Monday, April 30, 2012

Any Fertilizer is Good Fertilizer, Right?

Thankfully, Riley survived her weekend with me.

If you were following this blog last fall, you may remember that Riley is a shnoodle that Mark and I sometimes pet-sit for when her owners are out of town. Riley appears in most family pictures. Her food is sliced up for her. She stands in front of you and yips if you keep your attention turned away from her for too long. Right now she has little pink and yellow bows in her fur above her ears. I tell you, this couple loves their dog.

From the pictures you may not be able to tell, but Riley is an old lady, about 87 in dog years, and she’s recently come down with a heart condition that causes her to pass out if she gets too excited. She takes a heart pill every morning with peanut butter. She’s not, under any circumstances, allowed to pull on the leash. That means, when we go for our walk in the evening, either I go where she goes and at the pace she goes, or I pick her up and carry her.

I’m not supposed to let her get excited in any way, either. If the doorbell rings, I’m to ignore the person at the door and immediately pick Riley up and try to calm her down. The person standing outside can wait or come back later.

If Riley passes out, I’m to hold her until she comes to. I was even shown where Riley’s owners have cleared a spot in their drop freezer for me to place her body, should she not revive from a faint while they are away.

Such is the seriousness with which Riley’s heart condition is treated.

Husband went to Minnesota for the weekend, so I was going to be on my own with Riley until late Sunday afternoon. I was looking forward to the weekend with some trepidation.

As I biked over to Riley’s house Friday evening after work, it started to rain. And the wind. Oh, it was windy.  I ate supper with Riley’s unblinking eyes upon me and then settled into the living room. The wind threw the rain against the glass windows with a sound like bullets. Soon I could hear the rumblings of thunder.

Did I mention Riley’s also terrified of storms?

So, I sat in the living room on the couch, Riley’s trembling body pressed against my leg, and I prayed, Please, God, don’t let her pass out.

Around 8:00, there was a break between storms. The wind didn’t die down a bit, but at least the rain had stopped.

I decided that now was the time to take Riley for her walk.

Another thing about Riley is that she always is taken for a walk in the evening. This is partly for the purpose of exercise and partly for the purpose of keeping her systems running smoothly. She must do her ‘big job’ while on the walk, and more specifically, on the church lawn. Any other lawn between Riley’s house and the church is a no-trespassing zone for ‘big jobs.’

Riley lives in a section of town where lawns are manicured meticulously and fertilized fastidiously. If a dandelion dares to rear its ugly head amid the identical green blades of grass, its life is quickly and coldly snuffed out.  I share this so you will understand that if a dog dared to leave a parting gift in their lawns, they would know.

I could tell from the beginning that the walk was destined for failure. I carried Riley for the first block because she kept trying to pull me back to the house, and doggone it, we were going to go on a walk and she was going to do the big job that she’s supposed to do every night. I was not going to be held responsible for a constipated dog.

Anyway, I could tell the walk would fail because as we exited the house, Riley began trembling all over again. I thought to myself, in willful ignorance, Maybe she’s just excited to be outside. But when we arrived at the church lawn and I set Riley down, she immediately started pulling back to the house. I grudgingly acknowledged to myself that the gale-force wind and dark clouds scuttling across the sky might have put a damper on Riley’s enthusiasm for an evening walk.

I acquiesced. We would go home. Hopefully she could hold her big job in until morning.

We crossed the street, and Riley jumped up onto the grass of the first lawn we came to. Almost immediately she squatted down. “No, Riley!” I said weakly, glancing at the windows of the house whose lawn Riley was now desecrating. I felt very obvious standing there, watching Riley, but I was thankful that I had had the foresight to bring a bag along with me. These people would never know that their holy lawn had been tainted.

As I pulled the bag out of my pocket, I hoped the people sitting in the car at the stop sign were watching this display of conscious and responsible dog-care. I held the bag aloft in one hand, and the wind caught it. And carried it away, to plaster itself against that same car at the stop sign.

I turned away quickly, now praying fervently that the people in the car were not watching my display of pet-care. I watched helplessly as Riley finished her big job. I couldn’t run after the bag with a dog who wasn’t supposed to get excited. I couldn’t leave Riley in someone’s lawn. And I didn’t want to ask the people in the car to stop so I could peel my bag off of their car door. There was only one solution: the poop would have to stay where it was planted.

The car moved on, away from the stop sign, and Riley and I crossed the street and into the next yard.

Riley proceeded to leave one small gift in each of the next three yards we came to. If anyone has ever tried to stop a dog from pooping, they know that it’s not possible, nor is it really fair to the poor dog. So, I alternated impatient glances at Riley and mortified glances at the windows of the houses we paused by.

