Thursday, November 19, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Now I need to raise money to pay the SPCA back for Hide & Seek's vet care, flea & worm treatments, vaccines, etc. Will you help me out? Click on the button below to donate. ALL MONEY GOES TO THE SPCA. I'm not keeping any of it; even if we raise more than the adoption fee, it's still all going to the SPCA.
I need to raise at least $200! Please pass the word around; I can use all the help I can get. Donations are secure (via PayPal); you can use any major credit card. If you'd like to contribute via cash or check, contact me & I'll get you in touch with the SPCA rep.
Hide, Seek, and I all appreciate your help.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
This one's just Seek. He was being very silly last night.
This is another one of just Seek. Right before I took this, he had jumped halfway up the lamp & grabbed the post, then slid down fireman-style!
This one is Hide and Seek playing. My favorite part is the mouse snatch!
When I was playing this back to make sure everything was okay with it, Hide heard me meowing (on the video) and came running.
As you can see (from all three videos), Seek REALLY likes that lamp. I'm glad that my fosters are so silly!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
These first two are of Hide and Seek investigating Gus. I took them about a week ago.
This is one I took just a few minutes ago. The kittens have been rambunctious for the past two days, so it was lovely to capture them in a moment of quiet.
This video is from tonight. I took it right after the still picture of Hide and Seek snoozing.The quality on this one isn't great, because the kittens are kind of in shadow. Still, you can get an idea of how much they've grown.
If they're this big at six months, I can't wait to see how big they are as adults!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The vet tech acted like it was abnormal for Seek to have tried to run. My thoughts were more along the lines of "I'm surprised he waited till the end of the day!" Anyway, both kittens are home safe now. They're happy and comfortable, and were uber-affectionate this morning :) I love my kitties!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
We first meet Lara at Sadie's funeral. Sadie, 105, passed away recently, and Lara's parents pressure her to go to the funeral. Lara would rather be anywhere but at the boring funeral for an old lady she didn't know. Her desire to be elsewhere increases when she starts hearing a voice no one else can hear. She tries to escape, but Great Aunt Sadie's ghost won't leave her alone. To satisfy Sadie, Lara must stop the funeral in progress. This entails an accusation of murder. The ensuing hysteria is made more comic by Sadie nagging Lara to find Sadie's missing necklace--she won't leave without it.
In the process of searching for the special necklace, Lara learns just what a fascinating person her great aunt was, and learns how she herself wants to live. Sadie teaches Lara about relationships, having fun, and moving on. In the process, she leads Lara to step beyond her boundaries and live life fulfilled. And, this being Chick Lit, she finds The Man for her--who is not at all who she expected!
"Twenties Girl" was a fun and satisfying read. It took me 50 pages to really get into it, but it was worth it. The ending is more sweet than bitter, and I closed the book feeling like it had ended right.
"An Echo in the Bone" is the seventh book in Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series, which centers around Claire and Jamie Fraser. Set partly at the opening of the American Revolution and partly in Scotland in 1980, "Echo" is a sprawling tale. It has four major plot lines: Jamie and Claire (and Ian), Brianna and Roger, John, and William. All of the characters we've come to love over the years are accounted for (including Rollo the dog), and the book is overall very satisfying. It did leave me wanting more--as it's not the end of the series, there is quite obviously more story to be told. Frustratingly, I'll have to wait for several more years to read the next installment. Books this big do not get written in a month! My main quibble is that there are several loose ends at the end of the book, and it seemed almost like the first part of a book (despite its length) rather than a novel in its entirety. While Gabaldon expects to write additional books to wrap up the series (she has promised that "Echo" is not the last), leaving the story lines dangling made me feel like I hadn't finished. It seemed that there was no denouement to satisfy the reader's need for closure at the end of a story.
Despite my complaints, "Echo" has all the elements of Gabaldon that I've come to love--the historical facts interwoven in the fictional plotline, the fully-fleshed characters (who, frankly, seem very much like real people to me), the details of scenery, action, and day-to-day minutiae of life in the 1700s in the Colonies, and the cameos of real people (in "Echo," we get to meet Ben Franklin and Benedict Arnold, among interesting folks). I did occasionally get frustrated with the multiple stories as I was reading--I would have enjoyed being able to read each plot line straight through. However, by the end of the book, it was clear why so many complicated stories were told within the covers of one book. They really do meld; you just have to be patient and get to the end. And then be patient for the next few years while she writes the next book to tie up the ends she left loose. On reflecting, the lack of denouement emphasizes the story's themes and the characters' struggles; we leave them in the midst of a time of great turmoil in the world--how else could Gabaldon leave the reader other than in turmoil at the anticipation of what's to come next in the series? [I feel a little bit less frustrated now. But I still don't want to wait another three years for the next book!]
