Wednesday, May 30, 2007

7 things

I think this may be the first time I've responded to one of these invitations. Susan of Living the Adventurous Life tagged me for the "7 Random Facts About Me" meme. Her invitation came at a good time--a new blog post is overdue.

So here goes.

1. I once hunkered down in a closet and prayed while a tornado flew over our home, tearing off the shingles. This was while living in Arkansas when I was 9.
Photo by Eric Nguyen (Oklahoma U.), www.mesoscale.ws

2. I've broken both my arms--once while riding a horse that had never been ridden; once while swinging on a tree limb (this occurred the day before the tornado scare).

3. I am the great, great granddaughter of an Indian princess and a Scottish adventurer. My grandmother's grandmother was Ekalaka (Ijkalaka), daughter of Chief Eagle Man, an Oglala Sioux. Ekalaka married David Russell, a man who, as a child, survived the cholera and measles that killed his mother and siblings on the wagon train west; survived being on his own in a strange land from the age of 8; survived being shot through both hips during a war with the Indians (at 13) and later, being shot with arrows. In his lifetime, he worked as a government scout, Indian fighter, stage coach driver, cow puncher, bronco buster, buffalo hunter, miner and rancher. He hunted with Chief Joseph and Sitting Bull, met Kit Carson, Mark Twain, Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill, and Theodore Russell, who, after seeing my grandfather perform a roping show once, was so delighted, he sent David a box of cigars to show his appreciation. David also once loaned Ulysses S. Grant money to travel back east (before the Civil War, when Grant was an unknown).

4. When I was young, and my grandfather used to tease that he was going to sell me to the gypsies when they next passed by, my heart would lurch in delighted anticipation. I mostly knew he was kidding ... but what if? Gypsies got to wear those wild, multi-colored, swingable skirts, and they had all those great bangles and giant earrings. As a big plus, they got to travel all over the world and live secretive, mysterious lives.

5. I once worked as a plainclothes security officer for The Bon (now Macy's) and Frederick and Nelson (now defunct), two large department stores in our area. During the six years I had this job, I chased, tackled and handcuffed shoplifters. I once (with the help of my manager) rolled a 6'5" man across the hood of an elderly woman's car in the parking lot outside the store, while she sat inside, slack-mouthed, willing herself to not have a heart attack. I also once had a gun pulled on me.

6. I didn't know I would be a writer until I was 31. In high school, I vacillated between marine biologist and lawyer, but ended up being a 1st grade teacher ... which gave way to writer.

7. If I were about to be exiled--say, to a deserted island or the moon--and my exilers allowed me just one goodie to tide me over, without question, I'd request a hundred pounds of chocolate-covered gummy bears. I adore them. I sometimes crave them, although I rarely give in because once I start dipping into that bag, I can't stop. But, hey--it's exile. Why not?

And now I'm tagging the following:

Bonnie of Macromoments.
Jimmy of Being God's
Ellen of My Breath of Life
Nancy of Goldilox
Cora of Never Forsaken
Fran of Looking Up
Kim of Abba's Girl

Have fun!


Saturday, May 19, 2007

sad news; glad news

It's best to say the sad things first. We lost one of the baby goats yesterday. The little thing just kept getting weaker and weaker. It didn't help that his mama wouldn't let him nurse, and actually kicked him every time he tried to get to her. He took a bottle from us eagerly at first, and then with a bit less enthusiasm, and then he just wouldn't take it at all. When he died, he was up in the house with us, lying on a soft cushion, covered up with Tera's favorite jacket.

I hope heaven has an endless, emerald pasture.

The glad news? My close friend, Sonya, opened a yarn shop this month and started a yarn-shop blog just this week. If you're crafty (and I don't mean wiley ... although she'd welcome you wiley ones, too), take a minute to go say hey.



Tuesday, May 15, 2007

times two

I had other plans today. But just as I set my briefcase in the backseat of the car and mentally drove myself to the coffee shop for a final day of editing, I heard not one, but two tiny bleats coming from the goat pen.

Mama goat had her twins this morning. We'd been waiting for what seemed like weeks, watching her rub her bulbous sides against the wire mesh of her pen back and forth, back and forth, as if rubbing might somehow trigger the big event. She looked miserable, waddling around like that. But this morning, we got the payoff.

One little guy (they're all little guys to me until I learn otherwise) greeted me with a questioning head tilt and a wag of his barely-there tail. But the other little guy couldn't stand--not when I coaxed him from my side of the mesh, not when I got down on my knees and lifted him carefully on all fours. He just couldn't summon the energy.

Mama had her hands full trying to keep the stronger kid away from her teats. One is plugged (we'll be dealing with that later) and she just didn't feel like sharing the other. This second kid had me worried. Wet, tired, and shivering, he kept laying his head against the straw.

We've been through this before--plenty of times--but I never get used to the initial hesitance of the mother to let her babies feed. I never get used to watching those tiny beings struggle to keep their head above the straw. So I worried.

Tera worried, too. She's been reading "Raising Goats the Modern Way" in preparation for a vet career (she doesn't yet know there's a bit more to it than devouring one goat book) and she was itching to get in there and swipe at the birthing fluid that clung to the weaker baby's fur. I let her wipe for a minute until I couldn't stand the gentleness of it any longer.

