Welcome to Summer

I was involved in a rescue attempt yesterday, called into the fray when my tiny cat was in the yard and didn’t budge even though the two 100 lb.+ beasts came barreling at her.  She stayed fixed in both her spot and her focus, this little feline who generally leaps away at the very sound of the door opening. She is not a fan of the beasts though they love her, affection  shown with huge slobbering tongues wiped along her body, itty bitty nips with their massive jaws as they urge her to play. No, it meant she had a critter in her sights, one she may have lovingly nibbled or swiped with her delicate princess paws. I could have left her to her natural need to take all of the beast frustration out on the smaller rodents she meets, but the door was already open and the beasts were heading towards her before I realized the circle of life was in full swing in my back yard.

Much rushing, yelling, pushing ensued as I tried to protect the mole that I despise on account of his being a rodent though it was nothing personal and tried to protect the beasts who would surely try to lick and nibble and I was near to vomiting at the very idea of that. Plum came to see what all the excitement was and jumped each time I by turns tried to scoop up the critter and then recoiled when I almost did. I was stuck in a game of Survival, where I have to throw someone else off the island to save myself. In my defense, I am truly terrified of rodents and I know they can jump really far and they run scittering really fast and I would have died if it got on me and I am not convinced Plum knows that whole call 911 thing, he may have taken the opportunity for unsupervised screen time. While I lay there dying, more rodents would come, it was a true horror film playing out in my mind as I sought to catch or not to catch and to keep the beasts away and they are seriously quite strong. Ultimately, I stayed on the island and the rodent ended up in beast mouth which may have saved me momentarily but I realized then rodentinsidebeastmouth was even more disgusting because beasts enter our home and rodent mouth is EWWW and dear Lord is it only the first day of summer break?

Much shouting at Plum to help me corner the racing celebrating beast who joyously held the rodent in between his jaws as he zipped by at a lightening speed.  For the very first time in his entire life Plum decided he needed shoes on. Shoes!  I am in survival mode level 999 like all his games and he abandons me while he seeks shoes. At the last second I shouted for him to remember to shut the door but the last second was really the too late second because he didn’t shut the door and the rodent breathed beast ran into my home.  The kid still had no shoes, the dog was inside with a mole covered in slobber, I was having an anxiety attack and it was only 8:30 am. This is why day drinking is a thing.

The beast was cornered and removed, jaws firmly clamped and tail wagging excitedly, onto the back porch where he was ordered to “Drop it.” I didn’t have a watch on or access to the microwave timer but I believe this continued for at least an hour as the mole drowned inside my happy beast’s huge mouth and my Plum offered him treats and bones and beast #2 just on the other side of the door barked angrily at being kept from all the fun. Admitting defeat in the entire chain, I ushered Plum back in and left the dog outside to think about what he had done. He promptly spat the no longer scittering or leaping mole onto the porch and waited to be allowed back into the house. You know that game adolescents and men who never leave adolescence play on each other, where you reach for the car door and they drive away, leaving you on the curb? Each time they promise not to do it again until you are ready to kill them but still, over and over you reach for the handle and they scoot the car just out of reach? My beast is an adolescent. Touch door handle, beast grabs his treasure.  I walk away, he drops it. I knew I was being played but damnit, the rodent was right at my door.

I don’t believe there is a lesson here for me except to scan my full yard before allowing my beasts outside and to make sure Plum knows that if granny falls over dead in the yard this is not extra screen time. Welcome to summer break, friends.

The Great Fence Man

I am counting days, marking off my mental calendar, until the fence man appears. The invisible line that protects our beasts is no longer enough for both of them. Our Lab, my beast, respects the boundary. He hears the warning chirp emitted from his collar as he nears the edges and he retreats to safety. He doesn’t cross. The Golden, Chef’s rotten horrible spoiled bully who refuses to share any bones, he has discovered that a bit of a shock is worth the adventure of touring the neighbor’s yard. He runs freely across and mocks my poor beast. He chases my cats who used to be able to cross the invisible line and feel safe. He just has no concern for the established boundaries and now we have to put up a fence, a real fence, a big jail around our yard to keep everyone in and safe and I can’t wait for the fence man to get here. We could have gotten one of those outdoor kennel set-ups, much less expensive. Yet the boundaries on those for our big beasts would have been cruel. They have long legs built for running, they have instincts to explore, they want to bring balls back for us to throw again. Well, my beast does, Chef’s Golden prefers to collect them all in his mouth because he doesn’t share and is horrible. Still, boundaries too close leave none of us satisfied.