All in all, "An Echo in the Bone" was worth reading. I did have to push myself sometimes, and it did take me a couple of weeks to read, but by the time I finished, I was glad that I had. I will clearly have to go back and reread it in a few weeks; at 800 pages, it's not a book I can digest in one reading. For those who, like me, sometimes enjoy a book as meaty as this, "Echo" is a pleasure to read. For those who, like me, are used to waiting for the next book in an exciting series (Harry Potter, anyone? Eragon?), you'll understand my impatience on reaching the end of the book. And perhaps you'll join me.
Friday, October 2, 2009
I had a stroke when I was 11. It sucked, but life goes on no matter how much we'd like to freeze it or rewind it. People say how brave I was or how strong I am. Bull--I had to recover; life kept moving with or without me. And frankly, I didn't realize that "without me" was an option. Believe me, there were plenty of times when--if I had understood more about life--I would have stayed behind.
Anyway, I had a stroke, was in a coma for three weeks, woke up and had to relearn how to walk and talk & all that crap, and it sucked. It really, massively, majorly sucked. BUT, that's not what my story is about. It's more about how completely amazing life is. Even when it sucks.
So yes, being on the respirator, having a voice too soft to be heard, and accepting that my body had to relearn how to do things that my brain still knew was frustrating and all kinds of difficult, but really it all just underscores the fun stuff, and helps me enjoy the really simple things. Being on a respirator was rough? Yes, but taking a deep breath of crisp fall air makes it worth it. Having no voice was frustrating? Yup. And singing my heart out fills me up. Really, having a stroke wasn't all that bad in retrospect, because I can stare up at the sky and enjoy the awe at its expanse; I can watch my kittens play and giggle at their silliness; I can enjoy every small piece of life so thoroughly.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Not only are Hide and Seek very tidy kittens; they’re also technologically advanced. Every time I work on my laptop, they make a beeline for the keyboard. After a few minutes of walking around on the keys and batting at the cursor, they curl up on the keyboard. I use this as an excuse to pet them instead of using the computer. In the course of their computer exploits, they have managed to: post Facebook messages and statuses, open documents on my desktop, change document names, play games of solitaire (they’re not very good), and click on links to various websites. My favorite was when one of them clicked on a link that opened an eHarmony ad. My immediate thought was, “are they trying to tell me something?”
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Hide and Seek have a new friend in the house! His name is Cody, and he is a Shepherd-Collie mix (we think). He's about 3 years old, and is as sweet as can be! He arrived Saturday afternoon; he adjusted to his new home with no problems.
He isn't phased by the kittens at all (although he's definitely interested in their food!). Hide and Seek have taken a little bit to accept him into their home, but after a few hours, they seem to have gotten over their initial annoyance and warmed up to him. By the end of the evening, they were both out in the living room playing with each other and us humans in full sight of the dog--this is big progress for them :) This is a big step closer to adoptability for both the kittens and for Cody; being accustomed to other animals is a huge plus for foster animals.
Both kittens are at the point that they'll let me pick them up & cuddle them (usually only for a minute or so, but sometimes for long snuggle sessions), and they'll come out to investigate a new person. I'm very proud of the progress these two are making! they've come from timid, terrified kittens who would barely come out from under the couch to bold explorers eager to meet new people and have new adventures. That's a lot of progress for three weeks!
I hope that all three animals will keep up their fabulous progress and find the perfect forever homes they need. :)
Monday, August 24, 2009
My other big news on the foster front is that I now have two foster kittens! A couple weeks ago, Kara got an email from a coworker (from another teacher in a different school) about these two kittens who needed a good home. I jumped at the chance, and Rachel agreed that we could take them in. I went to pick them up on Friday, August 14 after work. When I met them, I was instantly charmed. I also learned some more about their background, and it's a bit heartbreaking. Their mother was a pet in a neighbor's house (this is in a townhouse neighborhood), and when she got pregnant, the humans put her out in the shed. The apparently stopped bothering to feed her, and when the kittens came, they didn't feed them either. Eventually, the humans moved, leaving the cat and her kittens behind. When Sara (the wonderful person who sent the original email about the kitties) realized this--and further realized that the mother cat was scavenging in garbage cans to feed her kittens--she started putting out cat food for them. They gradually warmed up to Sara, and she sent out the email to find them a good home.
