Friday, May 29, 2009

Photo Friday: Dew

"Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf."
Robindranath Tagore

All photos taken with a Canon Rebel xti 18-35mm lens.***Comments are still broken. I would love to hear from you. Please comment or contact me via email. Thanks!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Love Thursday: A Faithful Companion

On Mary's first birthday, she received a stuffed animal. It was a dog. She loved it immediately. "Goggy!" she crooned. It quickly became her constant companion.

The name on the dog's tag said "Spunky." Being a dog owner my entire life, I couldn't bear to let that moniker stand, so we (the gathered family) tossed out some names that might be a better fit. I don't remember who came up with Wilson ( honestly, I think it was me...) but everyone agreed that it was a solid name and would work well for Mary's new stuffed canine companion.

In the beginning, Wilson and Mary were inseparable. To paraphrase the nursery rhyme, everywhere that Mary went, Wilson was sure to go. Nap time, bedtime, dinner, playing, trips, doctor visits, church--if Mary was there, Wilson could be found somewhere nearby offering his quiet friendship.

As the years passed and Mary grew in independence, she relied on Wilson a little less for some things but he was still her bedtime buddy. Often, frantic searches ensued as bedtime neared and Mary couldn't remember where she'd last left him. "Wiiillllson!!" we'd call as if he were real. I guess in some ways, he became real to us. He developed his own stuffed dog personality. "Wilson doesn't like peas," she'd say. "Wilson is tired. Would you read him a story. He really likes stories," she'd tell us.

Soon, we were giving him attributes as well. "Wilson loves popcorn," someone would offer. "Poor Wilson. I don't think he likes thunderstorms." Or "Wilson needs a bath, but I think he'll fight you on it. He seems to like being a dirty dog." "Wilson speaks with a posh English accent." Wilson had become part of our family.

These days, Wilson isn't seeing as much of the world as he used to. He doesn't leave Mary's bedroom much. Mostly he stays in her bed, awaiting her return. Some mornings Mary will have him cradled in her arms as she comes down the stairs, but it's not frequent. Yesterday, she asked to take him with her when we ran an errand. It was the first time in recent memory that she wanted him to go.

Mary will turn 5 this summer. I'm seeing her growth in many ways; her legs have gotten longer, her face less babyish and more like that of a young girl, she's getting a new tooth, she's bolder in some ways than she used to be--she's more willing to leave me and do things on her own. It is bittersweet, this growing up thing. I am happy to see her growing strong and confident and healthy. On the other hand, she is my youngest and it is all magnified as it will be the last time I experience any of this firsthand.

I remember rocking Mary to sleep. She clutched Wilson in one hand and stroked his ears with the other to soothe herself to sleep. Somewhere along the line, she dropped that habit and just took to cuddling him. Then, as she grew even more, she would set Wilson on the pillow beside her, adding some distance between them. She still wants him near, but doesn't necessarily need his constant contact. At some point in the future, she is going to decide that she doesn't need to sleep with him at all. She will decide that he should sit on her closet shelf or be placed in her treasure box to keep, where he will be a touchstone, a memory. Hmmm....I am seeing some similarities here. (Excuse me while I blow my nose.)

Thank goodness we are not there yet! Wilson is still the one Mary tells secrets to. She still frets a little when he needs to go in the wash; she wants to be sure he will be dry by bedtime. Wilson has even acquired a "friend." "Julie" the pink stuffed giraffe was a Christmas present. Mary decided that he would make a good wife for Wilson. "She can keep him company when I'm gone." So now Wilson and Julie have become a couple. They wait in Mary's bed. They have been the subjects of frantic bedtime searches. They keep each other company, just as Mary intended.

Wilson has lost some of his plumpness. He is floppy in places he wasn't before. Some of his fur has been loved right off, ala The Velveteen Rabbit. Yes, he has been loved. He has done his work well. I'm grateful that he will have more time with us as Mary's quiet, faithful companion. Because the longer he stays, the longer my little girl stays little.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone! May you be loved until your fur falls off.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Turtles In The Wilderness

A few days ago Patrick and the boys found a tiny turtle on the steps leading out to our patio. It was on it's back, legs wiggling, trying to right itself. The boys took it upon themselves to "rescue" it and put it in our bushes.

Normally, I'm a big fan of letting nature handle itself. I figure that animals and animal babies have been existing pretty well for a long time without my interference and that generally they know what they're doing without my help. (I know! This is so at odds with my control freak nature...) Now, if the animal is obviously injured but wouldn't be able to easily harm us (I'm talking frogs and birds here, not coyotes or raccoons ) or if it's in immediate danger--i.e. a tiny turtle on our back step and in danger of being squished by the next person out the door--then I might give the okay for intervention of some kind. So when they told me they'd put the turtle in the bushes, I thought that was fine.

On Sunday morning I was taking Tilly out for her morning constitutional (thank goodness this is not a Tilly story--she did everything she was supposed to and nothing she wasn't--surprise!!) when she picked up her front paw and stood at attention. She pointed, y'all! Maybe my mutt is part pointer... I followed her gaze and saw what at first glance was a rock. But! Sooo not a rock!! There was a turtle--and a fairly good sized one-- in my backyard. Now I'm not talking Galapagos Tortoise size, but you know, for a turtle in my back yard it was pretty big. I'd say his shell was probably 10 inches long.

