Monday, July 30, 2007

George

This past week reminds me of a tunnel. My focus was to emerge, alive, at the other end and to not worry about the journey. Yet, I am full of things to write. It might take another week to do so. The week was too full, and caffeine pumps through my veins to keep me going.

This past week, my brother, George, nine years my junior, came to stay with me for his vacation. George was born with hydrocephalus and not expected to live beyond a few days. But live he did, and was one of the first babies to receive a shunt to drain fluid from his brain. Unfortunately, this left him with a multitude of physical and mental disablities.

There are so many things to learn from George, so many lessons for those of us who come to know him. Often, I'll hear a well meaning person say that God will heal you if only you ask and believe, that God always answers prayers. Sometimes, someone will link an affliction to God's wrath and disappointment at our behaviors. Yet, I look at George and realize that sometimes, afflictions are a sign of God's love. That may sound strange, for certainly, George has had a most difficult life. His disabilites were certainly difficult for my parents and our family.

I think God doesn't always send the answer that we think we need, rather the lesson that He thinks we need. Perhaps not even a lesson, George gives people the opportunity to demonstrate their humanity. He smiles at strangers, gets in their faces with a bleating "Helloooooo..." They'll either respond with a tentative hello, a confused and wary hello, or in on man's case, the readiness to fight if necessary (for George on first glance appears normal). "What's your name?" he'll ask. When they respond, he'll hold his hand over his heart and smile. "I'm George." After about the twentieth introduction, a quick exit from Stuff Mart was in order.

For a week, I had a chance to see kindness in people that I might not have otherwise seen. Strangers looked at me and smiled, collaborators in making George happy for a moment. And I could not help wondering, what if we all were "normal" and had no one to remind us how fortunate we all are?

Never again will I be aggravated that my five year old asks me to help him in the bathroom. It pales in comparison with a man who need similar help but has medicines that make it even worse (you don't want to know). Never again will I think brushing my little ones teeth is a chore, as I've brushed the teeth of a man on meds that make the gums bleed and teeth bad. Going to the store is easy now, despite my son's shenanigans, and getting to the car for an errand is speedy after waiting ten minutes for George to negotiate the steps.

Many times this week, someone has said to me how they admire me for taking him for the week. Yet, see, he's given me a gift. He's made me see how soft and easy my life is on a normal day. I never knew. He gave me the opportunity to model compassion and patience to my children. He taught my son that sometimes, he didn't come first even as the youngest in the house.

I won't say I'm not relieved that the week is completed, for I'd be lying. It was hard. But it was good. I had many a revelation, a few laughs, and sense of accomplishment. My right eye is twitching hard, but I think that might be temporary. I'm off now to set my house to rights and to try to get back to my regularly scheduled life, but perhaps, with a little different outlook. I love you, George!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Who's In There?

In My Crate

We're pet sitting for a neighbor. We took the small kitten home, as she is so young and because, frankly, we enjoy playing with her. She is not at all afraid of our dogs, though I can't say the opposite is true.

The kitty, out of her crate during the day, returned to find that one of our Japanese Chin dogs, Whitney who weighs only 8 pounds, had holded up in kitty's crate.

That wasn't the only indignity she has suffered. In cleaning the litter box, I found quite a bit of wet, and though I've not had a small kitten in a long time and perhaps had forgotten, I didn't think they peed that much.

"Gee, she goes alot," I remarked to my son. I knew something was up when he began to giggle.

"That was me," he admitted.

I cleaned poor kitty's box with strong admonishments to son that kitty boxes were not for humans.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Small Town Life - Parade

Tell me, what possesses some men later in life? My girls and I laughed aloud at the man standing, who gyrated as if he were in a Chippendales show.

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I bet this man's wife is very proud of him.

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William would like one of these cars. I think that is about the right age level.

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I was most impressed with this dog, who carried the banner for his owner.

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Now, I would be embarassed if dh decided to drive around crazily on little motor scooters or gyrated in Arabian costumes. But I would like to see him in this. (He has great legs, and you know what they say about the skirts!)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

National Holiday

"I have plans for the day" said my daughter.

Last night, we were watching the news which was covering all the people gathering at book stores and libraries, waiting in line for their copy of Harry Potter.

"Want me to drive you down to the library right now?" I asked from my warm bed.
"Really?" she asked, her eyes lighting up.
"No." Sorry, I don't do midnight gatherings.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

1. For the record, I don't really watch Dr. Phil. No respect for the show, whatsoever. I just was being funny and that's what came out.

2. Lauren likes cake okay, but just really wanted a cherry pie. When I was growing up, pie as a dessert was always preferred over cake, but one always had a birthday cake. I, however, LOVE cherry pie, and was only too happy to meet her request.

3. This pie is very easy to make. Buy one box Pilsbury pie dough containing two dough circles and two cans of Comstock cherry pie filling. Put one pie dough circle in a pie plate. Dump in the cans of filling. Lick the spoon. Take the other circle and lay it out on a cutting board. Cut it into strips. Take one strip and place across pie. Place other strip perpendicular to that one. Then, go around the pie, lifting any strips back toward the middle that are "under". Place a new strip, and put all the turned back strips back. Then go on to the next side. Repeat until the whole pie is woven. Crimp edges. Easy as pie to do, difficult to explain. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes and then 30 minutes at 350 F. All done.

