Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

V: Joy to the World!

This holy season finds "C" and I both facing challenges in our families. These tribulations include relationship difficulties, serious illness of extended family, death of a long-time neighbor and close friend a week ago, and loss of job to a family member.

My oldest daughter just came home from the hospital after a two day stay for pregnancy complications. So instead of wrapping gifts and baking cookies, I've been caring for her three children and my youngest daughter's new infant son "Jack", as the babysitter arrangements didn't work out. So, weariness covers me like a heavy woolen cloak, but I do have a turkey to roast tomorrow, and a few sweets to prepare with grandaughter, Julia.

"C" has a house full of extended family visiting from the East coast. I know she is enjoying cooking and visiting with them all. Like me, she has family who are facing difficult times, and her soon-to-be ex continues to cause grief, but we both place our hope in something beyond ourselves. I would like to share this favorite Scripture with you this day. Our "Christmas card" to you!

"For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared in the sight of all people, a Light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to Your people Israel."
Luke 2:30-32

This Christmas season may you find your hope, your peace, your joy in Him. Blessings to you and yours. V.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

C: Entitlements, or Who’s Training Whom?

Yes, I understand that the dogs are spoiled. I do try to keep the separation clear between homo sapiens and canine in this household. Unlike V’s “Dudley” or my sister-in-law’s “Sophie,” my dogs do not presume to sleep on my bed. But they each have their own bed at my bedside. I’m not sure that’s particularly “canine” but, still, it is on the floor.

My dogs both sit beautifully on command and obey the basics. I make sure to order them around every so often just to remind them. “Stay!” I will command, for no good reason. And they both dutifully do, albeit with rolling eyes sometimes as though they are humoring me; but they do it. Rarely do they give any offense whatsoever. Still, the title of “Pack Leader” sometimes seems to hang in life’s gray area around here. Sometimes we can blame that on others….

Take the couch, for instance. Scout is eleven years old. The first nine years of her life as a dog in the house were spent contentedly on the floor. You know, where dogs live? It never-even-crossed-her-mind to get on furniture. Then, when my in-laws had to move away, they could not take their beloved dogs. Sport, their larger dog, was euthanized, a sad task that had been put off for a while. Sport was having major joint and other health issues. Putting him down was something that had to be done, and their move forced that issue.

Perky was their miniature fox terrier. She was old, too, but she moved in with me when her family moved to a senior complex that does not allow dogs (go figure). This was pre-Chili, when Scout and I were on our own. Perky was never under any illusion about pack leadership; she claimed and walked in that authority—in a sweet way, mind you. It’s just that if Perky wanted something, she got it, by hook or crook. She taught Scout a thing or two…watch and learn. The couch was the first lesson.

One thing about Shetland Sheepdogs is their intensity. Because they watch everything so closely, waiting on their opportunity to be of service, their little faces seem to speak their thoughts. This is her "I wish you wouldn't take my picture" face.

You should have seen Scout’s face when Perky first leapt up on the couch to lie down for a snooze (so much better than the hard floor). Scout’s face registered sheer amazement. You could almost hear her thinking, “Wow! I didn’t know dogs could get up there!!” So, she joined Perky. Two dogs on the couch. And, believe me, once that genie is out of the bottle, there’s no putting it back in. Scout has remained an evening couch dog ever since, long after Perky has departed this world.

But the thing that has me writing this post is a recent development and it revolves around one of my dogs’ favorite English-language words: “Treat!” The sound of that word will perk these babies up like no other. When it is spoken, they immediately stop what they are doing and prance joyfully to the cabinet where the dog treats are stored. And, as embarrassing as it is right now for me to admit it, there is quite a selection to be had. Just look at these "Canine Carryouts." Think they make them in those fun T-bone shapes for the dogs??? I don't think so....

Now, in my defense, let me say that the array of treats has grown out of my kind consideration for little Scout. As she has aged, I have noticed that hard biscuits sometimes seem difficult for her to manage, and she cares not one whit for the rawhide chews that Chili loves to gnaw on. Concerned about this, I began shopping for varieties that would allow Scout to enjoy her treat time as much as Chili does. But here’s what is happening now:

We go to the treat door, which is eye level for the dogs. (Probably a bad tactic, right there, huh?). The door is opened, and their long snouts shove right in, greedily sniffing for the treats they know are stored there. “Sit!” I gruffly command; and they both move back onto their haunches, awaiting the favor of a tasty morsel. I pull the treat-of-the-day out and dispense one to each. Chili always happily takes whatever is offered, carrying it into the breakfast room to enjoy. But then comes the vignette that has me re-thinking relationships around here.

Sometimes Scout, like Chili, courteously takes her treat and goes off to enjoy. But, more often than not, she exercises another option: discrimination, of the gourmand kind. She will carefully sniff the treat and then sit back a little and look up at me, her eyes saying, “No, thank you. I am not in the mood for that today. Please offer another.” And, here’s the kicker: I do!! Instead of saying, “Take it or leave it, mutt!” I return the treat to its packaging and search for one that pleases. Sometimes the second choice is a charm; sometimes it takes me three times to please. Some days I believe a silver tray might be in order...

Now, you might think that Scout just has her favorites and perhaps, I should stick with those to make things easier. Nay, not that simple. Scout likes all our varieties of treats, with the exception of the hard rawhide mentioned above. It’s just that some days she’s just not in the mood for dog biscuits, notwithstanding their “oven-baked goodness,” preferring Pupperoni, instead. And, then, there are days when Canine Carryouts (usually a favorite) just aren’t the ticket; “May I have a ‘Beggin’ Strip,’ instead, please?” Of course, she can’t really say this—I have to scramble to read her face and mind to come up with the treat that pleases.

