Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ring the Bell

Roscoe arrived less than house-ready when he joined our ranks last year. No worries, we've done that before. Adult dogs are quite easy to housetrain. Puppies, well, spare me the woe and carpet cleaning bills. Every dog we've shared space with has devised their own method of need notification —you know, telling the human being that the moment has come to open the door. Roscoe's method is to disappear into the laundry room, stand very quietly by the back door, and wait. Wait for the humans to note his absence and wonder, "Where's Roscoe and what's he up to now?" If we don't respond within about 30 seconds, he ups the ante with a low "mmmmumph." Usually, the absence of a mischief-seeking dog is enough.

Last week I brought home a rope of Tibetan bells.  The idea was to hang the bells on the door knob and make music when entering or leaving a room. Or, allow a dog to notify their human beings of the need to go outside. It was entirely possible  that Roscoe would pull the bells off the door and devour them. I had higher hopes for the pup, though, and he met them.

Within the day Roscoe learned that by leaning against the bells he was able to summon his people to open the door and let him out or, even better, when the bells were transferred to the outside and he wished to come back inside, he no longer needed to make a fuss. A simple nosing of the bell string brought someone to the door and he was back IN.

A little bit of fun and beauty, my favorite combination.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tweet not Twitter

Do you remember the SciFi story about a planet where the norm is seven years of rain, one hour of sunshine, seven years of rain, one hour of sunshine, seven years ....? The story centers on a group of children at school, all about (you guessed it) seven years old, eagerly watching the clock while it pours outside the classroom window.  Somehow one little child, a girl, is locked in a closet as part of childhood bullying (apparently it exists on other planets, too) and, in all the excitement when the sun breaks through the rain she is forgotten. Only when the sun retreats and the rain pounds the playground do the children hear her cries for help and realize what they've done.

Well, every monsoon season here in Northern California I live that story. The past weeks of rain have been oh, about seven years and today, the first day of sunshine I can remember since whoknowswhen is definitely the hour.  Even the birds seem to know the tale; I've started filling the feeders again and our yard is bursting with the joy of songbirds on a peanut/sunflower high. No sighting of hummers yet but the  glass orb is full of sugar water.

The soil is easy to turn with all the moisture. I transferred an old jade from the front yard to a lower spot, just yanked/dug it up and plunked it in a hole. Some unusual geranium cuttings offered by a Craigslist seller while we picked up another item received the same treatment. Snip snip, drag drag and Voila! Garden rearrangement.

Tomorrow more rain is due.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Camp Kesem Rocks! Vote to Keep Camp Kesem Rocking!

The kids went to Camp Kesem last summer and came home relaxed, confident and comfortable with the idea that they weren't the only kids whose lives had been hijacked by a parent's cancer. Yup, Camp Kesem is cancer camp for kids who have parents with a diagnosis of cancer. One boy that our son connected with lost his mom a few weeks before camp started. And still, cancer was not a heavy cloak over the week but a unifying thread binding the kids together. We received a week "off" from parenthood, too, totally free. Sweet. Why am I bringing it all up now?

Because Camp Kesem is in a competition to win big bucks to keep their national work going and growing.  They need votes, though. Consider trotting over to Chase Community Giving  to review the rules. It's pretty simple, takes a few moments and will make a huge difference for the little guys most overlooked when cancer strikes a parent.

We never thought we would be ending our kids to a specialty camp like Kesem. If you or a loved one needs this incredible resource someday,  I hope it is alive and kickin'!  As for us, the kids missed the autumn reunion, hope to make the spring reunion and definitely will be returning for camp this summer.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Full of Ideas

Even when I did it I knew it was not a wise move. There was not a defined career path for English majors back in the '80s, not like Business majors or Journalism majors. No matter, I went ahead and followed my muse. Added an honors track and tacked on a willy-nilly minor in History. Totally useless unless one entered the low-paying field of publishing, which I did, or wrote a book, which I have not.

Slow-forward a few decades and a hopscotch career in various publishing venues — and a 10-year-long break for child creation/loving/foundation-building — and what do you have? Frustration!

At least once a week I dream (literally wake up from a dream) of a business, flesh it out and realize it has some potential for niche success. That's me, a niche dreamer! I have one or two I'd love to pursue but how? If only I hadn't convinced myself that business courses, with the exception of economics, were a waste of an English major's time. Shucky darn.

Business courses make me sneeze. What I need is a business partner, someone who can hear my creative and marketing ideas and handle the nuts and bolts end of production. Is there a store with such people? Any on sale?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Growing Up in the Time of Fear

They look at me with all the emotions kids have for their moms: embarrassment, exasperation, bemusement, impatience. Yep, they've given me the Eyeball Roll-Up, the Evil Stare Down, the You're Invisible! Blank Glance and my favorite, the Oh, Are You Still Here? Eyebrow Raise. Little do they know I perfected each and every one of those facial expressions eons ago and could even give them a few pointers, should they just ask. They don't know what a master I was at torturing parents, especially the soft-hearted variety.

