Monday, September 01, 2014

It's All Happening at the Zoo

The week I was going back and forth to Philadelphia for my testing I decided to make a trip to the zoo one day.  I've always loved the Philadelphia Zoo, which has the distinction of being our nation's first. I met my friend Gwen and her little one, Sweet Pea there. Join us.

 Flamingos always make me giggle.
There were a couple of women discussing this position with the little one they were accompanying.  We all agreed it looked like giraffe yoga.  Downward giraffe anyone?
 I was following my prep diet for the scans while at the zoo.  Last year I may have fought the otter for the fish.  This year my cravings were all about cheese, so I could just enjoy the otter's antics.  We also had an extended discussion with the otter's keeper.  We learned a lot about the breeding programs.  Essentially the worldwide zoo population of these river otters is descended mostly from the same mother and there are more hoops to jump through to get your otter laid than any sane person would even want to imagine.
 This bear seemed wholly unconcerned with any of that.
 We were hoping the peacock would give us a show.  He did not oblige.
Getting ready for a date and checking his deodorant?
"Listen, Glen may have on his aftershave but he still can't dance.  Just look at that ungainly display on the dance floor."
 GQ Lemur edition.
 The beauty shop at the primate house.
 Deep in thought or needing a smoke?
 Whoa, Mama!  the ground is waaaaaay down there!
 She seemed fairly annoyed by the people around.
 Sweet Pea's favorite toy is her stuffed lion.  It goes everywhere with her.  She wanted this lion to meet her lion.
If you've ever read E. B. White's Trumpet of the Swan you may recall the main character Louis lives at the Philadelphia Zoo for a time and plays his trumpet for tourists.  The swan boats at the zoo are in honor of the book.
 Just inside the entrance is this fountain.  I've loved it since I was a child.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Good News

It's possible I may have
underestimated the importance
of having someone with me
when receiving good news.

I knew I'd need you
to break the fall when
I heard the words,
"It's cancer."
Sure as I was
of what would be said,
I still wanted
your hand in mine
and was grateful to feel
your grasp.

I was sure this day would be different
and you had many responsibilities.
You'd done enough.
I didn't want to interfere further.
So I told you to see about your duties,
mine was just a formality.

How foolish I was
in my confidence
of hearing about clean scans.
I learned too late
I needed someone
beside me
bearing witness with me
to the light in the doctor's eyes
when he was a messenger of pardon
rather than execution.

Who knew joy loves company
more than  misery does--
or needs it to take up the space
where doubt may try to seat itself?

According to the doctor I saw yesterday the final test confirms I have passed by first full year cancer-free.  We are greatly relieved!

Monday, August 18, 2014


I've been shooting all sorts of critters this summer....with Boom-boom my Canon....not boom-boom a gun.  It's a habit I picked up ears ago when Isaac was small and collecting the various insects, amphibians, and reptiles he could find in the yard was his favorite thing.  We'd take a picture, marvel a bit, look up the species, and put it back.  As I am lacking time to come up with a reflective or humorous post and as this past week has been a sucktastic one I am sharing the local fauna now in attempts to make myself think of more cheerful or peaceful things.  First up, the chipmunks.  As a kid I spent a lot of time in the mountains with my grandparents and feeding the chippies by hand was a favorite past time.  Since Mr. Lime and Isaac chase them off I was pleased to be able to sit in the yard peacefully with them one afternoon as they scampered around looking for seeds.

You talkin' to ME?  This little one cracked me up when I downloaded the picture off  my camera.
While I was in Maryland I was able to enjoy the goldfinches.  We get them at our feeder occasionally but I was able to get much closer to these and since I wasn't contending with the shade from our feeder their colors came out more brilliantly.  Here's Mrs. Finch.

Mr. Finch.  You can certainly see how much more brilliant his plumage is.  Again, as a kid in the mountains, I was reminded of my grandfather. We kids could feed the chippies by hand but only my grandfather could draw the wild birds to his upturned palms as he sat in zen-like repose on the back porch.  I always thought he and the birds had a special relationship.  My aunt confirmed that with this story.
Back at home we found some other little friends.  This frog  has made a home in a hole in one of our fence posts. His drowsy look and his hiding space just sort of make me giggle.

Not far away from the fence post, Mr. Lime built a bird bath out of an old claw-footed tub.  About the time we found the fence post neighbor we found this little one had taken up residence in the birdbath.  He just seems a bit more outgoing and I can imagine him calling the other frog enticing him to come play while the other one moans about wanting a nap.
Finally, I nearly stepped on this little red eft one day on my way out to the car.  When I noticed him I had to go back in for my camera.  I can remember scooping them up and carrying crowds of,, wriggles....whatever the collective noun for a salamander my shirt by folding up the front hem and using it like a pocket.

