Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Life of a Feline Mama

Sometimes life is all about self-fulfilling prophesies.  Yesterday was one such event, it was cat vaccination day.  Every year I dread it more and more and this year was no exception.  The cats were due their yearly shots (the feline leukemia vaccination is only good for one year) and they both needed a rabies shot as well.  Their year was up in April but I had been putting it off.  I finally called about a month ago and asked the receptionist if I could get some kind of sedative to give them beforehand and she was going to talk to the doctor and get back to me.  She never did and I was more than happy to procrastinate.  Finally I decided with the warm weather and them being outside so much more than usual that they really needed their vaccinations so I called again and got an appointment for the next day.  I have a vet whose practice is making house calls and he was going to drop off the sedatives the night before.  He never did.
So yesterday I started calling them about 9 AM and all morning all I got was the busy signal.  Then for a while the phone would ring and ring and no one would answer and even later I would get an answering machine  so I left a message but no one called me.  By the time the day was over and it was time for him to arrive I was thoroughly annoyed.  I had told the receptionist I wasn’t sure who needed the sedative more, ME or the cats.  They get so traumatized by strangers and it has gotten worse over the years.  While having a visiting vet is wonderful in many ways, they now associate the door bell ringing and strangers in the house with a vet visit and always hide, sometimes for days if we have houseguests.   I managed to sequester one in the bathroom and the other in the dog kennel.
Tim is a scrappy little thing who is half feral, I swear.  I’ve never had a cat that is so skittish or neurotic, whatever the case may be.  He can be  very loving and sits on my lap almost every time I sit down but he wants affection on HIS terms only in contrast to Piper who can’t get enough lovin’, ever!  If you are able pick Tim up (he is very quick and usually darts out of reach if he guesses your intention), he will let out the MOST unhappy yowl expressing his objections.  He’s a small animal, only about 8 pounds but what he lacks in size he makes up for in attitude. 
We started with him, the vet said he’d just go in the bathroom by himself.  I paced around in the living room and listened to what sounded like an epic bar fight ...crash, boom, bang, thump…punctuated with blood curdling screams.  I wasn’t sure there would be anything left in one piece in the bathroom, it sounded AWFUL.  Pretty soon the vet emerges, all digits and epidermis in place.  He never had actually caught him but while Tim was wedged behind some baskets under the sink he was able to slap the vaccinations in his exposed hind end.  He ended up saying he didn’t know if he could be Tim’s vet anymore.  Took everything I had in me not to voice some sarcastic remark about lack of sedatives.  He even had the gall to suggest that I give him his shots in the future. NOT gonna happen.
Piper was just as freaked out but he isn’t so wild.  The vet was able to shave some hairballs off in addition to his shots.  He had to put a muzzle on him and in the indignity was almost too much for (both of us) Piper to bear. He has such fine hair, while it makes it very soft and cuddly it is also hard to groom.  I was seriously hyperventilating during this entire process….my heart rate was through the roof and my stomach was in knots.   
Much to my surprise after the vet departed Piper emerged immediately.  Tim was another story, he stayed in his safe place under the sink in the bathroom until late into the evening and then ran under the bed.  When Chris got out of the shower this morning, he was up on the bed as though it was all forgotten.  Until he saw me that is, and then he ran for the quickest hiding spot.  I guess I am now the perpetuator of evil in his eyes.  Such is the life of a feline mama.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Summer of Twenty Thirteen.......