When we arrived back at Riley’s house, I gave the shuddering dog her treat for doing her big job and called my mom to bemoan the doomed walk. My mom asked if I was going to go back with a bag and pick up the piles of poo.

I said no. No way, after all of that, did I want to be discovered as a creepy person lurking in someone’s front yard in the twilight. Or, even worse, after visiting a few yards, be discovered as a creepy person lurking in someone’s front yard with a bag of poop.

No, I would just be thankful that I didn’t overexcite Riley into a state of unconsciousness and pray that rain melts the poo away.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Two Weekends Away

I haven’t been neglecting this blog for the last two weeks because of a disinclination to write, or a lack of subjects on which to write. I’ve just been so busy. Busy with all good things, however.

Two weekends ago, Husband and I drove to Minnesota to celebrate our nephew’s birthday and dedication at church. We thoroughly enjoyed the irony of eating cupcakes decorated with vegetables made from candy, and we played with Million in the back yard for hours.

Million is breaking us in to the concept of parenting gently. Or just giving us a false impression of what parenting is like. We played and played and played, but when Million’s diaper needed changing, Daddy got called in. When lunchtime rolled around, Million went to Mommy and Daddy for his birthday lunch of homemade pretzels with cheese sauce. Husband and I were ready to call in Mommy or Daddy to console when I accidentally kicked a ball into Million’s face (Bad Aunt award, right here), but consolation wasn’t necessary. I thoroughly appreciate having a nephew with an utterly unsinkable spirit.

I don’t even remember the week that was sandwiched in between that trip to Minnesota and my trip across Iowa this weekend. I think I was tired and read when I should have been dealing with other, more pressing, matters.

I just returned home today from the annual Sisters Weekend. Every spring all of the women on my mom’s side of the family get together for a chance to bond and refill our estrogen tanks. Granma, aunts, and female cousins combined, we had eleven women (and one baby girl) in my Aunt Becky’s house yesterday and today. Last night my little sister passed around for our inspection a menstrual cup that she is planning to try, and only in a unique female-only situation such as Sisters Weekend would that menstrual cup be forgotten on a couch cushion.

I left for Sisters Weekend nervous because in my mom’s family teasing is the common tongue, and I hadn’t told most of the ladies who would be present about Husband’s and my infertility frustrations.

My fears proved to be unfounded, however. The subject did come up, but not as a joke. Instead of feeling like I was defending myself against ribbing, I felt supported and encouraged. I was reminded again how important mutual support is. Husband and I are not an island, and women can give the encouragement that is sometimes hard for Husband to give.

I was sorry to leave the haven of aunts’ wisdom and an ever-percolating coffee pot, but I feel refreshed and ready to start a new week.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Showcasing Librarians

Husband and I had another chat about the book challenge last night. In order to assuage my guilt, Husband grudgingly agreed We’ve both agreed that because my job has changed and put me in charge of some adult programming at the library, and because I have my book blog up and running (if you haven’t checked it out yet, you can find it here!), it’s important for me to keep up with current literature. But I still want to continue my challenge. I do want to read all the books that captured my interest enough to make me part with my hard-earned money and purchase.

Husband helped me come up with a new guideline: For every one book I read off of my shelves at home, I can read four books from the library, friends, and so forth.

Now I’m hoping that the following vignettes of librarians will give you cause to chuckle and willingness to show this silly librarian some lenience.

Vignette 1

Husband and I are sitting on the couch in the evening, talking about our days.

Me: So… I may have checked out another book from the library… and I may have brought it home to finish it.

Husband: What? Why’d you check out another book? What about your challenge?

Me: (Shifting uncomfortably, not looking Husband in the eye.) I forgot The Fellowship of the Ring at home this morning. And I needed something to read during my lunch hour!

Husband: You couldn’t find anything else to do during your lunch hour besides read?

Me: Well, I was planning on finding something else to do, but then when I was walking past the Young Adult section, I saw this book that I had started looking at when we were at Barnes and Noble last week.

Husband: And then, what? Zombie librarian took over: “Reeeeead book!” (Wiggling fingers in front of face, eyes glazed over.)

Me: Well… It wasn’t like I consciously chose to pick up the book. I was walking past, and my hand shot out of its own volition. Then before I knew what was happening, I had somehow checked the book out to myself and I was sitting in the break room! I can kind of sympathize with kleptomaniacs. 

Vignette 2

I am walking back from the library in the dark with a fellow librarian, L. L is carrying a book, and I remember that she told me she had been reading while walking to the library earlier in the day.

