Saturday, October 31, 2009

Little Doghouse on The Prairie

It’s Halloween, children. Time for a story.

A long, long time ago, there was a dog named JoJo who was very happy being an only dog. However, she was unable to convey this to her loopy owners. They were convinced that JoJo’s life would be enriched by a canine companion. They talked about getting another dog but no one did anything, which was fine with Jo. Then one day, JoJo’s Great Aunt Sandy decided they needed a little Chihuahua puppy who was looking for a home. For a small fee they could own a nearly invisible dog who was so tiny JoJo might actually think she had a flea instead of a friend.

The children thought it would be fun to name her Lassie because she looked nothing like a famous dog with this name. The children of this family were as strange as the parents. So Lassie came home one evening to the delight of the children. But not JoJo.

Lassie was very afraid and everyone did all they could to make her comfortable. They kissed her, held her, fed her, and babied her. She seemed to relax, though she always shook as if there were a gale force wind in the living room.

Lassie’s favorite pastime was peeing and pooping on the carpet. This made her owners very unhappy. It made JoJo disgusted. It made the children and the father blind for they could not see little tootsie rolls laying right in their path. It was like a Christmas Miracle that only the mother could see them.

No matter what they did, they could not train Lassie to go potty outside. JoJo tried to show her but Lassie, like the children and father, pretended she couldn’t see things right in front of her such as the pet door that led to the outside world. She felt the indoor bathroom was much more convenient and warm and did not feel an outhouse was necessary.

The mother got very annoyed with this position and would give the wee dog scathing looks which caused her to shake and look decidedly guilty. But it did not cause her to poop elsewhere. That’s when the mother got a brilliant idea. She would return this dog to her dear Aunt who had two more dogs exactly like Lassie. The mother thought that Lassie might learn from dogs her own size and the Aunt thought it was a marvelous idea, though she had to convince her husband, The Ogre.

The Ogre was not happy but the switch was made. Lassie did learn to go to the bathroom where dogs should go (or so it was presumed) and she was thrilled to have dogs around her who were also the same size as fleas. They played and ran and soon she became queen of the castle. She also made the Ogre love her and fuss over her as if she were a real princess daughter and not simply a dog. And they all lived, and are still living, happily ever after.

You may think this is the end of the story, but it’s not. JoJo went back to being an only dog and was very happy with this arrangement until her parents decided she should have another companion. That’s when Minky came to live with them, which is another story altogether. JoJo was just as thrilled as before.

And while Lassie was still living with JoJo and her family, the children who were completely unable to see little dog tootsie rolls laying about on the carpet, could see the possibilities in dressing up this tiny dog in doll clothes. The little girl who lived there even made a miniature prop background to feature the wee dog in photos. And JoJo was also arrayed for the occasion which made her all the more thrilled to see the little dog go. It became apparent to Jo that Lassie’s influence over the children was horrid.

And now, this is the end. Except for the pictures. And we all know those are worth a thousand words, though that never stops the author from using a thousand words and many more besides, even long after they have ceased to mean anything.

Now, go and have a very fun night and try to dress up as perfectly as our models. They have a story of their own they tell other dogs when they attempt to explain these incriminating photos.

___________________________________________________

“Life on the prairie was hard. We had to do everything in long dresses. Going to the bathroom was nearly impossible. Stories of my indiscretions often leave out the fact that I was hobbled by outfits such as this.”

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“You can see how the bitter years took their toll on my mother, JoJo, here. She looks crabby and disgusted. She was.”

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“This view shows you just how much dress I had to endure. It made me tough, though. And lean. And shaky. I think it weighed more than I did.”

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“Here I am as that prairie wind began to whip up and threaten my very existence.”

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“Some say I look like Granny Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies in this photo. I have no idea who that is but she must be seriously good looking.”

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“As Jo is my witness, I will never go to the bathroom outdoors again!”

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“And thus ends my tail. Happy Howloween.”

© 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rich Text

And not the html kind.

Scold me if you want to but I have to tell you something.

I live in California.

We aren’t supposed to talk on our cell phones without a Bluetooth device while we are driving. That doesn’t work too well for me as is evidenced by THIS post.

We aren’t supposed to text and drive.


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I think both rules are good ones.

And I also think rules are made to be broken occasionally, otherwise, we wouldn’t have gravity. Is that clear now?

I broke a rule. I checked a text and I sent a text. While in a car. As the driver. In my own defense, I was on private property – the church where my son has choir - and hadn’t yet entered the “no phone zone.” I was sitting at a stoplight ready to exit the church property when a text came in. Much is going on right now with my stepfather’s issues and so I looked. It was a dear friend and I could have decided to look later, but I didn’t. I flipped open my phone, read a kind and supportive message, and typed a two word reply. I was on the last two letters of my reply when my son said, “The light is green.”

Instead of beginning my entrance into the intersection, I finished those letters (because no one was behind me), pressed ‘send,’ and then looked up to proceed – these three actions took three seconds.

Just at that moment as I was removing my foot from the brake, a car came careening through the intersection at 50 mph running a red light. It came from around a curve to my left and I would have never seen it. Very likely it would have killed me and possibly my son. I almost always look left and right before I proceed because this is THE craziest state for people who push to make it through the yellow light. The guy couldn’t have been pushing. It had been red too long. He never saw it, would be my take. And my looking left and right wouldn’t have revealed him to me because of the angle of the road.

