Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring Murder Mystery

As I've blogged, I'm not a winter person and have been
looking forward to warmer weather and spring.
Daffodils are the first indication that warmer weather is coming.
I was so excited! Until I saw my daffodils:

It seems that someone else likes daffodils - to roll in.
Great detective that I am, I was soon hot on the trail of the culprit:

But the flower behind her ear was a dead giveaway:

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Easter Experiments

For some reason, I've always loved the sugary "Peeps" available only at Easter. I've always called them "chickies". My kids don't seem as enamored of them. Yesterday at Lauren's piano lesson, we mentioned to her teacher that William had discovered that if you put a "chickie" in the microwave, it blows up. He got a horrified look on his face until I realized he thought we meant a live chickie, as he knows we recently hatched some. We soon clarified. Because I knew of what I was thinking, it didn't occur to me that he might think something else.

Here is what happens when you put a candy chickie in the microwave.

Before: Poor innocent peep

Getting gooey

Chickie blob

Dead chickie
Disclaimer: We didn't continue to cook the peep, as we were worried it might catch on fire and ruin my microwave. I've heard of this happening to someone but I won't name names.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

The overwhelming loss of Bay will be with me for some time, and it is still hard to talk about. Interestingly, it is as hard for me as the loss of Juno, my constant companion. I was reflecting today that those animals were part of me, just as humans become part of you, and letting go is saying goodbye not only to them, but a phase or part of your life. I have nothing really to keep of Bay, save his blanket, to remember him by. I was so hoping he'd respond to IV treatement, that I didn't take a lock of his tail. I guess I do have his bridle, likely not to be used again. I was thinking today, however, if I reach down inside myself, I can feel him. He's part of me now, and I don't need anything physical. I am that.

Many people don't know about horses and what happens when horses die. It isn't something pleasant to discuss, yet, it is part of life and perhaps it is my task in life to connect people to things that aren't known anymore in our suburban lives. My horse, Smokey, when he died, weighted 800 pounds, and died at home. We were blessed with a neighbor that is an excavator and felt bad for my girls' loss. He brought over a bulldozer and buried Smokes in the back pasture after we dragged him there with the tractor. (You should have seen the looks on the faces of the horses in the pasture!)

Bay, on the other hand, died at the hospital, and weighed in at 1200 pounds. He could not be brought back without considerable expense and effort. So, the question I keep getting is what happened to his body? Well, there is a service here in our horsey state, and whether at the hospital or home, they'll come get the horse. They arrive with a big truck, which likely already contains the remains of other horses from prior stops. Most likely, they take these horses all to a processing plant, and the sad reality of it, is that they use the meat for feed (dog food, etc) and hooves for making glue. I don't know what all they do, but that's as far as I'm willing to educate you. Google it if you must.

I comfort myself knowing he's not there, and best that his body goes to good use. I am going to get a small plaque for my flower garden for him, and remember him strong.

A Homeschool Scene

During a recent visit, my five year old niece was in the car with me and my sister. "My mommy said that when she was a little girl, her sisters didn't like her." I looked over at my sister, whose smile didn't reach her eyes. She did think that.

As an older sister, I remember being fond of my sister, reading to her and pushing her on the swing. Yet, our six year age difference in a culture that had never heard of homeschooling and thus, separated us for most of the day, it is easy to see that her younger memories wouldn't have included the sister that was always at school or doing homework.

My kids, together all day, must learn to find ways to deal with each other. There is often no escape. The piano is loud, the little brother is full of pent-up energy, the sister is having a bad day. I say that this is a good thing. They are learning to live with one another and learn how to deal with variances in personality. They are learning to appreciate each other.

Not too long ago, William went for a hair cut. The, shall we say "country-bred", woman cutting his hair asked him what kind of music he liked. He quickly answered, "Classical." She was speechless. But that is what he hears all day from his sister's piano. That is what he hears her play on her computer. That is what he hears her say she likes. She is more than someone who has a life elsewhere. She's part of his life.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Winner

Lauren and I were at the teller's window at the bank yesterday. A dark black man was to the left of us at another teller, and we could not help but overhear the conversation about a contest he had won. "Yeah, I won, but it was for sessions at a tanning salon, and I don't need no tan. I gave it away to a woman, who said it was a good deal and was happy to get it, but I couldn't use it." We all chuckled.

Pretty Is as Pretty Does

Americans often give lip service to the notion that advertising promotes unhealthy images and attitudes in our young teens, particularly girls. Little is done to counteract the overwhelming number of messages that promote attractiveness and sexuality as the most important attribute one could achieve. I was thinking about this while reading an article about a local contest for hand models Aspiring models: Fame is at your fingertips. A jeweler is running a contest for hand models, used often (I would guess) in jewelry advertisement. To their credit, they want the contest to be "fun and creative". I am wondering what they have in mind.

