Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thoughts of blistering heat

An ice storm is moving in. I had vainly hoped that schools would be closed today, but even now it's still 32 degrees, so the roads are just wet. A normal day so far, but there's a good chance I'll have to chip ice off of my truck at 2:20 this afternoon when I leave to get Sunshine.

So what am I doing now? Going though summer vacation photos on my hard drive. Remembering how swelteringly hot it was at Palo Duro Canyon. How it was at least 140 degrees on the hike to Ernst Tinaja at Big Bend, as the vulture circled overhead and we had to tell him "We're not dead yet!" How we all just about cooked ourselves on the beach near Tampa. (Do you see a theme here?) To the left is a photo of my little vandals at Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo a few summers ago. They had a great time.

I'm actually putting photos on a flash drive that I want to put into scrapbook pages. Sometime this week, I'll head to Walmart and use their nifty machine to print them. I'm going on a scrapbook retreat this weekend, to a little place in Bowie, Texas, called Hobby House Hill. Cindy, the owner, is a phenomenal cook, so it's worth the money just to go have her cook for us. I'll have roughly 55 hours of scrapbook time, so I need to make sure I take plenty to work on.

Looks like my Internet connection is about to peter out (always happens when it rains...) Hope y'all are staying warm!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I love lazy days...

I slept in sweats last night, wore 'em all day, and am about ready to crawl back into bed, still wearing the sweats. It was chillier today. Only got up to the mid forties--but with a wind advisory, it felt much colder. After 80 degrees yesterday, today seemed like a good day to stay home and out of the wind. David got out to deposit his check, and brought home Rose's authentic Mexican food for lunch (mmmmmm....). The rest of us just lounged around the house.

I chatted online with my baby sister, got some stamping done. Did some crossword puzzles. David watched football. The kids took turns on the other computer playing WoW. They only indulged in a few minor altercations between them, so overall it was a very quiet day.

Oh. Sunshine and I did get one small thing accomplished that needed to be done. We emptied her craft supplies bin onto the middle of my bed, then sorted and organized everything. She has a lot of stuff she didn't remember she had (and quite a few things I'll have to borrow!).

Everybody had a lazy day... except Lucy. She was busy, busy, busy. Today Lucy chewed: 1) the zipper of one of Sunshine's comfy suede boots (it's ruined); 2) the earbuds to Bookman's iPod (destroyed); 3) Sunshine's pants from the dirty laundry (caught those in time); 4) a heavy duty orange extension cord (completely destroyed); 5) a TV remote control (the #4 button is missing), 6) the sleeve of David's jacket (caught that one in time, too). She also discovered the cool pop-up feature of Kleenex. Empty box, lot's of wet kleenex on the floor. *sigh* She's lucky she's cute.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A journalversary!

When I was in high school, I kept a pretty regular diary ("I love [insert name of current boyfriend here] so much, he is just so nice and cute! I am so lucky!" *modern day rolling of eyes*). But somewhere around my Junior year, I fell out of the habit, and never really picked it back up. I've received some cool journal notebooks as gifts over the years, but tucked them into the top drawer of my dresser, saying "Someday I'll use them."

On January 20, 2008, I picked up one of those journals and wrote in it. And I did it again the next day. And again the next, and the next, and the next.

One year ago today, it was just two months after the accident, and I was still pretty traumatized, having physical pain, emotional issues, and nightmares. In those two months, I spent way too much time focusing on the crap that resulted from the accident, particularly as it related to me. My fears, my pain, the disruption of my life. It was doing me absolutely no good whatsoever, but acknowledging that fact made no difference. I had to DO something. In writing that first journal entry, my intent was to write down the things I'm grateful for (to help me focus on the good things in my life), as well as my prayers for others (to help me take my focus off of me). I tossed in a quick summary of the day's events, and thus began my journaling habit.

I've only missed one day that I can remember, and am now half-way through my third notebook. And I still use the same format: Quick summary, stuff I'm thankful for today, and my prayers for the day. Many days the Praises and the Prayers are the same as the day before, but writing them each day helps me remember them each day. Many days I've had to struggle mightily to stay awake to finish the entry, but every day I did it.

And now I'm wondering why it took me 20 years to return to journaling! Even in the past year, it has been helpful not only to my mental health, but also to my memory. When did we go to see the Butterfly Exhibit? Oh, yeah, it was Thursday, March 27th. What day did we find out Erin is pregnant? Yep, here it is. Friday, September 26th.

Which makes me think of all the memories I could have quickly recorded on the day they happened that are now lost or muddled in the haze of time. I have no idea when Sunshine lost her first tooth. I couldn't tell you when Bookman first learned to ride a bike without training wheels. No idea what those kids' names are in the pictures of 3rd birthday parties. *sigh* These are things I wish I'd written down. And if I'd been in the habit of journaling daily... *bigger sigh*

No more memories lost like that. I shall continue to take 20-30 minutes to sit quietly, reflect, and write a daily letter to God.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Deep thoughts on... death ;-)

Joel was buried yesterday. Landra is doing well, considering. Please continue to keep them in your prayers.

However, this has gotten me thinking again about funerary traditions. One of my favorite books of all time is Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. In it, Mary Roach details all sorts of useful things you can do after you die. Obviously there's the whole Gross Anatomy thing, but did you know you could also help improve vehicle safety by becoming a crash test dummy? Or help forensic scientists research how a body decomposes under various conditions? You could help aspiring plastic surgeons perfect the latest techniques in face lifts, or even help grow food for the hungry. It's a really interesting book, and it's frequently very humorous, too.

