Archive | November, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

21 Nov

I’ve been thinking a lot about birds this week. I don’t think it’s tomorrow’s turkey-fest that has inspired me, either.

I live in an urban neighborhood. Even with all the traffic, the houses, the noise, the pollution, the cats, it’s quite a bird sanctuary. In the 14 years that I have lived in this neighborhood, I have seen crows, woodpeckers, hawks, finches, canaries, cardinals, blue jays, flickers, mockingbirds, doves, chickadees, wrens, owls, and, of course, the many different varieties of sparrows. There’s even a blue heron that hangs out at the creek in our park sometimes. I have always been amazed at the number of birds who are city-dwellers like me. City living has its challenges for our feathered friends, especially with the number of cats around here, but it also has many benefits. Many folks keep birdfeeders stocked up to encourage these many varieties of beautiful birds to stop by for food. I have quite a collection of  bird feathers that I have found on my walks over the years. If you remember my first blog post, then you already know that I like feathers and why I like them. I prefer to see them on the birds, of course, but hey, occasionally my hair falls out, too.

Found Feathers on a Drum

When I arrive home from work each day, I pull my car into the driveway which is next to a large wandering wild rose bush that is next to the front porch. Almost everyday, there is a flock of several varieties of sparrows hanging out in that tangled mess of a bush, chattering away, hopping around, doing the bird thing. They seem to be a happy bunch. Sometimes in the summer, they are wallowing in the dirt of the garden on the other side of the driveway, taking a dirt bath, flying from the garden, to and from the rose bush, which is their safe haven, I guess. I like to sit in my car and watch them sometimes. On Monday, when I pulled into the driveway, there was a beautiful hawk standing by the rose bush. I’ve seen a hawk in the front yard and on the porch before. I always assumed she was catching mice, for which I have been very grateful, since that cat next door is a lazy slacker, not doing the job she was meant to do on this earth.

But Monday, the beautiful hawk was obliterating a sparrow (or maybe more than one sparrow, given the number of feathers remaining) by the rose bush. The hawk was undeterred by my arrival, too. I didn’t notice what she was doing at first. Then, when I saw the pile of feathers all around her, I watched in both horror and fascination as she devoured her lunch. Many thoughts came to my mind including, “Today’s a really bad day to be a sparrow.”

Then I thought of a song that I heard many times growing up. “His Eye is On the Sparrow.” The song says, referring to God, “His eye is on the sparrow so I know He [God] watches me.”

One needs to be really careful before one uses nature as a metaphor to illustrate the presence of God, because the second thought I had was, “God wasn’t watching THAT sparrow today.”

And then, my mind rambling on, I thought of a friend of mine who is having a rough time right now with family illness and job changes. She might even feel like God is nowhere around and the hawks have gotten to her as a result of God’s absence. I know I certainly would if I were in her shoes.

So, that’s where we, those who love her and care about her step in. I really believe we are to be the presence of God in other people’s lives, especially during those times when they feel completely abandoned by God. I certainly am not God, and can do nothing to change her circumstances right now, but I can be with her, listen to her, think about her, pray for her, and support her in the best way I know how (which usually means going out to a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner.) I can watch out for her, keep my eye on her. I am pretty sure she knows that she is loved by her friends, and that we’re paying attention and watching out for her.

That’s a lot of what I have to be thankful for this year. Friends. I have some really great ones. I hope I can be a really good friend, too. I also have some new friends, which makes me happy and reassures me that I have not become a sour-puss as I have gotten older. I worry about that, because I’ve seen it happen!

And I am really grateful for my XLH “friends” who are out there. I have never met another XLH-er in person. (Since it occurs in 1 in 20,000 people, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised by that.) But thanks to the internet, I have “met” some people through this blog and through the XLH Network that share this odd condition with me, and it makes me feel like I have found my “flock” of fellow birds out there. They have been very supportive the past several years through their conversations on the network, and they probably don’t even realize it, since I have mostly just read the conversations rather than participated. The one or two times I asked for some advice, though, many willingly jumped in to offer their wisdom and concern.

So, this year, I raise a glass of cider to my flocks of friends, of many varieties, for whom I am very grateful! Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017

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The way my mind works

12 Nov

So, this is how my mind works. One thought leads to another…and then another…

As soon as the dead body of the election results got cold last week, the media moved on to the next drama lurking on our horizon here in the U.S.A…the fiscal cliff. As soon as I heard the phrase “fiscal cliff,” I thought of another cliff that I have read about. The cliff of which I speak comes from the book of Mark in the Bible, the earliest gospel, where there’s a story of Jesus casting demons into a herd of swine, or pigs, as we call them today. Jesus met a man who was demon-possessed and when he commanded the evil spirits to leave this man, he then sent them into a herd of pigs. The writer of Mark describes it like this: “There was a large herd of pigs near by, grazing on a hillside. So the spirits begged Jesus, ‘Send us to the pigs and let us go into them.’ He let them go and the evil spirits went out of the man and entered the pigs. The whole herd, about two thousand pigs in all, rushed down the side of the cliff into the lake and was drowned.” In this story, we see that the evil spirits got what they asked for. It is also the first recorded recipe for deviled ham.

