Saturday Post–Signs of Spring with Ruffles and Mae-be

Spring has arrived!! Now you might think, “Yes Beth, March 20th came and went! Duh!”  Or “My Daffodils and other bulbs have pushed through.  I’ve also noticed there are the new leaves on the trees filling in nicely.” And you would be right!

But if your life, like mine, is shared with dear furry sentient beings–especially dogs and cats–there are other distinct indicators.

Mae-be gave me a clue about the signs of spring.  Do you see it?  New long blades of grass have literally popped up within ten days after light rain and sunshine. And around the cement patio areas I’ve noticed there are chewed up little clumps of these grasses.  A dog’s version of a spring tonic!

What's rough with rrroughage?

When I shared this photo with Debra her comment came back as “Ahhhh, she looks sad.” I think so, too. And since Ruffles is a sentient being she is conveying something of her feelings.

Professor John Webster of the University of Bristol, UK said “A sentient animal is one for whom feelings matter.”  His work in this matter is opening up many important discussions in Compassionate Farming and the use of other species by humans.  And looking into Ruffles’ eyes I am left to wonder, What do I do for Ruffles right now?

Should I give her a tummy mint? A rub or massage? What about hot water? Will Mother Nature just take care of this?  Believe it or not Ruffles did not want her favorite treats during this time! Now that concerned me greatly!

My family roots come from a part of the country that historically depended on Spring Tonics and Mother Nature. My parents used to talk about their grandparents,  great aunts and uncles–all coming around with a dark glass bottle of something at this time of the year with a big spoon– zeroing  in on the children! Sometimes they were told to throw back their heads, open wide, and hold the nose!

Other times it would be a bitter-tasting cup of tea to be ingested as quickly as possible. Or another tactic would be  a walk in the meadows to select the newly sprung forth greens of nettles, dandelion leaves, borage greens—whatever was available. Then they were cooked down to create another form of that “much needed” roughage to get the winter blahs out of the body. Mother Nature has ways to get you up-and-running!

And so it goes for Ruffles! She, much more so than Mae-be, needs this Spring Tonic and she knows how to select it herself! And I am happy to say she is much perkier today than she was a few days ago.  Mae-be did try to tell me it would all work out!

What's up? Don't worry mom!

So, if you have dogs and cats, please be on the look-out for those certain signs that announce spring is here! We can learn a lot by paying attention to what they are trying to tell us!

Blessings, Beth & the Girls

Ending the month at the traveling Vietnam Wall

Earlier this month I wrote about my 1971 college Vietnam War era memories, and here I am concluding the month with another tie to the War. I actually thought about delaying this particular post until a little closer to Memorial Day, but decided against that– I was eager to share our field trip with you. I was so pleased that our schedules weren’t entirely jam-packed this week, making it possible for us to make our way over to Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuary (the largest memorial park in the world!) where the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. was displayed for one short week.

Each year the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall tours the country. The memorial was established in 1990 and since has been displayed in more than 200 cities across the country. I’m sure its been in the greater Los Angeles area before, but this time it was so close to home we wouldn’t miss it. Free and open to the public 24 hours a day, the replica is eight feet high and 240 feet long, inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women who died or are missing in Vietnam.

While looking for the name of a serviceman I wanted to honor we were approached by a volunteer, who in helping us asked if we would like to see the name of her brother. Of course we wanted to listen to her story, too.  She took us to the panel representing the earliest casualties, 1958. She then proceeded to tell us stories of mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers and friends who arrived to see the Wall for the first time this week. They were assisted in collecting a pencil rubbing of their loved ones’ names, and in many instances given comfort by a Veteran volunteer.  At the base of the wall personal notes, flowers and small American flags collected as evidence of how many visitors had come to honor a specific fallen serviceman or woman. More than one hundred names on the wall are associated with local young men who lost their lives in Vietnam.

Here are just a few facts I learned from our visit to the Wall:

  • The youngest man KIA is believed to be Dan Bullock , USMC, at 15 years old
  • At least 5 men killed in Vietnam were 16 years old
  • At least 12 men killed in Vietnam were 17 years old
  • At least 25,000 of those killed were 20 years old or younger
  • The oldest man killed was 62 years old
  • More than 17,000 of those killed were married
  • Those killed on their first day in Vietnam–997
  • Those killed on their last day in Vietnam–1,448
  • Number of Chaplains on the Wall –16
  • Number of Women on the Wall–8
There are thousands of individual and unique stories and really, the loss is unfathomable!

