Sunday, October 25, 2015

Welcome, Piper!

Today was not a normal Sunday.  Weber is still suffering with Shingles and its accompanying tiredness so we did not go to church at 9 this morning.  We also did not have our regular Sunday brunch get together because so many had conflicting schedules today.  That left Weber and me to our own devices this afternoon.  

We had a late and leisurely, let's just say, meal about 1:30.  Though we had breakfast food, it was too late to even qualify as brunch, I think.  As long as we were out, we decided to go to Petsmart to gets some glucosamine for Adidas, a quick in and out.

As usual, right inside the door, there was a local rescue group with dogs and cats that needed forever homes.  Though I have a soft heart, I also have a realistic mind.  I usually glance over at the animals, comment on their cuteness, express my hope that they find loving families, and go along my way.  Again, today was different.  As soon as I walked in the door, my eyes met her eyes.

Resting on a hot pink pillow was this little "fringy" looking dog.  Something about her drew me to her.  As soon as we approached her crate, she came quickly to the front, all five pounds of her wiggling frantically.  The rescue society person said that she must like us because the puppy had been a little reserved thus far.  Someone who is trying to sell you a dress or a car will say just about anything to get you to buy; that is not the case for people looking to find homes for animals.  They are protective and want to make sure that the dogs and cats go to a home that best suits the needs of the animals and the humans.  I asked the basic questions such as age, gender, and probable breed.  I don't know why it mattered; we weren't  in the market for a puppy.  She is a four to five month old probably Jack Russell mix.  Throughout this conversation the wiggles continued and the pawing at the crate door to be let out.  The rescue volunteer asked if we  wanted to hold her.  Yeah, we all know that was a mistake:-). As we were holding her and having one of those ridiculous human-puppy conversations, we heard her story.

The rescue volunteer found this puppy at a Fort Worth shelter.  The volunteer was there to pick up a cat, and, like us, was drawn in by this sweet little face.  I'm not sure how the dog ended up at the shelter in the first place, but we did find out that she had been adopted once, kept for three days, and returned because of allergies in the adoptive family.  When the volunteer got the dog home, she noticed a problem with her back left leg and immediately took her to the vet.  X-rays revealed that this poor little pup's leg had been broken in three spots probably because she had been stepped on.  The treatment options were amputate the leg, perform very expensive surgery that may or may not help, or wait to see how it healed.  The later was chosen.

The odd thing is that based on the x-rays, the injury looked old enough that it occurred before the puppy was initially adopted from the Ft. Worth shelter, and no one seems to have noticed it.  Neither did the family that returned her mention any problems with her leg.  The more I heard about this little girl, the more I felt a connection to her.

Weber and I talked about the reality of a third dog.  We knew there would be no problem with Adidas, our black lab; he is so easy-going.  We were, however, a little  worried about Harley, our terrier mix, because she can be kind of bossy and possessive.  The Petsmart trainer suggested that we bring Harley to the store for a meet and greet.  So, we did.  Harley is only a "big girl" on her own turf.  She is definitely a home body and was fairly nervous out in the world.  She basically ignored the puppy despite the fact that the puppy was trying to get her to play.  That was actually a good sign.  At least she showed no signs of aggression.  

Weber and I and the two dogs sat in the training room together for 30-45 minutes and finally decided that the puppy was meant to be part of our family.  Thus, we had some shopping to do.  We needed a new crate, puppy food, bowls, puppy toys, and of course a Halloween sweater!

Once we paid all of our debts at Petsmart we headed home for the big meet and greet...all three dogs.  It went remarkably well.  They all ran around in the yard together.  

The puppy sometimes uses, sometimes drags, and sometimes lifts her injured leg.  It doesn't slow her down and does not appear to cause her any pain.  Adidas and Harley are still trying to figure out how all this is going to work.  They were quite disappointed that they got their senior fare rather than puppy food for dinner.  Frankie, the cat, is not amused.  Though the puppy has been in a foster home with cats and only looked at Frankie, Frankie has been in hiding in an undisclosed location since we got home.  After about an hour of checking out her new surroundings, the puppy has been sound asleep in someone's lap all evening, but the cat is not convinced that it is safe to come out.  Things will shake down over time.

So, her name...the puppy came with the name Kandy.  Her  name had no particular significance.  The rescue worker gave her that name when she took her to the vet the first time.  At that point the puppy had no name and needed one for her records.  There was a candy bowl sitting on the counter, so that was the name she was given.  Weber, Brooke, and I all agreed that a new name was needed.  Brooke said that Kandy with a "K" sounded like a hooker name.  