The other side of growing up is there, too. Not long before Christmas I wanted to attend a reading at our church. It was held at night and had all the appeal, to children, of a midnight dental cleaning. There was some protesting but I held fast and bundled them up in the car. The reading was dramatic, the church lit only by candles, and it didn't take long before both children were stretched out in the pew, heads resting in my lap, asleep. That was the first taste of Christmas for me, I think, attending an Advent reading with reluctant children who only came because they loved me. Warm love was what I felt surround me as I rested a hand on each child with the evening chill setting in.  Yes, they are growing up and learning to do more than receive love.

Right now I'm typing in bed for no other reason than it is late and the heater is near. Both kids have found their way into the bed and are sound asleep. Again. Feel my power: I am She Who Induces Sleep! There are days when our home can pass for The House of Yell and Bark (and I just know the neighbors must wonder what we shout about all the time) but today wasn't one of them. Today we spent a rainy Sunday together. Mass (one doughnut each, which Danny prayed for when we drove up to a new church and didn't know if it was on the menu); a family stop at Peet's for lattes and cocoa (separate tables, please!); and a day ensconced at home, safe from the rain.

We live in the golden land of potential devastation, one rumble away from what Haiti is enduring. We send our prayers across the miles of land and water, earnestly wanting to end the grief and pain. This week the 10-year-old is involved in a school fundraising drive, learning about offering support to those who need it most. And I think, right now, these two sleeping children beside me need the peace they have found. Tomorrow we will try to save the world, get straight As and see how far the parents can be pushed without suffering the consequences.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Would You Walk With Me?

That's the question. Or, maybe it should be "Would you pay me to walk for you?" in the Avon Breast Cancer Walkathon this July 10-11 in San Francisco. I've never felt connected to these cancer events, never wanted to participate before now. Motivations?

1. Honoring those I've loved who have experienced cancer: Mom, Grandpa, Margaret, Grandmom Lib and Great Aunt Gert, Marian, Tom, Jill, Holly, Dad, Hal, Me, Myself and I. And I'm just getting warmed up.

2. Loving my family and wanting a goal to work towards to keep my health at the top of The List.

3. Standing up publicly against the Cancer Beast and helping fund the uninsured in their life struggle.

4. Walking because I can, while I can.

The whole thing intimidates me. I mean, asking people for money? Geez, I don't "ask" very well. It isn't a Hedgie strong suit. This walk requires a $1800 commitment from the walkers. Now, if I blogged my fingers off and put a button on this site that linked to the Avon account (money direct to them, not even remotely passing by ol' Hedgie here), would anyone out there consider supporting me? Just curious. If you would be so kind as to respond I promise not to go nuts with joy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ends and Beginnings

We packed Christmas up today. It was a great one and we weren't in a hurry to end the relationship but somehow the urge to clear up all the clutter took hold and that was that. It happens.

The beauty of our holiday was in its simplicity. Christmas Eve we spent at Mass, an intimate celebration with one child playing the bells and the other acting the part of an angel during the nativity pageant. We came home and laughed our way through a family creation in the VitaMix Blender (fun!): Tortilla Soup. Very yummy. A warm meal we all enjoyed, especially after having watched the ingredients get gobbled up by the blender.

We opened one or two presents and then the kids decided to play Mancala. I stretched out in front of the fire with a cuddly Roscoe tucked next to my tummy, his half-closed eyes watching the kids contentedly, while Joe pretended not to snooze in an overstuffed chair. James Taylor sang Christmas carols in the background of my little fantasy-come-to-life. "You know, guys, this is my kind of Christmas," I purred.
Danny looked up from the game, gave me the smile that makes him look just like his Grandpa Mike, and said, "Mine, too."

On Christmas Day we cooked the ancestral chicken kiev recipe (yes, I need to practice it a bit) and later that evening enjoyed the company of family. Roscoe was beside himself with all the human beings, especially the young ones, and talked the entire time. Yes, the entire time. He has quite a vocabulary, too. Next time we have more than a few folks over we'll have to see about sending him on a doggie sleepover.

The kids have watched more TV this week than they have in years, and we've also let them play the wii games to their hearts' content. They have also read books. BOOKS! Both kids, too. Who thought we'd have to holler at our kids to stop reading and eat? Or go to bed? They will be ready to return to a school routine, right?

Last night both kids stayed up to midnight for the first time on a New Year's Eve. They enjoyed the late dinner and played games to stay awake. Everyone made a stab at a resolution of some kind. We had a fun time together.

And today, we celebrated 2010 by visiting my cousins on the coast with their newest daughter, Kathryn and darling 2-year-old Lilly. Beautiful girls, exhausted parents, great happiness.

End of our first real Christmas at home.