"You've got to wipe like you mean it, honey."

She gave another loving feather-swipe.

"Like you really mean it," I said.

She looked at me like I'd just run over a squirrel. "I don't want to hurt him."

I took the towel and the baby and set to scrubbing in earnest. His black fur glistened under all that slime (I hope you're not enjoying dinner while we have this discussion), but after ten minutes of rubbing, I got him cleaned up and warmed. While Tera tried to hold him up to the mother's teats, I went to the shed, got my supply of "emergency lamb milk replacer" (which we keep for just such occasions), and made a tiny bottle of warmed milk. I just wanted the little guy to get a sip--just enough to put some energy in those skinny little legs.

The long and short of my day is this: both kids are up and dancing in the straw. "Boing" is a better term, actually. They're boinging. They've downed two bottles between them (Mama still won't let them drink) and they've taken to sucking on Tera's t-shirt sleeves for comfort.

My editing has had to wait until this moment, but I'm not complaining. When I finish here, I get to go home and take in another eyeful (and armful) of new life.



Monday, May 07, 2007

when babes speak

I'm sitting in a new favorite place--the Home Town Deli/Espresso. It's a quiet place on a busy corner. Velvety dark chocolate, squiggle-embossed couches beckon invitingly, but I resist. I'm working on the edit and update of a book on eschatology, and I know myself well enough that if I succumb to that tempting invitation, the book is likely to go by the wayside, and I'll spend an hour simply staring at all those delightfully oversized chess pieces.

I must be good. I must focus. I must keep my thoughts on nuclear probabilities and Syrian/Iranian alliances and world upheaval. To that end, I adjust my earplugs and set Doug Smith's fingers loose. From the first strains of his "Deep Heart" CD, I find myself focusing better ...

... for about twelve minutes. But then I remember yesterday, and the imps who filled it. And I have to leave Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a quick minute, because I can't write about him and smile at the same time. And smiling is in order.

First, there was Rachel. Seeing her at the after-church potluck reminded me of something her mother shared with me recently. It seems that Rachel has penned a repeat-worthy phrase; something I plan to begin incorporating into my own outbursts. Whenever Rachel (age 3), feels frustrated at some task, she bursts out with, "Oooh! My seatbelt is arguing with me!" or "My tights are arguing with me!" or "My hair is arguing with me!" How great is that? Insert any pesky life-detail in there, and you've got yourself an instant outlet. It's so true. Life is full of annoyances that insist on arguing with us.

And then there was Eli. Eli (also 3) is a new delight; a transplant from Murrieta, California and specifically, Calvary Chapel Lake Elsinore. I already adore his family and feel like they've been ours forever. Eli (who, incidentally, knows everything you could ever want to know about oceans and fish and Dori, of "Finding Nemo" fame), was in his Sunday school class yesterday while Jennifer and the kids sang a rousing, dance-inducing worship song together. He endured it patiently for several minutes, but then he couldn't take any more. Picking up his Bible, he thrust it toward Jennifer and said, "Please ... can't we just read?" Oh, that we all should have such a love of the Word.

And lastly, little Hannah (4), who I've written about here and here, sat at a table with Joey and Anna (and Eli and Gabriel), Heather and Jaden, and me. After a bit, she excused herself to go to the bathroom. And when she returned, a few short minutes later, she crawled up next to Heather, grinned, and said, "Did you think about me when I was in the bathroom?"

Oh, to be a child. To believe that we are so loved, that not a second goes by when we're not being longed for.

How fitting that as I type this, Doug Smith plays "I Only Have Eyes For You" in the background.

Mahmoud calls. Reluctantly, I leave the giant chess set, the chocolate brown couches, and my littlest friends ... and return to lesser things: visions of nuclear fallout and apocalyptic devastation.



Tuesday, May 01, 2007


It's Wednesday night again, and once again, I'm taken with the sight of wiggly, front-row floor inhabiting boys. This time, it's Corbin and Josh. They shimmy to Peter's rhythm. They stare at Jeff's fingers, flying a fret dance along the length of his guitar, and whisper "somedays" to one another. When Sylvia runs a stick against the chimes or shakes that shiny black egg, they point and giggle.

Corbin catches my eye, and when he sees no disapproval there, he exaggerates his conductor-waves for my approval. If you're looking for boundaries, little boy, you'll have to look elsewhere. I'm one of you.

When the last of six songs drifts to stillness, and a plea for wisdom has been ushered skyward, the short people are excused. Corbin waves as he walks back. If he could wink, I've a feeling he would have left me with one of those too.

Josh marches right past me ... but then, for reasons known only to that stoic, often unreadable child, he stops and turns to me. Two small arms open wide, and I fall right into them. He presses his little face against my shoulder, eliciting the only words worth saying. "I love you," I tell him.

And then, while I'm smiling and watching that tiny boy resume his determined march to class, another favorite crosses the aisle and holds out an offering. It's Nathan, and he's brought me a gift to add to my collection. Without a word, he sets two heart-shaped rocks on the chair beside me, gives me a quick, shy grin, and joins the exodus out of the sanctuary.

I don't deserve to be this loved ... but I'll take it all.

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