They came home with me Friday evening, and were pretty scared of being in a new place. Because of their penchant for hiding under furniture (couches, bookshelves, tables, you name it), I named them Hide and Seek. Hide is still a bit on the shy side, but is getting bolder by the day. Seek is bold and adventurous--but still shy when he meets new people. They both come out when I'm home. They like to hang out with me :) Seek loves to be petted and has a wonderful purr, and he even lets me pick him up sometimes. Hide has let me pet her a few times and pick her up once. Her purr is softer, but still quite lovely. They have mock fights and kitty wrestling matches several times a day, and it's hilarious to watch them! As I type this, they're curled up on the couch with me. Seek likes to walk across my laptop keyboard--I've had to redo several portions of this blog post because of his "help"!
Hide and Seek are sweet and playful, and I'm glad they came to stay with me!
Monday, August 3, 2009
Since I couldn’t sleep last night, I started thinking about some of the odd dreams I’ve had over the years. Several stand out as being so bizarre that I thought I’d entertain you all with them.
Weird Dream File Number 1
I recently dreamed that all of the printers at my office staged a mutiny. Their gaping paper-drawer mouths would fall open then slam shut, trapping strings of papery drool. They advanced quickly, madly waving their stubby arms, tightening their circle of doom until, finally, they swallowed me up. It was pretty horrifying. (It won’t surprise you to find out that I’m in charge of the computers, server, and printers at work.)
Weird Dream File Number 2
I must have been upset at something when I had this dream. I’m pretty sure it was a dream. I think I’d remember if it had actually happened, right? All I remember is that I was really unhappy and I slammed a door (I don’t know where I was or what room the door was in, which I’m taking as another sign that this was, in fact, a dream) and screaming. However, the door didn’t slam loudly enough, so I had to keep opening and re-slamming it to get any satisfaction out of my tantrum.
Weird Dream File Number 3
This was a year or more ago now. I opened my bedroom door, only to be caught in an avalanche of laundry. I don’t know whether it was clean or dirty laundry, but I sure hope it was clean. I mean, how awful would it be to be stuck in a deluge of dirty laundry? At any rate, I went down screaming and struggling against the monster that was my clothes. In case you hadn’t guessed, laundry is one of my least favorite chores. I guess that I had put off dealing with it for just a bit too long when I had this dream!
Weird Dream File Number 4
This is a pretty old one, but still worth sharing. Basically, in this one my older sister is stabbed to death. With a carrot.
Weird Dream File Number 5
I had this dream repeatedly as a child. Remember the fairytale “The Twelve Princesses”? Well, my dream was a spoof on this fairytale. Kara, Jane, and I would take a boat across a lake to a castle where we would dance with handsome princes. Once we were there, however, the plot changed a bit from the original story. After dancing and having a wonderful time, somehow we would be trapped in the castle and running from something awful. What was this hideous monster? No idea. A dragon? A lion? Our cousin Paul?
I’d love to hear about some other people’s weird dreams. If nothing else, it might help me feel less crazy ;)
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
First, let's take healthcare. I watch newspapers and politicians lament the state of our healthcare system, then propose a single solution that, they say, is the only way to solve the problem. “Tort reform to lower malpractice limits!” says one. “Higher taxes!” says another. “Encourage innovation and competition!” says a third. We need to look at multiple strategies to fix a problem as big and complicated as this is. We need all of the means listed above, plus tactics like encouraging preventive medicine to reduce the need for more drastic healthcare. This, of course, means making it easier for people to do healthy things like exercise and eat vegetables. Some of it is education; some of it is accessibility. If a pound of apples costs $2 and a box of Twinkies costs $1, it’s very easy to look at the short-term cost and buy the Twinkies. What it’s hard to know is the long-term cost of eating the junk food instead of the healthy option. Likewise, it makes much more sense to drive to work than walk or bike. After all, traffic might be too heavy to ride a bike safely, and most of us work too far from home to do anything but drive. What we don’t see is the cost of a sedentary life where we drive everywhere, spend 8 hours each day sitting at a desk, then spend another few hours sitting on a sofa. If the apples were cheaper than the Twinkies, it wouldn’t be hard to decide for the healthier option. If there were a reasonable way to safely bike or walk to work, we’d be happy to leave the car at home. I don’t know how to make apples less expensive or biking/walking more realistic, but I know it’s possible. More to the point, I know it's necessary. Many places in Europe, for example, rely on feet and bicycles as the first choice in transportation, and cars only as a distant second. When I lived in Germany a few years ago, I rode a bike several miles to work each day. I didn’t have a car, so if I wanted to go farther than around town, I rode my bike to the train station. It was simply the way of life, and it was accepted. This brings me to my next example: the environment. If we can take steps like helping people to use their cars less to improve health, that will certainly have a positive impact on the environment.
