Saturday, April 21, 2012

Do You Know This Dog???

So apparently, while I wait for my life in Alaska to become clear to new job in the meantime is "puppy rescuer."  A week or two ago I saw on Facebook a post from Death Row Dogs of a gorgeous little Husky girl in a shelter in Brooklyn who was going to be put to death the next day. I spent HOURS and HOURS for the next 24 hours, trying to rescue her. No good explanation as to why she jumped into my life as a necessity- she was just little, and pretty and I didn't want her to be put to sleep. Her face just went immediately to my heart. To make a very long story short, she was, thankfully, reclaimed by her owners in time. Well, must be that started something. Because Thursday night, I was sitting here on the couch, running through the day's Facebook postings (hmmm, see a connection there? Maybe I should just get off Facebook!), and I see this dog below, who is currently a "lost dog." Well, again, to make a long story short, I "rescued" her - with the plan to foster her temporarily until her owners can be found. I have literally done my best to honestly find the real owners, lest you accuse me (as all my friends have) of planning all along to keep her. I'm really not planning to. I don't need 5 dogs. BUT, she's beautiful. She's an Australian Shepherd, and she is SOOO tiny. She's adorable, soft, and SO good natured. She never ever barks, is house trained, is calm, and best of all, she's a snuggler. She has slept on my bed for the past two nights, and I've gone to sleep holding her paw both nights. She follows you all around the house, always wanting to be where you are. If you're peeling potatoes into the garbage can, she stands on her hind legs, front paws on the garbage can, watching you. If you go the bathroom, she goes with you, and lays at your feet. As I type this, she is two inches away from my feet on the living room floor. She loves riding in cars, and follows you out the door if you go. I did have to draw the line at getting into the shower with me, as she would have happily done, but I really didn't think that was best for either of us today.
She is a very, very tiny little copy of my Border Collie, Bramble. I thought, in fact, when I went to pick her up that she WAS a Border Collie. But she has more brown in her, and different fur,different ears and a very different tail. She's definitely an Aussie, and I can't believe someone is not missing her. I have contacted all the Dog Control Officers around here, the Humane Societies, have had friends from different areas repost on their FB pages, have posted her picture in two different On line County Garage Sale pages that TONS of people from my county and the nearby counties use. I don't know what else to do. I feel good about all that I've tried. I honestly have. I'm taking her to my vet Monday to see if possibly she has been microchipped, and I'm contacting a radio station Monday that lists lost and found animals.
That's not what worries me. What worries me is there are a number of people who have already volunteered to give her a home if her owners can't be found. It's one thing to give her back to people she belongs to. It's another to give her up to someone else... why them, why NOT me? But so far, I'm still committed to NOT keeping her. No matter how sweet and snuggly she is. Sigh.

The new little puppy is the one closest to the bottom of the picture. Bramble is farther away, guarding her bones. Don't they look like twins from this angle? She is SO much like Bramble, See the heart shaped white patch on Bramble's head? This little girl has an almost identical one on her head too.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's Time for a Change

     It's time in my life for a change. 
I feel it is time for a BIG change.  I am a believer in the premise that if you want something to happen in your life, REALLY are SURE you want it to happen, you have to MAKE it happen. You have to sign yourself up to BE THERE for the opportunities to make it happen. You have to take some risks, put yourself out there, take some chances, gamble a little, be willing to do things that many people think are crazy. 
Early on in my life, say for the first 30-35 years of it, I was not a gambler. I preferred the sure thing, the known, even if it was less, to the unknown, even if it might have been more. No more. That person is SO gone I don't even really remember WHY I was that way. No, wait, I do. But, maybe, it's a longer, more convoluted reason, or set of reasons, as to why I've changed. I don't think it really matters. I know the reasons. I understand them. And so, I'm not really frightened to wake up at age 49 and realize I'm just not the same person I was at 20, or 25, or even 30. I LIKE who I am. I LIKE who I've become. I have a long ways to go still, but I'm excited to get started.  I'm trying hard not to be selfish, or to look at my own needs as selfish. I have been anything BUT selfish for the past 25 years. There are still those who will see me, or hear my ideas, as selfish. That's ok. I'm mostly just avoiding them. I'm seeking out the few people who DO understand, who cheer me on, who "get it," and who are willing to say, "It's time for YOU."  
Alaska is calling... I'm answering, in May, for two full weeks. I'm excited about that. What's beyond those two weeks there for me, I don't know. Lots of question marks.  But I can tell you the questions, can state them VERY clearly, if you'd care to ask, care to listen, care about me. If not, please don't be offended if I just avoid you a bit for now. I just don't have enough energy to carry my thoughts in too many more directions right now than they already are.   I hope I come home with clothes full of dog hair, a rejuvenated heart from so much sled dog love and never enogh sloppy doggie kisses, and a clearer direction for my future. I hope I come home with answers. A friend of mine has assured me that I will be coming home with more questions. I don't know if he means more questions than I already have now, or simply more questions than answers. Either way, it doesn't matter. Either way, it will be a good thing. I need a change. In 30 days, 4 weeks from Saturday, one of the best things that has ever happened to me, one of the best things I have ever drawn to me, one of the best opportunities I have ever had, will begin. I'm grateful for that. I'm excited. I can't WAIT. 