If you hear of a traveling Wall exhibit coming to your city, I hope you’ll take the time to visit. Even if you’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Wall in Washington, D.C., I think you’d be very moved by the flag ceremonies, special readings, prayers and musical offerings, as well as the opportunity to speak with the volunteers, many of whom are Vietnam veterans. It was a sobering, but very special experience for us. It certainly bookended my month.


The Ponderosa, Tree Frogs and Emotional Whiplash–there’s a lot on my mind!

I was hoping I’d find a clever way to illustrate the equivalent of an emotional “double take.” I have vague memories of cartoon characters with rubbery physical features, heads whipping back and forth in exaggerated, bug-eyed fashion in an attempt to follow a bouncing object. We have been following an emotional bouncing ball this weekend, and I may have whiplash!

Saturday was full of fun as we packed into a school auditorium and watched dozens of 3-4 & 5-year old preschoolers perform in  their annual fundraiser and talent show. They were adorable–not just our Sophia, but each child! Some fell prey to stage fright and couldn’t be coaxed to sing their song or move to the beat of the music, while others were naturals and easily took to the stage. Sophia and one of her friends danced to a “freeze” dance for her first performance, followed by the well-executed choreography of the Village People’s “YMCA”. Her t-shirt read “Biker” and she was very comfortable with her moves. How wonderful for these children to look out from the stage and see moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles–an admiring throng!

Sunday our emotions whipped in the opposite direction as we attended a memorial service for a good friend. Sometimes the words “good friend” don’t add up to all there is to say. But then it is also true that sometimes words are rather empty anyway. Art was my husband’s childhood friend. They’d already been friends for over twenty years when I first met him in 1971. First as neighbors, they became more like brothers over the years. Art’s death was very unexpected. He played pro-level senior tennis, was a lifelong athlete in excellent physical condition–as far as we knew. Since we weren’t aware of any medical problems, whatever occurred, it was quick and came as quite a shock to us and others.

The memorial service brought a large gathering of bewildered and somber friends together, and as is typical of these occasions, lots of talk about reconnecting and staying close, celebrating the importance of strong relationships, and about living life with intention and attention not to delay taking that trip or doing the things that you always wanted to do!

I had a brief post-birthday conversation with my stepson. He lives in Hawaii and mentioned that he’d been pondering how much he loves living on the beautiful island of Oahu, yet it prohibits him from being closer to family. I mentioned that “pondering is good” and with his inimitable quick wit he said, “Yes, it seems my head is the Ponderosa!” I appreciated the laugh. I needed it.

I’m not prone to melancholy, but I ponder. And this weekend MY head was the Ponderosa, too! Jay and I took the time to remember Art in our own way and to sit for a bit thinking about how much we value our family and friends, and how each day we have is a gift from God–not to be squandered or taken for granted. Life is usually spent somewhere between the joys and the sorrows.

While I was in this pondering mood  I picked up my weekly produce box from Abundant Harvest and after organizing this week’s fruit and vegetables I sat down to read the accompanying newsletter. Abundant Harvest’s “Uncle Vern” begins by sharing about the  jillions of tree frogs that come to life this time of year in his local creek. Penny at Life on the Cutoff called them “peepers.” I’d never heard of peepers before, but Penny was clever and kind enough to include an audio link so we could hear nature’s sweet spring symphony. Do listen!

And Vern shared:

If tree frogs were people, they’d be sitting around worrying that the rain might stop, or there’s big ol’ herons that wade in the creek and next to the shore…they eat frogs you know, and so do bass, it’s just awful. And if you croak too loud, who knows what might find you appetizing.

We are sobered at the loss of our friend, but mindful of the importance of keeping our minds on enjoying today–maybe being a bit more like the tree frogs and singing instead of getting mired down with pondering a bit too much. I was able to laugh quite a bit today–my babysitting day. Laughter does make the heart lighter.

Since the mention of the Ponderosa I haven’t been able to turn off the Bonanza theme playing in my head! I thought I’d share it with you and maybe you’ll feel a little lighter after re-visiting Ben, Adam, Hoss and Little Joe for just a moment. It’s funny what we can use to help calibrate our feelings. Laughter is a necessity! I can be sad and laugh at the same time. I hope you know how to do that, too!

Breathing lighter, Debra