Monday, August 29, 2011

The Summer of Sunflowers

The first weekend of summer vacation was when the children and I planted the sunflower seeds. That would have been about June 13th, 2011.   I let each child drop the seeds into the holes and together we planned the sunflower bed.  We had only attempted the growing of sunflowers once before but years had passed since then.

In early summer, the temperatures were warm and getting warmer.  Rain had been scare all spring.  But as with any determined gardener, we leaned upon our optimism and forge ahead.  Early summer always brings promise.  The promise of rains and growth and bounty.

The children were excited to see the sunflower seeds sprout and week after week, they grew.  My Son marveled at how the plants were almost as tall as he was.  I told him they would be much taller than him and that in the last stages of their lives, they would present us with a prize.  Beautiful sunflowers.

We had no idea that the summer of the sunflowers would be record heat and record drought. As the temperatures increased, we increased the watering.  We watched as the plants grew taller.  A few toppled and were removed but the majority were strong and thriving.  They crowded the small corner of the garden and every day, I imagined those beautiful sunflowers.  In my mind I saw their bright yellow blooms on beds of green leaves.

Summer came and went.  Days of heat and watering.  It was a ritual and a duty My Son and I held with conviction.  As the days wore on, we grew tired of the constant watering yet we did not relent.  School started again and the watering continued.  We began to see the tops of the plants change.  I knew it would not be long before I would see the first sunflower emerge.  Perhaps only days and then the long awaited reward for diligence and care.

Battled and worn from the elements, the plants continued to grow and we continued to water.  The temperatures this week have been near 110 degrees. I thought for sure the heat would take the plants, yet they continued their life cycle.  They continued to grow and reach for the sun.  What was too hot for us was ample for them.

Today, the first sunflower is near completion.  It's petals opening a few at a time each day.  Jamie took the following pictures and I'm so glad she did as thanks to her, I will always remember this summer and those sunflowers. I will remember the hard work, the dedication, the determination and the will of the plant to overcome extreme obstacles.

And it all started with a single seed on a bright sunny day in mid June. It started with children planting dreams. Patience and love can make beautiful things happen.

Notice the ant middle left.

And this is why you never give up!  Not on a single seed, not even in a drought, not even when its too hot to be outside.  If the sunflower can survive, so can we.  And in the end, we will have wonderful memories of yellow and green and a summer that challenged us but ultimately rewarded us with stunning beauty.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Rhinestones in Waiting

In the fall of 2006 and into 2007, pet owners around the country were faced with their worst nightmare.  Poisoned pet food.  Cat owners and dog owners alike fed their pets their regular food only to have them become critically ill or, as was our case, they watched their beloved pet die a slow and painful death as the result of kidney failure.  Timber was our cat and Timber suffered for 14 hours before we could get him to the Vet and have his suffering ended.

Learning that the pet food had killed our Timber along with so many other dogs and cats was heartbreaking and infuriating.  We networked with other pet owners and joined the law suit against the pet food company responsible for this horrendous betrayal of consumer confidence.

During this time we were blessed to meet so many wonderful people, many suffering the same painful loss we had endured.  One person was an artist and while she had not lost a pet, she wanted to ease the pain of as many people as she could.  She saw pictures of the lost pets and used her talents to create paintings of many of them to be given for free to the families.  These works of love were so life like that they moved most to tears.

The Artist, inspired by the love of animals, worked for weeks on portrait after portrait.  She would send them to us and we would forward them to the families.  This good work in the midst of so much loss was a healing act and a silver lining in a long period of dark clouds.

The Artist surprised us in one of the last shipments of artwork with a painting of our own Timber.  We never expected it and when we saw him, we did as most did.  We wept.  She had captured the picture she had seen of Timber with such detail and clarity, as she had with all her paintings.  We understood how much what we had done for others by feeling and experiencing their same joy and appreciation.

One of the paintings she had sent was to a couple in a town not far from us.  Their dog Michou had been a victim of the pet food poisoning and had left them devastated and lost.  When Michou's painting arrived, we contacted them and arranged to meet them so that we could give the painting to them personally.  It as a good day and while the painting tugged at the pain that still filled their hearts, they appreciated the love with which Michou's image had been created.  I so wish The Artist could have been there that day.

That day, Michou's mom and dad presented us with several tokens of appreciation and love.  A beautiful silk scarf and many items that had belonged to Michou.  The beautiful rhinestone and black colored collar and several vests that had belonged to Michou were given to us to remind us of their love and loss, not that we could ever forget them or their beloved Michou.

Years passed, four to be exact and as with all reasons for grief, the pain eased and life continued on.  Michou's clothing was hung in my closet and her collar dangled from the nail on my bedroom wall.
They served as reminders to me of a time of great loss as I felt the loss of each of the more than 5,000 dogs and cats that died as a result of the tainted pet food.  I had seen so many of their pictures and emailed many of their owners with expressions of sympathy.   Anyone that lost a pet during that time felt the same way.  We lost more than our own pets, we felt the collective loss of all lost pets.