Yashi-No-Mi = Coconut

Sweet Miyuki
Kristin's Team, earlier this winter/spring

 Fireweed - the flower that calls my heart to come home.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Another Life Too Soon Gone

     As usual, I turn to writing when I just need a place to vent, a place to put down in words the things I don't understand, in the hopes of turning them around. Words for me are my Rubik's cube, I guess - if I turn them over and over, around and around, perhaps I'll solve the puzzle. And at the moment, there are many puzzles on my plate. I realized today it's probably time to start working through them, so they don't suck me under, and the best place to start is the one on top. I'll work my way down through the layers of them, and hopefully emerge a bit more enlightened when I finish then I am now.
     A week's vacation, the last of this school year, just ended yesterday.  Would have been a nice one, nothing too pressing to do, some reading done (finished Cutting for Stone - REALLY good book, and began two more), some sewing done (gorgeous soft flannel baby quiltin blues, greens and buttery yellows nearly done, will post a picture when completely finished), and just some general hanging out with the dogs time, which I always like best. But, unfortunately, we were hit with another teen suicide from our school on Sunday evening, Easter Sunday evening, and with that 8 am call on Monday morning, the rest of the week was not, could not be,  the same. It was not only an 8th grade student from our tiny little school, but it was also the son of our school nurse, and she is everyone's favorite. Matt was 13.
     I think the hardest part of this one, besides the fact that he was so young, and besides the fact that it is the second one THIS SCHOOL YEAR in our tiny little school, is that there is just no explanation for it that can be seen. He was not bullied. He had many friends, good friends. He did not have a bad home life. Sure, he had the typically "difficult" life many kids do these days - parents were divorced, and both remarried, and there were many step and half siblings, but he seemed to have good relationships with all of them, and extended family, as well. Mom had grounded him for posting some things on Facebook that she had previously asked him not to. She also had taken away his phone and was removing FB from his phone Sunday evening, and was then going to give it back to him. His dad and step-mom had just left for a vacation, but did not take Matt or his brother. And a girlfriend had broken up with him. But, at 13, this was not an in-depth, lifelong relationship - which is not to minimize his feelings, and yet, it's also not a good enough excuse for killing yourself.  Both Matt and his brother were adopted at birth, and I do know birth mom, at least, had some bi-polar issues. I also heard today that his brother had been able to establish a relationship with his birth parents, and Matt had not, and that was bothing him. Who knows. We look for answers, for reasons, for explanations, and there simply are none that are rational enough to wrap our brains around. There WAS no good reason for this.
     I have come to believe, after three recent and close suicides by kids in the past couple of years, and in talking to a good ADULT friend of mine who was hospitalized for planning to commit suicide back in December, that the only real explanation for anyone of any age who kills themself is simply they are not in their right mind. They CAN"T make a rational decision, they CAN"T think about how it affects those left behind, they CAN"T realize how selfish it is, they usually CAN"T even ask for help. Some are lucky enough to get it -  help -  before they truly do pull the trigger, but some don't. I wonder if Matt didn't really MEAN to pull the trigger. I wonder if he was just playing around. I wonder if he meant to pull the trigger, but didn't have any real concept of the finality of death.  I mean, after all, on Grand Theft Auto, and all the other video games kids play, you kill someone, blood spurts out, and five seconds later, they get a new life, and the game goes on. Do kids really think that is how real life is?  Also, there is a noted connection between anti-depressants and a higher suicide rate - I think Matt was on medication. I don't know if it was newly prescribed or not. I do know my friend had JUST started on an anti-depressant in December, and I honestly think, for him, it HAD to be connected.  But, I guess the bottom line is, when they're gone, if they don't leave a note, then there simply is nothing to go on but guesses. It's hard to really accept that, but eventually my brain gets tired of trying to FORCE a rational explanation out of the unexplicable, and gives up.
     The saddest thing though was today's return to school, after the week off we've had. There was nothing. Nothing out of the ordinary to distinguish today from the day before break when Matt was still alive. No acknowledgement that there was a life, and now there is not. They did call the 8th grade class together first period to talk about it, but there was NO mention from the administration to faculty, and not a single one of my motor-mouth kids even mentioned it to me today. Odd, considering that he is only two years older than them, and when our other student committed suicide back in September, he was a Junior, and my kids had PLENTY to say then. But that was on a school night, and so the reaction was knee-jerk, next day type of thing.
     So, I'm thinking this, too: kids, don't think your death is going to impact all your friends and the community nearly as much as you'd like it to, or nearly as much as you hope, or even imagine it might. Because hey,as a school (from the administration's point of view, at least, not my own...)  we have high stakes State testing that takes priority beginning tomorrow, and we wouldn't want to lose our focus on that, now, would we? And hey, it was a week ago, and a lot happened to your friends over break - they went to movies, they went on vacations, and had friends over and went fishing, etc. A lot happened. You? Your death? It was a drop in the bucket of their young lives. They felt sad for a moment, a day, a few days, and then,THEIR lives went on... without you in them. Forever. NEVER to be a part of them again.  Never, Matt. It's permanent. Did you get that? Did you understand that? Did you really MEAN to make that decision? It was SO impulsive, SO sudden, so not thought out, so not seen at ALL.
     I feel sad, and frustrated. And I hurt, as any mother would hurt, for my friend - how does SHE live the rest of her life without her son? How does she make her half hour drive to work without him? His brother attends the school in town where they live; Matt chose to come with his mom to our school. Now, she's supposed to make that drive alone? That's unbearable to even think about. And she's the school nurse. She works in an office. She isn't busy teaching many periods a day to keep her mind off things. She is in an office, with plenty -  too much -  down time during the day to sit and think, to expect, when the bell rings, that Matt will be popping in to get lunch money, or steal a juice out of the frig, or just harass her, for fun, as he often did. I just can't imagine her able to come back to work there without him. Honestly, the whole reason I took a job there was to be near my kids. It's the same reason she took a job as a school nurse, instead of working in a hospital or some other place where she could have made a lot more money.  What does or will her future hold now? So many holes.
     All I keep thinking about, stupidly, is the refrain from the old M*A*S*H* theme song, "Suicide is Painless."  Nothing could be further from the truth. There just is nothing painless about suicide for anyone.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Life is just too Noisy

