7 swans a swimming . . .

continuing our look at the 12 days of christmas, we are up to day 7 - 7 swans a swimming.

throughout history the swan has been a symbol of royalty and has been used in royal symbols and decorations.  swan meat is also supposed to be quite tasty.  in ancient times swan was part of the traditional christmas menu and other royal feasts of the king. after the 19th century the swan was replaced by the turkey for traditional holiday meant.

swans are also found in myths and folklores dealing with love.  because the swan could both fly and swim the ancient people were fascinated with them.  many believed that had ties to both the natural and supernatural worlds.

the 7 swans represent the 7 gifts of the holy spirit, or the 7 sacraments in christianity. 
                      7 gifts of the holy spirit:
  • wisdom
  • understanding
  • counsel
  • courage
  • knowledge
  • piety
  • fear of the Lord
                     7 sacraments:
  • baptism
  • confirmation
  • communion (eucharist)
  • confession
  • anointing of the sick
  • holy orders (apostolic ministry)
  • marriage


6 geese a laying . . . yes, for real!

ok, so we have been thrown off our game a bit the past couple of days,
but today the 6 geese a laying are in fact geese!

a goose is one of the oldest domesticated birds. it is also surrounded by some folklore, which is probably the reason it is used here.

because of their migration patterns they are often seen as a symbol of the solar year, and fertility.  ancient egyptians also believed that mummy's soul rose up in the form of a goose with a human head.  the roman goddess juno considered the goose sacred.  why?  it was said that that the geese in her temple honked and cackled to warn her of the barbarians coming.  since then geese have been honored for their protective nature.

by the18th century the goose became the traditional christmas dinner.

in the christian tradition, the 6 geese symbolize the six days in which God created the world.

tomorrow we look at the 7 swans, and the last of the birds.


5 golden rings . . . here we go again --

well -- if you were disappointed yesterday to find out that you had been singing the song wrong all these years because it's "colly birds" instead of "calling birds" -- hang onto your hat.

the 5 golden rings this refers to is not 5 lovely pieces of jewelry at all -- but in fact it refers to the ring on the neck of a pheasant.  (are you starting to see a pattern here -- birds?)

pheasants are native to asia and were brought to europe where they were released into the wild and thrived.  pheasants were a prized bird and were not only tasty, bet were linked to royalty and nobility.  legends link the pheasant to jason and the argonauts bringing back golden birds (later believed to be pheasants).  from roman times onward pheasants were reserved for royalty.

so -- we learn something new again today.  the 5 golden rings here refer to the 5 ring-necked pheasants, a dish that was probably served at the kings 12th - night festivities.

the 5 gold rings symbolize the first 5 books of the old testament in the christian tradition.

i can assure you that tomorrow's gift - 6 geese a layin' is in fact geese, surprise, more birds (hehe).  so be sure to stop back in tomorrow to learn of their story.


4 calling birds. . . nope

today's 12 days of christmas "gift" are 4 colly birds .  yes, you read that right.  all these years you have been singing "calling" birds.  no one is sure where the mix up happened, but it is believed that they really are called colly or collie birds.  a colly bird is basically a european blackbird.  colly means black.  and in europe a coal mine was called a colliery and colly or collie is derived from this.

so, why would you give your true love 4 crows?  it would have been a gift of food.  blackbirds were plentiful and a common food at the time.  we see them again in the nursery rhyme - sing a song of sixpence, we see them being served in a meat pie.  this may have been the way they were commonly served.

in the christian tradition the 4 colly birds symbolize the  four gospels or evangelists - matthew, mark, luke and john.

so -- we've (myself included) have learned something new today  -- and been singing the carol wrong all these years.  tune in tomorrow and see what other surprise i might dig up! :)

(BTW -- i recently added a guestbook -- be sure to stop in and say hi! click on "view my guestbook" on the right sidebar.)  --d


3 french hens . . .

today is the 3rd day of christmas, your gift today is 3 french hens.

during the 18th century, large, exotic fowl were brought to england from the orient.  these birds mated with the fowl already there, and it is said that the new breed is the 'french hens" the song and tradition talk about.  white chickens are believed to bring good luck, and hens are said to symbolize motherly devotion.