I figured it was time for another post even if I didn’t have something compelling to write about.
The last 10 or so days we have had some STELLAR summer weather and no end in sight.  On my weather app there are nothing but suns for the second week in a row.  You have no idea how excited everyone is! The gardens are bursting into bloom, the animals are basking in the sun and peace reigns throughout the land.  With all this nice weather it kills me to go to work everyday so I’ve been taking Fridays off.  That will cease come the new fiscal year though (July) when it gets extremely busy.  I’m sure summer will be over by then anyway! 
Isn’t this the coolest idea???   (herb garden)
I decided I needed to do some thinning of some of my plants that were spreading out of control.  Last year I had given stuff to a couple coworkers so this year I cast my net wider to include the entire grants and contracts section in an email offering aforementioned starts.  Much to my surprise, I’ve had a pretty good response and it has been fun having some coworkers over that I don’t know very well to share with (the Grants part of my office is housed in a different building so I don’t know them well).  Last night one gal came over and I in the course of visiting I realized she is the sister-in-law of another gal I used to work with so later that evening SHE came over too.  I hadn’t seen her in a couple of years and it was great to catch up.  This weekend I have several others coming. 
Chris just got over a particularly horrible summer cold.  It really laid him up for a few days.  It started as a sore throat and then went into his head and then developed into a nasty cough.  He spent all day Sunday in bed.  He is the biggest baby ever when he’s sick so he usually holes up in the bedroom and doesn’t come out.  I would stick my head in and ask him if he needed a popsicle or soup and I’d get a grunt in return that apparently meant ‘No’.  His appetite is the first thing that goes when he’s sick and he literally did not eat for three days.  He’s back to his usual tricks now (i.e., driving me nuts) so I know he’s on the mend.
A friend of mine started a photo scavenger hunt for the month of June.  She has a lists prompts for each day and we post a picture that illustrates her prompt.  It’s been great fun! I didn’t think I would be interested but day one was “a favorite thing” so of course, I had to post a photo of my cats and then the second day was “something pink” so I posted a picture of some bergenia I had blooming and then, one thing has led to another and almost everyday since I’ve found something to post.
The mosquitos have been fierce here lately!! I don’t remember them being so bad.  In the evenings when I’ve been out working in the yard they have been vicious.  In the house too.  We have hole in our screen door where Timmy scratched his way out so that has been a problem.  I keep suggesting we get a new one but Chris says he’ll just do it again.  But we’d have 5-6 years before there’d be holes, I say.    Honestly, with that kind of logic we’d never get anything new.
I’ve started a new series of books.  There are four altogether, the first one is A Million Tears by Paul Henke.  Such a great book.  It’s an epic saga of a family from a small Welsh town that immigrates to America in the late 1800’s.  Now I’m on Tears of War and Peace, and then Silent Tears ending with  Tears Until Dawn.  That should take me through the summer.  Although sandwiched in I’m reading a depression era novel called Face the Winter Naked, (Bonnie Turner). 
On the job front I am FINALLY being flexed from a Grant Administrator I to a GA II. It’s been a long process, I was first told I need to pass an oral test to flex.  So I took the test and passed and then I was told I needed to do a formal solicitation for professional services so that was completed a few months ago and then I was told I needed to do an informal solicitation so now that’s done.  I addition to my leasing duties I have to manage 10-15 contracts too, so I will be busy.  It hasn’t actually happened YET but I’m told next week.  It’s a 3 range bump so it will be a nice pay raise.  Of course, it’s all going into deferred comp to help pad the old retirement fund, should that ever come to pass!
Okay, I’m sure I have captivated my readership for long enough with the exciting details of summer, 2013.  To quote a favorite blogger of mine, Carry On Warriors!


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Meet Dan Bigley

Every once in a while I stumble upon a book that speaks to me in such a  profound way.  It inspires me and challenges me and humbles me in ways that can’t help but make me a better human being going through this journey called life.  Once I start reading I am totally captivated and every time I have to put the book down I do so with an ache in my heart, waiting to reunite at the soonest possible moment. Such was my experience reading Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again after Being Blinded by a Bear. 

Dan Bigley was a 25 year old adventurer.  In 2003, he was living his dream in Anchorage, Alaska…..skiing, fishing, hiking, attending music shows and working with troubled teenagers.  One evening after a successful day fishing with his buddy at the confluence of the Russian and Kenai Rivers, they were almost back to the car when he was attacked by a frantic grizzly sow (with two cubs).  He was smacked and chewed on and then dragged about 25 feet.  His injuries were beyond horrific.  His eyes popped out of his head and his entire facial infrastructure rearranged; sinuses in pieces and vital bone missing from his skull.  While still laying on the ground after the attack and drifting in and out of consciousness, he made a vow to live.  Not just exist but REALLY live.  His choice would challenge him in the months and many surgeries that lay ahead.

