Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Life as a Dog...and the Mountains!

Mom, This is for you. I know you've had a rough week with the death of your friend so I hope one more Hurricane story will add a smile to your day! I love you~

Let me tell you how programmed I am. Whenever I see the suitcases come out of the closet and my family begins putting their stuff into that bag, well, I just assume we are going to the ocean. So imagine my excitement when I saw my family rummaging around, talking about what they should bring, and if they’ll need this or that. I could NOT wait!! In fact, I even wanted to do the dance, ‘I’m goin’ to the ocean, goin’ to the ocean…’ I had this incredible desire to sing it at the top of my lungs, but I showed some restraint because I am going to be two years old next week, you know.

I have to be honest, though and tell you I was slightly concerned since I didn’t see them gathering any of my belongings so I stayed real close. One time, Big D said, ‘Hurricane, you gotta move out of my way!’ Geez Big D, just stick a knife in my heart would you? I plopped down in the middle of the kitchen and managed a hefty sigh so if they had any inkling of forgetting me, they’d have to trip over me before they‘d leave me.

The gear was packed in the van and whew, FINALLY, they put my accoutrements in the back and ordered the directions to climb aboard! They don’t realize how nervous I was becoming. I thought I might have a panic attack! But off we went! Driving, driving, driving…

Geez Lousie, Big D, this doesn’t seem like the way to the ocean, I wanted to throw his way, but he was getting grumbly about all the traffic so I kept my thoughts to myself and peered out the window. Gosh, the aroma revealed we were just not in the right place but I kept watching and waiting. I couldn’t find the vast indigo swimming pool but what a striking sight! It looked exactly like the multi-colored gum drops Little D likes to munch on. There was a stunning display of butterscotch, ruby and gold swiped across the painter’s palette. Wow! Big D., this is a dazzling portrait by nature. I can see why you brought me here. It sure is a delight watching the leaves perform cartwheels across the road before lying in their final resting place creating a carpet of color. Wherever this place is we are traveling is certainly a sight to behold. The soaring landforms reach out to God with their peaks and summits and will you look at that, the billowy puffs of clouds are bending to greet them.

I hang onto Little D as we snake our way through the winding roads being tossed like corn in a popper. I am filled with awe as we reach our sleeping destination among the stark and naked branches high in the altitude. ‘Nee Nee, why do my ears pop? ‘I ask and recognize there are so many questions I have as a dog. I shake my head forcefully to emerge the bursts loose that are exploding in my ears.

‘Let’s go!’ announces Big D and my family takes our entire luggage from the van and deposits them into the dwelling. We spend the days doing different things than we normally do at the alluring body of water I find so irresistible, but pleasurable nonetheless. Who am I kidding by saying ‘we’? I realize I am JUST a dog, but they unloaded the vehicle and went off on their merry way to have lunch, pan for gems which certainly does sound appealing, and visit the countryside searching for firewood and trinkets. All the while, they left me in a strange new place which made me feel very gloomy.

However, after their homecoming we had a divine time. We built a warm blaze in a cement slab and I got to help eat the puffy marshmallows we cooked. Hey, I’m eating the clouds we saw on our way here and boy, were they certainly scrumptious! The next day my family and I climbed atop one of those peaks that reach the Heavens and oh goodness, it was so dazzling! Plus, I received so many pats and strokes from strangers who considered me so pretty; there were ‘ooohhhs’ and ‘awwws’ which made me cheerful!

But I have to be truthful; while the mountains were magnificent; my preferred place of travel continues to be the ocean, however, I think ANY time with my family is noteworthy and extraordinary.

I love this life….

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Facts of Five....

If you are reading me for the first time let me explain Facts of Five. It was a concept I used when I taught students with special needs in a self contained classroom. I presented a category such as ‘Five Cartoons’ or ‘Five Items to Eat on your Pizza’ and the students had to consider an idea that fit the group. It was fun, yet thought generating and in the meantime, I was able to get to know what was important to my students.

