Monday, May 21, 2018

Playing Tourist in Lancaster


Once upon a time Vicky, Heather, and I decided we wanted to play tourists in Lancaster. Since Vicky's calendar books months in advance, way back in the winter, we picked a Saturday in May to block for touring. Sadly, Heather wound up having a schedule conflict and couldn't join, but Vicky and I decided to proceed with our tourist date anyway.


Of course we started the morning at the Lancaster's Central Market-- which was established in 1730!
We bought veggies, flowers, and lunch.


Vicky in her shopping element; she shops at Central Market once or twice a week.
Notice her shopping basket from Zambia and shopping bag handmade by Betsy. :)

This one is for Aunt Carolyn.




We stopped at an oil and vinegar shoppe and did lots of tasting. 
Oh my! I'm pretty sure I could become a vinegar-tasting-connoisseur. 
I had no idea there were sooooo many different kinds of balsamic vinegar. I didn't even know there were white balsamic vinegars. That store is filled with a vast world of flavor combinations. wow!
Maybe when I retire from being an accountant I can take up some type of tasting analysis job. 




We stumbled upon the Lancaster Pickle Company, which is definitely worth a tourist stop.
Fresh pickles, homemade there in the store. Unique flavor combinations-- including horseradish, taco, and lemon pepper. Vicky and I gave the taco pickles a thumbs down, but all the other flavors we tried were great.

pickle-tasting

The weather was pretty crumby, but we managed with our umbrellas and rain jackets, and spending most of our time inside instead of outside. However, we were still able to enjoy a little picnic lunch midday.


stopping for a salad refuel

Ever been to a Spice and Tea Exchange?
They're great!


And then there was the baby shoppe...

It was a big choice to decide which one of these fluffy little guys would be coming home with me.
Any guesses who won out?


Lancaster is known for its row of galleries, and we had a great time exploring and enjoying local, original paintings.

To wrap up our fun tourist day, we stopped at a second-hand clothes shop, and then at a greenhouse where Vicky picked up some annuals to pot on her patio.

We had a wonderful day together; I highly recommend practicing local tourism.


note: Thanks to Vicky for some of the photos in this post.

Monday, May 14, 2018

One of Many Reasons


Enjoying incredible flowering trees 
is just one of the many reasons to love walking to work every day.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

furnished


With the recent additions of some wall art and two small tables, our apartment finally feels fully furnished.



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tuesday Break and the Turkey Hill Cow


Tuesday is one of the best days of the work week, because at 10am, we have an optional mid-morning treat break in the conference room. The officemates and I rotate who brings "break," and you never know what you'll find when you walk over to the food table Tuesday morning. Once we had gummy salad-- yes, that would be a bowl full of all sorts of gummy candies mixed together! Recently we had shrimp with tomato and cilantro sauce. Not long ago it was homemade artisan bread with strawberry jam (of course homemade as well). Two of my all-time favorites the past 3.5 years are Gerry's wife's three layer German chocolate cake (too bad Gerry retired...), and the build-your-own-parfait day with yoghurt, fruit, and granola.

Anyway.

Recently it was my turn to take break. I had fun arranging colors and also trying to keep the snack somewhat healthy.

Several of my coworkers went crazy over these {super easy} homemade granola bars.



While on work-ish topics: recently a giant Turkey Hill cow was parked outside our office (for some special event in the area). A few of the coworks and I blew over for a quick selfie with the cow...
We're quite the groupie:

Monday, April 30, 2018

Hiking Peters Mountain

at the ridge


Sara and I hiked Peters Mountain Saturday morning. The weather was perfect for our two-hour ten-minute outdoor event. The well-marked, four-ish mile trail was a fun, varied trek-- some rocks, some steep portions, a few switchbacks, lots of trees, and plenty of good views.


the Susquehanna

Thursday, April 26, 2018

real mountains with snow on top

way off in the distance

One of the things I was most excited about during our spring break trip in March was being with my youngest siblings when they would first see/experience some REAL mountains with snow on top! (the putsy tree-covered hills of Pennsylvania don't even register on the scales of true mountain competitions)

not so far away now!

One of the coolest parts of our drive was a 10,000ft. mountain pass as we drove into Colorado from Arizona.

oolala!

I didn't really take many pictures of the incredible views we saw, but we had a grand time soaking in all sorts of scenery and topography throughout the journey.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

On Being an Accountant, or, Of Numbers and People

Well over a decade ago I was midway through high school and daunted by that classic teenage question, What are you going to do after high school?  

I never guessed I would be where I am today in life, doing what I do.

When I took the ACT exam, it offered a complimentary career path finder. I diligently completed the scantron bubbles and curiously awaited the little summary printout I received in the mail some weeks later. The results: it was recommended that I not work in a people field (healthcare and teaching being their main offerings) but rather work with things. Based on my bubble answers, their top job recommendation was for me to work in shipping and distribution (i.e. folding and taping boxes—and maybe eventually overseeing the folding and taping of boxes). I was not enthused, and never pursued a packaging degree.

