A Mewling Cry

I heard it while I was in the garden.

It wasn’t my first time to hear it….  No, I’d heard it before, a week ago, coming from my neighbor’s shed.  But, this time, it sounded like it was coming from the opposite direction…from my other nextdoor neighbor’s yard.

Our backyard fence separates the three yards.  And, with two doxies running loose in the back yard at any given time, it’s not safe kits or kittens.

I ignored the cry, assuming the kitten’s mother would return to the kitten, or for it.

But, throughout the day, the kitten’s mewling cry could be heard.

Daughter, upon arriving home from work, heard the cry and investigated.  A fuzzy gray kitten, no more than 3 weeks of age, was under a bush in our neighbor’s yard…alone.  Daughter picked it up and brought it into the house.

“I don’t want a kitten!” she stammered as she entered the house.

“Me either!” I stated.  And, I suggested she return it so the mother could find it.

She did so and looked around for other kittens, but finding none, tucked it under the bush from which she’d plucked it and returned inside.

It was hard for her to walk away from it.  Concern for the welfare of the kitten burned within her.

I knew.  I felt it, too.

But, she knew as well as I that we could not give the kitten ’round the clock care and were not equipped to meet its needs.  Its mother would just have to return.  She would have to…the kitten would die if she didn’t.

Rain fell and still the kitten mewed from beneath the bush.

Late evening, with flashlight in hand, I stepped into my back yard and stood quietly listening.

And, there…I heard it again.  The low mewling cry of a kitten calling for its mother.  Calling out “I’m here!  I’m hungry! I’m alone!”

I paused briefly and then slipped through the gate and into the side yard where the kitten cried.  With flashlight in hand, I searched under the bushes for the mewling baby, but found nothing.

And, still it cried.

Had I found it, I’ve no idea what I would have done.  I turned around to walk back to the house and heard a noise in the same location I’d heard the mewling kitten.  It was larger than a tiny kitten would make…a soft scuffling in dry leaves similar to the sound a cat would make.  The mewing stopped immediately.

Perhaps Momma had arrived. Perhaps something else had. Not wishing to scare off the mother (if indeed it was the mother), and knowing that if it wasn’t the mother there was nothing I could now do, I slipped back to the house.

And, even now…at the stroke of midnight as I write this, my mind remembers the mewling of the kitten and my heart condemns me for not insisting Daughter keep the kitten in the house – for not seeking until I found it – for not making sure it was the mother and not a predator.

But, I know how feral cats are and I know that the mother could have been sitting in the darkness watching me…waiting for me to move away so she could attend to her kitten.

It’s hard to know what to do…if to do.

Excuse me…I’m going to see if the mewling has stopped.  If I hear it…I’ll be concerned.  And, if I don’t…I’ll still be concerned. Perhaps I should just remain inside and silence the concerns that plague me.

—–

I did step outside.  All was quiet.

This morning early, Daughter slipped outside to listen.  Hearing no mewing, she walked to the bush under which she’d found the kitten and paused. She looked back at me and shrugged.  She’d heard nothing.

Is the kitten still there?  Did Momma Cat visit in the night and take the kitten away?  Did something else?  Is Momma Cat with the kitten now, tucked up under a bush?  Is it now too weak to mew?

I don’t know the answers to those questions.

But, I do know (and Daughter can verify) that as Daughter walked back toward the front porch, she and I heard what appeared to be a mewling kitten – loud and demanding – coming from across the street in a row of bushes.

“Did you hear that?” Daughter asked.  “Was that a kitten mewing or a bird chirping?” I’d heard it and I wasn’t sure which it was.  It sounded an awful lot like the mewling of the kitten.

It’s difficult to know what to do in situations like this. Do you interfere? Do you let nature take its course? Do you walk away and say “not my problem.” Do you weigh the results against the time and effort involved…?

It’s a life. What is our responsibility as humans when it comes to protecting life? especially helpless life?

My mind is full of questions this morning and few answers.

