Saturday, May 26, 2012


Psalm 108:1-6(7-13). For your loving-kindness is greater than the heavens.--Meditation for May 26,2012

Kindness costs nothing.  Why do I find it so difficult to give a kind word, a kind thought, or a kind deed?  Why am I always in so much of a hurry that I cannot stop to smile and speak, to lend a helping hand.  This constant rush of life is getting in the way of my kindness.

Listening, really listening, is one of the kindest acts in the world--not listening while I check my phone for messages or go over my to-do list in my mind.  Again, I am in a rush to get on to the next thing.

The constant rush is the culprit, but the rush is my own creation.  I have made it up in my mind.  I have made myself so busy that I have convinced myself that I need to be constantly moving, going and doing things…unspecified things that must be done, or so I think.  I makeup lists and feel unsure of myself if I do not have a list. 

It is time to just stop and BE.  In that BE-ing I shall contemplate loving-kindness and look for ways to show the love and kindness of God in my own daily life.  Instead of signing up for one more volunteer hour, I will focus on slowing down and smiling. 

I am guilty of this rush in my job as well.  I try to cover as much information as I can, but I often lose a few students in that rush.  Slowing down for them will allow me to show more kindness to all of my students.

Rushing around makes me think I am important, or worthy, or special in some strange way, but it really just makes me shallow and distant from others.
The work will always be there.  The fun will always come along.  No need to rush to make it get here faster. 

Today I will slow down and smile.  I will have real conversations with those people who touch my life today.  I will stop and pick up the piece of litter and throw it away.  I will share the loving-kindness of God with those around me.  Peace.

Baby Steps

“We are to make wise, careful choices as we journey  through life. Our decisions about the use of our time are to be made thoughtfully, intentionally.” --May 25, 2012 Meditation on Ephesians 5:1-20

Too much of my life I have lived unintentionally.  I have allowed so much to happen around me and to me that I feel I have failed in the past to make wise use of my time.

Sure, I work hard, and I spend many hours doing my work well;  however, I have wasted so much time.  Now on the downhill side of fifty, I see the waste.  Am I wise enough to change it?

Daily gratitude and appreciation of what I have and where I am on this journey will help.

Conscious choices of how I spend my leisure and my work hours will help.

I cannot look at the past mistakes except to learn something from them.  They were mistakes; I know that now.  The important point is to examine what I am doing today, this moment.  Am I using this hour of my life well, thoughtfully and intentionally?

I am gravely guilty of spending hours in front of the television, lost in ridiculous, mind-numbing waste.  At this moment I am listening to and watching the Goat Rodeo Sessions, a wonderful broadcast of creative music-making by four expert musicians.  I am writing and thinking at the same time.  It may not be my best choice to multi-task though.

I am not giving my full attention to either of my current endeavors. 

This morning when I read this meditation, I thought that I would spend some time writing today, since that is something that I tried to start doing a few years ago and gave up on quickly.  The day has progressed and I have not written.  I have filled my day with busy-ness.  What was good about it?  Work, groceries, caring for animals, volunteering for animals, helping someone else have a good weekend, seeing my son as he progresses in his recovery, visiting with my parents, planning a birthday celebration for my friends—yeah, all good stuff.  But then I found myself sitting in front of the TV watching junk.

I remembered my early morning thought about writing, thank God, in the nick of time before I fell asleep.  Grabbed the laptop, change the channel to something I really wanted to see.  Now what?  I should focus on one or the other, right?  No, not yet.  I am going to have to work on focus, but not tonight.  I am writing.  I am enjoying the music without paying complete attention to it.  OK, I am at least thinking about the best way to live my life.  I can still learn and improve.  Baby steps, my friend.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cat Invasion

I’m Just a Woman Who Can’t Say No—July 17, 2010

Last Saturday I was working at the Farmers’ Market—no, I’m not a farmer. My church has a booth there which serves as a fundraiser for some of our outreach programs both locally and in Navajoland. I volunteered to work the booth, and I baked some cupcakes to sell there. I was working there with a wonderful woman who does so much for the church every day and who has a spirit of joy and love. That tends to rub off on me.

She mentioned that a woman had come into the church office the past week looking for someone to adopt a cat. My ears perked up. Ever since I lost my GoGo kitty I have felt a great loss—he was such a fine, sweet kitten. I listened carefully to the description of this cat; he was about five years old, extremely friendly, an indoor and outdoor cat who needed a safe home. This woman had rescued him from the streets, but she has a neighbor who hates cats and wants to kill the cats who roam their neighborhood. This cat does like to roam apparently.

Do I really need another animal to take care of? No. But I am such an easy mark. I could easily be one of those old women who has sixty cats and twenty dogs, and you would read about me in the paper when I die and the health department breaks down the door of my house to find the mess I’ve left behind.