These beasts remind me that we all make decisions to either stay within the lines or push free and that consequences are sure to follow. Not that everyone is facing jail time for breaking out, but I can’t decide which of my beasts is the true lesson. I really want it to be mine, who runs to the door to alert me that his sibling has once again chosen a path that could lead to trouble for all. He is a rule follower for sure. I want the lesson to be about following God’s plans for us and respecting the boundaries, even ones that are harder to see like the ones our loved ones set out for us. But then I see our Golden running so freely with a smile on his face, which is true for Goldens most of the time anyway so I have to take that in to account, but still, he just looks so happy. Unencumbered by the restrictions placed on him, new rocks and trees to smell, exciting new places to pee, what joy! Accepting that a bit of pain may be necessary to find our true spirit, is that the lesson God holds our for me here? Where is the fence man? If only I had more time to consider this all without jumping up and down every few minutes to check on beasts.

I really wonder if maybe my actual lesson isn’t the anticipation of freedom that I imagine at the surrendering of theirs. That hasn’t been lost on me. Much like the times I have used a child’s time-out to actually go to the bathroom alone and I always feel freer when Plum is finally asleep in bed, I am a mother hen who only feels truly able to do as I please when I know exactly where all my baby chicks are. Knowing that I can no longer just let the beasts outside without supervision means I have no rest, no down time until they are safely back in. With the nice weather coming, they don’t want to be in. In out, up down, we are in constant motion that leaves us all tired but not spent. No one is satisfied with the current arrangement, I call them back in too soon for their wandering spirits, I keep them closer to try to manage any runaways. They fuss to go out when a squirrel braves the porch, taunts from the other side of the door. They need to run and play. I need space from them. We need a fence. Did I mention I can’t wait for the fence man to appear? Balancing their need to run and explore the world and my desire to keep them safe is a constant struggle. But deeper than that, I realize my heart is never fully at rest until I know my other baby chicks are safe as well.

I have been fenced in or out, depending on perspective. Without knowledge that they are running freely, exploring the world within the bounds of God’s fences, I just worry. I fret and call for them in my dreams. If only I knew they were respecting boundaries, were establishing safe ones for themselves, couldn’t I just rest? I am anticipating some pushback from our beasts when they realize the front yard is no longer accessible to them. I imagine sitting up there in peace with coffee and my laptop in the early mornings while they roam the back yard in search of squirrels and sticks. More likely they will bark and demand that I join them. My fence may not bring all that I hope, it will surely require a different kind of mowing and weed whacking and the front door will need more attention so we don’t have escapees. As I spoke with the fence man, we talked about where to put the gates. Ah, yes gates. We have to have access beyond the back door, other ways to access the jail, the safety zone. I wonder if my Stella has considered putting in a gate. Not an all access opening, one that could still have a lock, but an way into her fenced off heart. An invitation to see that she runs freely, that she is secure. If only I knew that Arrow was respecting the safety of his fences, my God wouldn’t I rest? I don’t need to run freely about their yards, sniff their rocks, only peer over the fence sometimes to catch of a glimpse of their smiling faces as they explore their worlds still sheltered from harm.

When the fence is erected, I will plant flowers along the edges, much more flowers around the front yard that won’t get trampled by beasts. Knowing my landscaping is inaccessible from large paws that seek to dig and trample and hide bones and make mud piles, I can garden in peace. My fence can be decorated with joy colors to show it is only for safety, not to keep others out but to ensure that those who need to run can do so without worry of passing cars. Maybe my children have decorated their hearts as well, new joys that sprout up without the worry that I will trample it all with my mothering and busting through the invisible fences. I pray that one day the Great Fence Man will appear to them and show them the wonder of gates. Until then, we are learning more and more about our own need for safe boundaries and the call to run freely. We are learning to balance both as we await the fence man. We are remembering that sometimes we erect a fence that is just too small, we need God’s help in expanding our boundaries to include room to move more safely, we need some help installing those gates. I also know that lessons are sometimes muddled when all I want is some peace and quiet. Soon, soon the fence man will appear.

