Sunday, May 24, 2009
We waited many years to get a dog at our house. I never grew up with one, but since Ron Burgundy continued with his nightly prayers "God bless Duke, Scampy, the other Scampy, Cookie, Tiger, Becky Paulson....
Becky Paulson?? We need to find another dog for the prayer list and get that old girlfriend out of there.
So along came Buddy, a brand new pup born to my secretary's prize pooch. Beautiful purebred black lab. The cutest little puppy we'd ever seen. It was love at first lick.
We waited a few months to get Buddy feminized. Nobody's leg was safe in the house, and with the kids in high school, his humping was becoming a spectator sport fast.
I called on the local vet, who had been a friend of ours for years. I got the instructions - keep him without food from 10 pm on, and bring him in at 9 am. He'll be ready to pick up at 4.
When I took him in, I said to Dr. Phil (no joke) "So what do you do with those testicles, anyway?"
"We cut them off."
"No, I mean, do you just throw them away?" I'm not sure why I wanted to know. It was the nurse in me, I guess. I didn't want any part of illegal dispositon of body parts, and testicles in particular.
"We can save them for you if you like. Perhaps you'd like some lovely jewelry."
In the back of my mind, I knew Dr. Phil, and I knew he was up to something.
When I picked Buddy up at 4, I was presented with a very dopey dog and a white gauze package. Dr. Phil couldn't wait to see the look on my face.
When I unwrapped the gauze, there they were, in all their glory. Buddy's family jewels. Each one had a jumbo paper clip stuck through the narrow end, making some oh-so-gross earrings!
I laughed until I thought I'd cry. These were special.
I took them home, laid them on the kitchen counter, and couldn't wait to show Ron Burgundy Dr. Phil's handiwork. But alas, it was never to be seen.
Poor Buddy, starving from not having eaten all day, had a nose for raw meat. And after laying sleepily on the floor for an hour, he suddenly jumped up, placed his paws on the kitchen counter (he was a rather large black lab), and promptly grabbed those testicles. I was across the room and leaped toward him, but to no avail.
He was already eating them. I was able to wrestle the paper clips away - he didn't have much interest in them.
The testicles. Were. Gone.
In a panic, I called the vet, but the office was now closed and I got the answering service.
"I don't know what to do! My dog just ate his testicles!"
"Um, yeah, Ma'am, they do like to lick them sometimes, but they won't actually eat them."
"You don't understand...you see, Dr. Phil made me these earrings...." My voice drifted off. This could not be happening. "I'll call him at home. I need to talk to him now," and I hung up the phone.
"PHIL!!!" I screamed in the phone. Buddy just ate his testicles! What should I do??"
"He must be feeling better and he's hungry. I'd feed him if I were you."
Tea tonight: White cantaloupe
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Growing up, it was always the first time my dad spit-polished the boat for the summer and we took off for the river, usually late Friday night so the kids would all sleep in the car. Back in those days, it was a the first hot weekend of the year, but now with all of the global warming and such, it's unseasonably cool.
Pulling up the hill to their summer home in Wisconsin (IRS, if you're reading this, what I really mean is "trailer on the river"), the kids could hardly wait to run out of the car to greet him.
Things never stay the same.
Today we helped pack our boat, counted life jackets, greased wheels, and stocked the coolers. And then we waved good-bye as our baby boy towed that big-a$$ boat to the river with his girlfriend and some guy friends for a weekend of skiing, sunning, and river-ratting. Kids in their twenties, like we used to be. When Dad was there.
Luke will still jump from the truck to greet Gma, just like he did in the days of old. She's alone up there every summer now, but loves it. Every day she appreciates the wonder of God's bluffs, the mighty Mississippi, and the peaceful solitude that comes from a life well-lived and the occasional camaraderie of her Wisconsin church ladies.
Seeing them pull out of the driveway was bittersweet, because things haven't quite been the same at the river since Dad's been gone.
As in no longer sitting on the screened-in porch on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi with his coffee in hand.