There is no doubt that humans have an influence on the environment, and that, quite often, we don’t take good care of our planet. But it seems to me every information source I can find focuses exclusively on climate change and emissions control. I believe that reducing the amount of carbon dioxide, methane, and all those other greenhouse gasses is important. We can do that in plenty of ways: lower-emissions cars, lower-emissions fuels, increased availability of public transportation, increased ease & access to walking & biking instead of driving, etc. But we forget that there are many additional steps we should be taking to stem the tide, and hopefully prevent our grandchildren from having to clean up our mess. Things like: planting trees, reducing deforestation, painting roads a lighter color (an off-the-wall solution I read about somewhere that made surprising sense once I stopped to think about it) so they reflect the sun’s heat instead of absorbing it. In general, I think we need to be less consumer-ish and wasteful. Also, there are plenty of other environmental issues we need to deal with. What about land and water pollution? Over-use of resources? I believe it ultimately comes down to changing the way we think and behave. Instead of trying to change the world to suit our needs, we should change ourselves to suit what’s available. I think that we need to make recycled products more available and affordable, make recycling easier, cheaper, and more accessible. I think we need to use less of everything. This will probably be difficult in the short run, since changing habits is hard, but in the long run, it’s the best thing we could do for our selves, our children, and our planet.
I realize that there are major obstacles to solving huge problems like healthcare and problems with the environment, but we can’t ignore the need for solutions. The solutions may make our lives temporarily more difficult (it is easier, after all, to use disposables and drive everywhere), but in the long run, they will give us a healthier society and a healthier planet. Aren’t those the gifts we should be giving our children? And, wouldn't it be great if we could approach solving problems like these in a comprehensive, multi-faceted way instead of trying to attack them from one angle?
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Side note--Mom and I decided that since Alba is so timid, it would be better to bring just her rather than both puppies. We felt that it would be less traumatic for her to get used to a new place without having to contend with her over-eager sibling. (Another side note: please don't think that I don't love Alice too! She's energetic, happy, cute, silly, and all those things a puppy is supposed to be. I just feel sorry for them both sometimes, because I think that they're hampered by each other's behavior & their relationship.)Anyway, we got Alba to M&D's house, and I walked (partially dragged) Alba from her crate to the back yard. For those who haven't seen it, M&D have a nice big fenced-in back yard; perfect for dogs to run around in. (Rachel & I have a back yard, but it's not fully fenced-in, so the puppies can't run free.) By the time we got from the car to the gate, Alba was walking normally, sniffing the air, the grass, etc. And by the time we got through the gate, she was ready to start exploring.
We brought her crate into the yard so she would have her "safety zone" nearby. For the first 20 minutes or so, she ran all around the yard, sniffing, marking her new territory, and exploring. It was so much fun to watch! She was bright-eyed, alert, and perky, dancing around the yard, and obviously having a ball. After a bit, I led her to the water bowl we had put out next to her crate so she'd feel totally comfortable. She went back into her crate for a while, worn out from these new experiences, but seeming content. When Dad got home a bit later, we all sat out in the yard near Alba's crate, letting her get used to these new people, their smells and their voices. After a while of that, I brought her back out of the crate. She was a bit shy at first, as she always is around new people (she hadn't met Dad before), but she quickly got back to running around and exploring. It was such a joy to watch her acting like the puppy she is!
The next big milestone was when she VOLUNTARILY came up to Dad and sniffed his toes. It was really exciting, because Alba usually won't approach a new person at all, and she seems especially wary of men. Before too long, she had taken a handful of food from Dad, and not long after that, she was letting him pet her. I was so excited and happy that I was nearly in tears. I imagine I felt like parent watching their baby take her first step or speak his first word. We spent a couple of hours like this, enjoying Alba's company and watching her blossom into a normal puppy. She discovered a game with Mom tossing her bits of kibble, which she would then snuffle up from the grass. Mom decided that if she were to adopt Alba, she'd name her Snuffle (for Snuffleupagus). She let both Mom and Dad pet her, and ate from both of their hands. This all had a huge impact on her socialization. She now knows she is safe around other people (at least around my parents) and in other places. I think it will have a very good influence on her in her future home.