I apply a rule to both horses and teens (sorry, girls!): Pretty is as pretty does. What is beauty, after all? Is beauty just the appearance of beauty or the true appreciation of the creation of God? Hands are one of the features of humans that helps set us apart from the animal kingdom. I find both my girls beautiful beyond words. I find what they do with that beauty inspiring and breathtaking. Are beautiful hands those that have perfect red fingernails or are hands beautiful that can do this?

Anna laughed when I told her about the contest, because of her bitten fingernails. "I'd never win with my hands," she said. Her hands can do this:

They should, in my opinion, win hands down.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tell It Like It Is

Upon waking, William's first question yesterday was how Bay was. Was he better now? Breaking the news to children can be difficult, and I tried to soften the blow. "No, I'm sorry, he's not. He didn't get better."
"You mean he's DEAD?"
I flinched. I hadn't yet told Anna, sleeping in the next room, although she likely now knew, and the blunt reality of it was hard. "Yes," I said, "he's dead."
William wiped away tears as I explained that he couldn't get better and was now out of pain.
"But, what will you ride?" he asked, concerned immediately with the practical matters. More than likely, he was remembering the rides Wm and I often took in the summers, double. I said I didn't know, and wasn't ready to worry about it yet.

Later that day when visiting friends and re-telling details, William piped in, "Bay's DEAD."
In some weird way, his matter-of-fact words helped me.

Today brought sunshine, warmer weather, and I sat on the porch. I looked out over our overused pasture, now horseless. Our other three horses have gone for training and we have only the two miniature horses left. I realized how much my identity is tied to the way we live, devoting money we could have used for a bigger, fancier house and instead having animals and land to care for.

I sat down on the grass, and Roxie, the filly from this past summer, remembered that she used to sit in my lap and somehow, managed to roll her 250 pounds onto my outstretched legs. She then rolled over, splaying her legs in the air like a dog while I rubbed her belly. My heart still hurts for loss of Bay, but other animals are ready to be loved and I must move on. It will not be easy though.

I thank all of you that wrote with your condolences. They meant a lot to me. One friend's words were particularly comforting to me:

The connection that we have with our animals can be so deep that it is a type of spiritual communion. And that spiritual communion means that God is present as well. Read Isaiah 11:1-10 for a description of what it will be like when God’s kingdom is here- it is going to be full of animals.

My loss of Bay and Easter overshadowed Chickin Lickin's happiness in the birth of five chickies. They are 1/4 Aracauna, 1/4 Cochin and 1/2 Black Silkie. Should be an interesting mix.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Goodbye

Though I was told as a child in my religious training that animals don't have souls and don't go to heaven, I never believed it. I still don't. If I am wrong, I'm hoping that God forgives me that small comfort when I think of Juno and Smokey running to greet Bay as he joined them there this morning for green pastures and sunny days.

Bay lost his fight with a bout of colic this morning at the equine hospital, and the world lost the best horse in the world. He lived a good life, and loved deeply.

Few horses give that perfect mix of being intelligent and having their own mind, yet still listening and working with you. Bay was such a horse. He loved people (he always had a nicker for you), other animals (especially Juno who he used to groom like a horse), and his pasture mates, especially the girls. I'll admit he wasn't a push-over and in fact, could be said to be pushy himself at times, but his spirit couldn't be totally submissive.

He's that one of a kind animal, like Juno, that makes you think you'll not see his likes again.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Anna's First Oil Painting

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Happy Spring! No sooner did I removed a decorative "Let It Snow" plaque from my wall, than I looked outside and saw giant football-sized snowflakes floating to the ground. This was Wednesday. Some kind of joke from God. One last little - "Oh, so you thought I might let it warm up a little. Ha, ha! I can still make it snow!" He has a great sense of humor. Would that he would have given a little to me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rolling It Back

Just about when I found the gumption to blog again, I died. Well, figuratively speaking. I got some dreaded virus that put out my lights and I took to my bed. I was well prepared for this by a sermon just the Sunday before about Lazarus, and how he came out of the tomb all wrapped in his bandages, all smelly but now quite alive, if not a bit dazed to find himself so. Like him, I've emerged from my sleep and find it time to try to get some energy back. There had to be a moment for ol' Lazarus when, like me, I thought it was pretty nice and quiet back in my room and a pull to just stay there.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

There - I've Blogged

People are beginning to wonder about my mental health because of my self-imposed one month break from blogging. I should qualify, that they are more concerned about my mental health. Nothing wrong - I've just not felt like it, though not sure why. February is always a difficult month for me, and by the end of it, I feel like I've been in a dark cave. I can begin to see a bit of hope now that it is March with a few days here and there hinting of spring.

Blogging is a bit like apologizing though. The longer one puts it off, the harder it is to take that first step. But now, I have. So there. I've blogged.


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