In part, this book was so compelling to me because I remember reading his story in the Anchorage Daily News as it happened.  I remember cheering when he was released from the hospital after many weeks and I remember crying after reading a letter he wrote expressing his humble thanks to the hospital and staff that cared for him.  And wondering what became of him after.

What happened is he took some time to heal at his parents home in California.  In addition to his physical wounds he had some deep psychological wounds as well.  Several years of counseling helped quiet the nightmares and get the “bear out of his head.” After a year or so he attended a school for the blind to learn some critical skills for living without sight and how to use a cane.  He also lost his sense of smell so they taught him tricks for differentiating between toothpaste and ICY HOT, or between shampoo and mouthwash.  After completion of the school, he was empowered enough to return to Anchorage and resume his life. 

He couldn’t have picked a more challenging city to return to with it’s icy, snow-filled streets and cold temperatures.  One day he was caning his way home and would have run into a moose were it not for a bystander’s warnings.  He had to sell his cabin in the woods and lost many of his adventuresome friends.  But one remained by his side.

He had briefly started dating a woman before the mauling.  They had kept in touch and resumed their relationship once he was back in Alaska.  They eventually married and now have two children.  He went back to school for his masters in social work.  Before he could start the masters program, he needed to take a Statistics class which couldn’t be more visual.  He practiced his route getting to and from class on the first day he arrived at the appointed classroom only to find out they had moved it making him 20 minutes late and a lot frazzled.  That was just the start, almost the entire class was taught on a white board with other visual aids.  He ended up lagging way behind so he hired 3 different tutors to help him out and ended up with A.  After his masters he started work as a clinician for Denali Family Services, a nonprofit counseling center in Anchorage for disturbed children and their families.  A year later he was promoted to director of therapeutic foster care for DFS, the largest therapeutic foster-care provider in the state.

In 2008, the Governor's Committee on Employment and Rehabilitation for People With Disabilities presented him with its Alaskan of the Year Award. Prescott College gave him a Distinguished Alumni Award that same year, and in 2010, a Desert Star Award, which recognizes alumni carrying forward the Prescott mission. Most recently, he received a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Alaska.

At some point in time he threw away the cane and got a dog.  His now constant companion, Anderson, guides him through life working, playing with his kids, chasing salmon, playing music, practicing yoga or going to live music shows.

You just can’t read this book without being uplifted and inspired and challenged to do better in your own life.  I almost cried when it was over.  I highly recommend it and note that all of his reviewers on Amazon gave him FIVE stars.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happy 93rd BIrthday to My Dad

Today my dad turns 93 years old.  He was born in 1920 in West Virginia.  To put it in perspective, here are some facts about our country when he was he was born:
Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President.  Prohibition had just begun.  On August 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution became law and women could vote in all 48 states of the union.  A stamp cost two cents. 
Jazz great Louis Armstrong was a popular musician.  Movies were wildly popular with most people going at least once a week.  Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo were the movie stars of the time.  Some popular movies of the 1920s were The Kid (1921), The Gold Rush, (1925), The Wizard of Oz, (1925) and The Phantom of the Opera, (1925). 
The band aid was invented in 1920 as well as the automobile with combustion engine.  A few other inventions of the 20’s include the lie detector (1921), the bulldozer, (1923) and Kool Aid (1927). 
There were 105.7 million US citizens with a median income of $1236 and a teacher’s salary was $970/year.  The 1920’s were an era of great prosperity, which came to an abrupt halt in 1929, and followed by the great depression of the 1930’s.  By 1927, two thirds of American homes had electricity and running water. 
The life expectancy in 1920 was 53.6 for a male and 54.6 for a female.  It took 13 days to reach California from New York.  There were 387,000 miles of paved road.
Dance crazes included the Charleston, the Black Bottom and the Shimmy.  Harry Houdini was the great escape artist of the 1920’s.  Cigarettes were 10 cents a pack. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My 17 Year Old Self...