I welcome your thoughts.  I’m going to step outside and listen.

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Quiet People

It’s been said that quiet people have the loudest minds. (I think Stephen Hawkins is to whom that quote is attributed.)

My dad had a different way of phrasing the same thought: Still waters run deep.

A proverb dating back well beyond my dad says it this way: altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi (the deepest rivers flow with least sound).

And, a French proverb states the same thought as: Il n’est pire eau que l’eau qui dort (no water is worse than quiet water)

Is it true that people are like bodies of water?  (Deep = still and quiet.  Shallow = tumult and noise.)

What have you found to be true?

See-through Christians

The search for my small glass measuring cup was on.  I needed it and it was NOT where it was supposed to be.

I’d looked in the cabinet, on the table, on the counter, in the sink, in the dish drainer, under the sink, on the stove…. And, I repeated.

Hubby entered the search and pointed to a glass object in the dish drainer.  I shook my head and told him the cup was clear glass.  What he was pointing at was a small antique Welch’s jelly juice glass with pictures on it.

Hubby patiently pointed again, so I looked closer.  And, I removed a cereal bowl that was partially obscuring my view.

There it was.  My 1 cup glass measuring cup was upside down and on top of the Welch’s jelly glass,  All I had noticed was the glass within the cup.

That’s the way Christians are supposed to be.  When people look at us, we should be so transparent that they see Jesus, not us.

Ouch.

Here Yesterday, Gone Today

Imagine my surprise when I went to God’s Garden in my back yard to pick the ripe  tomatoes I’d seen there yesterday and found NO ripe tomatoes.

And, no bell peppers at all -not even small ones.

I stood stunned and confused.

Not 24 hours prior, I had gazed on at least 6 fully ripe tomatoes and easily as many peppers.

A flash of anger moved quickly over me.  I felt violated.  Someone had invaded the sanctity of my back yard and stolen from me.

I looked out over the rest of the garden.  Everything else looked as it should.

As my gaze shifted back to the tomato and pepper plants, I slowly walked toward them.  As I grew closer I searched in vain for any sign of red.

Even the tomato that had grown IN the fence was gone.  I had tried on several occasions to pop it out of the chain link fence, but it was lodged in there…had become one with the fence.

It was gone without any sign that it had ever been there.

My thoughts turned to a post I’d written several days ago – When Bounty Becomes a Burden.

I’ll admit, I felt reprimanded and deeply humbled.

Just because it is doesn’t mean it always will be.

Be thankful for what you have – even for the excess.  When God blesses, your cup runs over.

And, that’s a good thing.

A Return to Summer

97 degrees with a heat index of 109, brilliant sunshine, high humidity, a chance for late afternoon showers, and a heat advisory – Summer has returned now that August is in her final blush.

What a delightfully “cool” summer it’s been.  I’d forgotten what Summer’s heat felt like and how much more difficult outdoor chores became when humidity and heat combine with potentially killing force.

I had become accustomed to the cooler than normal temps this Summer has offered and was shocked by the discomfort felt as “normal” returned.  For the first time in what felt like months, I broke into a sweat just walking from my front door to the mailbox and back. It wasn’t from exertion. No, it was from the heat and humidity.  It was like I had opened the door on a hot oven and been overcome by blast of heat.

And, I’ll admit…it felt good.

There’s just something about sweating in the Summer.  Impurities and toxins flow from the pores in your skin and leave your body refreshed and healthier.  Replenishing the fluid lost through sweating enables the body to push even more of the bad stuff out.

I cut grass yesterday afternoon.  I sweated until drops fell from my hair and the tip of my nose.  I worked and I sweated and I breathed out the back and breathed in the good.  And, at the end – oh, it felt good!  I was soaked and the gentle breeze that stirred the trees cooled me.

Had I not been sweat soaked, I wouldn’t have noticed the change in temperature when a cloud hid the sun, would not have felt the slight breeze that touched my damp skin, could not have appreciated God’s grace-filled-touches meant to remind me that I am deeply loved by my creator and I am not the only one who longs for relationship. God longs for relationship with me.

