Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Therapy

I've heard people say all my life that time goes by faster and faster the older you get. While this may be true on the grandfather clock of life, I'm convinced that each winter I've lived through has progressively grown longer. I am also completely sure that I suffer from "seasonal affective disorder". The symptoms are...

  • Afternoon slumps with decreased energy and concentration
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Decreased interest in work or other activities
  • Depression that starts in fall or winter
  • Increased appetite with weight gain
  • Increased sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Lack of energy
  • Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement

Oh, this is me for sure. And I know I'm not the only one who is plagued with this cursed disorder. Do I have to call it a disorder? I think I'll just call it a phase. When bears crawl into their caves for the winter and sleep for months, we don't slap a label on them and consider them to to have some stupid's just the way things are.

Although the weather may cause my mood to change somewhat, I am a perpetual optimist and will do whatever I can to see the rainbow in the storm. You know, that "silver lining" that people speak of, that is what I'm after. Thankfully, God helps me out and gives me much to be happy about, however, I am the one that must find it.
So, last night, the skies broke forth and showered glorious snow upon the earth. When you live somewhere like southwest Arkansas, snow is completely thrilling. We usually get a little every year, and we have had years that have given us more than our fair share, but it is just enough to keep us all on the edge of our seats when the forecast predicts winter precipitation.

It's amazing how cathartic a little snow can be for someone in the throws of seasonal depression. I almost couldn't wait for the sun to come up and reveal what mother nature had been up to while we slept. My camera and I were sure to have much to do.
So when the sun did come up, I set out with the only other person in my family that shares my excitement of the snow...Kyle. It helps to have a friend that is a thrilled as you are about something so simple.
I might get excited about the snow, but Kyle literally embraces the stuff. We had only been out for a few minutes when I shot this picture and look at how covered he is in snow already! I don't know how he does it, but whatever he finds to do, he does it 150%.
We were trudging through "The Big Woods". To the east of my house are the Big Woods, to the west of my house lie the Little Woods. We love the Big Woods. They're big.
I was in search of evergreens with snow atop the foliage and Kyle insisted that we go to what he had deemed his favorite holly tree. There are so many things that I loved about that statement. He is fifteen, he's been in those woods enough to know which trees are his favorite and there is a holly tree standing in the thick of the woods that is loved by a boy.
Every little thing seems magical when it is dusted with snow. I love rattan anyway...the sheer audacity that is has to wrap itself around anything in it's path is amazing...add a little snow to it and it is truly a thing of beauty.

I wondered how many times I've walked past something as brilliant as moss growing on a stone and not noticed it. I should be ashamed of myself.
A hike through the woods in the cold and snow were just what I needed, but I passed on the tree climbing. I also reminded Kyle that our health insurance has still not gone into affect and if he broke his arm, it was going to have to stay broken. He assured me that this was not the first time he had climbed this particular tree and explained in some scientific detail about the make-up of a cedar tree and how it would be nearly impossible for him to break an arm.
Eddie joined in our thrill of hiking and frolicking through the snow.
Kyle and Eddie have a love/hate relationship. You will never see Eddie voluntarily curl up next to Kyle to snuggle or rest his head...Kyle is rarely still enough for snuggling of any sort. He is also a bit unpredictable and you never know what he is going to do, something that dogs really aren't crazy about. But playing outside, this is where Kyle and Eddie are suited perfectly.
I don't think a dog could ask for much more than a boy to play with
I couldn't tell if this was merriment or aggravation, but it sure made me laugh
Let us all pause momentarily to admire the perfect specimen of dog that Eddie has become.
When we returned home I was even taken aback at how my little double wide cottage even looked so whimsical and quaint with the roof top dusted white.

The snow is all but gone now. Just a few hours of bliss, but it was certainly well received. Tomorrow is the last day of January. I've still got to make it through February and possibly much of March before the warmer weather returns. We have even seen freezing temperatures and snow as far into the year as April. I promise I will continue to seek out my silver lining. They have been coming in all shapes and forms, today just happened to be sweet snow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The End of the Trail

The legacy of the Wickes Warriors is coming to an end.

