nourishment

Before rescue-mix husky Lily’s surgery 3 weeks ago she relished her food. No sooner had I put her bowl down for her than she had vacuumed up every morsel. Even during the 2 weeks before her surgery after the injury. She ate everything.

She has always been all about food.

So part of the reason she tore her acl was her weight. This is my fault and I need to correct it. After all it’s not as if she can get her treats out of the cupboard. So I have been trying to be careful.

But her regular food? Completely turns her nose up at it. After her surgery the vet changed her food which might be part of the problem. She’s never been picky though, so I had no concerns when they sent me home with an enormous 30-pound bag of kibble that this would be a problem.

Most days though, later in the day she will go to her bowl and quietly eat her food. So maybe she just wants me to think she doesn’t like the change.

When I was little every Sunday after church my grandparents who moved from New York to be nearby would join my family for Sunday dinner. These were my mom’s parents (I never met my father’s, they were in Colorado, a long way from North Carolina), and I adored them.

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I was a picky eater. After everyone had finished, even dessert there I’d sit, my plate with remnant peas or whatever it was I did not care for staring back at me and as everyone else left the table I was told I had to sit until I finished my plate. My grandfather always sat with me.

He would not berate me, maybe offered a word or two of encouragement, but the important thing, for me, was he thought enough of me to not want me to be ashamed. Or alone.

This is something I think many of us do not understand. We have our comfy homes, our lovely friends and we do not see the ones who are alone. In our comfort we simply don’t see them.

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Nourishment comes to us in so many ways. Our physical food, the joy of a familiar voice, the wag of a dog’s tail, a favorite symphony, an unexpected note in the mail, a good book, a phone call from someone checking in, the family member who remembered something and wanted us to remember, too.

There is a hunger though, deep in each of us that no one else and nothing else can fill but God. His love that has known us since before we were born. He is with us every moment. In our fast-paced lives we may try to fill this empty need with many things… human attention, any number of substances that are bad for us or, at least, in excess are not good. All of which are fleeting, inconsistent at best and capricious at worst.

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So we move forward, day by day. We make our plans, work at our jobs, all the while knowing ultimately it is not we who are in control.

I know this for certain when I put Lily’s food in her bowl.

healing

When people are hurt we are likely to seek help in a way we can find solace. When people are sick we see a doctor. We develop a bond of trust that the doctor knows how best to help us.

Animals are different.

When rescue dog Lily was ready to come home after surgery and they brought her to show me how to care for her she very tentatively entered the room until she had assurance that I would not reject her. I praised her for her bravery and she could barely contain her delight to see me.

When I was younger I was very fond of a little terrier my dad had given me. One summer vacation in high school I worked in Aspen, Colorado. My parents and I had written letters occasionally but they did not tell me that one evening when they’d had friends to dinner my father and the husband of the other couple got into a political argument. The man and his wife left in anger and no one noticed my little Piper had got out of the house until she yelped when he ran over her. He stopped immediately of course and they took her to the vet. The accident had broken her leg, thankfully it wasn’t much worse.

I came home from this job and called for Piper. No response. At this point my parents let me know what had happened and I began to search for her. I found her under an arm chair in the living room. She wouldn’t come out. I got on my hands and knees and, lowering my head so I could see her eye to eye and telling her how glad I was to see her only then did she come out and let me see her injury, cast and all. After that she clumped around happily, knowing I loved her all the same.

Attachment-1.jpegWe have to learn to trust. Some have little problem with it having been treated honestly and well in their lives. Others who have not are continually testing their faith, filled with doubt. Lily knew, when she realized I love her and will care for her that she had no reason to doubt or fear. God has never given me reason to doubt or fear Him, either. But there are times when I confuse what I hope to expect from people on the same level I trust God.

Doesn’t work that way.

This is why I think people have told me through my life not to hold too hard to stuff. To take others and myself lightly. Being dependable is so important but, being imperfect it’s not possible. Not always, and maybe even not as others interpret dependable.

But Lily. She only knows she is injured. I know she will heal. When she arrived home she immediately responded to the familiar with attempts to behave as though there were no injury at all. So she had to adjust to her limitations.

Even today, though each day she is incrementally better, she expresses frustration at not being able to take off after a squirrel like she would have before. She looks at me as if I could do something. I pet her, reassure her that it is ok that she can’t get that squirrel. I convince her that her very commanding presence is enough to put great fear in this little squirrel and that is sufficient. Well, I like to think I do.

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hidden blessings in lessons

My father, though generous and kind was a perfectionist. No one is really perfect, but he wanted us to believe he was and he expected it of others. Hard to please. He was in his late 80s before he told me he was proud of me which came as a complete and utter surprise. So much that all I could say in response was that I was proud of him, too.

So for many years this high bar was the source of a lot of frustration.

My ex-father-in-law I can recall often said, “don’t do as I do, do as I say do.” Though he was one of the most humble men I have ever met.

I have learned many things. Just watch as a dog struggles to dislodge a rawhide chip or some other much-wanted morsel from under something. Until all efforts are exhausted they will go at this with persistence showing no anger or impatience.

So this week my two rescue dogs, Lily and Lulu and I were finishing our long walk when I threw a stick for Lily, a favorite game of hers. As she turned to go after it she yelped and came limping back, her left hind leg dangling uselessly. Not far from the car I helped Lily into the backseat praying the whole way home it was not her ACL.

It was.

Her vet scheduled her surgery for January 8 and sent us home with two prescriptions for pain.

She occasionally looks up at me with her “Walkies?” face and I sit by her and pet her soft fur and explain we can go for walkies but not today. In nature the injured, sick and aging are often left behind their pack. I reassure her that she is still loved and she will be ok.

