spring has…almost…sprung!

I am a spring time person. I love the cold nights and the cool days, the soft rains and the raging thunderstorms, the smell of loam after a storm, the plants sending out new shoots of life I will enjoy into autumn. It’s hard to be cynical and sour when everything comes together, new.

Those who read this blog from time to time know that last year at this time I did a series of walks with my handsome ginger tabby, Louie. Louie and I had small adventures each time I followed him on his walks. They always were concerned with, from Louie’s perspective, “What’s new in my territory?!” Then, August 1, 2011, Louie died suddenly of lymphoma. I didn’t know until the very night he died that he was ill. To this day, I grieve that fact because I had medical insurance on Louie. He could have had a couple more years if we’d caught it in time. Yeah.

But it is spring time, time to put away the sorrows and travails of the previous years, and enjoy the resurgence of life.

This year I have Louie’s successors, the kitten brothers. Full of life and the dickens, Andy and Dougy aren’t Louie, but they are a new adventure for me. Louie I rescued from the pound when the veterinarian estimated him to be five. The kitten brothers come to me when they were a bit older than two months, last September.

The kitten brothers. Cynical Andy, just now starting to accept things as they are and enjoying them a little. He was the sicker of the two kittens, and had to put up with more than a life time of baths to wash the diarrhea out of his fur. Ugh! Goofy Dougy, always ready for a good time. He and Andy play well together, and I think Andy benefits from Andy’s goofiness, his “come on, Andy, let’s chase each other all over the apartment and hunt each other down” way of keeping Andy occupied with what’s necessary for kittens: A good time, all the time, thank you!

Spring. The kittens are eight months old, as of March 1st. They make me laugh. They make me look forward to getting out of bed in the morning. They behave badly but are good, little kittens by and large. Explorers of their realm, little predators learning how to do it by hunting each other -and me sometimes – they are spring spirits, young, reckless, adventuresome, rough around the edges, but holding the full promise of a renewal of the cat presence I liked about Louie in my life. They enter spring as kitten teenagers. That should be interesting!

I’m in a spring mood today. The remains of last year remind me of the cycle of life that ends in death for all living things, but there always is that little sprout poking up through the dead leaves, impossibly small now, but just waiting to spring forth as rhubarb, the first chives for a light oniony touch in an omelette, or maybe mint for some tea.

Spring. My season!

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forgotten promises

We all do it. Make a promise, then forget it.

That’s OK, I suppose, among very good friends, friends who overlook transgressions those outside the circle regard as hopelessly impossible circumstances, a reason for judgment, a sure fire cause for cessation of the acquaintance. People!

What, then, if the promise is a Lenten promise, one, in essence, to God?

That’s where I am just now. If you go back to the start of these blogs, you see one that has to do with patience with others whose driving habits DRIVE YOU CRAZY.

The stupid cows! You know who you are! You drive 20 in a 35 mph zone! You signal turns by applying your brakes! OR you signal two clicks of your turn signal before you turn, but I’ve been waiting a HEN (my late father’s all-pupose cleaned-up curse world, bless his soul!) LONG time for you to cross the intersection so I can turn onto the road where you drive. Get the point? If I knew you were turning right on my street, I could turn right on your street. Traffic would move efficiently, smoothly, at the speed it would move if YOU WEREN’T A STUPID COW! Or SOB. Or, well names that are imaginative and deny you your humanity.

The conclusion I drew, in that earlier blog, was that I’d achieved a level of maturity where I realized the driving behaviors of others- the ones that didn’t kill or maim me, at least- didn’t make much difference in time it took to drive from one side of the small town where I live to the other, so I just grinned and didn’t let these behaviors bother me any more.

Almost a year later, however, I realized that not only did the driving behaviors no longer bother me any more, they sure as hell didn’t bother me any LESS, you STUPID SLUT COW! Use that turn signal. It came standard with the pickup. Yeah! Drive the speed limit. Pu-leeze!! SLUT COW!

What happened?

I do not know. So I made examination of the hate and discontent with other drivers my Lenten challenge. It worked, after three solid years, on grudges. Lent is the start of the process for me, the trial run, the promises made time, the prayerful examination of myself in a Christian context time. Tedious to you non-Christians, I know, but this is one of those things we flog ourselves about, if we use the time more constructively than “I will give up televison”- or “I will give up chocolates”-variety of Lenten challenge.

During Lent, those forty days, I examine myself prayerfully, devise means to extricate myself from a private hell, make myself more presentable to our Heavenly Father when the time comes. “Jesus was sacrificed on a cross for you, so how did you adjust your life to reflect you understanding of his sacrifice for you?

…AND THE OTHER F’ing SLUT COWS!

No, no, NO! He loves you regardless of your lame efforts to walk with Jesus. Even those you call slut cows. We all are his children. Yeah. Even the slut cows. Yep! Them, too.

It’s going to be a long Lent this year. So far I’ve failed miserably to address this afflication. Perhaps Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services will shame me into a serious effort: I am very moved by these two days in the liturgical calendar.

