Recycling Giggles

The sign on the big, tall recycle bin into which we toss our recyclable trash says: Do not use for yard waste.

I think I now know why.

Upon first read, I assumed it was because some people might mistakenly fill it and place it at the road for the city to collect their leaves and grass clippings.

While I’m sure that has a lot to do with the edict, I have a feeling there’s more to it.

Here’s a clue:  If I say “recycle bin” my daughter erupts in a fit of giggles.

You see, I broke the recycle bin rule and used it for the collection of yard waste.

My next door neighbor has a large pine tree in his yard and offered me his fallen pine needles.  All I needed to do was collect them.

And, what better way to collect them but with a large, wheeled, light weight container?  The recycle bin was perfect.

So, I grabbed mine, freshly emptied by Metro, and headed across the yard, through the hedges, and into his front gate.

A rake stood against the old pine tree and I set about my task.  He had already created several piles of pine straw so the work went quickly at first.

I tipped the tall recycle bin onto its front with the lid flipped over its back and began to rake straw into it.  When I could rake no more into it without packing it down, I grabbed the handle (which was under the opened lid) and began to lift the bin into an upright position so I could continue to load it from the top.

Simple enough, or so it would seem.  The problem was the large lid that attaches to the handle.  Instead of flipping it closed, I allowed it to remain open. (Big mistake.)

As I pulled the bin upright, the large lid flipped outward onto the ground and I stepped on it.

I’ve yet to figure out the exact steps that caused what happened next.  And, no.  I’ve not tried to duplicate it apart from in my mind.

As I pulled the bin upright, my right foot stepped on the lid.  The weight of my body on the lid pulled the bin slightly sideways and off balance which threw me off balance as well. And, somehow, in attempting to keep the bin upright and myself from falling, I ended up headfirst in the bin which caused the bin to topple over onto its other side.

Exiting the bin a bit slower than I entered it, I brushed myself off and examined my stinging right shoulder and aching left pinkie finger.  My left forearm felt a bit odd, as did my wrist, but neither showed indication of injury. My pride, however, smarted a great deal and I looked around to see who might have witnessed my tumble.

The pine straw in the bin had cushioned my fall and become compacted to about a foot in depth by my jarring impact.  I quickly set about work and had the recycle bin full and ready to drag across my neighbor’s front yard, out his gate, down his drive, up the street, into my drive and across my yard to the backyard where I would dump it. (Was a far shorter journey when I could lift it over the hedges that border our yards.)

The problem was the little tan Chihuahua named Rose.  She was intent on accompanying me through the gate.

As I was pondering what to do and how to do it, I received a text from Daughter saying she was heading home from the zoo.

Problem solved.  I would just wait 15 minutes for her to arrive home and ask her to occupy Rose in play while I slipped out the gate with the recycle bin.

And, that’s what happened.

I had no intention of sharing my recycle bin fiasco with anyone, but when Daughter offered to hang around while I finished up the work of loading and transporting the bin twice more….

Well, sometimes things come up and out in casual conversation that you intended to keep private.

Such was the case here.

Of course, the telling of my debacle delighted Daughter.

And, every time she hears the words “recycle bin” she giggles uncontrollably.

Personally, I don’t see what’s so funny about it. 😉

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Wiggle Room

There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to acknowledging another person’s beliefs, thoughts, way of living.

I thought for a while this was true only within the ranks of conservative groups. Not so.

Don’t believe me? Log into your Facebook page and scroll through the pages of your friends (or read your own posts).

Those who think differently are often looked down on, judged, and labeled as heretics, fools, and just plain wrong.

There’s no wiggle room and little room for meaningful discussion.  Someone always has to be right.

And, before you point a finger at me or this post, take a moment and think of why you’re pointing the finger.  It’s because you’re certain YOU are the one who is right.

I read what people write and listen to what they say. People speak (either in written form or verbal) for a reason – to give expression to something within.  And, that something within involves their belief system, thought process, past experiences, and future hopes and dreams.

If my experiences and understanding lead me to believe other than you do, does that make me wrong?

If I hold conservative views and take a narrow line (or embrace liberal views and draw no line) – and you don’t, why am I automatically the one who’s wrong?  Am I not entitled to my opinion…my belief?  What happened to freedom of speech…of religion?

If I choose to set boundaries, or set none at all, why does that offend and anger you? I respect you and your decisions.  Why can’t you respect me and mine?

Why can’t we just be friends…family?

