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, November 23, 2011

C: The Easy Way Out?

uphill battle To say that V and I have been challenged by life lately is an understatement.  She is totally consumed by family illness and other family distractions; I’m having trouble sleeping because of my workload. 

When I come home from work at the end of a long day, my mind really wants brain candy, so I turn to “Top Chef” or any of the mindless offerings of TV (some of which I am embarrassed to admit to watching).  Let me just say that if it is “mindless” you are looking for, TV has a lot to offer.

Lately, however, I have been enjoying Oprah Winfrey’s “Lifeclass” series. Oprah is splicing in some clips from her many shows, having guests and audience participation to explore what lessons we can all learn from these episodes.  Some of them are quite good.  I have actually been congratulating myself that this, at least, has some substance as opposed to some of the mind-numbing things I have been known to watch at the end of a day.

Last weekend as I was doing some bedroom cleaning, I turned this show on.  This episode featured one of the editors of oprah Oprah Magazine, “Beth,” who is also a life coach.  Beth told of an experience she had while “out” during a surgery.  She did not die or nearly die, but she had some of that out-of-body experience you hear so many of the near-death people relate,  She “floated” above the operating room, watching her doctors.  She was bathed in light, which brought utter and complete happiness.  She hated leaving it and came away with the “understanding” that this complete happiness was the way she (and all of us) should feel all the time.  She “understood” that it was our own doing that our happiness in this life was so diminished, and she set her life’s path to exploring why that is and what she could do to avoid that diminishment.

She has decided that “truth” is the key.  She says that any time she shades the truth (even, “I like your hair…” when you don’t) diminishes her happiness in a way that she can feel.

So the rest of the segment was about lies we tell ourselves (even when we don’t know we’re lying to ourselves) and to others and the way that destroys a happy life.

The clear theme:  If you stick to the truth and only the truth, you will live in the bliss for which you were created.  If you are not living in heavenly bliss, it is because of untruth—even that of which you are not conscious.  You must, therefore, discover what secrets you are keeping from yourself so that you can be totally truthful and, therefore, totally happy.  Voila!

Well, it is a hypnotic proposition, and I literally sat on the edge of the bed, thinking about what lies I was living in which were diminishing the ecstasy for which I was truly destined…because, Lord knows, that is diminished at the moment. 

As I fell toward that message, suddenly Elvie began jumping up and down on my shoulder.  Remember Elvie?  I have written about him, here—he’s the “Little Voice,” the one that rides around whispering in your ear, and he’s always right.  My son and I use his initials “L V” to refer to him as “Elvie.” 

And what Elvie was saying was this:  “What about those people in Africa where some guerilla-type soldiers come in and hack people to death in front of their children’s eyes?  What shades of untruth was it that got in the way of their happiness?

And, “Gee, could it be that if only V would get truly honest with herself, then her daughter would be healthier and V could, therefore, be happier?”

And suddenly I saw myself, having been entranced by the allure of the message I was hearing, like this depiction of poor little Mowgli hypnotized by the scheming Kaa (first couple of minutes—although the rest is classic, too!):

Now, let me be clear: I believe we should be truthful.  I totally believe that lies we tell ourselves can hinder our happiness and success. I believe that lying (however small) sometimes can cause havoc in our lives, and we should avoid it.

But, c’mon! 

As I sat there, awakened by Elvie, wondering about my own readiness to fall into this New Age message, I also wondered why?  I believe it is a search for the easy way out.  I would LOVE to find a formula to life’s happiness, where I could be assured that if only I would follow that formula, life’s unpleasant challenges would dissipate.

But I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

No, instead, I think I’ll try to remember that I should not fall for “easy fixes” to cure any discontent or unhappiness I may have.  I simply do not think that someone in a third world country who is watching their child die of starvation because of drought needs to look inside herself to find what lies she is stuffing.  Let’s face it, life just brings difficulty.  Yes, we exacerbate them by our own actions, but sometimes we have nothing to do with the misfortune that comes our way.

