making new friends

Runs with scissors. This would be me. So far, except for one small mishap in high school which only required a butterfly bandaid I have been very lucky.

IMG_1158.JPG

Don’t Play Well With Others

This would apply to rescue dogs Lily and Lulu.

I adopted Lulu somewhat late in her life, 3 years ago. She is maybe 8 or 9 now. I adopted Lily when she was about a year so she is now around 11 or 12. Lily’s sole purpose in life (after eating) is to be my Nanny. She follows me everywhere, keeps me in her line of sight at all times. If we encounter other people on a walk she places herself between them and me. When she lost her rescue buddy Murphy 5 years ago she was heartbroken. This was a surprise since they tolerated each other but did not appear to much care if the other came or went. When Murphy died I realized that despite outward appearances animals form strong bonds. Lily looked for him, even after I moved 200 miles east. So enter Lulu.

I fostered her for about a week to see how things would shake out. Lulu confiscated all the toys and appropriated all the beds within a day or so. Only once did I find her shaking, cornered by Lily for some unknown altercation. Lily and I discussed her new friend and that put an end to her hostility toward Lulu. They are sisters now.

On walks and hikes whenever they encounter any other dog, happy, peppy puppies, sullen surly dogs, or any other attitude they are tolerant, receptive but non-interactive. So I figured they had decided they were enough. Until a few days ago.

IMG_1156.JPG

This happy but laid-back little fellow ambled over one afternoon. We had just finished our walkie and were about to head home. Taking an immediate interest, he was undaunted by Lily and Lulu’s complete nosiness. He welcomed it! There was no growling, no defensive posture. Just happy sniffing and wagging of tails.

So sometimes there are exceptions to even the truest of generalizations.

IMG_1171.JPG

It’s important to keep an open mind.

 

download.png

 

 

life on the river

I have never built a raft and explored a river. It seemed though wherever I lived (six states), I found myself near large bodies of water. With the exception of three and a half years in Tennessee. I can count the time I lived in New Mexico because the town where I lived, Farmington, is at the confluence of 3 rivers, The Animas, La Plata and San Juan.

IMG_1141.JPG

The other 4 states, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey and Florida are all coastal and each is  very different.

Here I have the bonus of a large river, the Cape Fear. Being a tidal river some days when rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I go there for our walk we can’t walk alongside the water but this morning the tide was out. Its mouth is near enough to the ocean that it is mainly salt water, not brackish and Lily forgets.

IMG_1146.JPG

Which is why I carry drinking water in the car for her. So normally we’ll see a few beached jellyfish, clam shells. As we walked up the bank there were hundreds of tiny scurrying objects that I figured were these centipede-like insects that hang around washed up driftwood. We got closer and they all darted into little holes in the bank sand which those bug things don’t do. They were tiny fiddler crabs.

IMG_1148.JPG

This is one hiding in front of a lump of sand. He does not have the fiddle claw, a claw as big as the crab.

IMG_1149.JPGLulu inspecting more closely

The larger claws look harmless but they actually have a powerful pinch so I avoided those with them. The others have tiny pincers which will cling on you but are not painful.

IMG_1147.JPGLily

I wonder what the little crab thought. Cornered by an unimaginably overwhelming creature that didn’t look anything like a crab. Anything that looks unfamiliar is perceived to be the enemy. Fight or flight. The little crabs all fled for their holes but those who got cornered  away from safety raised their little claws. Harmless maybe, but it was all they had. To another little crab it is a formidable weapon.

I am not often up against an enemy. I had the great good fortune to be born in the United States where life has been for the most part peaceful. Despite our differences I also had the good fortune to have parents who taught me to be responsible, never a victim. I was taught to put up my claw and fight when I needed to. Usually with words, calmly but with the strength of truth behind me. When I am wrong I was taught to admit my error and apologize if it was necessary and bear no grudge. My mother taught me to move forward without holding grudges. My dad taught me to be the bigger person in the event of an unfair difference and make amends.

IMG_1143.JPG

As I have lived more on my own, and raising a son I have better understood Holden Caulfield’s angst. Catcher in the Rye was not on the banned books list when I was in 7th grade and I understood why some books are worth reading if for nothing else than to emulate and be empathic in what pre-teens go through. Some don’t I imagine but most do.

And God. No matter what or who God listens. He sees. He knows and I can tell Him. I learned the value of His friendship in Jesus Christ.

Never alone.

download.jpg

 

klutz

No one else in my family is. Only me.

