Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Name

I’m settling into a routine here in the native village in the house on the bluff that overlooks the sea and the mountains. I was visiting with an elder friend yesterday and discovered that he had given an Indian name to my friend Scott. He calls him Firefly, because he lights here in his plane from time to time and then disappears, then reappears, then disappears and on and on. I asked him if I could have an Indian name. He shook his head disapprovingly and muttered something about how impatient I am. I’m afraid my Indian name will end up being something like……..Siamese Cat. Ugh!
But I would like to be known as She-Who-Inhabits-The-House-On-The-Bluff-That-Overlooks-The-Sea-And-The-Mountains. Too long???????
Now that I’m settled, I’ve decided to petition the tribal counsel for permission to start a Sunday School for the children. I think the counsel meets again in a couple of weeks. I can have the class right here in my home. The children will say to one another, “Are you going to the house on the bluff that overlooks the sea and the mountains to hear She-Who-Inhabits-The-House-On-The-Bluff-That-Overlooks-The-Sea-And-The-Mountains teach Bible stories?
All is well, but in my mind I continue to feel the tension between loneliness and solitude. I am extremely lonely. I admit it. It’s the bane of my existence right now, the thorn in my flesh, the fly in my ointment, the……..what other cliché can I use????? …..or how ’bout this……the wet log in my easy-burning wood stove.
I was given yet another Henri Nouwen book to read this week (thanks, Scott). I know that I am on the difficult road to conversion, as Nouwen puts it, the conversion from loneliness to solitude. “Instead of running away from our loneliness” (and grief, in my case), “and trying to forget or deny it, we have to protect it and turn it into a fruitful solitude. To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of our loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude.”
Before Greg died, this would have made very little sense to me or at best, it would have seemed irrelevant. I’m not sure everyone experiences profound loneliness in their lifetime (and I’m sure mine is mild compared to some). But something deep inside me says that this is a very good thing, that the me who emerges from all the experiences of this remaking will be a me who feels a little more formed into God’s image, more intimately acquainted with His Spirit and His ways, and more trusting.
Perhaps my new Indian name will be…..She-Who-Got-Molded…….(not to be confused with She-Who-Got-Moldy, who I think is one of my neighbors).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lessons Learned

You’ll get no philosophical ponderings from today’s post. BUT…………you’ll find out some what-to-do and what-not-to-do’s regarding your next move…maybe.

First…........What not to do:
*Don’t unplug things as you’re cleaning without paying attention to what cord goes where. You could end up with a really yucky smell in your refrigerator after a day or two.

Next….......What TO do:
*Be fearless in your determination to get your way (Southern women already know about this). Here’s the story:
My Verizon phone doesn’t work here in the village so I have a new tracfone that you add minutes to as you go. So today I called Verizon to cancel my service. The phone lady gladly agreed to cancel it immediately then informed me I would have a $270.00 early cancellation fee. Are You Kidding Me????? I’ve had Verizon for about 12 years. She told me I added a phone in June that automatically put me on a new two year contract. All I could think of was….THOMAS!!!!!!! He was still on my family plan when he bought a new fancy phone last summer.
So I tried to negotiate. There must be a way to get around this, right? She insisted that many things were negotiable at Verizon, but NOT early cancellation fees. She offered me a couple of options (like passing my contract to someone else or downgrading to a less expensive service), both reasonable ways to serve out my two year sentence. It felt more like death row, and I began pleading for my life. She wouldn’t budge. She would have made a dandy executioner in another life (or another country).
But I’ve seen ‘Escape From Alcatraz’ more than once, and bondage is not my thing (well at least not from Verizon). So I took some deep breaths and prayed and asked who else I could speak to. She said, “You mean like my supervisor?” “Yeah, your supervisor.” (He was bound to have a cake with a file). She insisted he would not be of help. I insisted back. And to make this getting-too-long story short again, she left, then came back and......... issued my pardon!!!!
“Ms. Vermeer, your early cancellation fee has been waived.”


I’m sprung!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


This morning I've decided not to begin painting but rather to celebrate the Sabbath just hanging out, praying, reading, writing and, above all, worshipping. There's no church here so, for the time being, it's just me and God together. Think He'll show up?????? ( :
I've been pondering the concept of miracles. Several things have happened in the process of my moving and getting settled in the village that are so far-fetched (especially when considered together) that I wonder if they qualify for miracle status. They certainly have my eyes wide and my mouth stuck open.
The latest is this internet thing. I prayed hard and stressed about how to get internet here. I was told by our school tech specialist that DSL was the best solution, but it was expensive with a phone line and all. So I ended up ordering the air card from AT&T. Before it was out of the box, I ran into the tech guy and sheepishly told him what I'd done. He sympathetically pulled out his AT&T phone and showed me how long it took to pull up hotmail......ssssllllooowwww. He smiled and wished me well. I then called the Anchorage office of AT&T and was told that 3G doesn't work in this village and I could expect no more than dial-up speed. I kicked myself for not having called them in the first place and started to return the air card still in the box. But that little "voice" said to install it. I did and.............it's as fast as anything I've ever used. I must be getting a 3G signal. Go figure.
I am certainly thanking God as He continues to "satisfy my desires with good things".
Is it a miracle? Probably not, but certainly an indication that with God all things are possible. I was reading Parker Palmer last night and he was speculating on the story of the loaves and fishes. He was thinking that maybe the "miracle" there wasn't so much a magical multiplication of the goods, but rather, having the people sit down together in small groups, they began sharing and the miracle was a miracle of hearts generously opening to one another. Some of you will shudder at this and call it heresy. I don't. It's just another way of looking at Christ's work. I'm sure Parker wants to get at the truth as much as you do.
And so do I. That's why this miracle thing has been on my mind.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More Settled

