Ponder this:

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Sunday Scribblings suggests "Lost" as this week's topic.
If I were writing this in my Bad Old Days, I would have gone on and on about all the people, friendships, and places that I have lost. I used to pull out my bag of sorrows and sift through the items, rolling them around like marbles in my fingers, mourning each one.

These days, the things I have lost are things I am happy to have said goodbye to.

I have lost my need to mourn.

I have lost the habit of obsessing. Poor Husband used to have to listen to entire days' worth of conversations ("...and then she said to me...") wherein my precious feelings had been hurt.

I have lost the need for the approval of everyone within five thousand square miles. Not surprisingly, I feel more accepted than I ever did when I was trying to please the driver behind me, the woman choosing her romaine lettuce next to me, the telemarketer on the phone...

I have lost the illusion that I am in control of much of anything. I do what I can and leave the rest to my Higher Power, knowing that everything works out pretty much the way it is supposed to.

Perhaps I shouldn't say I've truly lost all those things. Some of them require daily vigilance and forgiving self-examination to make them stay gone.

Kris Kristofferson wrote, in Me and Bobby McGee: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." I have plenty of loved ones that I would not care to lose, but things...?

What I have gained in place of all those lost things is freedom, and the trade is more than fair.

Image thanks to http://dryicons.com

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is "Trust."

I spent a lot of my life in search of a person in whom to place my trust. I wanted a kind face to look straight into my eyes and tell me, "It'll be all right," and I wanted to believe that somebody else knew, could ensure, that it all would be all right.

More than once I eagerly, frantically, piled all my eggs into one or another basket and watched, dumbstruck, as the baskets were left by the sides of roads, flung into traffic, stepped on by feet on their way out my door.

When the door closed behind the final set of departing feet, I was left with no eggs and no basket in which to place them.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. -Genesis 1:2
The crashing roar of my sandstone cliffs toppling into the ocean subsided, and in that moment of void, the realization came to me that . . . I was still breathing.

It was then that I began to grow out of the childhood that had held me in a needy grasp, and this is what I have learned:

I need, and am strong enough, to carry my own eggbasket. It is not that people are unkind; it is that the weight of my eggs is too great to add to their baskets.

I can, if I choose, put down the basket. It is not necessary that I carry it everywhere with me.

Trusting creates feelings of security, so long as the trust is properly placed.

I can trust no person, not even myself, to keep me safe.

What I can trust is the ongoing universe:
  • The sun will rise in the morning and it will set in the evening.

  • My autonomic nervous system is designed to assure that I will continue to breathe.

  • Winter will come and, please God!, go, and spring will follow.

  • Flowers will bud and bloom, and birds will return and make nests and lay eggs.

  • The eggs will hatch, new wet helpless chicks will be fed and fledge and fly...all without their conscious trusting that those things will happen. That's the Plan.

Life goes on.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

But what does it LOOK like?

Longtime relationships have their own shorthand that evokes whole series of memories. Far Side of Fifty's Words We Made Up reminded me of this. Everybody has a similar story, and likely more than one. The story of "Fee" makes Husband and me laugh every time we remember it.

The scene: Quiet evening, livingroom, Husband in his chair, I in mine. He, reading some periodical or other, and I doing the same. Suddenly, he raises his eyes from the page and asks in a curious tone, "Junie, what's this word?" (At the time I was, and still am to a somewhat lesser degree, the Omniscient Word Woman.)

"How do you spell it?" I asked.

He responded, "Fee, arr, ee..."

"Wait. 'Fee'?"

"Yeah." He began again to spell the word. "Fee, arr, ee..."

Perplexed: "'Fee'?"

"Yes! Fee!" He was growing frustrated with my interruption.

And he began once again.

"Fee, arr, ee..."

"Wait a minute. What does it look like?"

"What! What does what look like?"

The tension was building.

"Fee. What does it look like?"

Voice slightly raised: "What do you mean, 'What does it look like?' It's fee!"

"But," I shook my head, genuinely wanting to help but at a complete loss, "What shape is it?"

He looked at the word on the page.
He looked for a long time.

And then began to giggle, and couldn't stop. I began to laugh with him, not quite knowing why...and we spent a few minutes in complete meltdown hysteria.