Well, after Tilly did her business, we went back inside and I ran up the stairs calling to wake the children, "THERE'S A GIANT TURTLE IN OUR BACK YARD!! HURRY!! COME SEE!! WAAAAAAKKKE UUUUUPPP!!" You have never seen boys bound out of bed quicker than James and Sean. They ran outside with me and we all oohed and ahhhed and speculated about what kind of turtle it was and where it had come from. (After some help from our friend Mr. Google, we discovered that it is a box turtle, very common here in Indiana and probably came from either the tree line or the pond/lake in the bajillionaire neighborhood behind us.) Mary quickly joined us and we spent the next hour or so watching the turtle not move. It was very exciting.

Poptarts are a necessity when turtle watching.

Eventually, we had to go in and get ready for church, and the turtle made his way into our next door neighbor's front yard. When we returned from church, the turtle was gone. He did reappear on our driveway about dinner time. Some of the neighborhood kids (against my advice) took the turtle across the neighborhood to a pond. (What could I say? They weren't my kids. I told them that he was just fine on his own, but one little girl looked at me, picked up the turtle and said her mom said it was okay to relocate it. Ooookay then. I let it go.)

So yesterday evening Mary and I were on the patio when she shrieked "TURTLE!!" Usually this is the voice she reserves for ants, spiders and bees so I thought I had misheard her. But when I walked over to her, I saw what she was looking at. He was very cute. ( I don't know the gender. I don't even want to know how to find out, but turtles never look like females to me, so henceforth they shall all bestowed with a masculine pronoun.) He was very tiny. And while he was not a sea turtle, all I could think of was the little turtle in Finding Nemo and I kept wanting to talk to him in my best surfer dude voice and say "Fin! Noggin! DUUUUDE!!"

The children were again summoned to come and see. Then they gathered up neighborhood kids to come see. At one point there were probably 7 or 8 kids clustered around this tiny little guy. When I admonished them to watch but not interfere with his journey, they did well for awhile, until the same little girl picked him up and decided he needed to be relocated to "where his mother is." I am assuming she meant the big turtle that she had previously moved to the neighborhood pond. I thought about explaining that the turtle was probably fine on his own and that we don't know if the big turtle was even female, let alone the mother, but then I just decided to let it go. Whatever.

So there was much fuss and ado amongst the children about who was going to the pond, who would hold the turtle, etc. I sat back down to my book and glass of wine to let them work it out.
My kids weren't allowed to go anyway, because the younger three had gone on the previous trip without asking permission and when we called for them we didn't know where they were. They weren't happy with me, but as I explained to them: "TOUGH LUCK! You know the rules. You need permission to go across the neighborhood. If you don't have it, you don't go. You should have asked last time. Your dad and I didn't know where you were. So now you don't get to go this time." Yes, I am the meanest mother who ever lived. Don't believe me? Ask my kids.

We were sitting on the patio while the neighborhood kids traipsed off with the turtle and we were talking about the turtles, the wrens building a nest in our wren house, the mockingbird living next door, the crawdads down in the ditch and the occasional deer track we find in the yard.

"Mom," Mary said. "I'm sure glad we live in the wilderness now so we can see all these animals!"

I don't think we live in the wilderness, what with our house and electricity and Internet and all, but sometimes I'm fairly certain that we live in a zoo and I'm the head zookeeper!!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

1. I was born on Leap Year, so I celebrate my birthday on February 28th most years. I hated being a "Leap Year Baby" when I was little, but as I get older, I like it--especially when I can tell people I'm only 10 in real birthdays.

2. I love Diet Coke. If it's a Diet Coke from McDonald's then I love it even more. I don't know why they're so good. I have friends that theorize that it's the bigger straw or that there's more sugar in the mix that makes it taste so good. Personally, I think they put crack in it.

3. I had a cataract in one eye in my early 30s. I had it removed and had lens replacement about 4 years ago. I call that eye my "bionic eye". (Yes, I feel 84 when I tell people that.)

4. The smell of cooking cauliflower makes me want to hork.

5. When we were dating, I thought Patrick was left-handed because his handwriting was so bad. (My apologies to all you lefties with good penmanship.) My son, James, appears to be following his father's lead. You would never know that he's almost in 5th grade and quite smart, because his handwriting looks like that of a hyper chimp.

6. Many years ago, I tried to cook steaks in the drawer of the oven because I thought it was the broiler. I couldn't figure out why they weren't cooking and insisted that the oven was broken. Growing up, our stove was gas and the broiler was located in the bottom drawer, so I assumed that this was where all broilers were--even on our electric stove. It took several minutes of argument with my husband to convince me that I was wrong.

7. I like to cook, and most people like my cooking. Although after reading #6 I could see where you might doubt that.

8. I love taking pictures but I have a hard time showing them to people.

9. I don't think where you go to church is as important as your relationship with Jesus.

10. I had my tonsils out over spring break when I was 19. While other people were going to the beach, I was in agony eating Popsicles. It was the worst vacation ever.