Instead, I weighed my options between studying to become a dental hygienist or an accountant. It went something like this:

Dental Hygienist

Pros: 
  1. short two-year training for certification
  2. an excellent well-respected program close to home
  3. helping people keep their teeth clean just sounds like a very worthy cause
  4. practical skill can be used anywhere in the world
  5. part time positions would be common in the field (flexibility being an important career consideration)

Cons: 
  1. many science classes required
  2. lots of people have bad breath
  3. it might be too gross

Accountant

Pros: 
  1. accountants are needed everywhere (#thinkglobal)
  2. accountants can work/consult  from home, or hold part-time or full-time positions
  3. the profession is well respected
  4. I think I like numbers (at least I was always good at math in elementary school)
  5. a nationally recognized excellent business school within driving distance from home

Cons: 
  1. minimum four-year (read: forever!) program to get a degree—and that doesn’t even meet pre-CPA eligibility requirements
  2. accountants are smart—and what if I’m not smart enough and fail
  3. I don’t even know what accounting really is
  4. tax/busy season horror stories (quite literally terrifying)
  5. I don’t want to work for a giant scary accounting firm
  6. the thought of ever even having the slightest chance of being that person doing taxes in the H&R Block tent behind Walmart checkouts freaks.me.out!  YIKES.

In the end, the con of “many science classes required” played a heavy part in my decision to turn and run from the dental hygienist path (despite my big fears surrounding giant accounting firms, tax season, and those H&R Block tents at Walmart*). And while I do still love seeing bright, clean teeth, I’ve never regretted my decision to focus in the world of business.

My favorite thing about numbers is that they don’t talk back. My second favorite thing is that they don’t have bad breath. 

Numbers are essentially the opposite of people—in the most refreshing way possible.

Numbers just are. They are facts. 
It’s the manipulation of numbers that makes them meaningful and effective, but the numbers themselves… they are. I love me a big bunch of numbers that need to be organized and arranged and sorted and translated into relevant, meaningful sense for the rest of the world. I love black and white spreadsheets that aren’t fancy but are oh.so.practical. I love taking a bunch of information and fitting it into predetermined “boxes” (but not the kind you mail…) so the end result makes real-world sense.

But the thing is that I love people too. I love numbers, and I love people.


And the more I work with numbers, the more I realize how much numbers affect people.

Every.day.

Sometimes the day-to-day affects of numbers are happy (when I prep payroll), and sometimes they are sad (when I deny someone’s request for reimbursement for an expense which doesn’t fit within IRS guidelines).

And lots of times I wish the numbers didn’t affect the people, because it hurts to care about people. It’s exhausting to care about my employees as they walk through deep valleys of pain, grief, trauma, cultural, and economic challenges. Because in the midst of those painful, grief-stricken, fear-inducing realities they face… appears this funny little part of my life: money.

The money matters.

There are no plane tickets to travel across the ocean when a loved one is in distress unless there’s money.

Those times of rest and rejuvenation away from the demands of cross-cultural ministry… they don’t happen without at least a few bucks to sustain one’s physical needs while seeking to refresh the spirit.

And life—the every-day-normal-stuff-kind of living—it can’t happen without some everyday income.


Some days I leave work thinking dreamy thoughts about accounting jobs that are more removed from people than my current position is. Sure… you can trace all money trails down/back/up/around to people, but somehow hugging spreadsheets in an office with a door (an office with a door! Oh my. That is a dreamy thought…) on the fourteenth floor looks like it would provide a bit of insulation from the monetary realities that haunt people outside and below.

And some days I feel like I’d like some of that insulation.


Portions of the accounting field that deal solely with numbers are the portions that are most easily automated. Those parts that deal more directly with people and strategic decision making are the bits the robots can’t handle so well—they’re the reason we still have so many accountants in the ever increasingly automated field, and they’re the reason for my job security :). Robots don’t know how to weigh the realities of life with the realities of written policy. They don’t know how to combine empathy and equity. They are programmed not Holy Spirit filled. And they rely on algorithms not Heavenly wisdom when it comes to problem-solving those messy, real-life, every-day-money dilemmas.

My job continually provides me with two of my favorite things: black and white numbers, and meaningful life experiences involving a whole lot of unique people. And although I may dream of many beautiful things during long, stressful times at the office, I’ve never dreamed of that position as a shipping manager. Additionally, while being surrounded by bad breath remains an unfortunate normal life occurrence, I’ve never wished for that dental hygiene career either.

As an accountant right here and right now in this position, I choose to:
  • Celebrate the little victories at my desk: an improved process, a clearly communicated instruction, the happy news of the safe arrival of an international wire, a smooth semi-automated monthly payroll.
  • Pray through the struggles: those emails from stressed out peeps wherein I feel like I’m being yelled at (ouch), broken processes that never seem to improve, too many to-dos—all of them affecting someone in some way…
  • and Care about my people: an employee in crisis or illness, uncertain legal/paperwork renewals, the struggles of living far away from Stateside family, the one who still doesn’t understand even after multiple explanations…  all of them.  Each of them.

The people.


The people and the numbers.






*A couple years ago, I was unbelievably happy to learn that H&R Block's contract with Walmart was not renewed, and therefore H&R Block tax tents no longer dot the checkout lanes of Wally-worlds around the nation. Hallelujah for fears dispelled.