Challenge Yourself

In early June, Top 10 Belly Firming Tips inspired me to begin a simple exercise routine.

I began to do situps every night before going to bed.  Throughout the month of June I did a situp every night.  Well…let me elaborate just a bit.

I did a situp for every night of the month of June, adding one situp each day.  So, at the end of June, I was doing 30 situps. (I guess it could be said that I did accumulative situps.)

The first week was the hardest. Who would have thought that doing 7 situps would be hard? Apparently I had no stomach muscles to speak of and my lower back muscles were weak as well.

SURPRISE!

So, by the time June ended I was feeling pretty special as I struggled through and finished 30. 😉

July 1 dawned and I realized I wanted to continue the situp challenge so each night I added one sit up and by the end of July I was doing 61 situps.

So…August slipped in and I thought I would be smart and continue.  I was seeing a little change but not as much as I wanted and so I began August 1 with 62 situps.

I’d heard it said as a child that if you pick up a calf the day it’s born and continue to pick it up every day of its life, you will be able to pick it up when it’s a full born bull.  Made sense to me.  And, I assumed adding one situp a night would work the same way.  By the end of a year’s time I would be doing 365 situps at night and I would be “picking up the bull,” so to speak.

It was a no brainer to continue on through July. All I had to do was add 30 to the day’s date and I had the number of situps I was to do each night.

August presented a challenge.  My brain didn’t want to add 61 to every number.  I did fine the first two weeks.  I made it fine to 75 and then my brain rebelled. So I pushed my situps to 80 thinking that would help me keep track.

It didn’t.  So, I pushed forward to 100 + whatever the date was.  And, each night thereafter I added 1 situp to the count.

Last night I did 122 situps before going to sleep.  Tonight I will do 123. (Yeah, I know. Today’s the 22 and I’m 1 ahead of the date.)

What will I do September 1? If all goes according to plan the count will be 132 – that’s only 10 more than I did last night.

This past Monday I started a morning workout that lasts about 20 minutes.

I began with 25 situps and have worked my way up to 60. Each day I find various ways to do those 60 and work different muscles groups.  I’m also doing planks and side planks.  I can hold them for a little over a minute each, but that’s about it. And…I’m doing pushups…10 each morning.  And, yes, they are the “girl” pushups and that’s okay.  And, no – I don’t yet touch my nose to the ground…I come within 2 inches of it.

Why am I doing this? Because I’ve challenged myself to be the best me I can be.  And, to go a little beyond my comfort zone each day in some way.

What challenge will you give yourself?

When Bounty Becomes a Burden

What do you do when bounty becomes a burden?

The way I see it, you have two choices.

  1. Make room for it.
  2. Give it away.

God has truly blessed the gardens this year.  Tomatoes, green beans, peas, squash, peppers, okra….  Oh my…what a bounty!

With our small freezers full and only a few empty canning jars left (in my pantry and on the store shelves) it’s decision time.

I told Hubby this morning that I’ve tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas to put up and no place to put them.  Oh, and okra, too – but that’s not a problem (I’ll just fry it and eat it…all).

And, a peek at the garden after last night’s rain tells me I’ve more to pick today before the sun goes down.

What DO you do when bounty seems a burden?

Don’t you love problems like this?

I’ve given away surplus to family and friends, but I would really like to put up the peas and green beans that Mom, Daughter and I shelled and snapped.  But where? How?  My little chest freezer is full to the brim and my refrigerator’s freezer is as well.

Ah ha!  A quick inventory of the little chest freezer revealed a surprise.

Last summer, I filled a corner measuring 12″x 10″ with bags of cubed pumpkin, honeydew, and cantaloupe.  With that removed I have ample space for the veggies I have on hand and for those waiting to be picked.

What of the pumpkin and melons?

