Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hot chicks

Seriously. Is there anything as beautiful as a chicken? Or a rooster? There is just something about watching these mini dinosaurs lumber across the yard. My daughters hate them. They say the roosters chase them. I say the roosters are only following them.

Good luck hunters!

Today is the first day of deer hunting season. I won't be hunting - I hate the taste of venison. It is right up there (in my book) with turkey, squirrel, and rabbit. I've never been a huge meat eater - it is my mom's fault (love you mom, but I have to blame you for this)! She tried regularly to slip unconventional meat into different dishes when I was growing up - she was a key factor in my vegetarianism for many years. Even now, I can sense venison in a dish a mile away! I was more of a potatoes and peas kind of kid and I still am, I guess.

I come from a long line of hunters and it looks as if I've given birth to couple of hunters, too. My husband hunts for deer (he doesn't like turkey) during archery and rifle season. My brother's wives cook up any little critter that they shoot. And everyone in my family just loves these meals! I really, really wish that I could stomach handling game - but I gag and retch whenever I see or touch anything other than a clean roast or ground meat. And I know that actually game is much, much cleaner, much healthier meat and definitely more economical than any commercially raised beef. But still....

I do hope that we have venison in the freezer for the year. I would love the money saved by not purchasing meat at the market. So bring on the bucks, or the does - fill up the freezer! I just don't like touching it, cooking it, or eating it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Dear John letter to Walmart

Dear Wal-Mart,

As a rule, I do not visit you. Your store is too big, too loud, too crowded, too overwhelming for me. The other night I was in a rush and out of desperation, I stopped in to buy a few needed items. From the moment I walked through your automatic doors (which are backward, I might add), my senses were assaulted in more ways than I can possibly name.

My first stop was in produce to grab a bag of celery. It turned out to be a relatively harmless experience and I made it through that maneuver unscathed. Next stop was butter, strategically placed at the very back of the store. After dodging and darting between other shoppers who appeared equally as dazed as I, I grabbed my needed box of butter. Navigation to the front of the store was a bit trickier. With displays, carts, and stands of cookies, chips, seasonal candies – all set right at eye level, stationed tactically in the middle of your very narrow aisles, it was impossible to make it from point A to point B. I’m sure this is a carefully thought-out plan because in my trip from point A to point F down to point Q and then finally to Point B, I passed a multitude of colorful displays of all sorts of things I don’t need (and can’t imagine who possibly could!).

On my way back to the register area – so that I could check my own order—I could barely function with the horrific brain-dulling garbage playing from every possible point. In the health and beauty aid section, at the end of each aisle, was some type of video advertisement giving instruction on everything from the best allergy medicine to use and how to use it to the benefits of Viagra (I swear!). I felt as if I were trapped inside a pinball game.

Aside from the anti-Wal-Mart rumor mill, I have my own reasons for our break-up. You offer just too many choices for my small mind. After working all day listening to other people's problems, I want simplicity. I want to be able to just walk into a store and pick up milk. Period. Just milk. I don't want to have to choose from 4 different producers. I just want to get it and go.

Wal-Mart, your designers are very savvy-that is true. But I have the same amount of hours in my day as everyone else and I choose not to spend those precious minutes standing in front of a shelf full of 97 different variety of black beans and trying to decide which can I want when I could be outside with my kids or my animals breathing in our country air all the while being perfectly happy. Wal-Mart – you will always be there silently smothering to death every small hardware store, every mom and pop general grocery, all to provide us humans an endless selection of things that we could very well do without. I am sure that you are the perfect store for many people but you are just not for me.

We are over now, Wal-Mart. You will not be seeing me again.

But if you start selling time, let me know. I may come back.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A favor to return

This time last year we had already had a month full of snow. Yesterday it was nearly 60. I am thankful for this. I have had an extra few weeks to work on Dolly Llama’s shelter, to pick up the trash blown around by the wind, to stack wood (or make the kids do it), to spend time outdoors doing nothing in particular.

After yesterday’s foul mood brought on by an unpleasant dream, it feels good to be back in high spirits again. I am determined to avoid the anxiety I normally feel this time of year. For years, I’ve agonized over Christmas. I love Christmas but absolutely, positively hate the materialism and greed that marks this holiday. I can’t stand the commercials and advertisements promoting more, more, and more crap that we don’t even need. Pretty selfish, I think, when there are so many people who can’t even afford the basics. I hate the pressure that I’ve placed on myself to buy the perfect gift – did I spend enough? are they nice enough? are they enough??? These gifts for loved ones who really don’t need any thing!

This year I have put some thought into giving – I still want to give but I want it to be in honor of the gifts that were given to the newborn babe in the manger, Jesus Christ. I want to give from my heart – not meaningless garbage that will be forgotten the next day, but I want to give something to enjoy and to savor.

Of course for my younger kids and my grandson, there will be a couple of toys and some fun stuff. The nice thing about being poor (a matter of perspective), is that the bar is set low. No one really expects much from me. But for my older two kids and my parents, I want to give them some memories. Kind of like the running necklace that my son gave me years ago that I wear every day. And when I don’t run, I feel as if I’ve failed him. Or the painting of the tree with the most striking autumn colors that my daughter made me and that I look at every day and think of what a great artist she has become. I want to do that for them.

I want to give something that while maybe it can’t be wrapped or put under a tree and maybe it won’t evoke a ‘Wow’ when given, it will make them feel loved and treasured days, months or even years from now. Something that no matter what, they will know that they have been loved.
What can it be? There is not a lot that I do well. I bake, I run, that’s about it. I’ll think of something. It is important that I do. This fall we’ve been given the gift of a little more autumn. I want to return the favor to those I love.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lost Dreams

It never ceases to amaze me how my life is guided by my dreams. A bad dream can totally influence my mood and if I allow it, completely determine the course of my day.