There was so much cuteness in the afternoon, it was overwhelming! Once she was all worn out--but still being brave and sociable!--we got her back in her crate, where she lay down without cowering in the back, and I brought her home. She made huge progress today, and we all had fun. I spent a lot of time clapping, bouncing, and giggling as I watched her brave new frontiers of puppyhood. It was a wonderful day for us all.
We got a couple of adorable pictures of Alba at the end of the evening, which I'll post just as soon as Dad emails them to me.
Update: Here are the pictures. They're from when Alba went back in her crate after she had spent a few hours out with us.
Here's Alba curled up--at the front of her crate!--peering out at the world.
And here she is with her chin resting on her toy. When I saw this, I just about melted! It was even cuter in person :) She's so worn out from her afternoon of playing that she's about to fall asleep.
Monday, June 8, 2009
For additional info on Alice & Alba, check out their blog, and for info on other fosterable and adoptable pets, check out Homeward Trails or your local SPCA (here's the NOVA area's branch). There are lots of pets out there who need love! Even if you can't foster or adopt, there are still plenty of opportunities to help, either by volunteering or donating. We can all help make the world better for our furry friends.
They had a check-up with the vet last week, and he discovered that they still have mange. :( That means that, before they can go to any events (or even be around other animals), they have another four-week course of treatment. Poor puppies! The do seem to be more comfortable, though--in addition to the mange medication, the vet also gave us some anti-itch meds.
I'd like to tell everyone a bit more about the puppies' personalities. Alice is brave and rambunctious, and likes to chew! She has lots and lots of chew toys to be sure that she doesn't get into anything bad. I have noticed, though, that if I'm sitting on the couch with bare feet, she likes to nibble my toes. (Apparently dogs have a thing for my feet. Belle liked to chew on my toes, too. I'm pretty sure that this is not flattering.) Fortunately, she doesn't bite down, hard, but it's pretty startling to suddenly feel...something...gnawing on my exposed toes when I'm not paying attention! Alice does have a tendency to dominate her sister. She has a very excited and inquisitive personality.
Alba is the quiet, shy one. She is still a bit timid, and she startles easily. She gets happy and excited, too, but tends to settle down quickly. She lets her sister bully her sometimes, and it seems like she's more of a follower. Alba is a good listener, and I suspect is going to be the easier of the two to train. Like all puppies, Alba likes to chew, but she's not as aggressive in seeking out chewies as Alice is. She is a sweet, loving dog.
Both of these girls are going to make wonderful pets when they find their permanent home! I suspect that they'll do better in the long run if they're adopted separately; I think that will allow them to develop their personalities without being too influenced by each other. I think that being separate will help Alice calm down and Alba become more bold.
Let's hope that the find a forever home soon!
Friday, May 22, 2009
About a week and a half ago, two new roommates joined my household. Alice and Alba are 7-month-old shepherd-hound mix sisters. They have mange, but are on their last treatment, and it's starting to clear up. They were rescued from a kill shelter in western VA by Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, a pet fostering & adoption organization. After a day in HT's care, Alice & Alba came home with Rachel and me. They were very timid and frightened for the first few days; they had obviously been abused and/or neglected before they got to us. They were both way too skinny, and they would shy away if you got too close to them. At first, they wouldn't even take a puppy biscuit from your hand; they'd run and hide in the corner under the coffee table rather than let you get close. It was painful to watch.
Fortunately, both girls are getting healthier and happier! They're both putting on some weight--especially Alice, who likes to hog the food!--and they're not scared of us anymore :) Alba is still timid, but she'll let me get close enough to take a treat right from my hand. We're helping them get used to us by having them eat handsful of food right from our palms. That seems to be making a big difference. Both of them are learning to walk on their leashes. Alice love to hop around on her leash! They enjoy being outside, but run straight for the house as soon as they've done their business. We're working on the house training, and expect both puppies to be accident-free before too much longer. Like all puppies, they LOVE to chew--we have to watch out for our fingers to avoid being nibbled on! Both of them now have a menagerie of toys to chew on and play with.
All in all, I'm glad that we're fostering the gals. They're looking for a loving permanent home--if anyone is interested, let me know!