So our category for today is ‘Heart-wrenching Moments within the Past Week’…and I’ll begin~

1.) Our principal called a staff meeting yesterday at the end of the day; not significant except it was a Friday at 4:00 so it couldn’t have been positive news. It wasn’t. A student in our special needs class passed away; may she be laughing and singing with God in the Heavens. I asked the friend beside me if she had ever had a student die which took me to Lizzie Lou; the name I playfully gave her and addressed her as, but her name was Liz. She was a child full of life, her heart displayed true joy and it radiated to those around her. Our lives were entwined for years far beyond our four years of sharing the classroom. Lizzie Lou died as a student in high school but not a showery day passes without thoughts of her. One day as a child of seven or eight it was raining tumultuously and Liz stomped into the classroom looking as if she just exited the pool stating emphatically, “My dad forgot to give me my Rain-brella!” On rainy days I happily remind my family to take their rain-brella as I eagerly remember mine. Love you Lizzie Lou!

2.) My son Nicholas had his first band concert and I personally was thrilled with the enthusiasm and pride those sixth grade students exhibited. However, they weren’t the only ones as parents and grandparents poised still and video cameras as if their adolescent had just won an American Music Award. The students have learned a great deal in 12 weeks, I look forward to their next performance. Who would have thought my kid would be a Band Geek?

3.) My mom had her heart broken by the sudden and unexpected death of a friend and neighbor who was only 52 years old. That is only two years older than me. I felt my mother’s pain for the loss and anticipated loneliness she will experience in the days, weeks and months to come. However, I also felt recognition of my countless blessings. While I have moments, or days where I want to hibernate and avoid the world with scores of demons and evils, I recognize I have Life and all that that entails.

4.) I am blessed by numerous devoted caring people in my life and my memory is evoked precisely at moments when I think I am alone in this world. The stark reminders come as hugs and tears on my behalf from friends, e-mails that ask ‘Are you okay? I’m thinking of you!’ unexpected visitors at my door and text messages that simply say, ‘I love you!’ Maybe the world isn’t such a bad place after all, or at least my world.

5.) One of my students has had a rough week. On any given day, his positive behaviors are rewarded at the end of the day by playing with Lego’s. Well, one day when he didn’t earn this prize he snuck in and was busted in the dark playing without permission so Lego’s have been banned for a week. Therefore, even though he was having a particularly stellar day he wasn’t allowed to participate in that activity so I encouraged him with words of ‘Hang in there, only a few days left’ to which he replied, “Yeah, I need to get my old life back.” ...I know just what you mean Little Guy, me too!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Three Things I Think I Think...

“Truth is one forever absolute, but opinion is truth filtered through the moods, the blood, the disposition of the spectator.” by Wendell Phillips.

Once again, I often don’t dole out my opinions as a result of the quote, ‘Opinions are like ass-holes, everyone has them!’ ...while I am NOT a fan of that quote, it serves its purpose and typically if no one really cares to hear my opinion enough to ask, I don’t by and large serve it. So to share these things I think is an opportunity for individuals to either agree, disagree, or sustain; take your pick~

1.) I think all professional athletes; including coaches need to be paid similar to professional golfers. They get the ‘big bucks’ when and only when they win and the amount is contingent upon their effort and contributions to the team in addition to following a code of ethics dictated by the league rules. These multi-million dollar athletes, who receive these huge contracts and subsequently bomb out, continually lose games, or feign injury I risky business. Many perform poorly, are disgraceful shameful role models and commit multiple criminal acts yet continue to live in their multi-million dollar homes and drive their fancy automobiles. What is wrong with this picture?

2.) The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein; this read is now on my personal best -seller list. I’m a firm believer that books not only entertain but they replicate life and offer words of wisdom that touch our essence. This manuscript touched my soul. I’ve been stirred by countless books, but this one particularly settled in my heart with its recurrent messages of hope and determination moreover my spirit was cleansed by my multitude of tears that streamed by the acts of kindness generated within the pages of Mr. Stein’s book.

3.) I’ve been following the case in Hickory, North Carolina of little Zahra Claire Baker who was the focus of an Amber Alert, now a homicide case. In question is the girl’s step-mother Elisa Baker by which many, in fact all family and friends voice the woman was mean to Zahra and would beat her for the smallest wrong-doing. People who knew the family affirmed Zahra had a horrible home life. An understatement is that this situation saddens me and it enrages me! How can so many individuals stand by and know wrong is being committed and not do a damn thing about it? My heart aches for Zahra for the many obstacles she has endured in her young life, two bouts of cancer, a loss of hearing from chemotherapy, the loss of her leg; she used a prosthetic and a horrible home situation. A loss of life is never ever a positive incident, but I wonder if in this case, Zahra is now dancing in the Heavens…float away Little Zahra and may you find all the happiness~

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Life as a Dog…and Auf Wiedersehen!