We tossed around several different possibilities and I finally settled on Piper, which had also been one of the contenders when little then four pound Harley joined our family.

I am not even going to try to understand the universe on this one.  We have never considered another dog.  I generally have more than enough self-control when it comes to padding by animal adoption sites, and I have always preferred big dogs.  Harley, who about 26 pounds is the smallest dog I have ever had.  Piper probably will only grow to be about 15 pounds.  She is about 5 or 6 now.

I think we need to stick to the normal Sunday routine for awhile - early church, brunch, and an afternoon nap.  No shopping!

I will post some better pictures once there is less wiggling!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Alone With Me

Today was just the day I needed!  It was gray and rainy.  Not cold, but that's okay.  And, I got to stay at home all day!  For most of the day I could hear the falling rain, its rhythm somewhat irregular but comforting nonetheless.  I was up early, made breakfast for Weber, wrote my morning pages, shared a few texts with friends, and then went back to bed for an hour.  The weather encouraged it.  My calendar allowed it.  And, I needed it.  It is not very often that I give myself permission to do this so today was a real gift to myself.

Brooke and I were both home today.  It seems like some days we just pass in the hall, never really having a chance to talk with each other.  As I was baking this afternoon, we had a chance to catch up and also solve many of the world's problems-if only anyone actually listened to us.  We also took care of a few other mundane tasks like thumbing through magazines and discussing the recipes that will make the cut and be included on our Thanksgiving menu.  These are important decisions!  Smoked turkey, roasted root vegetables, dressing, mashed potatoes, bacon sweet potatoes, sweet potato biscuits, and pie...lots of pie!

Once the decisions about food were made, we had a conversation about time and happiness.  We both enjoy being at home reading, or cooking, or writing.  To us, that is the "good life."  Those things are what make us happy.  That is not to say that we don't enjoy going out and having a good time, every now and then; we do,  but we also agreed that a life based solely in the need to be entertained by the external world is not for us.  Each of is content spending time alone.  I am amazed by the number of people who are made terribly uncomfortable by being in their own company.  If you don't want to spend time with you, why would anyone else?

In my solitude I listen to myself.   I talk to myself.  I assess where I am and where I want to be.  I think. I dream.  I worry.  I cry.  I laugh.  I wonder why.  I deconstruct.  I imagine.  I create.  I fill my heart with thoughts of others.  I pray.  And sometimes I just am.  My time alone equips me to be with others.  Without my alone time to to refocus and recharge, I am not a very pleasant person.  It is time to make my mind and heart right within so that I can be with others and be right with them as well.  It is time I desperately need and need and cherish.

Tomorrow is predicted to be another gray and rainy day.  And I am looking forward to it!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lego and Poe

Today's photo brought to you by little energy, little creativity, and little light. (The prompt is spooky background.)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Love Unlocked

Keep your heart open;.
True beauty is felt,  not seen.
Obstacles persist.

KEB 10/21/15

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Let's Talk About Today

My day began early and with the following two posts on Facebook:

1. "The time needs to change.  Getting to school in the dark is just not right."

2. Note to self: Beginning a 7:30 ear training class with harmonic dictation in the minor mode is not a good way to start the day.

And so went my day.  It had an early and rough start, but by my 9:00 class, things were moving along fairly well.  Five classes later, I was done teaching for the day and more than ready to come home.

Weber has been home from school for two days because he has Shingles on his face.  The worry was that it would go to his eye, but thankfully that hasn't happened.  I think that we were fortunate to have caught it relatively early and he started the anti-viral meds before it got too bad.

So how is the best way to spend the afternoon when one of you is exhausted from a long day that started early and the other has Shingles?  Meet with your estate attorney to rewrite your wills, powers of attorney, medical directives, and HIPAA releases. It's no fun, but it is necessary.  Fortunately, we found a great estate attorney who was helpful, efficient,  and had a great personality.  I consider a "hat trick" with an attorney to be pretty darn amazing!  So now its all done and we don't have to think about these things any time soon unless we have some major changes in our world.  Hopefully that won't be for a long while!

One piece of advice that the attorney gave us is to make sure that you have a HIPAA release form.  THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS A MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY!!!  We all think that a medical power of attorney gives us the right to all the medical information related to a loved one.  With the passage of the HIPAA regulations in 2004 (I think) this is no longer true.  The medical power of attorney may give you the right to "pull the plug" perhaps, but you may be making the decision to do so without a complete picture of your loved one's medical condition because you are not listed on their HIPAA form as one who can receive specific details of their medical condition.  Crazy, but true.  I ran in to this with my dad.