Friday, May 8, 2009
Despite the sunshine streaming in the window, I slumped on my bed with my head in my hands. Why am I so sad? I tried to ignore the tears crawling down my cheeks. Life is good, so why can’t I be happy? Wiping my dripping nose on the back of my hand, I flopped backward. I don’t enjoy crying; everything about it makes me feel crappy. To end my jag, I worked on solving the puzzle of why, exactly, I was crying.
It was April. “I’ve been sad for over a month. I want to stop being miserable. Wait—I was sad last year at this time, too. I wonder if I have that seasonal depression thing?” The realization hit me like a ton of bricks. “Oh! I get depressed every year at this time. It’s the anniversary. Duh.”
With this “new” knowledge in hand, I picked up the phone and called help. The woman I called, Jill, is a friend of the family and the mother of a childhood friend. She had recently gotten certified & started practicing clinical psychology; I knew that she would be able to steer me to someone who could help me.
“Hi, Jill. I have a favor to ask. Do you know of a local therapist I can contact? I just realized that I’m having depression issues related to my stroke.” That conversation would change my life. I was about to start a journey that had been 12 years in the making. For those 12 years, I had been oblivious to the emotional charges buzzing around in my mind. I was finally going to start trying to defuse them.
Monday, April 20, 2009
The picture is of me in the coma. I’m lying on the hospital bed, hooked up to various machines and monitors. I have tubes going into/out of various parts of me: breathing tube, feeding tube, insulin drip, sedative drip, and so on. You can’t tell what all the tubes are, and I can’t really tell that I’m in a coma—I could be sleeping, except for the fact that I never sleep on my back.
In the spirit of fun, there are troll ponytail holders on each of my big toes. I loved trolls when I was 11, and my family wanted to bring something silly that I would have enjoyed (had I been conscious) to the room. There is an Irish flag at the head of the bed. I’m part Irish, and was obsessed with that part of my heritage. Since St. Patrick’s day had come while I was in the coma, “I” celebrated with the flag in my hospital room. My security blanket (which I slept with back then, and still do today!) and my stuffed lion are by my side. My family has done what they could to make my hospital room homey.
Mom is sitting next to the bed reading something—I can’t see what. She’s looking down at what she’s reading, holding it in her lap. The picture was taken after many of the lines and machines I was initially hooked up to were removed, and Mom looks serious, but not panicked.
I feel blasé about the picture, partly because I’m so familiar with the story and because it’s been so long since it happened. It doesn’t inspired great emotion in me, but at one point it interested me because it showed me during a time that is missing from my memory. It often seems like something that happened to someone else. My recovery sticks firmly in my memory, but I know nothing other than what I’ve been told about the time while I was in the coma.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I remember the bluebell-carpeted woods behind our house in England. Each summer, the bluebells would bloom, turning the woods into a sea of blue. It was breathtaking. You would almost expect to see fairies dancing among their flower homes; dwarves, unicorns, dragons, and princesses wouldn't have been out of place. Fairy tales are made in places like this.
I could play in those woods for days, if permitted. I would invent magical friends, dangerous adventures, and discovery-filled journeys, either by myself or with my sisters. We are a family blessed with imagination. Worlds were ours to explore in this magical place called The Woods.
We had names for a few of the 'roads' in the woods. These included Foxhole Road--named for the holes that we assumed housed the foxes who frequently graced our back garden--and, logically, Main Road, which was the biggest road, and the only one that vehicles could pass.
I remember the cows who summered in 'our' fields; being suburban folk, we were endlessly entertained by living next door to cows. One summer it was horses instead of cows, and we loved them! There was one beigey-colored horse that we named Peachy. She was beautiful, and we were sad to see her and her fellows go at the end of the summer.
England was a wild, magical, magnificent adventure that left me with an overactive imagination and a taste for nature.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
My treasures are many and varied. Some of them are material things, like my books or my rock collection, but most of them are spiritual. My material treasures are probably easier to write about, because I have words to describe them—so that’s where I’ll start.
I mentioned my books; I am more than an avid reader; my soul depends on reading. I am capable of going a day or two without a book, but I start to wither and die inside if I go too long. Reading is my heroin, and books are my fix. I don’t get the same reading high from magazines or newspapers. There’s just something about holding a book, with its glossy soft cover, corners slightly battered like an old tomcat’s ears, and the smoothness of the pages between my fingers, that soothes my soul. I regularly get too little sleep because I read in bed and lose track of time while I’m in the world of words on the page. I can escape any troubles in my life through the magic of books.
