Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Skink Finds His Way

Sharing our yard with a variety of skinks is always interesting!  One particular variety has bright blue stripes down the length of their bodies.  Although the adults are about eight inches long, we are currently blessed with a multitude of much smaller youngsters.  As I sat on the patio the other day, one little fellow was scurrying along the edge.  Since the grass needs mowing and edging, he would try to enter the grass and come to a dead end.  He would sit a few seconds, back up, move a few more inches and try again.  I sat watching him for several minutes.

I marvelled at how much in common this skink and I had.  I was sitting on the patio to give my brain a rest.  For days I had been trying to outline a curriculum for my upcoming Christian Education class of middle schoolers.  Ideas had been flowing freely and then I hit a brick wall.  All  my thoughts and ideas were becoming convoluted and a huge mish mash! 

As I watched my friend, he suddenly found an opening and disappeared from sight!  I know he was glad to be in the grass since the heat index was around 105 degrees and the patio was in full sun, except under my patio umbrella.  God takes care of the least of His creatures and that includes me!  I said a quick prayer of thanks and returned to my computer and the words became organized and flowing once again. 

Why do I always forget that I am NOT in charge?  I believe God settled me in this yard with so many creatures and weeds to remind me daily that He is in charge.  My yard is my sanctuary!  My place to truly listen to God and full of creation to serve as my reminders when I close my ears.  Thank God for places of sanctuary!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Deacon’s Strange Mowing

The Deacon loves to ride his tractor! I call it a riding lawn mower but I suppose a tractor sounds more manly. Years ago when we bought this two acre lot, Scott insisted on having a ‘tractor’. So I got my pool and he got the tractor. After all, compromise is one of the keys to a long-term marriage. The Deacon is very precise in his methods of doing everything, including mowing. He puts on long pants, long sleeved shirt, big straw hat or cap, and dust mask. Interestingly enough, he also usually mows in the same pattern time after time.

As he was mowing a week ago, I noticed he was breaking his pattern and that caught my attention. He was moving very slowly. He was also doing a strange figure eight pattern. Now I am worried. I move out to the patio to observe him and be closer in case I needed to get to him quickly. He was out of my sight for part of the figure eight pattern. It was so odd that our son even came to the door and asked what his father was doing.

Finally as he moved into the northern loop of the figure eight I discover the cause of this strange behavior. A Cattle Egret comes walking from behind the bushes collecting bugs that are being disturbed by the mowing! This crazy bird continues to walk sedately along eating to his hearts content. The mower does not seem to threaten it at all. The Deacon is carefully mowing slowly past the bird. I was spellbound watching the Deacon prepare a special dinner plate for this rather smart Cattle Egret.

This unusual encounter continued until Buddy (my constant companion) finally noticed the bird and took chase. Buddy has very short legs and is no danger to any creature in the yard but he still enjoys the chase. The Cattle Egret reluctantly flew away but I knew he left with a most full belly!


P.S. In case you are wondering if I am a bird expert, I had to do some research. I guessed egret but they usually feed in water. I identified our visitor as a Cattle Egret and they do usually feed in fields and meadows.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My Animal Friends—Part 5

Scott and I knew how much Ginny loved Ruth and we knew Ruth was getting very old. So, in our ultimate wisdom, we decided we needed to get a kitten for her for life after Ruth passed on. A co-worker had a pregnant cat and promised us one of the kittens. Earlier than expected we got the call. The kittens were born on the carport and when the owner came home, one little kitten was lying alone on the cold concrete. She picked it up and wrapped it in a towel. As the kitten warmed, she began moving. However the mother totally rejected this baby. Would we like her? So Starry Eyes (aka Star) became part of our family. Ginny diligently feed her with a bottle, talked to her, cared for her. Star curled up on the pillow and slept in bed with Ginny and Ruth. Star grew and thrived. Her paternity soon became evident too because she definitely had Siamese markings and as she got older, the Siamese yowl!

Star always recognized that Ruth was the alpha cat. Ginny was the love of Star’s life. But shades of Mischief (mentioned in an earlier posting), Star loved ONLY Ginny. The rest of us learned not to cross Star. She ignored us at the best of times and snarled and scratched at the worst of times. When Ginny left for college, Star did mellow toward us somewhat—after all, she had no choice. As soon as Ginny moved into a pet-friendly apartment, Star happily rejoined her. Star did not adjust well to Ginny’s marriage! She expressed her displeasure by using Ginny’s husband’s clothes and shoes as a litter box! He declares he slept with blankets wrapped around his neck so Star could not go for the jugular! Interestingly enough Star did accept our first grandson.

Star passed away a year ago at a very ripe old age. I refuse to speculate on where she is spending eternity!

Oh, what about Ruth? Ruth actually lived another five years after we got Star. Ruth’s epitaph is “She was the BEST cat”.