Must we disagree?  I’m open to hearing your side.  Why are you closed to understanding mine?

And, why denigrate me for what I believe?

“Hypocrite” – that word flies both ways, you know.

You are opposed.  I am open.  But, you probably see things opposite.

Must it always be EITHER / OR? Can’t it sometimes just be AND?

Did you just call me liberal?

See what I mean? We’re quick to judge and slow to understand.  We close doors when we should be opening conversations.

I’ve learned to leave a little wiggle room.  And, as a result, I’m growing – evolving – expanding – becoming.  My views change as my understanding is enriched and my belief deepens.

We need a little wiggle room – but in all honestly, it’s probably good we don’t have any.  We’d probably use it to settle ourselves more firmly in our position and set up defenses all around….

More walls. More barriers. More closed minds.

Pope Francis Asks 10 Things of Vatican Employees

– “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”

 

– “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”

 

– “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”

 

– “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”

 

– “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”

 

– “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”

 

– “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.”

 

– “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”

 

– “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”   Catholic News Service Blog

Momma’s Cooking

It’s positioned on the ceiling, right outside the kitchen door that leads into our home office.

White, round, unmoving, and silent – it appears innocuous and one could easily overlook it because it blends into the white ceiling on which it’s attached.

When I sit at my computer, I am below and about 18 inches to the left of it. I usually pay it no mind.

Usually.

Occasionally, when I’m cooking, it announces its presence in shrill, demanding tones that set my heart pounding and me to action.

My first response is to clap my hands over my ears and vacate the room.  My second is to flip on the fan above the stove.  My third is to grab a dishtowel and wave it at the noisy intrusion until it stops screaming.

“What’s going on?” is a question that’s been asked many times (by Hubby, neighbors, relatives) as the smoke detector screeched its alert. And, it was/is usually answered by my children with two simple words.

“Momma’s cooking.”

Deceptively Warm

Last night was forecast to be quite low, temperature wise.  Teen temps with single digit wind chills were mentioned.  One does what one can to prepare for such in the South and then you hunker down, stay warm and hope for the best.

At 6:30 a.m. I peeked out the front door.  There was no frost.  None.  Notta.  The rooftops were clear, grass was brown and cars showed no indication of frostiness.

I opened the door and felt a rush of cold air hit me – cold but not so cold that it took my breath away.

Curious about how things in the unheated garage fared, I slipped on flip flops and threw on a jacket.

The back door opened easily, but the storm door was a solid sheet of ice.  The handle was frozen…had to break it loose to open the door.  “Odd,” I thought since the icing was on the INSIDE of the door and not the outside.

Outside I slipped and as I did so I checked the storm door handle to make sure I would be able to regain entry once finished in the garage.

It was a quick walk from the kitchen door to the garage door.  I passed the garden, now dead and in need of a quick burial.  I slipped under a trailing rosebush and as I swept a cane away noticed how odd it looked (plastic like) and how it felt (frozen). The ground beneath me felt hard.  There was no spring or bounce to my step.

Odd.  Especially so since it didn’t feel all that cold.

The garage door opened easily and I slipped inside, quickly closing the door behind me.  It felt warm within – or warmer than it had outside.  The two light bulbs I’d set to burn were still blazing and the plants looked quite different than those outside.  I breathed a sigh of relief and turned the dryer on for good measure.  A little added heat couldn’t hurt.

Back outside I went and there I stood for a moment.  It felt deceptively warm – dangerously so.  My hands and feet were exposed and neither felt any degree of discomfort.  No chill swept over me. The sun, not yet fully up, gave little warmth and there was no breeze to stir the cold air.

Why didn’t I feel cold?  At 20°F, in a light jacket and old sweat pants, with bare feet and hands, I should have felt cold.

But, I didn’t.  And, the longer I stood there, the more comfortable I became.

The cold should have triggered a primal survival response.  I should have felt the biting sting of the cold on my nose, toes and finger tips.  I should have shivered and quivered and been eager to regain the warmth of my house.  Instead of standing barefoot in the cold, I should have been driven to find warmth.

But, I wasn’t.

When you’re comfortable, there’s no drive to change anything.  When everything feels fine, there’s no realization that something is amiss and in those moments of disconnect harm can befall us.  Deceptively warm situations, people, opportunities, directions…they don’t cause alarm.  They feel right, safe…comfortable.

Deceptively warm – what dangerous situations have you allowed yourself to become comfortable in? What turned off the alarms in your mind, your body?  What silenced that fight or flight response to survive? Why so numb to the truth of the situation and ignorant of the damage it’s doing you?