“Then the gates of his heart were flung open, and his joy flew far over the sea. And he closed his eyes and prayed in the silences of his soul.”― Kahlil GibranThe Prophet


A puddle of black water on the counter, again, the damn coffee pot is leaking. Every day I find a stain, a mess, some amount of my morning zing waiting to be sopped up, waiting to be cleared away. Easier to buy a newer coffer maker but funds are tight, gone, thus we are blessed to even have grinds to put in the damn machine so I shouldn’t find offense at the mess. Still, I do. I hate that coffeemaker and the inability to just make a cup without knowing their will be literal fallout. Then I chide myself for the fact that this is my complaint, this?, when so much is wrong all around. So I wipe, scrub, move on. Until the next pot is brewing.

We use the invisible, underground fencing system for our beasts, a system that has worked beautifully for years until recently when our Golden chose to withstand the shock and break free. Sometimes he stands right on the line and gets a really good zap and then just goes. All of this resulted in a pretty yucky infection around his neck, an expensive trip to the vet (several new coffeemakers worth) and 10 days on antibiotics and a full shave around his neck. On the mend now, he is still breaking free. He is huge, he is fast, he is gone. He is making a mess of my free time, I can’t let him out to wander our yard without finding him in the neighbor’s now. Always on the lookout for Plum’s bus, yesterday he chose to go out into the street and try to board it. I considered asking the busdriver to trade me,  all those children for this damn dog. Apparently I need to put in a real fence with the millions of dollars I have hidden under my coffeemaker.

Several days ago Plum ran into the house and asked if it was appropriate for him to know how humans breed. Why did this question not come up when he was riding the bus to mama’s house? Some gentle probing on my part discovered this curiosity was sparked by a Pokemon discussion, I guess they are bred and they evolve and then they get really dumb names. So I somewhat dodged the question. Until he came back for another visit and asked how babies are made. Seriously, kid, you are only 6 and you have parents and I am too old to be trying to remember how much is too much to tell. Where is my coffee? Still, I broke out my best high school science and made his eyes glaze over. Whew, dodged again.  Until bedtime a couple of nights ago when he was preparing to fall asleep, we were snuggling, both in our “walls down, chatting” mode and he asked if boys could have babies. He had me captive, I couldn’t squirm away, I would be breaking our nighttime vulnerable talk rules. So we talked. I explained that it does take mommies and daddies together to make babies but mommies carry them in their bodies. (Please don’t yell at me about all the other possible combinations, I know, I do teach this child about the many ways families can look. I was tired and avoiding.)  Seeds, fertilizing,  growing, beauty, I thought we were going somewhere until he made clear his issue. “Nan, but can daddies ever have the babies?” “No, sweetie, but they get to love them always and care for them always.” “That’s crap! It isn’t fair!” he told me with gusto. I agreed. I told him it was God’s plan so maybe we should take our issue up with Him. “YES!”  So we prayed to God as we laid on the bed, him snuggled under the warm blankets and curled up with his specials.  We told God just what we thought of this situation.  I ended the lament with a request that God get back to us really soon with an answer. Plum and I looked each other, he cocked his eyebrow at me and asked what now? I told him I thought God would get back to us later, we should maybe just go to sleep. He rolled over, closed his eyes and softly said, “You are so silly, gran.”

So much seems to be leaking out right now, breaking through the barriers I have erected. Sneaking through my soul walls, spilling around the edges of my heart. I forget to cry out to God, mostly I just complain and wipe up the mess, stuff down my frustration or leak out my own anger. Remembering that God can take my questions and my wonderings is good. Knowing also that the way we grow is to by stretching, some leaking out of those walls just may be His plan. After all, coffee is still coffee if I use a straw to drink it off of the counter. About the wandering beast, I’ve got nothing.  Breaking free, willing to withstand the pain to get to the other side, all I can see is a neck full of oozing infection and some terrifed  kids on a bus. God surely will get back to me on that. Still I have coffee to drink, beasts to encourage exercise, and a Plum who challenges. Blessings that remind me I am alive, I am still growing. I don’t have answers for everything, I have to seek out the One who does. Then wait for Him to get back to us.