After months of debate, confusion, anger, and much small-town drama, the desision to merge our school with another was decided last night. And so we begin the task of laying to rest our beloved warrior mascot and becoming...something new.

Change is always hard. Personally, I hate change. If it were merely stepping into something new, that would be one thing, but change always means leaving something behind. Some things are easily left behind, but this, my dear ones, is not going to be easy. You see, we love our school! It is the very heartbeat of this fine community, and we are finding ourselves wondering how we will survive without it.

Ironically, today is homecoming. Taylor spent hours last night at the kitchen table painting posters that exclaimed her junior class's devotion to their school. She awakened early this morning (and she is not a morning person) to go to a friends house to paint their faces to show their school spirit. They are, after all, warriors. There will be a pep-rally today that I can only imagine will be bitter-sweet for those valiant warrior students. My son, the captain of the cheer squad, will lift his megaphone and shout the call to battle, but his infantries fate has already been decided for them.

For those of you who were on the front lines of the battle to save our school, those whose hearts bleed blue and white, I commend your efforts. To those who helped to seal our fate, those who sold us up the river while our heads were turned, I say be thankful. Be thankful that not only are we a community of fierce warriors, but of compassionate ones. These next months are sure to reveal the true heart of this community and I am expecting nothing less than what I know it to be. I've seen these beautiful people make miracles happen and be a beacon of light in the darkest of hours.

It is tragic that the price must be paid by the children. They don't understand all the reasons why, they just know that they are loosing their school. For most of them, it is the only school they've ever known, it is their home. A day is coming when they will call somewhere else home, a day when they will cheer on a new team mascot, a day when they will walk the halls of a different institution. I pray for the future generations and that they will find solace and comfort among their new peers and that they may be as proud to be in their new home as they were to be in the old.

The thing about the end of the trail is this. We must be able to look back on our journey and know in our hearts that it was good. The trail may have been difficult at times, but boy did we ever have fun! I believe that our journey has been cut short. I feel that because of poor management we are paying a price very dear, but we must look forward to the future and treasure our memories.

Those whose hearts were touched by the spirit of the warrior will forever more be blessed because of it, and in that light, the warrior lives on.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Goat Parade

While sitting at my desk yesterday morning, Sophie began to speak to me. I know you think that dogs can't talk but mine do, ok. There is a window right next to my desk in which the window sill is just the right height for Sophie's little chin to rest and watch the birds or be on the look-out for anything out of the ordinary.

So she said to me (and I wish I could portray her voice here for is sort-of a Scottish PeeWee Herman)
Momma, momma, there is mischief afoot.
So, peering out the window I found she was right...she is hardly ever wrong about such things. And what did I see? Those pesky goats headed up my driveway! A flagrant group those goats!
Then I'm spotted by the goats and they run faster.

It's Momma!!! Run! Run faster oh flagrants . Onward and upward.
Why they like me so much, I'll never know.
All the while, Sophie and Charlotte are barking (talking) like crazy!
Keep back dear Mother, we shall shield you from these shameless villains

Schnauzers are bred to be varmint killers. There short stocky little bodies and keen smell are perfect for going to ground and sniffing out vermin. I've seen Sophie kill mice and rats and it is quite a site to behold. Just thought you might want to know this little tidbit of information.
Parading goats are parading...
Parading down the street...
Parading goats are parading...
Leaving little treats.
Be gone vermin! You have no powers here. (oh wait, that wasn't Charlotte, that was the good witch of the north).

My fearless guardians were not content until these ruthless bandits were properly incarcerated. It was after they were detained that those girls became very pleased with their selves.

And don't come back neither!

They'll be back though. Oh yes, they will be back.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I don't do emergencies

There are people in this world that are made to handle emergency situations and handle them well. Where on earth would we be without our first-responders, fire-fighters, policemen, doctors, nurses and kindergarten teachers?

Then there are people like me, who run and hide at the first hint of crisis.