My son’s jaw dropped and he said, “Do you realize that text message just saved our lives?!” And I got chills, and then tears. He was exactly right. I proceeded through the intersection and then had to pull over. It wasn’t my day, our day, to die. It wasn’t the other driver’s day to die.

I’m not advocating the flagrant flaunting of rules. These two are especially good. It’s just that all our actions fall under a higher set of rules and our days and times are ordered.

While I was pulled over, I called my friend and told her, tearfully, what had just transpired. She got chills because she almost didn’t send the message. She had sent one about ten minutes earlier and then got busy with the house, the dogs, etc. But something kept working at the back of her mind to send the second text. And that was the one.

It could be argued that had I not responded to the text I may have been more aware. And that is a possibility. But I don’t think so. My head has been elsewhere with all that’s going on and I’m not at the top of my highly attenuated driving game. I think I needed something to stop me for a few life-changing moments.

Don’t worry, though. I will presume this was a once-in-a-lifetime event where the phone is concerned and won’t be driving while under the influence of texting. I think the real text message from the One who cares about us the most was, “Wake up!” And that one, I’m answering.



© 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Narrow Passages

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And so we come to the crossroads.

Many of you know my stepfather broke his hip last week. Surgery happened Saturday and it went well but with his other health problems, complications are mounting. Last night he had a heart attack in the hospital. Today, three doctors told us there is no chance of recovery. He also hasn't eaten, and really hasn't wanted to for weeks. The palliative doctor said that's part of the process when we head to those last days. And the last days could be hours or a few months. We don't know.

And so I spent the day at the hospital with my mother and will head back tonight. Tomorrow she will make some final determinations and I will attempt to help her through the narrow passages. I don't know the way and we are mismatched traveling companions. But for all intents and purposes, I am an only child. I lost my sister years ago and my brother, who is still wounded and embittered by our childhood, hasn't been in anyone's life for years and years. What does that mean? It means I have been pressed into service where, very often, pain abounds. But God is sufficient and nobody knows the ins and outs of all of this like He does. So, I'm not alone. And having been shown mercy by Him, I have to offer it as well.

Thank you, my friends, for your loving comments and emails to me over the last several days. Your support and prayers are much appreciated. Please pray that I walk well and that my stepfather's passing is as painless for him as possible.

___________________________________________________

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

© 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Artlessness of The Nut House

Today I was on the Jerry Springer show. I didn’t even know I was scheduled. I accidentally walked on stage and a chair flew by.

Apparently, it was being taped at the hospital where my stepdad had surgery to repair a broken hip this morning. He had a mini-stroke several weeks back (TIA), then developed pneumonia and other complications. That landed him in the convalescent hospital but my mom was able to bring him home about ten days ago. However, he’s old and stubborn – like I'll probably be – and he didn’t use his walker a few days ago and fell. Broke his hip. And who did my mom call first? Not 911. If any of you have parents this age you may know what I’m talking about. They tend to call us first.

“What should I do? He says he can’t get up. Can you come out here?” (They live in the country.)

“Yes, mom, I can but if he can’t get up you’ll need to call 911. Something’s wrong.”

“But which hospital should I take him to? We can’t decide and you know we’re gonna sit there all night long.”

“Mom? Mom. Call 911. I’ll be right there.”

And so it goes. They are casual about the emergency room. They practically live there. And yes, it was broken and the surgery took place this morning. He now has a plate and will be in recovery until tonight because there are no rooms at the inn. Recovery means no visitors. I sent my mom home for a nap. And then I escaped the nut house myself.

Hospitals bring out the best or the worst in people. I experienced the latter today. My mother was surrounded by dubious comforters, from a caustic pastor (forgive me, Lord, but I’m used to the kind and gentle heart of MY pastor and can forget how blessed I am), to one of the guests on the Jerry Springer show who was actually a friend of my mother's. This woman engaged the rest of the nut house strangers in the waiting room who, only moments before, had treated us to a raging, screaming blow out over who ought to see the patient in question and who shouldn’t and who was a liar and who was a drug user and all the while young children were caught in the crossfire. From the nonchalant expressions on their faces this wasn’t anything new.

And that was the highlight.

It went downhill from there. The ring leader we had never seen before marched over to us to explain her case and cause. I said nothing because she made no sense. Mom’s friend saw it as a great opportunity to continue the interaction. The argument was on and people stormed in and out as they shared their drama with the rest of the hospital victims.

Meanwhile, back on the front, to stop my mother’s friend from interacting, I asked questions of her. If you can get people talking about themselves – and that isn’t hard to do – it can keep them, and you, out of trouble. So I asked away. And she talked away. Loudly. And then one of my stepdad’s relatives came in. And I asked more questions. And she talked away. And I kept asking because while people are focused on themselves, they never see you, and that can be a good thing. I smiled, nodded, asked a few questions, and verbally applauded. It's like wearing Kevlar body armor - it can keep you from taking a bullet.

I interacted with no less than ten people and never answered a question, because no one ever really saw me. No one inquired about my children, my life, my husband. Everyone there wanted an audience. It was a room full of people all vying for top dog position while no one listened to anyone else. Everybody was interested in ME FIRST. Understand ME, hear ME……ignorance abounding, and pain and/or selfishness - or both - underneath it all.

