Monday, December 6, 2010

Belle and Brother

I don’t know if I have told you this about myself or not, but I love animals— pretty much all of them. Except for opossums, they are just ugly and they don’t know how to spell their names correctly. (I mean what is up with a silent ‘o’?) I am not the kind of person who loves animals so much that I won’t eat them or anything, don’t get the wrong idea. I delicately balance a love of helping animals and a love of eating animals you see.  I am the kind of person who will cry if I see one that is hurt or hungry or needs love. That is just the way I am. Some might call me a sissy; I call it tender-hearted.

So, a few weeks ago I was headed with a truck and trailer to gather our heifers at the lease place and bring them back home when I saw it. A little puppy on the side of the road, starving. It was skin and bones. I cried. I stopped and tried to get it to come to me, but it ran off and I cried some more. It didn’t know that I was there to save it and love it and feed it. After I got done with the cows, I headed back down the road in my Jeep armed with dog food to try and coerce the little guy into trusting me so that I could take it home. It was nowhere to be found. I left the food there, cried a lot, and went home.
I took some more food down there a few days later hoping to catch a glimpse of the puppy, but to no avail. I left the food, prayed that it would find it, and went home discouraged again.

 Last Sunday was a beautiful day for a ride. Papa Bear (daddy), John Darrin, and I saddled up and went across the road to ride a bit. When we came up out of the creek, there was the hungry little puppy across the road. And there was another puppy with it. My heart leapt! It was still alive! I looked at John Darrin and told him that we had to save the dogs, glad that I could blame the water in my eyes on the wind in my face. He asked what we were going to do with them. I told him I didn’t care, but we had to save them. He said ok. He is so patient with me.

After we rode back home, I got some dog food and a sausage from Momma’s fridge and we headed back to the barn where we had seen them.  They were still there!

I gradually got one of them to see that I had food and threw it a few bites at a time. Eventually the other came and joined in the feast. They were so skittish. They were so skinny. My eyes filled with tears again. They needed saving, but were so scared and untrusting. I sat there for probably an hour and a half while John Darrin watched from a distance and went and got me more dog food when I ran out.

Then we had a breakthrough. One of them let me scratch her chin, then pat her head, then rub her ears. I was so excited. John Darrin was sitting beside me on the ground and she went over to him and rolled over for him to scratch her belly. The other puppy was much less adventurous. At the slightest movement he scurried back under the barn to safety.

I looked at John Darrin as he was petting the girl and he said, “I like this one.” I smiled and replied, “Perfect, I like the other one.” There was a boy and a girl, brother and sister. The girl was adventurous and brave. The boy was wary and skeptical. They were adorable. I stayed there loving on the girl and trying to convince the boy that I was trustworthy while John Darrin went home and fixed the fence in the back yard. When he got back we coerced them into trusting us with some leftover Thanksgiving turkey, scooped them up, took them home, and put them in our yard.

And that is where they still are. John Darrin named his Belle, and I named mine Brother. They are such happy puppies now. Their tails wag, their bellies are full, and they are putting on weight and getting healthy. 

It is interesting to me to think back to a few weeks ago, when I saw one of them for the first time. I tried to save it. It needed me. But, had I seen it that day, and had I been able to get it to come up to me, I wouldn’t have known to look for a second one. I would have been saving one while leaving the other behind all alone. Isn’t it so great that God is sovereign over every aspect of our lives? From jobs, to health, to children, to saving little hungry puppies or even saving lost souls- His timing is perfect.

Here are some pictures of Belle and Brother. They just keep looking healthier and happier every day. 

This is Belle. She is kind of a brindle color- very similar to Fea!

This is Brother. He is chocolate brown with a little white dot on his chest.

Can you tell they are brother and sister?

They have put on even more weight since this picture.
They are looking so great now!

"Helping" John Darrin fix the fence.
Adios Amigos!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wildflower Bouquets

I had to work Saturday. It was a long day. When I finally got off work, John Darrin was over at the lease place riding his horse. It was a beautiful evening and after being inside all day not getting to enjoy the awesome weather, nothing sounded better to me than hanging out at the lease place, watching John Darrin ride, and enjoying the evening. So that is exactly what I did. While JD rode, I wandered around and looked at the wildflowers, and the pear tree, and watched JD, and looked at the cows, and tried to coerce the neighbor’s donkey to come to the fence (I wasn’t successful by the way). As I was wandering close to the barn I found a couple of old glass jars in the mud. And then I had an idea! I had jars, water, flowers… everything I needed for a pretty flower arrangement. So I got to work…

First I washed the jars off in the cow’s water trough and then set them on the fence to dry while I gathered the rest of my materials.  

I love the hue that the sun casts on everything as it is setting. I gives everything a hint of orange and yellow.

I found some little white flowers that I believe are White Aster, but I could be mistaken.  Any ideas?