Why? That’s the question I’m asking myself and you should ask yourself.

Why do I put myself in harm’s way and linger there oblivious to the fact that it’s hurting me.  The facts are plain to see.  The forecast is clear.  No good can come of it.  It makes no sense judge by how it feels when the facts scream for us to take steps to protect ourselves and remove ourselves from the deceptively warm situation.

As I type this, I do so with numb fingertips.  Their blanched tips are once again pink. My toes, however, are still white and though quite cold to touch, feel comfortably, deceptively warm.

Why did I stand out in the cold, unprotected and exposed?  I knew the danger of feeling deceptively warm.

Why did I remain in a situation hostile to life and limb and partake in action smacking of poor judgement and lack of forethought?

Four words reveal my state of mind: inapplicable, impervious, immune, invincible.

Why do you?

Yellow Jacket

I was minding my own business.  Truly, I was.

While seated on the swing, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine, totally oblivious to any danger…I was assaulted. POW…just like that.

The yellow jacket popped me before I realized it was on me.

At first I wasn’t sure what had happened.  As I straightened my leg I felt an odd twinge at the back of my calf and then white hot burning pain.  I looked up to see the offender flying away from me.

I grabbed my calf – the pain was intense and spreading in shock waves down my leg – electric like shock waves, white hot, burning pain.  A quick look at the back of my calf revealed a raised area, white in color, and within the center of it a bright red circle.

To the kitchen I hobbled for a zip top bag full of ice – then to the bathroom for an antihistamine capsule.

Twice this year I’d been stung by red wasps.  They hurt.  Wow, did they hurt.  But, the pain from them was nothing compared to the pain that Yellow Jacket’s sting delivered.  And, the reaction my body had to the venom, unparallelled.

I was stung at 4:15 yesterday afternoon and when I went to bed last night at 11 my calf was still painful, my lower leg swollen, and flashes of hot pain were still streaking down my leg.

This morning at 5 a.m. I woke to muscle cramps in that calf…. The muscles directly below the sting knotted up and I could not make them stop cramping.  Nothing I tried helped.  When I rose at 6:30 a.m. I could not straighten my left leg and so I hobbled about.

As I sit typing this at 7:18 a.m., my calf muscles throb with pain and the slightest movement of my foot or leg threaten to knot them up again.  Massage is not an option. The muscles are too sore to touch.  And, I am still unable to straighten my leg fully.

The skin around the sting site is red, warm, and elevated for three inches in all directions.  The sting site itself is hard and about the size of two quarters placed side by side, swollen, sore, and incredibly itchy.

As much as I dislike killing anything, I think I will go on the offense whenever I see a Yellow Jacket.  It’s kill or be killed.

They offer no warning.  They don’t buzz, face you down, or drive you away.  They don’t wait for provocation. They just light on you, sting you and fly away to sting again another day.

And, if you are the unlucky one to stumble upon their hive and disturb them…they chase you.  They sting you.  Multiple times.

Yellow Jackets, take notice.  My defense was down and one of your kind slipped in and attacked me.  I won’t make that mistake again.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  For now on, the only good Yellow Jacket is a dead one.

No forgiveness.  No grace. No mercy. It’s an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. You crossed the line and I’m going to get you and your family.

Venom is that way you know. It’s a destroyer.  You filled me with your venom and now I’m out for vengeance.

Desist and Know

Today dawned dark.  Thick clouds obscured the sun.

At 8 a.m., darkness grew greater as a storm rode in.  Rumbling, grumbling thunder announced its approach and darker still it grew until it became so dark that I could barely see into my back yard.

It was no better in the house. With lights off, the darkness within bespoke the darkness without.

Nothing stirred, within or without.  Not a breath of breeze.

Quiet.  All still in the gathering darkness.

And, then it hit.  A torrent of rain, pounding the roof and blinding what sight I did have into the world beyond my window, blurred my vision as it cascaded down the window pane.

Flashes of lightning lit the clouds.  Flickering menaces of electrical madness back lit clouds in colors pink, green, blue and yellow.

Thunder boomed and crashed about me as wind whipped the tree tops in a furry that threatened to strip them of leaves.

Flicker, flicker, flicker, FLASH, rumble, grumble, flash, flicker, flicker, FLASH/BOOM, rumble, rumble, GRUMBLE.

The constant patter of raindrops on the window and the rushing sound of heavy rain lulled my senses and calmed me.