In one of my last blog post I was reminiscing about time gone by after having lunch with a couple of classmates I hadn’t seen in years.  I’ve been out of high school for 36 years and that was the first time I have been with the two of them since then.  I ended the post speculating on the lessons we could have taught our 17 year old selves and my niece challenged me to write about that.  It almost paralyzed me into blog inaction forever but I’m finally getting around to it.
I would say kindness to self would be at the top of my list.  I was so insecure and so lacking in confidence as a young women and I did many things to try and fit in and gain acceptance.  I looked for comfort in all the wrong things.  I didn’t believe I was worth much and that attitude was reflected in my choices and my behavior.   I had terrible body image issues and always felt “less than.”  If I could go back in time and convince myself that all those tapes swirling around in my brain were LIES and that I was a precious child of God, made in his image and just the way he intended I would have saved myself a lot of pain and misery.  I would NEVER talk to other people the way I talk to myself...the horrible things I have repeated to myself over the years make me cringe and I wish I could say it has stopped but that would not be true. I have a much easier time looking beyond the physical with other people, seeing people for their awesome hearts, but when it comes to me all I see is what the mirror reflects back and each year that gets a little worse.
I would say choose your friends wisely.  The people you surround yourself with show the world who you are and, in addition, color your every day existence, either negatively or positively.  I’ve had a lot of good friends go in and out of my life but these days I am more discerning about who I allow to get next to me.  I have no time for toxic people.   I have “friends” on  Facebook that post the most negative and hateful pictures and material, from sites set up with no other purpose in the world other than to denigrate, mock and disrespect, all under the guise of informing people about the “real” truth, as they perceive it.  These are usually political in nature, either targeting the president or anyone associated with the president or any group of people that believes differently than themselves.  These posts are not inviting dialogue or trying to educate or affect change.  They are simply inflammatory and their only purpose seems to be so like minded people can rally and laugh and they can congratulate themselves for their superior intellectual and moral character.  People that make these posts are immediately “hidden” from my daily feed.  That doesn’t mean I have to agree with everyone on everything they post but their message is hopefully not lost on their delivery.  I actually really enjoy reading and learning about different lifestyles, religions, and cultures but it has to be presented with integrity and respect.
I’d tell myself to be more patient, have more compassion and don’t be so judgmental. To my 17 year old self everything was black and white.  I thought I had the answers to everything.  The older I get the grayer my world becomes and I really understand how little I know.  I really try to understand both sides of all contentious social issues from abortion to gay marriage to gun control.  I listen to my heart.  Our hearts cannot delight in what our minds cannot embrace.  God convicts me of certain things and they may be different than the convictions of other Christians and that’s okay with me.   If, on judgment day, I find I fell on the wrong side of some issues then I’ll have to depend on God’s grace and mercy and I’m okay with that too. 
I would say to find a passion and parlay that into a way to learn your living.  I have always envied people who knew from any early age what they wanted to do for a career.  If only I could find someone to pay me for loving animals!!  I’ve had some good  jobs and I’ve had some really horrible jobs but the one constant I remember is keeping track of how much time I have left.  I wish I was doing something where I dreaded the thought of retirement.
I would also remind my younger self that how I live my life DOES reflect on my parents.  I remember my mom used to take everything SO personally and I could not understand why my choices mattered so much to her.  Causing her pain is one of my biggest regrets.   Of course, now I do understand she had my best interests at heart and was trying to help me avoid the subsequent pain of bad choices.   There are many things I did that still shame me terribly……I know God has forgiven me but I have a hard time forgiving myself.  It reminds me of a story I read once about a grandfather who told his grandsons they could do anything in the barn, but please do not pound nails in the barn door.  Of course they did and when he confronted them they apologized and promised to pull the nails out and they did but there still remained the scars of those nails on the door.   Let’s just say I have many scars on my barn door.
I’m sure there are many more conversations I could have with myself but this is a start.
Happy New Year everyone!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reflections of Another Time...

