Monday, April 25, 2011

Water For Elephants

I have this book and I thought I had read it but after seeing the movie I realize I have not.  It is a beautiful film set in the depression era 1930’s about a traveling circus trying to make ends meet.  Their star attraction is an elephant and I DO SO LOVE elephants.  I have no idea why I am so drawn to them but I am.  Maybe because they are so intelligent and have such human tendencies.   I remember when a baby was born to one of the cows at the Woodland Park Zoo (not many born in captivity, it's quite a process) and they had a contest to name the baby.  There was this Seattle based news/entertainment show that I watched all this unfold on and the winner was this little girl who came up with the name Hansa, which means supreme happiness.  How beautiful is that?  The prize was a trip to Thailand and she wanted to her teacher to go and the show was so impressed that she would give up her prize that they came up with additional tickets for her teacher and friend as well as the little girl and her parents.   Hansa has since died, she was only six.  I actually shed some tears upon hearing that news.

Anyway, back to the movie.  Reese Witherspoon is outstanding.  She is just so adorable.  There were some great circus moments and great costumes.  And romance.  In the end the elephant saves the day and what can be better than an elephant hero?  Bring tissue.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Skunk Cabbage
It’s official, spring is here.  I have seen robins and varied thrushes;  skunk cabbage growing and all kinds of action popping through my garden, particularly since I have ridden it of all the dead leaves that accumulate after a winter season.  Raking the garden and cleaning things up always makes everything look  so good!!   The next step is the lawn care.  And then comes the day I lay bark down over everything.   And then the day I make all my containers.  I have lots to do and can’t wait to get started but I must waiting until early May.  It’s still freezing every night and in my haste I always end up losing things or having to cover everything nightly. 

We recently stopped by The Home Depot and did some brick shopping.  In truth, we haven’t purchased anything yet but we now know we need two pallets of brick to build a garden wall where rotten 2 x 4’s now exist.  I really don’t look forward to that job, my back hurts already!

Oscar and I have been out walking the trails and enjoying the new life that has sprung up everywhere.  He enjoys chasing the birds and squirrels mostly.  I’ve never seen a dog so reluctant to go for a walk, if he has any sense that’s what is happening he refuses to get in the car which he can effectively do by dodging under the bed.  Usually he will do anything for a car ride.  Once we get out on the trail he is right behind me until we turn around and then he is racing for the car. Some lady was surprised the other day when we passed her, she said “wow, he goes fast for having those short little legs!”  Yes he does if he knows the walk is over.

The bears are also out.  Our friends had a huge one in their yard the other night so I brought the container of birdseed inside once again.  Last summer we managed not to have many bear visits so hopefully our place is off their radar.  It has really been nice to have sunshine and warmer temps lately and it has done so much for everyone’s attitude as well.  There is a certain satisfaction in knowing we survived yet another Alaskan winter!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bits & Pieces....

Yesterday I attended a business writing class.  I have to say I really enjoyed it! It was kind of a refresher on proper sentence construction and all things grammatical; dangling participles, split infinitives, use of semi-colons versus a colon, idioms versus jargon, singular possessives versus plural.  Good stuff.  I have always had a fascination with the English language and am always amazed at all the rules then all the exception to the rules.  I am a big fan of the ellipses and use them often in my writing and was reminded yesterday they are really only for when material is missing.....oh well!!

I have been struggling the last couple weeks with a stye on my eye.  I know I've had them before but the only way I knew I had them was to glimpse them in the mirror.  This time for several days before I saw it my eyes gave me grief.  Once I saw I had one it seemed to be on the mend but I still visited the eye doctor because I wasn't sure.  She gave me a prescription for some ointment to use but I didn't fill the prescription because I thought it was going away.  A few days later it was back with a vengeance so I started using the ointment.  Thankfully it was only in one eye because the ointment renders you virtually blind.  My vision in that eye would be so blurry I couldn't identify a person six feet ahead of me.  Let along a computer screen.  Last week was quite miserable trying to work with one eye so completely out of focus and then it strains your other eye.  Have I mentioned getting old sucks?

On another note, today is the 4th anniversary of my mom's death. Hard to believe.  I don't think I'll ever forget that day.

Funny how I just brushed up on my writing skills and then I publish the most disjointed entry ever. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Look Backwards

1997 - 20th reunion for the class of 1977

My friend Susan had this photo on her website the other day and it brought back so many memories.  It was the 20th reunion of the class of 1977 but they invited a few of us stragglers from the class of 1976.  Susan was living in Anchorage at the time and she and her husband came down and I came up from Juneau and we all stayed at Brenda Lanza’s house.  The party was at the Totem Bowl restaurant whatever that was called at the time and the event was a lot of fun.  It was a beautiful weekend and we all really enjoyed Brenda’s hospitality and her house which was also beautiful.  We went up the 33 mile for lunch the next day and spent some time soaking in the sun in Brenda’s yard. 

