A Change of Focus

Ruritan Flag logo
Ruritan Flag logo

In August of 2012 I joined the local Ruritan Club – the Jefferson (VA) Ruritan Club. For those of you who may not have heard of the Ruritan Club, it is a large civic organization dedicated to community service. Within the organization there are several levels of hierarchy – the first level is National, the second level is District, the third level is Zone, the fourth level is the local club.

Within the District level there is a “Cabinet” that consists of a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary, treasurer, growth and development chair, foundation & promotion chair, four zone governors, a fundraising chair, two past governors, and a national director. (I may have this mixed up a bit, but that seems to be what my book says….)

There are twenty-four clubs in the Rapidan District, one of them being the Jefferson VA Ruritan Club. Yesterday afternoon, at the Rapidan District convention business meeting in Charlottesville Virginia, I was elected the 2014 District Lieutenant Governor! During the installation banquet following the business meeting, I was installed by the 2004 Ruritan National President John L. Hancock, a very gracious man who took kindly to my teasing him that he was the first “Real John Hancock” I had ever met!

My term starts January 1, 2014. The term is one year. Typically the Lieutenant Governor serves for one year and then the next year becomes the Governor! I had the opportunity to meet the current Lieutenant Governor Alexander MacDonald, who was installed as the 2014 Governor during the same ceremony. Al is also a very gracious man, and I am looking forward to learning a lot from him.

I am humbled by the faith that the District has shown in me, and thrilled to be given the opportunity to visit the clubs in the District in the upcoming years. I hope to be able to assist all of the clubs in their continuing efforts to attract and maintain new members, find new ways to serve the community, and explore new possibilities in the area of fund-raising. I thank my husband Michael Urbanek for coming with me to the convention, sitting with me during the installation banquet, and for his pledge of support for my upcoming duties.

I am also very grateful for the numerous well-wishers that came forward immediately after the election, and those who came forward after the installation ceremony. Your kind words are deeply appreciated. I am looking forward to performing the duties of Lieutenant Governor to the best of my abilities. According to what I’ve read, and been told, I will be a very busy person over the next two years! Meetings, conferences, training sessions, and conventions – there is little chance I’ll be bored!

And from now on, when people call me “Linda-Lou” I won’t bother to say “that’s not my name.” At least from now until December 31, 2014, I’ll wear that name as a badge of honor! But I’ll be spelling it “Linda-Lieu” from now on!

Fruit trifle

Fruit trifle
Fruit trifle

Many years ago I found a beautiful recipe for a fruit trifle for a crowd. The recipe says that it feeds twenty-four people. I have shared the recipe with my family and friends, and we often enjoy the fruit trifle during the summer when we have large family gatherings. However it has been a couple of years since we have enjoyed a large family summer gathering, and I simply cannot justify making the fruit trifle for my small nuclear family!

So when I learned that the Jefferson Ruritans were holding a “picnic” where a “crowd” might appear, I decided to fix my beautiful fruit trifle.

I volunteered to be on the decorating committee, and was given the honorary title of “chair” of the picnic committee. Although the actual planning of the picnic was mostly done by the club president, I managed to have some creative freedom in the decorations – to a point. Although the picnic was going to be indoors, I was adamant that it be as picnic-like as possible, so I bought some of the mesh food tents that are used at picnics to keep the bugs off of the food, and with the help of my sister Lori, we “planted” several plastic “ants” on the food tents to try to give the picnic some authenticity.

The picnic was last night. The trifle was a big hit – this was the first time I’ve ever fixed the recipe and ended up with a completely empty bowl at the end of the meal! I did get one request for the recipe (it’s already been emailed out!) Doesn’t the photo make the trifle look amazing? And how do you like those plastic ants on the food tents! When the club president saw the ants, she thought they were real bugs and she tried to brush one of the ants off of the table! Didn’t I laugh!

If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen

Last September at the monthly country breakfast I had the chance to introduce my hubby to the President of the Community Center. I told her that I had asked the Elks Lodge if they would consider donating a ceiling fan or two to the Community Center’ kitchen. The Elks agreed that they would be glad to donate the money if the President of the Community Center requested the donation in a letter. She was surprised and pleased to hear about that! The kitchen in that place gets really hot! I suggested that perhaps we could find a local electrician that would donate his time to install the fans, and she said that she didn’t think that would be a problem.

We explained that the Elks would need a letter, and gave her the mailing address for the letter. She did write the letter, and mailed it to the Elks. The Elks approved the purchase, went to Home Depot and bought the ceiling fan. Now it seems that the Community Center has changed their minds about wanting the fan. Remembering how unbearably hot it got in the kitchen last summer I sure hope that they can come up with an alternative – I am heat intolerant and am not going to want to be in that kitchen for anything if it is always going to be that hot! I am the first one out of a hot kitchen!

Ruritan pancake breakfast

Yesterday I was scheduled to help the monthly Ruritan club’s pancake breakfast. I had sent an email out to the other members of the group asking them what time they wanted me to show up, but yesterday my email was off-line all day so as far as I know their answer may still be bouncing around “out there” somewhere.

Knowing that the breakfast starts at 8am and ends at 11am, I decided to just show up about 6:45. When I got to the community center, only three other Ruritan members were there. Two of them were already cooking bacon and sausage, and one of them was putting plastic serving ware in pouches and putting the pouches in a basket. Being new to the Ruritans, I did not remember meeting two of the folks, so I introduced myself to them and then just started pulling out the things that I knew we were going to need. As I was pulling out the mixing bowls and measuring cups, spatulas and I was wondering exactly how much help I was going to be able to be, with the limitations of my half-useless thumbs I knew that it was going to be a challenge!

Not very long afterwards more people started to come in and the kitchen became a very busy place! I ended up helping to prepare the eggs and shuttled the cooked food from the kitchen out to the dining hall.

After a while my hubby and parents showed up to eat breakfast, and I took a break and sat down to eat breakfast with them. There was some really great lemon poppy-seed bread there today – I had two slices of that!

There were a few times when I got the chance to chat a bit with the other people that came to help, and I was glad to be feeling less like an outsider than in the past.

The breakfast crowd died down pretty quickly after 10am, and I stayed until noon to help clean up. I basically manned the sinks, washing up the dishes while everyone else cleared the tables and dried the dishes and put things away. I figured that since I didn’t know where anything was supposed to go it would be better if I just did the washing up. Everyone was really grateful that I did the dish-washing – they said that was the hardest job to do. (And now I’m a bit sorry that I DID wash the dishes, my hands really hurt a lot from forcing my thumbs to do all that work!)

When I was finished up I bid goodbye to the other ladies that were still there and headed out. I had made it half way across the parking lot when they opened the door and called out to me “Would you like to take some flowers home?”

They had a handful of the flowers that had been donated by the local nursery to the breakfast, and were holding them out towards me. “Sure, that’d be great!” I replied. I walked back to the door, took the flowers. “Thanks” I said, turned, and headed back to the car. “Thanks again” they called out, and I waved. It was a good feeling. Maybe I’ll actually start to make some friends in this town after all.