Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gratitude Journal #253

Today, I am grateful for our golden retriever, who spends a great deal of time lying around.

"Mommy is working. She won't play. I has a sad."

"See my sad?"

"Gloom, despair, and agony on me."

George isn't really this red.
Nor is Daisy nearly as unhappy as she looks. She's
just tired, and momma's making her pose
for a bad iPhone picture.

Today, I am grateful for blue and gold autumn days, for hikes in state parks, and for George's mad photography skillz.

Nick stands tall.

But the trees are much taller.

Such gorgeous layers of color!

Even the ground is pretty.

Blue sky, yellow leaves. I almost tripped from looking up while I walked.


More yep.

I love this picture, but all I can see is how long Daisy's tongue is. Wow.

Leaf. Moss. Log.

Walking with Jack.

What a smile!

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, October 20, 2014

On Road Kill and Rescue

I am pleased to report that no animals were killed during my drive home from a meeting Tuesday night. This is an enormous relief. Have you ever heard the adage that bad things happen in threes? Well, apparently, I accidentally kill animals with my vehicle in threes, and hitting that raccoon on the Sunday night of our plumbing debacle in September starts a new round in the match-up between my car and Mother Nature's adorable furry things.

Back in the late 90s, I hit Bambi on I-85 near Atlanta. Bambi and his mom decided that dusk was the perfect time to cross four lanes of west-bound interstate. Bambi fell to the front bumper of my sporty red Acura Integra, was pulled into the wheel well, and did not suffer.

I pulled off the interstate at the next exit and called George from a payphone. Remember those? Anyway, he couldn't grasp why I was upset about KILLING BAMBI!!! when clearly the car needed work and oh the expense. I hung up on him and called my mother, who completely understood why I was falling apart at a service station parking lot pay phone. She talked me down from the ledge so I could continue my drive home to Columbus, Georgia.

My husband lovingly and comfortingly called me B.K. (Bambi Killer) for the following year or so.


Within two months, I'd also hit a sparrow in broad daylight with multiple witnesses in the car, and shortly thereafter I ran over a cat late one night.

I can still hear the sound. It was horrible.

Until the recent raccoon incident, I hadn't killed anything but bugs with my car since that cat. I'd successfully avoided hitting several deer when we lived in Rapid City, but otherwise, wildlife and household pets had stayed away from me and my vehicle.

Now that I've sent a poor raccoon to heaven, what's next? I'm paranoid about it. Will it be a skunk?An opossum? A ground hog? A squirrel? A turtle?

Turtles aren't furry but they can be kind of cute. I'd feel bad hitting one.

Recently, NPR reported that State Farm predicts Ohioans have a 1-in-127 chance of hitting a deer in the next year. Last year, it was a 1-in-135 chance. I'm not liking my odds. At least I don't live in West Virginia, where the chances of hitting a deer are 1 in 39. Oy vey!

The truly sad thing about this subject is its ubiquity. As you've read my stories of vehicular animal slaughter, you've probably remembered your own guilt in hitting adorable furry things. They will insist on darting across roads right in front of us.

Sometimes, good can come out of these encounters, though. Such was the case when George rescued a barred owl that had been hit and lay dazed and confused on the side of the road. You can read about the rescue HERE and about Caesar's release back to the wild HERE.

We've also saved a dove, because, you know, they are endangered and everything. And Nick and I saved a snapping turtle that we urged across the road but didn't touch as, you know, they snap.

And, it turns out, they hiss menacingly, too.

These more positive encounters with nature surely give us some good karma to balance the bad. Just how responsible are we when animals dash in front of our cars or fly into our grills?

I'm reminded of a story from my teaching days at Wichita State University. One of my fellow graduate teaching assistants walked in to his freshman composition class on the first day of the semester. In the front row, he saw a visually-impaired student with a guide dog next to a student wearing a turban. During the class, a cockroach scurried in front of the class, and a student yelled for the teacher to kill it. The turbaned student argued, "Don't kill it! It's a living thing!" While the teacher hesitated, wondering what the politically correct thing to do might be in such a bizarre situation, the guide dog snapped up the roach and ate it.

The moral of the story: dogs are gross.

And maybe sometimes things just happen.

But please, Lord, let them not happen in threes.

Gratitude Journal #252

Today, I am grateful for my Stephen Minister friends, who are an amazing group of people.

Today, I am grateful for sleep. After a lifetime of insomnia, I'm sleeping better than ever. It's a revelation!

Today, I am grateful for my pastor Suzanne.

Today, I am grateful for the opportunity to teach a class on prayer. There's no better way to learn more about a topic than to teach it to others.

Today, I am grateful for hope.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Gratitude Journal #251

Today, I am grateful for all the company we've had in the past month...Jen Fullmer, Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Herb, my in-laws Barb and Roger. I've spent so much time enjoying their company that blogging and stamping have fallen temporarily to the bottom of my list of priorities, but in the next week or so, I will be getting back to them.

Today, I am grateful for your patience.

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gratitude Journal #250

Today, I'm grateful for 250 weeks of gratitude!

Today, I am grateful our friend Jen was able to visit for a few days. It's been nearly 15 years since I saw her, although George ran the Marine Corps Marathon with her in 2011. She returned from a year-long deployment earlier this year, and her new assignment will bring her to our local Air Force base occasionally. Yay! It's always cool to pick up with good friends exactly where you left if no time had passed.

Rockin' out to Sister Golden Hair Surprise.

Today, I'm grateful it's now my favorite season of the year. I know some people find fall a difficult time, but the crisp air and gorgeous colors and blue skies and apple fritters of fall make me feel so happy!


Today, I'm grateful that my aunt and uncle will be visiting later this week. We haven't seen them in too, too long!