Me: (Already laughing. It’s dark, after all.) So, L, are you going to read on our walk home now?

L: (Smiles.) I was thinking about it.

Me: I guess there are enough streetlights… You could pick up your book every time you’re under one.

L: (Holding up her cell phone, with the screen lit.) Yeah, and I’ve got my cell phone!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Few Thoughts for Easter

Easter this year, for me, can only be seen through the lens of infertility. Even though we don’t get to spend the day with family, I was yearning for Easter, looking forward to Easter, much more than most years. And I didn’t spend much time dwelling on Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion. I just didn’t have the heart to. All I wanted was His triumph.

I’d like to share with you a couple of my thoughts about Easter this year.


Tyler (not his real name) is a rotund unkempt man who comes into the library daily. Despite his appearance, he’s almost childlike in the way that he just about butts to the front of the line to get a computer at the library and then to pick up his color copies of scantily clad female swimmers and gymnasts. He greets everyone he meets, whether he knows them or not. Even from a block away he’ll throw up his hand and holler a greeting to the oblivious walker. He keeps up a steady stream of conversation with himself or the librarian (though it’s often hard to figure out who he’s talking to) about baseball or the weather or his caretakers. His insatiable cheerfulness can only be dampened when the color copier is out of order and he has to print his copies on the black-and-white printer.

I’ve been continuously disappointed in myself by my dislike of Tyler. His cheerfulness irritates me. I don’t like being greeted from a block away and then trying to decide whether to yell back or wait in uncomfortable suspense until he’s closer to say hi. He’s too loud, even in the library, and I don’t appreciate all of the risqué pictures he prints off.

But at the same time, Tyler makes me think about what love really means. Loving like Christ isn’t just about reading books to my adorable nephew or feeding the wide-eyed starving child pictured on the mission organization’s newsletter. Loving the way Christ did is messy. It may involve looking ridiculous and yelling a hello from a block away or showing kindness in spite of a bad habit. Christ loved me when I was unkempt, unappealing, and all around unlovable.

Can I learn to love others like that?

Fulfilling every desire

A few quotes from the book Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, struck me yesterday:

“Nothing is more often misdiagnosed than our homesickness for Heaven. We think that what we want is sex, drugs, alcohol, a new job, a raise, a doctorate, a spouse, a large-screen television, a new car, a cabin in the woods, a condo in Hawaii. What we really want is the person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for, Heaven. Nothing less can satisfy us. C.S. Lewis said, ‘The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God.’ ”

When reading, I thought, what do I really want? As most of you know, right now that answer’s easy: a baby. I realized that what Randy Alcorn was saying was that all of those things, some of which are not bad in and of themselves, are really just misplaced homesickness. When I say that my heart yearns for a baby, I’m actually feeling a longing for Jesus. Only I don’t diagnose it that way.

And if that longing for a baby is really a longing for Jesus, then doesn’t it follow that when I’m with Him in Heaven or on the new Earth, I will feel fully satisfied and happy, even if I never had a baby during my lifetime? I believe the answer is yes. And that is comforting.

Steven Curtis Chapman- “Believe Me Now”

This song speaks to me. No matter our circumstances, our God is a God of love, and that has not changed.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Change of Pace

A change of pace is good. Without realizing it, my thinking often gets into a rut. A change of pace gives my mind a ladder to climb out of the rut for a little while.

For example, one day when I’m walking to work, I might start thinking about something unpleasant, like the mountain of student loans Husband and I are trying to pay off, as I glance at some nondescript tree by the sidewalk. Then the next day I see the same tree and I am reminded of how I thought about student loans. The next day the association is easier, and so forth.

However, if Husband and I decide to take a daytrip to a semi-nearby city to visit stores and eat in a restaurant, I might see a tree by the side of the highway as we drive along. But instead of being reminded about student loans, I’m thinking instead of how excited I am to eat at Olive Garden and look at e-readers in stores.

Husband and I did, in fact, take a trip to an Iowa city yesterday, and it was an excellent change of pace. I meant to take pictures, but I forgot the camera.

We ate at Olive Garden. Soup: chicken gnocchi, vegetarian minestrone, and too many garlicky breadsticks.

We went to Target and Barnes and Noble to look at e-readers. I think I want to get one. Professional development as a librarian, and all that. E-ink or color? Nook or Kindle? I’m really not sure yet, but it was fun to look.

And then Husband braved Old Navy like a champ, while I waded through the crowds around the clearance racks.

When we came home, we were invited to another couple’s house to sit around a bonfire and eat s’mores. (In March, I keep reminding myself.)

Lovely, pseudo-summer change of pace.