Monday I got a call from the woman who had the cat. I only showed a bit of interest, but Lee knew she had a mark and passed on my number to this woman. I love this lady’s spirit—she is seventy-one years old, has three cats that are her house cats, but she takes care of three other feral cats in the neighborhood. “Ditto” is the cat she was trying to find a home for—Ditto because he looks just like another of her cats. Ditto stays outside most of the time, but he is extremely affectionate and knows how to behave in a house.

I don’t need another animal, not really. I love my dog and my cat, so why am I even showing interest? I am crazy, that’s it. I do get so much joy from these animals. I get hugs, sort of, and love and attention. Since I live alone, affection is a rare commodity, so why not add little more love to my life? My cat sits on my lap and purrs as I rub his ears and neck, which in turn makes me feel pretty good because I am providing him with love and attention. Isn’t that what we all want—a little love and attention?

So the new cat is trying to adjust to a dog—he is terrified, justifiably, of a dog. A street cat knows that a dog is dangerous, but this guy doesn’t know Lucky. They will have to work this out. As I write, the two cats have not yet met. I am sure Happy cat will not be happy as he adjusts to the new guy in town. It is going to be fun around here for the next few weeks.

July 18, 2010

I forgot about the neighbors' kittens!!!! Their cat had four babies. I told them I would take one if they could not find homes for all of them. Yesterday as I was out back weeding a bit--a very little bit, mind you--the neighbor came out and said, "Are you ready for your kitten?" I told him that I had just taken in an older cat, so why not add to the fun. A new cat and a new kitten to get used to the old cat and the dog.

Once upon a time, Happy Cat and Lucky Dog were so content napping on Karen's bed. Then along came "Ditto" (but now answering to "Buddy"--he comes out of hiding when I sing "My Buddy") the street cat. Buddy is still hanging out in the bathroom most of the time, but he is now trying to rule the roost, hissing at everyone except me. Just as Happy and Lucky were adjusting to the new guy, here comes Karen in the back door with a little fur ball of cuteness. The new boy is nameless so far, although Peanut is a useful handle for now. The neighbors called him Cab, short for Cabernet, but I am not fond of that. Cab Calloway and Buddy Guy for the two new ones is OK, but Cab just doesn't work for me, not sure why. I don't think he cares what I call him. Since he does not respond to Cab, I am in the market for cat names. Please send suggestions.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Take Me to the River--Part One

US 50 at the Indiana border to the west side of Cincinnati

Something about the wide expanse of moving water has always attracted people to the banks of a river like the beautiful Ohio, from the business and travel opportunities to the recreational possibilities of navigable waters. The Ohio River from the Indiana border in the west to the West Virginia and Pennsylvania juncture in the east comprises hundreds of miles of small river towns, rolling hills, farm lands, parks, recreational facilities, and industrial development which all take advantage of and inspiration from the moving water.

One enjoyable day trip along the Ohio River begins at the Ohio-Indiana border on U. S. 50, a scenic byway that follows the river into the Queen City, Cincinnati. A perfect way to start the day is with breakfast at the State Line Restaurant, a friendly roadside diner open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week. The breakfast special includes homemade goetta, a popular Cincinnati area German tradition made from ground pork and pinhead oats. Add to the goetta some eggs, hash browns or home fries, toast and coffee and the perfect southern Ohio breakfast is yours. There are no substitutions allowed on the special, and no one would think of substituting anything for the southwest Ohio specialty goetta which is made to perfection daily for a devoted crowd. With four pickups and eight cars parked in front of the diner at 11:30 AM on a springtime Friday, this diner is obviously a local favorite, and it is a wonderful starting point for the trek eastward to Shawnee Lookout conservation area.

After a filling breakfast, travelers can plan on spending the morning at Shawnee Lookout where the recreational possibilities provide ample opportunity to burn breakfast calories. Heading east on U. S. 50 is Elizabethtown where the first light marks the right turn toward Shawnee Lookout, a Hamilton County park. From a challenging 18-hole golf course to numerous hiking trails and a boat ramp for canoe and kayak enthusiasts, Shawnee Lookout encompasses 1,439 acres along the Great Miami River where it feeds into the Ohio. The park works to conserve historical sites and natural resources for all to enjoy. The 1.4-mile Miami Fort Trail follows prehistoric Indian earthen works with views of the Great Miami and Ohio Rivers. The historic Micajah Dunn two-story log cabin, circa 1795, and Springhouse School building, dating back to 1800, can be toured near an Indian burial mound, all adjacent to picnic areas and playgrounds. Three nature trails allow visitors to view the habitats of many birds, fish, mammals, and amphibians which are drawn to the protected wetland areas of the conservancy. Whether it is a morning of golfing, hiking, or paddling, visitors can pause at lunchtime to enjoy a picnic at one of the many beautiful spots in the park, or they can move on down the road to an Ohio historical monument, the Harrison Tomb, and picnic later at another Hamilton county riverside park.