Other worldly treasures are a cup of tea on a rainy day (or any day, but there’s something even more special about tea when it’s raining), flowers blooming in spring after the long silent dormancy of winter, a breathtaking sunset, the world under a fresh carpet of snow the morning after a snow storm, and the booming power of a summer thunderstorm. Part of what makes these treasures for me is their fleetingness. I can enjoy the moment of my cup of tea on a rainy day, or watching a thunderstorm, knowing it will end. I know that this pleasure is for a finite time, but that I will get to enjoy it again someday.
My spiritual treasures start with peace—peace of mind, of soul, of emotion, and of body. This is one of the gifts I received from the journey of my stroke; the ability to experience peace in turbulent circumstances. Over the years since my stroke, I’ve come to lean more and more on God and trusting that He knows what is right and good, and that somehow, some day, I’ll see how His plan has played out in my life. During those dark moments, I can take a step back and be eager to see how this will end up blessing me and the world. God has given me the confidence that, despite the fact that I feel awful and I don’t think that what’s happening is a blessing, in the light of eternity it is a blessing and I will understand how and why when God leads me there. Knowing that He can use even my stupidest mistakes and poorest decisions to make blessings is a comfort, and from that I derive peace.
Peace leads me to joy. Knowing that, with God’s peace, everything will work out to the good even if it’s not in my lifetime, frees me to feel all-encompassing joy even in dull moments. I can look at the sky and feel awe at its scope and know that all is well. The joy swells up inside me, starting at my stomach, and pushes all my negative feelings away. And with that radiating joy surrounding me, I can share some of my peace with others. It’s a “vicious” cycle—I feel peace, which leads me to joy, which brings me more peace…
These are my treasures.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Right now I'm working with a concept of interspersing tidbits of the stroke story with fiction. I don't know how that will work out. In the long run, I want to communicate what I've learned & how my stroke shaped me. One of the things I learned is the importance of temporary escape (along the lines of going to my imaginary special place when the pain of PT got overwhelming), and I'd like to provide a bit of that by using some of my fiction along with my memoir. I just don't know if that will end up going over well--or, for that matter, how to work the fiction in.
So, someday, I hope to publish a memoir. I welcome feedback, questions, and suggestions--not to mention prayers for me to actually finish it!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Sadly for us humans, God doesn't work that way. He's on an eternal schedule, not constrained by our deadlines and impatience. If I pray for a friend to be healed, but that friend remains sick, it's not that God ignored my prayer; it's that He said "no." If I pray for God to move a mountain for me, and it stays where it is, that doesn't mean that God hasn't answered, it means that he's either answered "no" or "later" (The secret for figuring out which? If there's no definitive answer, it's probably a "later".)
How do I know this? Aside from all the places in the Bible that talk about "waiting on God" (also here, here, here, here, and here, among others) and persevering in prayer, I've seen it in my own life. Any number of times, I've prayed for something for months (and occasionally years) without hearing back from God. Then--seemingly out of the blue--I'd get an answer that was beyond my wildest hopes.
So don't believe the nonsense about "unanswered" prayer! Maybe you just haven't gotten the answer you wanted. Just remember (this one's hard for me) God knows what He's doing, and he's smarter than us. Trust Him. Oh--and it's always worth the wait.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I had a lot of fun writing them, and I hope you enjoy reading them. Let me know what you think!
(And yes, this is how I'm using my linguistics degree. Useful, no?)
Fliggle flaggle floggle flump
Miggle maggle moggle mump
Ziggle zaggle zoggle zump!
Weezle wazzle wizzle warg
Feezle fazzle fizzle farg
Meezle mazzle mizzle marg
Zeezle zazzle zizzle zarg!
Widdle waddle wuddle wode
Fiddle faddle fuddle fode
Middle maddle muddle mode
Ziddle zaddle zuddle zode!
Iffle piffle tiffle tonk
Niffle diffle kiffle konk
Hiffle liffle ziffle zonk
Wiffle miffle biffle bonk!
Hiddy diddy biddy bud
Niddy middy ziddy zud
Piddy widdy fiddy fud
Kiddy jiddy giddy gud!
To the top of the kergle of Miggledy Pime.
He waited for evening, as that is the time
When climbing is best at Miggledy Pime.
He got to the start of his kergley quest,
The bottom of climbing up to the Lerg nest.
For Lergs live way up on the zippedy-zest
Of tall kergle flondubs, above all the rest.
Wergle climbed up the high kergle kuzzo
And felt full of awe to see the nergles below.
