Monday, June 23, 2014


Pets.  Our little loves.

I have a ragdoll, which is a kind of Siamese cat.  Huge kitties, they are, with three-point seal marks and the bluest eyes.  Obi is a shy guy.  A little cranky.

I got him at the Humane Society over five years now.  He is a pure blood and  his previous family couldn't keep him, they were moving.  When he first saw me, he crawled into my lap and hid his sweet face in the crook of my arm, more or less begging me to take him home with me.  After a week for some health issues, I did.

When I got him home, he did the perimeter search cats do, then he leapt into my lap, snuggled in as tight as he could get and sighed deeply, went to sleep for about an hour  Ragdolls do that.   You can tell when Obi is deeply content.  The sigh is the signal.

He was a kitty who didn't know kisses or long held hugs.  I think his previous family liked him well enough, but they sorta thought he was a cat.   He didn't expect that he might be family here.  He is.

He snuggles in every night, then slips off to sleep on the end of the bed.  He won't eat unless  I'm sitting beside his bowl.  This morning he crawled on board and purred up a storm.  Last week, he was not happy that I was away from home so much, so he climbed into my lap and stretched out his claws.  If I moved, I got the treatment.  It was enough that I stayed home and held him the whole time.

The little buggers have their ways.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So, Walking

The purest pleasures are the simple ones.

A bite of dark chocolate.  The sweet kisses of children.  Long, sauntering walks.

About six weeks ago, I started walking seriously.  Two-to-four mile walks, two or three times a week.I was tuckered out, lots of times, given that it was tough to walk across big parking lots.  I could tell you that it was a new commitment to exercise and health.  But really I was having trouble with my car.

I live in a pretty little city, there are a lot of things I can get to via my feets.  At first, I was the teeniest bit resentful and more than a little tired, but as my fitness levels increased, which they do in a hurry when you walk that far that often, it increasingly became a pleasure. I think I can sustain this level of activity for a long time.

What have I seen out on my walks?  Five deer, down from the foothills, not two blocks away from our little wilderness.  Tons of flowers I couldn't name.  The turn of spring  into summer.   Storm clouds brewing on the horizons.  Now there's energy for you.  The renewing of parts of my neighborhood.  I live in one of the oldest, one still without sidewalks in places.  It's fun to see those older homes get a spiffy new look.  I think I am too.  Lots of puppies and kitties, who come by for pats.

How do animals know instinctively who will love them and who will not?  Some other kind of brain is at work.  It's a good one.

I'm getting rid of clothes.  The ones that are sliding off my shoulders and sagging around my butt.  That's fun.

I must be prepping for a new kind of life.  One with better health and new projects and responsibilities.

Fine with me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Big Change in Plans

So, I have this church family.

We're all just a little odd, remarkably OK with me.  That just tells me that we're authentic people, true to the selves God gave us, true to the realities of our lives.  Lots of laughter, good food, big fun.  All of it together.  Tim calls it "food, fellowship, and fun."  It's taken us lots of places we'd never get on our own, one of those is the Ironman Half Marathon. 

Which is what we were up to this weekend.  Our buddy Rick moved to our pretty little city almost nine years ago.  It was in the middle of the recession and jobs in his area of expertise, main frame computers,  were virtually non-existent.  There was one left, in Idaho, and he grabbed it right up.  

But he was bored out of his mind, having left his family in the Portland/Vancouver area.  Already a runner, he decided to try for Marathons and Half-marathons.  We were just getting to be friends at that point and we showed up for his first Boise Half-marathon.  That one was tough, but it was the first of many.

A few years ago, he got to go back home, but he always had a fondness for the Boise event.  So he and his wife Suzie came to town.  We were getting together for lots of race activities and backyard picnics.  

My cousin Julie and I went to the first party.  Here's what you have to know about Julie.  She can be a stubborn soul,  and there are only four people who can easily coax her past her stubbornness and her shyness into a party mood.  My brother, and these three guys, are the only ones who can readily get her to new places and to try new things.  They have been so good to her over the years and been at the core of lots of fun events, among them a hug every single weekend in church.  They dote over her, make things possible for her, include her in every invitation.  She loves them as I do, and she goes.

Mainly, we all played with baby, Bear, Tim and Julie's new little one.

Rick was looking forward to seven hours of active, competitive action.  We held our breath.

So the race.  Rick had a good swim, and was fifteen miles into the bike ride. The rules stipulate that the cyclists have to be a ways apart, maybe four feet, from each other.  But there was this one rider who was not following the rules.  She hit Rick's rear wheel, which pitched him over the handle bars.  He broke his shoulder and fractured his hip in two places.  She did not stop, did not acknowledge her part in the accident.  She did not help.  