And, I think that (I’m speaking of myself, here, as much as anyone else) only too-fat—from-too-much people who have the luxury of time (not to mention a steady supply of potable water) are sitting around seriously wondering if getting honest with oneself is the key to happiness.  That scene is probably not happening very often in, say, Haiti.

thanksgiving So, that’s a nice Thanksgiving message, isn’t it?  Maybe we should accept the challenges that come our way, do our best to overcome them with honesty and truth but also remember that struggles—and, yes, unhappiness—come with life.  There isn’t an easy way around it. 

Let’s concentrate on our blessings this season and derive happiness there.  C

P.S. – And about that “total honesty” thing…I am in/from the South.  If you ask me about your hair, I am probably going to tell you I like it whether I do or not.  Sorry, It’s the Southern way.  Guess I am not destined for heavenly bliss…

Thursday, November 10, 2011

V: The Important Things in Life: Update & New Development***



***We learned this morning since I wrote this post last night that my daughter has a blood clot in her arm. Please pray for it to resolve safely.

For those of you who drop in here from time to time, you may know that my oldest daughter has been ill for some time.  She suffers from serious chronic health problems and recently discovered she is pregnant.  YES, it was a surprise!!!  Because of her health issues, it was not the plan, and she is in the hospital again—this time  because of a serious blood infection she contracted from her IV port.  I have left my job for the time being to care for her children.  All of your prayers are appreciated very much! 


I have some important decisions to make in the near future.  I’ve felt the need to keep working for financial security (like being able to have  health insurance and not  be a financial burden to my children in my retirement years)—Hubby is also reluctant for me to give it up.  If I leave my job (of which there are scarce few in these parts –will I regret it later?


Bag Lady Fear

Yes, don’t miss the caption at the top of the cartoon:  “There’s a little bit of the bag lady fear in all of us!”  “C” and I have often joked about this very thing!  Still, I have to confess:  My lack of faith disturbs me.

  I love  helping take care of my grandchildren; shopping for groceries, driving kids around, etc., but it’s hard after I’ve put in a full days work.  My job involves working with disabled teenagers  in a school district which is struggling financially, has been cutting staff left and right.  Truth be told, I’m struggling also with the stress and pressure that has increased in my job.  My job is much more difficult than a few years ago! Even if it were not for the situation with my daughter’s health, I would find it difficult. Also, my daughter’s health problems are chronic—they are not going away.  There’s just a lot to consider, but  I keep thinking—what will matter most years from now?

So, I’m throwing a line out there to the blogging neighborhood.  Any ideas out there?  I’d love to hear and again, I’m so very grateful for all your thoughts and prayers!


Monday, October 31, 2011

C: Harried

hectic This is just the time for V and me to feel harried, I guess.  Her last post was about the same theme as this one: too much to do!

I’ve been blessed with company over the past couple of weeks, and my business is so hectic that I have been feeling like the old woman who lived in the shoe with so many kids tugging on her all the time.

I am beginning to liken myself to this:


Yes, my job is like herding cats.  For one thing, there are never enough hours in the day.  For another, my clients have lately been tending to veer out of the herd on their own—not safe—and have to be “rounded up,” back under control.  It just seems like craziness is more rampant lately.

I guess this is either good or bad, depending on your point of view: good for my business but bad for those folks who need a divorce lawyer!

Even V and I have not had time to get together, and I miss it.  Hoping to rectify that soon and being able to post more frequently.

Happy tails, er, I mean “Happy Trails!”  C.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

V: Sometimes Life Just Gets in the Way

Tyranny of the urgent 

Sometimes life just gets in the way of what I want to do.  Like post here more often!  Everything’s been so crazy lately that I find very little time to even visit the blogging neighborhood anymore, which I’ve discovered is a major way I chill and relax!
Years ago “C” gave me a little book about the Tyranny of the Urgent.  I need to reread it!  Seriously, it would make a great post—when I have time of course!  Sometimes we get so caught up in the “urgent”, we lose sight of the “important”—or what we are called to do.  Believe it or not every worthy endeavor though it is fine in and of itself,  may NOT be what “we”  or “I” am called to do.  It gives me pause to consider when my family needs me so much and my energies are so divided due a job I think I need financially.   Just being honest here! 

