Friday, January 27, 2012
I just realized that we are the only unit in our extended families that does not have a pet. My sisters have Chuchi, a wild little fluffy dog, a Boston Terrier with an unknown name, Puddles the lab, Ashes, the lab, and a cat to be described later. My parents have Bandita, a nice dog that was a stray who found a home. My in laws have Lucy, a friendly farm dog. Chris's brother has Fritz and Liberty. His sister has a little lap dog. Other than Chris's Mom, who lives in an apartment, we're the only ones who do not own a pet. That's okay with me. We aren't really "animal people." However, I would like to have one good cat. Growing up, I pretty much had a cat at all times. We had a cat named Henrietta when I was very little. I remember one named Gerri Cat. This one was an especially good cat. My favorite cats are orange. This cat was orange, friendly and a very good listener. At this same house, we had Elmo and Baby Cat. They both met a sad end, as we lived near a main highway. But they were sweet friends while they were around. My Grandparents always had a cat too. One cat had kittens in the attic; it's baby fell down into the wall and my Grandpa had to cut a hole in the wall behind a kitchen cabinet to get it out. His name was Waldo. Last weekend, I stayed at my sister's house, while Chris was out of town. They have a really nice cat. The cat's name is Mittens and it has neat coloring. It's sort of orange, black and white, striped and spotted. It likes to sneak in the house when you open the door. I know a lot of people don't like cats. They say they're unfriendly and snobbish. Quinn is sitting here, as I type and read aloud. When I said they're "unfriendly and snobbish," she said, "but not all cats." That's right, Quinn. Not all cats are unfriendly and snobbish. The truth is, I don't really want a pet that needs me desperately. I'm not a big fan of dogs. I don't want to be licked, jumped on or barked at, really. I also don't want to be smelled. These are things that I particularly don't care for about dogs. Cats don't do these things. They just meow, prowl around, sleep a lot, and sometimes rub against your leg if they want to be petted. They are not obnoxious, most times. We don't really live in a great place for pets, unless they live inside. Not being a pet person, I'm even more not an inside pet person. So, we carry on without a pet. Someday, we'll have a cat though. This is a defense of cats. I'm laughing now, because it's ridiculous to write something in defense of cats. I guess someone should defend them. The purpose of this blog is to help me determine things that I do want in life and things that I don't. I just know that a cat is a pet that is "just what I've always wanted".
Monday, January 16, 2012
I picked up a little side hobby when I was in college. One day I was driving home in my Grandparent's neighborhood, on my way back to grandma's after a hard day at school, looking forward to dinner, when I saw something that was surprising. There were two metal sculpture yard reindeer sitting out by the road where the trash would normally sit. "Why," I thought, "are these quality reindeer out here by the road, soon to be crushed into dust at the landfill?" This is how it started. I stopped the car right in the middle of the road, jumped out, as if I was committing a crime, threw open my trunk and loaded up the little guys. I felt a bit of a rush as I drove away. I called my Mom and told her about my finds and I couldn't wait until they made it home to be wrapped in lights and displayed in the front yard at Christmas. Since then there have been many such experiences. I've found some really cool stuff this way. In our current neighborhood, there are lots of young families, just like ours. They sit out cool stuff sometimes. I've gotten a couple of ride on cars for the kids, a turtle sand box, a really awesome toy box and I'm sure some other things I'm not thinking of. I like this hobby because it is free, a little bit exciting and makes you feel good for recycling things that would otherwise go straight into the earth. I'm not a big "save the earth" person. However, if I can help out by getting some cool swag out of the trash, I'll do my part. Once I wasn't 100% sure that an item was meant for the trash, so I went back and put a note on the door that read, "I took your little car. If you want it back, call me at xyz number." When you have this hobby, you have to be courteous. You can't run around thieving stuff out of people's yards. It has to clearly be set out by the road, intended for the trash guys. I have also contributed to the other "treasure seekers" in my time. I love to put something out by the road and then later walk by the window to find that it is gone. I once got rid of a horrible Gazelle exercise thing that way. I put it out by the road and like 5 minutes later looked back out. It had magically disappeared. I got rid of a desk this way. My most recent contribution was our artificial Christmas tree. Judah did a number on the tree this year, breaking limbs, shaking the "pine needles" off of the branches. I put that sucker out by the road and the next morning it was gone. You're welcome. I don't know if this is the hobby that is "just what I've always wanted." I do know that it makes me smile and laugh at myself. Everyone needs to do that I think. I saved my latest find for last, because it is probably one of the better things that I've found and because it's kind of a funny story. Our neighbors across the street had this tree on their porch for the entire Christmas season. I admired it from here and even mentioned it once when we were in JCPenney and I saw similar ones in their Christmas merchandising. After Christmas, lo and behold, this beautiful tree was lying neatly upon some black bags out by the street on trash day. One of the ornaments is scratched and will have to be replaced, but other than that it is perfect. It has a nice solid frame so even if I wanted to re-purpose it, it's a great find. I will not be putting it on my porch though. That would just be weird. In this business, if you're going to swipe from your visible neighbors, you can't display their trash around your place. However, this will be beautiful on my Mom's front porch next Christmas, many miles from here. It may seem strange to give things that you've found in the trash to your Mom, but I think it is fantastic! What began with a Christmas discovery, continues today with another score for Christmas decor! Keep an eye out, you never know what you'll find.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
This is the last post of old writings from times past. I have posts for the new year up my sleeve, but I need to go ahead and finish this retro-series. This is the beginning of a writing that I started a while ago. It's about early memories in my home town. I love that place. These memories go back to before I started school. I had to be like 4 years old at this point. It's brief, but then I'll add some thoughts to finish it out. I just saw this the other day and felt like it deserved to be dusted off.