11. I have a guitar and can't play. I want to take lessons, but haven't made it a priority.

12. I taught special ed. for almost 10 years before staying home with my children. I don't ever want to teach special education classes again.

13. However, I LOVE to teach. Ask me to speak in front of a room of adults though, and I will stumble all over my words and sound like the village idiot. But if you put me in front of those adults' 3rd graders, I'm a rock star!

14. I would love to travel more.

15. I love Christmas, but I can't wait to get the decorations down and put away. If they're up much past December 27th, I get anxious. Weird, I know.

16. "Desire" by U2, is my "crank it to 11" song. If I can't hear that, put on The Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" and I'm good.

17. Wayne Newton totally squicks me out. EEEWWWW!!!

18. Ditto with Tom Jones.

19. I've never seen the Pacific Ocean.

20. I love cucumber sandwiches. I am passing this adoration along to my son Sean. When I told him we were growing cucumbers in the garden his eyes lit up and he said in the voice of Homer Simpson "MMMMM cucumber saaanndwiches...."

21. I hate the words moist, ointment, wad, and belch. (Yes, my children can get very inventive with their sentences just so they can watch me cringe.)

22. I love the words snarky, pedestrian, conundrum, and prodigious. (Again, I am weird.)

23. The game Candyland makes me want to gouge out my own eyeballs with a rusty fork. Ditto for Chutes and Ladders.

24. I am terrified of crashing my car into a body of water and not being able to get my kids out. So much so that I asked for and received a multipurpose tool to cut seat belts/break glass. ("Merry Christmas kids! Now mommy can save your lives and perpetuate her paranoia!! Two gifts in one!!)

25. Growing up, our telephone number was 824-2569. We were pranked often and told our number spells 82I-BLOW. It does.

Yes, I totally stole this from my Facebook. Sorry for those of you that have read it. I did make some additions, so it's got a few things that differ from what I posted ages ago on FB. Which leads me to...

26. I am a complete hack as a writer! (Hey, you try to write something everyday and see how long it is before you realize you're the most boring person on the planet. Ahem.)

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day: Thank You

Thank you to those who served--
for your love of our country,
for your sacrifice.
Thank you to those serving us now.
We pray for you.
We are grateful.Happy Memorial Day everyone. Take a moment during your celebrations to remember why you're celebrating. Have a safe weekend.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

I Don't Want To Be In Your Army

You are familiar with the old adage "misery loves company", I'm sure. It must be a true statement, because our neighbor is trying to recruit us to join her. In fact, it seems that she is trying to create an army of miserable neighbors--and she'll be the general.

Last night I was getting ready to sit on the patio, enjoy a glass of wine and a good book while the children were all outside playing with the neighborhood kids. Patrick was out getting exterior trim paint and some replacement landscaping lights. I didn't want to leave Tilly alone in the house, because she really wanted to be outside and frankly, I couldn't concentrate on my book while she was staring at me with her big, sad, puppy dog eyes through the back door. So I decided to let her out with me.

We have a stake with a leash on it in our backyard. We don't leave her out there unattended and we don't use it often; only when we're out enjoying the patio or playset in the back yard. The thing is, the clasp has rusted a bit and that makes hooking the leash to her collar difficult. While I was wrestling with the clasp, she got away. She ran around the front of the house, saw all the kids and was gone. I knew it would be a problem because the kids were going to chase her to get her back and when you chase her, she sees it as a game and keeps on going.

I ran in the house to get her leash. While I was inside, you know who's lawn she ran around on, don't you? Of course. The neighbor who had sent us the hit'n'run and has the perfectly manicured lawn. Fan-freaking-tastic.

By the time I came out, Maggie and James had collared her and were bringing her home. As I put Tilly on the leash, the kids told me how the neighbor yelled at them to keep the dog off her lawn and that we should get a fence. Uh-oh.

Now I was mad, but I was determined to be neighborly and do the right thing. So I set off to apologize, because we were in the wrong--our dog got loose (and naturally, being our dumb dog, chose her house to run to) and it felt like the right thing to do. So I walked grimly down the street and decided to apologize politely, but not let her steamroll me, because after all, it wasn't that big a deal. Tilly didn't even "fertilize" her lawn. Although now, I'm sort of wishing she had.

I walked up the driveway where the neighbor and her husband were sitting on lawn chairs--they don't even use their own lawn!! gah!!!!--and told them I was sorry. I explained what happened and apologized--about 5 different ways--and was met with and icy stare of disapproval. This woman would not even give me enough grace to accept my apology. She gave me an earful. Then she gave me another. And another. Then I stuck my tongue out, called her a name, pushed her down and ran apologized again, told them I hoped they'd have a nice evening and walked back down the driveway.

I didn't head toward home, because I didn't want the kids to see me. Yeah, I was crying. One of the things I hate about myself is that my anger often comes out through my tear ducts. Other people scream, think of witty insults, or quietly turn the other cheek and walk away. I turn into a blubbering crybaby. So I walked to the opposite end of the block to compose myself before I headed home.