The Harrison Tomb, which is open year-round during daylight hours, can be reached by turning left out of the Shawnee Lookout entrance and following the Ohio River along Brower Road into North Bend, Ohio. This scenic river drive passes industrial developments and a power plant in addition to quaint riverside homes and camps that look over the river to the Kentucky hills. President William Henry Harrison and other family members are honored with a grand limestone tower marking their burial site on Mt. Nebo in North Bend. The tower commands a panoramic view of the bend on the Ohio River near the place where the ninth president spent much of his adult life and met his wife Anna Tuthill Symmes following the War of 1812. The Harrison Tomb is surrounded by a nature path meandering through a lovely hollow and back up to the Congress Green Cemetery, the burial site of Anna’s father, John Cleves Symmes, among others. A short walk and a gorgeous view make this stop worth at least a half-hour of the day’s trip along the Ohio.

A convenient stop for walking along the banks of the Ohio is the Fernbank Park, just east of the Harrison Tomb Historical Site on U.S. 50. In addition to the paved path for biking, walking or running, this Hamilton County park provides sheltered picnic areas and a giant play area for children. Day-trippers who did not picnic at Shawnee Lookout will want to stop here to enjoy a packed lunch and to watch the river traffic of barges and pleasure boats.

For travelers not interested in a picnic, there are a few options for lunch or dinner on U.S. 50 as they travel east toward Cincinnati. If it is a Sunday, Rohrer’s Tavern in North Bend has a buttermilk fried chicken dinner special that includes a dessert of fried apples over ice cream dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with caramel sauce—YUM. The house specialty is their signature, award-winning, hand-breaded cod, or try a half-pound Build-Your-Own Angus burger. Rohrer’s has been an Ohio River town tradition for sixty years.

Another fun stop is a little further east on U.S. 50, right next to Anderson Ferry. The Anderson Ferry takes cars across to Kentucky seven days a week. Next door is Drew’s on the River, a sports bar and grill, which has an outdoor tiki bar and spacious patio overlooking the river. It is a family friendly place during the day for traditional pub food, and Drew’s offers live music every Friday and Saturday night for the adult crowd.

The next stop on the road is the big city—Cincinnati. Traffic picks up and the drive get s a bit complicated. Of course the city has everything to offer travelers—good restaurants, hotels, shopping, professional baseball and football, museums, and the river. Just across the river in Kentucky is Newport on the Levee offering live music, restaurants, shopping and an aquarium for more fun. However, Cincinnati and Newport are for another day, or two, or three. For those who are called to the river, the road continues east toward more adventure and history in the charming river towns yet to come.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dramatic Ponderings/Ramblings July 1st, 2010

There must be a reason…

I’ve heard it and I believe it, “When one door closes, another opens.”

Best laid plans…

I keep getting these messages from God that now is not the time for me to take off for the month of July. And lately I’m getting flack about plans for August—my previously made commitments for August are conflicting with travel plans I want to make.

I better just settle into the idea that there is a reason for me to be here—I have work to do here, work that I would so happily and easily neglect given half a chance to go somewhere else.

What is it about going somewhere else that so entices me? Somewhere= anywhere in most cases…just give me a chance to GO.

And what is it about staying here that does not call me?

I must ponder these questions. What could I be searching for over there? Is it something that I cannot find here?

New people, new music, new vistas, new experiences, new friends, new foods, new art, new fun. I should be able to find those things right here if I would only get out of my rut.

I want to go somewhere else because I cannot conceive of anything new or interesting coming out of my everyday life here. It is harder to change when surrounded by the everyday—so easy to remain in bad habits.

However, I cannot go to the places I want to—not right now anyway. I must stay here and get my work done. There is physical work I need to do, of course. There is probably also some emotional and spiritual work to be done as well.

Perhaps in my busyness and travel I am avoiding the real issues that are most important to my happiness. What ARE those issues? What do I do now?

Negative thoughts, feelings of apathy or fear—I must shed these.

Then again, maybe the travel and busyness are my happiness. I am soooo confused.

I want to go to another music festival over the 4th weekend…Really Karen, $300+ for two days of music in Virginia? Or stay here and get the back yard cleaned up? Okay, I really need to spend some time with friends. I really need to get in touch with reality here. Staycation, try it you might like it. MAYBE.

July 5th, 2010—I stayed home. I worked all week finishing up the GED classes and paperwork. I started cleaning up the garden before the weeds began eating my house. Still more work to do, but I made a good dent.

