Monday, June 30, 2014

Age is just a number - for shelter animals, too

13-year-old Clinton is waiting for a forever home
 (photo: Humane Society of  Huron Valley)
I'm a volunteer at a local animal shelter. I go in on the weekends, and walk dogs, clean cages, distribute pet food - whatever they need me to do.

I've never been much of a volunteer, so the fact I'm actually doing this - and not just thinking about how I should be doing this - is kind of unusual for me.

But I love animals. And the shelter I'm at is outstanding, where there is no limit of time on adoption, and there are many programs in place to promote publicity for the animals.

Usually, after I come home from volunteering, I'm ebullient. It's not a sad place. The animals are wonderful, the staff is appreciative and I feel like I've helped them accomplish something good.

Except yesterday. Yesterday was crowded, with many clients looking at dogs and cats, and interested in adopting them. That's great. But then I walked into the puppy room and saw a woman pull her teen-age son away from a corner kennel.

"That's not a puppy," she told him. "That's an old dog - you don't want some old dog."

She was right on one count; the dog was not a puppy. He was an older dog. There are sometimes so many animals at the shelter that grown dogs are placed in the puppy room. But I was appalled at her callousness. It bothers me enough that so many senior dogs end up in shelters in the first place, but when I heard those words, my heart just sank.

It stayed low for the rest of the day. I couldn't get her words out of my head - because they're wrong. Very wrong. Senior dogs can be wonderful companions for many who don't want or can't handle more energetic,younger dogs. They are usually gentle, sweet-natured and affectionate, and I think their graying whiskers are beautiful. Yes, if they have medical issues, that needs to be considered before adoption. But I hope people know that it's not always the length of a relationship that makes it meaningful.

I hope someone shows more kindness to that woman in her golden years. As for me, I guess the old saying holds true ... eavesdroppers never hear anything good.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Look up - and keep that sense of wonder

There are days when I wish I could be a kid again.

No, I don't miss braces or acne or middle school angst, but I do miss something else - that sense of wonder I feel I often overlook in my harried adult world.

The other day, my daughter and I were driving together on a quick errand, and I was giving  her the rundown of my commute home - heavy traffic, lots of construction, the guy who cut me off ... you know, things that you try not to take home with you but stick with you for awhile anyway.

I was still annoyed - and more than a little cranky.

She was sitting quietly beside me  as we drove along, and she interrupted my rant
"Look!" she said. "Mom ... look at the clouds!"

Startled into silence, I stopped my litany of complaints and looked through the windshield, up into the bright blue sky. A gathering of clouds was billowed together in the distance, silhouetted against the the horizon in thick, soft layers.

"They're beautiful," she breathed.

She was right - they were. And I hadn't even noticed.

I'll try not to make that mistake again.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Just one more parody of 'Let it Go' - for moms

Frozen: A Mom Parody
Okay, Okay, I know - we're all about "Frozen'ed" out.

 And we've all heard a million versions of "Let it Go." (Even though truthfully,  I could listen to it every day).

But if you're a mom, this is one version worth listening to:

Frozen: A Mom Parody

(Courtesy of Granger Church, Granger, Indiana)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

'They grow up so fast' isn't really a cliche

I remember when I used to walk my son and daughter to elementary school. They'd walk ahead of me, giggling and pushing each other, racing to see who could get to the crossing guard first.

One day, when my son was in kindergarten and his sister was in fourth grade, I was walking them to school as always, but I didn't feel well. I felt feverish and all-over yukky, like I was coming down with a flu.

"I'm just going to walk you to the crossing guard," I told them. "Then you two can walk the rest of the way by yourselves."

They looked at me with uncertainty. I always walked them into their classrooms.

But I felt really sick. "Hold hands," I said. "You'll be fine."

They walked across the street, with the help of the crossing guard, obediently holding hands. No problem. Gratefully, I turned go back home. Then I looked back.

My son was standing stock-still, staring over at me with an expression of sadness, confusion and outrage. He yanked his hand from his sister, put both hands over his face, and burst into tears.

She bent down to him. "He doesn't want to go without you," she called. "He wants you to walk with him."

I did, of course. How could I not?

Fast forward to this year, earlier this week.  My son is now in fifth grade; he's a safety guard, so we drive to get to school early. As he gets out of the car, I brush his too-long hair from his eyes. He sighs. "Mom!" he says, batting my hand away, "don't touch it! I just gelled it into place!"

We walk together toward the front door, but about 50 feet away, he says, "That's fine,"
and runs ahead, leaving me standing by the outdoor custodial closet. It's an agreement we have. Each day, he leaves me a little further behind.

That particular day I just stood there, watching him, awash in memories. I realized with a start I'd been standing there for more than a few minutes. My son had long disappeared inside the doors. I turned to go and nearly bumped into a teaching assistant I knew.

She looked at me sympathetically. "It's hard to let them go, isn't it?" she said, and she put her hand over her heart.

You have no idea. Or maybe you do.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sharing, selling your art? That's one tough gig

My brother is the salesman in the family. He could, as the saying goes, sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves.

I am not a salesperson. At all. The books I've sold have been by luck, happenstance and word of mouth. And for every sale, I'm very grateful.

My teen-age daughter is an artist - she has been, ever since she could pick up a pencil. But she got a taste of sales this past weekend when she gathered up her entrepreneurial spirit along with
 a portfolio of art she'd created for the occasion, and headed off to a sales booth at her high school's annual anime convention.

It was a tough gig. I knew there would be other vendors there, but since it was just a small  high school convention, I assumed they'd be other students. A few were. But most weren't - they were grown-ups, selling wares from big companies, and this was their livelihood.

Tough competition. And selling to high-schoolers ... that's no easy feat, either.

Some were wonderful. Others were incredibly rude. And still others, apparently used to communicating only through text messages, were oddly anti-social - unable to make eye contact and mumbling so bad they were nearly incoherent.

My daughter simply gritted her teeth and persevered. She made a decent amount of sales, received some good feedback and learned a lot about marketing. (For instance, many people wanted business cards, or her website gallery address. She didn't have either - but she will soon).

I was incredibly proud of her. Putting your work out there for everyone to judge and criticize is tough - something any creative person will tell you. But sharing your work, in most cases, is the reason many of us create in the first place.

It's a tough tightrope to maneuver.

She did learn one thing - she enjoys creating far more than selling.

I can't disagree with her. Not one bit.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

RIP, wedding diamond. I miss you.

So the blog is back.

I have no idea \why I stopped writing it for so long, but no matter - it has returned, and that's all that matters. I'm just sorry it went missing for so long. I hope you'll follow me again, if you don't already.

And speaking of missing ... imagine this. You're sitting in your favorite chair, relaxing in front of the television, you turn, and your left hand scratches your right.

Only it shouldn't - because your left hand has a wedding ring on it. With a solid, smooth diamond.

It's been there forever, practically. So you look down. And the ring is there, but the diamond isn't.

It's gone. GONE. Just four forlorn little prongs remain.

That's what happened to me this weekend. It was incredibly disconcerting, I did a double-take. A triple-take. But the stone was gone, baby, gone. I turned the house upside down, of course, but it was like looking for, well, a diamond in a haystack.

That diamond was with me for two childbirths, two funerals, multiple jobs, countless meals, lots of laughs, a few tears and and even a few disastrous vacations.

My hand feels incredibly bare. I know it was just an inanimate object, but I miss that little stone a lot.

My husband promised me a new one - but it won't be the same.

At least, as he says, we're still married. And that's worth more than any old rock.