From up on the Kergle, he saw them bestow
His evening climb triumph with a nergley glow.
he felt all a-flutter on seeing that sight
and knew he would always remember this night;
the night he found out that glowing was right
when all his friend nergles showed him their light.
Have you heard of the flerd
Who lost track of his yerd?
(This particular flerd’s name was Jerd.)
He searched high
He looked far
But found not a bean.
Jerd asked for the help of his friends,
Merd and Serd,
Who enlisted the help of two more,
Zerd and Perd.
They looked and they looked,
These five flerdy friends.
They searched the whole world
From beginning to end.
Still they found not a sign
Of the yerd that was gone.
It was hiding—or lost—but no matter the cost
Jerd needed to find his yerd.
For without it, you see,
He couldn’t fliggameezee.
And a fleggameezeeless existence
Would just have no glee.
So Jerd and his flerd friends,
Merd, Serd, Zerd and Perd,
Continued the search for Jerd’s missing yerd.
“But what is a yerd?”
Did I hear you ask that?
Do you not learn of yerds in the place where you’re at?
Well, I promise to answer
Just what a yerd is,
But first we must check on
The flerds and their searches.
They still have not found it—
They exclaim, “Oh, confound it!
How could that yerd have left its flerd Jerd?
We must find it!
Or our quest is a bust.
For minus his yerd, our friend Jerd is half-clerd.”
So they continued to look
And to search
And to seek,
But of that yerd they discovered
Not one single peek.
At last they agreed, they must stop for the night,
And continue tomorrow on their flerd-finding fight.
But alas, still the next day,
The end of their quest still did not draw near.
They fin’ly admitted that they didn’t know
Just how to get that yerd to show.
So they went to the experts;
Jerd, Merd, Perd, Serd and Zerd
Consulted the ones
Who knew how to find yerds.
The yerd-finding experts in the world of the flerds
Knew at once where Jerd’s long-missing flerd would be found.
They said, “Go all the way back
To where you began.
Then go back even farther,
As far as you can.
Then you will recall
where you last saw your yerd.
As soon as you know it,
You must think very hard
Of just what your yerd is,
How it looks,
What it says.
Hold on to those thoughts
As you capture your yerd,
And keep them in mind
As you find your yerd-rhyme.
And then, my dear Jerd,
You will know at all times
Just where, how and when
To locate your yerd.”
And so Jerd and Merd, Perd, Serd, and Zerd
Went back to the place
Where Jerd lost his yerd.
All five of the flerds,
Minding the import of fliggameezee
Looked around, up, and down
Then did as the yerd-experts said to.
The flerds went one step
Farther back from here,
And Jerd, who all this time
Had been missing his yerd,
Said, “I see it! It’s here!
Right before where I left it
When I had it last year!”
It was true, there it was—
Barely glowing, the long-missing yerd.
It pulsed and grew brighter;
The nearer Jerd got,
The harder it glowed—
It was practically hot!
It flashed and Jerd smiled.
“It missed me too!”
The flerd friends all cheered,
And their yerds glew too.
Now all of the flerds
Had their yerds
In their hearts.
And that’s what a yerd is—
It glows in your heart.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Let me know what you think of these--it could be that I'm the only one who's a big enough dork to think they're hilarious.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
It's subjective of course, but I have my theories about reading. Some of the "boring" classics are still good reads (okay, I'll admit that Moby Dick might be worth reading. If you have the stamina. And the ability to skim large passages.) because of the insight into language that they provide (and the brain exercise!). The reason that Moby Dick feels boring to me is because it uses the language of its day, and mid-19th century English tends to be very...well, drawn-out might be a good description. Some of the sentences last for pages, and in a story as detailed, involved, and long as Moby Dick, that can be intimidating. I'm all for reading modernized versions, summaries, and so on, but you lose a lot of the flavor of the original piece that's integral to why it became a classic in the first place. (My technique is usually to read the summary/modern version/whatever first, then read the original. That way I actually understand what the story is about and I get the edifying effect of reading the original classic. More work, but more benefit to me.) Think about reading the King James Version of the Bible. The language is beautiful, but it's hard to understand! So, if I read the same passage in the Message version and in the KJV, I get more out of both; the beauty of language and understanding.
One note--in the era in which the KJV and Moby Dick were written, there wasn't anything special about the language--it was the standard of the day. People talked and wrote like that. Heck, read some Chaucer in the original Middle English--it's not even the same language we speak today--it's largely unintelligible to us. Some of the benefit of reading them comes from seeing where our language has been.
I'll write more about all this later, because I have more considering to do...