Life and adventures in The Hedge. Because you NEED an alligator in the backyard

Broken Shells

I walked the beach last week with my daughter. As usual she collected a few shells as we walked along the beach.

The shells she chooses always strike me. Her idea of beauty is so different.

When I collect shell, I am looking for the perfectly intact shells. I seek shells that are whole, unbroken and with a colorful pattern. My daughter will collect broken pieces if she likes the color. Plain white shells are fine if she like the shape. Her collection is not about perfection. It is about things that make her happy.

On this trip she fell in love with a particular orange shell, but realized it was still inhabited. We have a rule after her vacation with her father. If it still has a creature inside, it does not come home. (I wonder if that dead critter smell will ever leave my garage…) My girl was crushed to toss that shell back into the sea. We scoured the shore for a shell that color. We walked about a ½ mile up the beach. Nothing that color. We walked back finding other shells along the way. Just as we were about to leave the beach, there it was; both halves, the right color.

I wonder at times what attracts her to the shells that aren’t whole. Is it the fact that she herself has those broken parts? But, even in her brokenness we find beauty. We don’t concentrate on what she can’t ever do, but on what she can do. Who really cares if you can’t be a brain surgeon, if you want to be an Imagineer at Disney? Does it matter that your will never be an artist, if you would rather build a robot?

Once in a while, I feel a twinge when I watch her teammates with such beautifully formed arm muscles, that I know nature will never give my daughter. That moment when I hate the fact she will have to work harder than most to get those muscles in her body to obey. Then I see her attitude, her heart and her sportsmanship. Those days where we write on the mirror: Doing YOUR best is more important than being the best.

I look at the friends she chooses, the friends of her heart. They are much like the shells on the beach, they are not “perfect” but there is something that she just likes. They may be quirky, nerdy, different colors, from broken homes, but she finds their gifts.

I think that I learn as much from watching my child as I teach her in this crazy life.

God gifted me with my own little broken shell, and she collects more, all to form a beautiful mosaic in the end.




Thankfully, Summer is my slow season. I can adjust my schedule to adapt to a child with a crazy schedule. Work weird hours.

Since insurance is slow right now, I have grand ideas of catching up on other things. Getting websites streamlined. Setting up a new website and creating other income streams.

Each of these things in reality should take less than a full work week to get set up and then a few hours a week to maintain.

That is in the ideal world. The real world works so much differently.

My 5 hour stretch to work gets derailed by small things. A bill comes in and needs to be paid, which means I need to balance my checkbook.

Instead of just dropping off my child I get sucked into a 20 conversation. A dear friend calls in need.

By the time I get back to the to-do list – I can’t find it.

Literally, this week it was missing. I made the mistake of letting the list hit the floor and leaving the house. I returned to confetti. Kallie Kat has a passion for paper. Normally it is reserved for receipts from Target for an item I want to return. I will find ¾ of a slip of paper…the rest has been shredded or ingested. Really, pets make life interesting.

This week for the first time, my list was the victim. It wouldn’t be too bad if I recalled everything on the list…but my almost 45 year old brain tends to forget things. Add in the hot flashes of the past few weeks and if it isn’t written down it isn’t happening.

I have struggled to reconstruct the list this week. I believe I managed to recall over a period of days what was on the list. This morning I happened upon something due for July 1st. Thankfully, we are still in June. So the project was cranked out at 8am this morning.

But I am starting to feel like the cats are out to sabotage my efforts to make summer productive. They inhabit my lap when I choose to work. When I am deep in concentration they decide it is time for a romp through the house. With a townhouse, it sounds like a pair of baby elephants are running about.

I hope that I can accomplish something this summer…hey I wrote this today…despite the invasion of a raccoon….oh life is wild this summer.

Beach Birds

A quick disclaimer – I am not a big fan of birds. I don’t mind looking at them from a distance, but I have no desire to be close to a free flying bird. I spent my first 7 years of life in a 3 family house in a city. Pigeons were everywhere. I had nightmares about them growing to be 3ft tall and poisonous.

Finally today I got my toes back to the beach for a walk. There is something magical and holy about the sun coming up on the beach. I love to walk on our beach early in the day, but don’t get there frequently. Making a short drive to the beach for an hour to walk just never seems to be on my to-do list. There are less than 50 school days left – the time to get to the beach for a morning walk is dwindling.

Today, I went and as usual my mind wandered. I am a barefoot beach walker. For me, a beach walk is about toes touching sand & feeling the surf. My walks are about enjoying God’s creation as much as they are about getting exercise. If I just look around and pay attention, God gives me a life lesson in each walk.

Today as I approached the beach, I could see others already in their routines. A man in nothing but shorts walking in what appeared to be patterns where the water and sand met; it seemed to be his own personal labyrinth. Next came a woman with her sneakers on and headphones in her ears, eyes fixed down the beach; it seemed she was missing the entire point of using the beach for her walk. There was no communion with nature, appreciation of the sea. Her walk would have been the same inside a concrete box. A runner came by running hard in her sneakers, but her focus and intensity were in harmony with the pounding surf. Finally, ambling along came along another soul like me, perhaps what I want to be in 20 years. Barefooted in shallow surf, walking stick in hand, hat shading her face this older woman was prepared to enjoy her journey.