I harkened back to my childhood where I grew up in the midst of this kind of drama. People went for the jugular, patty wagons were called, juvenile hall was involved, items were thrown, dishes were smashed, belts snapped, fists flew, and lives were ruined. The quieter sins were worse.

Trauma. I have worked hard to remove myself from it, and, by God's grace and only His grace, I have. I have labored to keep it out of my children's lives. It’s bottom-feeder behavior. I don’t want to feed off the bottom because there is nothing but the most unsavory of items to be had there. The people engaging in it cannot see how transparent they are. They believe themselves to be presenting a compelling case but everyone witnessing their behavior sees them for who they really are.

I watched a couple of the men in the group try and distract the kids and talk about other things, and I admired them for it. But the women continued their Springer-esque diatribe. No one could stop them, short of the police. It had to play itself out. Not one word could have been uttered that would have made a difference. It was a runaway train and anyone who tried to throw themselves in front of it was mowed down.

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This isn’t a funny post, I realize. Maybe I could’ve put that spin on it but violence and utter self focus lack humor and it would have minimized disturbing behavior.

Please go kiss your spouse, hug your kids, smile at the grumpy neighbor, and when we have to stand up for something, for what’s right, let’s bring bravery, intelligence, and wisdom into the situation. And just for a thrill, let’s actually consider the other people involved and listen, carefully and prayerfully, realizing we can be wrong, too. Because it doesn't have to be like this. There is a better way.

If you approach people on these terms you may be a party of one, but yours is the party people will want to be invited to.

If

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

(or a true woman, my daughter.)

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9 (Geneva Study Bible)

© 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Things We Can’t Do at Our House

48 seconds to realize I need to have a serious talk with Minky and JoJo.

And I was excited when I ran my finger around the glass rim and made a sound. I may be an underachiever.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Interview With Our Winner – Joolzmac!

Unbelieveable soup recipe currently up on the 30 Day Throw Down blog. I call it Magic Soup. Feel free to kiss me for it the next time you see me. I kissed myself in the mirror just this morning. But it was after I brushed my teeth.

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As many of you know, I started the 30 Day Throw Down blog on September 1st of this year. The purpose was to change habits that might be leading to less than optimum health, or at least the best health we can attain. We did that by eliminating fast food and highly processed foods for the first 30 days, and then continuing on as we added exercise beginning October 1st. We will continue in these 30 day increments keeping the new habits going and adding others each month. There are no hard and fast rules. Everyone works at his or her own pace and does the best they can. Mostly it’s about learning to eat REAL FOOD and keeping an awareness that food is fuel and you can feed or harm yourself through your choices. And when it has been chemically treated, adulterated and refined, changed through genetic modification (GMO), or sourced from animals living in unnatural conditions and fed a diet far removed from what God intended, it can have seriously detrimental affects on our health.

So we strive to eat REAL FOOD. That means food like your grandparents ate. Some are watching portions to lose weight, others strive to optimize health or recover from illness. But none of us do it perfectly. We are simply working at positive changes, knowing each one makes a difference. You can jump in and join anytime. Simply start with the first 30 Day focus of eliminating fast food and highly processed food. We will all learn together as we go along and encourage each other. Next month we’ll be looking at labels and what they mean, along with more info on food, recipes, and exercise.

And trust me, the exercise one is the toughest for me by far. I’m having a rough time fitting it in to what feels like a very packed schedule. I’m TRYING. And that’s what this is about. DO NOT THINK you have to work this perfectly to hang out with us. But come and be encouraged to feed and care for the only body you have.

And as a kickoff last month, I ran a contest for a $100 Amazon Gift Card. Our winner was Joolzmac at Simply Joolz, from the land down under. She brought the goodness of Australia to us with her delicious menus and beautiful presentations. I also promised the winner an interview here and I’m glad you get to meet her. I hope you’ll drop in to her blog and say hello!

So without further ado, I’ll let Joolz speak for herself.

1. How did you hear about the 30 Day Throw Down?

I think you commented on one of my posts or on another blog and then I went to Robynn’s Ravings for a look-see. I was hooked!


2. What made you want to jump in with us?

I think because it was going to be the first day of Spring on Sept 1, (Joolz is in Australia) and it seemed like the ideal time to start a healthy eating plan. I referred to it as my LIVEit not my DIEt. Everything that you said made perfect sense to me and it was empowering and encouraging. I chose to go the low fat/sugar healthy eating road where others may have just embraced eating whole foods, grains, nuts, organic vegetables. Market fresh produce is not hugely available in our area so I had to rely on our stupid-markets. Don’t get me wrong, we still have fresh fruit and veg but the apples may have been picked 6 months ago and have been in cold storage and the carrots, well they probably can’t remember that dirty brown stuff they grew in. We have always used low fat, skim milk and low fat cheese so I didn’t start eating whole milk and full fat cheese. I ‘threw down’ cheese that was processed and wrapped in single plastic wrappers, stuff like that.


3. How did the first phase - leaving fast food and highly processed food behind - work for you?

We are not huge junk food eaters in our house anyway. Living in a small town of 5,000 people, we have a Red Rooster chicken takeaway (blech! don't go there, girlfriend!), a locally owned Chicken takeaway (hmmm, yep, yummy!), 2 pizza bars and a Chinese/Thai take-way and a couple of fish and chip shops but we don’t have McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc. etc. McDonalds, KFC and Hungry Jacks are 50kms away.


