each other’s personal lives. They were both writers, who actually preferred the written word as a means of working out their everyday angst. Their bond deepened.

Val was working on her degree in elementary education which left her somewhat free in the summer. Her friend had children who were old enough to be self-sufficient. So it came about that in the summer of 1996 her friend, Louise, invited her to do a trip out west with her. They would meet at Louise’s home in Florida and travel to Colorado in Louise’s aging Dodge van, camping as they went. Val went for it.

Patterning themselves after the duo of “Thelma and Louise” of Hollywood fame (well, except for the illegal parts, which make up most of the movie, oh, and the ending…) they set off to have an adventure. They had a great time traveling the Florida panhandle the first day. Safely reaching the campground Louise had lined up for the first night was their first triumph. They managed to set up their tent, have a walk on the beach and survived their first camp meal out of a can. It was the next day they were excited about and spent some time discussing. Neither of them had been to the city they were coming to next, and they had a list of what had to be seen and done.

“Thelma and Louise” in New Orleans, yeah, it had a good ring to it. Let the adventure begin…

Veterinarian: Building Relationship through Work

It’s such a long word, that I will shorten it to “vet” for this post – not to be confused with veteran though.

I think a good addition to the holiday calendar would be a “Take Your Parent to Work” day.

After living with my daughters for years into their teens and more, it was easy for me to view them in light of their history. I remembered all their intermediate steps of growth into maturity, but didn’t always remember to view them in the present, as someone would meeting them for the first time. That’s why it was such a pleasant surprise to see them at work. It added a new dimension to our relationships to be able to view them as respected professionals with awesome people skills. (Of course, there is still a little motherly bias in my evaluation… it’s allowed.)

My daughter the large animal vet started working in a practice right out of school. She often had to drive to farms, haul equipment into the barns, keep her own digital records, handle phone calls on the fly, and more without any assistance. When I would visit for a few days I got to ride along as vet tech. This was an interesting pastime for me, having been a people nurse for years and finding that there are a lot of similar procedures. As I have written back on day S, I also love saving animals when possible.

Oh the things I never thought I would see. Foals being born, horses castrated, goats getting C-sections, llamas, cows, pigs getting diagnosed and treated. There were calls in the middle of the night, and times when different equipment was needed for emergencies that helped me understand the stress of the work. I heard Julia giving good news to clients, and bad news, handling both with diplomacy and compassion.

She works with a larger group of doctors now and often has an intern to help, so I don’t ride along anymore. I do hear the stories though. It’s now easy to also see her as an adult professional, as well as a daughter. I think it’s a very important perspective for a parent to have and I’m thankful.

Different professions create differing opportunities, of course. I remember when daughter Esther started in retail sales when she was 15. I would go to pick her up sometimes and watch while she handled sales in a busy clothing store (I am so compulsive – would straighten clothing racks while waiting!) She had stories of shoplifters and irate customers that were hair raising. With amazement, I have watched her climb the career ladder as she mentored others and stepped into the role of consultant. I don’t get to go to work with her, but I can, and do, ask questions. I want to know the role work plays in her life. I want her to talk to me about work when she needs someone to listen, and to reasonably expect me to understand. It adds much to our relationship.

And a lot more has happened in the last 8 years!

So here’s the question. What do you know about your adult children at work? Did you ever take them to your work when they were young? Our work is a big part of life. Knowing something about each other’s work life is a huge part of “knowing and being known” and that is what relationship is all about.

A to Z: Selling Our House (Letter V)

Signs of the times: V for Vacuum. Have you cleaned the inside of your car lately?

V for Vacate

“To give up possession of property and leave the area totally devoid of contents.” According to Miriam Webster dictionary.

Being a landlady for years now I am very familiar with the word vacate. Today, I have struggled with it for the last time. The last vestige of life with boarders has just rolled out the driveway, and none too soon.

I should never have been a landlady (I should not be allowed to paint, or have tools, or sell Mary Kay, the list goes on…). My heart is too soft and I seem to be a magnet for people down on their luck. God has been at work full time protecting the husband and I from all these mistakes and it is by his grace alone that we have not suffered anything but monetary loss here and there. Many times I have breathed a sigh of relief as I inspected a condo or a house that had finally been vacated.

There was a hurricane last September and we took in three men who had no place to sleep.  They were starting jobs but didn’t have paychecks yet. All three were struggling to have or keep vehicles.  Their vehicles were always needing work and becoming disabled. As they moved on, two of their vehicles were stranded in our yard and they could not afford to move them or fix them – so they said. For months I have called, nagged, and threatened to no avail.

One day one of them actually made it to a repair shop. That left the one with two flat tires, no registration, no title, no key. Sadly, I know the owner and would have loved to have gotten a couple hundred dollars from the scrapyard, but in Florida, without the paperwork, they won’t pay money for it.  I found that out after a couple hours on the internet, trying one place after another.

Today I called the sheriff’s office. The deputy said to call a tow truck and they would take it away, for free. What!? Yes, but because they have to do paperwork and it costs them, they keep whatever the scrapyard pays for the vehicle.  It was so simple I almost cried.

I got a call from the truck driver, he was in the yard ready to take the van away, bless his heart. He was a rather burly, rough hewn guy that I had trouble understanding but I did catch “you have a big ass place back here”. “Yeah, thanks.” And now that the yard ornaments are gone we’ll have a better chance of selling it, I hope.

There it goes.

I also did a little painting and made a doctor’s appointment for my cough, but both of those things were totally overshadowed by my complete relief – my yard has been vacated!

#AtoZChallenge: My Favorite Things V



I am listening to voices all day long, not the ones in my own head, but the voices of the people around me. The sound of each voice evokes immediate response, sometimes good, sometime not so good. As much importance as we put on first impressions, we talk more about visual appearance than what we hear when a person opens their mouth to talk. Both are important – my opinion.

The voices I hear give clues as to their age, their strength, their state of mind, the passion behind what they speak of, and their opinion of me. All of this registers within seconds.

The voices I know best and love are a joy to listen to.

My husband’s voice is soft (almost too soft) and low. It’s a good comforting voice, most of the time.

My oldest daughter’s voice is youthful, thoughtful, appropriately authoritative at times.

My youngest daughter’s voice is measured, rhythmical, careful.

My mother’s voice is cheerful, content, trusting, quick to laugh.

My friend’s hint of foreign accent delights me.

Another friend has a voice of strength and conviction that I admire.

Some voices are recognizable even if I have not heard them for years. Even over the phone, the college friend or hometown buddy has a voice that quickens my memory of them. Voice prints are so specific that they are even being used for official authentication in some places. They are even being used as art!

I marvel at the voices that read audio books these days. I think that would be such a fun job for a person with a good voice, one that is flexible and expressive. Voices that sing – a whole other category – can be totally surprising. Sometimes I watch “The Voice” which proves that point over and over. You can never be sure what someone will sound like from looking at them. Not even close,

There are voices that, possibly through no fault of their own, sound like they are causing pain to the speaker. That pain transmits to my ears and makes them difficult to listen to. The voice that is forced out, gravelly, or tight and strained make me suspect hard times have been weathered. The voice that is arrogant, angry, uninterested makes me sad, and I do not want to listen even though listening is probably what is needed.

I know how I want my voice to sound but speaking is so natural and spontaneous that I often forget to evaluate, to think of what others are hearing.


Have you listened to a recording of your own voice lately? Does it surprise you?