 ***UPDATE:  Eldest daughter has been hospitalized for a few days.  Your prayers would be much appreciated.

Eldest daughter is ill  and I can’t go into detail now—She has chronic conditions complicated by pregnancy.  We expect she will get better soon, but she has children she homeschools and they are all involved in extracurricular activities such as guitar lessons, homeschool groups, etc.  I’m trying to help out with meals, driving to guitar lessons, etc., but I’m also helping youngest daughter who is a single mother with a two year old son.  I pick him up  3-4 days a week and keep him until she gets home about 6:30.  I’m TIRED people!!!  Youngest daughter and her little one have been slowly moving in with us the past few weeks, but  they will be here full time beginning tonight.   The other day when I picked “J” up from daycare after work, he refused to walk to the car and when I finally got him there he arched his back screaming his head off.  I could NOT get him into that car seat!  Suddenly I had a flashback to my two year old son from almost 27 years ago behaving the same way.  I thought I had “retired” from that nonsense!  Oh well, he is so precious and cute that I forgive him!


Oh yes, little “J” has a new Papillon puppy named “Desi”.  A boy and his puppy—what could be cuter?


Youngest daughter recently was in a fashion show wearing a design made by her friend, local designer, Amber Taylor.


I love the dress and it was perfect for her. 

Yes, they were all glammed up!

This little model wore a design by Punky Monkey!

It was a beautiful October evening with a large crowd in the historic Hillcrest neighborhood!  Loved all the street vendors and this booth with all the vintage, kitschy stuff!  I was a good girl and didn’t buy a thing—except a chili dog!


Hubby spent most of his time checking out the dogs in attendance—when he wasn’t snapping shots of “the prettiest girl in the show”!

Interesting dog here!

Whew, it’s over!  Yes, she was nervous!


Well, off  to face another harried week!  Happy tails to you!

The End.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

C: Personal Introspection on the Last Post

My_Story_01a My last post about domestic violence was a report—passing on information I learned in a recent class and some of my observations from my law practice.  But in the course of discussing that post with V, she jolted me into a realization that this subject had touched my life and is, perhaps, touching it still.

As most of you know, V and I have been friends for 57 years (oh, Lordy!), and we lived right next door to each other as children.  I moved away when I was about 8, although our parents had the great, good foresight to be certain we saw each other frequently (this friendship has been a life-saver for me in these later years). 

As some of you also know, I grew up with a brilliant but alcoholic and womanizing lawyer father.  I loved him very much and miss him even now, but he was a mess, and he brought that mess down on his wife and children.  He would often come home very late at night, reeking of alcohol, women would call our home…you get the picture.  My brother and I grew up in this kind of turmoil.

I can remember being quite young (5-ish?) and awakening in the night and hearing the sounds of a party.  My parents occasionally had parties in their parents fighting home, tucking my brother and me in bed as the guests arrived.  I knew the sounds of gay conversation and laughter and the tinkling of ice in the ubiquitous high-ball glasses.  On this particular night I vividly recall that it was the ice tinkling that jolted me awake and then the loud party voices brought me to full consciousness. 

I remember my puzzlement, thinking, “Are mom and dad having a party?  I didn’t know about it…” and walked down the hallway to check it out.

Well, it was not party.  The tinkling ice sounds were of glass breaking.  The “party voices” were argument.  It was a full-blown fight.  That’s all I remember—I don’t remember their reaction to me.  I don’t remember how that night resolved.  But I sure remember the episode.  Which brings me to…

As V and I discussed my last post, she brought up another incident.  “I remember that awful night when you, your mother and R (brother) had to come to my house—and it was snowing outside!” 

I have absolutely no recollection of this, to V’s astonishment.  She went on to say that my mother had come across the snowy yards with us two kids, banging on the door for help.  She well recalls my mother lifting her shirt to show her parents the bruises up and down her back.

I was astonished!  I have no recollection of this.  V was shocked at this because it made such an impression on her.

The next day my brother and I were visiting at the office.  He and I practice law together so we are together daily (our sister is a paralegal there, so all us siblings are together every day).  He asked about my continuing education classes, and I told him some of the domestic snowy night violence statistics I had learned.  Imagine my surprise when he said:

Gee, C, remember when Mom had to take us to V’s house in the middle of the night?  I was just little, but I can remember the police coming and we had to leave to go to V’s.  At first I remember that it was very odd and fun to walk in the snow with no shoes….and then when I saw the bruising on Mom…”

When he mentioned the bruising, I got a flash picture in my mind of my mother’s bruised back.  That’s all: just a flash of my mother’s bruises.

