Icicles & Cobwebs
I feel like my toes are icicles this morning, and I’m sitting at my desk looking at the cobwebs that are clinging to the walls accross from me. Yeah, zero relationship there…
Yesterday a cold front moved in. I know that sounds crazy because it’s Haiti and you’re probably thinking about sunny, sandy beaches. Yeah, we have those, but we also have mountains, and it can get cold in them thar hills! Back when Olivia was only a year old we took a weekend and went up to Furcy, in the mountains above Petionville. It’s about 6000 ft above sea level, and I got a lesson in just how cold Haiti can get in the winter months in places like that. We were smart in that we took extra clothes for layers, and something made me think to bring my down vest that I would only typically pull out for trips back home at Christmas time. I wore that sucker for three days straight, it was so cold! So yes, Haiti has cold places in the winter :)
Yesterday we woke up to grey skies, and as the morning progressed I watched rain clouds gently roll over the hills into our little valley and I kept thinking about how different it is here from our previous home. And we’re only 6 or 7 minutes away. But, we are away from the ocean now, with a hill range in between us. If you stand in the yard and look around it’s like being in a big bowl. It’s beautiful and we love it so much. And yesterday we got a taste of rainy weather here. We’re about 300 feet above sea level, and it was enough yesterday to show a considerable change from what we’re used to. I bundled up in pants, a t-shirt and a long sleeved layer, and cuddled up on the couch with a book and a blanket for part of the morning.
It was a missionary meeting sunday, where a bunch of local missionaries come over in the afternoon to have a Bible study and fellowship time. We’ve started doing “Souper Sundays” where once a month I make up a pot of soup and anyone who wants to stay for food after is welcome. It was the perfect day for soup and hot coffee. I looked around during the meeting and one friend was bundled up in one of our blankets, another came wearing socks, pants and sweatshirt, and another had to run upstairs and raid my closet for an extra layer because we were all cold.
Last night after everyone left and we put the kids to bed, I went into our room. The door had blown closed in the wind earlier in the day, and I was shocked when I opened it. In our old house our room was the hottest in the house, all the time. In this house, our room is the coolest. We put a special insulating foam in the roof to help keep the house cooler, and we’d already noticed a difference when we touched the walls. They’re typically cool to the touch, which is going to be so much nicer during the hotter months. But last night, as I went into our room it felt like a meat locker. The floors were COLD. The room was COLD. I quickly jumped onto the floor mat next to my side of the bed and started thinking about how to keep warm. We’ve been sleeping with a blanket on our bed since we moved in, and I quickly scrounged in the storage room for another. None of us slept with fans on last night, Alex slept with long sleeved pjs, a hoodie and all his bedding. Olivia gets confused about layering and how it’s supposed to work so she had things off and on and we’re still not sure what was going on there. We literally slept with two blankets on our bed for the first time in the history of being here, and Chris has been here for 14 years! It’s amazing!!!
This morning the clouds moved on and it’s bright and sunny, but there’s still a cool breeze. I’m wearing jeans and still in layers and trying to keep warm. We haven’t turned a single fan on, and I might unthaw by dinner. Maybe. We’ll see.
One of the fun things about the first sentence that I wrote is the fact that I’m looking at cobwebs – from my desk.
This is not a make-shift desk made of plywood spread across random cupboard units. It’s a real desk. Attached to the wall. With drawers. And it’s AMAZING!
Two weeks ago (yeesh, has it been that long???) Johnny and I cleared the office and went to work. In 5 days we finished installing the cabinet boxes, put the counter top supports in, cut and installed the counters, trimmed the edges, stained, varnished, painted, finished and did all the details. The only thing that was left to do was install the drawers, which I did last Friday. We made chalkboards for the walls and hung them. The only thing left to do is make and install the drawer and cupboard fronts, which will happen this week. Then we have a completely finished office.
I can’t tell you how amazing this space is. I will share pictures once we get the drawer fronts on, so untill then you’ll just have to take my word for it. It’s so amazing that last week after Chris moved back into the space, he just kept wandering around in the room one day saying, “This office is so beautiful. It’s really amazing!” :)
The room is 15×15, intentionally. It’s big. Right from the first day I started putting pencil to paper I knew I wanted a really efficient work space, and to get the most bang for our buck I knew I wanted to build a wrap around work space. It would mean we could have lots of work space, and 4 desk areas for ourselves and other staff to use. After literally having a 3 foot space to work in for the last 10 years, anything would be better.
