Looking for You, My Brother

Looking for You, My Brother

Clark,

I have been looking for you.

It has been eight long weeks now, at least that is what the humans will say.

Many dark nights, the rooms only illuminated by the moon or a light left on

accidentally,

looking. Up and down, all over the house and garage, in all your favorite places,

I look.

Almost every morning, I cry, trying to tell the humans I cannot find you.

They tell me its okay. They try to comfort me. I let them for a little while.

They tell me that they are sorry you are gone. Gone? What does that mean? Where?

You know I hurt myself jumping up onto that high ledge in the room where we used

to sleep together on that shelf with the blanket.

 I cannot jump now. My back leg is lame. It  happened when I was looking for you.

I am lonely. I cry a lot.

Where have you gone, my brother?

Eating is not the same.

I always waited to eat until you were finished, staying behind you at the food bowl.

You never come to eat, so I don’t eat much now.

I know the humans are worried. My world is different now. You are gone.

So many moons and bright sun lit days have come and gone since you were here.

It makes me sad that I cannot find you. What happened? Where have you gone?

Will I see you again? I miss you.

Your Brother, Lewis

Cheers to Summer

Cheers to Summer

Summer evenings are time to enjoy sitting in your yard, surrounded by beautiful flowers, enjoying a glass of wine from a local vineyard. Who wouldn’t enjoy this?

Cheers!

summer wine sippingWhat do you do to relax in the summer?

Have You Ever?

Have You Ever?

Have you ever dug around a container in your kitchen pantry looking for the elusive piece of chocolate, tea bag, or other such treat? This happened to me yesterday, as it occasionally does when I do not keep up regular grocery shopping.

Digging,  and more digging, to find one last tea bag of the type I prefer. The longer I have to dig, the more intense it becomes because I am not finding what I want. Digging, silently swearing, cursing myself for forgetting that one item on my grocery list that was important to me. Caffeinated, black tea of a certain brand is one of my top comfort foods.  I have roughly two to three cups a day and love the feel of the warm mug on my hands as they encircle the pottery that starts to radiate the heat from the brown liquid inside. Slowly, I bring the mug to my lips and blow to cool it off before I take the tiniest of sips. The hot, somewhat bitter liquid, rolls into the back of my mouth and down my throat, warming me from the inside, as I drink. It’s comforting and calming for me to drink tea.

It could be almost 90 degrees, like it was yesterday, and I still want my mug of hot tea. This is what stimulates the digging, digging, and more digging to find that one last tea bag of my preferred type of black tea in my pantry.

Luckily, yesterday, I found one. Just one tea bag. But one is enough to make my favorite cup of tea! One is enough to satisfy my need. One bag is enough to make me happy and content, until I go the cupboard again, and realize I still forgot to buy my preferred type of tea.

The digging is futile today. Off to the store, I must go!

 

Death is hovering.

Death is hovering.

One of our cats is dying. We have two, Lewis and Clark. They were barn kittens when we got them thirteen years ago from a farm in a town south of us, known for cheese and rolling hills. We named the cats for the American explorers, Lewis and Clark, as we got them during the summer of 2003 when a celebration began in the U.S. regarding the famous exploration of these two curious men. We felt their names fit the cats and their curiosity.

Being well cared for and loved indoor cats, death has been kept far from their lives. There have been no close calls on the road, no terrible infections, and no injuries. Lewis and Clark have had good lives.  Clark, always the more skittish of the two, would run and hide whenever friends would visit. Eventually, this changed as he had select people, friends of our family or friends of our boys, that would not induce hiding.  Clark has always been fatter, quieter, and more loveable than Lewis. Clark is unique and has always had some increased pigment in his left eye. It seemed to spread, but never effected his vision. Eventually, however, Clark lost his “meow”.  He would still open his mouth to meow, but nothing would come out! It’s been years since he’s meowed.   Still, neither this or the patch of increased pigment in his left iris ever seemed to effect his quality of life.  Looking back, we didn’t recognize these changes as signs of death hovering around Clark.