And then, when I thought about this story, I was reminded of another occasion a couple of days prior, when I looked up something else in the Bible. I had heard a story on the radio about a young man living with Down syndrome named John Franklin Stephens who wrote an open letter to Ann Coulter on the Special Olympics blog because she had recently called President Obama a “retard” on her Twitter account during one of the presidential debates. That story about this man and Ann Coulter inspired me to go online and read his letter after which I found the interview by Piers Morgan of Ann Coulter about this tweeting incident. During the interview, she indicated that she was tired of the “word police” going after her. I thought, “Word police? I guess she didn’t have a mama like mine!” My mama punished me and my siblings for name-calling in our home. And, Ms. Ann Coulter, even before there was the Mama Word Police, there was, once again, Jesus doing something crazy and word-police-y like telling people not to call each other names. Being reminded of that prompted me to go look that story up. And Matthew writes, quoting Jesus, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ [a derogatory term back in that time] is answerable to the court.  And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” WOW! I recalled how it was scary to my sister and me to read that, since that was what my mother was trying to get us to stop doing. (We were also calling each other ‘stupid idiots’ and my mother was trying to put an end to that, as well.) Then, after thinking back to all of this, I remembered how we tried to get around this on a technicality…we started calling each other “loof,” which is fool spelled backwards. My mother, though, was on to us very quickly. That new name for each other didn’t last very long, since the intent to be hurtful was still there. And, I imagine that if Ann Coulter had grown up in our house, she’d have much better manners and might even be sweet, like my sister, brother and I usually are. Not that we are perfect…far from it! But my mother understood that name-calling is hurtful, just like sticks and stones, just in a different way, and she tried to teach us that. Words are very powerful. They can be used to cast demons into a herd of wild pigs or disrespect the President of our country. AND, those hurtful words like the one Ann Coulter used on Twitter, can be used to hurt others who might not be presidents or famous people, but who are PEOPLE, fellow human beings, co-travelers in the journey of life. I thought to myself, there are lots of  label-wearing people out here, Ann. My fellow XLH-ers are some of them. (I was called some nice names too, in the interest of full disclosure…Teddy Bear was one that was given to me in fifth grade by a classmate who told everyone that I had been born with polio. Where in the world she got that from, I’ll never know. But she called me Teddy Bear because I was little and cute.) In fact, almost all of us have been called a name or two in our lives. Many of the negative names have been forgotten, but some of them have wounded us and then made us stronger. Not that I recommend that as a recipe for strengthening people…and I confess, I had a name for you, Ms. Coulter, after I saw in that interview that you DEFENDED your use of that word, and even said that the word “retard” means “loser.” Then, I immediately felt really sorry for you, and wondered if there is any love whatsoever in your life…a family? A friend? A dog? (Cats, well they only love themselves, let’s face it.) I honestly hope there is some love in your life. In fact, I found myself hoping that really you’re just a VERY GOOD ACTOR, worthy of an Oscar even, and one day we will all find out that you’re really just a big ol’ marshmallow, just like Jane Lynch who plays the bullying cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on the TV show, “Glee,” and you were just paid a huge amount of money to be mean, but you gave most of it away to a charity that everyone likes, regardless of their political persuasion. That’s what I imagined for you, Ms. Coulter. “Oscar-winning actor” is your label. Or maybe “Teddy Bear,” like me in fifth grade.

And that is where my thoughts took me in span of about 10 minutes one day last week.

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017

Tucker the Beagle and Tuna from a Can

3 Nov

Shown above is a picture of my dog, Tucker the Beagle. He’s the one who is in mid-air, jumping up because it’s “suppertime” and professorgrrl (who is quite tall) is carrying his plate of food back to his room. Deacon, the brown and white Jack Russell Terrier, is excited for him. He doesn’t get nearly as excited about food. But Tucker’s excitement is rather contagious. Some folks say that there are dogs and there are Beagles, a unique species of animal. I am inclined to agree with them.