Happy memories of years past and peaceful times this summer...aahh, that's better. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Leaving the Nest

Mr. Lime has built a bird feeder and a nesting box for our yard.  This Spring we had a house wren take advantage of the box.  We were excited when seven little eggs appeared.  And by little I mean about as big as my thumbnail.  Itty bitty.  Still, it was exciting to see.

 Eventually they hatched.  It looked like only three of them got that far but boy were they hungry.
They grew and started to get feathers.  I had hoped to get one last picture of them looking more developed before they flew out on their own but then next time I checked they were gone.

And so it goes...thinking you've got just a little more time.  Then suddenly the young ones are gone.  This week Diana moved to Georgia.  She's been on her own before but had been at home the last year saving up money to take the next step.  She's now over 800 miles from where we are and I have to admit that though I am happy for her I'm a little sad for me because Georgia ain't quite as accessible as when she was just a couple hours west of here.  When I was her age though I moved to an entirely different country so I guess I can't complain.  It's her time to fly now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Life Moves Pretty Fast....

So a lot has been going on in the last month or so that has been keeping me from the blog.  Let me there is too much...let me sum up.  First, Calypso turned 21.  After a family dinner during which a pitcher of sangria was enjoyed by all except Isaac there was a pub crawl.  Further details of the evening beyond letting you all know I was the designated driver for later festivities I am prohibited from sharing.  So as not to cramp the celebrant's style I dropped her off with older sister and a friend telling them to call me when they were done.  I also told them I'd be picking them up in the celebrant's car not my own so they may want to consider the lingering effects of vomit on car upholstery before embarking for the ride home.  I ain't no dummy.

Then there was the high school graduation of Isaac.  We thought it might never arrive, not because of any academic deficiency on his part but due to delayed dates after a harsh winter with an abundance of snow days.  Arrive it did and there was much gladness.

Then a couple weeks later there was an official East Coast meeting of The Freaks in the Box Club (aka blogger meet-up) during which Calypso was introduced to her very first freaks in the box and inducted into the club.  Susie, her hubby Ratburn, AndyT13, and his lovely wife, along with Calypso and myself all converged on New Brunswick, NJ to watch Talented Freak Progeny and many others compete in a west coast swing dance competition.  A good time was had by all and Calypso seemed to fit in well with the Freaks.  It may have helped that she found my blog a couple months ago and has excavated it heavily.  Her extensive research into the care and feeding of Freaks in the Box permitted for effective communication with such.

Other goings on have included expansion of the bird sanctuary that is our backyard, continued slow work on the bathroom, undertaking a decrapification process for Chez Lime, yoga teacher training weekends, a week-long vacation in Maryland, and a trip to Fox Chase Cancer Center wherein two out of three medical tests confirm I have officially been cancer-free for a year.  Yay!!!! The final test is to be performed next month after another lovely round of dietary purgatory during which the list of what I may eat is considerably shorter than what I may not eat.  This will take place just after we move Diana to Georgia.  Oh, and I hope to find a new job and visit Boston as well before summer is through.  Busy, busy, busy!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Dependence Day

Forty-five years ago today my adoption was finalized. The above picture was taken that day. My mother had sewn the outfit I was wearing, just for the day. My grandmother's friend sent the flowers. I was about 9 months old. When I was born, adoptive parents were not generally permitted to visit their babies in the hospital. My first 5 days were spent entirely in the care of nurses. When I was released, my parents' lawyer and his wife picked me up and brought me to my parents.

When I was 18 my mom gave me copied pages of her diary from the days when she and Dad first learned I would be theirs, when I was born, and when I came home. It filled in some of the gaps I had always wondered about from those days.

My birthday is always a bit odd. I share it with someone I've never seen yet upon whom I depended entirely at one time. I'm told she chose not to hold me because she wasn't sure she could let go if she had. I can completely appreciate that. I worry about this woman I've never met, whose name I don't know. Every birthday I need to draw away for some silent and private time. I need to spend time to reflect and, in my own way, wish this stranger peace and well-being. It's not a time of sadness like some overwrought TV movie of the week might have you believe. I give thanks that she was able to put my needs first since she was not ready to be a mom. I give thanks for my family. It is a strange day though.

July 3rd is my finalization day. There is a purity and clarity to it that my birthday doesn't have. Some decree by a judge isn't what gave me a family. A judge can't issue an edict of parental love and sacrifice. "Do you promise to swab vomit, kiss boo-boos, braid hair, wipe tears, mend broken hearts, paint the bedroom her favorite color, make photo albums, engage in tickle wars, shop for clothing and listen to music you just don't get, bake cookies together, etc......" Many years ago I had the privilege of being invited to the finalization for a friend's child. They thought I might like to see what it was like. I really appreciated that thoughtfully offered opportunity. It's a very simple procedure that only takes a few minutes. Parents explain why they wish to adopt, promise to provide for their child, and recognize him or her as a legal heir. After all the home studies by social workers and interviews by people within agencies, after all the probings and scrutiny and the months of first waiting for a child and then waiting for a court date, it's all over in a few words.