After my paternal grandfather died, I decided that I don't want to be embalmed, put on display in a ridiculously expensive box, then buried in said ridiculously expensive box. I personally think embalming is silly. The body is going to rot anyway. Why spend thousands of dollars to prolong the process when you're just gonna put 'em in the ground in a day or two? And a casket! Holy moley. Cremation and a simple black canister (or biodegradable box) is the way to be buried if you're gonna go the cemetery route.

After David's dad died, the family did go the cremation and simple black box route. But I started to question the whole cemetery idea. Cemeteries in general are sad places. People visit their deceased loved ones in cemeteries, as though their loved ones are still there. They focus on the 'death' part of their loved ones' lives, rather than the 'life' parts. Sure, from a genealogical standpoint, cemeteries are a treasure trove of information, and I am one of those odd people who likes to visit historical cemeteries and wander among the headstones. But I really don't want to spend more than a few hours in one, ever.

Here's my thing: When I die, I'm outta here. I'll be on the next train to Heaven, sayonara! But I do want what's left of me on earth to be useful! Please, if you love me, donate any usable tissue to someone still living whose life could be saved or improved by it. Whatever's left... can be a crash test dummy, a parachute prototype tester, a decomposition subject, a dissection cadaver, I don't really care. If nothing useful can be done with me (or after I've done something useful), torch me and scatter the charred bits in a flower garden. Buy a brick for a library and put my name on it, then visit the library to remember me. Then... throw a party! Oooh! A luau would be cool, or a fiesta! I love theme parties with lots of bright colors! Play music you can groove to, and give wet raspberries to anyone who wears black or navy.

And if I believe one day a group of med students might be in Gross Anatomy, carefully peeling away layers of fat on my belly, it'll help me stay slender. Because I would just die if my belly looked like an ocean of curdled cheese.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sad news

I am so very sad to tell you that Joel Peña passed away this morning around 10:15. Please pray for Landra and her family.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Please pray for Joel

I'm gonna post this here, because I know a lot of prayer warriors read this.

My friend Landra Peña is our PTA's historian. I have known her since her youngest son started Kindergarten at Deer Creek, and he's now in 3rd grade. Her husband, Joel Peña, is fighting for his life at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, after a drunk wrong-way driver slammed into his truck head-on at high speed. The accident happened in the wee morning hours of Sunday, December 28th. The drunk driver, 26-year-old Matthew McCoy, died in the accident. Mr. McCoy was driving on a suspended license (for DUI) and had no insurance.

Joel is so badly injured that doctors have kept him unconscious. Numerous broken bones, massive internal injuries, they had to remove his pancreas, and now his other organs are trying to shut down. He is right at this moment undergoing his second surgery of the day. Doctors say things look pretty grim.

But we believe in miracles! Joel is a great dad, has two boys: teenage Cory and 9-year-old Christopher. Landra is a stay-at-home mom heavily involved in PTA.

So I ask that you please pray! Pray for healing for Joel, trusting strength for Landra and for her boys, and peace for the family of Matthew McCoy. Pray for God's guiding wisdom for Joel's doctors, and pray for loving acceptance of God's will if His Plan is not what we pray. God is Great, and can restore Joel to his family.

Thanks everyone! I love you!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy New Baby!

Happy New Year! It looks like we've got a new baby in the family. She is right now on the floor by my feet playing with an empty 2-liter bottle, banging it around and chewing on the cap, occasionally looking up at me with those big brown eyes... I guess she's forgiven me for taking her to get her vaccinations.

She's perhaps 10 months old, and she already weighs about 35 pounds. She's a bit on the skinny side, and still has feet that are a smidge too big for the rest of her.

Meet Lucy:

A couple of weeks ago, I was at my parents' house taking care of the cockatiels when my dad came in to tell me about a young border collie that had been hanging around. He said someone had painted her green on one side. It was right before Christmas, and I was already over my stress limit, so I held up my hand and said, "That's very sad, Dad, but I don't want to hear it. Lalalalalalalalalala." I know, very hard-hearted of me, but there are dozens of families that actually live in that neighborhood that could easily take her in. We already have an aging Chihuahua.

Well, on New Year's Day, we were putzing around after dinner when someone said that the green border collie was outside. I stayed where I was, ignoring my kids' 'Awwww's and 'She's so sweet's...until my curiosity got the better of me.

The dog did indeed have mint-green latex paint in her fur. We asked around and learned that she'd been hanging around for several weeks, and that the neighbors had been feeding her very occasionally. She's incredibly sweet-tempered, and a beautiful dog, so it was tough to resist the kid's pleading. We brought her back to our house for a trial run, intending to make Found Dog posters if we observed any indication that she'd ever had a home.

After four stressful days, I can say with confidence that she's never had a good home. I don't think she'd ever had a bath (she was that dirty), she'd apparently had a run-in with a skunk long enough ago for the dry scent to wear off (but boy was it apparent when we got her wet!), and she tested positive for the heartworm parasite even though she's not even a year old. And she has an eye infection. Wherever she came from, it was not a loving home.

She's not housebroken yet, either. But she seems to be an intelligent dog, and she very much wants to be a good girl, so I'm sure that won't last long. She has tried to use ChiChi as a chew-toy a few times, which does concern us, but I'm working with both dogs to show the puppy that the little dog is off-limits. If that behavior continues, we may have to find another home for Lucy.

Here's a slightly blurry (nearly-dead camera battery) picture of ChiChi:

Here's a pic of the two of them (again kinda blurry, but note the size difference) playing with Tiki, one of two Pomeranians that lives behind us.

We'll see how she does. She's a much bigger dog than we've had, so that alone is requiring some adjustments (like remembering to put the toilet lids down). Adrienne was perhaps 20 pounds after old age fattened her up. Lucy will probably grow an inch or two and gain another 10-15 pounds in the next year.

I am thankful for the blessing of devoted friends, including the four-legged variety.

And blessings to you! May you live all the days of your life!