This wasn't a big incident. But there have been others--some involving us, some involving other neighbors. There is a long history of incidents with this woman and other neighbors. There is a pattern of behavior here that makes me angry and uncomfortable. It makes me want to circle the wagons and set up tall hedges as boundaries. I don't like all the drama. I certainly don't want to join her in her misery.

I don't know what has made this woman so miserable or why she is intent upon making others feel the same way. And I have to tell you, the human side of me--the side that sees fault and keeps score in all the ways others have done me wrong--doesn't want to extend any grace back to her. I want to say "I don't care--I'm done with you."

But the other side of me--the side that has been extended grace after divine grace, mercy upon mercy--whispers that Someone has never given up on me and He hasn't given up on her either. It says that perhaps I need to be the hands and feet of Jesus to her; that what she needs, only God can provide, but part of His provision can come through my actions.

This is hard, y'all, because I am fighting it! I don't want to be merciful and graceful and kind. I want to picture this woman in my head and explode her into a million tiny pieces and say "you don't exist for me anymore" and go on with my life. But I also know (because the Spirit is kicking me) that this is probably not the way things will happen. I want to be a Christian example for my children, but I also want to protect them from any future incidents. I am torn.

*Sigh* Things would have been much simpler if we had never found out the identity of our hit'n'run letter writer. Life would have been marginally easier if the dumb dog had stayed in the yard. My night would have been better had I been able to sit on my patio, drink my glass of wine and get lost in my book. But the cat's out of the bag, (or the dog has run out of the yard) the train has left the station. There's no going back now. There's nothing left to do but decide which way to go--choose which route to take for the rest of this journey.

Navigation has never been my strong suit. Pray for me.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Photo Friday: Petals

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into.
Henry Ward Beecher

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Love Thursday: It's the Little Things

My husband, in our almost 18 years of marriage, has never been one for grand, romantic gestures. Not that they haven't happened on occasion, it's just that he's better with smaller, more practical ways to express his love. This is fine by me. He is a steadfast and loyal man. He loves me and our children. He is generous and thoughtful and funny. And most of all, he has put up with me and all of my faults and foibles over the years. So I'm okay without lots of grand, romantic gestures.

One of the small expressions of love is that he brings me Diet Coke from McDonald's. Now, I know it's not good for me and there are healthier drinks out there, but it's one of my few vices and frankly, I don't know what they put in those Diet Cokes at Mickey D's, (I think it might be crack) but they are far superior to any other fast food Diet Coke. The yumminess is probably killing me more quickly than regular Diet Coke...

It's not a complicated task. If he's out, often he'll call and ask me if I want one, or if he's getting an iced tea, he'll just bring me a drink too. But the idea that he's thinking of me and what will please me, well, to me, that's big.

The longer we are married, I'm finding that it's the little things--the shared laughter and sorrow, the quiet chats after the kids are in bed where we discuss our day or week, holding hands, small thoughtful tasks--that stitch together the fabric of our lives into a finely wrought tapestry. These small "stitches" bind us more closely and strengthen us as a couple and as a family.

And a strong, closely knit family? What's more grand than that?!

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. May you find love in small things this week.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another Misadventure of a Disobedient Canine

The dumb dog is not here. She is in doggy jail. She's not doing hard time with the canine versions of Mike Tyson and Manuel Noriega. In my book, she did that already when she was living at Animal Care and Control, and she emerged victorious with her spirit intact--no small feat. I suppose she's not really in canine juvie, either, although she might think she is. No, she's at what might be called doggy detention. That's right. (Cue ominous music...) The Groomer! Yes, I am so evil. (Insert maniacal laughter and villainous palm rubbing.)

This appointment was scheduled before her most recent escape, but she doesn't know that. Maybe she'll see the groomer as a consequence for her escape.

HAHAHAHA!! Yes, I know. This dog has already forgotten that she ate breakfast. She can't remember what she's barking at out the window. Clearly I am delusional (but hopeful!) that she will connect her escape with the groomer. But just in case her cluelessness is a clever ploy, I've sent her away while I am writing this post, lest she read it over my shoulder and concoct even grander plans of escape. (You know that I'm totally picturing her as Steve McQueen in the Great Escape, right? Also, I've completely dated myself in citing that movie. *sigh*)

So you've gathered that Tilly escaped again. The answer to that on my end would be an emphatic YES SHE DID! Twice. Since Friday. Let me back up.

On Friday, I was having friends over for lunch, so obviously what I needed in the hour prior to their arrival was an MIA canine, right? I took her out to potty and she found the breach in the fence and disappeared faster than you can say "Harry Houdini". I had friends arriving soon. I needed to finish sweeping the dog hair up. I had a four year old with me. I was dressed in shorts and flip-flops. These were my reasons for not tearing after her into the poison ivy infested tree line. So Mary and I stood there calling and clapping, while Tilly went to um, fertilize, the bajillionaires' lawns. We stood there and stood there. I was calling "Tilly" over and over, but Mary, ever inventive, was calling out things like, "Tilly, come home! Your bed is here! Come back puppy, we'll play with you more! Come on home Tilly, we love you! We won't be mad just come home! Tiiiillllllllllly!! I have a treat for yooouuuuuuuu!" Seriously. She was breaking my heart. I looked over at her standing in the yard all forlorn and she had tears welling up in her eyes as she said with a quivering chin, "Mama, I think we lost our dog!" Then she started crying and my head exploded and I died I comforted her and told her Tilly would be back, it would be okay.

