Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thinking and Praying

I have been thinking often of the three women and child who escaped from captivity recently. 
I can't imagine being kidnapped, sexually, physically, and emotionally abused. But I have experienced birth and motherhood. Motherhood! Motherhood is fall-on-your-face challenging in good circumstances! How did this woman mother a baby, then a toddler, then a young child without the support of others outside their terrible situation? Somehow she did it and in my eyes that seems heroic. I admire these women and their perseverance. And I just feel very very sad about what they went through. So I keep begging God to restore and heal them. Dear Lord, please pour your peace and comfort and great mercy on these women. Please help them find you in the midst of their recovery. Please help them feel and receive the love of family and friends. 
Today, on Mother's Day, bless them with joy. As much as they can handle.
With all the pain I know of in the lives of people on the news and in my own neighborhood, help me trust you in new and bigger ways. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Me and the Creosote

If all of your friends are busy with their lives not climbing mountains... should you still go? At first, I thought no - in the event of an ankle sprain it would be too embarrassing to call for a helicopter and too harrowing to drag myself down the trail face in the dirt and over the rocks and cacti. But then! Then I remembered I have a dog! So this morning at a cool and early hour we set off for the Anthem trailhead to climb Black Mountain.
I am new to dog ownership, and to heading off into the wilderness without another human. I admit I had thoughts of "will this dog eat my face if I fall and die?" which is an unnecessary question. What I should have been asking is: "Am I strong enough to stay upright when I'm mid-step over some sharp rocks and Shyla darts full-muscle after a lizard?" The answer to that one is, "Yes." Though I must have muttered, "Damn dog" about 4,000 times up and back. She would often stop right in the center of the narrow trail. Perhaps she smelled a mountain lion. I have no way of knowing, since she can't talk. So generally I'd just shove her hind quarters and hope to not get attacked.

This trail is fairly easy until you make the ridge climbing to the top, and there is plenty of time to stop and smell the creosote, which I did.

It wasn't only MY friends who couldn't climb Black Mountain today, it was most of the city. The only humans I encountered were:

Nice Old Man Wearing White Dress Gloves - he set me straight early on when I stood wondering where the trail picked up after the pavement ended. He also told me he climbs halfway up every single day. And that I would have to do a lot of rock scrambling but when it got the hardest I should look up and I'd see the flag at the peak, almost there!

Shirtless Jogger Guy - he passed me a mile into the hike and went a ways further, then turned around and ran back down. The guy has GOT to have some killer ankles.

Stoic Woman With White Hat, Dog, and Incredible Tan - she arrived at the peak about ten minutes after I did, nodded toward me, and then disappeared down the South side (where there is no trail). I hoped I wasn't the last person ever to see her alive. I wasn't. She reappeared later, still unfriendly, when I was about three-fourths of the way down.

Nicer Woman With Lab/Chow Mix - as I completed the descent, she was beginning her hike and we stopped to talk about our dogs for a minute. So I guess the point is taken that I am not the only woman to go hiking alone with my dog.

My hiking book labels this hike "Difficult." Well, I wouldn't say it was easy, but it wasn't crazy difficult. The trail is easy to follow and climbs pretty gently. It was fun to hike along the ridge leading to the peak for the last twenty to thirty minutes. I sat at one point to give Shyla some water and snapped this photo of the sun coming right over the peak. It's kind of a novel photo, but it will serve to remind me how I couldn't look up at my goal very often during the ascent because it was just too dang bright.
From this point it was less than fifteen minutes to the top. When we got there, I was beaming! Seriously, I was smiling and had tears in my eyes! Not even sure why - maybe there's some euphoria that comes with reaching a peak and that's why people do it. I'm in. And I can attest that during my time up there, I had no thoughts of my usual worries and concerns. I just took in the view.
We all know how windy it gets in our desert. Look at that poor flag - I oughtta have a Boy Scout I know replace it. Behind the flagpole is the view to the southwest including a chunk of Anthem.
Looking North including the Strip and downtown Vegas. It says S x J on the rock. Maybe they meant S + J but that is clearly a multiplication sign.
Toward Frenchman's (Sunrise) Mountain. I would like to climb that one in the Fall.
My hiking book said this peak offered views "deep into Arizona." Well, there you go!
I tried not to disturb this mark as that can result in imprisonment.
My sweet hiker-dog and me. I was ultra-happy. Shyla's look is less decipherable.
I signed in to the nifty notebook at the peak. Kinda scrawled my name since I was still a little shaky from exertion. As I look at this, I see that Butchi Bruch was the last to summit on Friday. And my photo cuts off his note, but he cited this as his 11th time climbing Black Mountain. Butchi, branch out!