When dad was in the hospital the last time, we needed to begin making arrangements with hospice.  Because I did not live close and was not there day in and day out for my dad's treatments, he had not specifically listed me on his forms as one who was privy to all of his medical information.  During his final week when I told him that he needed to do that, he said that that was ridiculous.  Of course they would give me all the information; I was his daughter.  Wrong!  He had to specifically inform them in writing that it was OK.  Doctors risk an expensive fine for each instance in which they violate the HIPAA laws.  Even if you are not ready to write your will, you may want to consider consulting an attorney for at least this one form.

None of us wants to think about estate planning and end of life issues, but it is a lot better to do it before it becomes absolutely necessary.  Doing so is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your family ,and really yourself.

On to happier things...pumpkin bread and a cup of coffee before I go to bed, relatively early for me!

Today;s photo prompt was "repurpose."  At our house, every cardboard box is repurposed as a cat bed.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Simple Things

Ideas flying
Crazy thoughts, faraway dreams.
What will become real?

KEB 10/14/15

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Time Passages

Yesterday marked the year anniversary of my dad's death.  In many ways it feels like just last week rather than last year, making me painfully aware of just how quickly time flies.  When I look back at my posts here as well as my own journaling, I realize that time really is the overarching theme in my life right now, with the majority of my thoughts being about how I spend what time I have.

I am definitely one of those people that lives up to the rule of the more one has to do, the more one gets done.  My personal dilemmas come when considering the list of things that I "have" to get done.  I spend an enormous amount of time on prepping for teaching my classes.  You would think after doing this for thirty years that I would not have to spend much time preparing, but each class is different and requires different things from me.  And, I'd get terribly bored doing the same things over and over again year after year.  Although, if I did that, it may make it feel like time wasn't passing so quickly!  Hmmm...

For the first time,  I am starting to think about what it might be like to retire, not because I don't like what I'm doing, but because there are so many other things that I would like to do and simply don't have the time.  As it is, I function on minimal sleep, which I know is not good for me.  Short of more hours in the day, I just can't do it all.  Then I have to start making choices regarding which of the things I want to do can get done and which ones can''t.  I don't like making these kinds of choices!  As Weber will tell you, it frustrates me and makes me really grouchy.

I trust that the solution to my time issues will come with much serious soul searching.  Everything will be as it should be when it should be.  Hopefully this will happen while I still have time for all the things that at this moment are simmering on the back burner to actually come to a full boil.

Recently, I did take one step toward doing something that I have wanted to do for a long, long time and have kept putting off because of...TIME!

Ever since I took the first semester of music history some thirty five years ago I have been passionately in love with the music of the Renaissance.  Sadly, the clarinet repertoire does not contain any such music:-)  All through graduate school I played recorders and crumhorns in a Renaissance consort and loved every minute of it.  Back then, I had this unrealistic dream of someday learning to play the lute.  That certainly wasn't going to happen while I was getting my theory degrees, or raising two kids, or teaching, or...and the list of reasons goes on as has time.  A few years ago I started thinking that learning to play the classical guitar was a more reasonable and perfectly acceptable alternative to learning to play the lute.  Mostly that thought swam far below the surface of my everyday thoughts, bobbing its head above water only every now and then...until a few weeks ago when it started to do the survival float.  It was right there on the surface all the time.  I have learned never to ignore this kind of nagging thought.  I did some research and ordered a guitar.  It came in on Friday.

I am excited to learn how to play, but I think the important lesson for me here is to return to that state of being a beginner, taking everything slowly and carefully and appreciating every little accomplishment no matter how small.  No longer does everything I do need to be about perfection or even being "good enough."  It is about pursuing lifelong dreams before it is too late.

I have no desire to be a great guitar player.  My goal is to simply be a happy person.

Peacefully playing
One at a time, a few notes.
Harmony will come.

KEB 10/17/15

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fall and Incompetence

After what has seemed like an unnecessarily busy week, I finally had a few minutes to stop and take in what is passing at the moment for fall in Texas.  Though it is still hot, the trees are starting to lose their leaves.  The leaves themselves aren't the beautiful yellows, oranges, golds, and reds like can be seen on the east coast, but if you catch the sun and the brown leaves at just the right time of day, the setting sun helps to give the fallen leaves a bit of color.