No longer putsying with his fishing tackle, getting it all meticulously organized and sorted.
No longer driving up to Falling Rock to pick up a box of worms.
No longer swinging by Starks in Prairie Du Chien for the latest beer deals, and an extra Texas fifth of BV, just in case his daughter wants to start drinking. Sorry to let you down, Dad. I still have the bottle you gave me in 1979.
No longer sitting on the sand bar under the umbrella, slathered in sunscreen, but still getting his freckled skin fried.
No longer stopping at the Paddy Wagon (aka Pete's Hamburgers) for the most greasy, onion-y hunk of heaven he's ever had. "I'll have two, please. With."
So instead of heading to the river for a weekend of Memorial Day boating, we stayed home, mowed, did laundry, cleaned up a tad.
And then I went to see my dad.
He was about as chatty as he ever was.
I hope he likes the flower I put on his headstone.
No, Dad, they aren't "weeds."
Some things do stay the same.
Flowers will always be weeds to Dad, and our God never changes.
And I still miss him, oh so much.
Tea today: Genmaicha
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
When you diapered a little pink butt with cloth diapers and carefully slid the huge pin that had a duck head for a catch, kootchy-kootchy-koo'd your way through church, and played the "airplane" game to get him to eat his beets, you never thought that in only a moment you would be on his arm toward the special seat reserved only for the Mother of the Groom. And that indeed, you had become your mother.
Just like your daughter is becoming a stunning version of her mother.When you baked Chex Mix for his birthday party at Humpty Dumpty Preschool, you never considered that in only a moment you'd be baking obscene amounts of the same recipe for his wedding reception - and that many of the same people there would still be enjoying it.
When his tiny toddler body succumbed to sleep in your arms while cruising on the Mississippi on a Sunday afternoon, you never even gave it a thought that in only a moment he would be held in the arms of his wife.When dad had the "heart-to-heart" with his little boys about treating people nice, that in only a moment would the conversation turn to "what women really want" ...and the attentiveness is priceless, albeit typical.
When you ruffled his little friends' hair, swatted them on their butts, and told them "good job," you had no idea that in only a moment they would all be raising their glasses to toast your son as a new groom. Then they would tell you what a great job you did raising him. Thanks, guys :)
As the fights and tantrums ensued with his brother and sister, you never dreamed that in only a moment they would all be gathered together as proud, teary-eyed, but very happy witnesses to their sibling's sacrament of marriage.When you mediated fist fights between brothers, you never dreamed that in only a moment the baby brother would be eloquently and articulately giving a toast to his older brother in front of hundreds of people in a way that only a grown up could do, bringing their mother to tears. And when the bride's mother would ask the Best Man (surprise!) to say the prayer that has become a Steele family tradition, your heart was overcome:
Baby, too, shall pray
Thank you Heavenly Father
For this family wedding day.
When you got that horrible phone call that there had been an accident, "would you please report to the emergency room?", and everything was indeed all right, in only a moment, those buddies who were in the car and thankfully safe are standing up for your son at his wedding. And yes, that's the ring-bearer, sound asleep in the Iowa Hawkeyes wagon in the front.When you watched him drive away for the first time in the sweet 1983 Grand Prix, his very first car, you never realized that in only a moment, a big blue "special bus" would pull through the doors of the reception hall and announce "Mr. and Mrs. Steele."Yes, I had him for only a moment, and oh how I wish I could replay every single memory.
"You know how much I love you, Mom? I love you more than cutter tractors love trees!"
I never understood what that meant, other than "a lot." He loved everything with wheels, claws, and scoopers. I loved his little lisp. That's gone now, but I'm betting he loves his beautiful bride every bit as much as he ever loved his mama.He belongs to her now, and all I can do is sit back and beam with pride. If this were an arranged marriage, I would have picked Abby in a heartbeat. We're an awful lot alike, so I must have done something right.