Yesterday, when Cayce arrived at our home after years of neglect and abuse at the hands of a calloused owner, we felt the same good feeling we had felt years ago.  Sometimes you just have to take the extra step and go the extra mile when its the right thing to do.

Having spent the last six years in a crate with little or no human interaction, no love, no clean environment, Cayce spent the day walking and receiving love from everyone.  We had purchased a harness and leash for her but she was too big for a small size and too small for a medium sized set.  Then Jamie spotted the collar hanging on the wall.  Michou's collar.  She said "I wonder if this will fit Cayce?". 

Carefully and with great love, she took the collar down from the wall and placed it around Cayce's neck.  It was a perfect fit.  It was as if it had been waiting for 4 years for this moment.  Once again, that beautiful collar would be worn by a dog that was loved and adored.  Once again, it would be seen every day and admired.  The collar had found a new home.  Patiently it had waited and now, finally, it could serve as that constant hug and symbol of adoration.  Michou had worn that collar and now Cayce wears it.  And it seems right and fitting.  It seems perfect. It seems just as it was meant to be.

So to Michou's mom, we thank you for the gift given with such love and sacrifice.  Please know that it is now worn with just as much love and serves as a constant reminder of your beloved baby. 

Kaleigh, Cayce and Ryan

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Unchosen is Chosen

Today is a very big day in our home.  We will be rescuing a dog and bringing her here to our home to hold until we can find a permanent home.

Now, keep in mind this is a cat home.  This is a cat's world.  But today, things will change for a time.  Normally I would not consider this, but my sense of decency has urged me to take the leap of faith that we can absorb this dog for a time.  Best case scenario, she will be a perfect fit and never leave us.  Worst case, she finds the person/family she was meant to have all along.

This decision was not made in haste.  We have waited til the children were older, the cats adjusted and life had a set routine before throwing yet another dependent into the mix.  Dogs are needy but anyone that has ever owned a dog and loved a dog can understand the great contribution they make to our worlds.  I love my cats but I do miss the love of a dog.  My cats are special but so is the companionship of a good dog and in my eyes, there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. Learning of Cayce's story was enough for us to agree, now was the time to try.

Blogworld, allow me to tell you about Cayce.

Cayce is a 6 yr old white schnauzer that has lived her entire life locked in a crate. She is only out to go to the bathroom in the evening, the rest of the time her crate has been her bathroom and her world.  She has been denied love and interaction with humans other than the observations she can make from inside the crate.  She has not been groomed or cared for. Her very existence has been ignored save for food and water.  Cayce has not yet begun to live.  That will all change today.

Cayce will be ours for as long as we can have her.  We will socialize her and love her and treat her the way she should have been treated all along.  Today begins Cayce's second life.  Today everything changes.

I've thought about this day.  I thought about Cayce thinking that today, the world will once again only be the crate.  Hopefully, her current owner will have the good sense to clean her up and get her ready for a departure.  That may be too much to ask from someone who has failed to demonstrate anything even remotely close to that in the past 6 yrs.

The countdown to Cayce's arrival is now 2 hours.  The house is busy making last minute adjustments for this new addition. We are all excited and the cats have no clue what is about to happen.

Sasha is sleeping on my bed as usual, the other cats have found quiet places to rest as well. Miss Liz is sleeping outside oblivious to the intrusion that is about to befall her and the others.  They have no idea and there is no way to properly prepare them.  Most have absolutely no history with an animal of the canine persuasion   Won't this be interesting?

Jamie just made a trip to the pet store to secure a harness and leash, food and other items our new pooch will need.  Its all coming together.  Next stop at noon to free Cayce.  The clock is ticking and the anticipation growing.


Cayce is here!  The sweetest dog you could ever know.  Her appearance leaves much to be desired and her neglect is more than apparent.  Her beautiful white hair is stained from too long in a dirty crate.  She has sores on her from too much time in a filthy crate.  She needs time to heal both inside and out.  She has only barked once.

She spent time getting to know all of us and one cat so far.  Her legs are weak from inactivity but she is alert and eager to be part of our family.  She looks so incredibly happy.  So incredibly free!

Welcome Cayce!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Two Mothers, One Day

Today, I celebrated the birth of my son.  Twelve years ago today, he was given to me and since that day, has done nothing but bless me and my world.  It is an  honor and a privilege to be  his mom.  He and I talked about that day twelve years ago and I did my best to share what memories I still have of that event.  He listened eagerly to the details of his entrance into this world and asked for more.  He's at that age where knowing where he came from means as much as where he is and where he might go.

I headed off to work and My Son went to school.  I thought of him often on this special day.  As busy as I was, I found time to think of him and to feel the excitement of his birthday.  I was happy and I knew he was too.

Then came word that a former student had been killed in an auto accident earlier in the morning.  My heart sank.  I felt sick inside.  I saw tears on the faces of family members as they exited the building, heading home to be with their family on this horrible day.  Their pain was palatable.  It was familiar and it was awful.  Losing someone suddenly is unimaginable and if it hasn't happened to you, well, then you can never fully understand how it feels and what it does to a person, to a family..