And here is the view of the way down. For some seasoned hikers, the descent takes far less time than the ascent. For ME, it took the same amount of time. I am, let's say, "delicate" when it comes to downhill. I got off-trail once but figured it out pretty quickly when the ridge became too far to my left and the steepness was scaring the willies outta me. All was right in the world when Stoic Woman With White Hat, Dog, and Incredible Tan reappeared (not dead) and we reached fairly level ground. Shyla mastered switchbacks, which perplexed her on the way up, only yanked my shoulder out of joint four or five times to chase lizards, and if there were any mountain lions, I never had any knowledge of them.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Shrub Spoke to Me

When you read the story of God speaking to Moses in the burning bush, do you get a little jealous? I do. Probably kinda narrow of me, but I'd like that kind of hard-to-ignore communication.

I was running down the street yesterday and it happened to me. A shrub spoke to me! Unfortunately, it was just the shrub, not God. Also unfortunately, the words were completely inaudible. But here's the very shrub, which I went back later to photograph.

Like I said, the words were inaudible. But the look of the thing made me laugh out loud mid-stride. I kid you not, in a quarter-second glance I recognized that this shrub was my life! Look at the tangled viney things weaving all willy-nilly. And delicate white flowers shooting out in all directions! And what the heck are the mauve-colored feathery things? I don't know! What IS this bush? I've never noticed it before. And yet, there was a whole row of them along a sidewalk I've run a hundred times.

What a strange bush. What a strange life. Green and living and reaching for the sun but all tangled within. Flowers everywhere. And fancy feathers that almost don't go. Sometimes not noticed and other times you stop and take a picture.

And since this is already so esoteric, I might as well show you the photo my little guy insisted I take:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

27 Down

One week in to 100-mile May. I'm a more settled person than a week ago when my exercise was sporadic. At the end of this first seven days, I've run or fast-walked 27 miles. That's a marathon! It feels good. If I could have one wish granted, it would be to bottle this drive for use when apathy and lethargy take over my brain, heart, and legs. I'm already worried about what will be the challenge in June. For now, I suppose, I'll bury that concern and go to sleep so I can rise early and get out there and RUN! 

Monday, May 6, 2013


Tonight three friends came over to talk about Ivanhoe. I hadn't finished it, which is a strike against me in the book group. But I made a cheese ball from scratch, which keeps me in good standing. My idea of a good night: a book group meeting, a cheese ball, and fodder for a blog post when my exhaustion and writer's block are severe.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

What I Wore Sunday

This WIWS will be fun because I did something recently I don't often do: shop! I picked up this J. Jill t-shirt for about $3.00 at Savers after my coupon discount. I'm happy about this as I have loved J. Jill for years. I used to look at their catalogs and admire every single item from cover to cover. But when I went to a store, in Rancho Cucamonga, I think, I didn't have great luck. That was years ago, though, and I'm pretty happy to own this soft shirt with a nice neckline in brand-new condition for so cheap!

My skirt is Coldwater Creek. It's a few years old and I love it. It has withstood about 900,000 washings and kept its shape. It's very "twirly" as my girls would say, but let me tell you the downside of twirly. To be twirly, there needs to be a lot of fabric. This particular fabric is Rayon with just a touch of Spandex. It's very lightweight, which is wonderful when you live in a hot desert climate, but not so great when you go to the restroom and accidentally tuck a small fold into your underwear. TWICE, people!--- TWICE I have been stopped in public by dear, respectable old women who whispered in my ear that my panties were showing. HORROR! This is only supposed to happen to elementary-aged girls, NOT 40+ moms!!! Some people would toss the misbehaving article of clothing into the trash, but you can't do that when you're on a budget AND it's a twirly article of clothing. Now I just check and double check in the mirror after I potty.

