Monday, March 19, 2007

North, South, East, or West?

Okay, I have been marinating a new idea for the last few days. I actually thought about blogging it the same night as my last blog, but I decided that last blog needed the limelight for a little while, plus some ideas just need time to mature and fully bake before being exposed to light.

I've been thinking about life strategies recently; about how important it is to know what you want in life, and where you want to end up. Otherwise your life just turns into a huge game of dodgeball. Have you ever noticed the difference in some children's games? Like the difference between a scavenger hunt and dodgeball. In a scavenger hunt, there is a list of goals to accomplish- a toad, a marble, a red leaf, a four-leaf clover, a toenail, etc. The kids run all over creation finding their things, and when it is all over, they have accomplished something. In dodgeball, kids line up against the wall and then just wait for a couple other kids to pelt them with soft projectiles if they are lucky, hard things if they are not. The point of the game is to avoid being hit, but the players never get anywhere. They just take turns attempting to knock the heads off their friends until the teacher blows the whistle and they come in from recess.

So the real question is: do I want to spend my life with a list of things to avoid or a list of things to accomplish? Do I want to end my life with a list of "I'm glad I didn't end up like ____" or a list of "I feel proud that I am a ______ person". Ok, moment of irony- how funny is this statement: "I feel proud that I am a humble person." Hehe.

Anyway, I haven't quite finished my list, but I have a few ideas so far as to what I want in my life. And for right now, I think that I will focus on that instead of just being one more "muckraker" as Teddy Roosevelt put it. Here's some of my ideas so far:

I want to be the kind of person who welcomes people into my home and offers them a cookie and a cup of something warm to drink (or cold, depending on mood and season). I want a house full of warmth, laughter, and light. I want to fully develop the child in myself, and humor every impulse for fun that awakens in my soul. I want to own lots of toys and play with them. I want to have lots of fluffy pets. I want to be a collector of "moments of impact", where I truly make a difference in someone else's life. I want to be a great lady in the church, with many friends and opportunities to encourage, uplift, and love other people. I want to teach Sunday school and public school and contirbute in raising the next generation with a sense of purpose. I want to continue to grow myself, and become more appreciative, kind, peaceful, happy, and loving every day. I also want to be a mother someday, and raise children who have a good sense of fun, happiness, compassion, and connection to themselves and others.

I think it's important to give yourself the gift of a roadmap in this world. It's hard to keep a clear vision of where you're going if you constantly have dodgeballs running you off the road.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Maids of the Mist- a short story by me

Have you ever wondered why it is that ever so often the clouds come to earth and settle on the streets like a big fat cat exposing its belly for a rub? I know that some might talk of "humidity" and "barometric pressure" and other phrases and gobbledy gook as being the reason, but I will tell you the real one.

Way up at the top of the heavens is the normal place you will find white, puffy, sometimes feathery clouds. These bodies of mist and smoke are not beings unto themselves. You see, they are merely the underbelly of the home of young, lithe, female spirits. All through the day these spirits engage in laughter, flirtations, dancing, singing, hilarity, and jubilation. They leap from cloud to cloud, running and hiding among the hills and crevices of pure white fleece. They twirl around with colorful streamers, and make conversation with birds as they fly past. They take turns braiding each other's hair, telling stories to one another, and serving twinkling drinks to each other made of bottled moonlight. They laugh from pure joy; they shift between unbridled playfulness and affectionate embraces and kisses. Their lives are the composite of every little girl's ideal of the perfect life. Out of the cotton of the landscape they weave magnificent garments of every color, using the rainbows as their fabric dye. They are unconscious of pain- all they know is happiness and amusement, and grateful reflection.

You must be wondering by now what these wondrous sprites have to do with the evening fog of humid spring nights. Well, it happens like this: These young maids have very little memory. They live purely in the moment, their feelings constantly engulfing them. While they are in the clouds and engaging in merriment, they feel light and happy, so they stay up in the heavens. Every once in a while, though, one or two might become disenchanted with the game and happen to look upon the earth from their high perch. As they look down, what do they see? They see mankind, scurrying all over the place, busy as beavers. They see cars, trains, airplanes, adults jogging, families picnicking, and children playing, and they are delighted.

As they focus on the earth, they begin to come near, their cloudy pedestals drawing closer, so they can begin to see and hear what all is going on. As they listen and watch, they begin to notice more than just the delights of the earth. They see the suffering, the hunger, the misery, depression, desolation. They see children being forced to hold guns, being forced into wars. They see women treated as slaves, beaten by their employers and paid nearly nothing. They see husbands and wives divorcing each other, and the sad children caught in between. They see men with disease, and little boys without fathers to protect them. As they see all the pain, and the way humanity treats one another, they become sad. Forlorn, they sink to the ground. They weep, cry out, and rip their beautiful dresses. These broken-hearted spirits wander along the streets, trailing their mists alongside them, sobbing over the fate of their human brothers and sisters.

Desperate to find something worthy on the earth, they peer into windows, watch people walking along the street. They trail along mournfully, searching for relief from their overwhelming despair. Eventually they calm themselves to listen because very faintly they can hear singing. They wander until they find the source of this music, and they finally see, in a rocking chair lit by the twinkle of a nightlight, a grandmother holding her precious grandchild. The grandmother sings a sweet, low tune and holds the child to her chest, calming, soothing, and lulling the child to a peaceful sleep. As the maids listen, they too are brought peace.

As their hearts are soothed, they hold one another, repeating and extending the song, and slowly drift back up to the sky.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Silent One Speaks Again

Ok, you knew when you saw a new post on my blog that it would have something to do with my cats. It does and it doesn't. First, an update on the kitties, and then on to the things that have nothing to do with them (or so I think).