As I sat and thought about this day, I realized that there were two mom's today, thinking about their sons.  One was crying uncontrollably, the other smiling and handing over a birthday surprise to small waiting hands.  For very different reasons, both moms found their minds racing to recapture all the years that have gone by.  Both mom's digging deep within their memories, recalling moments of their sons learning to walk, going to Kindergarten, reaching new height marks on the door where they measured growth.  Two moms on the same day.  One mom mourning the loss of her son, the other celebrating  her son's gift of life.

While I marvelled at My Son today, at how much he had grown, how much he had changed, I thought about that other mom as well.  I held my son a little tighter and kissed him more knowing that this one day, this extra day was his gift to me.  That today, I was spared what the other mom was enduring.

May I never know her pain.

Happy 12th Birthday!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One More Milestone

I guess I never realized how many milestones there are to a calendar year.  We think about the obvious holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.  But there are so many more during the course of the year.  Some we share, some are unique to our families and some are personal. 

Today was spent getting things ready for the next milestone.  This milestone hits most parents, most children, my family and me.  My day was filled with lists.  Tasks to be completed before the milestone which is scheduled for 7am tomorrow morning at our house.  The milestone is the end of summer.

Now Mother Nature doesn't know that summer is ending in 10 hours.  Oh no, she has dialed up some very hot temperatures for the week.  The burner is on high and the kettle is boiling. But that doesn't matter, the milestone is coming and it cares little for the antics of Mother Earth. 

How quickly the summer passed.  It sits like a road mile marker in our rear view mirrors.  Getting smaller with each passing  hour, each passing day.  School starts tomorrow and we will pass, in one giant chaotic leap, over the milestone and then in a day or two, summer will be gone from view. 

I gave it alot of thought today about this milestone.  The children advance a grade, the calendar year changes and we enter the 2011-12 school year.  My Son will be entering the sixth grade, my granddaughter the 2nd.
How quickly time is flying.  It flutters its wings and refuses to be contained.  Nothing can stop it and we must simple let it go and see where it takes us.  We truly are along for the ride, so hang on!

For those of you marking this milestone tomorrow, I wish you well.  I hope the children can find their socks and you remember where you put your keys.  May there be no separation tears and may the end of the day be filled with wonderful excitement and approval for a first day gone well.

Sleep well everyone.  The milestone cometh.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Merits of Saturday

The last weekend before the school year begins.  What a week it has been.  Crazy busy and yet, there is something about being overly productive to make one sleep well at night.

Today, the last Saturday before we ring the bells and call the children to class for the first day of school, I worked a little more at the office.  The silence of the halls and of the office was relaxing.  It was easy to think.  I could walk over and talk to a coworker and not feel the pressure to hurry back to my chair and work station.  It was so peaceful, so nice.

I have done all I can do to prepare for Monday.  It will come and things will be fine.  Once again the first push of the wheel will begin the self propelling daily routine that is public education.

But this is my Saturday.

My brother, whom I love dearly, once told me that since he retired all his days are Saturdays.  What a wonderful concept!  He awakens to a Saturday morning every morning.  The days are his to fill or leave empty.  I can hardly imagine how that feels.  Sure, during my summer vacation, I get a good feel for that mindset.  And while I can tell myself that my vacation is six weeks of Saturdays, I know they come to an end in August.  I do not yet know the absolute joy of endless Saturdays.

Of my siblings, I am the only one not retired.  I am delighted they have managed to find a way to step off the hamster wheel of racing rats.  I am so glad they are able to fill their days with productivity of their choosing, their design.  I often think retirement is much like life long ago when people didn't work for an employer. Instead, they worked to sustain themselves.  They had gardens, prepared their own foods and lived their lives much in the confines of their property.  While the physical world tends to shrink when retired, thanks to technology, the world never does.  It seems from where I sit, retirement appears to be the best of both worlds.  Time to be productive, but time managed on your own terms.

My Saturday, today, was a filled with last minute work at the office followed by a quick trip to the local Producers Market.

It is my only Saturday for the next seven days.  I will keep working til all my days are Saturday and that's great incentive to keep going!  I can't wait to jump off the wheel!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Mental Adjustment

Every single day brings new challenges.  Work, home, personal, financial, it is always something.  We simply cannot escape them.

The truly wonderful thing about challenges is that they allow us to reach new heights of accomplishment.  Sure it will mean giving more.  More time, more energy, more, more, more.  But isn't it amazing that we find more to give? 

For me, this week, it is home and work.  School begins next week and preparations are underway at work for me.  The children in my  home are becoming more anxious and the calm pace of summer is but a memory.  I'm feeling the anxiety as well.  So very much to do.  It is this transition time that makes life so incredibly challenging.  Is it just me or is everyone feeling completely unprepared.  I have a tendency to regret not spending more time organizing and purging much of the bounty I have at home when I had the time.  But if you have children in your home, you know how difficult it is to tackle projects and to keep things organized.  You can try but it either doesn't get done or doesn't stay clean.  That's just a fact of life with children.

