Sunday, October 29, 2006
So, with Halloween only days away I've a story to share fitting of the season. I heard it years ago from my Dad, and he relayed it to me a few days after it happened to him.
Dad and his wife Rita had spent an evening watching television as they often did. Shortly after nine o'clock Rita went to bed while Dad stayed up to watch a couple of his favorite shows before calling it a night. Sometime later he fell asleep in his chair and was awakened by Rita around two in the morning. He opened his eyes and saw her standing in front of him, dressed in her long night gown. Convinced he was now awake, she turned and began walking back to their bedroom. Dad sat in his chair and watched her, eyes open, seeing and yet disbelieving. Walking next to Rita was a little girl also dressed in a long night gown. With one hand the child was holding Rita's left hand and with the other she held a teddy bear. Thinking he was still asleep, Dad rubbed his eyes and shook his head. The girl was still there. He called out to Rita and she stopped. The little girl stopped as well, and peered at my father around Rita's body. Dad asked Rita who the little girl was and Rita asked him what he was talking about. He pointed to her and said she was standing at Rita's side.
Now, my father was a bit of a prankster and naturally Rita passed this off as one of those moments, told him to stop trying to scare her and walked away, disappearing into the hallway that led to their bedroom. She didn't see any child. Dad sat there momentarily, wondering. Asking himself many questions. Had he imagined the child? Maybe it was just a trick of the light from the television screen. Maybe he was still asleep. He rose from the chair, turned off the television, and followed Rita to bed.
Over coffee that morning, Dad brought up the subject of the little girl with Rita. She didn't believe him, and voiced her displeasure at this attempt to scare her. She waved him away...until she saw something in his eyes. There was a seriousness she recognized, and at that moment she realized this wasn't one of his jokes.
I treated him with the same certainty that he was toying with me in the retelling of what had happened. But within minutes, his seriousness and conviction had me wondering if maybe he really did see something in the living room that night. Especially after he told me he checked the property records and learned a family had lived in the house before Rita. Prompted by curiosity he did some research and also learned the family had built the home for themselves but moved out within a few years after a child died from an illness; the child was a six year old girl.
In talking with my sisters about the experience, we were mixed about what Dad had seen. Whether it was just his imagination or his sleepy mind playing tricks with his eyes, or something else...we didn't agree. But each of us agreed on one thing; Rita was a warm, loving person, the kind of person children connect with and are drawn to. If Dad really had seen the little girl it was easy to see why she was drawn to Rita.
Last year I asked Rita about that story and whether she still believed my father. She does, and she admitted that every so often when she walks through the living room she feels a little cold in the place where Dad says he saw the girl. She feels a little cold, even during the hottest day of summer. And her home doesn't even have air conditioning.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Want to play? Title an entry "Trick or Treat Through J-Land", then copy & paste these instuctions so others can play.
Visit as many journals as you can that have a "Trick or Treat" entry & leave comments with your links.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Earlier this summer (July 5) I experienced a spectacular sunset. With dinner on the stove I couldn't hop in my Jeep and drive off to the place I go to photograph such events. I was bummed because it was the most jaw-dropping sunset ever, but most of it was blocked by the trees in the canyon behind our home.
Turns out someone else in my fair city was taking photos at the same exact time I was...but they had a much better view. Hope they don't mind my linking to their photo.
A different shot taken by someone else <click me>
It's rather interesting to find that someone with a different perspective has taken the very same photograph at the very same time as my own. Side by side the two pics can't be more than a couple of seconds apart. Same scene and yet so very different.
"Imagination is the beginning of creation.
You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last - you create what you will."
~ George Bernard Shaw ~
Saturday, October 21, 2006
The house is quiet. I have the blanket covering me and my trusty laptop balanced on my knees. The cat is sleeping on my legs, curled into a purring striped furry bundle of assuring warmth. Below my feet Rumbeau is softly snoring and the sound makes me smile. And Allie is having a fitful sleep again, flipping her paws in sync with her whistling tea kettle whimper. I debate on whether to wake her if for no other reason than to save my ears from being stuffed with either cotton or my fingers to muffle the sound.