My first memories are from Airport Road. We had a little white house with two bedrooms, a field with a horse, and a hickory tree in the front yard. Mr. Robicheaux paid me in coins to pick up pecans for him. I thought I was rich. There’s something cool about being a little bitty kid in a small town. You feel really safe and a little bit invincible. I have three older sisters, so it was always exciting to look out the front windows, past the front porch and onto Airport Road to see the bus come to a stop. They were home!
One of my first memories is when it snowed. I think it was like 1987. I was 3 or 4 when it happened, anyway. My mom stayed at home with me and she also babysat my little friend. In this little house, I remember watching Full House. I remember taking a nap to the sounds of Roger Whittaker singing Christmas songs. We had that on tape and I loved those songs. I remember birthday parties and once when my dad was thrown off of the horse and broke his arm. My mom fell during this incident and was poked in the brow with a stick. We were glad it missed her eye. I remember Melissa standing on the playhouse with her friend and telling me they were leaving to fly off to heaven. They would flap their wings and I cried. Once we thought mom had been bitten by a black widow spider. I can remember seeing my Dad pray for my Mom. She made it through and I suppose it wasn't a deadly spider bite after all. I can remember Shawn and Jay sitting on the front porch with the light on and Melissa flickering the lights to tell Shawn to come in. I remember one Christmas where I got boots and someone got chocolate covered cherries. I remember hiding to eat Crisco. Strange. I don't think I ate much of that. It just looked so pretty and like it would be candy. It wasn't. I remember we had a ficus tree in the dining room. We had kittens while we lived in this house. We had a little brown playhouse outside; I think my Daddy built it. I think that times were hard in this house; I was too little to know some of the details of how things were. All I really remember is that it was warm with the relationship of a family that loved and continues to love each other very much. Good, good memories.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
I know it's a new year, so it seems weird to post something old. I need to finish what I started, though. Here is the second entry of three writings from the last few years. I've been thinking about my Grandpa a lot lately and so I think this is fitting. This is something I came home and wrote after an afternoon with my Grandpa. He passed away about 10 months after I wrote this. I'm so glad that I took a minute to put down my thoughts. He was and continues to be such an amazing man. I miss him so much, but I know that he is well and complete and whole. I post this not to be a downer, but because it is something that I wrote and that means a lot to me.
With a sad look on his face, my grandpa looked at me and wanted to know how I ended up with the task of babysitting, or “old man sitting,” as he called it. He is 87 years old and feeble. His body is no longer sturdy and neither is his memory. Suffering from early stages of Alzheimer’s has stolen his faith in himself and a good piece of his dignity.
This is a man who once was a highly capable plumber, avid Houston sports fan, excellent crossword puzzle completer and faithful deacon and food pantry volunteer for the church. He looked different sitting there that fall afternoon. He was much thinner. His once clean shaven face was now grizzly with a grey beard. He looked tired. And now he was asking me why I was being punished by having to stay with him while my sister took my Grandma grocery shopping. My heart sank.
“This isn’t punishment, Grandpa,” I said. “It’s my pleasure to be with you.” He didn’t believe me, I could tell. “That’s nice of you to say,” he said. It was as if he was implying that I didn’t mean it. “You’re the only Grandpa I’ve ever had,” I said, as I fought back the tears. “You’re the best. You let me come to see you every summer for two weeks when I was a kid. You let me come and live with you guys for 3 years while I was in college. I would do anything for you.” He straightened up a little and said, “Oh?” He was seeing if he could remember those summers or those college years. I don’t think he could. “Well, that’s just what family does for each other, I suppose,” he said slowly. I was glad that I had the chance to assert my care for Grandpa that day, but I just wished he really knew how I valued him.
This has gotten me to thinking about self-worth and the value of life. I’ve determined that there has to be a way that we understand our self worth that goes beyond our present state at any given time. There are certainly times when we feel worthless, but that doesn’t make us worthless. There are times when we feel unimportant, but that feeling can’t be allowed to devalue our worth. The key, I believe, is that when things cause us to feel worthless, unimportant or devalued, we have to be reminded of the great potential that lies within.
Regardless of our stage in life, there is always potential for more good to come from our days. This is true of the unborn child. This is true of the 87 year old man. As long as there is breath in our bodies there is a staggering potential to create, enjoy and bring enjoyment. This revelation is something missing from our society, I’m afraid. Teenagers take their lives because of momentary relationship problems. Elderly are left to die alone in nursing homes. Unborn children are never given the chance to discover their purposes. And all because we forget about the great potential that all of us have for good.
I’m saddened by my Grandpa’s inability to remember his days in the past when he had great purpose and was accomplishing great things. More than that I wish that he could realize that he still has great purpose. If he has three days left or 13 years, there are still so many things that he can see and do in this life. There’s so much that he can experience. There’s so much hope and life that he has to offer. If only he could remember.