Thunder punctuated my thoughts as I opened myself to the storm and the wonders of it.  The beauty of the storm amazed me.

And, then it was gone.  Silence fell hard upon my ears in the quietness after the storm.

I stepped to the door and peeked out.  The fresh scent of rain filled me and I inhaled deeply, enjoying the sweet smell of wet earth.

Not a leaf stirred, so still it was after the storm.

For several minutes I stood in the silence.

And, then I heard the sound of rain coming across the roof tops to the west of me.  Gentle at first, then becoming harder…louder…until it filled me with the roar of falling water.

Thunder grumbled once again and I sighed.

Ahhh.

The tension I’d felt earlier had left me with a stillness…calmness….

I felt relaxed, at ease…peaceful.

Another deep, cleansing breath – then a yawn that further loosed my jumbled nerves and relaxed the tenseness remaining.

Be still and know….

As I sit and type this, rain still patters down, the sky remains dark…so dark that colors are muted shades of brown and gray.  Thunder still grumbles occasionally.  And, I am left amazed by the power given the storm to change so much.

And, as I typed “so much” the rain stopped as though shut off at the faucet. Birds began to sing as I was typing the previous sentence – and are now the only sounds I hear.

Be still and know that I am….

If I were a bird I would be joining in the chorus.  My voice would blend with the Chickadee, Wren, Goldfinch, Cardinal, Sparrow, Grackle…would rise in praise and thanksgiving.

Storms give live and bring renewal.

My spirit was withered and dry, stretched taunt by stress, anxious and tense, knotted and hard.

Be still and know that I am God.

Desist and know God.

Stop the mad struggle. Relax the tension. Lose yourself. Find God.

Awareness of God begins where self awareness ends.

Mewling Revisited

The yowling banshee, orphaned and rescued last week, has become a quiet purr box. His loud mewling cries (unlike any kitten cries I’d ever heard) have been replaced by kitty whispers.

Every four hours, he is prompted to eliminate (young kittens can’t pee or poop without help) and then fed kitten formula from a tiny baby bottle.

Daughter noticed one of his back feet was swollen, so off to the vet she headed with him in tow yesterday.  A round of antibiotics, a dose of worm medicine and a rectal temperature check made for one angry kitten.

Can’t say that I blame him.  The vet confirmed that he’s only 3 weeks old but could only with reasonable assurance confirm that he’s he and not she.

So far, his life experience has been a hard one.  Too small to fight back (though he does try), tiny claws and no teeth to speak of – his only defense is his piteous mewing.

Poor baby.  Who can blame him?

Feed him. Pet him. Warm him. Cuddle him. The reward is a happy purr box wrapped in soft, gray fuzz blinking up at you with blue kitten eyes.

It’s hard not to become attached.  When you take care of something, you become attached to it…feel a responsibility for it…dare I say “love it”? Daughter’s heart has warmed toward him and I gently remind her that he can’t stay with us.

We are fostering him – loving and caring for him and giving him all he needs until he’s adopted by a loving family that will take him in and make him a part of them.

I’m counting down – he’s 3 weeks, going on 4. At 6 to 8 weeks he will be weaned and on solid food. Health issues will be corrected and he should be one healthy, happy kitten.

We can’t keep him.  I repeat this mantra several times daily.

Not so much for myself.  No, I’ve reached the age where my heart has hardened around the edges and I’m no longer the sucker I was for a cute fuzzy face or a mewling cry. I know there are others (somewhere) who can give more than I. Though concerned for his welfare, I don’t feel responsible for going beyond the initial, immediate, necessary steps of preserving life and getting him off to a good start.

I chose life for the kitten. But, I don’t want a cat as a pet – indoors or out. It’s a responsibility I don’t want or need at this stage of my life. My house is too small, my heart too full, my hands too busy with life as I live it.

And, so, we are looking for a home for this cute little guy…. It can’t be just any home, of course.  It must be a family that will take him and love him and keep him safe. He’s a special kitty that’s overcoming odds and hardships. He deserves a special family who can appreciate his whispered mews and desire to cuddle.

So far, we have three people interested.  Of course, I’ve found a reason to question the ability of all three to raise him and care for him properly. One wants to place him outside immediately. The second wants to have him de-clawed and keep him indoors, maybe. And, the third is newly married and what she really wants is a baby, but they aren’t ready for one yet.

There’s still time.  The right family will come along.

Repeat after me. We can’t keep him…we can’t keep him…we can’t keep him….

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.

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?