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Akron: 12 October 29: Stormy Weather

In the past, when I thought of Pennsylvania, I had never thought of hurricanes. Apparently this is an oversight on my part.

Akron is (I'm guessing here) about 200 miles from the coast. This makes hurricane landfall a consideration on local weather patterns. We were warned on Friday or thereabouts that there would be a storm coming as Hurricane Sandy comes ashore. All right, I thought, we'll have a cold wet run from our house to the office. But then people kept asking if we were prepared for the storm. I began to think that there might be a little more to it than a downpour and a brisk wind.

So yesterday I finally asked what kind of preparation was required. Well, candles/flashlights, water, food supply... all right. There was talk of winds gusting to 60 mph, a high wind warning from 8 am today to 9 am tomorrow, and possibility of power outages.

This morning, we got a call from my supervisor that the office would be closed due to storm warning, but she was coming in for a bit, and she'd like me to have the switchboard open for an hour or so. So John and I went in at the usual time, I opened the switchboard, sent out the morning newsletter, did a few things, and at ten I shut things down. So now we're at home having a storm day.

Let me reassure you that while it's raining, it's not out-of-the-ordinary heavy, and the wind is unpleasant, but not more than that. I wouldn't want to travel anywhere, but we're warm and cozy, the power is still on, and we have backup candles, water, and food. It's like a day off with a built-in rain soundtrack.

Akron: 12 October 24: On Finding a Home and Distance

We decided pretty much at the beginning that we'd do a bit of visiting before we decided on a church that we wanted to attend for our year here. We had a few criteria: not too many MCC staff in the congregation, so we could broaden our frame of reference and not spend all our time marinating in a work-related atmosphere; large enough that we could blend in a little; musically complementary to our own taste; above all, friendly.

I think we've found it. No, actually, I'm sure we have. Forest Hills Mennonite has a few folks from the office, but not an overpowering percentage, and definitely not our bosses. It's about the same size as our home church, with a similar demographic spread. The music is good, if a little light on congregational four-part singing. And friendly?

Well, yes, very much so. People just came up to chat with us when we were there last Sunday. I mentioned the choir, and was encouraged to join. A couple gladly gave me a ride to choir today, and offered rides in the future as needed. The choir members (and everyone I met in the foyer before practice - Wednesday is Bible Study, Youth, and choir night, all meeting at church, so there were quite a few people there) were pleased to see me and made me feel welcome. (I really liked the music we were singing in choir, too, even though one of them calls for a high A (optional) - I'm taking notes for directing in future years.)

Two things, though: one is that I can't seem to remember very many names... although, to be fair, a few people blanked on mine as well, so everyone's been very understanding. If I could just persuade everyone to wear nametags for the first six months or so... And the other is that Forest Hills is a bit of a distance away.

And this leads me to something I've been noticing. Distance is different here. I'm not sure how much of it has to do with twisty roads and slower speed limits, and how much of it has to do with the fact that our driving miles are rationed, but seven miles (which is the distance to Forest Hills, more or less) is a long way. Lancaster (pronounced LANKstr) is twelve miles, and it feels like it's forty. On the other hand, I got home after choir today, realized that we needed some groceries for tomorrow, and that Weiser's closed in fifteen minutes. I grabbed my stuff and ran out the door, took the shortcut up the slope and through the parking lot, thinking to myself "They're going to hate me when I slip in two seconds before closing." I got to Weiser's with ten minutes to spare, and I was out the door with three minutes left. Granted, I had four items on my grocery list, and it's a small store, but I did spend a minute or few debating my choice of bread, and another couple just wandering the aisles (consumer tourism... but that's another post.) The one thing that hasn't materialized, though, is the walking or biking to things. With sidewalks mostly limited to residential areas and shoulders only being a few feet wide (and drivers taking turns at speed), it's not very safe to do either.

Anyway, it's been a lovely evening, I've met some people and done some singing, and I'm quite happy with the start I've made in making a new church my (home away from) home.

What I'm Reading Now: 12 October 23

Just the one:A mind to murder, by PD James. The office manager of a psychology practice is murdered, and the other employees seem more interested in offering their professional assessments of the murderer than figuring out who it is. There are some tidy character portraits, and I was bamboozled until the end. James isn't my favourite writer, but she has real skills.

I have yet to procure a local library card or even browse, and I'm giving serious consideration to at least two projects that will cut into my reading time (not to mention NaNoWriMo, which is rapidly approaching)... my leisure plans are not turning out as expected. Ah, well. I hope you'll forgive me. 

Akron: 12 October 18: Dis-oriented

I'm oriented out.
We've had two full days (including evening activities) plus Monday evening of sessions, activities, role-playing, and awareness-raising. I imagine that once I (finally) process it all I'll feel like I've learned some stuff and made some self-improvement, but right now I keep feeling like I've wandered into the wrong set of sessions by mistake, but that instead of someone pointing out the error, I'll be bundled on a plane and sent overseas before I know what's happening.

Thankfully we have the evening off to decompress (and do laundry). I'm going off to do some escapist reading now.