4. Did your family join you or did you do it on your own?

Neither Angus or Brianna need to lose weight but they certainly ate what I cooked. Angus likes to eat healthy anyway and Brianna has to have what we have or she doesn’t get fed. Breakfast is a personal choice and Angus always has cereal and fruit, juice, tea and toast. Always! Bri is more likely to eat a muffin heated up, or a …. chocolate cup cake heated up…. or a chocolate fudge brownie heated up…there’s a bit of work for me to do there! I always make/take Angus his lunch so usually it is a bread roll with meat (ham, beef, or turkey) and salad in it, a tub of yoghurt and an apple or banana. He is a healthy boy and only drinks water, no soft drinks (soda). In Australia we have things called meat pies and meat and vegetable pasties – very convenient food that you buy at the bakery in a paper bag. You push it to the top of the paper bag (hopefully it has tomato sauce (ketchup) on it and you can eat it – while walking, driving your car, watching the footy etc. Angus would not consider having a pie or pasty for lunch. I, on the other hand, love to do this. I also love small goods – salami, hot dogs, cabanossi, pepperoni. Junk food alert!! Please pass the carrot sticks! Where are my prunes?


5. What were your challenges?

The biggest challenge was being prepared and organized all the time. It’s easy to make a healthy lunch if there is the right food in the fridge. If there isn’t, that’s where bad alternatives sneak in. Into the 3rd week, I started to forget to cut up my fruit for fruit salad(melons, strawberries, apples, banana) so by the fourth week, I was only eating 1 banana a day instead of about 3 serves of fruit. I still haven’t had any real junk food (purchased) but I did have some ‘naughty’ food at the engagement party we went to. Not much, but some.

6. Do you think this has made you think more about caring for your body and your health?

Definitely! I am 45 years old and the kilos are creeping on and I have proved that they are very hard to budge at this age. Low fat, simple whole food is almost a necessity to maintain good health at this age. Exercise is harder because we are not as nimble as those 20 year olds, bouncing around at the gym. My joints creak and ache now so I probably have arthritis to look forward to later in life – I need to keep the weight off and keep my body moving to help in that area. I walk 5 kms, 5 days a week, rain, hail or shine and this definitely keeps my knees joints strong (I wear elastic knee braces on both for support) plus it’s good to get some fresh air in your lungs, feel the rain on your face (?) and feel the sun on your back (at 6am....pffft!). I have just bought a pedometer and some hand weights to strengthen my upper body.

7. Did you feel any better or are you noticing differences?

I do feel better. Although the scales said I only lost 1.5 kgs in the 30 days, I could notice a difference around my under-arms, my thighs and I lost a bit of my double-chin...I think! I need to do some tummy tightening exercises to tone up but, yup, I hate doing crunches etc. But I NEED to!

8. What tips would you offer that were helpful to you?

Planning is key – have good food on hand otherwise it is too easy to grab takeaway. At the same time, make sure you have a variety of options for lunches – I found salad rolls etc get very boring after about 2 weeks. Look for other things to have as a light meal. Take healthy snacks with you – a small zip-lock bag of pretzels or 10 rice crackers to munch on while your waiting to pick the kids up (better than a chocolate bar), bananas and apples are very portable for snacking, keep a bottle of water always on hand. Find time to think about and prepare your food – I let half a pineapple and half a watermelon go to waste in the fridge because I couldn’t be bothered cutting them up, but I ate bananas because they are convenient and ready to go. Find recipes that you know you will like. Don’t try and eat foods you don’t like, just because they are healthy. I will not touch cottage cheese even if you tell me it is good for me! Yuck! The internet is a fantastic resource for low fat recipes, go buy some cook books and ask you friends what they like to eat when they are weight watching. Try to modify your favourite recipes by cutting down on the fat and sugar content. You can do a stir fry in a wok with 2 teaspoons of oil instead of 2 tablespoons – you won’t notice the difference when you are eating it. If a cake says to use 1 cup of sugar, try using ½ or ¾ of a cup instead. The kids will never know! Get into a routine that suits you and your family. I usually walk at 6am, home at 7am, pack Bri’s lunch box then Brianna is on the bus at 7.30am. I do a bit of housework then eat my breakfast at 8.30 and read the paper, after Angus has gone to work. My morning is then my own for other chores, then I shower and get ready for work by 10.30am. Any variation to this and I find I don’t eat breakfast then I’m hungry mid morning etc. It’s okay to use some processed foods – tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, stock powder.


9. Would you mind sharing a few recipes or meal ideas?

I think there are quite a few recipes in my Throw Down posts. I really liked the cannelloni and Rippa Rissoles are good. I have a low fat Bolognese recipe that I will post later in the coming week.
You have a phenomenal talent for making your food look delicious. I wanted to eat at your house many times during that first 30 days! What makes that important to you? Thank you! None of my photos are really staged, I just have it in my head that I will photograph what I am cooking and I always try to plate up a meal nicely. Angus and I love watching cooking shows (probably too much!) and we have lots of cook books so I guess it just sticks in your mind how things should/could look when plated up.
What would you like to see covered in a 30 day period? I think you are on the right track with Eating Healthy and Move It! Perhaps we could discuss family hobbies and things to do together as a couple or family (although my chickens have basically flown the coop), grief and coping with death (why is it such a taboo subject when it happens to all of us eventually?), women’s health in general, coping with stress, PMT etc.