Here’s the point:  I was there during that episode, no doubt.  And, no doubt, this was a traumatic experience for us all.  It made an impression on V and R that they carry with them today. Where is the impression on me?  

Oh, I know the impression is there, alright—somewhere in my spirit.  For me this is an up-close-and-repression personal illustration of how children (and adults) can repress things that are so hurtful and traumatic that it’s just easier not to know about them.  It makes me wonder how this has played a part in shaping my life (gives me yet another excuse for how screwed-up I am).

It is a deep lesson, I think, that all parents ought to take to heart.  Don’t do things that cause so much pain to your kids that they can’t even bear to know about it…and there is very little that is more painful to a child than one parent hurting another.  Even verbal battles are damaging.  It rocks their foundation. 

As V and I talked, we commented on the fact that both of us are children of domestic violence…I’ll let V tell her own story when she’s ready, as it has a different twist than my own.  But it just lets you know that the problem is rampant in our society and the effects are deep and shadowy.

Please take heed.  C.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

C’s Social Commentary – Domestic Violence

Domestic_Violence_Car_Magnet_Ribbon If you’ve followed this blog long, you know that I cannot help but offer social commentary.

I’ve spent the last two days in continuing education.  One of our speakers was on domestic violence.  I am somewhat an expert from decades of helping women escape and trying to convince them that they should escape.  It is such a problem in our society that I think it is helpful to review the statistics.  They shock even me.  Just look at these statistics for the US:

  • According to the U.S. Surgeon General, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States. 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women.
  • 35% of all emergency room calls are a result of domestic violence.  It is the largest single reason for ER visits by women.
  • Of those who abuse their partner, well over 65% also physically and/or sexually abuse the children.
  • EVERY day .....4 women and 3 children in the US die as a result of domestic abuse. 
  • Victimization by domestic violence is usually not a single event. If a woman is abused once, her risk of further abuse is high, and this abuse often becomes not only more frequent over time, but more severe.
  • On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country EVERY DAY. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim 1993-9, October 2001.)
  • A child's exposure to the father abusing the mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. (American Psychological Association, Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, 1996.)
  • One in five female high school student reports bei346489-domestic-violence-calloutng physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. - Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), August 2001

These statistics are from domesticpeace.com, which has some very good information and links to resources. 

I just want to add a few things that the speaker mentioned, which I believe noteworthy:

There is a cycle to domestic violence.  Women will almost universally return to their abusers at some point after “official recognition” of the abuse.  The average?  Nine returns before she finally leaves.

Because of this, domestic abuse counselors offer “safety plans” to try to keep women as safe as possible during these universal returns.  These are chilling to me….listen to this, which is my close paraphrase to what the counselor had to say:

We tell our women not to run out into the garage or to the kitchen.  There are too many sharp or heavy objects there which can be used as weapons.  They are risky places to be.  We believe the safest room to be the living room because there are fewer weapons there, and there is access to an escape route.

DO NOT lock yourself in the bathroom.  If you have been one who has huddled behind a locked bathroom door, it is a very bad sign.  The bathroom is not safe because he will eventually come in on you if he wants to, and there is usually no escape route for you.  Also, you have no awareness of what is going on outside the door.  If things die down out there, how do you know if he’s just sitting there waiting on you to open the door?


Now, my two-cents’ worth:

I echo the counselor: domestic violence rarely (ever?) gets better.  It only gets worse in my estimation.  Someone in our class asked this question, “Have  you ever seen someone ‘reconcile’ with an abuser successfully, say through counseling?'”  Her answer: “It’s possible—but I can honestly say that I have never seen that happen.”

Neither have I.  What I have seen is abusers move on to another relationship where they did not appear to abuse, and I don’t know why that is.  This is not to excuse abuse—by any means—but perhaps some relationships are just a bad mix.  But if you’re in a “bad mix” relationship, you owe it to yourself to get out of it.  And, if you have a child, I submit that you have no choice, whatsoever, but to leave.

