uninvited guests

First, please know I love all things nature. This is why I live near beaches. My favorite places to walk are nature preserves, especially the privately-owned one where rescue dogs Lily and Lulu can go off-leashPicture0526181425_1.jpgcrossing the millpond

Even with a paralyzing fear of all spiders, I will gingerly capture one on a tissue and run outside to deposit it back in its natural world before it can jump on me. Snakes do not even frighten me like a spider will. I know there are more good snakes than not good ones and the good ones even eat not good ones.

But rats… this is a whole dimension beyond what I can live with. At close proximity that is. This being sharing the same air space.

So when I saw Lily and Lulu tearing around the yard after a small grey streak one recent twilight, then noticed a small corner of screen on my side porch chewed out I had to call in the big guns.

The exterminator had many theories about why these creatures chose my backyard and crawlspace. There is a lot of new construction within 3-5 miles of my neighborhood. I have many (well, 4, is that a lot??) bird feeders in my yard which he told me I have to remove. I have water sources… he went on explaining how I am creating a sublime environment for these little things. I pictured a virtual feeding frenzy and not in a good way.

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I totally zoned out imagining a veritable rat subdivision under my house.  The exterminator man happily whistled away as he set several large black boxes (“They love this stuff,” he grinned) around the foundation assuring me this will not affect my dogs, not even if they eat whatever eats whatever is in those boxes. Unless they eat a lot of them. I have not ever seen either Lily or Lulu go after anything dead. Sniff it maybe, but not try to eat it. Even a possum successfully convinced Lily recently it was a total waste of her time.

Next day I spotted a small gray form in the road. Sure enough one of them had indulged in the tasty toxin

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I did not especially have to see evidence of the efficacy of this but I know we are one down, _?_ to go.

A bit of excitement when I opened the screen porch door that morning to let the dogs out and saw another grey form fling itself to the floor and escape out of the hole they created. Lily and Lulu didn’t miss a beat and flew out the dog door after it. I will patch the spot when I am assured there will be no more holes made. Meantime I have large sheets of impenetrable plastic over the screens.

Hoping the end of the holiday weekend will see the end of the rats.

 

writing

I doubt I would have even gone to college at all if my parents had not insisted on it. I really did not know what to study. My first choice of college was a school one of my (I thought) best friends attended. They were not happy about my grades. So another classmate suggested I apply to her choice. It made sense– at the time I was a New Jersey transplant and she was headed to North Carolina, my home state. As it happened my application was swept up because 100% of applicants were accepted to keep the little Quaker school afloat. And it is still floating.

Not surprising my freshman roommate did not make it past first semester. Had the school offered majors in marijuana and live-in boyfriends she’d have aced. So my second semester I went from endless nights sleeping on the commons area sofa to a single room.

But I digress.

Having no clear idea what I wanted to do with my life I declared an English major. For a reader it made sense. The critical thinking part I had to tweak a bit.

Likely the most difficult class was Modern Lit– D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. Pretty sure I didn’t read more than a chapter or 2 of Ulysses. Probably the most senseless novel I read. Ever. Not only no punctuation but pages with nothing but doodles… Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was also completely lost on me. Somehow I managed to write coherent papers on these “works” but I’d have liked to’ve been a fly on the wall in my professor’s office just to see her try to make sense of my words. Especially with Woolf’s To the Lighthouse or Mrs. Dalloway. None of these books made a lasting impression on me. Certainly not like C. G. Jung’s Man’s Search for Meaning did freshman year.

Meaning? Seriously? I’d been raised to see the world completely differently, from the perspective of what I had to offer, not what it owed me. I guess my professors could see I was thinking just not as they intended.

C. S. Lewis (someone who makes infinitely more sense to me) in Christian Reflections said:  “Great authors are innovators, pioneers, explorers; bad authors bunch in schools and follow models.”

Well, these authors noted certainly did break all the molds which was why they were called modern I suppose. They broke free from the late 19th-20th century to be… themselves??

A few years after my divorce life started bunching up. Bills, behavior, responsibilities, jobs, all the obligations and processes single parenthood requires, in my case with little to no support. So realizing I would not benefit from any sort of therapy I bought a small electric typewriter and reams of paper and I wrote.