"They told Samuel about the chaos of towns that they'd escaped. There were noises - hammers clanging at blacksmith forges, chickens clucking, dogs barking, cows lowing, horses whinying and whickering, people who always seem to need to be talking to one another.
There wasn't noise in the forest.
There were smells: woodsmoke filled the air in every season because it wasn't just for heat,but to cook as well;the smell of oak for long fires, pine for short and hot and fast fires.  The smell of bread and... the odor of stew cooking in the cast-iron pot over an outside fire or in an iron kettle hung in the fireplace, the scent flying up through the chimney and out over the ground as the wind moved the smoke around."  Woods Runner  Gary Paulsen

     I didn't get any farther in this book that the above quote, 5 pages in, and I had to stop reading to think about it. The words are meaningful to me. It reminds me of just how loud and noisy everything in my world is. All the time.  And how much I hate noise. I have become terribly noise-sensitive the older I get, but I know it isn't just an age-thing. And I know that I am hyper-sensitive, but that doesn't really help, either, just the knowing. I just appreciate silence so much more than noise of almost any kind.  It's also funny that those noises which Samuel's parents found chaotic, back in the middle 1700's, the noises of animals and blacksmiths, specifically, are noises that I could easily live with today. It's the noises of cell phones, ipods, radios and tv's blaring constantly ANY place you go - stores, doctors' offices, restaurants, malls, almost anywhere, that I just can't handle. Even my own house is noisier than it needs to be. It seems that the TV is always on (not by my choice) and that, in addition to that as background noise, then we add layers on top of that - youtube videos on the computer, talking on the phone or the ringing phone being ignored, and talking, talking, talking, sometimes, many times, more than one person at a time. I love the rare weekend at my house when everyone else is gone - and the TV and radio remain off the entire weekend, and the only noise is that from the world outside my front door  (well that and 4 barking dogs, which also can get annoying in a short amount of time, but them I can send out in the back yard to play and cease the majority of their shrill yipping at a stray dog or cat they've spied through the front windows of the house).
     I just don't understand our obsession with noise. I don't understand why more people don't appreciate, if not silence, then at least quiet. I don't understand why so many people feel the need to just talk, nonstop, all the time. I literally have a very short attention span for listening to people talk - unless it is a quiet, one on one type of meaningful conversation. People who want to read you their latest "tweets" or their entire cell phone text conversation with another friend, I just don't have the ability to listen politely to, and feign interest. It's not because I'm not interested in that person, just that my capacity for what my brain deems "meaningless" noise grows less and less every day. I guess I try hard to just "tune out."
     I don't just LIKE quiet - I CRAVE it. I need it. It's essential to my well being. Probably even more so after having to spend 7+ hours every day in a very noisy school with very noisy children. I day dream all the time about a cabin in the woods, a cabin without electricity. A cabin that is just simply peaceful and quiet. I would love to wake to, and go to sleep to, nothing more than the croak of ravens playing in among the pines, and dogs barking outside and those chickens clucking as they scratch in the dirt, looking for their breakfast. 