I don’t know. If you are inclined, please pray for me. I need healing.

Thank you.

Weggieboy

volunteerism- how to pay up what you owe

My mother and father spent tens of hundreds of hours in volunteer activities that benefited the community where they lived most of their lives.

So engrained was their habit of volunteerism, their grave marker includes this saying: “Service to others is the price you pay for the space you occupy.” Carved in stone! Both were active volunteers in the church. But there is an extreme example of volunteerism: My mother taught water safety classes and adapted aquatics for 60 years as a Red Cross Volunteer. The only thing that involved her attention as long was her marriage, which lasted 71 years, until my father died November 4, 2008.  So grateful was the community that the City Council past a resolution  to name the bath house at the new swimming pool after her, an honor rarely given to living people who don’t first fork over a million or so dollars! On the plaque bolted to the front of the bath house: “Service to others is the price you pay for the space you occupy.” Cast in brass!

"Service to others is the price we pay for the space we occupy." Barely seen, the family motto of service to others is carved into the stone of my parent’s gravemarker as well. Place your cursor on the photo….

There’s a pattern there, and a challenge. I am my parents’ child. I live in the community where their good works stand as testament to their character. It is a small town, where I rarely have a day that someone doesn’t say, for example, “Oh, your mother taught me to swim!” Or “Your mother and father helped tile this fellowship hall.” Or, well, you get the idea!

Until they went into the care center half a block north of my apartment, I helped my parents as they became less and less able to take care of their needs. I planted gardens, a great joy, as you can guess if you read the blog before this one. I scooped snow. That had to be a great labor of love, I tell you, because I hated, hated, hated every scoop I pushed off the walk and drive! I mowed grass. I hated that until I bought a push mower. That allowed me to mow in the early, cool morning, bare footed. I raked fall leaves. Those I returned to the garden. I loved improving the soil that way. By the time we had to leave the house, the garden soil was so loose, you could turn it with a little effort and a garden fork. This service to others counts, I suppose, though doesn’t it fall more under “familial duty”? I think so.

I retired January 30, 2009. Now is the time for me to pay the price for the space I occupy!

rhubarb- a tasty fight

I live in a retirement community, I guess you’d call it. I live in the south end of a duplex apartment, where my co-resident’s  floor plan is the opposite, a mirror image of mine. That means the noisiest activities either my neighbor or I might be involved with take place the farthest distance possible from the other’s bedroom. Neat!

Good floor plans make good neighbors.

I, as a youth, used to write an Indonesian boy. At some point, he mailed two recordings of Gamelan music played specifically for accompaniment of Wayang shadow puppet shows. I mention that to alert you to my interest, now, in this eery, beguiling, lovely music. Were it not for the floor plan, I would hesitate to play any of my Gamelan orchestra CDs for fear of upsetting my neighbor, whose tastes are more country, I think. 

I’m listening to some seriously serious , classically classical Surakarta Court Gamelan music as I write.  It’s up a bit loud. Yes! ~ bliss! ~ a rhubarb averted by a good floor plan!

Another neighbor and I forage for the available rhubarb when one doesn’t think the other will see it happen. A rhubarb averted by stealth, but neither of us gets as much as we’d like.  That, of course, had a lot to do with why I bought three new starts of rhubarb to plant on “my” rented turf.

I told you yesterday about planting those rhubarb starts, as an act of faith, but not that the undeclared Rhubarb War would come to an end, peacefully, with all rhubarb patches properly claimed and undisputed!  

After I posted the account, I decided to go over to the care center to see my mother. I stepped outside the front door to find a smallish box CDs or DVDs could come in. Perplexed, I took it in, slit the tape and found… six more rhubarb starts! What?! What was I thinking when I placed two orders for rhubarb starts?

Another rhubarb averted! A Golden Rule moment! I decided to ask my neighbors if they’d like to have rhubarb starts, that I had the proper tools (and, now, attitude!) to do the planting  job if they did. And at least one does. I talked with her when I chanced to see her outside this morning. Two neighbors left to ask. The one I sneak around to avoid while rhubarb’s in season surely will accept my gift! The one who is co-resident of this duplex may accept some more.

Rhubarb’s about US$2 a bunch, about a pie’s worth, at the grocery store. If they have it. We’re all retired. Rhubarb’s in short supply in our part of the complex, making it a potential source of friction (oh, it is!). But I have this plan, this way to change the rhubarb season into one of peace and joy and harmony and bliss and sour stalks eaten fresh from the early, chill morning garden, with no guilt! Whew! 

Rhubarb. There you go: with faith, TLC, time, the neighborhood will have so much rhubarb everyone will be trying to find homes for the surplus. That’s the Golden Rule in action, and that’s the Prairie Way, too. Take care of your neighbors when they are in need, and know they will be there when your turn comes.

(p.s. For those who haven’t experienced a really awesome Gamelan performance, I’ve attached a link to a YouTube entry, below. I hope you enjoy this very different and magical style of music!)