I have a lot of pictures of that weekend that started to materialize in my mind when I saw this one.  I remember it like it was yesterday and it seems really hard to believe that it could be 14 years ago.  Maybe two or three but fourteen??  So much has changed in all of our lives.  Most of us still had two parents.  Brenda is no longer married and now lives in Juneau.  Susan is married to someone else and lives in Washington.  Pam & Lisa both had breast cancer at the time; Lisa was diagnosed with stage I cancer and died a year or two later.  Pam was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and is healthy and happily living in Cordova now.  Life is so random.  Jessie is no longer married and either is Jeff.  I was not married at the time and am coming up on my 10th anniversary. 

I look at that photo and wonder what happened to those “kids”....we all look so young! It was really a pivotal point between hanging on to our youth and the downhill slide into post middle age.  We were on the cusp of turning 40 and at the time I thought 40 was so old!!  I’m glad I didn’t know then what challenges I would have to face in the coming years.  If I could say anything to the me in that picture it would be to enjoy every moment.  Don’t take anything for granted.  Be still and thankful as often as possible.  Don’t squander your youthful appearance.  Mostly though, I'd warn "hang onto your hat, you're in for a wild ride!"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Praying (Mary Oliver)

I saw this on Heather Lende's blog today and it was too good not to post.


It doesn’t have to be the blue iris,
It could be weeds in a vacant lot,
or a few small stones;
Just pay attention,
then patch a few words together
Don’t try to make them elaborate,
This isn’t a contest -
But the doorway into thanks,
And a silence in which another voice may speak.

Fair is Where You Buy Cotton Candy

No one ever said life was fair.  That’s a lesson I am still learning into my 50’s.  A younger friend of mine is always lamenting on “that’s not fair” and it brings to mind a saying I love: “fair is where you buy cotton candy.”  In other words, fair is indiscriminate.

Sometimes we are dealt a rotten hand.  Think of someone born into war torn Afghanistan or the slums of India  Why some people are born into poverty, disease and neglect while others are born in wealth and comfort and love is one of those questions I intend to ask God one day.  It’s just not fair.

There are many other levels of fairness in-between.  Some people know from an early age what kind of career they want.  It becomes a vocation rather than an occupation.  I envy those people.  People I most often hear say they love what they do are actors.  I do understand it is a craft and one that requires skill and often long hours but I don’t understand why we value them so highly.  That’s not fair either.  Teachers, firemen, soldiers, police, they are our unsung heroes.

Some people struggle all their lives with weight issues while others never do, seemingly without effort.  Talk about unfair. I’ve been on the losing side and the winning side of this battle and I can tell you it changes who you are if you let it.  Self image and body image are SUPPOSED to be separate and apart but it doesn’t work that way for many. 

Sometime people have work environments that lift them up and really allow them to soar and other times you end up with a boss that sours not only your world but the entire office.  I’ve had some great bosses, the ones that teach and inspire and I’ve had some vicious, mean-spirited bosses that rule with an iron hand and believe that is the only way to get results. Sadly, those are usually women.  Power does something to a human psyche like nothing else.   Sometimes otherwise nice people can be brutal and nasty in the work place.  There really is nothing more demoralizing than having to constantly be on guard, wondering what's next, looking over your shoulder at all times.  Bullies in the workplace are probably more prevalent than on the playground.  And miserable people enjoy creating misery.

Health has to be the very greatest example of unfairness in humanity.   There are those that suffer so much physically, constantly in pain and discomfort.   Those whose entire life is a struggle against death.  And sometimes illness befalls some really deserving folks and somehow that feels good but it doesn’t make up for all those babies that suffer or that of the really great, inspirational, giving, caring people that make the world a better place.

And then there is the suffering that comes from mass destruction......earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires, hurricanes & tornadoes.  I really hope I die before I ever witness such devastation.  Sometimes on a singular basis it can break your heart but when thousands or people are in pain I’m not sure I’d be able to bear it firsthand.  It’s just not fair.

Sometimes personal crisis seems like mass destruction.  It rocks your world and your foundation and makes you scrutinize what you believe about yourself.  It changes how you trust other people. Sometimes great changes do come from these circumstances though, if we are able to look for that new opened door.  I take comfort in believing that the people that cause destruction in the lives of others will have to answer for it one day.  The suffering they cause will one day be theirs because what I know for sure is when God is judging us he IS fair.