It was as if I tapped whatever the emotional lobe of the brain is and the words just ran. I filled pages and pages until I had 5 binders’ full of raw emotion. I am amazed they did not spontaneously combust in their box I had so much anger poured into them

Annoyance at the musty stigma of divorce, single parenting, lack of family support, a woman in what was then still largely a man’s world. I never blamed anything or anyone but first I had to establish the parameters of what I was up against before I could methodically, systematically start to tackle whatever blocked my way.

And I started to see those complaints, emotions, thoughts, anger, whatever, were all cries for help. Help that I would never find from people but did from God. So those words became prayers. And everything that I had begun to hide from, close myself to, strike out at fell away.

My perspective changed. My focus was no longer on my life, problems, dead ends but Someone else. Someone who made sense. Someone who could, and did, help.

Lewis goes on to say “…. authors are always ‘breaking fetters’ and ‘breaking bonds’. They have personality, they ‘are themselves’….”

I have not had the nerve to go back and read those journals since I packed them away, but I probably had better. At least to decide if I really want them around for someone else to find.

They came from the heart.

Picture0318181122_1.jpg“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”    Zephaniah 3:17

perchance to dream…..

I have been dreaming vivid dreams lately. Not like creative genius I should patent  this dreams. Dreams where I wake up and think, what does that mean?

So I bought a book that interprets dreams. I have no idea how they came up with these meanings and I read the definitions rather loosely. So far none has been bad though, at least not according to this book.

For instance I had a dream where something in a bathroom overflowed. In waking life this would be reason for panic! But apparently if you dream about clear water it means happiness, prosperity. And dreaming about bathrooms is a good omen. Go figure.

I had 2 dreams about driving. One where I was a passenger which indicates finding some way through difficulties. Good to know. Another where I was driving with my dogs in the car. This apparently foretells staunch friends and successful undertakings. Because of the dogs, I am guessing.

unnamed.jpg    now, where is that lizard…

I say I consider these meanings loosely because it seems how a person interprets these things themselves needs to be taken into account. Doesn’t it? I mean, are these things tested somehow? Some of these definitions make some sense like seeing muddy water in a dream, or standing in it is not a good thing. Problems arise. So some of these things are just common sense.

I know my son has very strange and convoluted dreams but then he is an extremely creative person. He is a graphic designer, working for a company that makes video games. So I can see why this might be reflected in dreams.

So even though I don’t remember dreams every day evidently people dream every night. I always thought dreams reflected waking life somehow but not always.

I don’t believe in fortune telling, horoscopes or divination. Dreams come from my mind. So it likely does have meaning. But even though I do not eat them, if I ever dream of a tortilla it means prosperity.

Better that than indigestion.

Picture0504180905_1.jpgdreams and reflections

“For in the multitudes of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.”   —Ecclesiastes 5:7

favorite quotes: last day

The year my dad’s company transferred our family up north was the hardest year of my life to leave. I had great friends, I had made the jv basketball team (likely because I was leaving). It was truly the happiest year.

The year before I’d been suspended from school. For 3 months. Doesn’t matter why, especially since classmates later came and said they’d done the same, just got away with it. Little consolation. But that suspension changed my life.

Public schools were not the moral soapboxes they are today. They actually taught Latin. But people, though maybe not rough around the edges behaved rougher. There was definite lack of restraint.

Yet even so this was where I met a girl my age who to this day is likely the best friend I ever had. She and I were so much alike. We laughed at the same things, got mad about the same things, hated snobs of all kinds, we were total free spirits. She accepted me despite my tarnished reason for being at her school. Even though I’d never said why gossip in middle school is like wildfire. I was tough and Betsy didn’t care why I was there. We were friends. Basically the only difference between us, I smoked back then and she did not. So I didn’t, either while we were friends.

Anyways, even after my suspension and I’d resumed my academic pursuits at the school that threw me out we remained friends. Short-lived because the following winter my family moved away. My heart broke, not just because I would lose my first real, true friend but my life would change. There was an event horizon I could not avoid, like a black hole and I was going to reach a point of no return.