Sam is away this week, gone on his annual hunting trip. I have the house to myself and I am blissfully aware of just how much I do enjoy this time. My time. I've been sick all week, fighting another bout of walking pneumonia since last Thursday. Spent five days flat on my back, giving my body the rest it needs...bored out of my mind. Daytime television programming can be tolerated only so long. Returned to work Wednesday morning and felt okay until I started fading around 1 p.m. I lasted until 3 p.m. before calling it a day. Board meeting last night so I didn't go to the office until Noon yesterday, but my boss sent me home at 3 so I could get a quick nap before the meeting. Presented the new budget for Board approval so I needed to be available in case of questions. None came up, but I feel I just stumbled through my financial report. Not happy with that. Felt disconnected...probably from fatigue and medication.
Haven't written much about baby D; it seems each time I see her she's learned a new word or animal sound, although she's perfectly content chatting in her own personal babble. That's what I enjoy the most, those moments when she's engaged in some carefree dialogue with herself, speaking, moving, tilting her head this way and that, then stopping to cast those deep baby blues right through my heart and soul. Her present vocabulary includes Dada (her favorite word), Mama, bunny, and another word that might be her attempt to say her Mom's given name...hard to tell.
D experienced the fair last month with her Mom and Dad, who reported she fears nothing. Without hesitation she headed straight for the petting zoo and in no time had a goat by the horns. I've got a few pictures and there's one of her standing next to a little white pony about her size...such sweetness. She loves books and having someone read to her. Last time Sam and I visited, I spent the entire time interacting with her. The sense of peace I found sitting on the floor with my back against the couch watching her travel back and forth between me and her book shelf is immeasurable. Several trips later, satisfied with her amassed literary findings, she crawled onto my lap and unceremoniously thrust one book after another in my face. Priceless.
Wonder what she's going to be for Halloween this year; last year she was a soft white bunny with long floppy ears. :)
I've been craving Italian food lately and maybe tonight I'll treat myself to something special. Sam should be home tomorrow morning and if the guys got something everyone will gather at Bill's home to cut, package and divide the meat between all the families. Never was much of a supporter of hunting, having grown up in LA where hunting was as much a part of daily life as a quiet walk in secluded woods. I grew up on Bambi and associated hunters with the scene where Bambi's Mom is shot, a way of thinking that stayed with me throughout my adult years...until I met Sam. He didn't fit the stereotypical hunter out for the sake of bagging a prize trophy; hunting is a means to feed his family. The first time I accompanied him on a hunt it was obvious to both of us by the end of the day that hunting was not my thing. 90% of the time was spent hiking the rocky mountain terrain and I complained the entire time: my feet hurt, this rifle's too heavy, I have to stop for a break. Just before dusk we jumped two does and within seconds Sam had the stock of his rifle pressed against his cheek and bamm! All I could do was stand there, frozen, mouth agape; I don't have the killer instinct...no surprise there. The only shooting I'll do is with a camera. At the cabin later that night, I stood outside on the porch, filled with a sense of eerie unrest, gazing at the doe's carcass hanging from a nearby tree. I felt compelled to thank her spirit for providing the family with another year of food, and only after doing so did I feel balanced again. It's something I do every year when the guys return with an animal that will soon be served on my table. About half the meat is ground into burger, some is set aside for jerky, some becomes steak and we always can a couple dozen jars with beef bouillon and onion flakes. Canned deer meat loses that gamy taste, is similar to canned tuna in texture and it makes an awesome stroganoff. The burger and jerky are great, but the steaks require extra measures to combat the toughness and gamy taste. The few years we had deer or elk we saved hundreds of dollars at the local grocer meat counter.
Spent the evening playing and creating tags and graphics for Halloween. Seems I rarely have time for such pursuits anymore, but the time I do spend I so thoroughly enjoy. With each project I get a little better. The tag below is snaggable.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Picked this up from Linda's journal: Linda's World
1. Grab the nearest book. If you are currently reading something, that'll be fine too.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your Blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet I know that is what you were thinking!
6. Tag 5 people
"Sometimes I hear the whistle at night, and I've had to stop more than once at the crossing to let the train pass, but it's not as if I could tell you for certain. I do know that they make a lot of shipments from the mill, though. That's where the train actually stops."