in the christian aspect of the 12 days of christmas the three french hens symbolize the holy trinity - father, son, and holy spirit.  it is also said to symbolize faith, hope, and charity - the theological virtues.

by the way -- if you are showering your loved ones with these gifts this year - this new york times article suggests it will cost $23,439.38 this year.  if you give the gifts repeatedly like the song suggests -- well over $100,000.

here is a 3rd day of christmas freebie for you - 12 days of christmas word search .  it's printable!  enjoy!  tune in tomorrow for 4 calling birds!


a look at the 12 days of christmas --

the 12 days of christmas always intrigued me.  not necessarily the song -- some versions are annoying -- but the concept and it's history.  so i've decided to do some research and writing about them.  check back over the next 12 days and learn more about it ---

we'll start off with a bit of history on the 12 days of chrismas in general.  the 1st day of christmas is christmas day itself.  the 12 days stretch to january 6 - epiphany.  it dates back to the early 4th century christian church.

the 12 days of chirstmas first appeared in a children's book entitled  "mirth without mischief" in england in 1780.  it appears to be a memory game not a carol.  the first player would recite the verse, and each player would need to recite their verse and all of the previous ones.  if the player missed a verse they would give some sort of food to someone else.  this game became popular at 12th night parties - another tradition.  these parties were held the night of  january 5th (the 12th night - the 12th day was the 6th - confusing, right?).

the song dates back to the 18th century in either england or france..

there are different viewpoints on what the days mean and represent.  i will discuss two of them.

since i'm a day behind, i will cover 2 gifts.

day 1 -  a partridge in a pear tree

folklore says that a young maiden was to walk backwards around a pear tree three times on christmas morning.  when she stopped and looked up into the branches she should see the image of her future husband.

in england, the red-legged partridge was known to sit in pear trees. this bird was not found in england until the french introduced it in 1770.  since the verse is earlier then the time many believe the song originates from france.

the christian symbolism of this first day of christmas the partridge represents jesus christ - our true love.

day 2 -  2 turtle doves

doves for centuries have symbolized love and fertility.    venus, the roman goddess of love and beauty, was born of water where doves are often depicted drinking.

doves are believed to mate for life.  today they symbolize devotion, faithfulness and love forever.

the christian symbol of the doves is the Holy Spirit.  the two turtle doves here represent the old and new testament.

stop by tomorrow to learn about the three french hens.


a holiday gift --

while playing around on-line today i ran across this fun site. it has free music downloads, christmas music.  the artists are independent - looking for someone to listen to their music.  i've listened to a few -- the ones i listened to were very good. 

thought i'd share -- enjoy!  happy holidays!


light in the darkness

the season of advent is upon us; we are right in the middle of it at this point, with the lighting of the 3rd candle this week.

advent is a time of waiting and anticipation.  there are many symbols associated with this season and time of preparation. 

each candle - 3 purple and one pink is lit each of the 4 weeks of the season. 

week one - a purple candle symbolizes hope.  week two - purple, symbolizes love.  week 3 - pink, symbolizes joy, and week 4 - purple, symbolizes peace.  the Christ candle - a white candle is lit on Christmas eve.  the lights of the candles themselves lend to an important symbol. the lights remind us that Jesus is the light of the world and that He comes into the darkness of our lives to bring newness, life, and hope.  appropriately, advent is typically the beginning of the church year.

i have been reading and studying a devotional during this advent season.  it's called Following the Staralthough the story is the same, each time i look at it something new is revealed to me, or made clearer.

today's scripture and reading was about mary going to visit with elizabeth shortly after they both received news of their pregnancies.  the first sentence of the devotion caught me "Where do we go when life seems upside down?"  as it goes on in the devotion it makes sense that mary went to elizabeth right away.  the angel told mary about elizabeth's miracle, she figured who else would understand her.  as you may know mary spent alot of time with elizabeth leading up to the Holy birth.

although i've heard this story many times i felt a connection with it today. "where do you go when life seems upside down?"  life for me has defiantly been upside down lately.  i have found comfort in a few places.  in conversations with God, and even conversation with my mom.  i've found comfort in my family and a few very good friends - like mary found comfort and strength in her relationship with elizabeth.  i'm also finding comfort in this season of advent - the lights remind me the He will bring me new life, hope, love, joy and peace.

o come, o come Emmanuel.