More people appeared on my walk. Some walked or ran in harmony with the beach. Others seemed to be exercising in spite of the beach.

Then came the birds, and they made me look at the people again.

The first birds were all standing on one foot at the water’s edge. My approach was an obvious threat. Birds began scattering, but not by flying off, thankfully! Instead, most walked away calmly a few even hopped off not bothering to put down their foot. A few feet away the flock settled in again. They had handled my approach in a calm orderly manner.

A few yards further down, I encountered a small bird. This bird was a tiny nervous critter. He was already quickly pacing about in the surf. My shadow caused him to break into a run for your life panic. He skittered away as fast as his tiny legs would talk him. My approach caused mass panic.

The sun came up higher in the sky and I began to walk back. The seagulls had come out. The seagulls were different. The saw me approach, turned their heads away from me and took a few steps away from me. It felt like being shunned. I have no need for you human. Bring crackers and we will talk.

How often do we get caught up and flee in panic from the smallest threat like the tiny birds? I know I get myself all caught up in a tizzy. Trying to run from task to task and never really getting my goals accomplished.

The gulls with their standoffish behavior, glaring back over their shoulders at a threat. Choosing to ignore their problem rather than face it.

I like the birds that did not even bother to put their leg down in my presence. There I was a potential threat, but I was not going to deter them from their current task. They moved out of harm’s way without panic or distain. The hopping birds stayed on task.

Today, I hope to just stay on task despite the distractions or stresses that may loom over my day. How about you?

This past week has been traumatic to say the least. We lost a member of the family –our 12 year old dog – Savannah. Obviously, she was a part of the family. The dog stuck around way longer than my husband and was older than my daughter.

I had expected some transition in losing the dog, but I was completely unprepared for the reality. Working from home can be a bit isolating. I did not realize how often during the day I talked to the dog. The first day without her my daughter caught me asking the dog about making dinner. The dog wasn’t there. I am sitting outside writing for the first time without the dog sitting in my shadow. I expected to have some disruption and emptiness.

While we miss the dog, my daughter and I are adapting to the new routine. The cats however are not.

Kallie Cat went MIA for longer than normal. I went out to look for her and found her sitting by the side of the road unharmed but crying at me. I think she had gone out looking for her friend. I found her sleeping on my daughter’s stuffed dog that resembled Savannah. Edwin Kitty has been outside more than normal as well. I heard he went on a walk with another dog.

The strangest behavior though has to do with the food dish. The food bowl had been up on a bookshelf for the past 18 months. The dog was particularly fond of cat food. When I discovered why the cat food dish was ALWAYS empty I moved the dish. It took a day or two and the cats found the food without being shown. I moved the food back to the floor for less mess now that there is no cat food thief.

The cats are having trouble with this transition. It has been 4 days. The cats walk in the house, past their bowls and hop up on the bookshelf. They sit there on the shelf and stare at us. My daughter picks them up and places them in front of the bowl. I can understand a time or two. Put this is happening 5 times a day for 4 days.

It got me wondering…what cat food bowls am I walking by? Basically these cats are willing to go hungry and cause a fuss looking for their food dish. The food dish is less than 2 feet away from where the cats are stubbornly sitting.

What blessing has God placed 2 feet away from our food dish? What are we missing because we insist on following an old routine? I read a great article today about declaring New Year’s Day on a random day. The author was declaring it today on her birthday. I think I need to hit the restart button today. I have gone so far off track and wandered away from my goals. Today I start getting back on track. This is the link to Mindy’s post since I swiped her idea and I adore Mindy’s writing!

I already have begun by writing this post. Next I need to clear away some physical clutter that accumulated in my grief and chaos this week. I am getting back on track today. It is a perfect spring day here – a great time for rebirth. Even more fitting it is Lent, a season for reflection. For many, Lent is a time to give things up. For the past couple of years we have been trying to add something more constructive in this season. A positive action is following Jesus more than giving up candy. At least, that is the lesson I have been teaching. Today, I am going for a positive action and giving up procrastination.

I am going to look for my own food dish. Perhaps it is spiritual, maybe personal or financial. I am sure though that I am missing something because I am being a cat.

One more day…

I write one last post with my writing partner. Savannah has been my constant companion for a dozen years. For 12 years, Savannah has followed me from room to room. She has been yelled at for being right under my feet and tripping me a million times.

But, the last exasperated “Savannah!” left my lips days ago. Today my companion is too weak and tired to follow me about. We have a few short hours left together.

I may have to answer to God for today when I get to heaven. My some thinking I am playing God today. I have made the choice to stop the suffering of my beloved companion. A choice I actually made years ago. When my son was dying, man’s meddling was forcing his life to go beyond God’s allotted time. With Savannah, I knew I could choose to stop the suffering or even prevent it. When the vet called and said the results were not what we hoped for me there was no other choice. For a moment the vet spoke of doing things to make her comfortable and extending our pup’s days. Obviously, she did not know who she was dealing with – she is new to the vet’s practice. I feel guilt that I even opted to wait this extra day.