Jeremy nodded as he stared at the trestle.
True Believer by Nicholas Sparks
Breaking the rule and not assigning the tag to anyone. Participate if the spirit so moves you.
>At least once a week I receive an e-mail message warning me about recent suspicious activity on an account I have somewhere. I am then advised to click on a link to verify my account information. This is always followed by a threat to suspend my account if I fail to immediately act on the request.
Please, I think whist rolling my eyes.
We've all heard about this criminal activity and I believe it's called phishing. Each time I receive one, after the ceremoneous rolling of my eyes I wonder how many people are fooled into believing these messages are legit. Worried, they click on the supplied link to address the problem.
Based on what I know (research) messages of this nature do not originate from the company named within. Criminal intent is the name of the game and someone is banking (pardon the pun) on hitting an uninformed individual who will open the door to their personal and financial information. Education is the best protection against these thieves, and as long as they believe people will respond to their messages they will continue to persue their next victim.
What to do.
Never click on the link provided. Ever. Because it will not take you to the company's website. Anyone can have a website these days and that link is pointing to a very bad place to be avoided. Period. The URL behind that link never points to the company's website. Best thing to do is to forward the message to the company it claims to be from. Any reputable company doing business on the internet will have resources available to their customers for combating this type of activity. Take a few minutes, after you close the message, to visit the company's website so you can determine the best course of action. Most will provide an e-mail address and instruct you to forward the message to them. After you forward the message, delete it from your e-mail. The company will reply, confirm the message is a scam, and provide you with further information on their policies and practices for addressing this problem.
Trust me, if there really was suspicious activity on your account, the company will likely contact you by phone. They need to talk to you and the telephone is the tool they will use.
This type of activity can also be reported to the FBI at a special website they have set up to combat this type of criminal activity. <Click me> to visit the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Don't be fooled or taken in by criminals. Arm yourself with information and stay aware. These are easy steps to take toward your future. We all have worked hard to get where we are, and we will not allow any one to mess with our lives or our plans.
** Education is the best provision for old age.**
Monday, October 16, 2006
Change...we often fight or resist it but sometimes change can bring us exactly what we want.
I was just visiting some blogs on blogspot and noticed some have ads placed on their page. Have to say I'm not totally surprised...it is inevitable when everyone is minding the bottom line.
Seeing those ads reminded me of the huge uproar and exodus last year when AOL first put the ads on our journals. At first I got caught up in the moment and reacted...then slept on it...next day brought a new view of things and the whole banner ads thing really didn't matter anymore to me.
That was the day I learned a convicted child rapist was living two doors down from my home.
I was chatting with the neighbor girl, A, in my front yard when our new neighbor from across the street approached us. He thought A was my daughter and asked if I knew the people two doors down. I didn't really; I knew of them and every one was trouble if you know what I mean. So with A standing right there (she's now 10) he relayed the news of the 18 year old convict living in our neighborhood. Sadly, I wasn't surprised by the news and I'll explain. The family in question was dysfunctional and many times I heard the 18 year old calling his younger brother a fag, and several other words not worth repeating; fights and yelling came from the home on a weekly basis. There was so much anger eminating from that house just the sight of the place made my skin crawl. When the family first moved in, the younger boy found Sam and I outside, so he approached us and introduced himself (I think he was about 9 or 10 at the time). I sensed he was looking for an escape...a friendly face...so I welcomed him; my husband sensed something else and cautioned me not warm up to him too much. As it turned out, the boy later became a problem for us as he and his buddies liked to have late night parties on the grounds of our tree farm, among other things.
I thanked the neighbor for telling me and when he walked away, I asked A if her mom was home; she wasn't and so I asked A to promise me that she would never stop at that house two doors down. She had to walk past it everyday on her way home from schooland I often saw theboys hanging around outside late in the afternoon. Sometimes they harassed A and her brothers as they walked past...actually the children were usually running past that house. I was worried about A's safety, but by the first of the year the 18 year old disappeared and then I learned the family would be moving...soon. They were renting the property and the owner wanted them out by spring.