finding a new normal --

i've just logged back on to my blog, and read the last post - it was written and posted 3 days before my world changed, forever.

those of you who know me, or have been following this blog know that my mom had a rough 6 months.  mom died on october 18th.

the past month has been such a blur of emotions and challenges.

paul and i were with mom when she died - but we were all gathered as a family at the house that morning, before we took her to the hospice care unit.  it's a funny thing -- you never wish for your mom to die (ok, maybe when you were 14 and said stupid things), but those are exactly the thoughts i had in my head the last few hours.  when i walked into the house that morning -- i had gotten a run down of the night before from my sister, and i knew it was difficult -- but none of us really knew what the day would hold -- i was immediately faced with what was left of my mother.  she was sitting in her chair right inside the front door - unresponsive, but seemingly looking right at me.  the nurse came a bit later and told us she was "actively dying".  from that point on - it's a blur, but i also remember every detail.    when paul and i arrived at the hospice unit later that afternoon, i walked in and was faced with even more of my mom slipping away.  it had gotten worse, we didn't know how much time was left, but my silent prayer was for Him to take her.  i couldn't bear to watch it any longer.  she was never coming back - it was time for all of our suffering to be over.

people probably thought we were crazy during her viewing and the funeral - looking back at it now.  we were laughing, and joking and comforting those who came to comfort us.  but this is how i see it -- we had 6 months of "bonus" time with mom.  when she went into the hospital in april she was unresponsive 3 times, on a ventilator twice, and "bagged" once.  we had all had "the talk", and knew what her wishes were, and we knew what we were facing.  we knew she wouldn't get better, we just had no idea how much time we had.  we had started the grieving process months ago, this wasn't a surprise to us.  were we glad she was gone - no, but yes at the same time.  it was really getting ugly toward the end, and no one should have to live that way.

looking back at my last blog entry - isn't it ironic now. 

now what?  we are all trying to find a new normal.  i'm having a hard time.  i took on the responsibility of a caregiver for a good 15 years with mom -- doctor appointments, hospital visits, shopping, nervous phone calls.  i spent almost every day of the last 6 months with her - back and forth to the hospital (an hour away) each day, or over to her house.  i wouldn't change one bit of it - i have no regrets, or "i should have"s.  but picking up and finding my new normal has been tough.

what do i have left -- who am i now?  i thought when i got laid off last december i would have that figured out by now - i had no idea what the year would hold.  now -- i'm back to square one.  we are identified by what we do. so, who am i?  no job, no one to take care of.

don't get me wrong -- i am not sitting around feeling sorry for myself, crying and sobbing.  i know that my mother is in a better place -- the disease was really taking it's toll on her - it is better her suffering is over, and in turn ours too.  a friend of mine put it best -- we were watching her slip away in pieces.

but -- now i need to figure out who i am, what i want, and how to get there.

not a day goes by that i don't think about her - things pop up all of the time that spark a memory.  but, day by day the hurt will go away, and it will get a little easier -- so i've been told, so i hope.

until then -- i have work to do -- re-inventing myself.  stay tuned . . .



aren't we supposed to?

something that has been weighing on my mind these days is a bit hard to explain.  since mom has been sick - ok, REALLY sick -  this year, we have been taking care of her.

i've heard on many occasions  -- "you're such a great daughter"or they say to my mom "you raised such good daughters". i'm not upset with the phrases, by any means.  it's nice to be acknowledged.  but what it makes me wonder is -- "aren't we supposed to?"

aren't we supposed to take care of our parents? 
aren't we supposed to take care of our family?
aren't we supposed to take care of the stranger?

i guess it comes natural to me --and maybe those who tell my mom that she raised us right have a point.  there are those who don't take care of others -- or even their own parents or family.  i had a casual conversation with the hospice social worker.  she told me that our family is one of the "good" ones.  she has seen many families who fight and argue about care for their loved one.  families who's adult children come to the house as a house guest and want to be "served".  families who ship the loved ones off so as to not have to deal with them.  i guess you'll never know what you'll do until you need to do it.  but to some of those people i ask "aren't we supposed to take care of our own?".

i guess it must be in my genes.  one of the things my mother tells me as i'm helping her to get dressed is " i was hoping you wouldn't have to do this".  my mom's mother was very sick, and my mom took care of her, much like we are taking care of her.  she told me she always hoped her daughters wouldn't have to take care of her like she had to take care of her mom. 

so -- it does come natural.  it is in my genes.  and i'm so very thankful that i have those genes!


change is good. right?

today was the last annual meeting of the Wyoming Conference United Methodist Women.  a bitter sweet day for me -- and for many.  i'll save that reflection for another time.

my conference "job" (at least until the end of the year) is Spiritual Growth.  i provided opening worship this morning for our final meeting.

below is a copy of the devotions i prepared.  quite fitting for today.  i share them with you - in hopes that they inspire you .