The pumpkin I’ll cook and use in breakfast muffins for Hubby.  The melon cubes have been pureed in my blender – what a delightful, healthy and delicious dessert it made for my lunch today – and placed in a gallon freezer bag that found its way back into the freezer (taking up only 1/2 of an inch of space, easily placed atop everything in the freezer).  All I’ll need to do is break off a corner, slip it back into the blender and voila – a frosty, cold sensation for a hot summer day!

Bounty should never become a burden.  With a little planning and forethought bounty blesses us and others.

And, that’s how it should be.

God is busy teaching us lessons, providing opportunities to grow, helping us think outside the box, encouraging us to move beyond ourselves and our notions of what’s possible (and what’s not).  God’s blessings should never become burdens.  When they do, it’s time for us to step back and ask ourselves…where am I off track and what do I need to change/do?

Don’t stress the good stuff. Spread it around.

Fear Me

A fledgling dove sunned itself on my back porch – two feet from my back door.

She wasn’t moving anything but her head, and that only to look up at me with huge black eyes.

Inexperienced and without sufficient life lessons to warn her, she lounged on the uncovered porch in plain view of hawks, cats and me.  She was easy picking for any predator.

Off and on for two hours I peeked out the window to see if she remained.  After a while I became concerned that she might be injured.

And, I knew something she didn’t. I was about to unleash the hounds for their afternoon romp in the backyard.

As I watched her through the back door window, I placed my hand on the knob and gave it a jiggle.  She turned her head and looked up at me.

And, blinked.  That’s all she did.  I waved my hand at her and made faces.

She looked away.

I turned the knob and popped the door open two inches.  She showed no excitement, no alarm.  She just sat, relaxed, on her orange feet and watched me.

I opened the wooden door fully and stood in front of the storm door. The dove calmly looked up at me. There was no fear…no cause for alarm that she knew of.

A large part of me wanted to slip out and sit down beside the dove and just bask in her innocence and purity.  But, the wise side of me (yes, there is one, albeit difficult to find at times) knew this dove would not live long if it was not circumspect in its approach to life and knew no fear.

And, so with a sigh, I threw open the storm door and stepped noisily onto the porch – and added fear of humans and of opening doors to her short list of life experiences.

She hesitated only a moment before taking frantic flight on hesitant wings, low and halting across the garden, and then up into the bush at the edge of the yard where she clattered to a halt with heaving chest.

I whispered, “I’m sorry. You must know fear.  It will keep you alive.”

Fear me.

What a sad world it is when you must fear me.

I long for a day when there is no longer a need for fear and no life experience that teaches it.

“Fear me.”

What a sad commentary on the reality of the world we inhabit.

What / whom do you fear?  and, why?

Robin Williams

The death of Robin Williams had a profound affect on me.  I felt I had lost my dad all over again.

Though only 6 years my senior, he seemed a generation older and wiser and funnier.

I suppose it was the movie Popeye that opened my heart to him.  You see, it was there that I first saw my dad in him – a resemblance that only increased as time passed and he grew up and older.

After my dad passed, Robin Williams became a sort of surrogate dad (or big brother who resembled my dad).  Watching him brought my dad to life again as I remembered my dad’s crooked smile and sparkling eyes, his easy laugh and love of people, his enjoyment of a good joke…his funny side as well as his serious….

Watching Robin Williams grow gracefully into his golden years was like watching my dad grow older all over again. He didn’t slow down. He lived more and more into who he was and leaned hard into who he was becoming.  (CNN reports that there are four as of yet unreleased Robin Williams movies.)

Learning that Robin Williams’ death came at his own hands compounded the sorrow of the loss felt. I could only imagine the pain his family and friends felt.

Behind those laughing eyes there was a sadness. And, that sadness created a depth to his characters that made them all the more real – and Robin Williams all the more human.

Why did he take his life? I don’t know.  Why DO funny people commit suicide? Why does anyone?

What would drive you to do so?

Don’t be so quick to say you never would – depression is an odd master that drives one to do things that seem out of character and impossible to believe from the standpoint of one standing on the outside looking in.