Finally, here’s what I tell my Mom clients in an abusive relationship:

When you birthed a child you gave up certain rights and privileges.  This life is no longer about your sole happiness—it is about the welfare of that baby you brought into the world.  Do you want your little girl to grow up to suffer abuse?  Do you want your little boy to grow up to disrespect women? Or would you prefer to have him grow up adjusted and be able to live a normal, happy life and make some woman happy in their marriage, providing a harmonious home for your grandchildren?

You need to think about this, because the longer you expose your little one to the fighting (yes, including verbal abuse and discord) or violence, the more engrained these patterns become to your children as norms.

And, hedomestic-violence-San-Bernardino-care’s another astounding fact: If you leave your child in this stressful situation (even just hearing you scream at each other through their bedroom wall) it can have PHYSICAL effects on their brains’ development.  I’m not making this up—too little space to go into this here,  but if you leave your child in this situation, you are affecting the hardwiring of his brain and his development.  It leads to all kinds of problems.

Remember, Mommy, your child’s fate is largely in your hands.  Who else does she/he have to rely on?  Please provide her/him with a peaceful home in which to grow up.

And, one last word for the women reading this who say the phrases below:

  • We’re different—our relationship is not like those others (for one of a large variety of reasons given);
  • I can handle this.  I know when to get out and when I can deal with him;
  • It’s partially my fault—I pushed his buttons.
  • He’s sorry—he loves me—it won’t happen again.

Well, let me say these things:  You are no different, honey.  Almost every domestic victim says those things above (counselor mentioned this, too).  If you have an abusive relationship, don’t wait nine times to leave.  Leave NOW.  You owe it to yourself, and if you have a child, you owe it to him/her ‘cause it ain’t about you and your abuser any more—it’s about that baby.  C

Sunday, September 11, 2011

C: Pet Peeve—Diaper-Whiner Dads

RANTWARNING One of the perks of being a blogger is having an outlet to vent about one’s pet peeves in hopes there is an audience.  Better than screaming to yourself.  Combine that with a day on the lawn tractor, which leads to even more over-thinking than usual, and you have a full blown rant on your hands.

The other day a friend, speaking of the father of her child, said, “Jo-Jo just does not change dirty diapers.  He doesn’t like wet ones, either, but he absolutely refuses to change the dirty ones.  It makes him retch” 

Oh, my.  This kind of thing just sends me into orbit, for it is a sign of something deeper—an infantile man.  And a bully.  Let me explain.

Jo-Jo happens to be a great outdoorsman.  He would stand over a deer he had just shot and watch the last lights of life ebb away.  He would then string up the still-warm body, slit it open, allowing the guts to spill out, and lasciviously grin at his triumph.

But he claims to have too-weak a stomach to perform some basic act of nurture and love for his helpless child?  You know, the baby who relies on others for everything—every.little.thing?  You know, the one who ought to look to his parents (both of them) to willingly and lovingly take good care of him/her?  Da-da’s stomach is too weak for this?


I’m not buying it.  Not even a little.  There’s something else at platantrumy.  I  submit it is the following:

Infantilism.  This is a man pitching a little bit of a tantrum to avoid doing a little something he doesn’t want to do.  Dirty diapers were never the highlight of my day, either, but c’mon.

Selfishness.  Goes hand-in-hand with the above.

Bullying.  The purpose of his little tantrum?  To get his wife (mother, grandmother, aunt…any sensible female who happens to be around) to do HIS JOB.  Yes, HIS JOB as a parent. 

Do not put up with this stuff—not even a little bit.  If he’s gonna be “Dad,” he needs to be “Dad.”  Okay?

And if he’s the type to let his little loved one lie there in a dirty diaper because handy females won’t cave to his bullying or because there doesn’t diaper3_f happen to be one around, then he is something much, much worse:  He’s a child neglecter.  He is not worthy to watch this kid.  In fact, you need to start distancing yourself, because this is a bad, bad omen for other areas of your life.  This is a selfish man, and don’t you ever forget it.  One who refuses the care of his own little child is seriously selfish.