Last night we loaded two trailers of calves to go to the sale. The first trailer load went off without incident. The second...not so much. I hate those babies getting squished in those trailers anyway, it always raises my blood pressure. The second trailer had a much slicker floor which caused a couple of the calves to fall down and get trampled.
It was at this point that I found my way out of the corral and down the road to let the guys figure out what to do.

I played with the dogs on the back of Mr. Cattle Hauler's truck, I plugged my ears when I heard anything that sounded like a calf in distress, I texted Taylor, I started humming, I sucked my thumb and wadded up in a ball until it was over.

I'm happy to say that everybody was ok.

Then this morning I went out to feed the goats and poor ol' Salty was in bad shape. She had a kid yesterday morning and went about her business like nothing was amiss. I figured she would have twins but she just had the one and appeared to be finished. Well, she wasn't. The other baby has still not been delivered and I will spare you the gory details of what all that implies.
Now ol' Salty, she's old. She has facial hair, she takes her time getting up and down, she could use a tuck here and there, and she would probably benefit greatly by wearing some sort of girdle. Lord knows, I'm the only one that loves that ol' girl.

So when I found her this morning in the shape she was in, I panicked. I started calling people and running around like crazy trying to figure out what to do to save the poor dear. As of now, she has had a shot of penicillin and a shot of some horrible drug that will make her labor intensify and hopefully allow her to pass... (sigh) ...what is left to pass.

Baby number 1 is tiny. Rodney and I both think that baby number 2 may have already been deceased and caused ol' Salty to go in to labor early. He seems strong and has nursed quite energetically. There is a chance that I may be raising this one myself. Only time will tell what will become of ol' Salty.

As for me, I've eaten a bag of skittles at a dizzying pace, followed by a roll of sweet-tarts and I'm thinking about baking some cookies. I've got a mountain of laundry to keep me busy and hopefully will have some good news by the end of the day.
Everyone is anxious to see what will become of ol' Salty. Bless her little heart.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stepping Up

Among about a hundred other resolutions I have declared this new year, I have determined to do a daily bible study. When trying to decide which direction I would go, I wanted to find a study that I could download from iTunes and listen to on my iPod in conjunction with opening up my bible and digging in. I've gotten to know myself pretty well in the 36 years I've been living with me and I know what works and what doesn't. So, browsing on iTunes, with Beth Moore my main target, I came across:

Stepping Up, A Journey Through the Psalms of the Ascents
I had never even heard of the psalms of the ascents and since I love learning a new thing, this is the route I chose. The funny thing is that I have learned that God never leads me wrong. He knows what I need to hear and how to boost my faith. The introductory session was inspiring and, yes, brought me a few stinging tears. Just me and my iPod praising God in the chicken house. I couldn't wait to get the workbook to go along with it. For one, I am a visual learner and when I write things down, they tend to stick. The other thing is that there is hardly anything I love more than a workbook. It is just that fresh unmarked page, the blanks waiting to be filled in like a canvas of fresh snow awaiting my footprints.

I have a love of office supplies anyway, give me a highlighter, some pens and anything I can staple or tape and I'm a happy lady.

The journey that I've been on for the past week has been eye opening. I'll share my lightbulb moment, if you don't mind.

I've tried and failed, tried and failed, tried and failed my whole life. This trial and error has occurred with everything in life imaginable, from weight loss, to organization, to my marriage, to parenting my kids. Then in the middle of scanning through the psalms of ascent, (Psalm 120 - Psalm 134) I landed my eyes on a verse that jumped off the page. I've read it before but it was fresh and new and completely speaking to me.

Unless the Lord builds the house, it's builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stand guard in vain. Psalm 127: 1

I think I get it now. It's only taken 36 years but I think something new has happened in my heart. I've been trying to do everything myself! God has always been my close companion, but my stubborn will has left me solitarily fighting against life in vain.
Any period of adjustment is sure to bring some strife with it. Surrendering all to God, will certainly be a leap for someone as willful and headstrong as this ol' girl. But I think I've been caught at the right time, because I'm tired. The futility of all my efforts has left me piled up in a heap, sucking my thumb and finding my happy place.

