Cat Appropriation

One of the many things I like about cats is their nonchalance.  They just blithely take over things and don’t care.  Clean laundry?  Perfect!  Your favorite spot to sit?  Occupied.  Right in the middle of the stairs where you nearly trip and tumble down the last half?  Meh.  Almost the entirety of the bed?  Why not.  They have an uncanny way of either sprawling themselves out or shrinking themselves down, depending upon where they choose to be at the time.  I have discovered ours snoozing in sinks, watching the birds somehow IN the skylights of our ceiling and once, peeking out of our empty crock pot.  I remember I had a girlfriend watch my cats one time when I was on a trip with my mother and she kept freaking out because every time she came in the house was different.  Little things had been moved (whatever the cats decided to carry off and/or bat around) and she would find varying cabinets open almost every day.  I tried to explain to her that was simply the nature of the cat.  The English author Terry Pratchett once said, “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”  My husband, who did not grow up with cats, has been fascinated with studying them in the ten years we have been married.  One of the things he has graciously come to accept … from his socks to his newspaper to his water — is cat appropriation.


No Waffling

We discovered shortly after our daughter turned four she was gluten intolerant.  Suddenly her little girl world of mac and cheese, pizza, birthday cake, and even sandwiches became problematic.  She is so tough — just like my mother — and she took it really well.  We just set about finding things she COULD eat and searching for good substitutes for her previous staples.  Luckily, this was around the time Trader Joe’s came to town.  It turns out they had lots of gluten free things that did not taste like cardboard.  Our family favorite is their waffles, which you see pictured here.  I just pop them in the toaster and she has a hot breakfast before rushing off to school.  I remember our little one’s pediatric gastroenterologist said she NEVER eats gluten.  What stuck with me was when I asked if she had an allergy, too.  “No,” she replied, “But I know what it does to you.”  The South Korean diplomat Ban Ki-moon said:

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth … these are one and the same fight.  We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment.  Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”

I could not agree more.  My child’s problem is not an isolated one.  As populations increase and we keep taxing our natural resources we must search for new ways to provide without impoverishing — whether that is physically or economically.  The earth is round and the actions each of us take all come around as well.  These are issues which need the world needs to address with more honorable, serious intent now — no waffling.


Let My Walking Do My Talking

l love Saint Francis of Assisi.  He is all over our house, both inside and out.  As many may know, he is the Patron Saint of the Environment.  So the easy way to spot him in gardens or churches is to look for the birds on his shoulder or a wolf at his side.  Francis had much love for animals, with a special fondness for the birds.  He liked to refer to animals as his brothers and sisters.  Legend has it that wild animals had no fear of Francis and even came to him seeking refuge from harm.  Poor St. Francis endures a lot around our house.  Our bad cats have gnawed on his birds and rubbed their cheeks on his outstretched hands, perhaps taking his welcome too literally.  I have two wooden carvings of him that I bought on different trips to Santa Fe years ago.  His hands have fallen off on both from the kitties’ fervent cheek scratching.  I have tried wood glue, Superglue, Gorilla glue, and every other kind of glue one can think of — all to no avail.  So his hands rest ineffectually near his feet until I can somehow find a way to get them back on for good.  In this picture he is sporting a duster like a French chapeau which the cleaning lady left behind.  Some people mistake those who have images of St. Francis around as a form of idolatry.  His presence is not meant to worship; rather it is to emulate.  Seeing him inspires me to try and live as he lived.  He gave animals far more credit than anyone else, particularly for his time.  I try not to have leather or eat animal products because of the ruthless cruelty involved in their killing.  I have been ridiculed for it at times but I know I am doing what is right in my heart.  One of my favorite quotes from St. Francis of Assisi is this:  “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”  I am continually striving to let my walking do my talking.


Share It To Enjoy It

It has always irked me that my husband and I do not ever share a bottle of wine.  I am an incurable romantic and there is just something about sharing a bottle of wine that to me makes it special.  I prefer organic, red, and French or Cabernet Sauvignon.  Once my husband DID discover a type of “red delicious” wine he really liked … it was out of a box — in a refrigerator.  So, we have been in our separate corners, with him preferring some type of beer and me preferring wine.  And then on this last trip to Paris we’d been walking all day and I was really hot.  Warm, heavy wine did not sound appealing but they did have cold bottles of French beer.  I got us both one and we sat down for a second in the shade to relax.  My taste in beer runs pretty much to Tecate, an inexpensive Mexican beer which is great in a salt-rimmed, frosted glass with Tex-Mex.  I also have an obsession with dark blue; for whatever reason I gravitate toward it.  So I got the blue one for me and the green for Burk.  We both didn’t love ours and we decided to switch.  Et voilà!  He preferred the blanc and I liked the fuller bodied one.  I cannot explain if it was the heat coming off the cement or the condensation trickling down the bottle, but I have never loved a beer more.  I did not even know the French made beer!  And it apparently has 350 years of history behind it.  We’re still not exactly sharing the same bottle, but we have both discovered another shared love about France.  The United States radio host Bernard Meltzer once said, “Happiness is like a kiss.  You must share it to enjoy it.”


Let Your Heart Be Light

I can always remember my husband’s birthday, as it is just ten days after our wedding anniversary.  We have two big family months — June and October.  June is our wedding anniversary, Burk’s birthday, and Father’s Day.  October is my birthday and my daughter’s (who was born on the same date as my daddy) plus there is Halloween.  My husband doesn’t like a lot of fuss but I know he enjoys being celebrated by his family.  His grandmother even got a gluten free cake so our little one could dig in.  I love that my husband is easy to please.  He is truly one of the kindest men I know and tries not to be difficult.  If I could have a birthday wish for him it would be to stop worrying so much about everything.  In the Holy Bible it says:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?  And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the flowers of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  (New International Version, Matthew 6: 25-33)

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband; let your heart be light.