For all his mid-life-crisis scumbagness, I must say that my husband never, once, balked at taking care of our baby.  He was as eager as I was to see to it that our little son had a dry, clean bottom and was comfortable in every way he could be.  Anyone with any different attitude needs to hang his head in shame.No_Bully_Zone

And you women out there!  If I hear you speak of this with a little “wink-wink, aren’t men just so silly” in your simpering voice, you need to know  I’m gunning for you even more.  Do not put up with this foolishness.  Not one second.  It’s an attempt to bully you or something worse.  And take note of this character attribute and watch for it to pour out in other areas.  If he’ll do it to his own helpless infant, then…

Now, if Jo-Jo ever reads this (he’ll have to be shown, which is just fine with me), I know what he’ll say.  “I don’t give a rip what she thinks.”  I know that, but you need to know: 

I’ve got your number bully-dude.”

So there.      C

Monday, August 22, 2011

C: Kitty Wars

Fifteen or so years ago my husband and I ran a boarding stable for horses.  This was to defray the expense of our horse habit—not sure it defrayed any costs, really, but it did provide us with lots of horse-nut friends.  We had “real jobs,” so our stable was a you-care-for-your-own-horse facility.  This meant that most everyone was out there every day; that, of course, meant that we all became fast friends.

This picture ibarnhallway3s similar to our barn.  It was specifically a horse barn with 28 stalls.  It was old but serviceable and time-tested.  I loved walking through, seeing our contented equines with their heads poked over their stall doors.

Part of our barn family was the cat population.  Through the middle of the barn was a raised (not quite a “loft”) concrete-floor where hay was stored.  From this section we could throw hay down into the hay racks of two rows of stalls.  This huge hay expanse made a great kitty heaven, and we sure did not mind the fact that the mouse population was kept down by their presence.  These cats just “materialized.”  They also just disappeared from time-to-time, and we knew that the coyotes that would lurk about the place at night were a constant dangecat-being-friendly-with-horsesr to them.

The cats were friends to our horses, and I have seen many a scene of affection between the species, similar to this.  

V and her family were out at the barn a lot—V’s oldest had a mare with us.  She and I (mostly V) would occasionally take some of the females in to be spayed.  It seemed a never-ending battle and, truly, it began to seem like the kiss of death.  It became a running joke that those we selected for the operation were either soon run over by some car or just disappeared like so many before them.  Neutering the males seemed like a lost cause, too—there was always another tomcat down the road to impregnate our cats.  So, we soon gave the population control thing up.

Two cats who stand out in my memory were sisters, tortoise-shell cats like this picture, here.  We called them “Daphne” and “Camou,” which was  a tortoise shell cat reference to her camouflage-like pattern. They were difficult to tell apart, and were almost always seen together.  I suppose that it should have been no surprise that they turned up pregnant at the same time.

Daphne was the first to have her kittens.  We knew about the litter in the hay.  On the day they were born, I spied Daphne moving her four kittens, one-by-one down the hallway.  I know that mother cats do this frequently, seeking a safe place, so I did not think much about it until I spotted her less than half an hour later going back the opposite direction with a kitten in her mouth.  I began to pay attention.

What I noticed was that when Daphne was moving away from the originalcat carrying kitten 1 site of the litter, she seemed noticeably bigger than when she was going back toward it….it dawned on me: Still pregnant, Camou was moving her sister’s kittens.  And Daphne was bringing them right back.

All afternoon these sisters moved kittens, and I did not know quite what to do but watch the drama play out.  I did find where Camou was taking them, and I would check periodically.  Sometimes there would be a kitten or two llitter of kittensying there.  Sometimes there would be none.  Daphne would take spells when she nursed what kittens were in her nest.

Finally, later than night Camou had her own litter in her own bed.  You might think that having her own four kittens would satisfy this mothering urge, but no—she seemed to have grown to love the first litter, too.    The moving started up again.

We at the barn were all aware of it and somewhat stressed out about it.  Finally everything settled down.  All eight kittens ended up in a big pile in the hay together.  Both sister-mamas were right in there with them, lying giant litter of kittens there nursing them all, showing them off happily when we would come to check on them.

As these kittens grew, we never really knew who belonged to whom.  I wonder if these mother/aunt cats knew?  I wonder if it mattered at all? I think not. 