Sandals came from DSW years ago. I like them and hope they last me another summer. Fossil watch; tiny flower necklace from my childhood; hoop earrings older than my children, and a Target headband rounds off my outfit.

I'm happy to say that I pulled together this outfit PLUS this morning's Mass attendance even in my husband's absence. It's an accomplishment to make it out of my pajamas when he's gone. Praise God three out of four children dress themselves! Now, let's go see if anyone else in this linkup writes about accidentally showing their underwear in public...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Missed her by THAT much!

As I was paying for my purchases at Target recently, the cashiers were all in a buzz and it turns out Marie Osmond had just been there. WHAT? My favorite childhood performer? Here? In my neighborhood Target? I wanted to ask what she was wearing, how she acted, and what she purchased, but it is this type of weird curiosity that keeps the paparazzi in business so I tried to squelch the reporter in me. Truth be told, I haven't remained as devoted as I once was, with my Donny & Marie records, lunch box, Donny and Marie dolls (I remember how each doll had a hole in its hand to hold the tiny microphone) and regularly scheduled time to watch their super-cool show. I thought Donny was so funny! So cute! And Marie so pretty and sparkly! But I am reasonably sure that if I saw her live and in person and walking out the doors of Target where I go every single week, I would have been a little starstruck.

Anyone else remember them as they were on TV all those years ago?
The time has gone by and I no longer have a record player. As a testimony to their longevity, though, Donny & Marie are still performing here in Vegas - and that explains why she might be at Target (to pick up some Maybelline eye shadow?). Maybe it's good I didn't see her myself. Maybe she needs to remain a performer in my eyes and not be reduced to a fellow Target-shopper. And maybe someone needs to take me to their show!

Friday, May 3, 2013

POW (Picture of the Week) DYLAGA (Don't You Love A Good Acronym?)

Our Picture of the Week, Ladies and Gentlemen, is this one:
Today was a beautiful day for a May Crowning of our Blessed Mother in her special month. This is the fifth one I've attended since becoming a part of our truly wonderful homeschool group. The photo credit goes to my sweet friend Graciela. And my darling daughter Bethanie placed the crown on the statue of Mary this year as she is one of our group's first communicants.

Other notable moments: 1) finding out Fr. McShane loves the book Bad Religion too! He's reading it for the second time and discussing it with a book group at a parish in Summerlin. Almost not too far for me to drive to get to take part in what I'm sure is a stimulating conversation. For those who don't know, Fr. McShane is a wonderful priest here in Las Vegas. I am especially attached to him because when we first met, he said, "Are you Irish? You have a very Irish face." Being adopted, this is the next best thing to hearing, "You look like so and so," which I have always wanted to hear. I am exactly half Irish according to the little information I have but no one has ever noticed and pointed out my ethnicity before Fr. McShane.

2) Sitting in the grass with other homeschool moms, kids playing happily, and talking almost uninterruptedly about this wild life we lead.

3) Having the self control to avoid the dessert table. We brought sack lunches and desserts to share so it was a smorgasbord of sweet treats and I didn't have even one!

I'm so thankful for my children who are on this adventure of Catholic homeschooling with me; for the occasional haven of other like-minded Christian adults; and for green grass and flowers and Mother Mary. Hail, Holy Queen enthroned above!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

100 Miles in May

I've talked to enough people and read enough articles in running magazines to know that most folks who newly take up running take a while to consider themselves "real runners."

One guy says the moment he felt like a real runner was when he stopped hating it and started enjoying it: rain fell in mile seven of a long run and he felt exhilaration instead of annoyance. A girl says it was when she spent 90 bucks on running shoes. Another when she safety-pinned a 5K race bib to her shirt. I think waking up at 4:45 to log miles and start the day strong sure qualifies. So does finding a running partner who makes the miles unnoticeable because she keeps you entertained with fun conversation. Sporting puke on my shoes after the Las Vegas half is a sure sign, as well.

But lately I've slacked off and it has been hard even to muster a jog when I take my dog for walks. I haven't felt like a runner. I know if I could find a race to register for, that would help - but Summer is coming up and that's a bad time to race around here. So May 1st loomed and I thought of a different kind of goal - a mileage goal. It had to be a good one, a kick-butt one to get me out of my rut. So I decided to try for 100 Miles in May. I didn't do the math to ascertain whether this was even sensible. Maybe if I had I would have tried to tone it down, but somehow I think hard things keep me from losing my umph. So 100 it is! And, since everything in life is more fun with company, I asked facebook friends to join me. Two days in and we have a good little group of 13 people: friends and friends of friends.