10. Any advice for someone just starting to think about healthy changes?

Say NO to HI (Human Interference) and say YES to FRESH! I didn’t really touch much on this during my 30 days but it is a good philosophy. If a human has interfered with a product to change it from it’s natural form – don’t touch it. Eg. Say NO to cheese wrapped in individual plastic portions – say YES and choose to eat a chunk of cheese of a bigger chunk of cheese (you can still choose low fat). Say no to chicken nuggets that have been minced with fat and cereal and extenders and preservatives then deep fried – say YES to a whole free range chicken breast, cut into chunks, dipped in egg, flour and bread crumbs then oven baked. Yum! Fresh squeezed juices have so many more benefits than fake reconstituted, concentrated fruit juice ‘drinks’ – cut up 2-3 chilled oranges and squeeze the juice and try for yourself. Hey, that's what orange juice should taste like! Buy a juicer and give my 2 Fruit/3 veg drink a go. Your kids will thank you!

11. Did you ever swear at me during that first month?

No, how could I swear at someone with such a sweet, smiley face....though I thought about bludgeoning you in your sleep, maybe! Just kidding! Lol! No, you really did inspire me and perhaps I’ve relaxed my eating a bit in the last week or so – but I am still not eating processed foods, my snacks are healthy (like carrot sticks and salsa, prunes, cranberry ‘craisins’, etc)and drinking water too.

Lastly, Joolz adds:

Something to think about - Why are we being forced to read ridiculous labels that nobody can understand, when the best foods in the world don’t have any labels? – Dr. John Tickell, author of The Great Australian Diet…the Atkins Alternative.

Thank you so much Robynn, it’s been fun and rewarding to do the September 30 Day Throw Down and I look forward to new, fun and interesting topics to discuss in the coming months.

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___________________________________________________

Didn’t Joolz provide great information? And I LOVE her LIVEit, not DIEt. Inspired!

Want to join us? Want to be in the current month’s drawing for dinner for two to Chipotle or win one of Nina Planck’s books: REAL FOOD, or her brand new release, REAL FOOD FOR MOTHER AND BABY? Then jump in, sign up to follow the 30 Day Throw Down blog, and leave a comment saying you’re now one of us. “One of us” means you’re on a journey to health, 30 days at a time. And I’m not your skinny-mini fearless leader in any way, shape, or form. I started this because I need to do it. I’m learning and working right alongside you.

My sincere THANKS to Joolzmac!

(Photography by Bo….)

© 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Absentia Is Underrated

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I will now move my seat to its full and upright position as I come in for a landing. I’m back. The details of exactly what happened between Microsoft and Comcast and/or the rest of the world (excluding you LUCKY Mac users), are vague to me and I wish them to remain so. Each time someone tries to explain it I find myself in danger of slipping into a coma. THE INTERNET WORKS. Even that three word sentence contains one word I find offensive if I linger too long. And the word “internet” bothers me as well.

There was no down time (however much I tried to wring it out) and I must say I cooked up a storm and have recipes to post to the 30 Day Throw Down. I only wish I could have fed you all personally, especially considering your encouraging comments in my hour of distress.

Perhaps I should announce my departure more often. Twenty-six comments on a post informing you I will not be writing. That’s more than I sometimes receive when I actually believe I have said something. Should I be offended or desperately flattered? I choose desperately flattered. I felt missed in that warm and fuzzy way (minus the fur the dogs always leave).

Posting will resume now and I will be showing up at your place, too. Let’s have tea or coffee. I made the scones – orange and cranberry to be precise - and will bring them along. We could make it a pajama party and sink into the sofa all tucked up together. I’ll really stretch and wear my old grubbies if you will. The lack of my usual pearls, stilettos, and makeup will make me a tad discomfited but the sacrifice cannot be too great. I’m here for you.

© 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm Stranded!

A quick note to say California and maybe some other areas are being tromped by our internet server, Comcast. I'm on a borrowed computer and service is hit and miss. Apparently Microsoft updated something yesterday and it has caused wide spread problems. The national news reports that all of Sweden lost internet connection today. So far, so good, Microsoft! And we thought Vista had problems. I don't know when I'll be back on but surely soon. Until then, maybe I'll get laundry done! I feel like I'm back in the dark ages. Maybe I'll light a candle and start chiseling out my next post.

How will I live without you?!

Goodbye! Hopefully not forever!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For You, Janine

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Well, we all had a grand time at the party and I thank you for stopping by. We ended up having a great let-your-hair down time at the end and, really, that’s who I am so it couldn’t have been more perfect.

Today, however, I am thinking of a blogging friend who has also become a real-life friend: Janine, at Sniffles And Smiles. If you haven’t been to her blog, I encourage you to go and be blessed and maybe drop her a word of encouragement. She is a professional journalist and teacher who writes from a the perspective of a woman, a mother and wife, and a Christian. Her writing is polished and inspiring. Janine is having surgery today to see if a spot on her rib could be a reoccurrence of the cancer she has so bravely battled. Some of you may know she has fought breast cancer in a bitter battle and yet maintains her wit, charm, and beauty. She graces us with her words in her regular Saturday post and amazes us with her paintings as well. (Some of her work appears on her blog.) Homeschooling her teenage son has remained a number one priority in spite of all these challenges.