Today I had lunch with two high school classmates.  As I was walking away it occurred to me I should have gotten a picture but the hour flew by so fast I didn’t even think of it.  One of them, Colleen Hannon Stanley, was not only a classmate for all 12 years of school (she didn’t go to kindergarten) but a neighbor as well.  I grew up with the Hannons. Our moms were good friends.  I don’t remember ever not knowing Colleen.  She now lives in India while her husband fulfills a two year contract with the US Air force (as a civilian) and after that they may move to Dubai, on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates.  She doesn’t want to though; she wants to be back in the U.S. near her kids and grandkids and working towards a retirement. 
The other classmate was Kim Oudekerk Gibb.  Her family moved to Haines when she was freshman or sophomore I think so I don’t have near the history with her.  She got married right after graduation and lived in Petersburg for years but has lived in Juneau about twelve years.  I ran into her once at a boat show but I haven’t ever seen her, even in passing, since then. 
Colleen is here to play grandmother to her two year old grandson while his mom has another baby.  Pregnant women living in Haines have to come to Juneau to have their babies and have to be here for three weeks ahead of their due dates.  So she is taking the baby home to Haines while his mother remains here.  She is happy to get out of India, even though they live in officer housing on base, the world is a different place in India.  She says “Slumdog Millionare” pretty accurately portrayal of the poverty that is rampant there.  Kids begging for money in the streets, diseased and starving animals, and way too many people are all part of her daily landscape.  She doesn’t work there, getting a work visa was too much of a nightmare so she has written a book about her experiences.  Neither she or her husband are allowed to even drive, they have to have a driver from base.  She said it’s too dangerous and military advises against it.  No one slows down for anything and it’s not uncommon to run over an animal. 
Kim has been married for 37 years and has two kids and two grandchildren.  She has worked her way up in a local bank and is now a loan officer.  She wishes her parents had encouraged her to go to college.  Colleen finished her degree in public administration in 2010 after attending night school for many years.  She too, got married right out of high school and raised a family before going back to school.
The last time I saw Colleen was about 12 years ago at a high school reunion.  I haven’t spent an hour with Kim since we graduated.  It was a whirlwind catching up but so much fun.  It was interesting, the juxtaposition of our 17 year old high school days with our 54 year old current day selves.   We spent the hour discussing kids, grandkids, jobs, and retirement, peppered with a few mentions of hot flashes and colonoscopies. 
Oh, the lessons we could teach our 17 year old selves.  So many things could have been reconsidered and better thought out, crises averted and pain avoided.  In the end I guess it is all that hard stuff that got us where we are today so in that regard I wouldn’t change a thing but oh how I wish life came with a few do-overs!

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Little of This, A Little of That....

Saturday morning I got up around 7 AM.  I heard Chris’ car leaving and I had forgotten he had to work.  Notice I said I got up, not woke up.  I had a nasty kink in my neck and back from a few days prior and I was so uncomfortable Friday night I couldn’t stand it so I read until about 2 AM and then I took a pain pill.  It was outdated, don’t know if that matters but rather than put me in a deep slumber I was hoping for, it totally wired me and I’m not sure I ever fell asleep.  By 7 AM I couldn’t stand to toss and turn any longer so I got up even though my brain felt completely numb.  I was rummy and in my rumminess the first thing I did was start going through my closet.  I have had a closet full of size 0 and size 2’s that I have been hanging on to for too many years with no hope of ever fitting into them again.  Which is not to say I have no hope of ever losing weight but I know I’ll never be that small again.  If, by some miracle I find myself that size again, I will gladly fork out the bucks for some new clothes.   I ended up taking three big black garbage bags of clothes and one box of shoes to St. Vincent de Paul’s.  As well as one big box of books to Friends of the Library. 
After that I got on the treadmill for 30 minutes and then I cleaned the house.  It’s so much easier to clean the house when Chris is gone.  Then I went for a long walk and when I got home I made a pass through the garden and pulled the offending weeds and watered everything.  I can count on one hand the times I have had to water this summer.  My Livingston daisies are all blooming now and it all looks much like the picture above.  Thankfully we have been getting some sunny days so they can showcase their glory. 
When Chris got home we went grocery shopping and ran some errands.  I got some steaks marinating and then I sat down and read my book and promptly fell asleep.   I just love a good nap and I rarely take them.  That night we BBQ’d some tenderloin steaks that you could cut with a fork, so good!!   It was a great Saturday and I can’t believe how good it feels to purge my belongings.   Now it’s got me inspired to go through all my closets and cupboards and do some more. 
On Sunday I had to sit for hours with a heating pad on my back and today my kink seems a bit better.  I still can’t turn my head to the left without it hurting but it is better.  The bonus is I got a lot of my book read, a light, fun summer read called “Summer Rental”. 
And now you, dear reader, know every detail of my very uneventful weekend.