4. Yes, I do know that "normal" people don't have chickens on their porch. Dh reminds me of this frequently.

The Devil Wears Snow Boots

What could possibly be more embarassing to a teen girl than having your little brother wear his light-up Incredibles snow boot with shorts in the middle of July? Note also the mud-caked legs which only add to her agony.

StuffMart

Dear StuffMart,

Like the government, you think you are the only game in town, and don't need to respond or react to individual experiences and complaints. It is near to the truth where I live, but I am close to spending precious time driving into the nearby city just to avoid you.

Item 1: Please either improve the ventilation in the women's restroom or provide SCUBA equipment at the entrance. Someone who is clearly in need of medical attention is using it on a daily basis.

Item 2: The crone that works in the toy department is scaring my children. In fact, she scares me. I think she's never smiled in her life. Please transfer her to auto parts or even better, the stock room.

Item 3: Please clearly identify which check out lane has a new cashier. I suppose I should have figured it out by the long line and her muttered curses, and how she was looking around for ANYONE that knew why the cash register was defying her. Please have someone help her instead of coming by every half hour to see if she is okay. She's not. Okay?

Item 4: If an item is on the shelf, and it clearly states the price and description, and it all matches, please don't charge me $20 over that price. Don't expect me to match the SKU number that is written in 0.8 pt type. I'm getting older, and my eyes aren't what they used to be. Neither is my patience with items not in the right place.

That's all for now, as I don't want to get too worked up. But, I'm thinking I might have to go check out the new Costco.

Sincerely,
Junosmom

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The War on Odor

Dear Husband,

Yes, I'm afraid to admit that one sock was dark grey, the other dark blue. Perhaps I was interupted during my intensive sock matching or perhaps I was engrossed in watching Dr. Phil filet yet another couple that was idiotic enough to submit to his scrutiny. Call me neglectful. Truly, I could not have known that particular pair would be chosen for your overnight business trip.

And yes, I do know that they make you take your shoes off at the airport. It was smart to wear the other pair twice, but again, how would I know your flight would be cancelled. And yes, I guess with a stretch I could see how foot odor after three days in the same socks might be considered an act of terror in an airport.

I promise in the future to match more diligently, or at the very least, to allow you to participate in this very important activity.

Your Loving Wife

Monday, July 16, 2007

Happy Birthday, Baby!



From the first moment I saw you, I knew you would be beautiful, smart, special.



What I didn't know is that I would, as you became a young woman, not only love you with all I am, but like you. Really like you. See, I've been warned all along - "you just wait until she gets to be a teenager". Dire predictions followed about how I would begin to lose you as you asserted your independence through angry words or no words at all. Friends and peers would replace me in your heart.


Somehow, that failed to happen, now you are 16, and I can't believe that I have such a self-assured and balanced, talented yet modest daughter. Again, dire predictions warn about your growing up, learning to drive, moving away from me. And yet, I can only marvel that we've become friends and that you ask me what I think and that we find the same things funny.
I'm not afraid of your independence, of your confidence, of your leaving. I look forward to having this amazing woman you are becoming as my friend. Now, I must quit before my eyes tear up. Oops - too late.



Tea Party


The boys had a tea party the other day. Boys, you might ask? Boys? Notice the sticks lying on the table. Those are their self-made guns, put down for FOOD and lemonade. Notice the pipette, for scientific study of volume. Notice again the FOOD. And learning to pour out.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Foal pictures at 2 weeks old

Maggie (mom) and baby Roxie

She and Daisy (40 pound dog) are about the same size.





Overheard


"Mom, when we got here, I saw a chicken on the porch! And I was like, Holy Crap!"

-departing guest (and new acquaintance) from card party my girls hosted last night

Friday, July 13, 2007

Wine, Women and Song



I bottled the Cabernet yesterday. It turned out quite well, due only to my neglect, I'm sure. It's been waiting patiently, as have my friends who rely on my dubious wine making skills.

I actually did a unit study for the girls on the process of wine making, as there is quite a bit of science involved, but dh was skeptical of the opinions of the school district should they find the task of making alcoholic drinks as part of my curricula. So far, I've flown under their radar.

Pictured to the right is Wm, helping me to pound in the corks. He got quite into it, and I somehow escaped injury from his very real hammer.

Watch Your Toes!

Based on a true story told to me by my father-in-law, Norman.

Ready to go to bed, Norman walked over to the kitchen counter to take his evening medicine he'd previously laid on the counter. It wasn't there. Perhaps his memory failed him or his sleepiness made him forget that he'd already taken it?

Shrugging his shoulders, he headed to bed, waking Marilyn, his wife, who was dozing in a chair. "I'm going to bed, Marilyn."