One thing that I love about DIYing is that you have a certain amount of flexibility. You can change plans as you go to better suit your needs. One big change I made, literally in minutes on the morning we were starting the work two weeks ago, was the desk configuration. I’ll be able to better explain when I share pictures, but basically it comes down to making the office accessible.
One thing that is really important to Chris and I is that the office is a place where our staff feel comfortable coming. We wanted it to be approachable. While my original design was great, when I placed the last cabinet piece and thought about that goal, as well as how we’d been using the space in the past month I quickly realized that it was going to set up a divide that would defeat our goal. I consulted Chris, and we were on the same page, so I changed the plan. We still have 4 desk spaces, but the space is open and comfortable. That decision was such a good one now that we’ve been using the office for the past week.
I love having a work space! I think it’s natural that we put a lot of emphasis on Directors and their roles with the organization, and then want to give them special things or facilities to match their title. In some situations that’s spot on. However, sometimes the workforce behind the organization is one of the people in the background. In our case, Chris and I work very closely to lead and direct the mission. He’s the Executive Director and carries the full weight and responsibility of leading the organization, but I’m right next to him helping to shoulder that. When I started working with the organization we knew I’d be doing a lot of admin work, but it was really fuzzy and it’s a role that has developed over time as I’ve seen needs and taken new things on. A few years ago I gave myself the title of Administration Director, because that’s really what I am. Chris had zero objections because he knows how much I do around here. My role can carry everything from answering emails, to planning training classes, graphic design, website work, writing stuff, social media, internal admin work, working with our board… it’s a long list. A missionary friend once called me an administrative ninja.
All that to say that when we/I was planning this office space I decided that since it was a blank slate the most logical thing to do was to look at the day to day work that Chris and I each did, and build it according to how much space we each needed to do that well. Our needs are entirely different.
In Chris’ case he spends more time emailing people, but doesn’t have a huge amount of desk work with the exception of his data entry for the filter forms. When I planned his area I made sure the built in filing cabinet was in arms reach and all of his stuff for his system was right next to him. He’s so happy about having it all right there. He literally needs to move his chair over a foot, open the filing cabinet and either take forms out to prepare for follow up visits, or put files in after they’ve been entered. He doesn’t need a ton of room to spread out, but he does have space to work on stuff if he needs to.
In my case, I often have several projects on the go, and often those require the space to spread papers out so I can be working through details. That was space I didn’t ever have and it drove me crazy. I would often move to the kitchen table, then it was a case of having to get up and get this or that as I needed it. I decided that it was finally time to give myself a work space that matched the job I did for the mission. I now call it my kingdom… bwa ha ha ha!!!!
I have this amazing “arm” that goes out from the wall and my computer has a permanent place to live. Drawers to my left with stuff in easy access, and then when I have projects that need more room I can just turn my chair and I’ve another 4+ feet of desk space to spread out. In one week I feel like I have a level of sanity that I’ve never experienced here. It’s amazing!!!
I’m excited to share the final pictures with you because a) it’ll mean a room is finally done to the point of getting pictures, and b) it looks amazing! It feels like such a huge blessing to us to have these amazing facilities.
Speaking of work related stuff, after a year of having a Mac, I’m finally downloading some apps/programs to make my life a bit easier. I’m trying out a new blogging software to see if it makes it easier to blog when we don’t have a great internet connection. One thing that is still bugging me though, is desktop publishing software. I was using Publisher for a long time, then switched over to Serif, which is only for Windows. I do have Photoshop, but it doesn’t work quite the same way. I still haven’t found something that I love to replace Publisher, though I’ve tried several different programs (iStudtio, Scribus, and another one…). If you’re on a Mac and you have suggestions, I would LOVE them.
And, just so you don’t think we’re slobs who don’t clean our house – the cobwebs are an ongoing, weekly battle. New location = new bugs. We hardly ever had spiders in Pierre Payen. Here, they’re everywhere. Because the house was open for months on end, we’re still trying to get rid of all of them. It amazes me how fast things can go from clean after running a broom around the top corners in the room, to having colonies again. Literally days here. Yonese has her work cut out for her! And, the stuccoed walls make it easy for them to cling on. Don’t even get me started on the dust here. It’s amazing and out of this world. #weneedtoplantgrass
Hope you have a great week!