Here is another hint of fall.

One of the things that has made this week so stressful is having to deal with agencies and people who seemingly are incapable of doing their jobs.  Let's just say that the Delaware Division of Revenue is totally incompetent.  I got a letter about six weeks ago saying that they were missing one of dad's tax payments for 2014.  I was 100% sure that that was not the case.  I tracked down evidence of the missing check that they had indeed cashed, sent them a letter pointing out the error of their ways and of course included a copy of the check.  This week, I got another letter from them saying that the issue had not yet been resolved.  This time I called and spoke to a reasonably helpful person who told me that they had received my letter and the situation had been corrected.  BUT, she noticed that there seemed to also be a problem with dad's 2013 taxes.  A quarterly payment was missing there too.  What?  I said to the woman that there had been no correspondence about this issue in over a year.  How could there possibly be a problem?  Again, she told me that I would have to produce a check...from 2013, way before my dad even got sick.  WTF!  I was bound and determined to find a copy of that check.

Fortunately, my dad was very organized and methodical in his record keeping.  Sure enough, I found his record of payment and called the financial institution and they are sending me a copy of the check with the Delaware Division of Revenue deposit stamp on the back.

How in the world can the state division of revenue lose two checks from the same person two years in a row?  That is totally unacceptable!  I am not one whose thoughts normally go immediately to seeing the worst possible scenario, but it almost feels like they realized that dad was deceased and were banking (no pun intended) on the fact that I wouldn't be able to produce the necessary documents and would thus have to pay (again) the amount they said was owed.  I wonder how many people have been forced to pay tax bills that they didn't really owe because the tax office "lost" their payments?  

Thank you dad for being so organized!  I was able to find everything that I needed.  I have learned an important lesson from you regarding keeping all those statements and check registers!

Though things are under control now, I was not at all pleased to have to deal with all of this.  My week kind of felt like this chaotic mess of spider webs.

Thankfully it has all ended on a sweet note.

And tomorrow is Friday!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

In Search of Peace

Lately I have found a few moments where my body is still,  but in that physical stillness, my mind continues to race furiously onward.  In fact, my mind seems even busier when my body is still.  This cycle of never being at peace has been tough on me this week.  It seems that for every step that I have taken with the hope that it will bring a little calm, there is a stronger force that pushes me backward and my frantic mental movement continues.  This is not a good place for me to be.  I realize that I am trying to do to many different things, all of which I enjoy, but taken together cause my actions, thoughts, and intentions to be disjunct and unfocused.  Something has got to change.  I'm not sure what, but something...

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thoughts On Time

Time, invisible
Yet touching everything.
It leaves a deep scar.

KEB 10-07-15

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

An Object Lesson

I don't like it when the universe feels the need to teach me a lesson somewhat subversively, but that is exactly what happened today.  For no reason that I can identify, I managed to leave the house this morning without my phone.  I realized this about half way to school.  On most mornings, we could have turned around and run home to get it, but today the traffic was terrible.  Weber would have surely been late for school had we done this, so somewhat reluctantly, I said that I could do without it for today.

This should have been no big deal, right?  Not too long ago, no one carried phones around and the world continued to function.  I know that I don't use my phone for as many things as some; I do still keep a paper calendar.  However, I am more tethered to it than I wish I was.  Just how much so became painfully obvious today.

Here are all the things that ran through my mind today as I made peace with the fact that I would be phone-less
  • What if a student texts me regarding class?  If I don't respond, they will think that I am ignoring them.
  • I won't have my clock.
  • I won't have a metronome.
  • I can't check my email.
  • I can't take roll in class.
  • I won't get the text alert if we have "an incident" on campus.
  • I'll have to walk home without being able to call for help if anything should happen.
  • I won't be able to talk to Weber at lunch.
How ridiculous are all these concerns??  Well, except maybe the one about campus emergency alerts.  I am embarrassed to admit that these were real thoughts for me today.  And to top it all off, this thought also crossed my mind, "Boy am I glad that I don't use Apple Pay at Subway on campus.  At least I can still get a diet coke!"

As it turned out, when I got home and was reunited with my phone, I had had a text from a student saying that he wouldn't be in class and asking for assignments.  He is a student who is never absent and I was a little worried when he was not in class this morning.  I apologized for not responding sooner.  I think I was more concerned about that than he was.  Other than that, I managed just fine.  Today made me think about the fact that I rely too heavily on my phone for way too many things.  I have definitely been left with some food for thought.