And some tall Goldenrod that at first I thought was ragweed, but it was so pretty I took a chance. Later, Mom (Hi, Mom!) confirmed that it wasn’t ragweed so we were ok.

And I found some Texas Sage. There weren’t just a whole lot of these, so I couldn’t get a bunch, but it added some nice color to a mainly white and yellow bouquet.

Then I got some Maximillian Sunflowers. I like these a lot because there are so many blooms on one plant. I guess Maximilliam liked them too since they are named after him.

I found a ladybug on one of the flowers!

Oh, and then I got some grass because I like grass in my bouquets. I am just that kind of girl. I like how fluffy the little heads are. They capture the sunlight.

And then I went to the pear tree and grabbed some of the pears off of the ground that hadn't been chewed on, stepped on, and weren't rotten. They were kind of few and far between.

And then I went back to my work bench (also known as a feed trough).

Now for assembly- I for one am terrible at arranging flowers. It is something that I just don’t have an eye for. Theoretically, in my mind at least, the tall ones go in the middle and the short ones around the outside, but this never works in real life. I usually just end up sticking them wherever I can get the stem to fit. But, with these flowers the rustic-just-kind-of-stuck-anywhere look really works. That is what I am telling myself anyway. So here are the final results.

I wasn’t sure at first if I liked the pears in the bottom, but I just went with it to see how it turned out. I think it turned out alright.

The next one I did without pears for a couple of reasons. One reason was because I wanted it to be a little different from the first one, and the second reason is because the pears wouldn’t fit through the opening.

I also found an old Miller beer bottle and washed it out and used it as a vase. I stuck with only Maximillian Sunflowers and grass for a more simplified bouquet. I liked it.

So, I was finished, but JD was still riding. So I looked around for some more stuff to add when I found some bailing wire and a couple old feed sacks. And this is what I did.

Isn’t that so much fun? Personally, I think the sunlight hitting it the way it is makes it even more beautiful.  So go out there, throw some random stuff together and make it beautiful! You never know how it might turn out.

And here is a picture of a caterpillar just because it is cute.

Love ya,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Flutterbies and Patercillars

(aka Butterflies and Caterpillars)

Sometimes on my way home from work when I have had a particularly unpleasant day or traffic is not behaving the way I wished it would, I will take an early exit and find my way home on back roads. It is therapeutic. It helps me unwind and remember that the world is still beautiful and peaceful and enjoyable even when I-35 isn’t. I highly recommend this unwinding approach to you; it is good for your soul.

After some less-than-pleasant traffic one day last week I decided to do just this and took the back way home. This particular back way consisted of exiting and stopping at a red light where there was a man and woman with a sign asking for gas money. Here was the first part of my therapy lesson. It went something like this,

“Aw, poor Michelle so stressed out from her job that she takes the back way to her house with a refrigerator full of food to eat whenever she is hungry or even if she isn’t. Her house that is just down the road from her loving and supportive family that would be there for her if she were ever in need of anything. Yes, poor Michelle. You have so much to be frustrated about.”

Step one of therapy- be thankful I have a job to drive to and from, a car to drive it in, a house to come home to, a fridge full of food, a loving husband, a close and supportive family, and no need unmet.

Lesson learned. I am unbelievable spoiled and not near as thankful as I should be for the abundance of blessings that I have and enjoy every day of my life. I have never gone without food, shelter, gas money, a vehicle, or love. I gave them a dollar I found in my purse. Humility and thankfulness- check.

I then turned onto the winding dirt road where I planned to unwind myself. And I did just that. The road was empty except for me and some beautiful sunshine accompanied by the perfect early fall breeze. As I turned one corner, I was met by a field of purple gay feathers. So I got out with camera in hand ready to enjoy the flowers.

The flowers were gorgeous and I wasn’t the only one there enjoying them. Flittering here and there were butterflies of all shapes and sizes and colors along with a few bumblebees thrown in. I had so much fun taking pictures! There was a skittish blue-tailed swallow tail butterfly that just wouldn’t hold still to have his picture taken. And there was an orange with white spots butterfly (whose name I don’t know) that was very photogenic and loved to pose for the camera. And then the bumblebee who couldn’t care less if I was there trying to take its picture or not. The weather and the scenery were perfect.

Step two of therapy- don’t be so caught up in myself that I don’t stop and enjoy the little things around me every day that sing out that they were made by a loving, creative, God. A God who put them on this earth not because it was necessary, but because they are beautiful and bring glory to Him!

Again, lesson learned. Not only do I have every need in life met, but beyond that— this world that I live in is beautiful and alive and created to bring glory to the Lord- and it does its job well! Awe and praise to God- check.