The place is a dump and a major eye sore. Each time I drove and walked past the house I was filled with dread. These people trashed the house and yard. We live on a narrow street; when two cars pass each other one has to pull off to allow the other by, and often the boys would stand in the street, blocking our path while ignoring us but at the same time daring us to pass them. Wannabe gang-bangers in a small town best describes their behavior. Several times I wanted to sell our home and move, but we stayed put. Sam built this house in 1977 and he was not going to allow some punks in a rental house chase us away. So the news of their departure from our street brought a huge sense of relief to the neighborhood.
Throughout the summer the house sat empty and everyone wondered what the owner planned to do with the property. Sometimes while working in the garden or tree farm I'd see a car or two parked in front. Then a For Sale
sign was posted in the front yard, even though nothing had been done to improve or even repair the house or the yard, and I began to wonder what kind of person would even consider making an offer on the place.
Two months ago a Cat was parked in the front yard, unloaded, fired up and it looked like the entire building was about to be razed. Joy, joy, happy joy, happy, happy, joy, joy!!!!! Come to think of it, it actually felt more like a "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead" moment. But then again the electrical and other utility service wires were still connected to the house. Hmmm, what were they up to? Half the house was demolishedand it looked like they were planning an addition. And last month construction began on the site and now a new home is taking shape. We've speculated the property is being split into two lots, with the older cottage house being renovated on one lot and a new two story constructed on the second. At any rate, it is a welcome change, and work is rapidly progressing on the new home.
I'm glad we didn't move, if we had we never would have purchased the tree farm and I wouldn't have been around to see the shady character's departure from the neighborhood. Nor would I have met A and her brothers, who always make me laugh and sometimes surprise me with little things, even if they do keep my name at the top of their school fund-raising project best customer list. ;)
Sometimes change comes in ways we don't expect, untouched by our hands, usually because of forces at work unknown to us. That's not to say we should always sit back and do nothing, but if we ride out the storm rather than jumping ship, we open our lives to the discovery of growth and renewal, thus enabling ourselves to feel the magical warmth of the sun's light when it emerges to illuminate the darkness, the sun always rises. It is the sight of that first light that often brings a sense of true freedom.
As for the 18 year old rapist, since January I've checked the law enforcement sources and he's not listed in our county. Don't know where the rest of them are but I never see them anywhere in town...and that's okay by me.
~~~ The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.
~Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
Update 10/18/06: I just saw my journal on another computer and discovered I need to be more careful when using fonts that make cool icons like leaves because not all computers have that font installed and if they don't, it shows up as something else. Imagine my horror when I saw the three fall leaves displayed on my home computer now being displayed as three k's on another computer. If I offended anyone, I am so sorry; I had no intention of doing so. Lesson learned: use care when playing with icons and special characters within fonts and stick to .jpg files for images. Wish someone would have said something to me these last couple of days.~Dona
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Today many people gathered...remembered...and celebrated a life ... taken too soon.
The following is from the service today...for those who leave before we do.
And if I go,
While you're still here...
Know that I live on,
Vibrating to a different measure
-behind a thin veil you cannot see through.
You will not see me,
So you must have faith.
I wait for the time when we can soar together again,
--both aware of each other.
Until then, live your life to its fullest.
And when you need me,
Just whisper my name in your heart,
.... I will be there.
Sunday, October 8, 2006
Into every life a little rain must fall. For some, the rain never seems to end. It pours down, making a mess of everything until the day someone chooses to put a permanent end to it.
This entry has been floating around in my mind, and soul, since Thursday evening. Since that night I've randomly heard songs about fallen angels, broken wings, and angels with one wing in the fire.
On the heels of my last entry about choices and helping people, Thursday began like many other days, but as I left the office late that afternoon, a coworker mentioned a nearby road had been closed because of an accident on a bridge. Unaffected by the closure's impact on my drive home, I thought nothing of it. Hours later, as I sat chatting on-line with Kelly (In My Opinion) the phone rang and Sam answered. Within seconds I could tell the voice on the other end had delivered distressing news. Moments later, the road closure and the auto accident hit close to home.