So here is my plan for today.  Today at work, I will do as much as I can.  I will be diligent and relentless.  Then I will come home, take my darling Son to meet his new teachers.  I will fight through the crowded halls filled with families doing exactly the same thing and then I will come home.  Preparations for the next day will then commence.

Right now its just one day at a time.  I'm trying not to let the enormity of the next few days overwhelm me.  I do have that choice.  After all, as its said, its not what happens to us that matters, its how we respond to that which occurs.

So make the moments matter today.  Do your best, give your all at work but save alot of energy for those you love.  Make sure you keep those anxious feelings in check as they do more damage than help.  Remember to treat yourself well and be patient with yourself and those around you.  And yes, I'm saying these things as much for me as you.

Just remember, when you wake up tomorrow, it will be Friday.  And that's a very good thing!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nine Minutes

Alarm clocks have a nine minute snooze feature.  Why nine minutes?  Those much wiser than myself know that the body can wake and then rest but not fall into a deep sleep if awakened again within nine minutes.  How smart.  How thoughtful.

This morning, after one full day back at work, after a day that demanded a great deal mentally from me following weeks of a slower pace, those nine minutes were filled.  In one nine minute period, this amazing brain of mine managed to scan through every problem I could foresee this week.  This new school year is riddled with obstacles.  We have a new data base that is familiar but very different.  We know what to do, but unsure how to do it.  We have a new way of communicating within the district.  We know what we need to say but not sure how to say it.

In nine minutes, I thought about every issue I had with both of these changes.  I mentally listed in detail what I needed to learn before next Monday when the students return when accuracy and speed will mean the difference between success and failure.

Nine minutes.  I so completely filled my nine minutes between snooze and sleep that when I had finished reviewing the situation, the alarm still hadn't gone off again.  Had I accidentally turned it off?  Just as I reached for the clock to check, the alarm sounded.  Nine minutes.  I had mentally done an amazing about of mental work and mental processing in less than nine minutes.

While I worry that all the changes will mean a more difficult start to the school year, this morning gave me a little more comfort.  After all, I accomplished so much in only nine minutes.  Did I answer all the questions, did I learn all I needed to learn this morning? No.  Did I solve all my problems? No.  But what I did was realize was that the brain can work at lightening speed and if I can do all I did this morning in nine minutes, just imagine how much I will accomplish in the next four days.

Have a great day everyone and remember, never doubt the power of the human brain. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

For Me and My Sunday

This Sunday morning is different from all the other Sunday mornings that await me.  It is a Sunday morning of ease. I have returned to work full time now but still this Sunday is special.

When you work as a secretary in a large public high school, returning to work comes in phases.  For several weeks, you merely adjust to getting up early and being gone from the Sanctuary for 8 hours a day.  For a few weeks, there are no students and the work load is light.  Its preparation time mostly.  Preparing the office for the busy days and preparing for the First Day when we reestablish our daily routines.  This will be my last Sunday where the stress of Monday is non-existent.  One more quiet week before the school doors open and the campus is alive with thousands of people.  Then every Sunday will be lived with one eye on Monday and all that it brings.  If only we could shut off the Mondays on our Sundays.  Then we would have the much needed peace and rest the day should bring.

This time also signifies the promise of Fall.  Its not far away now.  We have survived the heat and the drought which made summer feel like one continuous long, hot, dry day.  We've had our first cold front (yes it was only 96 degrees and cooler )which finally broke through the dominating high pressure system that has served as a cap on my part of the world.  A cap that kept the sun beating down on us and rain far far away.  Yesterday, the radar showed rain within 200 miles.  Of course it was nothing by the time it moved into our area but that rain came from the north and that's a very good sign.  Rain will eventually make it here in one form or fashion.  I have faith.

This time of year with the change of seasons approaching does make me reflective. There are mile markers I never realized existed.  My Son's birthday is near and it marks the birthday gathering that would prove to be the last time we saw Logan.

Because both the children in my home are August babies, we decided to have one party gathering for both of them in early August 2009.  Has it really been two years now?  Family came from all over to a popular kids pizza place.  Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Brothers and Sisters all gathered to bring gifts, eat cake and visit while the children ran and played.  My son and his cousin Logan, only two years apart in age, spent the entire day together.  They had such fun.  They thoroughly enjoyed their time together.  Both rather reserved socially, they found a comfortable place in each others company.  It was a really good day.  It was also the last day.

After Logan died two months later, we took a look at all the pictures from that day.  They were our last pictures.  I'm not sure why I'm thinking about that day this morning.  Perhaps it is all the changes now taking place, going back to work, kids only a week from school starting.  It just all feels familiar.  It is habit and repetition.  I guess there were just some years that were not repetitious and those are the ones that stay with us.

