Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hope is the thing with soft, black fur....

First, two business items to discuss:

1.  I have every intention of writing about our farmsitting adventure for our Old German Baptist friends.  I am waiting until all of the pictures are transferred over to my computer so that I can overwhelm you with them. 

2.  I did write a little bit about farmsitting (complete with a few pics) over at Practicing Families this week in a post entitled, "The Rhythm of Solitude." 

And now, onto today's topic...our new dog, Luke.

(Luke on his first walk)

Yesterday morning I was in the shower, and I had this really horrible idea to completely bastardize one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems in honor of this puppy dog whom I am so in love with that it is rather distracting. 

Here is the beginning of the Dickinson poem:

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And, here is how I completely ruined the poem with my own version:

Hope is the thing with soft, black fur
Who sits upon my lap.
Who looks at me with trusting eyes
And nestles in for a nap. 

I never claimed to be a poet. 
But, there is truth to my words.
If Luke were a girl, I might have pushed that we name this puppy Hope.  However, we have named the puppy Luke (Skywalker) in honor of his sister, (Princess) Leia, whom we still miss with aching hearts. 

Let me bore you here for a second.

Luke is, basically, too good to be true. 

We brought him home early Friday morning, and as of today he has had a grand total of two accidents in the house (and one at Lowe's, but I wasn't there, so I'm pretending like that one doesn't count).

I have only had to take him out to go to the bathroom once each night he has spent with us. 

The longest period he has cried is after his 4:30 am bathroom break, when I stopped to take a quick bathroom break of my own before heading back up to bed, and he wanted me to pick him up and carry him upstairs immediately.

He isn't crazy hyper.  At all.  In fact, he is super mellow.  (I realize this could change.  When we brought Leia home, she was quiet and sweet and slept all of the time.  How quickly things changed....  We got Leia at eight weeks, however, and Luke is twelve weeks old.  I am thinking that Leia was showing her true colors by the twelve-week mark?  I wish I remembered.) 

He is obviously used to being around children.  He spent the first twelve weeks of his life in a household of small kiddos, so he thinks kids are great. 

He loves love.  And attention.  And kisses.  And affection.  And my lap. 
The truth is, I want a dog I can absolutely smother with love.  So far, Luke isn't resisting my smothering instincts. 

But here's why, if Luke were a girl, I think I would want to name him (her) Hope:

Luke was born on March 1. 
March 1 is the day after Leia got sick (also, incidentally, the day after my birthday, which I still find an incredibly dirty trick).
It was on March 1st that I stood in my living room and looked at Jack lying on the couch, who was very sick with strep, and Leia lying on the couch, who was also very sick with a bowel obstruction that wasn't diagnosed until it was too late, and I wondered who I should take to the doctor first.
It was on March 1st that the talons of fear about Leia first wrapped menacingly around my soul.
It was on March 1st that I began a painful weeklong journey of worrying about my sick puppy, carrying her into numerous vet appointments, nurturing her, and crying for her.

And then, when Luke was just one week old, when we didn't even know he existed, Leia died.
And my heart just broke into teeny-tiny pieces.
And (as ridiculous as this may sound) I sort of let go of hope.
And (as ridiculous as this may sound) I sort of turned away in confusion from my faith.
And  (as ridiculous as this may sound) I sort of became stricken with grief and sad and, for lack of a better word, depressed.

Three weeks ago, I saw a picture of Luke on my friend Melanie's Facebook page. 

I looked at the pictures, but I dismissed them.
We wanted a chocolate lab or a golden retriever.
I very specifically did not want a black lab.  I don't know why, but I have never felt great affection towards black labs (please do not project any racist dog feelings here.  I feel the same way about the very white brichon frise and poodles of any color). 
But then my friend Jeannine re-posted those pictures on my Facebook page. 
And I sighed a little.
And then I carried my laptop over to my kids and said, "OK, guys, you said you wanted a chocolate lab or a golden retriever.  The puppies in these pictures are not chocolate or golden.  What do you think?"
And they both chose the same dog.
(If you have children, you know that this is a miracle in and of itself.)
So I sent a message to my friend Melanie, and she sent a message to her cousin in Oklahoma who owned the puppies.  Arrangements were made.  And here is Luke.

He is the product of an unplanned pregnancy, which makes me love him all the more.
He is a motley mix of dog breeds, which makes me love him all the more.


You know, while we were farmsitting last week, I found myself tentatively talking to God again.  He seemed present to me as I milked the cow without a CD playing and washed the dishes without NPR and listened to my husband and children without wondering what might be happening in Facebook world.
So, God and I were talking again.
That was good.

And then on Friday, Luke bounded into our world.
And then I thought that, maybe, I would be OK.
And then I realized that, maybe, we would all be OK.

It's not going to be easy, I don't think.
Luke had the hiccups yesterday, and I heard the sharp edge of worry in Amélie's voice as she asked us what was wrong with him.
When Luke slipped into the unfenced front yard this afternoon, I had to fight a rising tide of absolute panic and horrific mental visions of him being hit by a car.
When we came home from church today, I had to beat back images of him electrocuted on the floor from chewing a wire I might have accidentally left plugged in.

(I tell you, people, my imagination is a total wreck.)

The poor dog is growing up in a family suffering from a little trauma, I think.
He is going to be overprotected.
He is probably going to become completely neurotic.
He might have a few rebellious moments in his teenage years.

But, he is going to be loved
and cared for
and played with
and hugged
and smothered with adoration. 

We love you, Luke.
Welcome home.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dear Diary...


Here it is, another week, and once again I don't feel like I have anything very meaningful to say.  I know precisely the reason why:

I haven't been journaling as much lately.  I need to journal.  Journaling hangs out with food and sleep on my personal hierarchy of needs, and when I don't journal, my soul starts to wither away a bit, just like my body would start to wither away a bit if I didn't eat or sleep enough. 