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Reflection :

This morning’s scripture tells us that we will not be separated from the love of God, and because of that we can not be separated from each other. I ran across this and felt it spoke to us as United Methodist Women, and was important to us today.

What We Can Learn From Geese  

1. As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for others behind it. There is 71% more flying range in V-formation than in flying alone. Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of purpose can get there more quickly.

2. Whenever a goose flies out of formation, it feels drag and tries to get back into position. Lesson: It’s harder to do something alone than when we all work together.

3. When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the head. Lesson: Shared leadership and interdependence give us each a chance to lead as well as an opportunity to rest.
4. The geese flying in the rear of the flock honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. Lesson: Encouragement is motivating. We need to make sure that all our honking is encouraging and not discouraging.

5. When a goose gets sick or wounded and falls back, another goose falls out and stays with it until it revives or dies. Then they will catch up or join another flock. Lesson: We may all need help from time to time. We should stand by our friends in difficult times.

If a goose gets separated from its flock it can join another flock. The new flock accepts the new member and makes room for him – no questions asked.

It seems to me that we can learn a lot from these geese. We are gathered here today as members of a flock. By the time our day is over our flock will be separated and we will each join a new flock – where they will make room for us, and accept us. We may choose to be the goose in the back that honks and encourages, or we may choose to be one of the geese that rotates in and out of leadership. No matter what role we choose, one thing will not change – we are United Methodist Women, and we will always be connected.

Would you please join me in singing hymn #593 – Here I Am Lord? We are each a member of a special flock, and God is calling all of us to be His hands and feet.

(After hymn)

I’d like to close with some lyrics to a song. You will have the chance to hear the song a bit later, and I encourage you to listen closely to the words. The song is from the musical “Wicked” and it is called “For Good”. Many of you know my husband Paul – his all-time favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz, and Wicked is one of his favorite musicals – I had been trying to find a song that would fit as background music for a slide show for this year’s School of Mission. He offered the song, but I had not heard it before. He played it for me and I fell in love with it. Those of you who were at school this year may remember it. It will accompany the slide show we will see later too.

The words are quite fitting for today – I’d like to leave you with a small part of them:
















Thank you to you the members of the Wyoming Conference, because of you I have been changed for good.


crumbling -

i ran across this quote today:

“Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.”

is it?  i'm sure this quote is written sarcastically - but maybe not.

then, i came across this picture. i like it.  "why?", you ask, "it's a crumbling old building that has seen better days."

well -- for a few reasons.  although it's crumbling and falling down it's foundation still looks strong.  sure, it's seen better days, but it's not all in a big heap. 

does the quote speak to the picture?  people are expecting it to crumble, and probably wouldn't be surprised if it did.  but -- maybe this is some one's home - it looks like an electric box in the corner.  what if this is all they have?  they are thankful for the strength of the foundation.

what does the quote say about human nature?  here it is again -- “Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.”  

is it a sign of strength to hold it all together when everything tells you to fall apart? or is it a sign of weakness? i guess the answer is different for everyone -- and each situation is different.

what does the quote mean for you?


unexpected --

it was a rainy dreary day today, so i decided to check out a movie.  i decided on The Answer Man from Netflix - instant.  the summary sounded interesting to me.  but it was a very good, unexpected, and thought provoking movie.

i won't go into the details -- i urge you to check it out - the link above will lead you to the summary, one part of the movie - the main plot, involved a man, a writer.  for 20 years the "world" was looking for him for answers.  he had written a book about questions God had answered for him, and people believed he was some sort of guru or that God spoke through or to him somehow.  he basically hid and concealed his identity for those 20 years.

the whole movie was though provoking to me -- and i may watch it again in a day or two, but there is a quote that stuck out to me.