Meanwhile, visions of me having to tell the children when they got home from school that the dog was gone floated through my head and increased my panic. I decided that if she didn't come home by the time my friends arrived for lunch, that I would recruit my girlfriends to beat the bushes with me. And they would have, without thinking twice about it, because that is how lovely these friends of mine are. But as luck would have it, those plans never came to fruition, because 40 minutes after she left, Tilly returned, somewhat contrite, to our back door where she was given a hero's welcome by both Mary and me.

Did I learn my lesson? Did I take her out on a leash for her morning constitutional? The answer to those questions would be: hell to the no, I didn't! Apparently my IQ is lower than that of my dumb dog's because yesterday morning she did it again.

I was all dressed for work (yes, I've been subbing as an assistant teacher at Mary's school, getting paid to wipe noses and bottoms, sing and play with two year olds. It's fun! Really! No sarcasm intended.) and I took Tilly out a little after 7 a.m. She stayed with me for a few minutes and then, as is her habit, started sniffing among the trees for a place to "fertilize." Again, quicker than you can say "David Copperfield," she was off. This time, however, I knew I had to go after her. I didn't have 40 minutes to wait for her to find her way home. Plus, whenever she's run off, I've had a sort of vague panic about her reaching the fairly busy road outside our subdivision. She hadn't ever gone that way before, but I was afraid that her first time would be her last--particularly at this time of day when it has a high traffic volume.

I ran inside, telling Maggie that Tilly had run into Bajillionaire's Row and that I was changing my pants and shoes so I could go after her. She set off the alert to James before she had to leave for the school bus. I tore into my closet and donned a pair of ratty sweats and my old tennis shoes, but left the blouse (and jewelry) that I was wearing to work in place. Then I put on Pat's old barn jacket, which, as you might imagine, is rather big on me. Once again, that dumb dog had me looking like Crazy Bag Lady.

I clambered up through the trees and brush and up the berm. On the other side? Pristinely manicured lawns, but no dog. I skulked close to the tree line, in case any of the bajillionaires happened to be out and about and tried to look innocent and sane while calling for the dog. After walking down the berm for a bit, I passed into a different back yard. There were dogs out by the pool, but I didn't see anyone else.

"Can I help you?" a lady's voice called.

I jumped, startled, because of course I hadn't seen her. Figures. "I've lost my dog," I called across the vast expanse between the treeline and her sparkling, blue pool. "Sorry to bother you! She got away into your neighborhood and I'm trying to find her."

"Did she look a little like a yellow lab?" she asked.

"Yes! That's her!" I hollered.

"Oh dear," said the lady (who, by the way, was clad in a thigh-high, white terry bathrobe.) "I saw her running out the gates of the neighborhood! I hope you find her and she's okay!"

"Thank you so much!" I cried. "Sorry again to disturb you!" Then, with panic-infused adrenaline pulsing through my veins, I turned and sprinted back down the berm, stumbled through the trees, and ran for the house.

"She got out the gate! Into Brooks' School Road!" I panted.

Maggie, who was leaving toward the bus stop, looked frightened and said "Hurry Mommy!"

I dashed into the house, yelled at James that I was driving to find the dog and that I had my phone. I told him to call me if she came home on her own and added that he should get his brother and sister up around 7:30 if I wasn't back yet.

"Okay mom," he said calmly. "Please find her!"

I ran for the van, snatching the leash on the way, whispering fervent prayers that God would help me find Tilly, quickly and unharmed.

As I left the neighborhood with the van windows down and calling the dog, my thoughts alternated between "This is all my fault!" and "Stupid dog! No wonder she wound up at the pound!"

Tilly has always been an attention hound. I have been known on occasion to affectionately call her "Tilly the Attention 'Ho" because she will readily give you all of her love and affection for a few kind words and scratches behind the ear. With this in mind, I figured that she would be heading for the neighborhood across from the gated Bajillionaire Row--Millionaire Lane. As I turned into this neighborhood (not gated, so Riffraff like me don't have to skulk through trees to get in...) I was hoping and praying with all my might to find her here, safe and well. Possibly so that I might kill her... As it happened, she was sniffing the gutter (do you call them gutters in Millionaire Lane?) and I pulled up about 40 feet away, flipping the hazard lights on as I got out.

"Tilly!" I called in what a I hoped was a sweet voice. I knelt down and extended my hands. "Come on, puppy! It's time to go!"

After calling her a few more times, she walked over, wiggling her body and looking chastened. Yes, she gave me "puppy dog eyes" and I caved.

"Come on, time to get in the van and go home," I said.