The word is lost to both of us now, but we remember fee.

It looks like this: F

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I took the civil service exam today for the fallback job should mine own be abolished by the Great Fish of Our Small Pond. Anybody who can take that exam and do well enough to get a job out of it ought to be entitled to higher pay than the job brings.

It was full of questions like:
If a seventeen pound bag of dog food costs $14.92 and holds 936,351 pieces of kibble and an owner feeds his dog six ounces in each serving twice a day, how many days can the dog eat if the owner has $57.33?

No calculators were allowed in this exam.

Well, sure I could figure it out.

But not without flashbacks to my father trying to guide me through long division homework. I would be in tears of frustration and he would grow ever more forcefully patient as if to will the understanding into my brain.

And not without ‘wayyyy more of the pretty orchid scratch paper.

And maybe an abacus and a slide rule.

It occurred to me that instead of the orchid color scratch paper they gave us to work on, I would have done better with graph paper. All my columns were all squinched up and as the rows of numbers went lower and lower in the long division, the figures grew smaller and more misshapen. They looked exactly like the numbers on my third grade homework.

When the proctor came to collect my papers she looked over my scratch papers, both of them, all six sides of each one scrawled with numbers lined up and added, subtracted, multiplied and divided in every direction. I felt as if I were handing over a Rorschach test of my arithmetic psyche…a nest of ciphering reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind.

I sure hope if I get a job offer from this, it's for a job where they'd give me a machine that can carry out numbers to five decimal points.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Y'gotta have friends...!!!

Embarrassed with riches, I happily relate that Carolynn at A Glowing Ember has passed to me a Friendship award!
This award was created with the following in mind:
"These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Mary of Randomness of Me for many reasons, not least her revelation of behaviors such as this: "My dog sleeps on a small sofa in my bedroom, and I make sure she has a pillow and I tuck her in with a blanket every night before I go to bed."

Bee Content Ranch because she loves June Cleaver clothes and this is her favorite work jacket. We love a contradiction...what better way to illustrate the variety that is female humanity?

We Three, Ginger cats tales for the purely magical art and storytelling and for the love and care of Mr. Griffiths himself, his house, and his furry companions.

Blue Ridge blog, whose photography and writing (though she firmly denies being a writer) I have just discovered, and plan to visit often.

Jeeves of Tell me something, because her words strike me as so very funny in their honesty, and Silence is poetic because so many of her poetic moods strike an answering chord in me.

C-ing Spots Appaloosas, because veterinarians have always held a very special place in my heart, for their ability to communicate with animals and dumb the information down for people.

Once again, I receive an award and fall short of the proper number of bloggers to whom I can pass it along. Clearly, my blog-reading requires even more assiduity!


There's a lot going out on in the snow.
Whole societies of animals going about their daily business.
I wonder how Miss Mousy Littletoes manages with no insulated boots...

...and why a cottontail would stop to ponder instead of hurrying back to a protected place.

It seems as if they should need traffic control.

The animals do fine with no boots, no heated transportation, no hurrying to the next place.

Just why is it humans consider ourselves to be superior?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Angus and the fisher attack

Before 2004 all I knew about fishers, I had learned from a PBS show I had seen, Marty Stouffer’s Wild America “Fishers in the Family.”

On December 29, 2006, I quietly let the poodles out to go pee while Marly ate supper. They went out on the porch, looked to their left and took off like two little shots. Loud poodle barking ensued...not an unusual occurrence. Marly heard something I didn’t though, immediately went to the door and wanted to GET OUT! A moment later, there was a note of high-pitched hysteria in the barking that I had never before heard, and hope never to hear again.
Outside in the dark I listened closely and heard only two dogs and I saw only Max and Marly. Marly ran back and forth in high alert.
I thought: Angus is dead.

Max and Marly were looking toward the upper part of our nine-hundred-foot driveway, which crosses a hayfield. I went back inside and got the flashlight and walked quickly up the driveway, rapidly swinging the light from side to side. The dogs, emboldened by my presence, preceded me up the driveway and circled around a spot far up in the field.