Today was a hard world for little kitty. Trinket has had to endure so much. First, her mommy held her for almost 15 minutes. The horror. Then, she was let go, but soon thereafter lured back over to the vicinity of mommy with a strip of paper dangled so beguilingly on the edge of the couch cushion. She couldn't help herself. And then, before she knew it, she had been swooped up into mommy's lap once more. And then the awfulest of awfuls (at least so far in the day) happened- mommy clipped the Trinket nails. She was surprisingly good, aside from growling and moaning murderous threats. Gizmo was sitting nearby and looked both alarmed for the sake of Trinket, and jubilant that she wasn't the one being held and having her back claws trimmed. When I was done she wriggled loose and skittered away, but the day was not yet over.

Once I was done watching Oprah, it was time to execute the next necessary torture I had in mind for my kitten. You see, she has been lumbering around here with her ears quirked to the side in discomfort for the last few days- they have been itching her due to a collection of earwax. Trinket has enough problems already with loopy thinking and dull-wittedness, without having the trouble of itchy ears making her nuts. So I was determined to clean them for her. She abhors having her ears cleaned. She hates it worse than getting a bath(which she is also in need of, but I must ask myself just how traumatized I wish my kitten to be at the end of the day).

So, quick as a wink, I wrestled Trinket onto the floor, grabbed her by the ear and the scruff of the neck (just in case the little booger tried to bite me), and began prodding and scrubbing the inside of her ear with a Q-tip. By this time I really didn't blame her for cursing kitty-style and wishing my death upon me. She even hissed once.

When I was finished, I got up, wiped the cat fur off of me, and went to take a shower. Trinket gave me a friendly chirp as I walked past her room (great- I've scarred her mentally to the point of memory loss), and then I took my shower.

Once I was done, I pulled the curtain back to a surprise. Gizmo was patiently waiting in the bathroom for me to get out, with a determined tilt to her ears. She had something she needed to say. "Mow. Mow Rrrrrrow mrow miow. Meow meow meow mew meow mow. Mew. Meoweow meow mow. Meh Mow MOW!" Then she glared at me for a moment and turned and walked out into the hallway. I imagined the monologue to be interpreted as something like this- "Mommy! Are you out of your ever-lovin' mind? Why in the world would you soak yourself down? What are you thinking? Just look at what you have done to Trinket! She has been reduced to imbecility. I say hello, Trinket, get away from my food, and she says ok, and then five minutes later she says "Oh hello, and who might you be?" You are no longer fit to call the shots around here, so I will take that upon myself. Now lick yourself off, and get in there and clean my litter and feed me. Hop to it!" It was quite hilarious. I wish I had had a tape recorder at the time.

Anyway, on to the things not about my pets. I would hate for this blog to end up being completely about my pets and lose that wonderful quality I used to maintain where it was a good mix of humorous anecdotes and thoughtful comments. I was thinking today. I guess I am a pretty deep thinker most of the time, which is a quality in myself that I learned to value from my wonderful roommate in college. You see, she taught me in the short time we roomed together that it's not enough to just go along with the routine- that it's important to also have a good reason for doing it, and to have clear thinking when making decisions.

So while I was doing some of my treasured thinking earlier today I was pondering over where I am in my pursuit of personal growth. I always want to continue striving for self-revelation, understanding, and humility. I was just thinking today about my level of awareness, and feeling pretty self-congratulatory, and then it occurred to me that people who say to themselves or others "I don't think I could get any more aware of myself or my motives/circumstances than I already am" are basically refusing to grow. So then I started wondering what it is that I am not ready to face or deal with, or work on. Right now I am not ready to know, but I am willing to give myself time and grace to work it out.

And finally, I wrote a couple months ago about how I was looking for some good literature. Thankfully, with the help of God and a friend, I have come across some absolutely amazing books. The stories in them aren't always pleasant, though they have some pretty good moments in them, but they manage to confront and stretch prejudgements and views that I didn't even know I had. SO, some of my reccomendations are: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons, and Jacob Have I Loved (I especially loved this one, but I can't remember who the author is). I am going to keep reading and as I come across great books I will let you all know.

Anyway, that's all for now. I have other thoughts brewing, but I will get to them later.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

High Maintenance Kitties

Okay, this is just too good to pass up writing about. Tonight David and I tried out the beta version of our cats' litter box lid. We just couldn't convince them to use it as long as there was a doggie-door connected to the lid. So we have just been leaving the lid off of it. Well, the lid door broke off recently, and it just so happened that the new litter box liners that I bought didn't want to stay on, so we decided to try out the lid(since it would hold the liners on) and see if they might be convinced to use it.

Trinket just couldn't get over the new lid. Literally. She couldn't adjust to stepping on the edge of the pan with the lid like she used to when there wasn't a lid, and kept clotheslining herself on the edge of the catbox while trying to get in. She got spooked and tried to run away. David decided to help her get used to it, and tried shoving her into the litter box. She gripped the edge of the doorway with her little paws, and tried to squirm away. David shoved harder, and succeeded in poking her into the catbox. She looked out at me from the inside of the litterbox with the expression of someone looking out from a gas chamber. Then she realized she could get out, and away she went. Then Gizmo hopped in with a proprietal air. "Silly kitten, look what the amazing Gizmo can accomplish. The likes of you must use primitive potties. Go back to the pound."

I decided to have some mercy on the cross-legged Trinket (she needed to go- bad) and asked David to set a box at the entrance of the litter box like a stepping stool. Trinket immediately took advantage of her very own stepping box, and joined Gizmo in the potty. Gizmo bounded out in disgust. "Drat! Foiled again- and it was about to get very interesting!"