What have I come to? Is it age that has brought me to this? Will I soon be wearing a red hat and toting a little Chihuahua in a purple sweater around? Yes, I do realize that these observations are not really about my dogs…they are about me.


PS – It cannot go without saying that when my dogs visit Mother-in-law (daily while I am at work), they are always given a treat. MIL keeps big dog biscuits for Chili and little ones for Scout. But there is NO VARIETY!! (Horrors!). And Scout does not pull her “No, thank you” routine on MIL. They both seem excited and pleased with her offering…talk about pack leader. I’m afraid to think about what this says about the pack at my house…

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

C: God in Nature...A Sermon for You

If you have read very many of my posts, you know what a blessing my dogs are to me. When I was sent this video by a friend, I thought "Wow! What a sermon is that!" I had to share:


Sunday, December 6, 2009

C: It's You and Me, Baby.

This past week the Turner Movie Classics showed 84 Charing Cross Road, and my son and I happened on it shortly after it began. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this movie, nor do I ever tire of it. My son, his first time around, was enchanted, as well. The acting is superb (Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, Dame Judi Dench), and the story draws me in like a sponge…and is a true story.

Here’s the gist: Helene Hanff, a writer in New York, pre-WWII, goes in search of hard-to-find volumes by writing to a second-hand bookstore in England—at 84 Charing Cross Road. Frank is the manager of the store and, over twenty years of mail orders and written discourse, he and Helene grow to be very close, that friendship circle including his staff as well. As you watch this movie, you watch this little group of friends through the war and you see the events of their lives unfold through letters back and forth across the Atlantic. And the movie itself is so very stylish. Here's a taste:

If you are looking for spy action and car chases, skip this. But if you want a true, wonderful story with deep character development and a story about the best kind of friendship, you will want to brew some tea and sit down to this movie.

As I sat watching it this time, marveling at the long-distance relationship that developed between the two main characters, I could not help but think of you, my friends in the blogosphere. It was amazing when the next day I visited Willow Manor and found that she had watched the same showing (again) and had been sitting there thinking of blogging as well.

In the case of Helene and Frank, they never met personally. And, yet, they became the closest of friends. Each was dear to the other, and it is a fascinatingprogression of the movie to see that relationship deepen and the longing each had to actually be in the presence of the other. Never realized.

There is one (for me) pivotal scene, where Helene reads from John Donne of our connection with one another
All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and His hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to another.

I believe Willow Manor is right; blogging is the pen pal method of today. It is possible to come to know people with whom you have never had the pleasure of keeping company. And, it’s funny, but after reflecting, I think my blog friends may see my “essence” even more clearly than my nearer friends do. When I write my posts, there is the comfort of an air of anonymity. I am not obsessed with keeping my identity secret, but I do write at large under the pseudonym, “C.” This gives me a little more leash and, I believe, it gives my readers insight into who I really am.

I have thought in the past that blogging is a method of re-inventing myself. On my blog, I can hone the qualities I want to present and just not mention those other irritating parts of me that might be evident to those who sit in the same room. But I have come to think that, rather than re-invention, what I feel when posting is a certain freedom. It’s really “me set free,” rather than a different me.

And this ramble is to say this: I do feel connected with you. I do feel that there are those of you whom I “know” but have never met. There are some of you who, when I read one of your posts, I think, “Yes, that sounds just like ________!” And this about people whom I have never met. Some of you live on the other side of the globe (what a blessing to have that connection!!) and it is not likely I will ever meet you personally. But meet you I have.

The one time I have actually met with a blogger friend, Add Humor and Faith..., she was exactly as V and I had grown to know her. It just bolsters me in my belief that the connection of friendship need not be physical, but can be nurtured long distance. And what a blessing to be able to connect in the way we do on the internet.

Go watch 84 Charing Cross Road. See if it doesn’t remind you of “us!” Blessings to you all. C.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

C: Something to Anticipate!

Knowing I would love it, my brother-in-law sent me this link. And, indeed, I enjoyed this trailer immensely. Watch it all the way to the end--I love the final scene!!

These few images from this documentary made me think about how we are all so alike and yet our cultures approach things so differently (a baby drinking from a stream??? I love it!!). I cannot wait to see what this film can teach me!

I think this comes out in April 2010...I'll be waiting!! C

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

C: A Christmas Craft Tradition to Share

I am not especially "crafty." I love arts and crafts (don't all children?), but to call me "artistic" or "talented" craftwise is a stretch. Still, our creative juices seek outlets, don't they? Whether they are very high-grade creativities or not. And I find that it is the crafty activities that lend themselves to capturing personal family memories.

When my son was small I developed the habit of keeping up with significant events through the year. I have used a calendar for this or a list in my Bible where I would see it frequently and add to it as things occurred. Along toward Christmas, I would take myself to the craft store, buy the largest plain ornament I could find, and white, green and red paint pens. At the top of the ornament, I printed my son's name and the year. Then all over the ornament I would print the "happenings" of the year.

These are not the most beautiful ornaments we have. But every year when we decorate the tree, my son stops to read each of his memory ornaments and remember the good times and bad. "This is the year I starred in the Peter Pan play!" "Oh, I remember Chuck falling from the horse and breaking his arm!" "Look! This is the year we went to San Francisco!"

I thought I would share this with you because it is a cheap, easy (even I can do this) way to grab memories for years to come. It is a lot of "bang" for a little buck. And, just think: when your child grows up and leaves home, he can take with him a box full of memories to hang on his own tree! And, if I ever get any grandkids (!) I plan to continue this tradition for them! C

PS - Yes, it did occur to me to add pictures of my own "memory balls," but they are STILL in the attic! We are planning a special tree-trimming night when my niece and nephews arrive, so the ornaments won't come down for another week or so...so just close your eyes and imagine! You get the picture...
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