Would you lift up a prayer today on her behalf and that of her family?

Nancy, at Life In The Second Half shared this picture of hope and it was started by others who love Janine. Thank you, Nancy, and my thanks to your sweet, caring friends.

Copyright 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Welcome to The Ball!

We have been invited to the GRAND ball at Willow Manor. Willow is throwing quite the fete and has encouraged her readers to do the same. I could never entertain with her panache what with wild cats sticking to the top of my head and rabies shots and crazy happenings. Perhaps I’m better suited to a hoedown. And frankly, I think that’s how the evening will end up. But here I stand chatting! Come in! Come in! You will be guided to your overnight accommodations and, once refreshed and dressed, do have a lovely glass of wine, and mix and mingle. I was so pleased to have the Nat King Cole Trio providing a sultry backdrop to our festivities. Here they are now with their rendition of “Moonlight in Vermont.” Don’t be intimidated by all the glitz and glamour. This is MY place. You know we’ll have our shoes off and be singing along before the evening’s done. Off you go. I’ll be along shortly.

I had no idea what to wear. I did manage to lose several thousand pounds in preparation since Willow announced this last week. And my gown with the ermine collar seemed to work so well I dared to trail it out again. I hope no one recognizes it but, at great risk to my reputation, here I am in it having only just made my appearance. (Do you think the crown is too much?) You’ll notice me dancing with Grizzly, my prince charming. I refer to him as “Your Highness.” It elevates him so. Besides, what a little thing it is and I condescend to amuse him along with pretending we've never met. I'm thrilled he finds me continually new and surprising.

You all look so perplexed there in the dining hall and I have no idea why my wine stewardess finds it necessary to adjust her pants in such an unseemly fashion. My sincere apologies that things don’t seem entirely prepared yet, but do hurry along to your rooms and change out of your traveling clothes. You’ll find everything laid out for you with evening clothes to accentuate only your very best attributes. We’ve been expecting you….for years. Just like at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.

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I hope you won’t be detained too long. There is a delightful performance scheduled in just a moment. Oh! Here come the first of you to arrive and aren’t you enchanting?! Camilla! Really, had I known you were wearing that I would never have worried over MY gown. No, TRULY darling, it’s simply flowing isn’t it? Panty lines? What panty lines?

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Oh, I hope you’ll all love this next presentation as much as I did. I had SO hoped k d lang, Tony Bennett, and Chris Bodie could have been here but alas, they had prior engagements. However, they sent over this special song recorded just for us. I will beg your pardon while I am swept away for a moment and daintily dab at my tears whilst swooning. We have catchers nearby for all the ladies if you care to join me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I really don’t know what to say after that except….this should be followed by the finest wine. May I pour? I have absolutely no faith in the stewards anymore.

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And now to dine! It would seem the tables are prepared and await only you.

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For your dining pleasure we will be serving Boeuf Bourguignon so recently popularized in the movie Julie & Julia. I have even written the name into the gravy. If you find yourself suddenly stricken with a senior moment and cannot recall what you are eating or why, it is there to gently and subtly remind you.

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And of course, only a gold-plated sundae could round out our evening, and our evening wear.

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I’ve saved one of my very favorite guests for last. She wants to sing for you the theme song to my blog. She worked this up especially for me and it is my love song to all of you. It explains why I’m so attached to you and why we simply must stick together even when you find yourself wanting to run away screaming. Allison, this was so dear of you. I can’t thank you enough. You sing from my heart.

I’m sure Allison would join us if we wanted to kick off our shoes, grab the nearest musical instrument, and join her for a little jam session. I know my evening won’t be complete without it. And while we play and sing, let’s dip our toes into my modest pool.

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I thank you all for coming. None of this would have been possible without you. I trust you’ll enjoy the rest of your stay and I will do my level best to continue to accommodate you. If you are still in the mood for a party, I encourage you to join the party circuit in full swing at Willow Manor with her Enchanted Evening. Willow will be happy to facilitate your continued merry-making by teleporting you to any of the other parties. Just click Here.

Ahhhhhh. It feels SO good to get out of those Spanx. Oh! Did I say that out loud?

Copyright 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Cat And I – Part II

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Yes, I made kitty scared. It didn’t do me any favors, either. When it got to the top of my head, it grabbed on and did the dog-shaking-a-dead-rodent routine. It wanted to be SURE I knew it was serious. I knew. Hence, the screaming.

Head wounds bleed - a lot. And bleeding from an attack causes strange utterances that bring children flying. Bo and The Wild Man stood at the top of the stairs crying. I hollered at them to stay put as I considered my options in two seconds flat. The cat had made for the front door – which was now closed – but it seemed not to recognize that fact. I was right behind it to try and catch Grizzly before he drove away and there it was, spread eagle and plastered like something right out of a Tom & Jerry cartoon. All I could think of was to get that cat OUT of my house. It felt the same way. I grabbed the door and, just before we parted company forever, I looked into those eyes and realized they were yellow, not green, like Bess’s. Wishful thinking makes you slow on the uptake apparently.