Ive written in earlier posts about the grief we endured the year after Logan's death.  Ive not given all the details surrounding his death and while I know that time is getting close for me to share, I will treat it like a Monday and not let it and all its pain intrude on my Sunday.  Not this Sunday.  Not this special Sunday.

As with most things in life, there are lessons to be learned from every single moment.  Lessons about ourselves and about others.  Lessons on love and loss.  Lessons on life and death.  Lessons on grief and joy.  Lessons, lessons, lessons.  I'm beginning to wonder if  Life isn't just one big classroom and we the students.  If that is the case, then with each day we should be able to manage the next because of what we have learned.

If that is the case, then experience tells me that Sundays must be managed.  Logan's loss must be managed.  Work must be managed. School and  homework and lunches and baths must all be managed.  All these things managed so that we don't stop living while dealing with them.  Perhaps it is about "getting in the moment". Maybe its about being good stewards of our time and being prepared for each day so as to not create unnecessary chaos.   Maybe its about being more patient and kinder when you feel neither of those things.  Perhaps its about gently yet continuously adjusting our own selves and our own lives in order to be better people and to treat people as we need to be treated.  Maybe we are our own mirror of the world.  What we give we get in return.

For me and my Sunday, we will enjoy each other as we prepare for the transition into Monday.  If Sunday is done correctly, Monday wont be so bad at all.

Enjoy your day everyone and thank you for reading.

My roses in the early spring.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Softly Comes the Evening

Sitting on my back porch, watching the day come to a close, I find peace.  The light has found it's sweet spot between daylight and dark with the last of the sun's rays casting an amber glow upon my back yard.  The world is settling down.  Birds have found trees in which to roost and only the warm breeze rustling leaves offers any sound. It is my favorite time of day. 

As this Friday comes to a close, the work day behind me, I am calmed by the complete lack of things that require my attention.  Tomorrow will bring its own set of demands but for right now, there is nothing, no deadlines, no preparations for another work day.  Its just Friday evening. A Friday evening that came softly and gently to me.  It has lifted my burdens and allowed me to breathe and to relax.

My time is my own on a Friday evening.  I can write, I can soak in a warm tub, I can nap, I can do whatever I choose.  Life can be so busy that we fail to appreciate that Friday joy.  I know many people choose to go out with friends and stay up late and celebrate the end of another week with laughs and drinks. They fill up their weekends with things to do.  To me, the celebration consists of  crawling into my bed, sleeping undisturbed and awakening when I choose. Having less to do on the weekend is my goal.  I am indeed simple and uncomplicated. 

So to all you that note this close of the work week and the beginning of yet another glorious weekend, I say enjoy!  However you choose to spend it, may it be all you want and need.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Gathering of Angels

My daughter Jamie came home today from work with a story I just had to share. This is a true story.  It happened today.

After her 30 minute commute to her place of business, she got out of her car in the parking lot.  She noticed a dog.  A big dog at that.  It was wondering around the parking lot, obviously either lost or dumped by someone who no longer loved it.  Jamie saw how thin and fragile this large dog was from days in the hot Texas sun.  Jamie kept walking and entered the building and headed to her desk to start working.

Her coworkers, Alice and Veronica came into the office looking for water.  Jamie went outside and found Wanda with the dog which turned out to be a Husky, a very thin, very thirsty Husky.

The office is located on an extremely busy highway, traveled mostly by large trucks. Wanda had seen the dog head towards the highway and ran after it, keeping it from entering what would have been a certain death. Alice brought one bowl of water after another.  The dog drank and drank and drank. So thirsty for so long, so lost for so long.

Weak and unsteady on its feet, the dog was calm, responding to the ladies talking to her and petting her.  She drank the water and collapsed under their gentle, loving hands. 

"This is the same dog I saw walking up the highway yesterday about five miles from here" Wanda said.  The dog had been enduring temperatures of over 100 degrees every day with virtually no food or water to be found.  This poor dog had endured so much.  The ladies agreed that another day without food and water in the heat would have killed this gentle soul.

Carly came outside to see why everyone had left the office. Carly lived alone since her husband had passed.  Her sons were grown and living on their own.  She said "That's a pretty dog".  The ladies were discussing what to do with her.  They didn't want to call the City as they knew, from the looks of her, she would be put down that very day.  She was so weak and so frail.  Jamie's mind was already moving in the "I'll take her home" direction, even though we already have four cats and no one is at home during the day.  A temporary home we could do, but nothing permanent.  It would be just too much time alone for a dog in such need.  She kept her thoughts silent and waited with the ladies.

It was as if the dog knew Wanda had saved her as she would not leave her side.  Her collapse found her at Wanda's feet.  The ladies waited with the dog while Wanda called her husband and asked him to come and get the dog and take it to the Vet.  It was apparent the dog was in desperate need of medical attention. 

Wanda's husband arrived and determined that in his work vehicle, a trip to Vet would be difficult and require several transfers, alot for a dog in such condition.