Up until recently, he’s eaten well, listened to the birds in our yard with interest, begged for water on occasion, and even been caught watching television. Daily, he hopes to get a drop or two of milk left in a discarded cereal bowl in the sink.  We all love him.  But, now we know death is hovering.  He has had increasing difficulty breathing over the last few months. At first it was an occasional cough. Then, the cough progressed, leading to a wheeze. The wheeze became almost constant, with each breath we heard a whistle or squeak. Still, he appeared happy, comfortable, and able to eat, drink, and sleep.

Yesterday, things changed. Death is hovering more closely now.  Clark has lost weight. He is using his accessory muscles to breathe. These changes have been gradual and seem to not cause him any distress. He must have a lesion in his throat. A lesion that has slowly grown. We love Clark. Did I mention that? I especially like to watch him with our youngest son, Ben. He follows Ben around like a dog. Sitting next to him daily when homework is being done and rubbing against him during breakfast. It’s been a routine for ten years. Our seventeen year old, Matt, gently cleans the sleep and matter from Clark’s eyes. Clark lets him. Matt has done that daily for many years now, too.  His care for this animal has touched my heart.

This morning Clark didn’t rub Ben. He didn’t allow Matt to clean his eyes. Instead, they both lovingly petted him, while Clark struggled for air. The wheeze is gone. I was a nurse, I know what that means. He’s still using accessory muscles to breathe and now his mouth opens with each inspiration, trying to “capture” the air. It is a feline gasp. Our new college graduate is on his way home for a visit today.  I gave him notice that Clark is not doing well.  I hope he gets to see Clark one last time. My heart, which was so full during the weekend graduation ceremony and celebrations, is now heavy for a beloved family member.

Clark.

Death is no longer just hovering. Death is near.

Sixty Six, Sunny, & Some Music for the Soul.

Sixty Six, Sunny, & Some Music for the Soul.

SB_2367260641

Being a mid-life graduate student in Environmental Education, I’m well versed on the positive effects nature can have on all aspects of your health. We need nature more than it needs us. Today, I lived what I preach and took my weekly walk a day early – alone.

By late afternoon, I took off down the road enjoying the sun, a warm sixty-six degrees, a cooling  breeze, and some of my favorite tunes from my iTunes library. Sheena Easton, Stevie Wonder, Glenn Miller, Toto, The Band Perry, Orchestral Arrangements of various pieces from Pirates of the Caribbean, Jackson Browne, the Zac Brown Band, Gloriana, and Steel Magnolia kept me company. Three miles, round trip, I walked along with a bounce in my step, a breeze to keep me cool, and songs to make me smile.

Usually, I walk with a friend and we try to solve the “problems of the world” during our one hour journey covering the roughly the same path I did today.  Today was for me – a tune up of my spirit using music, sunny skies, a warm breeze, and some great company – myself.

I noticed how green everything has become, the spring hyacinths and daffodils poking through the ground with touches of pink and yellow, the trees just trying ever so hard to leaf out dusting the ground with pollen, and the freshness of the air. It is spring. Nature is rejuvenating itself and nature is rejuvenating me.

But, I didn’t have enough time!

But, I didn’t have enough time!

If there is one thing I could impart to students to not say, this is it!

Earlier this week, I held my Tuesday Writer’s Circle meeting with six third graders that I have been meeting with weekly since January.  This is the sixth year I have voluntarily led such a group. It’s always been once a week, with six students – two from each third grade class, picked by their classroom teacher either because they were “good” at writing or liked to write. Honestly, I love having the group. Generally, the students really do some quality, fairly independent work, and are motivated to attend. In other words, we tell them it is a privilege to be part of this small group of “special” writers.  And what do you do when you have a privilege?  You work to protect it. Usually.