I have never in my life seen an animal get so excited about food. He’s a “rescue” dog. He showed up on Sept. 25, 2009 when I was out in my front yard talking to a colleague of mine who had dropped by. The Beagle came bounding into the yard, obviously a puppy, and straight over to me like we were old friends. We tried for two weeks to find his owner, with no luck. He was skinny, but happy. (Think back…have you EVER seen a skinny Beagle? That should tell you that he was neglected, at the very least.) I grew up with beagles, so I figured this non-agressive breed would be a good addition to the family, with two Jack Russell terriers already living here. One week after Tucker showed up, my very beloved dog-soulmate, Pogo The Jack Russell Terrier, was diagnosed with cancer. Folks started telling me that the arrival of Tucker the Beagle meant that God was watching out for me. I told them their statement was either an insult to God or that God must be mad at me, because Tucker was the biggest pain in the hiney I had ever known. I won’t bore my readers with details on what constitutes “pain in the hiney” but you can be sure that if you have ever had a dog that brought total chaos into a home, then you might know a little of what I’m talking about. Pogo died 2 ½ months later on Dec. 9, 2009, and then I was SURE that God was mad at me, because now we were stuck with these two dogs that were oil and water, and Pogo, their fearless leader, was gone and no one could keep Tucker the Beagle and Deacon The Other Jack Russell, in check. Sometimes I would look down at the end of my arm and see this dog on a leash attached to me and wonder how in the world my life had come to this…no Pogo, but instead a challenge that I was losing.

Well, life has changed a LOT since then. Deacon has decided (just last month, actually) that he could tolerate Tucker and even like him occasionally, and Tucker has calmed down quite a bit and become more manageable after three 8-week dog training classes (professorgrrl’s idea). There are some things about Tucker that have not changed, however.

1. He is coprophagous. I won’t explain that one. You can look it up, but rest assured, it’s disgusting.
2. He is cold-natured. However, we can’t leave him during the day with a blanket, because he will eat that too. Ask me how I know…
3. There has possibly never been another dog on the planet who loves to eat more than Tucker the Beagle loves to eat. The dog trainer even noticed this, since he jumped up to knock the treat pouch off her belt one night during class. As you could see in the photo above, he expresses his excitement about mealtime by jumping up and down from the pantry on one side of the house to his “room” (a bathroom) on the other side of the house. He does this every single day at breakfast and at supper.  This happens twice a day, without fail, leaping, jumping about 12 times from one side of the house to the other. And get this…it’s the exact same meal every time! But for him, it’s as if he has never been fed this particular thing before. His jump is almost to the top of my head, not that my head is that far up from ground level, but still. He is THAT excited about his dog food. And it’s commercial dog food too, not anything homemade. I am amazed by this.

But then again, I am not. Whenever professorgrrl says she’s going to cook, which is regularly, and almost every Friday night, I am jumping, leaping, bounding on the inside. Even if it’s something that comes out of a can, like today’s recipe, I am very excited. Usually she cooks with all fresh ingredients but last night she made tuna patties, with tuna from a CAN. Commercial, canned tuna, 3 for a $1 or something like that. And why would I post her recipe for patties made from canned tuna on my blog? Because, tuna is one of those fish that are high in Vitamin D. Makes no sense to me, since tuna live in deep waters, far away from the sunshine. If you don’t believe me, read the nutritional content on the canned tuna. With her recipe, you basically get two patties out of each can of tuna, which provides 30% of the RDA of Vitamin D. And we all need that. I get very excited about this now that my Vitamin D has risen from 9 ng/mL to 31 ng/mL since last spring. Granted, 31 ng/mL is just barely above the minimum of the range that doctors want women to have (the minimum is 30 ng/mL) but hey, I’ll take it. I happen to know that one of my subscribers lives in the boonies of the mountains, probably very far away from a fresh fish market, but she could probably find canned tuna within 15 miles of her house.

So here’s the recipe, which is quick and simple. I could even make them…that’s how simple they are. I’ll leave it up to you as to the side items you want to add. If it were me, I’d be happy with potato chips, but of course professorgrrl was way more creative and the side dishes were also delicious.

Professorgrrl’s tuna patties

*Two 5-oz. cans chunk white albacore tuna in water
*1/4 to 1/3 c. Vegannaise (You’ll find this in the vegetarian section of the grocery store, near the tofu.)
*1/4 of large onion chopped
*2 tsp. Dijon mustard
*1 to 2 tsp. lemon juice
*2/3 c. Panko bread crumbs
*Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and form 4 patties.
Put additional Panko crumbs on a plate and cover patties with crumbs before cooking.
Preheat frying pan with small amount olive oil, just enough to brown patties.
Cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until browned.

Jump up and down because you’re so happy to eat canned tuna prepared this way and then sit down and eat them. Belch loudly when finished. (That’s Tucker’s addition to the recipe.)

Ingesting Vitamin D this way is so much more exciting than those little pills. Tucker would agree.

Copyright S.G. Hunter and Banjogrrldiaries, 2012-2017