A little crowd of exercisers, commuters leaving the neighborhood and one old man in his bathrobe surveying his grass and getting his paper had stopped to watch the crazy lady try to sweet talk her runaway mutt into coming home. I know they all were hoping I'd be successful, because I'm fairly certain that after what they saw of her, none of them was going to offer to take her off my hands.

The short ride home was uneventful. Tilly laid down on the seat and shut her eyes. I told her I was glad I found her and then whispered a prayer of thanks. When I got her home, she was greeted like the Prodigal Son Dog and fed treats and breakfast.

The children regaled my husband of the whole sordid tale when he got home and I took complete blame in my failure to take the dog out on a leash. Then I told him that I'd met a bajillionaire and a couple of millionaires and that at least two of them had bedhead. (Who's the Riffraff now??) I promised that she would no longer do her fertilizing off the leash.

I'm no fortune teller, but I see a tall fence and obedience school in Tilly's future. Dumb dog.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The New Neighbor

Remember when I mentioned the turf war going on in my backyard? Well, the battle has been settled. Who won? Neither the sparrow nor the chickadee. They both gave up and abandoned the nest in the birdhouse. The winner of the birdhouse lottery goes to the bird that the house was actually designed for. (What? You don't plan your bird houses for specific avians?) It appears our new neighbor is a house wren. See?

He is very cute and very loud. In fact, I couldn't believe that all that tweeting was coming from such a small bird. If this bird were a person, he'd be an obnoxious teenager with all of his loud "look at me" strutting.

I heard him--from inside the house--before I saw him. Then I sat for awhile and watched him. When I passed by his turf on my way to the garden, he totally yelled at me. Or whatever the bird equivalent would be. He was not happy with me and he let me know it. I think this bird might have a Napoleon Complex. Does he not realize that I outweigh him by eleventy billion pounds?

He sits in the tree calling and chirping and tweeting and singing and yelling. After awhile, he was joined by a sweet female who came to check out the new digs. (Sounds a bit like Mary's idea of marriage, doesn't it?) Apparently she gave her approval, because the move-in began immediately.

Look at him sing!

Doesn't he look disapproving? Like he's about to shake his fist, er, wing and yell "Hey! You kids get off my lawn!!"I think that I'm happier with this outcome than I would have been if either the sparrow or the chickadee had moved in. Our little wren might have been late to the battle, but somehow he won the war.

Tomorrow, I'll have another Misadventure of a Disobedient Canine. Stay tuned!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

A Wedding Conversation

Today, Mary and I were sitting on the patio, enjoying the sun and watching the birds. We were talking about this and that, when the subject of marriage came up. Well, I guess it was really weddings we were discussing--hers in particular.

There is a young man at Mary's school that she has claimed as her own. She was in the same class with this little boy last year and declared him her "sweetie boy." She told her daddy that he used to be her "sweetie boy" but he had been replaced. This was news that Patrick was not prepared for. He expected to be replaced someday, but not when his daughter was three.

Mary has never wavered in her affection for this young man. When I asked her what it was about him that she liked, she said, "he's just my sweetie boy and he wants to marry me someday." They aren't in the same class this year, but she still claims him. "E. is my sweetie boy," she'll say when asked. She gets a little abashed when she sees him. She waves shyly. Sometimes he waves back, sometimes he pretends not to see her. Ahhh love....The games begin young.

So today I was curious about her thinking on marriage and weddings. Her idea of marriage is simple; after the wedding you go back to the house that the man has picked out. Her idea of weddings was a little more involved. (Unfortunately, I see this thinking in couples much older than my 4 year old. There is a whole lot of planning involved in the wedding, but not much thought given to the actual marriage. No wonder the divorce rate is so high...) When I asked her last year what happens at a wedding, she told me the mommies drive the boy and girl to the wedding, the pastor says the "marry words" and then the mommies drive the boy and girl back home. Her daddy was hoping her view on that would never change. But after today's conversation, I can see that it has evolved a bit.

When I asked her what would happen at her wedding, she said, "Well, I wear a beautiful white dress and I walk into the room with the music."

"What about E.?" I asked. "What's he wearing?"

"A tussedo," she lisped.

"Then what happens?" I wondered.

"The pastor says the marry words. Then he says 'KISS!' and you kiss. Then you have cake," she responded.

"Oh! So you get cake after you get married?"

She nodded.

"Anything else?" I queried.

"Oh! You get ice cream! And Sprite and root beer. And you play games," she told me.

I raised my eyebrows. We didn't have any games at my wedding. Hers was sounding kinda fun. I wanted to know more.

"What else?" I asked.

"Well, you play Pin the Tail on the Donkey and checkers," she replied in all seriousness.

It took every ounce of self-control I could muster to keep from laughing. This wedding was starting to sound like a birthday party. Which makes sense, since that's the only kind of party she knows. She has yet to go to a wedding so she has no frame of reference. Still. I was kind of diggin' it.

"Then what do you do?" I quizzed.

She looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face. "You go home!" she replied in a tone of voice that sounded a lot like "duh!"

"You go home with me?" I wondered.

"No. You go to our house with Daddy and Maggie and James and Sean and Tilly. I go to the house that E. picked out."