Grizzly was pulling away from the curb when a crazy woman with streaming blood started yelling for him to stop. He pulled his truck over and came flying out.

“Oh my LORD, Robynn, what HAPPENED?!”

“The cat wasn’t Bess!” I managed to offer from somewhere behind my veil of gore. Grizzly said later he was afraid to look because he thought my eye had been ripped out. Why it wasn’t was absolutely Providential. I had a puncture below my eye and above it.

“Get to the kitchen sink!” he roared while bellowing at the kids that mommy was gonna be okay. They were unconvinced and howled pitifully. I grabbed a dish towel and shoved it onto the top of my head trying to staunch the flow. It worked. When we thought it was safe we took it off to try and clean things up and survey the damage. It was obvious a needle and thread were in order.

Now, if you ever have an emergency, DON’T call my mother. She cannot leave the house without an appropriate pantsuit and makeup on. I forgot this small detail when I grabbed the phone, towel pressed to my head.

“Uh, mom? I need you to come over right away. A stray cat attacked me, I’m bleeding and need some stitches, and I need you to stay with the kids.” Seemed straight forward.

What happened?” she responded and I repeated myself. “Mom, I need to go to the emergency room so come right away.” It was 6:45 in the morning. My mother lives four miles away. By 7:30 she still hadn’t come and we decided we could just wait until the doctor’s office opened at 8:00. I hadn’t bled to death yet so that seemed promising.

She pulled up at 7:45. Had to feed the dog, too, she explained.

While we waited we took advantage of the time to comfort the kids, calm them down, and explain that their grandmother was insane. It had to come out sooner or later.

When we arrived at the doctor’s office he pooh-poohed the whole thing and said I probably just needed a band-aid. Then he pulled the towel off and suddenly changed his mind. And he stitched my scalp back together. Then I contemplated sewing his cheeks together, and I’m not talking about the ones that framed his unsympathetic mouth. Hubris in physicians definitely highlights my sweet Christian nature.

“Where’s the cat?’ he asked as we wrapped up.

“I have no idea,” I replied.

“Do you think you can catch it?” he astutely inquired.

“I’m thinking NOT since I have no idea, uh, WHERE IT IS, and I’ve never seen it before today.”

“Well, that’s unfortunate. Because we can’t observe it to see whether it’s sick or not. It’s probably fine but you may need to think about rabies shots. You better call the Health Department. They administer rabies shots in people.”

So I called.

They informed me our area had an unusually high rate of rabies in skunks. Nothing reported in cats but they couldn’t be sure. And since the cat couldn’t be located – and we tried – it seemed best to proceed.

All I could think of was the old horror stories about shots in the abdomen. It wasn’t nearly that bad. These days, all they have to do is give you a series of shots, on three or four different occasions, RIGHT in the wounds, wherever the animal bit you - three on my face and one on my head. But the doctor was really nice so nothing happened to his posterior.

However, the pain during healing was phenomenal. I know because every time Grizzly passed by me he scratched the top of my head with his fingers in that loving way parents do with children. The first time he did it I cried for ten minutes. He felt terrible and was beside himself. He had done this to me for years and just reached out from habit. I recovered and forgave him.

And then he did it again the next day.

I decided to lay on the couch with a shotgun across my chest.

The good news is, I won’t get rabies. I’m probably due for a booster, though. And tags. And a license. And I like to think I modeled bad behavior for my children so they could see that it’s not always wise to grab stray animals.

Like my refrigerator magnet says, “If you can’t be a good example, be a terrible warning.” After all, what are mothers for?

If you’re not sure, just ask mine. But not right now. She’s looking for her makeup.



Copyright 2009

Please drop in to my other blog 30 Day Throw Down for the latest on our efforts to exercise so we can speed away from marauding stray cats.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

And THEN It Ripped My Head Off...

To celebrate my 200th post. I think I deserve cake. :)

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Last winter, when I wrote about Punxsutawney Phil and Gopher Guts, I said I’d save the cat story for a more appropriate time, like Halloween. Maybe you didn’t believe me. Maybe you were lucky enough to have never heard of me last winter. Those halcyon days are over and October is now here. And I feel obliged to purge myself of another animal story.

I have to start by telling you that absolutely nothing good happens when people approach my side of the bed and wake me up.

We’ve all had the middle of the night declarations from our precious bundles that go something along the lines of:

“I have to frow up.”

“My froat hurts.”

“The cat frew up.”

“The dog halves diareeeeeuh.”

(My children just stopped talking like this last week. I still do.)

But declarations from my husband, Grizzly, have been FAR worse.

We have a morning routine that rarely changes. It varies between excessive snooze alarms (him), and pillows on the head (me). I go to bed much later than he does so I ATTEMPT to get up after him which works a couple of times a week. If I am successful and sleep through the fire station alarm clock, I wake up shortly after he leaves. However, the handful of times he has appeared at my bedside to purposely wake me, it’s never been to tell me how fetching I look in the morning or to declare his undying love. I feel it should be accompanied by nitroglycerin pills to get my heart started again.

“Someone bashed out your car windows.” (Two of them. On my birthday.)

“Something’s stuck in JoJo’s stomach and she’s trying to eat the carpet. I’ve gotta go but you better do something.” (A rawhide bone and she ate three square feet of an area rug trying to shove it on through.)