And pray that one day I will hear those precious words: "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Tea today: Republic of Tea Green with pink grapefruit
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Thirty short years ago today, my baby girl was born. It was Mother's Day. There could not have been a more beautiful gift for the occasion, and there hasn't been one since. God just couldn't top that one.
She pretty much learned the lessons I tried to teach her, though many were tough sells and learned after she was all moved out. It was God's timing, and some stubbornness on her part.
Give. None of it is ours to keep anyway. It all belongs to Him.
Receive gracefully. People gift you kindnesses out of their hearts. Your appreciation is your gift back.
Forgive. The burden of harboring a grudge is much heavier than the gift of letting go.
Worship. We influenced her on that one, but she seems to have perfected it.
Cry during church. It's the right thing to do. Or at least we keep telling each other that, since it's out of our control.
Never settle. 'Nuf said. (And dorks really do make the best husbands).
Eat your vegetables. She's the dietitian - why do I need to keep telling her that?
Want what you have. It's always enough. And if God doesn't think so, He will provide.
Be a good steward. Time. Money. Talents. All are gifts we are charged with using to honor Him.
Learn to skate backwards. It allows you to see where you've been, but forces you to focus on where you're going and maintain balance. Don't forget the Zamboni in the corner, waiting to blindside you. (Thanks, Katdish).
Life sucks sometimes - get used to it. Our lives will be perfect one day, just not here. "It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out - it's the grain of sand in your shoe."
Trust God's timing. He knows what's best. Thank Him for unanswered prayers.
Wear sunscreen. I didn't slather the kids in SPF-60 for 16 years for them to bolt for the tanning beds at prom time.
Don't say you're fat. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made.
Never, never, never give up. I cross-stitched a tennis towel that she carried all through high school. Those words were soaked with blood, sweat, and tears so many times.
Become your mother. That's not a lesson, but there's nothing either one of us could do about it, so we might as well embrace it.
Don't tell your dad everything. What he understands will be minimal; the remainder will go right over his head. Besides, he's a boy. We all know how they think...or don't. That being said, good luck in finding someone he thinks is good enough for you to marry.
Nothing will ever be as big as the love God has for you, KT. For as big as my love is, it couldn't possibly compare. I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you eternal life.
Happy Birthday, Punkin. I hope you dance.
Tea tonight: Genmaicha
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Whose blog is this, anyway?
It's about a mom who was brokenhearted to see them grow up, but it most certainly would have killed her very quickly if they hadn't.
It's about a mom who was once told she could stop worrying after her child gets married - by someone who didn't know that marriage adds a daughter-in-law to a mom's heartstrings and prayer list.
It's about a mom who struggles more with the heartaches and stresses that befall her kids more than she has ever struggled with her own angst.
It's about a mom who can't walk through a home that has been void of kids for 10 years without thinking of something they said or did and be reduced to tears, but mostly "good" tears.
It's about a mom whose heart races when one of her kid's pictures rings on her cell phone - but always with that tucked-away fear of "I hope nothing's wrong..."
It's about a mom who is so proud of each of her kids because they finally learned from their mistakes, yet knows they will continue to do so.
It's about a mom will never forget about the B's. Dyed blue hair, boobs bitten off Barbie dolls by a brother, brushes with the law, beer bongs, and bashed-in vehicles...but has forgiven it all. Really.
It's about a mom who is so certain of the future happiness of her daughter, that meltdowns are not taken to heart as painfully as they once were. (A "mom is always right" fact).
It's about a mom who loves to hear "How do I ... ?" from one of her kids.
It's about a girl who was blindsided on a Saturday afternoon by a friend who turned out to be exactly the marrying, mom-making kind, so that one kid is like him, one is like her, and one is like both. Three kids. One of each.
It's about a mom who knows these kids have never really been hers, but belong to the Lord. She was just the boss of them for a short time. Sadly, they thought she was joking when she'd tell them that.
He will teach and care for them much better than she could ever have dreamed, as long as their hearts are open to Him and they listen. He will be there for them longer, more consistently, and with much more grace than she ever was or will be. He will forgive more quickly than she did, and of course He will never forget.