When we go outside I have learned to walk more slowly so as not to rush Lily. I notice things. I can feel tension drain away. I feel more rested. I am more present with Lily, with myself, the air.

IMG_0810.JPGMarquise Amaryllis that I noticed blooming this week

I am realizing that even though I have been retired for over 10 years I need to slow down more. Like Lily I can no longer push myself as I once did, or I shouldn’t.

I have 4 steps onto my front porch. Lily can manage getting down much better than she can climb. So I help her as she steps up each step one at a time. How many times I have cried out to God when I find myself in a mess or situation that leaves me helpless.

And each time He has shown me the way.

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 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.”  –Isaiah 30:21 NASB

 

home

There is a small sea animal called an auger (we always called them drills because that is what the little animal did– drill a hole in the hinge of a small clam to open it, then eat it).

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Either this little animal then dies or something else eats it. Either way the abandoned shell is often found on beaches.

Picture0204181202_1.jpgAuger shells rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I found recently

Nothing in the ocean goes to waste evidently (except human trash– plastic bags, cans, fruit peels, cigarette butts) because often a small crab, hermit crab, finds the shell and makes it its home until it is outgrown and moves on to a larger discarded shell.

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Even in the dark, cold ocean these little creatures are at home. Out of the water, bright artificial lights and dry air they will die in a matter of hours.

When I find myself in the dark time stops. It gets scary. Answers don’t come. I feel out of my shell. I wait, wrack my brain, pose theories, test them to logical conclusions, attempting to factor in components that may affect outcomes. I talk to my rescue dogs, they listen intently turning their heads interpreting intonation, verbal sounds, scents of my feelings. But they don’t offer advice. Not always, anyway.

This is anxiety. And I remember a favorite Bible verse: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-6)

I still may not have any answers but I have something more important. I have peace. I am no longer giving myself headaches trying to worry out a solution or response or reason or answer.

This peace is not a new shell to grow into but I have let go in order to find understanding.

A sunny day, still very cold, we picked a few of these shells.  Later I took the shells out of the container we’d collected them in to see a little crab in its shell clambering around. I had checked each one very carefully to see they were empty when I picked them up. This little one was cold-stunned and drawn far into the shell. Being inside the warmth revived it. So we put it back into the container and took it back to the water.

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Rain

There is something about some rainy days that gives the impression it has been raining forever. The solid grayness, the steady rainfall, the stillness at the bird feeders, even the flowers look immobile.

Rain heals. It nourishes, it soaks, saturates, fills a dry earth with softness. It encourages sleep, quiet, thoughts, introspection, and comfort foods like a hot steaming bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.

It’s like a day of rest. To find a book, work some puzzles, write, listen to a symphony, call a good friend.

Or bake a pie, muffins, a yeasty warm loaf of bread.

Too many of these days creates boredom. Cabin fever, impatience, a need for sun and fresh air.

I avoid the malls on rainy days. A lot of people go there who just want to get out of their house. Whether they buy anything or not doesn’t matter.

I’m going to go make a sandwich now.

No remorse

And thank You God for that. I have moved a few times where immediately I regretted the house I chose, West Palm and Miami being such places and the last house another but it kind of grew on me. I loved its long, sloping back yard and the nearby greenway.

This house I feel at home in, well I will as soon as I unpack all these boxes.

The previous owners were the original occupants and the Mr. was formerly with IBM. He kept meticulous, scrupulous records of everything. They maintained from underneath this house to its roof. There was not one grain of sand, no speck of dust when I had the final walk-through before closing.

It’s beautiful.

I am 10 minutes’ drive from the beach. The neighbors have been very kind in a non-invasive way. It seems like a gentle place to live. And there is a walking trail around the perimeter of the neighborhood, with a cool, clear creek running alongside for Lily to splash in.

The floor people and I did a massive cleaning of my former house, top to bottom. Hardwoods, carpet, tile, paint touch-up, scrubbing doors, bathrooms, appliances, windows. Pressure washing driveway, front porch and walkway. It gleamed!

It goes live this Wednesday and I hope sells quickly.

But for now I feel snug as a mug of hot cocoa.

Stranger in a familiar land

When I came back home if was more for familiar things- the scent of pine trees, streets and neighborhoods I know, Most of my friends have moved but I have always loved where I was born so decided to move back here. Thomas Wolfe may have been right when he said you can’t go home again. The scent of pines is still here, but the people are gone. My people, my family, friends. The familiar has become foreign in its unpersonalness.

Three years ago I mentioned to a neighbor I thought of moving again to be in a place where I could begin again. She and her family moved a few months later. Never said a thing. Then another neighbor mentioned she and her husband were thinking of retiring to another area. They were gone after a year. A couple 3 houses away moved a few months after that. With all my things in boxes for all this time I have been the readiest person to move and am still there.

For the next 2 weeks my dog and I are on the coast of my homestate of North Carolina. We will look for a house. I have a realtor who is helping me. I do not know if, in 2 weeks, I will find something I like. The rest of my family are in Houston. Why don’t I just find a place in Texas? Since my brother declined a job offer someplace else the suggestions by his wife for my moving there have completely stopped. In fact, I have not heard from them since then. Why is this not easier than it is?

I have rented a house, rather half of a house with some other people downstairs which my dog does not like at all. The realtor who rented the house sent me a list of things the house did not have for me to bring. So I brought them and the house has everything I was told to bring. What it does not have are a tea kettle and wifi. I found an unsecured link which does not worry me. Maybe it should. Maybe more than my dog barking or that my car is ungaraged or that there is no tea kettle. But there is air conditioning, and there are ice trays. And an ancient mocrowave that has more power than my brand-new one at home which, thankfully I did not bring.

I just wish I could decide what to do.