The best part—and the reason I was meant to stay here—Saturday night all three of my sons came over and we cooked out in my back yard. ALL THREE.

Take note, my friends with young children…When our children get older, their lives become just as busy and complicated as ours. It is often impossible to get everyone together. I am lucky that my boys all live near me, but still we very rarely get together all at once. Someone always has to work. And their mom does love to travel, so she takes off on her own adventures frequently. My habits are as much to blame for missing this family time.

That evening with the boys was laid-back--chatting around a fire, cooking some burgers, and no one rushing of to go somewhere. Precious time with adult children. There really was a reason to staycation this weekend.

As an added bonus, I spent the 4th with my bestest friends cooking out and watching fireworks from the highest point in Butler County, their back yard.

So it was about work, family, and friends. Adventure will be there, next week maybe.

Yes, I do love to travel, and I will continue to go away as often as I can. I just know that sometimes my need to leave is not always the best choice.

Ideally, someday, I will have a partner to share my travels, someone who will be my family and best friend. Until then, I have Lucky Dog and Happy Cat for the road, I have my work to keep me grounded, and I have my friends and family to share my dreams.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dog Rescue

Why is it so hard to do the things we really love and commit to right actions? I have always loved animals, and I will adopt a needy dog or cat far too easily, or try to find a good home for it. I wanted to volunteer at the animal rescue shelter, but I realized the danger in that. I already have enough animals to be responsible for, and I would want to bring home every sweet thing I saw. I am afraid I could become one of those strange cat ladies, so I have to be careful. If I see a stray dog walking along a street while I am driving, my first instinct is to stop and take it home with me. I want to DO something to help needy animals, but I am having trouble finding the avenue for that action.


When I got home from work on Tuesday night, I noticed several calls from my son Adam. He lives around the block from me, and I wondered what was up since he didn't leave a message. I called him, only to find out that he had found a stray dog running the street when he got home from work that night. He was worried because the dog seemed lethargic. I mentioned that it had been 90 degrees all day with 1000% humidity--who wouldn't be lethargic after running around in that all day.

Adam said he would consider keeping this dog as his pet, but he was immediately concerned about his health. I told him to bring the dog over and I would check him out to determine if he needed emergency vet care. We came up with the name Gizmo when I said the little guy looked like a Gremlin with his pointy ears and big, bulging eyes. He is about a 4 pound chihuahua with skinny little legs and a barrel-like torso. Poor thing had toenails that had not been trimmed in ages--they were curling around and back into his pads in places. He was infested with fleas, and his teeth were awful, covered in yellow-brown tartar. First up was a flea bath--I did not want fleas in my house. Next we called brother Matt to bring over his toenail clippers. Adam held the little guy while Matt cut his nails--those he could get to. A few of them were curled into the pads. Poor Gizmo screamed as his nails were trimmed, and really let out some awful sounds when Matt tried to get at the embedded nails. Still, he could now walk much better. No fleas and the ability to walk made this a happy dog.

I told Adam I would try to get Gizmo into my vet the next day; since Adam was working all day Wednesday, I kept the little guy overnight. Wednesday I went out to buy him some soft food because he was unable to chew the kibble I had. I found him a cute collar, too. Once he had a good night's sleep, a belly full of food, some healthy bowel movements and some loving attention, this was a new dog.

Gizmo will go to the vet next week. My friend Sheri came over to work on the embedded nails, and she got them clipped. Sheri is a miracle worker for animals. Gizmo is back at Adam's apartment. We'll see how this goes for the next week.

I want to do more with my time to help animals. I don't have much money to give, but I do have time and physical strength, so I need to find a way to help. Any ideas out there?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ohio River Folk Festival, Madison, IN

May 21 and 22, 2010, I went to the Ohio River Folk Festival in Madison, IN. I camped at Clifty Falls State Park, just outside town. Madison is a great river city, with a vibrant downtown area of quaint shops and cafes. I love walking the several blocks of the downtown shopping district visiting the thriving stores. I went into town early Saturday morning to the Farmers' Market where I bought some eggs, onions, and lettuce. Festivals in Madison are held down by the Ohio River in a park, unfortunately a park with few trees so it can get pretty hot. The lineup for this festival was great, and I will go back again as long as they keep bringing in such talent. I went to see my favorite band, the subdudes, who were the Saturday night headliners, pictured in the top photo. Loudon Wainwright III is pictured below the subdudes, below him--the Carolina Chocolate Drops who are amazing. I'm so glad I got to see them play live. Below the Chocolate Drops is Krista Detor, and from Friday's lineup is Tommy Ramone--yes, of The Ramones, now playing some pretty serious bluegrass.