“The cat got a bird and there are feathers and blood all over the living room.” (Which time?)

“All the animals are standing around the couch staring at the floor. I think there’s something alive under there. Gotta go.” (There was, but that’s another story.)

But once, ONE time, there were sweet words. Longed for words:

“Robynn, I think Bess is home.”

Bess? Our treasured and much mourned cat?!

The very words had me on my feet and flying down the stairs, with random clothes being thrown on backwards. Grizzly said he had been leaving for work when he suddenly spotted her sitting in the yard. Our dear, beloved cat. The five-year-old Wild Man’s dear, beloved cat. She had vanished into thin air three months earlier. He cried for a week. We had walked miles and posted countless fliers with her photo front and center.

Bess loved the Wild Man passionately and she considered me a close second. When we slept she would go from bed to bed, curling up next to our faces and falling asleep with an outstretched paw touching our cheeks. And now his cheek and his bed were desperately lonely and he could barely talk about her.

But here was Grizzly telling me she was back. I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to lay my hands on her as I carefully crept out the front door, trying not to alarm her. Grizzly had warned me that she looked a little spooked and disoriented.

“Go easy,” he advised. “She seems a little out of it. It is her, isn’t it?”

“YES, it’s her!” I answered. “And of course she seems out of it. She’s been gone all this time.”

“Well, be careful. She might freak out or something and I’ve gotta go to work. Let me know.”

I approached slowly and bent down to collect her in my arms. She’d always been a gorgeous cat with luxurious snow-white fur. Now she looked a little worse for the wear and I wondered where she’d been. She was definitely wild-eyed but let me hold her to my chest while I made my way back into the house.

“Robynn, be careful!” Grizzly warned again.

“She’s fine!” I assured him. “Just a little shaken up,” and with that I said good-bye and shut the door.

Bess was home.

If I was smart I would just write “The End” right here.

The problem is, I’ve never really struggled that much with smart, which became painfully evident. I was an old-time cat wrangler. I had never met a cat I didn’t want to keep, hold, rescue, or spend a small fortune on. I thought loving every cat in the world would make every cat love me. I was fearless. Besides, why would I be afraid of my own cat?

I sat down on the couch and cradled her in my arms. I talked baby talk to her. (Doesn’t everyone talk to animals in baby talk?) Her body remained clenched. I gently scratched the sides of her face.

Bess had been one of four kittens Grizzly had rescued from a drainage pipe one day, while he was working. Heavy equipment roaring past guaranteed their demise as they wobbled out on shaky legs. Mama cat had been frightened off so what could he do but bring them home? Two white females and two gray tabby males. He said we’d raise them through kittenhood and then find homes. Oh. Okay. Our two cat household became six.

Three years later, I sat on the couch trying to reassure a terrified Bess. Her litter mates made their way into the living room. Lifted noses sniffed the air and stopped dead in their tracks. They absolutely didn’t know her. She suddenly realized they were there. And just as suddenly, she realized she absolutely didn’t know them, either. Apparently, I was the only one present who didn’t know the cat I held was NOT Bess. What happened next is hard to explain unless you’ve ever been attacked by a mountain lion.

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I felt her lurch and I tried to hang on. That was a mistake I figured out later - during recovery. She attached herself to my face. I tried to peel her off which she apparently interpreted as my attempt to throw her into a volcano filled with wolves. She chomped my cheek, climbed by nose, dived between my eyes, and landed on top of my head. In a frenzy, I still grabbed at her, trying to stop the attack. She figured I was now trying to personally consume her so she sank her fangs into my skull and ripped. She won. I let go. And I screamed. Not on purpose. It was just sort of natural and organic, you might say, under the circumstances. The circumstances included child-birth-like pain, the sound of tooth on cranium (think T-Rex eats lawyer in Jurassic Park), gushing blood, and a cat recently launched off my head.

…….To Be Continued

Copyright 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Want To Ugg You

pink ugg boot

Free Ugg Boots From Whooga Boots!

When you bend over and look at the feet you have down under you, wouldn't you like to see a new pair of Uggs, sent to you free from the land down under?

I got an opportunity to offer my dear readers a chance to win free, warm Ugg boots to get ready for the cold and chilly days ahead here in the Northern Hemisphere. I couldn't pass it up. The only catch is you have to link through my blog and add the button to your blog - then you're entered. If you click on the link above you'll enter through Whooga, the sponsor of this contest. I hope you win! Click away!

Copyright 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Say It Ain't SO!

I'm posting this while still roaring with laughter. I can barely type. This 30 seconds will have me bustin' a seam throughout the day. The big question is: are we women born this way? I'll let you decide but please swallow your food and put down all beverages. Hahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahaha!!!




P.S. This'll be the only time in her life she will be able to talk THIS much and have a man enjoy it! Live it UP, darlin'!


Thank you for the link, my dear Sass!! Helen sent this to me. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Right Message

Do I get to laugh as hard as I did even though I homeschool? Homeschooling parents are NOT exempt. This could apply to us in a MULTITUDE of extracurricular areas.


Go ahead and watch. Make your OWN day! :)



Don't forget! The 30 Day Throw Down! blog begins the next 30 Days on October 1st. Now we get our groove on and move it!