And like her, He will always love them unconditionally.
Happy Mother's Day to me!
It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to.
Tea today: Genmaicha
Friday, May 8, 2009
(Turn off my playlist on the left sidebar first or TobyMac might ruin it for you.)
Tea today: Yogi Green with Pomegranate
Then Billy took the bait.
Buckle up, Bloggie friends.
Ron. Raw. Unfiltered.
What is my favorite comfort food?
What RB said: "I can see it but I don’t know what to call it." (eyes squinting, face smooshed up)
Actual answer: Warm whole grain baguette dipped in olive oil, shredded parmesan, and freshly cracked black pepper.
I don’t believe that’s what he saw….we have totally different tastes in food for the most part. And he wouldn't know a baguette if it hit him over the head. I'm sure he was seeing meatloaf.
If money were no object, where would I like to go on vacation?
What RB said:
Actual answer: Oh yeah, in a heartbeat. It's June 22 - July 5, in case you need to book the flight.
How do I feel about housework?
What RB said: "You are the Bree (Desperate Housewives) of
Actual answer: I do love to clean when I have time. But since lately I haven't had a minute to don my apron and sport my feather duster, can you send Bree over?
What is my least favorite household chore?
What RB said: "Cleaning up dog pee"
Actual answer: Cleaning up dog pee and poop and vomit. Let's not sugar-coat these answers lest someone mistakes us for the Cleavers.
What brings me the most joy?
What RB said: "Seeing our kids happy."
Actual answer: Spot on. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3John 1:4
I have a Saturday night with no commitments. How do I spend it?
What RB said: "Go out to eat at a nice restaurant."
Actual answer: Same, except add to that "...and query the chef about cooking techniques, the best sources for fun things like squash blossoms and acai berries, and request a tour of the kitchen."
What is my greatest gift?
What RB said: "I don’t understand the question. Greatest gift...greatest gift... gosh...umm...golly, can we come back to this one?" Laughs uncontrollably. Requests that we come back to this & he actually remembered! Later that night..."That you have the ability to see the best in people and give them some hope. In fact, give me some hope right now and tell me how to move this file into my Adobe project bin…."
Actual answer: I do try to see the best in people and was pretty humbled and flattered by his answer. He just didn't know when to zip it, and was obviously losing interest at this point. "Hey look, Sports Cente...."
What is my greatest talent?
What RB said: You used to be a pretty good tennis player, but since you don't play any more, I'd say it's your ability to cook a great meal, of course.
Actual answer: Has to be the cooking, made more joyful by moans and groans of gustatory pleasure from the table. Or rather from the people at the table.
As far as my tennis game goes, the older I get, the better I was, or in the words of Toby Keith, "I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." I fully intend to return to game, set, and match when the time is right.
What do I enjoy the most?
What RB said: Staying home and cooking.
Actual answer: Staying home and cooking and cleaning like Bree from Desperate Housewives. Where's my gun? Aw heck, a cooking and cleaning Ninja needs no gun when she has Santoku knife and a toilet brush.
Perhaps I'll just fix some strawberries and cream like, you know, they have at Wimbledon.
What is my greatest fear?
What RB said: That something will happen to one of our children
Actual answer: Sort of right. I put their safety in God's hands. I fear more for their inevitable periods of sadness, doubt and hopelessness that we all have from time to time. Nothing saddens a mother more than a stewing child, no matter what the age.
What is my biggest pet peeve about other people?
What RB said: "When people don’t treat others with respect."
Actual answer: True, but let's get detailed. Rudeness. Bad table manners. F bombs. Chewing with your mouth open. Flipping the remote. Leaving your junk laying all over the place in somebody else's (ok, my) way. We may have to refer to "most annoying habit" below, because this could get ugly fast.
What is my favorite book of the Bible?
What RB said: "Luke"
Actual answer: Proverbs. I love The Story but I heart wisdom. And hopefully some day her children will rise and call her blessed.