I bet you don’t know what those big words mean do you? Well, I have to be honest and inform you I didn’t know either until I googled it on the computer. The computer sure is a fascinating thing! When I first saw the phrase, I actually thought it was what dogs do; arf… but really, it translates into ‘good-bye for now’ in German which is necessary to say since Nee Nee; that’s my mom if you didn’t know, told me I couldn’t write on her blog anymore…sniff….sniff….

I have very mixed feelings about this latest development because you see, from the moment I first crept onto the workstation with all these buttons with lines; well, there's such pride in my efforts. Besides, I take such delight in writing about my happenings, experiences, and this thing called life. The marks on the paper made me as free as a dog running in an open field. It just felt brilliant, you know?

Golly, there was so much I wanted to share of my life; my first girl, Sadie, well, really she's been my only girl and my children, bet you didn’t know I had six pups, did you? I also wanted to tell you about the crib where I was brought into this world, how I chose my boy, the arrival to my new home! And oh, there was this time I snuck into the dryer…that was pretty funny! What's more, I once had two kitty-brothers; Ginger Roozer and Tigger Magoo….ahhh, those memories make me smile and I positively miss those two rascals.

Nevertheless, it’s DONE! KAPUT! Momentarily ceased… Evidently, Nee Nee sent my stories to a literary agent to see if it has potential, whatever that is…and to see if they liked the material enough to publish it into a hardback. When she received a response the other day confirming they would like to work with us, clearly that sparked the end of my life accounts onto our blog. She talked about opportunities and stuff I definitely do not understand but I have to trust that she knows best; although I must tell you this; I sure will miss this blogging.

I still love this life….and Auf Wiedersehen; ARF!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On This Day God Wants You to Know...

“God demands the totality of your being. That you invest all of yourself into celebrating the glory and the preciousness of being alive right now, no holding back and saving for later.”

Upon reading this time after time, I can’t help but consider called upon to ponder the subsequent questions; what does this signify in the context of my current life? Have I not totally invested my existence thus far to my students? My family? Have I been holding back?

What does this mean for the life I’ve endowed thus far? I’m on the precipice of turning 51 years of age as well as contemplating the hopes and desires I aspire for this life of mine. I believe as we age, we have more questions than answers, at least I do…Have I done enough? Is my life meaningful? What makes a life meaningful? Aren’t these questions the ones you ponder in your early adulthood?

This message is certainly time-honored, received on the day a literary agency responded to my manuscript, My Life as a Dog…. . They want to work with me because they are impressed by my writing; they feel I have potential….so is this the time I stop holding back, stop saving for later?

I have a good deal to celebrate. I raise my voice in gratitude daily for Scott, Nicholas and Hurricane, my family, friends, home, job, food on the table; the list is endless. However, lurking in the wake of each bend is the question; what else is there? And is this occasion my answer?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Life as a Dog....and Bath Day!

UH-OH!!! I knew I was in a dilemma when my family lured me into the lavatory with a biscuit and then proceeded to fasten the door; click… UGH, there was no escape! Big D. turned on the shower; doomed, I say. At least they afforded me the courtesy to allow me to finish my biscuit before they shoved me in that plastic box with the water that streams out of a metal tube. I tried to sneak my way out by going behind Nee Nee and laying up against her as if to say, ‘Please Nee Nee, don’t make me take a bath today….perhaps tomorrow!’

But Nee Nee threw me under the bus and detached herself so I was left unprotected. Betrayed, I sneaked to Little D and gazed pleadingly into his eyes, ‘I’ll take a bath later Little D…isn’t that what you always say to get out of something? …or was it, in a few minutes?’ He looked at me straight in the eyes and informed me I smelled so it had to be today. I SMELL??? Well, no one told me that. I SMELL?? I have a stench???? OH MY, I am so embarrassed, how could they not tell me? Really? Did all my friends that I greeted on my walk this morning think that? But I used my Doggie Deoderant, I promise...Oh Lord, how will I ever face them again?