Betsy gave me a small soft-cover gift book before I left, “Friendship Is…”, compiled by Gilbert Hay. I practically memorized every poem or quote in that book. The quote from this book, my last in the challenge–

“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.   –Walter Winchell

It did not matter to her what happened, why I’d been tossed out of school, what I’d done. She was the only person I met who could genuinely see past a mistake to the person. Oh I made other friends while I was there, mostly people who enjoyed the thrill of association with a renegade. But Betsy showed me that real friendship sees past everything and only sees what’s real.

We did lose touch. We wrote for a few months but in the maelstrom of transitioning from pre-adolescence to becoming driving teenagers, high school, dating, college we lost touch. The last I’d heard she’d achieved popularity status sufficient to being elected mayor of the town we grew up in but before she could be pigeon-holed she was whisked away by her knight in shining armor after a whirlwind wedding to Pennsylvania.

And this time I was the one left behind.

“It is not how many friends you’ve won in life that counts, but how many you have left. That is the acid test. For it is easy to make them, harder to hold them.”                                                          — Unknown

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A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”   –Proverbs 18:24

 

favorite quotes: Day 2 of 3

3-day Quote Challenge, continued

“To thine own self be true….. ”      –Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3: William Shakespeare

I don’t think there is much of anything more basic than this. I know my growing-up years were complete turbulence. I was the first-born of 3, the screw-up, not a mistake so much as mistake-maker. I learned everything the hard way. Sometimes those lessons took more than one pass. Eventually I learned in order to not keep everybody mad I could do and say funny stuff. Make them laugh, usually at me. This worked as long as I didn’t look too hard on the inside. Because people pleasers sometimes make others happy, or avert the argument or throw the barbs off. But even if we do, our lives, while doing all this performing are so hollow inside.

So this was my truth for years. My valley of darkness. It became such a conditioned activity I had no idea that it was within my power to stop. But just like Dorothy I had the power all along.

Just stop. I didn’t even need those ruby slippers to get back “home”.

It made a lot of people angry. I was called all sorts of horrid things– cold, selfish, thoughtless. And those words hurt. But then I remembered they were as much talking about themselves as they were about me.

It took practice. My valley of darkness became a valley of decision…. up until then I did my best at second-guessing, perceiving feelings, fortune-telling outcomes. I doubted, restructured, doubted again.
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Basically unanchored, so other-focused I had no perspective of my own.

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6 NKJV)

And here I began to find my real truth. For someone who’d become so strong-willed, independent, self-reliant it took a long time and many losses. A marriage ended, parents passed away, yet one Constant helped me, each day, each moment become stronger,th.jpg more discerning, more faithful. He has never disappointed me. He always hears  my prayers. He has proven Himself true over and over. And I know without doubt that He is the only way, truth, life. (John 14:6)

I am nowhere close to finished. But without losing compassion, empathy or kindness my perspective has strengthened and become more realistic, more self-controlled. I take more time to listen. Life is less frenetic. Yes, I am much older now but wisdom is far more valuable.And thankfully more available. Or at least wisdom’s voice is clearer.

 

favorite quote: Day 1

Normally something like this would reduce me to quivering puddles of sweat but I so enjoy the blog written by *Not Easily Broken* (aka unbreakableyetfragile.com) that I am honored by the invitation. The rules are as follows:

THE RULES & MY NOMINEES

My Quote for today, Day 1:

Consider occasionally the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.                          —Albert Schweitzer

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I always attributed this quote primarily to the treatment of animals. Even before I knew who said it. Schweitzer, theologian, prolific author (The Quest of the Historical Jesus, Civilization and Ethics among many others) was a medical missionary in Africa founding a hospital in French equatorial Africa and later being sent with his wife to a French internment camp in 1917. Upon release he returned to Africa and expanded the hospital and lived the remainder of his life there.

 

Excerpted: (https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1952/schweitzer-bio.html)

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Nominees: Angelagriffin.wordpress.com, unshakeablehope.wordpress.com, Uncletreeshouse.com