     And the smell of woodsmoke is also integral to my dreams - scents of things wake my emotions and imagination faster than sounds or sights always. And the scent of woodsmoke, especially that carried on a cooling breeze, or a brisk wind, outside, reminds me of so much that is, and has always been important to me. Home, friends, family, simplicity, guitars, warmth, silence, simplicity. Woodsmoke and silence just naturally go hand in hand. I hope I"m headed their direction, because this world I live in now is just too noisy for me.

Happy Easter

Saw this on facebook, and really liked it. Happy Easter everyone.

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Mrs. P, What's Adultery?"

So, it's "TEST TIME" in NYS. Ugh. This has become the place I've NEVER wanted to be and always swore I would NEVER be - "teaching to the test."  Why and how that has happened is food for thought for another day (and involves lots of stupid acronyms like APPR, SLO's, etc.)  I have 4 days of school this week, then Friday and all next week off for Easter/Spring vacation. Then, we go back to school on Monday, April 16th, and WHAM .......Tues through Thurs that week STATE TESTING begins. Whoo hoo. Not. Yeah, the kids will do fantastically well after a 10 day break.  Not.  So, on Friday, in an almost-last-ditch effort to cover a few mundane topics that we haven't yet, I had planned to teach, OVERTLY, the skill of "inferencing."  I had this great little worksheet that would help us out all printed out, pulled from a teaching website I use frequently. Apparently, in my old, grey-haired years, I forgot RULE #1 of teaching 101 - "Never give the students ANYTHING you have not read thoroughly yourself."  (That goes, hand in hand, by the way, with "NEVER SHOW A MOVIE, or READ A BOOK WITH A CLASS that you haven't seen or read AHEAD of time!!!")  So, I photocopy 60 copies of this nifty little worksheet on Inferencing.   Take it to my 6th grade class across the hall. LUCKILY, someone up there is looking out for me......   instead of handing it out, directly, and going through it, as I had planned, I had to wait for that teacher to do a small mini-lesson herself on how to inference. As I was waiting, I happened to glance through the 4 examples listed on my worksheet, since I hadn't, you know, actually READ it all ahead of time. OMG!!!  I got to the 4th example and almost passed out - THIS, BELOW, is what I was about to give my 11 year olds to read and discuss: 

Ruby sat on the bed she shared with her husband holding a hairclip.  There was something mysterious and powerful about the cheaply manufactured neon clip that she was fondling in her newly suspicious palms.  She didn’t recognize the hairclip.  It was too big to be their daughter’s, and Ruby was sure that it wasn’t hers.  She hadn’t had friends over in weeks but here was this hairclip, little and green with a few long black hair strands caught in it.  Ruby ran her fingers through her own blonde hair.  She had just been vacuuming when she noticed this small, bright green object under the bed.  Now their life would never be the same.  She would wait here until Mike returned home.

8.  Why is Ruby so affected by the hairclip? _______________________________________________

What in the text supports your idea?

9.  How has the hairclip affected Ruby’s relationship? _______________________________________

Oh yeah, hell yeah, I TOTALLY want to teach my 10 and 11 year olds about ADULTERY. WTH??? Why was this even ON a teacher website?  Thank you GOD for that 10 minute pass that allowed me to change my plans MIDSTREAM. Hey, I'm a teacher. I'm nothing, if not totally flexible!!!