I looked it up. According to Merriam-Webster online it became commonly used in the late 1950s in America. It is derived from the Yiddish word, klots which literally means ‘wooden beam’.

IMG_1125.JPG

I used to laugh this off but as I get older it gets a bit more serious. Like about 15 years ago I was visiting my dad and my step-mother at their house at the beach. She handed me two nested glass bowls that were stuck to un-nest.

Yes. They broke and sliced my finger.

IMG_1122.JPG

I wrapped it in a paper towel and figured it would stop bleeding. We kept the conversations going. Three hours later it’s still bleeding. There is no nearby hospital or even a doc-in-a-box (urgent care), so they called an ambulance.  For a cut finger. The ER doc gave me 5 stitches.

IMG_1123.JPG

There have been many more instances, I will spare you. Fast-forward to today. Years ago I learned the hard way I can not use a weed-eater. Not only do I get too close to that whacking string but I beheaded many unsuspecting plants. So whenever I want to edge flower beds I use a garden snip. This works really well but is time-intensive. On a day like today I was happy just to be outside. Even though my area of town did not get the quenching rains so desperately needed, the thunderstorms that passed through last night cleared the hot air and humidity.

IMG_1126.JPG

So I plopped down in front of the garden stones and clipped the overgrown grass. Lily and Lulu stretched out close by occasionally sniffing the light breeze.

IMG_1101.JPG

I absent-mindedly commented to Lulu how much the grass had grown, snipping away, hands buried deep when I felt a sharp pain on the same finger I nicked for my step-mother. Drawing it out sure enough a bright red spot bloomed where I actually sliced off a good chunk of skin.

IMG_1118.JPG

I ran inside, wrapped it in thick paper towels, again, holding it over my head. It finally stopped bleeding to the point where I could put anti-bacterial ointment and bandage it in gauze. It has even stopped throbbing now, so I think I will live.

Maybe I should get a weed whacker anyway. I can always replace the flowers.

IMG_1113.JPG

Lulu exhausted from the excitement.

 

that-the-man-of-god-may-be-competent-equipped-for-every-good-work-niv-1947.jpg

 

 

courage

We lived in an older neighborhood when my brother and I were growing up. One summer day I found myself left to my own devices. I was in the backyard and our neighbors’ grandsons were visiting. They called me over to the chain-link fence between our yards.

IMG_1108.JPG

Smirking at each other one of the boys challenged me to a fight. I was only a girl, he said. I didn’t stand a chance. Surprised but up for a challenge, just not a fight I noted I was standing next to a small tree, maybe 6″ around, so I said he’d better not mess with me, I could pull that tree right out of the ground!

When they finished laughing bully boy put on his game face again and balled up his fists. Grabbing the tree I yanked with all I had. I landed hard several feet away, tree in my hands.

IMG_1107.JPG

Little tough guys stood gaping at me a few seconds. They practically knocked each other down running the other direction.

I’m still looking at this tree that, for its size was amazingly light. I walked over to where it had come out of the ground and saw it was crawling with ants. Completely rotted.

IMG_1104.JPG

Laughing, I looked up to yell, “hey, it’s a dead tree!” knowing the joke was on me.

They were gone. My bravado worked and no fists were flung.

IMG_1101.JPG

Just as well. They never bothered me again.

 

th.jpg

 

calm

There seems to be an increase in doomsday predictions. Naysayers. This is terrible! Focusing on something no one knows anything about except that it will happen loses sight of what’s important.

The here and now.

IMG_1072.JPG

No one knows the future. When people get all in a twist about something nobody knows will happen they make chaos.

Stop it.

IMG_1067.JPGLulu dozing in the shade

Being grounded takes a lot of effort for me. I am easily distracted. But doomsday people have never held any interest for me. Staying focused on what’s important matters. But the end of the world? Why stir everybody up over something no one knows?

IMG_1073.JPG

Maybe this is why I love flowers so much. And trees. They just are. Day after day, season after season, year after year. They are what they were created to be. Some become diseased and die. So do we. Some grow old. Very, very old. So do we. We have seasons. We change. But nature doesn’t freak out over an ice storm. It endures it. Or a hurricane. Their leaves are blown off, they may get drowned but if they live they put out more leaves.

IMG_1084.JPGCardinal

We replace siding, or shingles, or whole roofs, or whole houses. But mostly we face whatever disaster or trouble we get. We have to. Jumping the gun, skipping to the end when the end isn’t here yet, when we don’t even know when the end is, doesn’t make any sense.