I have felt bad for my journal lately, I think, and that's one reason I haven't been journaling as much.  I mean, I know that technically my journal doesn't have feelings, and that technically she can't get bored, but I have felt like such a broken record in my journal lately that I think even my poor journal must be getting tired of me.  I thought maybe she needed a little break.  I've gotten a bit bored with myself--I can't imagine how she must feel.

Also, Matt and I have started exercising together.  Exercising with him takes up more time than exercising alone, since we are going through this program thing that I'm not going to tell you about unless I get totally fit and hot, which so far hasn't happened, so you don't need to know about it.  Anyway, we have been working out some in the mornings, which seriously cuts into my journal time.  Also, I'm tired, partly from exercising and partly because it's been ridiculously cold and partly because I'm a little depressed right now, so I have not been exactly kind to my alarm clock when it cheerfully chirps at me at 5:00 in the morning. 

But let me tell you, I need to journal.  When I don't journal, I get really cranky, and I feel lost, and it's like I'm walking around in a body and soul that don't really belong to me, because I've forgotten to keep myself acquainted with myself. 

I find, though, that sometimes, when I'm working my way through a rough patch, I quit journaling.  It's weird--those rough patches are when I should be journaling the most, and I know it, but the darkest days of my life have often been greeted with silence in my journal.  I need to change that.

So, I have a great idea.  I will use my blog as a journal today, because I'm sitting up in my attic, and my journal is downstairs, and because of this exercise program Matt and I are doing I think twice before considering movement up or down those evil things called stairs.

I always start my journal entries with the date, of course, but I also include the time, and I usually include where I am writing.  One of my professors in grad school recommended this, and I'm so glad he did.  I've been following his advice ever since English 801 (Thank you, Jerry Dees).

Sunday, May 5, 2013
5:23 p.m.

Yesterday I had to go to the stripmall where Leia's vet was.  I hadn't been there since she died.  My insides all twisted up, and I cried as I walked by and peered inside.  I shouldn't have walked by the entrance, but I had to.  I was sad, so sad.  I cried a little, except not much, because I didn't want anyone to see me in tears.  It has been nine weeks, I think, since she died, and I feel a little silly that I'm still sad.  Suddenly I desperately wanted a puppy.  We can't get a puppy until we get back from farm-sitting, and I don't want to get a puppy for the wrong reasons--like, you know, to fill this Leia-sized hole in my heart, but truthfully, I don't care if we do get a puppy for the wrong reasons.  I want a puppy.  I want a sweet puppy.  I want one I can absolutely smother with love. I'm also scared to get a puppy.  What if he gets hit by a car or eats hair and dies from a bowel obstruction or, worse, what if he doesn't like me? 

We are going to farmsit for our Old German Baptist friends soon.  I am excited/nervous/apprehensive.  What if we destroy their crops or forget how to milk a cow or leave a lantern lit at night and set their house on fire or what if they find out that we brought a camp shower because I just could not hack six days without a proper shower? 

Matt and Jack's massive birthday party is this weekend.  I'm pretty sure that it will snow and/or rain and/or no one will come and/or those that come will have a horrible time and/or we will all be sick. 

I found out this week that the blog post I published at Practicing Families and the Mennonite World Review is going to be in the print edition of MWR!!  I am very excited about this.  My parents and grandparents are very excited, too. My grandparents have no idea what a blog is, but they thought it was pretty cool anyway.  They have always believed in me, which is super nice.  I figured that everyone would hate the article, but one guy with a very German last name said that he "wept while reading this delicate reflection."  It can't suck too badly if I made someone cry, right? 

I still weigh 1__ despite the fact that Matt and I have been working out like crazy.  Don't even tell me it's muscle.  Don't go there.  I weigh six pounds more than I did when I hit my goal weight, and if working out like a crazy person doesn't help me lose those blasted six pounds, I don't know what the heck will.  Perhaps I am supposed to balance out working like a crazy person with NOT eating like a crazy person. Interesting thought. 

I'm worried that I am going to hang out in this rocky place with God forever.  He feels so far away, as He should, I think, since he refused to lift his pinkie finger, point it Leia's direction, and save her life.  I still just don't think it would have been that hard to fix.  What worries me, though, is that I feel like I'm the seed that fell on the rocky ground, which withered away because it could not root.  Or maybe I am like the seed that fell on the thorny ground, and the worries of life have choked the life right out of me (see Matthew 13).  Whatever the case, I feel shallow and weak.  Nothing God-related rings true to me right now.  Songs seem pointless, sermons seem empty, prayers seem hollow.  I hate it, but I guess I will hang out here for awhile.  There's nowhere else to go at the moment anyway.

I should probably quit hiding in the attic.  I need to help Amélie with her piano, and I don't remember what I jotted down on my to-do list this morning during church that must be done before the week begins, and I feel guilty for spending so much time up here alone. 

Remember Sixpence None the Richer?  This morning I put this album from college days on before we went to church.  I hadn't listened to the album in ages, but I wanted to hear the song "Within a Room Somewhere."  If you were really my journal, I would copy out the words, but since you aren't really my journal, I can include a You Tube video and then just copy and paste the words.  I actually like writing in my journal much better with pen and paper, but this has been good for me today, especially since I haven't had to maneuver stairs. Oh wait...I can't stay up here all evening I guess, can I?  :)

"Within A Room Somewhere"

I breathe the mist
Floating about the stars
I can caress with velvet hands
I breathe the mist
Floating within without
This pen between my fingers

I know you are there
Within without me holding me
I know you are there
Catching carrying this beautiful mess

Escape the pain
Within a room somewhere
Escape the pain
So deep inside the soul
I have no key
No map to find