 The ladies continued talking about who could possibly take the dog, even for a temporary home.  They grew more determined to save the dog.

Carly said "I can take the dog, I've got 60 acres for that dog to run and play in".  "What should I name her?" Carly asked.

Veronica said "Why don't you call her White Fang?". "Ugh, wasn't White Fang a rabid dog or something?" Jamie asked.  "No, White Fang was a Husky" Veronica replied.  "Well, that's not a good name for this dog." Jamie said.  The sad appearance of this gentle giant did not blend with the strong name suggested.

Carly told the ladies to let the supervisor know she was taking the dog to the Vet and she was taking her right now.  With that, she loaded up the dog into her car and off they went.

The trip to the Vet's office was a good trip and the dog listened while Carly talked to her and kept her calm.  The Vet, upon hearing the story,  agreed to treat her for free.  No expenses incurred for this good deed in progress.  The Vet determined that this Husky was about 7 yrs old, tests indicated she was heart worm free.  But she did have cataracts in both eyes.  They began filling her dehydrated body with fluids and fed her with a tube, pushing life sustaining liquids and nutrients into her emaciated body.

Carly returned to work and told the ladies that she had called her son.  He had just recently lost his own pet, which was a Husky.  He told his mom "Mom, I don't care whats wrong with her, I'll take her.  She will have a home with me."

So, the lost gentle giant that was this wandering dog, stumbled into the right parking lot, on the right day and was surrounded by Angels.  The Vet office continued the day's miracle by providing free treatment and care.  In the end, the man who needed a dog, found a dog.  And the dog who needed a home found all the love she will ever need.  No more hunger, no more thirst.  Just love.

Who ever said Angels don't run in packs never met these ladies, that Vet or this dog.

And that's what makes this day and this story worth sharing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Jelly Jars and the Magic of Molasses

This morning, with the strong urging of My Son, I decided to make some granola.

Now, being the most prepared person that I am, I had alot of items on hand to choose from.  I went to the newly acquired Jelly Jar Cabinet and pulled out some items for this culinary journey.

My Jelly Jar Cabinet was a great find on the local Craigs List several weekends ago.  My daughter is a finder of all things worthy at a discounted price.   This is a true bonus.  The Jelly Jar Cabinet was purchased and delivered within 24 hours.  It was theirs and then it was mine.  Now the cabinet is not a work of mass production and that is what appeals to me.  This cabinet is old and its imperfection tells the story.

I don't know the story for sure but I like to imagine a wife of long ago, busy making yet more jelly from the producing fig tree in the back of their yard.  The kitchen cupboard is nearly full with labors of her hard work.  She lovingly looks at her husband of 20 yrs and says "my darling, the cupboard is nearly full and I still have more jelly to make."  Her husband, a man who loves his wife more than life itself and only wants to see her happy, responds to her statement with "my precious buttercup, let me head off to the work shed, see what kind of scrap wood I have and I'll see what I can do."  With that he headed out the door.  For several days, his time was consumed with trips to and from the work shed.  His wife would look out the kitchen window and see her husband busy with saws and fetching the scrap lumber from the pile.  She could see him stepping out from the shed, thinking then picking up different pieces of wood.

How she loved him. From the day they met as teenagers, she had loved him.  She remembered the day he proposed to her.  On bended knee, with the best ring he could afford, he pledged his love to her and begged her to be his wife.  Sure the times had been  hard, work was scarce and the country was pulling itself out of a decade of depression. But through it all, they had managed to have a home and enough food to survive.  She had canned and helped with the garden, all in hopes of sustaining their lives and health.  She was doing what she had been taught by her mother.  She had learned how to make ends meet.  His love had made the trying years so much easier with his just being by her side.  And now here he was, out there in the shed, making life easier for her yet again.

She awoke one morning to the sound of the back door slamming shut.  She slipped on her robe and made her way to the kitchen.  She dreaded seeing all those jars of jelly stacked on the counter.  She had finished using all the figs and even depleted her supply of canning jars and lids.  She was finished for the season.  As she turned the corner and entered the kitchen, there in the corner sat the Jelly Jar Cabinet.  Her husband had not only created a functional piece of furniture, he had painted it and had already filled it with the jars that once cluttered her counter.  He stood there next to the cabinet, smiling.  She returned the smile and looked at his labor of love.  It was beautiful and more than she had ever dreamed she would have.  Such was the life he had given her.  So much more than she ever dreamed she would have.  The cabinet stayed with them for as long as they lived.

The Jelly Jar Cabinet

The old latches

I love the hook latch!

Filling the Cabinet

Now that's probably not at all what happened or how this cabinet came to be, but its the story that I like to think about when I look at it and the food it displays.

Back to the granola.  I selected things from the cabinet, rolled oats, left over Kashi cereal, raw honey, reconstituted  Goji berries, some tropical trail mix fruit, dried cranberries and then I spied the jar of molasses.