Sometimes I become irritated when people suggest or even insist that my family is not my "real" family. I find it completely misinformed when people expect that being an adoptee is somehow a scarring experience. I become irate when media potrayals in movies or journalistic write-ups find the need to draw negative attention to adoption in a sensational way. But I take a deep breath and try to inform people correctly, reminding myself these attitudes generally come from ignorance not malice.

My mother said it was so hard to wait for the finalization day. She told me how she'd have nightmares of people coming to take me away. "Sorry, your time is up. She's going back where she came from." On July 3rd her bad dreams stopped and no one had any right to suggest my family was any less real than theirs.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What a Difference a Year Makes

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the Earth of even a zipline.  It's been a wild ride the last couple of weeks closing up two libraries and having a yoga teacher training weekend.

Today, however, is noteworthy.  A year ago today I was having a cancer riddled thyroid removed from my body after several months of medical testing and arguing with incompetent doctors before finding some excellent ones.  All this began shortly after I started my then new job as a Library Paraprofessional.  It was a job in which I was unclear about what latitude I did or didn't have.  I was afraid to overstep my boundaries.  I was also trying to keep my head above water. I spent the two weeks before surgery on medical leave from my job so I didn't have to sit in a moldy basement at one school while I was trying to prepare mentally and physically for surgery. Those two weeks were spent at home in the embrace of my family and attending as many yoga classes as I could handle, roughly ten classes in two weeks, in order to keep myself calm.

It worked.  I went into surgery physically strong and mentally calm.  I didn't panic until about five or ten minutes before they came for me to give me the pre-surgical sedative.  The sedative took care of the panic.  As soon as I was awake in recovery I began doing deep yogic breathing to begin helping my body get rid of the anesthesia since I knew the respiratory therapists would be telling me to do that anyway.  Apparently, what I considered mindful breathing in a still groggy state, looked labored to the recovery nurses.  They asked if I was having trouble.  When I told them what I was doing they commended me.  Later when I used my foot to pull the bedside table nearer so I could help myself to ice chips they scolded me with the warning that too much too quickly would make me vomit.

The last two weeks of this school year were spent exercising the full latitude of my authority in the library.  In one I was well caught up with the mundane aspects of shelving and repairs and record keeping.  I rewarded myself by reading to the classes with the best library usage of the year in between processing new books.  It's something I enjoy doing a great deal but it's not part of the scope of my job description or even something I ever have time for anyway.  It was a lot of fun to hold the kids' attention and even that of the teachers who opted to take some time away from pressing duties.  Even their faces expressed rapt attention and each of them expressed surprise at how I engrossed their students.  Yes, I can do more than just shelve books.

In my other school it was a flurry of activity trying to catch up with things left undone all year.  I had new books to finish processing and repairs of old books. I also did a major weeding (nearly 500) of the picture books, deleting them from the catalog and removing identifying tags and marks. Then I shifted all those which remained to make room for new subsections for holiday books and books for beginning readers so it's easier for those kids to find something they are able to read independently.  That also meant updating the catalog as to a new subsection and the books located therein.  Oh, yeah, and I inventoried nearly 11,000 books.  Nothing like setting the bar ridiculously high but I really wanted to properly whip this library into shape because it's been so neglected for so long, like years before I arrived kind of neglect.  Thanks to Calypso who came into work for one day and my dear friend and fellow Para, Big Mama, I was able to accomplish almost everything.  I left the repairs for next year and I have to make new shelf labels after having shifted roughly 5000 books.  Otherwise, I finished it all and accounted for all but about 30 books in inventory.  I could not have done so without Calypso and Big Mama, who even dragged a substitute teacher in to help one day as well.  Big Mama is a compelling person.

In looking back over the last year, there's been a lot of change.  A cancer has been excised from me literally.  I think in some ways one has been removed figuratively, though treatment for that is ongoing.  Although one could argue I am a risk taker as evidenced by incidents involving ziplines, I never was in the work world.  This year I have grown in confidence about what I have to offer and I have struck out in an unusual new direction of signing up for teacher training in yoga.  I've also decided to actively look for new employment elsewhere this summer, which is part of why I worked so hard at one library.  I want to turn it over in the best possible shape.  A year or two ago I doubted my professional skills and I NEVER would have considered I could possibly teach anything that could be remotely considered athletic.  I've asked for references from people I respect and they have responded with great encouragement.  I have had two trainings in the yoga program and I have received wonderful feedback for my participation there as well.  Oh, and I even was bold enough to actually SELL some of my tie dye creations instead of giving them away.

It's been quite a year, one with lots of growth...the kind indicative of life rather than the kind leading to death.