As self-conscious as I was I tried the ‘sad puppy dog’ look, which really wasn’t far from the truth so I plopped down on the bathroom floor amidst all their echoes of demands and encouragement and put my head between my outstretched paws. I peeked at them. I raised one eyebrow to try as best as I could to give the impression of being pathetic, which I think I was being pretty successful because Big D approached, parked himself beside me and started stroking my ears…SUCKER! Then he calmly said, ‘Come on Hurricane, you won’t be so itchy after you’ve had your bath!’ well, he did have a point, I have been Mr. Itchy Scratchy lately. Okay…

So I summoned the courage to toddle pathetically toward the shower box with my head hung low and averted the gazes of my family, trying to invite all the sympathy I could muster. I know, I know, I love the ocean waters and enter quite readily, but that IS on my terms, understand? I longingly want to pretend I possess a tad bit of control here. Big D pushes me toward the spraying water by shoving me in the rump. Geez, have a little compassion for a guy. So I take the plunge so to speak and step into the synthetic room. Big D sprays me with the tepid water and we continue through the process of getting ‘the stink’ out of me and although it really does feel refreshing, I don’t want to let on that I feel like a million bucks.

Ahhh, I really love this toweling off…yeah, Big D. don’t forget the belly…oooohhhh. I perform a first-class shake and everyone takes cover: ‘Hurricane!’ they yell. Well, what do you expect! Then the bathroom door  releases and I sprint like a banshee through the house and each person steers clear until I exhaustedly settle on the bed with my family. ‘That wasn’t so bad, was it Hurricane?’ And it truly wasn’t, especially when we all end up on the bed together. They whisper sweet nothings to me and caress my sodden coat, anything to comfort my ego…

Ahhhh, I love this life….

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Life as a Dog...and Whatever Do You Call it?

SQEEEEEEAKK!!! Oh Little Daddy, by all means, what are you doing? Whatever that is you are piercing my ears; don’t you realize that we dogs have incredibly sensitive ears? It sounds like you are strangling a chicken!

WHEW! Every nighttime Little D unlatches this carbon box and digs out sections of ebony circular pieces of something with gold buttons. He places a wooden something or other into a pointed piece that goes into his mouth and then he blows…EEEGADSSS! I admit he is getting better but goodness gracious, every so often this throbbing wicked screech comes blaring out of the metal contraption.

He works very hard to make beautiful noise escape through its chambers but when he breaks a ‘reed’ as he calls it, the black wood bellows and clamors like a wounded wolf on the prairie. In truth, I do want to be of assistance to him because he gets so frustrated, so I offer a lickie-licky on his arm as he’s playing but he shrugs it off. Hey, that’s not nice Little D; I’m only trying to help.

Sometimes while he is sitting on his stool, papers in place; music he calls it, I rest my chin on his knee stretching my eyes as far as they will go with little movement of the head so I can gaze into his concentration. Good Little D, I try to applaud his efforts because when he isn’t persuading the deafening sounds, it is rather lovely.

‘Keep practicing Nicholas, you’re getting it!’ says NeeNee as she encourages him night by night to practice his clarinet. Ahhh, so that’s what it is; a clarinet! Well, that’s divine Little D, just exquisite. Little D works awfully hard and the more he plays, the fewer times I have to cover my ears with my paws which I know hurts his feelings. I want to keep him in my eyesight so I position myself in the hallway and let out a big ‘SIGH!’ to show my support; although he thinks I’m bored. But I’m not; the sound IS showing improvement every evening. My most beloved song is Mary Had a Little Lamb which puts me into a little snooze after dinner.

Before I doze I want to tell you, Ahhh, I love this life…and the syrupy noise of music! ZZZZZzzzzz…..

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Life as a Dog...and a New Toy!

YIPPPEEEE!!! I got a package in the mail on Saturday~ …well, okay; it wasn’t for me but for my boy, Little Daddy. Yet I have this firm belief that EVERYTHING in this house is mine! At any rate, he came racing into the house saying he got a present from BarbPat…OHHHH, I like presents! I never heard of BarbPat but if it makes him thrilled then it’s okay by me!