I miss my barn days.  C

Saturday, August 20, 2011

C: Child from Another Planet? A Bright Spot in the World.

smiley face Yes, every once in a while God does something that stands out in the midst of the mundane world…
I’m probably the last person on this planet to know about her, but I was flipping channels last weekend and happened upon a clip of this child on a PBS fundraiser.  I had never heard of her, but sat in total disbelief—slack-jawed, really. 
Look at this video—hang in there through the America’s Got Talent promo stuff—you won’t regret it:
Jackie Evancho.  She is ten years old. TEN YEARS OLD!  I did a little Googling on her and found some interviews.  What poise!
The story goes that two years ago—you, know, back when she was 8?—her mother took her to see The Phantom of the Opera.  She was enchanted with the music, got the soundtrack and began singing around the house.  Mom thought she sounded pretty good. 
Ya think?
I guess the rest is gonna be history.
Jackie says that she does not perform any special rituals before each performance—only to thank God each time for her gift and ask that He be with her on stage…
It was her special dream to sing with the great Sarah Brightman, the evancho and brightmanoriginal “Christine” in The Phantom of the Opera.  Here is a picture of the together during their  performance.  If you go to youtube you can see many clips of Jackie, including this performance.  Believe me, she more than holds her own with Brightman.
It is, indeed, like God decided to do something really special with this child.  She seems the total package, doesn’t she?  There are very few people more beautiful physically than she and with that amazing talent…her parents must vacillate between pride/joy and abject fear at such pressure on their child.
Anyway, I was captivated and thought that some of you might enjoy hearing her as well.  C

PS. Jackie's mom did want everyone to know that she has had a couple of months of voice lessons...right...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

C: Winds of Change and Bruins in the Area?

future Well, after two years of nursing my hurt feelings over the divorce, Son has decided to take a job two and a half hours north.  It is a good opportunity for him to combine work with his passion for outdoor skills. 

Much as I know it is time for him to go (and he has been good to stay as long as he has), I will miss him.  He has seen me back on my emotional feet, good son that he is.  I am thankful that he’s not out of reach, at least.

My mother is worried sick.  My mother’s job in this family, however, is to worry—especially about her grandkids.  My sister and I think she’s adopted “worrier” as her identity.    She has called me with all kinds hobowithbag of “what ifs.”  I reminded her that not too many years ago, young men (at what? 18 or 19 years of age?) would kiss their mother’s on the cheek, saying, “I’m off to seek my fortune” and go off into the sunset, their belongings tied in a rag on a stick.

At least it’s not that bad…at least we have cell phones and internet now.  I don’t know what I’d do if he was headed West on a wagon train!

Besides,” I told her, “Worst-case scenario is that he has to come home!”  Won’t happen, I’m betting, but still nice to know that’s the worst.

So MIL treated the two of us for a “goodbye/looking forward to the future” dinner at Red Lobster.  DSCN1395DSCN1396

She splurged and got a big ol’ lobster from the tank!  She’ll be having Red Lobster again tomorrow!  We brought three containers of food back with us.

Son had his favorite: Crab Legs and Scallops, finished off with hot coffee and the “chocolate wave” cake and ice cream.  We all left stuffed.

We’ve been having an odd going-on around here.  Three times this weekmystery I’ve had broken (inside eaten out) watermelon in my driveway.  I meant to take a picture,but by the time I get a chance to, they’re gone. 

These melons are not sliced open, they are clearly broken open.  The insides are scooped out. Whatever is eating them eats the good central part and then apparently comes back and finishes the rind.

The spot on the driveway is right even with my neighbor’s garden (which, I know from her gifts to me, has watermelons).  It is clear that this is where the melons are coming from, but we’re talking over 100 feet distance.  I’ve wondered what could be coming to eat these melons and what would be big and dexterous enough to move a good-sized melon from the garden to the driveway.  And why?  I speculate that it is to eat it on the hard surface of the driveway, out of the bumpy grass but who knows for sure?

I have a theory.  I believe it might be a black bear.  It is the only animal around here that I know might could move these melons in this way. I Googled the question of whether black bears like melon, and I found out that they sure do!  In fact, zoos often toss them into ponds or pools in the bear enclosures because they float.  The bears fish them out of the water and carry them up onto the bank to break them open and eat them.

Here are pictures from the Museum of Life and Science, Durham, North Carolina.