He was only seconds in his bed when a terrific crash and the rattling of pans startled him. In the kitchen, he was terrified to see Marilyn passed out cold on the floor. As she came to, she had no memory of what had happened, but her toe was broken and a nail ripped off.

At the emergency room and after treating her toe, they began tests to determine the cause of her fainting spell. Strong as iron, Marilyn is not one given to the vapors. As the hours passed, they recounted the evenings events, looking for clues. It was then that Norman mentioned that he couldn't find his medicine, and assumed he'd taken it already. Ding. The light went on - Marilyn had taken his medication. One of the prescriptions required the build-up of an tolerance, starting with half a pill at first. She'd taken two! Mystery solved.

Recovered completely from fainting, Marilyn is nursing her broken toe and is hoping that the medication won't lower her voice or cause her to grow a beard.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Anna's Latest Artwork


Girls and Juno2, originally uploaded by junosmom.

She continues to blow me away with her artistic ability. Here is a scan of her latest drawing showing Lauren, my beloved Juno (from whom I get my pen name), and herself as a little girl. The scan doesn't do the pencil and shading justice, but it gives you an idea.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Heart of the Matter

Quote of the Day:

I always remind my students that life's most important questions are never asked on standardized tests. No one asks them questions regarding character, honesty, morality, or generosity of spirit. In Room 56 (his classroom) these are the issues of true importance. Why have we lost sight of this? It's probably because raising scores a little higher is easy. Teaching honor and ethics is not nearly as simple a task. But if we want to create extraordinary students, we must be the ones to keep this in perspective."

-Rafe Esquith in Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire

Family Farm Clarification

This past weekend, we traveled to northeastern Ohio for my niece's wedding. Just yesterday, she was the flower girl in my wedding so I'm not sure how it happened that she's now old enough to get married herself. Brought a sniff or two to more than one invitee. Not me of course, I never tear up. Gwen was beautiful, and the setting idyllic. It made one think we all suddenly found ourselves centuries before in an oak grove of a farm, surrounded by flowers and good food. Gwen's family worked hard to make this all come together and this vision for attendees.

The photos that are pictured in yesterday's post were from my husband's brother's farm and overlooking a neighboring farm. Once, this farm belonged to dh's grandfather, and then his father, who with two of dh's brothers, ran a large dairy farm. The beautiful scenery I captured is fast disappearing with encroaching suburbia, and soon, the family farm will go the way of the dinosaurs. We will all be poorer for it.

Hero Worship

Dh and Wm sat companionably watching Tiger Woods was lining up for a shot. Wm pointed to the TV. "Who's that?" he asked.

"That's Tiger Woods," Dh replied. "He's probably the best golfer in the world."

William replied, "Yes, Dad, but is he as good as you?"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Why We Still Need Family Farms
















....with the golf cart

At five, Wm sometimes has trouble remembering which given name goes with which grandma and grandpa, especially since both names of the grandmas begin with Mar.... He has no trouble remembering, however, faces and experiences. Grandma Marilyn is known as "the grandma with the grandpa with the golf cart" because her husband, Grandpa Norman, has a golf cart.
Minutes after our arrival, he and William headed out on the golf cart to put big rocks in the ground hog holes. After plugging all the holes, they found some chores to do on this:


Monday, July 02, 2007

Working With Dad Building Fences


William Questions:
  • What are the parts of your body? What is the most important part?
  • How do your muscles move your bones?
  • How does your skin all stay together?
  • Can raccoons break rocks?
  • How are rocks made?
  • How does a volcano make rocks? Why does a volcano explode?
  • If I eat good food, then will I live forever?


Hi, my name is Milo and I'm a catnip addict.

The neighbor and his son came over yesterday to see the new foal. While here, they discovered that Lazarus was their cat, Milo. They'd assumed that Milo had run off and gotten killed. Milo had lived for a year indoors at their house, which did not seem to tame his wild and somewhat agressive behavior. Perhaps because he was not neutered? At any rate, when they moved here last summer, they let him outside.

I shared that when "Milo" adopted us, we'd assumed he was one of around thirty cats another neighbor has in his barn, reproducing unrestricted. This cat began living in our barn, was suffering from two infections from cat fights, and had already been hit by a car and survived. We'd had him neutered and vaccinated, cured of his infections, and by the end, he seemed happy to stay.

I offered that, given I'd not intended to increase my cat population, only to help a stray cat, he could take his cat home, he declined. I was surprised the son didn't seem to mind. Likely, he'd just come back anyway. I have catnip. It does clear up the mystery of who he was going to visit (http://lifetimelearning.blogspot.com/2007/03/unfaithful.html) when he came back smelling like perfume. Since he's been neutered and remade, we'll still call him Lazarus.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Daisy Likes Licking the Foal


She'd also very much like to sit on top of it and/or chase it, neither of which we allow, of course.

Assume the Position

This is the nursing position we worked so hard to achieve for 16 hours. Notice that the foal is taking advantage of the fact that Maggie's back feet are up on the concrete, making the positioning easier - but she can nurse when Mag is flat-footed.

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