the author - Arlen is speaking to a woman (Elizabeth), whom he has taken an interest in:
"You are here so God can experience the world through your eyes, see what you see, feel what you feel.  Everyday He can't wait to see what you'll do, what makes you laugh, what moves you.  Everyday through you He falls in love with the world all over again.  You are His muse."
wow.  thought provoking.  what a powerful message.  there are so many interesting messages in this movie -an indy film that i don't remember hearing about - but defiantly a movie to check out.  as i said, i don't want to get into it to much -- but after you've watched it, let me know.  i'd be interested in hearing your thoughts!


it's been awhile . . . life happens

it's been some time since i've written.  but life has certainly taken an interesting turn.  i ran across this image today, and thought it definitely rings true. we certainly never know when the tides are going to flow differently.

looking back at the last post - about joy, and the retreat i had the opportunity to lead - speaks to the quote.  about a week after the retreat - on easter sunday, my mom went into the hospital.

it was anything but smooth sailing -- there were many drowning and crashing wave moments.  mom was in the hospital for 2 months. during that time she was on ventilator - twice, and in and out of ICU twice, the cardiac floor, a regular room, and a skilled nursing facility, twice.  there were some very scary moments, and we prepared ourselves for the end.  we/ mom had decisions to make - very serious ones. but, by God's grace - and there really isn't any other explanation - she became strong enough to come home. 

my mom has scleroderma.  she has had the disease for 26 years.  up until this point there have been some waves that we were able to ride out pretty ok.  but this one threw us all for a loop.  she presented at the ER with symptoms of pneumonia.  as things progressed - and by about 12 hours later, she couldn't breathe, and went unresponsive - hence the first ventilator.  as time went on the doctor believed she had some type of virus that knocked her for a loop.  the scleroderma has created scar tissue in her lungs - and her lungs were not filtering the carbon dioxide.

long story short -- she is now home, and we are all adapting to doing things a little differently.  dad has had to take on some extra responsibilities, and my sister and i will go hang out for awhile if dad is going to be gone for the day.

life has a way of changing without notice.  the past few months have been scary, but i have also felt God's hand on me the whole time.  i believed in the power of prayer before this, but my eyes have been opened wider.  there is no other reason that my mom is still with us today.

they say that change is good.  i'm not sure where the good was in this change. but we've all become closer and more aware of the time we have together.  change is the law of life - and sometimes we can't do anything about it.


finding our joy --

i was recently given the opportunity to lead a women's retreat.  the topic was "finding our joy".  i put alot of time and work into the event.  this was the first big retreat i have done - there were 60 ladies present.  i did a small retreat on parables a few years ago for our local church women's group.  i  was so happy -- joyful, to see the women enjoying themselves, and actually looking deep within themselves - all the hard work was rewarded in thier kind words and thank yous.

i've learned many things about joy.  the flower that symbolizes joy is a bird of paradise.  the gerber daisy represents cheerfulness.  the colors rose, pink and golden yellow are the colors symbols of joy.

i've learned that you can't find joy without sorrow.  and your joy may not be someone elses joy.

over the course of the retreat the women taught me somethings about joy.  and as we journeyed through scripture, quiet reflection, group discussions tears and laughter, we began to figure out what we worry about, what we gripe about, and where our joy and graditude lies.

i also had some help - 4 ladies offered programs on thier joy -- music, mission trips, gardening, and volunteer work.  what wonderful witnesses to a joyful life in helping and serving others.

i truly feel blessed to have been given the opportunity.  humbled by the fact that the ladies walked away with a new understanding of thier joy.

i ask you -- what is your joy?


riding the rails --

i recently had the opportunity to take a train from philadelphia to atlanta.  anyone who knows me knows i don't fly.  the thought of it sends me into a panic.  i've been there done that -- and although the scenery is nice -- the anxiety isn't.

my sister needed help packing for a move back home.  my brother-in-law has left for germany, off to afghanistan soon.  thier decision was for her and my nephew to come home while he is gone.

sure -- it would have been quicker to fly.  but the train was much more exciting.  i had never been on a train ride for that long -- and frankly, i wasn't sure what to expect.