"Ahhh," I said. "It sounds fun. I think I'll like going to your wedding."

"It will be the best wedding ever!" Mary said.

"How old will you be when you get married?" I asked.

"Ummmm....I'm not sure. How old are you?"

"You're going to be 41 when you get married?" I asked. "I was younger than that when I got married. I was 23."

"Oh. That sounds good. I'll be 23," she said.

Then she informed me that she was going to have 6 children--3 boys, 3 girls--named Charles, Bethel (after Bethlehem), Patrick, Lisa, Carol and Flower.

And that was where my self-control flew out the window and I lost it. After I stopped laughing, I hugged her and told her that she would always be my little girl, even when she was big enough to get married and have children.

I also might have asked her to reconsider the name choices for my future grandchildren.

***Oops! Almost forgot to add that comments are still broken. Please feel free to comment or contact me via email. I love to hear your comments! Thanks.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Going, Going.....

These blossoms are fading fast. They have been a veritable snowstorm beside my patio. I have brought vases full of these lovelies into my house and haven't even minded the stowaway ants that have caught a ride inside on the branches, such is their beauty. These were a wonderful surprise when they bloomed. Now, I'm feeling a little melancholy at watching the petals fall. The loveliness is all too fleeting, so I'm gathering as many blossoms as I can and drinking it all in while it lasts. All photographed using a Canon Rebel xti 18-55mm lens.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Little Crafty: Lookie! Lookie!

I have been busy this week! I am a social butterfly, y'all. Um, at least I think that's the term for it. Is that what you call someone who hasn't had lunch dates with friends for months and months and months and then in one week has three? No? Oh well. I guess you could just call me lucky then.

So in between working 2 mornings a week, being the mama, going to ball games, dealing with all of the end-of-school-year madness and my extremely busy social calendar (ahem) , I managed to refurbish some chairs my parents brought over.

I am sorry that I don't have before pictures. I was too AD/HD to take a before picture. I just jumped right in and started on them because I wanted to get them done by the time I had some girlfriends over for lunch on Friday (yesterday). Trust me, though, they needed some work. Structurally they were in good shape. A couple of joints needed regluing and that was about it. The shape of the chairs was pleasing and the wood was actually pretty, it just didn't really go in my house. I know it probably killed my dad a little that I painted them, but I had to do it. There are some pieces of wood furniture that I'd never paint, but these weren't on that list. The seats needed recovering. They were dirty and covered in a country-style fabric. Which would be okay if that's what you like. (Well, not the dirty part. I don't suppose anyone would want to keep dirty, dusty chair pads on their chairs, but you never know.) But country blue with small white hearts fabric isn't my style. Whattaya think?

So my spray paint cans and I had a zen-like experience and became one. And we were aided by this little tool:
My friends, if you do not have one and you are spray painting anything, you must run out NOW and get one. When I was in the spray paint aisle at JoAnn's, the nice addiction enabler lady there who was restocking the shelves, pointed these out to me. And like a true believer in the Sisterhood Of The Spray Paint, her eyes widened as she told me how it would turn your paint can into a spray gun. She grinned as she explained how it would give me better control. She winked when she told me I would be forever relieved of the dreaded Spray Paint Hand--the horrible malady that turns your hand into a claw and changes your trigger finger from flesh color to whatever color you are spraying. And they were priced at under $5.oo! She had me at "Can I help you," my friends, she had me at "Can I help you."

And now, this lovely chair and it's identical twin, have found a home in my kitchen. I lurrrrve them. Truly, I do. My friends made appropriate "oohs" and "ahhs" and other sweet murmurings when they came over for lunch. And I had to explain to them just how easy it really was. Recovering chairs is extraordinarily easy. It has to be or I wouldn't do it! And the painting? A snap with my newfound love. Thanks mom and dad for giving them to us! They look great at the table.

I still haven't let the kids sit on them. That may never happen--at least not until they get as much food in their mouths as they get on their laps.

***Oh, yes. You know the drill. Comments are broken. Please, please comment or contact me via email. I really love to hear from you! Thanks.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Photo Friday: I Don't Know What It Is, But I Know I Like It

These beauties came up in one of our planting beds. They are in a strange spot, all squeezed in between a clump of ornamental grass and the driveway. I might be tempted to think that these are some kind of volunteer wildflower or weed had I not seen them in someone else's planting bed amidst other purposely planted flowers. And this someone else's planting bed is one I have long admired. It's filled with my favorite--irises--but there are also 2 or 3 of these in there. The way these people grow irises (they are varied, plentiful and beautiful) leads me to believe that they wouldn't allow just any old thing to grow in those beds.

So here's the thing--I'd like to move this plant to a better location, but I need some particulars, like where it will do best, when to transplant it, and the like. But even if you have no idea about those things and you do know the name of the plant, I'd really like to know what it is. Please, please, and pretty please would you email me and tell me what you know? I'll definitely raise a glass of wine to you tonight. And you never know, I might even name the plant after you! Wouldn't you like to have a little namesake living in my yard? Then you could die happy knowing that your name was carried on.