So, a few years ago, we started having a problem with a few of the writer’s circle students coming to group without their work done.  Since our group time is very short, usually just enough time to do a “mini-lesson” on the type of writing we are currently exploring, there are weeks that the students have some homework from me.  And no, it is not worksheet homework on parts of speech or how dialogue works, it is creative writing homework.  Usually, the homework would involve finishing a piece they had started. Certainly, it involved no more than a half hour’s worth of work to complete before our next meeting – a week away, on the following Tuesday.  It was, and is, a reasonable expectation.  Still, students appeared without the work done. This led to a “new” rule that the teachers & I set in place to deal with the students who would not do the “extra” work for writer’s circle. Essentially, they are told that if their homework is not done, they will have to return to class and not attend writer’s circle that week.  Occasionally, this is not enough to phase the students and they just calmly return to class. Usually, the potential embarrassment of having to return to class before group is over has had the desired effect of students finishing their writer’s circle homework before our group meeting.

Usually.

Tuesday, I had a student who appeared upset as we were gathering in the hall prior to entering our designated space for this activity. I knew immediately what was causing the problem as I watched her eyes start to glisten with tears. She had not done her homework, which was finishing the color poems they had started last week.  When asked, she confirmed that this was, in fact, the case.  When I told her she had to return to her class instead of coming to group, the tears flowed freely. I felt bad but I stuck to my “rule”.

I felt bad until she turned to me and said, “But, Mrs. L., I didn’t have time to finish it.”

We have discussed “not having time” is not an excuse to be used. These are 8 and 9 year olds.  They have an entire week to do something that requires less than 30 minutes of time, at the most, during the week between our meetings.  I get it. We are all busy.  But, part of being allowed a privilege is the responsibility that comes with it.  I wish I could make the students understand that when they tell me they didn’t have time to complete something for our group (and it is not every week), they are telling me they really didn’t care enough to do it. Given their age, I also sense that this is an excuse that they have heard given, and accepted, either at home, in the community, or maybe even at school. Most of all, hearing a student tell me this makes me sad. I’d much rather have them tell me the honest reason they did not complete their homework. They forgot. They didn’t think it was important.  They didn’t think I would enforce the “rule”.

Whatever the excuse, my reply is:

“You have the time. Use it well.” And, “If it is important enough to you to be part of this group,  you will remember to do the small amount of homework that is occasionally asked of you”.

Writer’s Circle is not only about learning to write, it is about learning responsibility.

After the events unfolded, we had a refresher about the writer’s circle rule this week.

We will see if everyone has their final copy of their color poem done next week.

I hope so. It is hard to be a “tough guy”.

 

Transitional Angst

Transitional Angst

After a very nice and relaxing weekend, I woke up mad at the world this morning!  Difficulty sleeping led to this state of mind and emotion.  It is a time of transition, which always causes me difficulty.  Not only do I question myself, but everyone around me.  Intensity is not a side of my personality of which I am proud.  Still, it exists and rears its ugly head at times like these.

We in the midst of planning some changes to the exterior of our house and it requires a lot of decision-making. For many reasons, I am not good at those types of decisions. Siding color, accent & trim all need to be chosen. Over the last couple of weeks, we have driven through neighborhoods, visited show rooms, and brought “chips” home to sample the colors in our own environs. Our driveway also needs replacing up near the house. The concrete has heaved and shifted, creating unsafe ledges and unsightly cracks.  There lies another decision, concrete or black top. UGH! Too much!

Of course, there are constraints to consider. Budget, color of the roof (which is not being replaced), timing of the order and finishing of the work. Truth be told, this is a “project” of my husband’s for the summer. He will provide the labor for the siding replacement.  That is both good and bad.  Luckily, he has no desire or skill to do the masonry or blacktop work on the driveway.

My biggest problem is two-fold. I am color-sensitive, being affected by tonal variations, degree of matching, and finished appearance. Secondly, this is all for a house that I really don’t care for the exterior “look”.  It is a ranch – our third house, someone else’s design and build, now a mere ten years old.  Our youngest has three years left in high school after this year, so for now, this is our home.   It is probably not our last house, but hopefully, our last ranch.

Now, in the coffee shop, where I took to for an escape, I am feeling less disrupted and anxious. After all, the bid for the black top was accepted and the siding order has been placed. But, I know there are more decisions down the road, and months of more color related questions.  Hopefully, as the project gets underway, I will feel better about it and the decisions that came with the renovations.