Day two of the month and I've already invested some money in the goal. $2.99 for an app touted by one of my favorite running buddies; and about $7.00 on music recommended by another friend when I asked for "fast and angry" selections.

If my identity as a runner has been in question, I'm picking it up again. I liked being out there tonight in the coolness of early May in the desert. I liked my new music, a new route, and all the myriad sights and sounds of my city - maybe especially the bad-ass woman capably walking two dobermans on Green Valley Parkway. I also saw a dad pushing a double stroller, a man in a white striped suit, and a large rat. Something tells me I'll have a long, cool list of sights beheld by the end of May. And after 100 miles, I might feel more like a real runner than ever.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Five Favorites

Today, May first, here are five of my current favorites:

1) Do-Overs
Sometimes I write without thinking. It may be hard to believe since if you know me you know I'm ALWAYS even over-thinking. But it does happen. And earlier today my favorite in this space was an actor. I don't know why I chose to list this guy as a favorite, but I did. And now, late in the night, I'm changing my mind about listing him. If I gotta put a guy, it'll be my hubby who puts up with my over-thinking; my 12 year-old son who still lets me hug him a lot; or my five year-old son who tells me almost every day how pretty I am. That's all.

2) EOS Lip Balm
On a hike, my fancy friend whipped out her spherical lip balm and we were all enamored by it. She said she got it at Whole Foods. I imagined a declaration like this: "I buy my lip balm at Whole Foods. No, I can't afford the food there, but every six months I go in and drop four bucks on spherical lip balm." Sadly, the EOS love caught on and now it is conveniently available even at Target, which makes it a little less exotic. But still, I love the shape because it doesn't get lost at the bottom of my purse; the scent because it's pretty; and the balm because it doesn't get all gloppy on my lips.
3) People who help with my kids even if I have to pay them
I need to discuss this for a second. There is a phenomenon wherein a woman who delivers a baby becomes somewhat emotionally attached to the doctor/nurse/midwife who helped with the delivery. Baby appears and mommy is overcome with relief and delight and channels some of these feelings toward the professional person who helped the labor be over and the baby (however slimy) to be born. This is natural. It is also unfortunate when the doctor is a big horse's patootie and really should be fired, but it is what it is. Anyway... I am not a laboring mother at the moment, but I am a somewhat solitary stay-at-home-mom and often feel like I'm doing this mothering/homemaking/homeschooling thing all by myself. It doesn't hurt as bad as labor, but it does cause me a pain or two. Therefore, when ANYONE else steps in, I become enormously grateful and somehow attached to that person. I noticed it the other day on the phone with the guy registering Joe in online school for next year. This guy may as well have been an angel complete with halo and sparkling aura because he was - at even a low level - involved! helping me! taking a part in my child's education! I also notice it when our piano teacher arrives at my house one morning a week. It's hard for me to let him do his job, I just want to sit there and smile sloppily at him. And when he has to call to cancel, I want to melt into a small puddle. I know, I know, I should address the obvious solution to my problem: send them all to public school where there are trained professionals just waiting to help me with my children's education. If that's what you were thinking, I applaud your problem-solving skills. But since there is a different issue at the heart of the problem, we need to talk more. Better yet, come on over and help Joe with his math while you're at it.

4) Heath Coffee Creamer
I love this stuff. A Heath bar, as you may know, is chocolate and English toffee. You may not know that the definition of heath is: a tract of open and uncultivated land. I am curious what the connection is between toffee and heath. I get that they're both English, but I don't have the desire to go research how they came together. What I'm willing to do is sip my coffee with a generous helping of this yummy creamer and simultaneously try to imagine myself strolling through a tract of open and uncultivated land in England.

5) Catalog Living
If I have a dream career apart from what I'm currently doing, it would be to write for a site like this: Truthfully, I would like to have come up with the whole thing. It is the funniest stuff since Jack Handey's Deep Thoughts. If you are not familiar with Jack Handey and his hilarious work - go see!

Thanks to Moxie Wife for today's post inspiration!