What do I hate most about my body?
What RB said: "That it hurts all the time."
Actual answer: That it hurts most of the time, particularly when Cleaning Ninja or Gardening Ninja rears her ugly head.
What do you think is your best feature?
What RB said: "Your teeth."
Actual answer: My teeth??? Half of them aren't even mine! Perhaps he's looking at what they're worth. I'm rather partial to my built in Garmin road-mapped legs. Not everyone can find their way to Milwaukee by glancing down at their left thigh.
He seriously looks me in the teeth and swoons? This sounds like a Katdish Shiny Vampire
What is my most annoying habit?
What RB said: "Getting on me about little things that don’t matter."
Actual answer: OK, I'll admit it, I nag. But if pet peeves didn't exist, I wouldn't have to.
He's just such a laid-back guy. Little things don't matter to him. Like leaving the water running when he goes to work after brushing his teeth, or leaving the refrigerator door open when he gets a drink of water in the middle of the night.
Who's next? Don't let this circus stop with me!
Tea tonight: green with lemon & ginseng
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
And then I remembered The Pit.
The Pit that is that mysterious spot between your throat and your stomach that keeps you from swallowing. Sometimes it’s so big it keeps you from throwing up, and you really wish you could. It’s a genuine physical symptom caused by a powerful emotional reaction to something that simply rips you apart inside, and you have no idea what to do, where to turn, or what the future holds. Only people you deeply love can elicit the symptoms of The Pit.
Because The Pit lies right next to your heart.
And I could feel her Pit.
Some things happen to others that you swear will never let happen to you, because after all, you’re in control. But you soon realize you were never in control and you're brought to your knees in prayer, face down on the ground in tears. The situation may not be over, but at least you know you’ve been heard. And in submitting that grief and despair to Jesus, you know you’ve done everything you can. The rest is up to Him.
I’ve felt The Pit many times over the last few decades, with some form of it going back to my childhood. Life was pretty easy back then, but I do remember the time when I was about 7 that I thought I was going to drown in a swimming pool on vacation and the time our cat ran away, never to appear again. Those moments of despair were always fleeting – there was someone or something to care for me, distract me, or most importantly, hold me. Prayer hadn’t matured in me yet.
I still get The Pit. I have been able to perfect worrying into an art form, despite the fact that the most often repeated command in my Bible is some form of “Do not be afraid.” Philippians 4:6 could easily be my life verse. When I look back at The Pit over the last few years, seemingly hopeless situations have all turned out OK, if only temporarily. They haven’t necessarily gone away. I haven’t changed other people. Fortunes haven’t been showered upon me. And more than likely, circumstances didn’t change.
What changed was my heart. What changed was the feeling of hopelessness. What changed was the feeling of helplessness. I believe you can choose hope, but in my weakness, it's a difficult choice sometimes.
The Pit was back today. But just for a short visit. I know it will be gone eventually and I find comfort in that.
Tonight when I went to the gym, I realized I forgot my iPod. How was I ever going to get through my treadmill and EFX without listening to Pete, Andy, or Craig? I count on these guys every week for their messages and to take my mind off my aching, aging body. I decided it was meant to be - a sign that I was supposed to ignore the message of someone else and have an hour long chat with God. It worked. And I got two signs that yes, everything will work out in the end.
Because if it hasn't worked out, it isn't the end.
At one point I looked down at the digital display on the treadmill and it read 1.11 miles. A half hour later the display on the EFX read 111.1 calories. This was my sign. I wanted to feel utter peace. I didn't, but I did feel better. Progress.
I heard a pastor say one time (like I can remember which one, after the dozens of podcasts I listen to every week), “Our deepest, darkest moments were at a time when we were unconsciously running from God.” Perhaps I have been.
I know The Pit will be gone again in time. It always goes away. It just occasionally returns to remind me that I am not alone, I can’t do this alone, there is only One who can help me muddle through. Lurking in the dark shadows is the one who keeps trying to pull me away. He will not succeed.