Then I went home. And there crawling along my porch was the cutest little caterpillar. He was scooching along trying to find his way somewhere while only being able to see the inches in front of him. I wanted to move him to somewhere he would be happier, but he had all these spines all over him that were not inviting. He could not see the bigger picture that he was climbing up our porch when there was a caterpillar-friendly tree right next to him. He could not see that the spot where he was he had been several times before. He just inched along, not even knowing he was lost.

Step three of therapy- don’t be a caterpillar. Be approachable even when I don’t think I am lost, don’t be so na├»ve as to think that I have it all figured out when I can only see 3 inches in front of my face, don’t wander around in circles in life.

Final lesson learned. I don’t have life figured out. I don’t see the big picture. I wander around in circles. But, I have the God of the universe to turn to and He will direct my path. All I have to do is turn to Him. Helplessness except for my Father in heaven- check.

It was a very enlightening hour of my life.

An excellent drive home.

Love ya,

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In All My Years

I have learned a lot. I have. And I know that I only have 24.391781 years (that is correct to the day by the way) chalked up to my name, but that is more that some people have and those people might benefit from my life experience and knowledge so who am I to withhold it? So without further adieu—Life Lessons from Michelle will now commence.

Number 1- (This is some fairly recently acquired knowledge) There is a silent ‘i’ in the word adieu.

Number 2- Being genuinely nice to people for no alternative motive rather than treating them well is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for mankind. That may seem like a very broad claim, but I believe it. It is called loving your neighbor and it works.

Number 3- There is such a thing as miniature pot belly pigs and they will make you smile no matter how bad of a mood you are in. Go ahead, think about how bad your day has been and then look at this and try not to smile. 

Number 4- Handmade or thought-filled gifts trump more expensive, generic gifts every time.

Number 5- The world is not like Bolivar, Texas.

Number 6- You may have the best of intentions, but if you don’t follow through it doesn’t count.

Number 7- If you melt chocolate, and grind up some graham crackers and then dip marshmallows in the chocolate and roll it in the graham cracker crumbs you will have instant joy in your mouth and happiness in your belly.

Number 8- Marriage is tough. Worth it, but still tough. It is that whole living with another sinner thing that will get you.

Number 9- There are lots of people in this world that are beautiful and the more you get to know them the more beautiful they are. My mother is one of them.

Number 10- It is possible for your parents to be some of your best friends and confidants. I think America has this view of- you get married, move off, become independent, and visit your family on holidays because you should be able to make it on your own. I have a different view- get married, move out, support yourself, visit as often as you can and go to your parents for love and support and wisdom because they have made it on their own.

Number 11- If someone doesn’t have the kind of family that they can turn to when they need help, then adopt them.

Number 12- I don’t want to have triplets. They are cute and all, but dang- that’s a lot of work.

Number 13- Chocolate always wins.

Number 14- I think that Microsoft Paint can do a lot for a picture.

Number 15- Dress for your husband and no one else.

Number 16- The simple life is the best life.

Number 17- Smile even when you don’t mean it. You might just rub off on yourself.

Number 18- Not everyone appreciates engineering jokes.

Number 19- It seems like everyone else in the world has an accent except Texans, but apparently that is not the case.

Number 20- If you do anything that you have to hide from anyone, then stop doing it. (Unless it is like a surprise party or something.)

Number 21- If you hate big cities, working in one and driving to one everyday will slowly and painfully begin to chip away at your soul. Sometimes it will make you cry. But you have to remember that it is not going to be like this for the rest of your life and someday, Lord willing, your commute will be down the hall to your kid’s room to pick them up when they are crying and that will carry you through the traffic.

That’s all I got.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Candle holders, Beans, and Peas

I got to work Friday morning and found a gift-wrapped box sitting in my desk chair. Talk about an awesome way to start your day! I absolutely love receiving gifts! Absolutely love it! And I love giving gifts, especially to John Darrin. It is just so fun! But, this isn’t about John Darrin—this is about me and the present sitting in my chair. Turns out it was an early Christmas present from the lovely Malorie at work! Isn’t that cool? Christmas in September, I love that idea!

So I tore open the box to find two beautiful glass candle holders. They are gorgeous and immediately ideas for decorating started pouring through my mind. Well, Sunday afternoon I had an experiment in mind that I wanted to try out so I started playing around with them and this was the result.

Aren’t those fun? I already had the metal candle holder in the middle, and these two glass ones go so well with it! I was so happy with how they turned out. The green color you see is split green peas, and the white is great northern beans. Here is the how-to for making them criss-crossed:

First, I went to Burrus (the grocery store in Sanger) and bought two 1 pound bags of split green peas and two bags of great northern beans. It was less than $5 total.

Next, I cleaned the inside of my candle holders with glass cleaner. I waited to do the outside so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting finger prints all over them.

Ok, so you have your candle holder. Now get a piece of paper- I used card stock that I had because it is a little heavier and I thought that would work better. It would probably work with regular paper too, I bet.