Suicide Prevention Hotline.

False Assumption

Friday morning I slipped off to the bank early, intent on getting in and getting out before Friday did what Friday always does…get busy.

The bank opens at 8:30 Mon – Fri.

8:30 near downtown on any day is busy if you’re on one of the main arteries into the city. And, I was.

Banks are notoriously busy on Friday – parking lots and drive-through-banking active as people deposit and make withdrawals at the end of the work week and beginning of the weekend.

Early, just after they open is the time I like to arrive.

And, I did.

As I approached the bank, the clock said it was 8:45 a.m. but the bank looked dark and the parking lot empty.

Hmmm…a quick mental calendar check revealed no know holidays that would close the bank.  Maybe I had been wrong about the opening time.

I wheeled into the parking lot and saw a man standing outside the entrance.  He looked agitated. I parked in front of the door and looked at the times posted on it.  M-Th 8:30 to 4:00 / F 8:30 to 6:00.  I looked at my clock again.

Yep, it was after 8:30.

I glanced around.  In the employee parking area, there were four vehicles. Drive through banking ALL showed red CLOSED signs above the lanes.

The only sign of life I could see was the lone man standing outside the bank entrance.

Odd.

As I debated whether to get out and see if the door was locked (it looked DARK inside), the man walked off.  I watched him cross the drive-through lanes and enter the employee parking lot. He stopped at the any time teller.

I opened my car door and stepped out.  I looked around, still unsure about what was going on or what I might find within the bank…if I could get into the bank.

As I approached the doors, I could see that they were not locked. With a gentle tug on the first door and gentle pressure on the second, the doors swung open and I entered the lobby of the bank. It was dark within – only a few lights lit the area that contained the tellers, and reflected off of the thick glass that separated them from me.

“Hi!” I called out as I entered.  “I wasn’t sure you were open,” I said as I made my way across the lobby, my eyes sweeping, searching, looking for anything out of the norm.

Two tellers were behind the glass.  One motioned me forward with a smile.

Ah, a smile.

“Yes! We’re open – at least for the most part.  As you can see most of our lighting is out, our drive-through-banking is out, and our a/c is out as well.  But, we’re open!” she said.

About that time, the man I’d seen outside came inside.  Apparently he’d seen me enter and had followed me into the bank.

“Hey! Did you know your outside teller isn’t working?” he asked.

The two tellers behind the glass looked at one another and the one who had spoken to me added with a shrug, “And, it looks like our anytime teller is also out as well.”

No one knew what had happened to cause the outages. And, it seemed no one knew what to do about it.  And, the fact that it was Friday didn’t seem to upset them in the least.  The important thing was that they had access to the vault, the computers inside were working and they were open for business.

Open for business.

That was something the man I’d seen waiting outside the entrance didn’t know – hadn’t discovered until I had placed my hand on the door and found it unlocked.

Things were not as they appeared and a false assumption led this man to wrong belief and faulty actions. He took things at face value. The bank appeared to be closed but he had not tried the door to see.

How often do we do that?

We make decisions based on assumptions without even checking to see if the door is unlocked.  Chances are, if we will place our hand on the door and apply a little pressure, or give it a little tug, the door will swing open.

Don’t stand around outside, waiting to go in…hoping someone will come along and unlock that which separates you from what you want/need. Chances are, that door is already unlocked.  Give it a try.  You just might be surprised.

Things are not always what they appear and our assumptions and fears can keep us from accomplishing great things.

Put your hand on the door and give it a pull.  If it doesn’t respond, give it a push.  And, if you find the door is locked – knock like you mean it.

Standing around outside gets you nothing.  I’ve no idea how long the man had been standing outside the unlocked door, but I do know he stood there for a full 5 minutes after I parked in front of the door.

How do I know?  Because that’s how long I sat there and watched him…waiting and wondering if I should get out and give the door a try.  And, I’ll admit…I almost drove off without checking.