People often say they'd love to have an address on Easy Street. It's a mythical wish really, but it represents to them a life of ease filled with carefree days where everything is in its proper place and rain clouds never cover the sunshine of happiness. I know a couple who live on Easy Street; both physically and literally. High school sweethearts who married shortly after graduation, their life together has been rich and rewarding, and both have enjoyed the benefits of their commitment to each other and their family. Together they raised three children to adulthood, and each has given them wonderful grandchildren. He works for my husband and like him started at the company fresh out of high school over thirty years ago; she works in education, serving as a teacher's aide at a local elementary school. They are well-grounded, fun-loving people with whom we've shared many conversations over dinner. Every year when I address envelopes to be filled with holiday cards, I always pause when writing their address. In my mind, they encompass life on Easy Street.
Naturally they faced their share of problems, and some were created by their youngest child...their only son. When it came to life he never quite got it right and oftenhis choices delivered rain clouds and difficult challenges to the family. The examples of hard work, balance, and harmony demonstrated to him by his parents and sisters seemed to leave no real impression.
Thursday morning just after eight o'clock he chose to leave his own impression by driving his car into a rock hillside.
He was 25.
We know he was fired from his job that morning. We know he had been caught sleeping on the job three times during his six year employment with the company. We know witnesses reported seeing him stopped on the south side of the river just before he drove north across the two lane bridge, passing two vehicles at an estimated speed of 90 miles per hour. We know the brake lights of his vehicle did not light in the seconds before he reached the end of the bridge, the stop sign, the cross road, and then the solid rock hillside.
What I don't know is why.
He had a three year old son of his own, whom he will never see grow.
I know he made some bad choices, choices which led to problems. Temporary problems. But what problem is so great that the only possible solution is to permanently end it all?
I've thought about him all weekend; remembering his bright face, infectious smile and youthful enthusiasm. I've thought about his Mom and his Dad and his sisters. I cannot even begin to imagine what they are experiencing or what this tragedy will bring to their lives.
This year I know when I reach their name on my Christmas card list, I will pause, just as I have every year past. But this time will be different, for Easy Street is no longer the same.
Wednesday, October 4, 2006
Ever think maybe you could have pursued a different career?
During my senior year in high school I wanted to help people; I was drawn to psychology and entertained the idea of going to college after high school; but at the time economics and higher education didn't go hand in hand. The opportunity to attend college was handed to me on a silver platter when I was 19 by my grandmother in California, but there were strings attached. The college had to be in the Los Angeles area, and the coursework would focus on cosmetology, not psychology. My grandmother believed if I was going to help people, I would do so on the outside because the inside didn't need any help. It was her way, or no way; faced with that, I chose the latter. With average grades and no chance for any scholarships to be found under the roof of the single parent home I lived in, I abandoned my dream. I thought about it once or twice, never really getting overly upset about the way things worked out...that's life and I accepted it at the time.
But, then there is the part of me that always asked...'What if...?'
You know. We all ask that question now and then.
Of all the shows I watch on a regular basis, Criminal Minds is a regular. Not so much because of the twisted and perverse side of human nature shows like this highlight; I often wonder whether all these criminal shows are doing more harm than good for society in general. Deviant human behavior seems to be on the rise; everywhere. Even in small town America, in communities that we once thought of as safe. Each night I watch the headlines showcased on every network..sometimes shocked...sometimes in tears...so much innocence lost, unnecessarily, for no reason.
During the day as I sit at my desk, balancing the books, I think about another balancing act. A more sensitive, meaningful balance. Less numbers, more human.
So on a whim tonight, while looking for a quote from tonight's episode of Criminal Minds I happened on a profiler quiz, and I took it. The results of the quiz are...
You scored 28 out of 30.
You seem to possess an innate understanding of just how unpredicable human nature truly is. Your intellectual curiousity, open-mindedness, and empathy toward others single you out as a strong candidate for cracking into the minds of others!
Hmmm. Really. Oh, these silly tests, they're probably rigged to display the same message for everyone. Or are they? One thing is for certain, I am curious.
So, if your reading this, and have a few minutes to spare, do me a favor, and take the test and let me know what the result is. I'm curious what other responses are geared up behind the answers.
And as for the quote I was looking for that led to all this...
~~ The reality of the other person lies not in what he reveals to you, but what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says, but rather to what he does not say. - Kahlil Gibran ~~