i knew i wouldn't be able to see to much - as most of the travel would take place at night (16 hours).  i boarded the train in philadelpia's station.  walking into the station a sense of anxiety flooded me for a second -- rows and rows of train "gates" - it was much bigger then i had imagined.  that being said - the huge board in front of me told me the train was on-time, and soon told me what track.

i boarded the train and found my way to my sleeper car.  hmmm.  that was interesting.  for one person, it was comfortable.  standing in the middle of it - which was about all i could do - my arms buckled at the elbows when i tried to stretch them from side to side.  there were 2 chairs facing each other - which later converted to a bed.  the car also had a toilet, and a sink made it more "cozy".

i plopped down in my seat and was ready for the adventure to begin.  we pulled out on time and rolled through the tracks of the city of brotherly love.  my adventure started off with feelings of uneasiness. as we rolled through tunnels and through the back alleys of the city - poverty, homelessness, and hopelessness were everywhere.  i'm not sure if i had some picturesque idea in my mind about the ride -- but i found that these pictures of people sleeping in boxes, graffiti with tags of R.I.P, and campsite waiting for thier souls to come back were more of a norm on my trip.  i was almost glad most of the trip would be in the dark.

don't get me wrong -- there were some beautiful, picturesque parts too.  we corssed a body of water  - not sure where or what, but i felt like we were skimming across it.  the bridge was low to the water, and not very wide.  in the distance the sun was setting and sparkled on the water.  this is what i had hoped for.

we rode trhough our nations capital  just as the lights were begining to come on.  the city was a glow and bustling.  i have been to DC many times and had the opportunity to see the monuments up close.  it was just as awe-inspiring to see them from the rails -- from my window i saw the the dome of the capital, the lights of the washington and jefferson monuments.  and the majesty of the airfore monument.  a beautiful site --

i made my way to the dining car and had dinner with two other ladies traveling alone.  we chatted about our lives - who we were, where we were going, and exchanged many pleasant words over dinner.

the train rocked me to sleep -- and woke me when we stopped at a station.  a peek out the window to check out the dark surroundings.  we pulled into atlanta about 10 minutes ahead of schedule, where my sister had a car service waiting for me.

we rode trough city and towns -- big, little.  the view from my window wasn't always beautiful, but life isn't all sunstes and lights.  there are hardships.  there are hard times.  but the sun always shines -- God willing -- on a new day.  it's our job to meet each new day with compassion for life, and compassion for our neighbors.  i remember the face of a man sleeping along the tracks.  i pray each day he gets the break he needs to be in a different place. 

time to catch up --

it has been some time since i've written.  lots to catch up on.  hmmm - where to start. . .


pets: joys and sorrows

i realized i have not written about charlie.

this is charlie -- a 7 1/2 month old cairin terrier.   he looks all-cute, but he is definately a terrier. into everything! 
but, before we talk about charlie, we should talk about my first "baby" - riley (2nd picture).

riley, also a cairin -- left us on july 20th, 2009.  he was 11.  he got sick very quickly, about 3 weeks prior.  he had a seizure one night - and it all went down hill from there.  we tried everything, did everything we could, but we sadly had to make the painful decission to say good-bye.  the vet believes it was a fast growing brain tumor.  i know it was one of the scariest things i've ever had to deal with.

growing up, my dad said no to pets.  dogs would get hit in the road, fish would just die, hamsters were just overgrown mice.  until one day my sister brought home a kitten who stayed, even after my sister went to college and got married.  i think i understand why my dad said no to our pleas for a puppy.  he probably knew just how hard it would be to say good-bye one day, and he was trying to protect us.  the cat - princess, developed cancer in her jaw a couple of years ago - my parents had to make the same hard decision to stop the suffering.  there are no more animals in the house -- dad won't admit it, but i think he's avoiding the pain.

mom and dad's house was like riley's second home -- riley knew when his bag was being packed he was going to grandma's and would race to the door and whine - ready to go.  on the day he left us, after we said our good-byes - he raced to the door, with more energy then we had seen in weeks.  i knew it was the right thing - he was tired, it was time.  riley rests in my mom and dad's backyard next to his arch-nemissis, princess.