I opened the molasses and smelled it.  It was thick and dark and rich.  I remembered that smell.  I poured the molasses into the mix and then wiped the edge of the jar with my finger.  That taste.  I remembered that taste.  I remembered long ago when I was a child, eating breakfast at home.  My dad would make biscuits.  We didn't have alot of money and molasses was cheap.  I can remember him opening up the biscuit, putting some butter on each side and then drizzling the molasses over it.  I could taste it in my mind.  What a wonderful moment that was.  A moment that transported me back to days and people long past.  What a great memory for me on this day.  And it all came from a jar of molasses found in the very back of the pantry. 

We are still waiting for the granola to finish cooking.  I'm sure it will taste just fine, but it wont compare to what I've already tasted this morning.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Protective Monday

I was awake so early this morning, watching the clock strike 4am. I moved to the computer finally and checked out the stock market, watching Gold hit the 1700 dollar mark. I wrote an elaborate piece about finance, government, the state of the union and then deleted it all after realizing I really don't know enough to form an opinion.  What I do know is that most of us that have our retirement invested in the market (but not Gold) are losing more money. That's all I really know.  The Whys and the Hows matter not.

I'm avoiding the mainstream news.  Only so much bad news a human can absorb and I already know the people of this world are behaving like fire ants in a freshly disturbed mound.  Anyone who knows these little creatures that live in large numbers, knows when the ant mound is disturbed there is a rapid and angry response.  And the bottom line is someones getting stung. I certainly don't need to see that to appreciate the dangers in my own yard or the world. So I'm giving the world a blind eye today.  It will have to be in turmoil without me as a spectator.

I started to post some of today's headlines to preserve some history for the day but quickly became overwhelmed with the enormity of it all.  The delete button was pressed.

I think its just time to hunker down in my sanctuary, plant some peach tree seeds and work on a hydroponic set up for the indoor herb garden. The latter I have no clue how to do but then we really don't know what we can do until we try.  That should be plenty for today. 

Wishing everyone a lovely, most productive day.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pillows and Sheets

Slumber.  I think the word aptly fits the body at complete and total rest.  There is nothing I enjoy more than the powering down of my own body.  The simple act of shutting off all input from this chaotic world and allowing my body, unconsciously, to do maintenance and restoration work is the essence of relief. In my opinion, slumber is one of the greatest gifts of being alive.

I have learned the immense value of crawling into my own bed.  Through my personal enlightenment, I came to realize that the time we spend parallel to the earth in the frame of our choice is worthy of attention and great detail.  After all, it is the one thing that awaits us at the end of each day.  Whether it is the close of another hot day or the end of another battle to stay warm against the cold of winter, slumber awaits.  It waits to for us to be still, to close our eyes and carry us far away from our world to places unknown.  We all know that moment, the moment when sleep has come to steal us and take us for a ride.  I call it the Grab.  Those moments when sleep attempts to take your hand but keeps losing its grip.  I can feel myself sliding away and returning, sliding away and returning until finally sleep takes a firm hold and off we go.  I love that part most for it is all I can remember of the moment I fall asleep.

I am not a dreamer.  I do not dream in color or take remembered trips of flight.  My journeys while sleeping are completely unknown to me save for the occasional dreams that make either no sense or scare me.  I do not feel robbed of the dream experience as I find them unprophetic and confusing.  My sleep is best without them.

Not too many years ago, I happened on a bed frame for sale.  It was one of my spontaneous purchases that never came with a moment of regret.  Until the frame arrived, my bed was a place to sleep.  Once it was here, my bed and my slumber developed detail.  As always and respecting my privacy, I have found a picture of my bed frame to share with you.  It is simply lovely.  It hastens me to it at the end of the day.

I soon realized the upgrade of sheets was in order.  First a set of 400 tc sheets, then 1200tc and now 1600 tc sheets adorn my bed.  The way I see things, I am spending a good deal of my life in bed trying to fall asleep, sleeping or trying to stay asleep.  I felt I should make this daily experience as pleasurable as possible.  This decision had zero regrets as well.

I sleep alone and that is when I'm happiest . I love having my bed all to myself.  I can lay perfectly still all night or thrash around seeking the perfect position, it makes no difference.  I am comfortable and there is no one to impede my movements. No fight for sheets or blankets, no elbows, no extra body heat (not always a bonus in winter but the cats keep me warm), its just me.  Sometimes you need to be alone in a space void of other humans.  Sometimes you just need silence.  After all, how can sleep come to steal you?

My final requirement for slumber is the second pillow.  It never lays next to mine, instead it is held.  I wrap my arms around it, close my eyes and fall asleep.  Perhaps it is my company, my companion through the night.  All I know is that sometime while asleep, I release the pillow and let it go along with whatever need I felt to hold it in the first place.

Slumber is my vacation, my escape, my respite.  And what is truly amazing is that everyone does it.  Everything living thing does it.  We all have our own unique ways of doing it, but we all must do it.  Its like eating and breathing.  It is our nature.  Its our gift.

It is now 7am and I so want to go back to bed!