Friday, June 25, 2010

My Animal Friends-Part 4

Ruth joined us in the midst of my past post. Ruth began like as an alley kitten. My brother took her in and she was a special member of his family for several years. Ruth was the best cat!!! Eventually my brother was unable to keep Ruth so my parents took her in. At that time, my parents lived a block away from us. Ruth got in the habit of following as we walked back and forth between the houses. Then she began walking over on her own. I can still hear my daughter, in a sweet little voice, saying: “Mommy, can Ruth come in for a visit?”

On day the request became: “Mommy, can Ruth spend the night?” Ruth and Ginny did have a slumber party that night. The next morning, Ruth went home. But that night she was back at our door and she never left again. Ruth and Ginny were inseparable and Ruth was still ‘the best cat’!

Although once an expert hunter and climber, there came the time when Ruth began slowing down. She was no longer bringing us ‘presents’, spent more time indoors and spent more time at the vet with infections and other issues. Once she disappeared for several days, the entire family scoured the yard and neighborhood at every opportunity but there was no sign of her. I remember clearly driving my son home from an after-school activity and seriously lecturing him about being especially nice to his sister because Ruth had obviously gone off to die. As I turned into the driveway my son began laughing. I became angry but he laughed and said, “Look Mom”. You guessed it, there in the driveway sat Ruth.

From that point on, Ruth became an indoor cat.  And yes, Ruth is still the best cat.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Animal Friends-Part 3

Envision Valentine’s Day, 1977. Two college seniors are engaged to be married in August. The young man picks up his fiancĂ©e for a Valentine’s surprise. What can it be? He drives her to the nearest Humane Society to get a puppy! Thus Dixie, the cutest little fur ball, became our first child! Dixie was so loyal, loving and smart.

Five years later when we added our first human child, Dixie became super nanny. From the moment Tommy first entered our house, Dixie believed it was her job to monitor his every move and keep him out of danger. Heaven help us if the baby awoke in his crib and we did not IMMEDIATELY go to him. I actually think that her running back and forth barking at us often woke the baby! Thirteen months later we brought home Ginny and Dixie went into overdrive as super nanny.

Dixie safely brought the children through those so important early years of life. She saw them start school, followed closely as they learned to ride bikes, and cuddled with them when they needed comfort, played with them at the drop of a ball and saw them through most of elementary school. It was a very sad day when we had the funeral for a very old dog who had loved us even more than we loved her!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Animal Friends-Part 2

Mischief was another long term animal friend, or maybe I mean fiend. I had to have this little Siamese kitten. She was adorable! Unfortunately, she seemed to despise me and most of humankind and preferred a solitary life! The entire family bore the reminders of her wish to be left alone. She had extremely sharp claws and used them viciously. Except she loved my father! She would even jump up and ride around on his shoulders. The rest of us had great respect for her claws. We never picked her up. If she wanted to sit in your lap, she would. You also sat there until she decided to move on. She loved to sit in a doorway in the hall and wait for an unsuspecting person to walk by; then she would attack! Mischief remained with the family for many years. After Scott and I were married, my parents and brothers moved from Florida to Texas. When they finally arrived, Mischief jumped out of the car and was never seen again.

In addition to Sandy and Mischief, Pretty Star (parakeet), TouchĂ© (turtle), aquariums of fish, a hognose snake, and several gerbils also lived with and moved around with our family while I was growing up. Four children and this menagerie obviously led to some exciting moments at times. Occasionally Mischief would land on Pretty Star’s cage and the loud crash would bring the entire family. Any cat would be enticed by fish, snakes and gerbils and Mischief was no exception. How about when the snake got loose just before my grandmother’s visit? We were all under strict orders not to mention that the snake was loose in the house. Thankfully he stayed hidden until after the visit. We moved often when I was young and somehow my parents always managed to get all the children and animals to the new location. What a huge feat-especially since Dad usually had to move on ahead of us!

“If I am going to be in the right relationship with God, I should treat the things he has made in the same way he treats them.” [Francis Schaeffer (1912-84), Pollution and the Death of Man]


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Animal Friends

A fundraiser for our local Humane Society has brought all my past and present animal friends to mind. God is so good to have given us these precious friends to love and who love us with such unconditional devotion! During a tough or trying time I can be reassured by curling up on the sofa with one of my special friend. They will sit there, cuddling close, and listen to my cries and ranting without making a single judgment. Who does not calm down and relax while stroking a dog or cat?

The first animal friend I remember is Sandy. The family legend goes that when I was about six years old with three younger siblings at two year intervals, we were renting a house on a farm. Each day the farmer came out to do the farming chores and in the back of his truck was always this very old and very ugly dog. My two year old brother admired this dog and told the man that he was certainly a ‘fine dog’. A few weeks later the farmer brought a little mutt puppy to the house. Another of his dogs had a litter of puppies and this man felt that any boy who would admire that old dog needed a dog. So Sandy joined our family!

You can imagine what a job it was for Sandy to take care of four young children. Not long after we got Sandy, my mother saw my brother walking in the yard holding a rope. Sandy had the other end in her mouth. When asked what he was doing, he answered that he was ‘walking his dog’. Sounds to me like Sandy was walking the boy! Sandy lived as our friend and protector for about fourteen years!