I read something to my bible class a couple of Sunday's ago that I think is pretty darn enlightening. When a baby giraffe is born, it struggles to stand of those long wobbly legs. As soon as it has it's feet under it, the mother giraffe pushes the baby back down, forcing it to have to struggle to stand again. She will do this repeatedly, and in doing so, strengthens the baby's legs!!
So while I may find myself down right now, I know I've been knocked on my butt for a reason. God picked the exact right time to have me down for the count and ready to surrender all my STUFF over to Him. I am so excited and scared to see where my journey will take me. For now, I'm settling in to the realization that I must surrender and I have complete faith that in doing so, my life's work will not be in vain.

Friday, January 8, 2010

We are all different

While most of the country is in the grips of what the weather folks are calling an "arctic blast", I am feeding feeding feeding. Birds, goats, cats, dogs...everybody is so hungry due to the cold.

I'll not lie and pretend it is a grueling task, I am happy that I can help out.

Also, I have learned something recently that I thought I'd share. I know you all wait with bated breath in anticipation of the next great lesson I will bestow upon the masses.

If you didn't know, I love birds. I love to watch them, feed them, and photograph them. I picture myself as one of those "bird ladies" in tattered rags with birds perched upon my head and shoulders, just waiting for me to feed them. Learning their antics and peculiarities is among one of my favorite things. You wouldn't think there would be that much to learn about birds but there are approximately 10,000 different species of birds world wide and they are each unique and special. My backyard brood is small, less than 10,000, but I can only absorb a small amount of information at a time.

Other birders have given me some insight into my own observations recently. For one thing, I have had very few cardinals this year. I don't know where they are but I am really worried about this.

There have been about 4 blue jays attending meals and boy are they cantankerous. They are so beautiful but they scare off all the other little birds and gobble up lots of seeds. As I was watching them I noticed that they were eating sunflower seeds, shells and all! They would ingest about 5 of them and fly away. So as I was discussing this with an elderly gentleman at church, another bird-watcher, he explained to me that the blue jay has a strait bill and cannot crack the shells with his beak but must hold them in his feet and peck the thing open. He was simply filling his beak, taking his bundle to the trees and leisurely pecking them open.
It made me feel a little more sympathetic towards the blue jay. While Mr. Cardinal is graced with that splendid sharp/crooked bill that so easily shucks sunflower seeds, Mr. Jay bird must peck his seed apart.
peck peck peck
He is quite magnificent, I must say.
So is Mr. Cardinal. I don't think that he considers himself better because he can shell his seeds so easily. He may look proud but I find him humble and sweet.
As I do Mrs. Cardinal. Even with her muted colors, she is so splendid and graceful.
...aaaannnd I think she sees me!
And then you have these guys. They come in droves but certainly add a little life to the party.

This bird watching has much to teach, yes indeed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Sweet Things

There is a book that resides on my coffee table called 101 SALIVATIONS: FOR THE LOVE OF DOGS. It combines my love of photography with my love of dogs. There is every breed of dog imaginable posed in the cutest settings and interspersed throughout the pages are quotes about dogs. Truisms and heartfelt expressions about one of God's greatest gifts to man. Here are a few...

No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does. -Christopher Morley

A dog has one aim in life... to bestow his heart. -J.R. Ackerley

The dog is the god of frolic. -Walt Whitman

A dog has the soul of a philosopher. -Plato

Happiness is a warm puppy. - Charles M. Schulz

I have yet to read a quote about a dog that doesn't embody my Eddie. So proud, so goofy, so sweet, so endlessly happy. He is a nicer person than most people I know, and I know some very nice people.

So I try to learn from Eddie, I try to be as nice a person as he is. One thing he does that almost breaks my heart is that he will longingly look out the window as Rodney drives away. He rejoices when he walks through the door, and he practically mourns his leaving.

Today I decided to do the same.
We sat together and watched until we could see our Rodney no longer. Then we hugged and reassured ourselves that he won't be gone long. It did my heart good to take the time to miss my sweet husband.

I just hope he will understand my licking his face when he returns home.