You could consider yourself a humanitarian--or a plantatarian(I'm certain that's a word. And if it isn't, it should be...) because you had helped us out by giving us at least one plant that is supposed to be growing in our yard. Our neighbors would probably call you a hero!

Do you know what this is? Will you end my suspense and tell me? Please? Thanks. You're pretty!
**Edited to add: Oh you are all so pretty! Several readers responded, so I now know the common name: columbine. I offered to name this plant after someone who could tell me what it was. So far this plant has a very long name. It is my Marla, Karen, Becky, Lori plant. Maybe we'll have to come up with a "Brangelina" or "Bennifer" type name. You are all so smart, maybe you can come up with a derivative. As it stands, I'll be toasting to y'all tonight while I look at my pretty columbine. Thanks!
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Love Thursday: Letters From God

"I find letters from God dropped in the street--and every one is signed by God's name. And I leave them where they are, for I know that others will punctually come forever and ever."
Walt Whitman

I found this "letter from God" while on a photo walk. I am grateful to be reminded in these simple ways that I am loved. I am loved wholly and completely not for anything I do, not for who I am, but because of whose I am. Sometimes it takes something simple to remind me of that simple fact.

As you go about your day, may you find your own "letters" and rejoice in the love that really is all around you; all you have to do is look for it.

Happy Love Thursday!

***Yep. Comments are still broken. Please feel free to comment or contact me via email. I love to hear from you! Thanks.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Who Are You And What Have You Done With My Child?

Last night was Mary's closing program at her school. School isn't over yet, she still has a week, but each "grade level" has a night for it's program and as the school has grown, they've needed to spread it out over the last couple of weeks of school in order to accommodate everyone.

So we arrived early in order to secure good seats. I dropped Mary off at her class, pecked her on the cheek and turned to leave telling her to "sing pretty and be good." I tossed that out casually, almost an afterthought, never dreaming that I would really, really mean it.

We were in our seats, near the center of the church, waiting for the kids to file in. As we waited, we waved at and spoke to friends and other parents of children in Mary's class. Sean was impatient and unhappy.

"When is it gonna start?? Why did I even have to come? I was having fun playing outside with my friends. This is stupid!!"

"It will start soon," I soothed. "We're here because we're family and we support each other. Mary has been to all of your baseball games, now it's your turn to cheer her on. But NOT REALLY! Don't actually cheer, okay? Just clap. It'll be over quickly, you'll get your cookies and lemonade afterwards and then you'll still have some time to play when we get home."

I may or may not have hissed some threatening words in his ear when he whined some more.

Finally the school director and the church's pastor welcomed everyone and the classes started filing in and making their way to the front of the sanctuary. I was overjoyed when I discovered that Mary was in the exact center of the front row. My pictures were going to turn out great!!

Each class took turns singing a little song about the weather. Mary's class sang "Mr. Sun, Mr. Golden Sun" complete with hand actions. See?
Then it was another time for another class to sing and her attention wandered.
Still, she wasn't bothering anyone else (yet) and she wasn't doing anything to draw attention to herself (yet). At least no more than any other 3 or 4 year old.
She saw us and waved.
She got tickled about something and shyly laughed behind her hands. This is the Mary I know so well. This is the Mary who will hide behind my leg and speak shyly until she's known you about 7 years. (Yes, I know she's four. Math was never my strong subject.)
She sang about the 5 green, speckled frogs sitting on a little log.
And then she discovered the projector. It was mounted high on the wall at the back of the sanctuary. You know the kind? It's used to show hymn lyrics, pictures, power point presentations, and the like. When I asked her later about it, she described it as "the round thing up on the wall. I think it was a camera."
Aha! That explains a lot.
She spent the next few minutes rest of the program tapping on the shoulder of the very sweet and patient little boy next to her pointing it out. By the end of the program, half of the people in the sanctuary were turning around in their seats to try and figure out what the little girl was pointing to.
She also sang the ABC's with her own special version of sign language, wherein she would try to act out or write the letters in the air.
Her finale was to sing their prayer at the end in her opera voice. She doesn't call it opera voice, that's my term for it. She calls it "singing pretty like mama." Her warbly, operatic soprano was accompanied by grand, diva-like arm gestures. Yes, this was in a prayer they were singing to thank God for the food we were about to eat. Nice. What happened to my shy child? Put her on a stage and she morphs into some creature I've never seen before!
Finally, when her class led us in The Lord's Prayer, she got all pious. For about 10 seconds. Still, I was hanging onto those 10 seconds with both hands!

When we finished and were having refreshments, several parents commented with good humor about Mary's performance. They enjoyed it but were puzzled about what she was pointing at. I was able to enlighten them. And the mother of the little boy who was continually poked on the shoulder by my child? Waaaay too sweet. Much sweeter than my child or I deserved. She said, "Oh it was cute! And Mary kept my child from standing like a lump. She helped animate him!" I totally need to take lessons in diplomacy from this woman, y'all.

Sean told me as we were leaving that it was the BEST. PROGRAM. EVER! When I asked him why he told me it was because Mary was so hilarious.

*Sigh* Looks like I've got some work to do in performance and audience etiquette. Go figure.

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