Saturday, March 25, 2017

Among the Wolves



I read this gem, tucked among the words of Louise Penny in her novel The Beautiful Mystery which takes place in a monastery in the wilderness of  North Eastern Quebec, Canada:

“I hope we learn from it,” the abbot said turning to Inspector Gamache, after the Chief Inspector had solved the mystery of a recent murder in the monastery of the Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups. “What lesson will you learn?” Gamache inquired.
The abbot thought about it. “Do you know why our emblem is two wolves intertwined?” Gamache replied with his theory, only to be corrected by the abbot. “No, the emblem is from a native story of the Montagnais.”  
“Don Clement relates it in his diaries. One of the elders told him that when he was a boy his grandfather came to him one day and said he had two wolves fighting inside of him. One was gray, the other black. The gray one wanted his grandfather to be courageous, patient, and kind. The other, the black one, wanted his grandfather to be fearful and cruel. This upset the boy and he thought about it for a few days then returned to his grandfather. He asked, ‘Grandfather, which of the wolves will win?’ “
The Old Man in the Tree, Dodgeville, Wisc. 

The abbot smiled slightly. “Do you know what his grandfather said?” The Inspector shook his head. “The one I feed,” replied the abbot.
Gamache looked at the monastery; he’d mistranslated the emblem. Not Saint Gilbert among the wolves, but between them. In that place of perpetual choice. (chapter. 34)

Like Inspector Gamache, I pondered this story then smiled.  This is why I enjoy Louise Penny’s books so much. Many of her explanations are lines from poetry, mythology, Bible, folklore, and literature. She asks her readers to think about the problem, the mystery, or an aspect of life that the characters must also deal with.  As Inspector Gamache knows, each of us deals with perpetual choice. 

I found myself thinking ahead to choices I need to make and then smiled.  There’s something about giving a situation a story that makes it easier for me to solve and think through. I can see more clearly what I’m feeding and what I’m denying. 

Perspective and choice! So many ways to relate to this story. 







Saturday, March 18, 2017

Fitbit Farts and Other Funny Follies

During the week of making funeral arrangements and preparing for family visits, I couldn't sleep much. One night, however, the noises of the house stole the hours of sleep from me.  


Tossing from one side to the next, my body tired and wrinkled from near exhaustion and heartache, I could hear a nearly pulsating sound, like a fart! I questioned my mind and body. Was I so tired that my own body was giving out on me?? One more worry to add to the ever present aging process. 



Now, if my father had 'tooted' he would have blamed the dog, immediately pointing to Ticky or Tootles. As a child I laughed at Dad's tricks, and then watched the poor dog hang his head in humiliation. Of course, my father, being a trickster, owned a hand held rubber tube that fit in his pocket. On ladies day or for golf tournaments, Dad would put the fart ball, as we called it, in his pocket and casually walk by golfers and squeeze his toy in the middle of some one's back swing. No matter what type of fart he made, the long slow "toot toot buzzz......" or the pronounced "Toot" without odor, the victim tucked his or her body in embarrassment, then followed that move by outrage or laughter when the group figured out what had happened.

Shifting in sleep mode I once again heard the squeezing
sound of a fart. With one eye opened I rolled to the side of the bed and sniffed. The air was clean. The dog could not be blamed.

Now I rolled closer to Jack, so as to rub his shoulder the next time he farted! Not Jack! 

The early morning hours arrived and I heard the fuzzy vibration. In sledge hammer mode I arose and walked around the bedroom searching for some unknown fart machine or dying animal.  At last when sunlight flooded the house, and my awareness returned I heard and saw the noise. There on my dresser lay my Fitbit with notifications ON!  With each notification or reminder
to get up and move the Fitbit quietly buzzed, but the fart noise came when it actually vibrated on the dresser top. My emotions ranged from laughter to anger at my loss of sleep, but the mystery was solved, and my dad would have laughed. 

FOOTNOTE:

For those who wear Fitbits to help motivate or count steps, I must say I've learned a new trick.  After complaining week after week that I must surely walk more than it counts, I discovered that it truly counts steps when I attach it to my tennis shoe laces and walk.  Then my steps each count, when walking through stores with a basket being pushed or on the treadmill when I'm resting my arms at the sides instead of swinging them.  



Saturday, February 25, 2017

In Love's Embrace

She died peacefully and drifted toward heaven in a chorus of Hallelujah.

She blessed the world with her music, her smile, and her humble graciousness, and we all felt blessed.


How do we remember her—by personal memories.

Mom was a mother hen, and she liked nothing better than to have all of her little chickens close by her side. She always wanted to know where we were, who we were with, and when we’d be home. When we were teenagers and came home late she would usually be in bed. As we passed her room we had to say our numerical order. Being the second born, I simply answered, ‘Two.’ Then went on to bed.  Mom couldn’t sleep until she knew we all home.


Summer break before my junior year of college I came to stay with Grandma for a week in June. As is customary in Oklahoma a huge storm came through. Sitting with Grandma on the sofa in her living room we were watching the news as the sky turn a greenish hue. Hail started to pound down from the sky and a tornado warnings went into effect. Pretty soon we could hear the storm sirens ringing outside of the house. On the TV they listed the neighborhoods that should take shelter and sure enough, we were in one of the area directly in the storm’s path. Being from the north I was ready to grab a mattresses and go for cover in the bathtub.  As the newscaster again listed the areas that should seek shelter immediately, I turned to Grandma and asked what she normal did at this point. She just smiled at me, and said in her lovely melodic voice “Oh, well I normally change the channel at this point”. 



My Grandma Watt was very wise.   
That chocolate is best served at breakfast with coffee.  
That green beans taste better with bacon grease.
That music can start a conversation.  
And defects, no matter how big or small they may be, can become a part of HOW you do something not WHY you do not.

My favorite Grandma memory comes from when I was living with them. If you got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, and took too much time, by the time you returned to your room, it would not be unusual to find your clothes folded and your bed made! 


 My memories are from the little corner shelving wedged above the kitchen bar where she kept little trinkets and CANDY! She would reach up on the shelves and magically find CANDY for any child by her side.    
    


Mostly, I loved to hear her sing Amazing Grace and Rugged Cross when she and Papa Watt played in the Golden Okies Band.


Alleen always insisted on paying her way, whether to Braums, Red Lobster, or Sonic. None of her children would take her money, but we learned to say, "Thank you for offering." 





In the end, I will hear her voice say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”


I feel sure that those were her last words, too.  She told me time and time again that if she ever quit talking she would die. She made doctors and nurses chuckle when they tried to take her vitals, because she chatted continually. I’m sure that on that Sunday when a stroke stole her ability to speak, she had reached her frail hand up to touch the young aide who had pushed her to the dining room, and said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”