IMG_1066.JPGLily staying safe under a bench

So I have to take the end is near people lightly. The end I don’t take lightly, but I have no idea when that will happen. So I need to keep on keeping on and trust God. He knows.

IMG_1090.JPG

That is all that matters. It’s His business, mine is to trust Him.

IMG_1063.JPGLadybug larva

download.jpg

 

download.jpg

 

time and tide

I can’t remember who decided to make Mom breakfast in bed but my brother and I would wake early on Mother’s Day morning to prepare a breakfast surprise. Sundays were good days because our parents either attended or hosted a party Saturday (and Friday) nights. So nobody but us ever woke early.

IMG_1030.JPG

These breakfasts were generally not messy! No attempts at pancakes a la eggshells, or half-cooked scrambled eggs. Neither of us ever even thought of trying something that involved dangerous appliances like stoves or blenders. No, our breakfast for Mom consisted of carrot strips, burned toast dripping with butter. I don’t even think we tried to make coffee. Back then Mom ground coffee beans every morning. But juice and probably milk or at least water, which sloshed over the tray and the plate making her toast a sodden mess. She always gave us a big bright smile and oohed gratefully.

IMG_1032.JPG

And we were so proud of ourselves!

My mother had served her country. She graduated Smith College 1943 and enlisted in the Navy. Her father had served in WW I, Army, in France. Her uncle was Navy, serving again in WW II. Mom was responsible for a psychiatric ward in San Diego. She loved what she did. She was deeply patriotic. She never spoke of her time in service.

IMG_1045.JPG

My mother was one of the strongest people I have ever known. She survived my childhood, the loss of a child, life with my difficult Father, and cancer. She kept busy. In addition to raising my surviving brother and me, she volunteered in Junior League building a Nature Museum at a popular park, complete with planetarium, was member of a DAR chapter, even participated in a sit-in with other moms when the local government planned to take part of our elementary school playground away for a nearby college parking lot.

Having worked in advertising where she met my dad she was fashionable and confident. I was shy, and shunned fads and fashion.

She lived for golf, and though she was in a garden club she killed any plant she touched. She was in a book club, and second only to golf was her love for bridge. Something she once told me I wasn’t smart enough to learn. But she was so smart, and very funny, and she had many friends who were so dear to her.

IMG_1024.JPG

She and I were close in a love-hate kind of way. I argued about everything. She called me a maverick. I had trust issues. Nobody’s perfect (least of all me), but Mom had one failing  my brother and I still disagree over. There were many nights when Dad was not home (he commuted weekly to New York), where I would help Mom to bed, and lock the house. From the age of about 6. My brother and I called it her mood, but she drank. I once told my father who I suppose confronted Mom, who likely denied it, or maybe he didn’t and just assumed I was being the height of disrespectful. Whatever, I got a spanking I will never forget.

So I never said another word.

And I wish I could forget.

IMG_1038.JPG

When Dad’s company finally moved us up north and we spent actual evenings home at the dinner table together everything changed. No more ‘moods’. We all became closer. Well, inasmuch as any dysfunctional family can. We did try to find a church but it was a ‘high’ church and swung incense so we didn’t go back. To any church.

IMG_1042.JPG

I don’t remember when I decided that she never liked me much. After my divorce she could not understand why I grieved. She and my father had disliked my ex-husband and could not understand that my sadness was not so much for not being married to him as the death of my marriage which I had wanted so badly to work. The distance became greater when she told me my struggles as a single mom were no different than her raising my brother and me when Dad commuted.

IMG_1023.JPG

I guess the real sadness was I never tried to talk with her about any of this. She has been gone for 30 years and, with all the tides that have ebbed and flowed and all the time that’s passed, I still miss her.

Or maybe I miss the relationship I always believed we had because I wished so hard for it. So this is a facet of my brokenness. A critical aspect of who I am, but it stems from who my mother never was. And I do try to focus on the happy memories but they are few.

IMG_1014.JPG

Kind of like these two boats rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I watched coming down the river this week. Mom and I were never quite together on things.

IMG_1043.JPG

But I suppose we can find grace in the chinks of light that shine through our brokenness. These flowers greeted me early this morning. They are from my sweet son. He lives several states away. He’s grown now, successful in his work and friendships. I am so proud of him. There are many regrets though that I have from when he was growing up. I had to work so hard to pay bills and buy food. He doesn’t remember it like that, mercifully. He doesn’t remember my frustration, or what I always thought he lacked.

Grace. What we receive and do not deserve. And mercy. What we deserve but do not receive.

God is so good.

To any Moms who may be reading this,  Happy Mother’s Day.

th.jpg