But, the extra day is special. Last night Savannah got to sleep in the bed with her girl. We should all spend our last night on this earth being cuddled by the one who loves us most. My daughter and her pup have grown up together. They are just one year apart. Savannah notified us when the baby cried and sat with her head on the baby’s bouncy seat while I showered. Licked a million pounds of baby food off the baby, the floor, and every other place the baby dropped food. Savannah has licked away 11 years of tears. Gotten 11 years of hugs and love and acted as a replacement sibling and best friend. If there was a picture snapped over the years in our home – Savannah was in it or nearby.

The big green crate or Savannah’s house was been invaded many times. Years ago, my daughter was small enough to climb inside with Savannah. I have pictures of the “puppies” inside the crate, door pulled shut. No one else allowed. More recently, Kallie –cat has been fit to inhabit the dog crate. I guess it is safe and cozy place.

Today we will lie on the couch. Pray for some sunshine to grace our porch, because Savannah loves to lounge in the sun. Pick up our girl from school. Get petted and loved. Most likely Savannah will arrive at the vet with her coat soaked in my daughter’s tears.

Tomorrow life will be different. The cats will be confused. Looking for “their dog” to rub on and love. I will not have to stand in the cold or the rain urging Savannah to hurry up and go. Things will need to be disposed of…dog food, flea drops, dog toys, and the crate that has served as Savannah’s personal space for years.

My daughter will face the very first day without a dog, with no one to lick tears off her face.

I thought it would be easier. I thought this would mean freedom from dog responsibility. In the end though, I think it will mean greater emotional responsibility. We have lost the confidant who gives unconditional love. The quiet unassuming member of the family, who always put her own needs last will be gone.

We hope that we will have good enough lives to be graced by Savannah in heaven. Because in reality, she is the member of the family most deserving to sit at the feet of Jesus, the ultimate servant heart is in a faithful dog.

When do you cry out?

The pets here in The Hedge obviously comprise a large portion of my day. At this time of year, they are my only officemates as I plod through January trying to get a grip on where 2012 will head. This morning they got me thinking about how they get their needs met. When do they cry out to me, as the one who takes care of all their needs? What style do I take when I cry out to the one who takes care of all my needs?

It started in the bathroom. I was in the bathroom, alone. Savannah was ever faithfully stationed outside the door; head on her paws, eyes constantly watching me waiting on me to deem it time to take care of her needs. Edwin comes barging in and sits in the sink purring loudly. There was no way to avoid this purring mass of gray fluff. A head jammed itself into my hand: “Pet me now”. Edwin demanded what he wanted; as he has since the day he arrived. As I exited the bathroom, Kallie was seated in front of the front-door – willing me to open the door and let her out of the house.

Savannah is an old dog and the most passive creature in the house. Until a guest arrives, Savannah rarely makes noise. Most of her day is spent sleeping, waiting for someone to let her out or feed her. Savannah never begs to be petted. She will beg for people food & scavenge of any dropped morsel. The majority of her day is spent silently sleeping. Savannah only cries out – and then ever so softly in a whimper when she direly needs something. I will hear whimpering if I have not noticed the silent cues that she wants to go out, her food or water bowl is empty and now she is desperate. The only times she seeks me with her soft cries is when she is painfully in need. The majority of her time is spent as a silent observer, hoping her needs will be met.

Kallie on the other hand is slightly more vocal about things. Still, Kallie is subtle. “Wake up and pet me!” is achieved by loudly purring in a sleeping humans face. Kallie knocks on the screen door to be let in the house. Demands usually come in the sound of a chirped short mewl. Often, Kallie will make her needs know in silent but obvious ways. She will sit in front of a door to go out or meditate on the food bowl to be fed. Dip her paw in the water to drink if the water is not fresh enough. Oddly though, the more desperate situations don’t elicit a cry from Kallie. Locked in the garage for hours without food or water – she will sit silently terrified by the door waiting to be rescued.

Edwin finally is the brash one of the bunch. He cries at the door until it opens. Edwin will yell until the bowl he likes is filled with food, even though a different bowl is full and 2 feet away. When in need of comfort or love, he will shove himself into a lap or under a hand to be petted. There is never any mistaking what Edwin needs and he never fails to make his point.

I started thinking about myself. When do I cry out to others or to God that I need help? Am I silently waiting for everything to just be provided like Savannah? Only crying out when I am completely desperate? Do I sit silently in terror too scared to even call out for help in the worst situations like Kallie? Should I be more like Edwin? Constantly letting my needs be known. I think this year I will strive to be more like Edwin; unafraid to let my needs be known. Constantly calling out to God in prayer and being unafraid to let my needs be known. I am thinking that this might be the only “resolution” I need for 2012 & everything else will fall into place.