I must be settled because this morning I needed a pen and I knew exactly where to look for it, in the drawer to the left of the sink. Yay! My entryway needs to be cleaned (both floor and clothes dryer) then I’ll be ready to paint. Do you remember that my dryer back in Florida was always my catch-all because it was just inside the door? Ditto here.
I’ve spent two nights here. Everything is working, especially me. Every muscle in my body is sore but I’ve accomplished so much. It’s lookin’ good. My first order of business each day has been to grab my camera and capture the amazing sunrise over the mountains. It won’t be long until both sunrise and sunset occur in the middle of the night. I’ve got to figure out how to shield the light so I can sleep.
In the process of getting this place livable, I have also found a CPA back home to do my taxes, gotten my tax stuff in order, copied and ready to send, and decided on an internet solution.
After much online research and talking to people, I decided to get an aircard from AT@T. Then just when it arrived someone told me that we can’t get 3G here (the sales rep from the company told me we could). So if I keep it, I’ll be dialup speed. Hmmmm………but I could take it with me to Anchorage where there is 3G and I’d have it wherever this nomadic life takes me in the next two years. Hmmmmm………can’t decide. I can walk to the school anytime and get fast internet if I need it for uploading pix and stuff. But not this summer because the school will be closed. But I’ll be in Anchorage a lot this summer. Hmmmm………don’t bother me now, I’m thinking.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Getting Settled

“Here I am! I’m here! Look, I’m waving my hands! You there, on the oil tanker, can you see me?” My view is so spectacular that I have trouble getting settled in my new house. I keep stopping every time I pass the big picture window.
It took two pilots to fly me over with all my stuff. Remember, the apartment in Anchorage was furnished. This house isn’t. So I made two big Walmart runs last weekend and now I have the goods to set up housekeeping. I think you’d be surprised how little you actually need to be comfortable. I’ve become such a minimalist, when I finally get home I plan to live in a ditch.
I have no furniture. An inflatable mattress is my bed. Marilyn, the principal here in the village, is going to loan me a loveseat that she isn’t using. And she says I can take a couple of swivel chairs from the school.
But first things first.
When I arrived yesterday, there was no water. The water guy, Sam, came out and worked on it all day. Wouldn’t you think to turn on water you just open a valve or something? Not here. He started with a metal detector, then drilled and dug and made a big muddy mess in the yard. He was out there a long time. At bedtime, still no water. But I actually got a lot of cleaning done, melting snow in a tea kettle on the stove (I’m writing a book called Little House in the Village).
And this morning……Houston we have water! But that was too easy. Turns out there were no fewer than five leaky pipes, ranging from drips to spewing. And wouldn’t you know it? Sam had to cut through wallboard and make terrible messes where I had just cleaned. But I’m good. This is all good, right?
Sam finally went home, leaks fixed, and I realized my precious water was one dimensional, i.e. cold only. Yikes! This is Alaska after all. Cold water is really cold. Won’t bore you with details. But after three workmen and a landlady, the hot water heater should be working. I’ll know in the morning. Sam is also coming back because there’s dripping under the kitchen sink.
I’m sleeping at Marilyn’s again.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Another Moving Day

The waiting is over. My prayers are answered. I have permission to move into the house on the bluff overlooking the sea and the mountains. I am soooo glad I prayed for God’s will and not my own desires. I need to know that this is exactly where God wants me to be. The view is beautiful, but I’m already feeling more lonely and I haven’t even moved yet. Packing up here in Anchorage is reminiscent of packing up in Florida. What will this next leg of my adventure hold in store? Once again I find myself falling before the Lord and begging for His embrace and reassurance. I seem to keep moving further and further away from the familiar and closer and closer to realizing that pure submission to God that I long for.
I know I’m anxious because little annoyances are making me cuss. You’d think that in this apartment I’ve been living in for five months there would be one pen. I finally found a Sharpie then it ran out of ink. I’ve been on the phone and internet trying to get the best deal on an internet connection in the village. Not too many choices and all are ripoffs. I’m gnashing my teeth like a hell-bound reprobate. Can anyone say “air card”? I’m looking.
Shouldn’t this be a happy day? Some people say we get attacked by Satan when we are building God’s kingdom. I don’t know. That sounds too simple an explanation for what goes on inside me. I think my nature rebels all by itself. Didn’t we talk about this once before? The more I follow God, the more I feel like I’m crucifying myself, trying to let go of my former dreams. It’s hard. You’ve been there.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m terribly excited. It’s just that feeling of pushing further into the unknown that is so disconcerting. And people keep asking how long I’ll stay there. I have no idea!