‘BarbPat were our neighbors when we lived in Ohio’ Little D advised me. BarbPat? I created this quizzical look on my mug and cocked my cranium to one side. This generally tells my family I’m perplexed which seems to happen a lot…these two-legged humans sure know how to muddle very simple things. In any case, BarbPat is actually two people; Barb AND Pat, he was explaining but when he was a little tyke he shoved the words together and just called them both by one name; BarbPat… whatever! Works for me if it works for him!

So as I was saying, they sent this parcel to Little D and he was as blissful as a dog peeing on a post. He spied an opening and ripped until the contents splattered out onto the table. I sniffed it before my eyes caught a glimpse of my treasure. WOW! For me? BarbPat don’t even know me and they mailed me a toy? How cool is that?

I am crazy about my toys…I love to tug, shake and squeak every single one of them; so much amusement! But my latest toy was ‘da bomb! It was a crimson nylon sculpted bone packed with fluff and a squeaker; those are preferred! I find it irresistible to sink my teeth into my playthings so I can listen to that reverberating peep. …PEEEP!!! An added trendy article; attached to one end was a knotted braid of scarlet, white and black rope so Little D could grasp onto one end and I could heave with the other. I raise my hind quarters into the air and unfalteringly dig my toenails into the mushroom colored floor covering and give it all my muscle; PUUULLLLL! Whenever we do that I haul him across the room. I love the sound of Little D’s laughter! That’s one of the finest parts of being a dog, I say.

My best part is EVERY part, but Little D considers the most excellent element to be the Ohio State University insignia monogrammed on the bone and words that describe me perfectly… ‘GUARD DOG!’ YEP! Yep, that’s me… I ALWAYS guard and protect my family!

I love this life…AND new toys! Come on, Little D, let’s play!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Three Things I Think I Think....

“Truth is one forever absolute, but opinion is truth filtered through the moods, the blood, the disposition of the spectator.” by Wendell Phillips.

I often don’t dole out my opinions as a result of the quote, ‘Opinions are like ass-holes, everyone has them!’ ...while I am NOT a fan of that quote, it serves its purpose and typically if no one really cares to hear my opinion enough to ask, I don’t by and large serve it. So to share these things I think is an opportunity for individuals to either agree, disagree, or sustain; take your pick~

1.) In light of the recent tragedy of the student, Tyler Clementi at Rutgers University who committed suicide as a result of the ignorance and intolerance of others the issue of acceptance has been uppermost on my mind and in my heart. We’ve come a long way in today’s society accepting people for their differences be it through sexuality, disability, race, religion, etc…but this incident reminds us we have extensive work to do. Countless of effective examples of bullying and abuse of people exist merely for the way God made them. The Lord made us ALL to be diverse and to lay forth our unique gifts unto the world however WE as humans exercise our freewill and decide to share them. May Tyler Clementi rest in peace and may the next ‘Tyler’ any of us encounter be greeted with acceptance and compassion because they are first and foremost, a human being created to be ‘different.’

2.) Nowadays, having a job is almost as stressful as not having a job.  Extensive demands and added expectations are placed on individuals having positions to make up for the reduction of staff…specifically teachers. I’ve had front row seats AND played in this game! When I first began teaching twenty-nine years ago, it was fun to go to work every day and interact with kids, be a witness to their success in learning, to share in their lives. That notion rapidly deteriorated about five years ago; I as well as most of my colleagues will tell you teaching is not fun anymore. Not that we expect it to be because I don’t know that any of us went into the profession thinking it would be easy, but a teacher’s spirit today is being squelched and murdered by the rigors of testing, inundated with paperwork, and void of financial and emotional resources on a day by day basis.

3.) Recovery is a long process…and I still haven’t fully recovered from my traumatic occurrence with my co-worker. While I have made in-roads my trust and faith in others is low and my skepticism in their actions and words is high. I quickly and readily retreat from the outside world faster than a flash and my desires to act in response to people are extremely hesitant and slow. Dan Fogelberg, one of my all-time favorite artists has a song titled, Heart Hotels and the lyrics progress as follows: Well there's too many windows in this old hotel, and rooms filled with reckless pride. And the walls have grown sturdy and the halls have worn well, but there is nobody living inside. Gonna pull in the shutters on this heart of mine, roll up the carpets and pull in the blinds and retreat to the chambers that I left behind in hopes there still may be love left to find….

Well, there IS someone living inside, just treading a tad more tentatively through this thing called life.