Bear swims to fetch the floating melon:

bear melon 1

Bear takes melon out of water:

bear melon 2

Bear enjoys melon on bank…notice this one has TWO melons!

bear melon 3

If a bear can do that, he can surely get one to my driveway from my neighbor’s garden.  I can’t think of any other animal out here that can do that.

What do you think?

Just this past June I’ve written about the bears out here.  It is a bit of a concern that they would be habituated enough to come this close, but my neighbor has thought she has heard one nearby.  I won’t be walking after it starts getting dark.

Chili is inside each night with me when I’m home, but it makes me wonder if he knows anything about this!  Will keep you posted if there are developments.

The weather was fooling with me this week.  A couple of mornings ago it almost felt like fall, but by afternoon it was blistering again.  I say this every year, but: I am so ready for fall!

Hope you are all well…and avoiding the bears.  C

Sunday, August 14, 2011

C: Chili – Trying to Seize the Mowing Opportunity

I’ve written before about how I believe our animals know more about us and have more cognitive ability than we like to think.

My remaining DSCN1087dog is a three-year-old Belgian Malinois, “Chili.”  My other pet is “Sasha,” my cat who predates Chili in this household by a couple of years.

Sasha is one skittish cat.  She was born here and has never been mistreated at day in her life, but my mother and I are the only humans she wants anything to do with—making occasional exceptions for Son.

Sasha has lived her entire life on my back porch and in our fenced back yard.  She has her own little kingdom back there, shared with birds, who take their lives into their own wings by being there, and a raccoon who peaceably comes to her dish to share her cat food.  She makes occasional forays outside the back yard fence, but only few.  It is to this that we attribute her long life.

I have never been able to get Chili to quit thinking of Sasha as prey.  I have come to terms with the fact that he  is incapable of this.  The few times he has gotten into the back yard, he has gone like a rocket trying to get her, ignoring my commands.  And his is normally a very obedient dog. We have solved the problem by making the back porch/yard off limits to Chili.

Chili knows and respects this fact, and he has stopped trying to go out theDSCN1145 door when he is in the house and I go out onto Sasha’s porch.  He knows  the rule and respects it.  But he sometimes goes to the windows of my breakfast room which look out onto Sasha’s porch.  He watches my cat, and I do not like the gleam I see in his eye.

Today I was in doing laundry and, as is his custom when “Mom” is home, Chili was in with me, following me around when I move from room to room, lying around when I am sitting at work on the computer.

Son started the lawn mower up and was riding it back and forth through the meadow next to my house, working his way to the back yard.  When he made it to the yard section, Chili became restless.  He looked out the window which is at my back utility porch (a different porch, opposite side of the room from Sasha’s windows) toward where Son was working. 

Chili began to whine, which is very unusual.  He began pacing from the window back to me, then back to stare at Son out the window.  Then back again.  This is very unusual behavior.  He clearly wanted me to get up and let him out.   I was wondering what the heck was going on. Normally he is quite content to be with me even when Son is outside.  This was not his normal request to go out.  It seemed to me that he would want to avoid that noisy lawn mower, but he was getting rather insistent.

Then Chili did something that gave his motives away to me.  He left his post at the window and moved across the breakfast room to look out toward Sasha’s porch, then back to the other window, then back to me and then back to look out at Sasha—whining all the way.

The pieces of the puzzle fell into place.  This evil dog realized that Son had to open the back gate to mow the yard….his chance to get the cat! 

I spoke sharply to him and he reacted with pure guilt.  Ears went back, tail between his legs.  Oh, he was guilty, alright—of impure thoughts about my cat.

Here’s his mug shot:


You think you can’t tell when a dog is guilty?  Look at this little video from YouTube and then try to tell me that.  I don’t know this dog, but I can tell you one thing: she’s guilty!


When Son came in later, I asked, “Has Chili ever gotten into the back yard when you mow?”

His answer: “Oh, yes!  I have to watch him like a hawk.  When I get the mower he tries his best to get in the gate and run like a streak around to try to get Sasha!

So, Chili remembered, put two-and-two together and was asking me to let him out so he could take advantage of the situation!  His body language busted him!

And we call them “dumb animals!” C

PS – am I anthromorphizing here?

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