I will make a conscious effort to run towards God today. He wants to take The Pit from me.
No, actually, He insists I give it to Him. He wants me to be a good steward of my abilities and resources to help myself while He continues the work on my heart.
It is a daunting task. Ever felt The Pit?
I pray my friend gets rid of her Pit today, too.
Tea tonight: Young hyson
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Nothing says smile like our favorite Annie B at BuzzbyAnnies. She owns Cinco de Mayo, she hearts Mexico, and loves all things Mexican, so stop by her blog and wish her Happy Birthday today! And while you're at it, be sure to check out her most precious pup Boz. Quick, before she bolts for Mexico!!
And Annie, forget the sugary, gooey birthday cake. I leave you with my all-time favorite Black Bean Cakes with Chipotle Cream!!
Tea today: Tazo Zen
Saturday, May 2, 2009
***(Names may or may not have been changed to protect
Simple enough? Not for Mom.
Mom didn't answer the phone. Thank goodness she has one of those new-fangled contraptions called an answering machine. It's for when she's busy plunking out notes on her manual typewriter and can't hear the phone ring. Those suckers are loud! Did you know they still make ribbons for manual typewriters? Yeah, me neither. It took her four days to tell the typewritter ribbon story one time. Or maybe she told it four times. I lose track easily. And apparently I digress as well. But it was something about the sales guy's ex-wife being related to a guy's cousin who knew Ron Burgundy in college and what a small world we live in...
I left a message: "Hey Mom, what's Paul's last name? I want to put him on the rehearsal dinner invite. Just leave me a message. ThanksLove youBye."
I was at work and knew I might not get to my phone when she called back. A half hour later I picked up my phone and I had 3 missed calls and 3 messages.
Yep, all from Mom. I'm thinking this guy has a really long last name.
Message #1, 10:03 am: "I don't know what I possibly could have been doing when you called. I can't believe I didn't hear the phone. Oh yeah, I remember, I had my head in the dryer because I was vacuuming out the lint trap. That thing gets so much lint in it. You wouldn't believe all the laundry I did today, so after I was done, I decided to really clean out that lint trap. When I stuck my head in the dryer and ran the vacuum was probably when you called. I can't believe I didn't hear the phone. But then I probably wouldn't have gotten there soon enough anyway before you hung up. So well, uh, yeah that would be really nice if you'd invite Paul. I don't know if he'll be in town that weekend, but even if he isn't, it would be a really nice gesture. They are such a cute couple and I know he's met the kids before. I can't exactly remember when, but yeah, that would be really nice. OKthanksgoodbye."
Apparently she needed a moment to come up for air.
Message #2, 10:05 am: "Hi. Me again. I remember now. Luke and Rachel came with me to Brown Baggers, or was it the Widows Group...I don't remember. Oh, that was such a fun day! I was so proud to show them off. I'm the luckiest old lady around. Anyway, Paul was there and they visited with him and had a real nice conversation. I'm sure Ben and Abby have met him at church. He might be in town visiting - it would really be nice for you to invite him. I just couldn't remember where we were when the kids had that conversation. I'm pretty sure it was Brown Baggers. OKthanksgoodbye."
Breathe, Mom. Breathe.
Message #3, 10:08 am: "Hi, me again. I still can't believe I didn't hear the phone ring. But that vacuum is really loud especially when it's right by your ear. I sure hope my phone's working ok. I guess it is or you wouldn't have been able to leave a message. But I'd probably better get a different phone one of these days because sometimes when I'm listening to the baseball game I don't hear it ring either. Or if I'm way back in my bathroom. Do you think you can come and help me flip my mattress one of these days? I just can't do it by myself."
"Oh, and Paul's last name is Paulson."
I'm sure glad I didn't have to try to fit all of that on the envelope, bless her heart.
Got any dryer lint you need vacuumed? Want her number? I'm sure she'd call you back.
After all, she's got way too much time on her hands.
Tea today: Sencha