it took me some time to be ready to have a new dog in my life.  paul was ready to get another dog right away - not for any lack of respect for riley.  i needed some time.  i began doing some searching on-line and found a breeder on oklahoma.  her dog had just had a litter of pupies - 2 male, 1 female.  ironically the puppies were born on july 10th - about the same time riley's "spirit" left him, and he was just a physical presence.  i fell in love with his tiny little picture - just a few weeks old.  i emailed the breeder and we both began the process of figuring out if the other person was reputable.  she was great, caring and patient.  she allowed us first choice, and we could wait to send the deposit until he grew to be sure he was the one we wanted.  she sent weekly pictures and updates until he flew out to meet us the end of september.

he was so tiny, and too cute.  he melted my heart.  it wasn't until a few weeks later that everything we had fogotten about raising a puppy slapped us in the face.  but, with some persistance, things are going well.

until tuesday.  silly dog. he must have gotten into something - whatever it was it upset his tummy.  so, off to the vets.  with some rest and a bland diet all is well - oh, the life of a puppy.

these furry little ones are really a part of the family.  they  worry and concern us like human kids do.  wouldn't trade any of it - the joys or the sorrows.



a love / hate relationship --

water.  it's a necessity for life - on so many levels.  it makes up a large portion of our body, we need it to "keep going".  it is esential for plant and animal growth.  it's used for recreation - swimming, boating, or running around the garden sprinkler on a hot summer day.

i love the ocean.  i'm not a swimmer; but i'll wade in.  the ocean/beach is very calming and soothing to me.  it clears my brain, i "hear" things more clearly there.  sadly, i live in the mountains - which i also love, but it's a far cry from the thunderous waves on the beach and the gulls flying overhead.  when i get the opportunity to go to the beach my soul feels at peace.  i love to sit on a quiet beach -- no one around, and let everything fall from my mind.  i also believe i hear God more clearly there, probably because with each sweeping of the waves against my feet my thoughts go out into the vastness of the ocean.   

if i can't get to the ocean - the quietness of a lake, the beauty of a waterfall, the babbling of a brooke will do too. 

i love water.

i hate winter.  the frozen form of water terrifies me from time to time.  there in lies the problem.  remember, i live in the mountains.  we have four seasons.  i love them -- i would not want to live somewhere that these did not happen.  i don't mind a snowstorm -- if i'm sitting at home, safe and warm and watching it snow and don't have to go out for a day or two.

this is exactly why i hate winter.  snow should only fall on grassy surfaces - not on the road i need to drive on, not on the sidewalk i need to walk on.  i've had my share of winter "accidents" on snow - on ice, all forms of water. each one leaving a scar on my psyche.  if there is the slightest dusting of snow on a road and i must travel, my heart pounds, my hands grip the wheel, and my knucles turn that vibrant shade of white -- i will immdiately put my truck in 4-wheel drive.

at least in snow i have some sort of "chance", i know how to drive on it - i don't like it, but i can if i need to.  now -- ice, that's another story.

a few days ago my family had a "rough" day.  it was a normal sunday, we all attended church.  on the way home from church - at practically the same time paul and i hit a patch of black ice, and my parents also hit a patch of black ice.

we are all fine.  our incident, though very scary was nothing compared to that of my parents.  my parents slid and skidded along the road and into a ditch - slamming into a bank, to a stop.  they are both fine -- some aches and pains, pulled muscles and bruises.  thier truck -- not so good.  there are many reasons to be thankful -- but mainly because no one was seriously injured.  my dad - the stubborn, prideful man that he is - said to a doctor today "i've never hit a patch of black ice before, and i can say i never want to do that again".   

i hate water.  in it's frozen form.

but, water is a necessity.  maybe these experiences are too.


letting go to move on

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
-- E.M. Forester
a few years ago my sister gave me this quote.  it helped her through a difficult period in her life.  it's a magnet on the fridge.  for the past couple of years i've seen it each time i reach into the fridge.  the lines are committed to memory.

it wasn't until the other day that i really looked at it, again, in a new light.  with my recent lay-off, dealing with unemployment benefits, and trying to make a decision about what to do with my life -- this quote really seems to hit home lately.

the difficulty is -- i've lost myself, so i don't even know what the plan is anymore.  it brings to mind another quote - "let go and let God".  how many times have i heard that one --

letting go of the past helps to embrace the future and the new experiences that lie ahead.  that is not to say that we forget the past, but we can't continue to live there.  it's time to put the "what-ifs" and doubts aside and embrace the life that is waiting for us.