Friday, August 5, 2011

When Spark Meets Drought

There are few words that scare people living in a drought more than the word fire.

Cell phones sound, emails fly and there is a mass communication about this one word.  The entire area around my town is a timber box.  The grass is long dead and dry, trees wilting under the oppressive daily heat. Temperatures today again reached 106 degrees.

Then we see smoke.  Your heart sinks and your stomach tightens.  A thousand thoughts pass through your mind.  You wonder, am I ready to evacuate my home?  Am I ready to surrender all I have to a fire?  Is this the day the drought and a spark change my life and my world?

With the radio scanners going, clinging to information, we wait.  We watch the sky to the north and the smoke that covers it.

Its so very hot.  I think about the men and women fighting a grass fire in 106 degree weather.  I wonder which way its moving.  I wonder who and what is in its path.

The drought will claim many victims as it progresses this year.  Animals, trees, crops, homes and so much more.  I'm not sure why mother nature has turned so cruel to our state.  I just know the cruelty is nearly unbearable.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Normalcy Bias

As you can see I'm compiling a Recipe page so that I can share the healthy recipes I find and actually prepare and like.  Nutrition is important if we truly want to stay out off of the medical treadmill.

I'm watching the stock market as well this morning. There are those that believe that the market will continue to sustain itself as well as the American economy.  I am not of that belief.  With the switch within the economy from the industrial revolution to the service industry as a nation, the loss of jobs and the inability to create jobs, I can not see our economy sustaining itself.  That is a concern.

With this year's flooding in the Midwest and the drought everywhere else, food production will be down.  Another concern.  This will give us several options as I see it.  We will either have less food availability,  higher prices for what is available or we will be dependent on foods imported from other countries.  I don't have much of confidence in products imported from China and many other countries do not adhere to the same safety standards we have set in place in the USA.  Either way we will be affected financially and nutritionally.

Many people I've talked to in casual conversations say "Oh, that's ridiculous. The stores are full of food and if they don't have enough food generated from this country, we can always find it from other countries.  I refuse to be one of those food hoarders."  There it is, a fine label for preparedness.  A label for those that prepare for the worst case scenario, be it man or nature.  A label for those that think ahead, strive for some sense of self sustainability.

My mom was not labeled.  She was cut from the cloth of the great depression.  I watched her learn to bake  her own bread as well as can and dehydrate foods.  She remembered what it was like to have to provide food for yourself.  She remembered that it was important to not depend on anyone unless you bartered for items and food.  She understood that you needed to know how to sew a shirt or dress and make a blanket with some yarn and a hook.  As she used to say, "You just never know whats going to happen".

The great depression was a different scenario for the people of this country compared to how it would be if we, God forbid, found ourselves in a similar situation today.  Back in those depression and dust bowl years, 90% of the American people knew how to live off the land and how to sustain themselves.  If we had to endure that same kind of depression now, only 10% have the skills it takes to survive on their own.  That does not create a pretty picture in my mind.  We are technology driven and comfort driven.  We have our homes, all kinds of  food in the stores and instant communication.  A world without those things would be quite the shock.  I heard it said once that most Americans suffer from what is called Normalcy Bias.  That being, if people have not experienced something, they don't believe it can happen.  We've never experienced a full depression so we don't believe it can happen.  We've never experienced an extended period of time when the soil has turned to dust and food is not available, therefore it cannot happen.

Nothing my parents taught me has gone to waste.  Not one idea, not one skill was without merit.  I listened to my grandparent and learned from those days as well.  Those generations did not suffer from Normalcy Bias.  They knew things, even bad things, could happen and they knew how to survive.

I've taken action for the past year to secure enough to sustain my family for a time when bad things happen. I encourage all that read this to do the same.  

To those that don't think that its important to be prepared in every way, they need only look to their own government websites that TELL them to be prepared.

And with that, its time to start building a greenhouse.  Winter is coming.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Alice Tilts The Mirror

Ever have one of those weird days?  I guess we all do.  Today was my turn.  It started slow and  normal and then took off  and fell into rabbit holes of things to do and deadlines to meet.  Now here it is almost 11pm and I'm sitting here typing instead of sleeping.

Today I saw the best in people and I saw joy and surprise.  I saw temperatures outside that were so hot that it was like walking around in an oven.  Today I cooked our dinner in a crock pot so as to not overheat the kitchen.  Today I saw beautiful flowers delivered along with some pink balloons.  Today was a protein shake for breakfast kind of day. 

Today was just one of those day where you want to find a quiet moment and make it last as long as you can.  I finally ended up picking up my old crochet hook, grabbing some yarn and started chaining.   I let my thoughts go to winter and the cold that is sure to come.  I guess we do those kinds of things when its so hot and dry and summer seems to be endless.  We think about the opposites.  I remember doing the same thing last winter when I was so tired of being cold.

So today will come to an end and tomorrow we will see what Alice throws at us from the Looking Glass.  Hopefully she will be in a kind and gentle mood.