Now measure the diameter of your candle holder and cut two pieces of paper to that size. Now cut half-way up the middle of both pieces of paper. Like dis:

Then insert the paper cuts into each other to make an ‘X’. Like dis:

Then try and see if it fits snugly into your holder. I had to trim the bottom corners of mine so that it fit all the way to the bottom of the candle holder.


Next, cut the corner off of one of the bags of beans. Don’t make the opening too big because you want to be able to easily control the flow of beans. “Easily control the flow of beans” is not a statement that I thought I would be typing today.

So start pouring beans into one of the four quadrants, if you will. Some beans may sneak underneath your paper if the bottom isn’t perfectly flat. That’s not really a big deal because you aren’t going to be able to see the bottom anyway. Pour a bit into one quadrant and then a bit into the one catty-corner to it. Kinda like this:

This means it is working!

Now pour some green peas into the other two quadrants.

Keep going back and forth between the peas and beans until you get to the depth that you want.

This was great for me. I used one bag each of peas and beans per candle holder. I had a few peas left over because if I had used them all the heights would have been uneven.
Alright so now you are ready to gently pull the paper ‘X’ out.

Nice and easy! Here is the top view:

Isn’t that fun?

Then I smushed a candle down in it to finish it off.

Now if your lines between the beans and peas are kind of curved or not perfect ( I had one of these the first time I did it) you can use a butter knife to gently weave it between the beans/peas and then straighten it up so you have a nice crisp line.

Then you are done!

Kind of fun, huh?

And there are lots of different things you could use if you aren’t feeling the green and white. You could use pinto beans or coffee beans and do brown, black beans for black, rice for off white, noodles if you are into that sort of things. The possibilities are endless! If you do this, let me know how it turns out! Better yet, send me a picture!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Love Dogs

I do. I am a dog person through and through. They are so lovable, easy to get along with, easy to train, snuggly, loyal, and can have so much personality. I grew up with dogs. Dogs are the best.

Cats are another subject all together. They are ok at their best and demonic at their worst. They are not lovable, not easy to get along with, not trainable, have claws, no loyalty except to Hitler, and they have personalities, but not the kind that is enjoyable. I grew up with barn cats and a few indoor cats here and there throughout life. If I had to choose between dogs and cats I would choose dogs every time.

Unless, of course, the question was something like, “What animal should be chosen to fly an unmanned air craft to the sun to see just how close we can get?” In that case my choice would be cats. Or maybe daddy-long-legs spiders. Yes, definitely daddy-long-legs.
To recap thus far:
Dogs >> Cats > Daddy-long-legs

Now that we have the hierarchy of things established, allow me to tell you about John Darrin’s and my pets. We have zero dogs, two cats, and lots of daddy-long-legs. HOW MESSED UP IS THAT???? Granted, the daddy-long-legs are not really pets; they just live under our back steps and do their creeping undulating thing that is just so nasty. I honestly just shivered thinking about it. Ugh. Sick.
We do have two cats, however. One cat is our pet on purpose and the other cat adopted us. JD found our first cat in my parents’ garage when she was about 3 months old and brought her home. She is our indoor cat and her name is Fea (pronounced fay-ah), isn’t that a pretty name? We thought so. Fea is the Spanish word meaning “ugly”. This is a very fitting name for her. When Dad saw her for the first time he said, “Well, it’s an ugly little thing isn’t it?” And he was right. She is an ugly little thing.
This is Fea. Isn't that it kind of cool how the colors on her face
split down the middle?
This is Fea being cute.
Our other cat’s name is Ita (pronounced ita), isn’t that a weird name? It is actually a nickname for Bandita. You see, Ita is a Siamese cat. She is gorgeous- brown legs, face, and ears, a beautiful creamy-tan body and crystal blue eyes. When JD was growing up they had a Siamese cat also and his name was Bandit. Since our cat looked similar to his cat, he named her Bandita, and we just call her Ita. So there you go. Ita adopted us. She lived under our house for a while and we started feeding her and gave her a cardboard box with an old towel in it to lie on. Eventually she let us pet her and she moved to living on the front porch. She is there every morning when I leave for work, and every afternoon when I get home, and every night before I go to bed, and I am fairly certain every time in between.
This is Ita. Isn't she gorgeous?
Such beautiful blue eyes, and such a sweet disposition.

Another recap:

Fea- pretty name, ugly cat, ADHD indoor cat
Ita- weird name, beautiful cat, lackadaisical outdoor cat

And finally to recap both recaps to pull this thing together completely:

We like dogs the best and have zero. We don’t really care for cats and have two, an indoor one and an outdoor one. The indoor one is crazy and ugly. The outdoor one is laid back and beautiful. We hate daddy-long-legs and have 5 billion under our back steps undulating as I type.

There is a term for this and it is backward!!!

Shivering at the though of what is under our back steps,