I found Angus lying unconscious on his right side, with an open hairless wound on his flank and blood visible elsewhere, with his eyes turning blue, his mouth open and his anal sphincter relaxed. But he was breathing.
I went back to the house...the dogs would not come with me and I wondered how I was ever going to get them back into the house...and got a towel, got in the car and drove slowly to the spot. I laid the towel next to Angus, picked up his legs and rolled him onto it. No reaction. I picked up the ends of the towel to make a hammock and put it on the passenger seat. At that point, Angus' head came up and he yipped a few times. Thank God! He was alive and could make noise!

Husband got home from work just then and took care of getting Max in.





So we left her outside and drove to the closest emergency vet an hour away.
Most of the bites, a gazillion of them, were on his front end. Everywhere there was a bite, the skin was pulled away from his underlying muscle sheath. The alarming phrase the vet used was “partially skinned alive.” They took x-rays of his body and told us that his worst injury that they could find was the broken ribs, broken in a “flay pattern." They poked every which way, indicating blunt force. The vet was realistic and told us Angus was in "guarded" to "poor" condition. He was very shocky, which probably saved his life.
Four harrowing but increasingly hopeful days later Angus was stable enough that we could travel from the emergency vet to our home vet’s clinic. In the exam room I opened the crate door to settle him down because he was moving around quite a bit. Once I put my arms inside the crate he turned himself around and put his little shaved-top head on my arm and cuddled up and made the little baby sounds that he always makes when he’s feeling needy. His eyes were bright and he was in there again.
On January 5, Angus ate a little bit of slurried up canned food for the vet tech. When I went to him after work, he sat up, all wobbly, he threw his little head up and back, and yelled, "mom mom mom!" His voice was a little rusty and weak, but it was his voice! I took him out and held him on my lap and various techs came over and talked to me. I could see in their faces that although they were trying not to be negative, nobody had been very encouraged by his behavior during the day.
I had taken some kibble to work with me in a ziploc snack bag and right before I left work I put some water in so it would sog up. As Angus lay on my lap, I fed him ONE little kibble and he licked some of the juice off my fingers. He wasn't really interested.
After a while I put him back in the cage and kind of hung over him. Put the little scrap of fleecy blanket over him. He put his right cheek on another piece of soft fuzzy stuff that they had put in his cage so all I could see was his left eye. That eye, which couldn't close because his head was so swollen, roved nonstop all over my face while I talked to him and petted his neck.

I had reached the end of my own resources.
I said the Lord's Prayer and the Serenity prayer over him...and asked God, whatever had to happen (Thy will be done), to please not let the little dog suffer any more than he had to. I told God I've learned some lessons and I'll try to keep learning them. I finished praying and kept on petting and soothing Angus.
Ten seconds later, he turned his head the other way, sniffed the air, got up and went over to eat. It was hard for him to put his head down to the food dish while he stood up, so I fed him one kibble. It was gone practically before it got to his mouth.

I gave him two kibbles.

I scooped up enough to fill my cupped palm. He ate frantically, couldn't get it in fast enough. He ate more than half of the food I'd brought. Then he thought maybe he'd like a drink of water, and he drank about half of what the tech had given me when she saw he was eating. He got tired of standing and lay down and kept drinking.
After he'd eaten and drunk, he turned around, looked for my arm in the cage, and arranged himself so he could snuggle his head on my arm. I covered him up with the fleecy thing again; he gave a big satisfied sigh, and settled down to sleep.
I stayed there until he looked as if he was really settled...it was getting to be time for them to close up...the techs were cleaning up...and I left.
He came home on Saturday, January 6, and by the end of the month was about back to normal.
Angus does not accompany us for walks when it is near dusk.
He knows there are devils out there.

While fishers and mountain lions are the only regular predators of porcupines, the fisher is the only predator to have a specialized killing technique. A fisher first approaches from the direction the porcupine is facing. The porcupine tries to protect itself by turning to present its tail, covered with quills, to the attacker. The fisher then jumps directly over its prey, forcing the porcupine to keep turning to protect its vulnerable head. A dozen or more such maneuvers suffice to exhaust and confuse the porcupine into a stupor in which it can no longer protect itself. Then, by repeatedly biting and scratching at the porcupine's face, the fisher causes it to bleed to death. The fisher eats the porcupine by flipping the dead animal over and starting with its unprotected belly.