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What Are You Most Proud of?

CBS News recently reported that Malcolm Mitchell, a star football player for the University of Georgia Bulldogs, has joined a book club of middle-age women. It all started when one of the women chatted him up at a Barnes & Noble. She told him about the club she'd just joined, and he asked if he could join, too. And he did.
I love this.

When the reporter asked what accomplishment Mitchell was most proud of, he answered that it was reading the entire Hunger Games series in two days. The reporter pointed out his amazing skill on the gridiron, and Mitchell's reply made me tear up.

"That came natural. That's a gift. I had to work to read."

Mitchell started college at a junior-high reading level and was determined to change that. So he did. Through hard work and determination, and being called a nerd, he improved his reading. Now, he always has a book with him. He hangs out at Barnes & Noble. He reads books he wouldn't pick for himself and plants himself in a group of older women to talk about those books. His mind is wide open and willing. He is courageous.

I learned to read very young and very easily. I never thought reading was hard. It was like breathing or swallowing or scratching an itch. It came to me naturally. It was a gift. I'm grateful for it but not particularly proud of being able to read. It's a means to an's how I get at stories and entertain myself and learn lots of other things. Like Mitchell with his gift for football, I honed and refined my gift through years of college and graduate school. But the gift of being able to read--of making sense of squiggly lines on pages of books--I take for granted every single day.

When I was growing up, many things that came easily weren't particularly interesting to me. I could do them and was happy when I succeeded at them, but my biggest sources of pride were the things I had to work at, the things I struggled for.

During my senior year in high school, I found myself drowning in academic overload. I'd signed up for too many AP classes and felt crushed by the homework and pressure to keep my grades up for college. Midway through the year, my advisor suggested I drop one class. I chose to drop physics because that was my easiest class...the only one that wasn't Advanced Placement. It was boring, and so I didn't care about it. The physics teacher told me it didn't make sense to drop my easiest A, and perhaps for him, it didn't. But for me it was the only option.

We value most what we work hardest for. Perhaps that's the reason I am so very proud of my crafty accomplishments. I've worked hard to teach myself design principles and made a lot of garbage in the process. I'm proud that my craft area feels like home was a huge struggle for me to gain confidence in myself as a creator of paper art, to let go of my fear of failure.

I'm also proud of my writing. But in very real and weird ways, writing presents an even bigger challenge. I've not achieved that same confidence in it that I've achieved in crafting. It's scary to put words out there, to plan a book and follow through with it, to be vulnerable and honest and open and overcome the barriers I've erected in my self-identity as a writer. It's much safer to write advertising copy or sales articles about memory chips or an analysis of Chaucer's proto-feminism or blog posts about bad mommy karma or why I don't own fine china.

Writing actual books? Those things I've carried around with me my entire life like security blankets or pacifiers or oxygen tanks? Can I create one of those precious objects?

Sure I can. The fear, however, comes from wondering how good it will be, wondering how it will be received, wondering if anyone will read it, worrying that someone might not like it, worrying that I might not like it. The fear comes from putting a big project out there, exposing it to public opinion. The fear of failure looms larger at my computer than it does at my craft table.

When a card doesn't work, I toss it in the trash and move on. How will I feel if I spend months or even years writing something that has to be tossed in the trash?

THAT takes courage.

Malcolm Mitchell has that kind of courage. He saw a lack in his education, one most people around him likely didn't care about at all as long as he was performing well on the football field. After all, the average American reads at a junior-high level. It's not like he was functionally illiterate. Still, he decided to overcome his deficit and he did, and whole worlds have opened up for him...even the world of the middle-age women's book club.

Thank you, Malcolm Mitchell, for inspiring me. I love your courage, your refusal to settle for average, your willingness to connect with others and put yourself out there in life.

It's time to write.


What are you most proud of? Where in your life have you chosen to limit yourself, play it safe? Do you find courage in Mitchell's story, or is there some other story that hit you over the head with inspiration? A book, perhaps?   

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gratitude Journal #249

What a weekend.

Today, I am grateful to Dr. Bean and staff at MedVets in Dayton for treating Daisy for "garbage gut" on Saturday. Poor thing is sick, and there's no way to tell what caused it.

Today, I am grateful for learning about subcutaneous fluids and knowing that even though my dog looked deformed and sloshy about the shoulders, she had plenty of water slowly absorbing to help her get well quicker. She slept a lot this weekend.

Today, I am grateful that she happily ate boiled chicken for breakfast.

Today, I am grateful Jack got to ride Thomas the Tank Engine on Saturday with George and his brother while I was at the vet.

Today, I am grateful for emergency plumbers who come on Sunday night and figure out that our pipes are clogged. I'm grateful for people who do this dirty, a better adjective would be "NASTY" job. Thank you ever so much.

Today, I am grateful that the raw sewage that spewed from our pipes didn't ruin anything important and that it's all contained in an unfinished area of the basement.

Today, I am grateful that our local Hampton Inn had vacancies and that they allow dogs so we could decamp to a place with a fully functional water system and breakfast served early enough for my kids to eat before heading to school.

All tucked in at the inn

Today, I am grateful that it was a raccoon and NOT a skunk or deer that ran in front of my car on the way to the Hampton Inn last night because my house stinks enough already and my car just got fixed and anything worse than a suicidal raccoon would have made me completely lose my sense of humor.

Today, I feel really sorry about the raccoon.

Today, I am grateful we can pay for all this chaos when so many people struggle with these sorts of emergency issues.

Today, I am grateful no one (other than the raccoon, of course) was hurt, maimed, killed, or otherwise tragically affected by events this weekend.

What are YOU grateful for today?