Here's where I'm fuzzy on the details.  I don't know if the first aid people scooped him up and got him into an ambulance to St. Al's.  Rick had his phone, called Suzie.  Or if Tim, Suzie, and the other Julie picked him up and got him help.  None-the-less, he did wind up at Al's, and they did all the appropriate tests and got him patched up enough to get him home to Vancouver, where another orthopedic doc will follow his care.  Tim and Julie, Cheryl and Larry all did yeoman duty in taking care of Rick and Suzie both, with uncommon kindness and purpose, and with all the love there is.  Pastor Duane, also a runner, said some sweet prayers for his safe recovery, too.

Yesterday, they made it home.  

He'll be OK, at some point, will be itching to get back into his training soon enough, wants to come back for a few days in July.   We'll be watching over him pretty darn close and playing our hearts out with Baby Bear.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Last Two Weeks, Big Emotions, Big Assignments

I asked Jan at Conari Press if she was still interested in seeing another book from me.  She was, so it was a big day to send it all off to her.  There are so many emotions engendered when you send a book off:  some level of uncertainty; some level of confidence.  Then the big question, always a good one in my case, Will other people see the worth and work that I've put forth and lived?  We'll see.  It's good to be this far along.  We wait.

Turns out, I can't live without a book going.  I took four days off,  we're talking restless hee-bee jee-bees here,  started another.  This one is about a pistol-packing mama and a librarian.  Good, huh? 

A couple of projects that take the heart:  After the first of the year, we joined some small groups at church; our job was to create projects that served our larger community and complete them.  So we did.  Some of our groups hosted a Bingo night at the VA, complete with prizes.  Another group visited Chrysalis, more about who they are in a minute, and provided Sunday night dinners for them.  My group worked with two other groups.  We've been involved with building Habitat houses for a couple of years and a family, Mom and Dad and four kids, from the Congo were shortly to move into theirs, one we helped with.  We thought about providing a kitchen shower for the family.  One of the other groups was mostly men and they wanted to provide tools.  Then a family was moving from one home to another and donated several pieces of living room furniture.  We gathered up all of that,  And last Saturday, we took four trucks loads of goods out to them.  Things like rakes and hammers, pancake pans and soup kettles, a living room couch.  Wonderful morning.  We will have saved them about a thousand bucks and took a step toward moving their house to a home.  Put six white chairs on their front porch.  Instant community.  Wanna do that again.

Now Chrysalis.  That's a group of homes in our community that provide help and assistance to women newly out of prison,  most often women with substance abuse issues.  There is no tougher road.  Their treatment program based on Christian values and teaching, which incorporates absolute truth-telling, discipline and direction,  learning who you are in God, getting a grip, besides the  psychological and social learning and support, and the science of addiction and what it requires to set yourself free.  There are lots of women who do not make it; the consequences are dire.  One gal burned out her liver before the age of 30.   But there are a few sterling gals who do, and they are making their way into our congregation.  They make up two rows in our more raucous services.  They have been embraced at our church and we are getting to know them.  Viv wanted to know what I wanted to do.   I thought about it for a weekend and decided I could come and do a home-cooked meal, teach some basic cooking skills, empower those gals so that they could learn how to provide healthy food for themselves.  I have a theory for everything, which is the way my writer's mind works and here's this one:  if you had an addictive process going on in our life, and you were hungry, lonely, lost, that would be bad juju and you would be more likely to be out finding the things that weren't good for you.  Men who would use you sexually.  Drugs and alcohol.  Breaking the law.  Finding money from those sources.  Tough.   
But if you had some power over your own life, could provide food and the other things you needed in this life through your own efforts, you might stand a better chance.  I could teach them about good food and how to make it.  My friend, Jeanette, wants to help too.  She's one of the best cooks I know; she's an ardent vegetarian and her food is a salute to great health.    Viv and I were thinking that more women might want to help.  Let me know.  I'm going to do it quarterly, I'm thinking, so there's lots of room for help.  Think about it: a whole cadre of mamas at the ready.  Men too, I'm hoping.

And last, Rick and Suzie are in town.  He's running this weekend in a big race, about seven hours of biking, swimming, and running.  There are some friends who are beyond fit, but Rick might be the bes and he's in his early 60s.  Impressive, impressive, impressive.  We had dinner with them last night in Tim and Julie's back yard along with my cousin Julie, Cheryl and Larry, and baby Bear, the new puppy.   Way fun.