Since we missed our midday conversation, Weber and I shared our day after we got home from school 

while we watched the newest resident of our backyard.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Optimistic Tuesday

Despite the fact that we are two weeks into fall according to the calendar, the weather here has not gotten the official word.  Temperatures are in the 90's and the summer annuals are still in full bloom.  The oak tree has dropped a few leaves, so I am being optimistic that sometime soon fall will arive in more than name!

If you are interested, here is the link to today's Tuesday in Texas post on Pixels, Plates, and LOLs.  Tracey and I are sharing on thoughts on morning people vs. night owls.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reflecting on Francis

With prayers for a blessed rememberance of Brother Francis...

What might Francis say to us today?

What Now, Francis?

Waste not
your tears on me.
on what was
or could have been,
maybe should have been.

Save your weeping
for those who live-
the hungry, the thirsty, the cold,
the sick, the beaten down, the longing-
for those who still have breath.

Turn all of your tears to hope
To fuel God's work-
the death of injustice, pain, and suffering-
with joy.

Cry not for me;
I have eternal life in Christ.
Weep only,
as I do,
for God's hurting people on earth.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Apples and Tamales

 Today is Food Friday, which means I spent a good part of the day cooking and taking photographs along the way to post on Pixels, Plates, and LOLs! Click on over for some tasty apple recipes.

I played for a service tonight at the Interfaith Peace Chapel.  It was a Taize service with a celebration of the Transitus of St. Francis.  Both are moving services in their own right, but experiencing them together was exceptionally moving.

After the service, a few of us went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  As we were walking in, I was struck by the shapes, lines, lights, and darks of the pathway leading in.

And yes, I had tamales for dinner.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Where I Work

Today's Capture Your 365 photo prompt is "Where I Work."  I was excited by this prompt because it encouraged me to take photos in a place where I normally am not thinking about my camera.  The sad part here is that it is the place that I have come nearly every work day for the past 23 years and of which I have very few photos.

As I walked in to school this morning, I was thinking about the possibilities for today's photo.  So many aspects of where I work would be worthy of a photo to represent my workplace - my students, my colleagues, the quirky details of my classroom or the music building, or perhaps a bigger picture of our campus.   

My teaching day began at 7:30am.  These were the students that I missed seeing on Tuesday when I was home sick.  Even though they had a test, they asked how I was feeling and we're glad that I was back.  This made for a wonderful start to my day.

I continued through the morning teaching back to back classes - lecturing in some, returning tests in another, and testing again in my last class of the day.  And then I went to lunch.  As I always do, I checked my personal email and Facebook expecting to find my email full of ads and my Facebook feed full of beautiful photos posted by my fellow CY365ers.  Instead, my phone's home screen was filled with news alerts about another mass shooting.  This one in  Oregon.  This one on a community college campus.  Suddenly,  my perspective on where I work changed.

Where I work is on a community college campus much like that of Umpqua Community College, the site of today's shooting rampage.  Every day I stand up in the front of a classroom filled with students just like those who were injured and killed today.  And every day, that scenario that unfolded in Oregon could have just as easily be where I work - in a classroom that I enter each day, without any reservation.

Those students at Umpqua Community College were in only the first week of their fall semester.  A morning and a  semester that for them began full of possibilities, hopes, and dreams ended in a few short minutes.  What could have been, no longer given a chance.  The lives of all those  sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, and lovers who were working to better themselves by gaining an education now, rather than earning a college degree, earn a place in history as ten more innocent people taken by gun violence in this country.  

This is where I work.  In a classroom full of students striving to realize their dreams.  In a classroom where the reality is that those dreams can be shattered far more quickly and easily than they can be realized.  This is where I work.  On a college campus in a state whose legislature has voted to permit the legal possession of guns on our college campuses.   This is where I work.  

This is where I work.  Giving my all to every student with whom I share a classroom.  Hoping that I can play at least a small part in helping to make each of their dreams come true.  Praying that the senseless violence that has struck so many students in so many schools in so many places
 ceases and that none of us has to experience fear in any classroom.  This is where I work.

My heart aches for all of those whose lives are forever changed by the events on the Umpqua Community College campus today.  I pray for this college community, for the family and friends of those who were injured and those who lost their lives, for the students and staff who will return to that campus next week trying to move forward, for all those who enter classrooms around the world every day, for all those who believe that violence is an answer.   This is where I work.