If I want to reverse the negative feelings from a bad dream, it is important that I try and remember as much of my dream as possible. Otherwise there is this feeling of something forgotten hovering over me all day. For instance, I woke this morning in a foul mood. Usually the calm of working out early and then the peacefulness of feeding and watering the animals helps me reconstruct my dream and totally change my outlook on the day. But for some reason, I ignored my alarm this morning and slept much longer than I should have which resulted in a rush to wake the kids and take care of the animals. This never is a good thing – for anyone. The second chance for peace and calm to reflect on my dreams on my drive to work was thwarted by a call from my daughter. I always love talking to my daughter in the mornings before work-it makes my day! And I love hearing about my grandson but I was just starting to bring back pieces of last night’s dream. I was only able to vaguely recollect a short dark haired man showing me his bald spot?! It may have been the hot chocolate and marshmallow I drank before bed – I’ve found that anything but tea in the evenings can really affect my dream themes! Tea – chamomile, generally encourages really good, gentle dreams while hot chocolate or warm milk not only bothers my stomach, but brings on weird, bad dreams that leave me antsy and angry the next day.

I’m still in a blue funk and am hoping that a good long run will help me figure this out so that I can feel back in a positive tune with life. Thanksgiving week and with the start of the greedy holiday season just days away, I want to be in as positive a mood as possible. I may just have to chalk up this day as a generally crappy, be-by-myself day and then be sure to only drink my chamomile tea tonight.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bullies suck

There’s not a whole lot of things in this world as heartbreaking as seeing your child as the target of a bully. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. The humiliation of walking down the hall and having classmates bark at me is fresh in my mind. But it doesn’t hurt anywhere near to knowing that my son is experiencing those same feelings of shame. It is one thing being teased, told that you are ugly or skinny or that your nose is crooked or that your ears stick out, but knowing that everyone else in the school – or on the bus—knows that you are being bullied and that there is nothing you can do about it is even a worse shame.

I’m pretty much a pacifist. But like any parent when it comes to my kids, I can be fierce and unrelenting. Fortunately for me, the school seems to be intolerant of bullying either on schoolgrounds or on the bus. I will most definitely maximize my use of the school resources.

To purposefully be the cause of another human’s misery is being a horror of a human. What a shame. A person can overcome the teasing but the bully? Do they ever change? Are these the people who flip us off when we are driving? Or worse yet, are yesterday's schoolyard bullies the people we read about killing someone in a bout of road rage?

I know my son will overcome this bullying - his family, church, and friends have his back. But what about the bully? I think he needs our prayers most of all.

I don't understand it. Why can't we all just be nice to one another? Why can't we just have peace?

Friday, November 12, 2010

A different world

I'm not much of a traveler. Typically when my trips for work are planned well in advance - usually at a time that a 'vacation' seems really nice. Typically once I reach my destination, I am ready to come home.

Not so true this time......more than wishing that I were home, I wish that I had brought my family with me to San Diego. I didn't get to see much but I had some amazing runs along the boardwalk and dipped my toes in the 'warmer than the Atlantic' Pacific Ocean.

I know that the kids would have really enjoyed this visit. They love the ocean and the beach and the temperature was just right. In addition, we would have been able to see the cruise ship being brought in.

Next summer our vacation plans include a drive to Yellowstone National Park, Mt Rushmore and Spearfish, South Dakota. Maybe the following fall we'll take our trip to San Diego.

But still, it will be so good to be home.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Running in my hometown

I love visiting my parents and looking at the town I grew up in through different lens. The past few times I've been up, I've either not run or I've run far away from town on the dirt roads. This weekend, I decided to run in town.

I have always thought it was amazing that whenever I return to my parents'--my--home, it is as if I am a teenager again. All my memories of Pleasantville revert back to the Pleasantville of the 70s.

Leaving my parents' driveway, I turn past the Burns house and wonder what Chip and Moe are doing these days. I remember Chip - that annoying friend of my little brother--and Chips younger brother Moe. I didn't know them well but did actually help my best friend at the time babysit Moe. It was then that I decided that I wasn't a fan of little kids. At all. How I ended up with five kids, I just wonder.

I remember when the houses directly across the street from my parents were not there: just 'the pines' where my best friend and our siblings built cabins and climbed trees.

Running on down the road, I pass Coonie Confer's house. I remember when his wife, who died of cancer while I was still a kid, made us all candles. I can still remember that she made me a green owl candle.

Continuing on I see the 'Napkins' house. My oldest daughter loved the Napkins - and since she couldn't pronounce Atkins, they've been the Atkins ever since.

Next is the Johnson's little yellow ranch house. I remember the big climbing tree on the side of their house near the Napkins. And their swingset that we used to sit on and talk for hours.

Next to the Johnson's is the Archers. I will never forget Mrs. Archer teaching us how to make old lady faces with dried apples. I won't forget the box of dress up clothes she gave my best friend and me.

My run from one end of town to the other is marked by memories of the ghosts of residents past. It is a good experience and keeps me grounded.

For nearly one hour last Saturday I was entirely absorbed by the rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement and by the memories of my young life and the connection with the residents of the town. I tried to get that feeling back on Sunday, but the magic was gone.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Running home

I love running near my stomping grounds. I love to see places I might like to live.

I like seeing new faces,
seeing old places, I love seeing my church from afar, but most of all,I love running home to familiar smiles.

A torrid love affair

 I've written about the ducks quite a bit. It's a little like Peyton Place around here I think. A couple of months ago, the male d...