Biggest Fan

Every parent thinks their child or children are beautiful; as it should be.  I know mine certainly did.  In this picture I simply captured my little one coming into the kitchen to ask a question while I was cooking dinner.  Admittedly biased, I was stuck by her natural beauty.  I have often joked it is like my mother and my husband had a baby.  I could see Burk’s dark eyes looking back at me.  She has the full checks, cupid’s bow lips, and pert nose that belonged to my beloved mother, her namesake.  Sometimes her hair looks more red than others.  The incredible thickness of it originates from her paternal great-grandmother, who at 91 rocks a full head of thick hair that is enviable at any age.  It is a joy and a privilege to be her mother, watch her grow, and teach her about anything and everything.  The English actress and singer Denise Van Outen said, “My daughter is my biggest achievement.  She is a little star and my life has changed so much for the better since she came along.”  Those are my sentiments exactly.  I wake up every morning to sunshine.  Sometimes I still cannot believe I carried her inside my body — what a miracle.  She is my best supporter and I most certainly am her biggest fan.



From an early age, I was heavily involved in the theater.  I loved to sing and I love to act.  I have tried very hard not to project my unfinished goals and latent desires onto my little one.  But when a friend invited us to a children’s play I jumped at the chance to see if she might be interested.  Saying absolutely nothing, we took our seats.  Even before the the end my little one was asking if she could be a part of the acting workshop next summer.  No words can describe my elation as I tried to play it cool and say, “sure.”  Our little one was so engrossed in the show she was actually yelling at the characters!  Rather than this being a bad thing, I felt her heartfelt love of the performances given by the other children were embraced and even welcomed.  I would not have even known this play was was going on if it weren’t for my friend.  And the children were beyond gracious — encouraging her for the next year and being so generous with their time.  Our little one proclaimed she wanted to do it next year!  And the mothers, the children, and the directors had nothing but praise for her, given how immersed she found herself — shouting at the bad characters and cheering for the good.  I was frankly overwhelmed by their generosity.  The American professional road bicycle racer and three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong said:

“I write about the power of trying, because I want to be okay with failing.  I write about generosity because I battle selfishness.  I write about joy because I know sorrow.  I write about faith because I almost lost mine, and I know what it is to be broken and in need of redemption.  I write about gratitude because I am thankful – for all of it.”

These talented, sweet young girls took the time to show not only show kindness towards my worshipful daughter, but they encouraged her as well, without even knowing her talent.  I have never experienced such kindness by a cast.  All I can say is bravo!



It’s Everything

Visiting the veterinarian’s office is always an adventure.  Fortunately our wolfies love going so they’re just over-excited and not overly stressed.  We have only ever fed our wolves bison, but lately our girl, Cheyenne, has not eaten and she has gotten so thin I could see her spine.  They ran all kinds of tests and of course I feared the worst — cancer.  But they are in the prime of their lives and, unlike in the wild, I knew they would not be shot simply for being a wolf.  Our vet did bloodwork, ran a urinalysis, and checked all her vitals.  They have only ever eaten buffalo (no grains!) but I suspect they got a bad batch.  Even her brother Dakota stopped eating.  So we switched to a million dollar prescription food which we hope will solve Cheyenne’s appetite and her brother Dakota’s sudden allergy issues.  I do not find it ironic in the least that they cannot have gluten just like their big sister, our daughter.  “Frankenfood” seems to have taken over and I know first hand it affects humans and animals alike.  Our wolfies naturally slim down in the summer, because I believe that is nature”s way.   But to fear for your beloved furry family members is not easy.  The American actor Michael J. Fox said, “Family is not an important thing.  It’s everything.”



As you can see from this picture, we have a small pond in our side yard.  A great wolf presides over it all while St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the environment, looks on.  It is so peaceful to come out and feed the koi (and I presume the toads as well) while listening to the gently soothing sounds of the waterfalls.  With the advent of our privacy fence, however, it has become a true source of solitude.  We can sit and relax in peace as we enjoy being outside unseen on our own little piece of land.  There is something about it that is freeing, although I cannot adequately describe it.  The first President of the United States, George Washington, said, “Observe good faith and justice toward all nations.  Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”  I can say I honestly strive toward having good faith and justice towards all.  But to cultivate peace and harmony, I believe it must begin from within.  That is what our little pond does for me.  Despite the stresses of the day; the problems and challenges; I know I have a place which I can always go … and it offers me solace.


My Baby

Because I have fallen behind writing in “real time” about my blog, my readers have no way of knowing that this was our first day back from Paris.  My little one had been a proverbial party girl, saying up late and keeping up with all the other tourists from around the world who had their kids on summer vacation.  I elected for us to come home the first day after the summer solstice, so that she could gradually assimilate to the time change before she started kindergarten.  School is extremely important, and I wanted to prepare her for that.  However, I am not superhuman, and I certainly did not have the time to cook after we had landed, passed through customs, and finally made it home.  Our little one was all set for a Tex-Mex dinner but, as you can see here, she just couldn’t make it.  I don’t blame her.  My husband and I were exhausted with the time change ourselves.  Before our eyes she has become such a big girl and I then I looked over only to discover she was sound asleep in our booth.  So I covered her with my napkin and asked that her food be made to go for the following day.  Meanwhile, it felt as if my husband and I were on a private date.  We got to speak with each other uninterrupted and had the security of knowing our little one was right by my side the entire time.  The American musician Taylor Hanson said, “Having a baby is a life-changer.  It gives you a whole other perspective on why you wake up every day.”  Our “baby” is now five and a half years old.  But she has changed our lives in the best possible way forever and — despite her embarrassment — she will always be my baby.