Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Making Memories

Yesterday was a big day for my youngest daughter. She was born with a rather large bump on the middle finger of her left hand; it was not growing or causing any problems, but her doctor thought it wise to have it removed and biopsied.

We were up early and on our way to the hospital early. Daddy was on the road and could not join us, so this was a real mother/daughter day. Admission to the hospital was surprisingly efficient, and soon we were in a private room, dressing her in a gown and surrounded by nurses. In a small-town hospital, they do not get many pediatric surgical patients (dealing more frequently with complaints of the elderly, gallbladders and such), and so my daughter was a bit of a celebrity. The staff doted on her and I could tell it was sort of a fun break in routine for them.

For once, I remembered to bring the camera, and made an effort to document the experience. Lately, making memories has become more important to me... maybe its an age thing, but I've also been looking back over the years and realized my memory is not all its cracked up to be. Its so easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget to document all the interesting moments that make our life special and unique. Obviously, the events like births and baptisms, weddings and vacations get lots of attention, but they are the exceptions to everyday life. I want to capture the memories more from a mother's perspective... precious moments buried amongst the laundry and homework and chores that make up the bulk of our time together.

My daughter made it through the procedure just fine, and was bouncing off the walls, harassing her older sister within an hour of our return home.

Her sister, on the other hand... she was home sick yesterday and now today, as well. Typical cold/flu symptoms... sore throat, cough and sniffles, and she woke me up in the middle of the night complaining of an earache. As both my girls have pretty high tolerance for pain, if they complain about something hurting, I take it seriously. And so... I will watch them both closely today and be prepared to make yet another trip to the clinic.

In other news... our calves have been born and we were blessed with healthy mommas and babies, with no complications. This morning I turned them all outside, and took great pleasure in watching those calves bounce and frolic in the morning sunshine. The fencing on the second pasture will soon be up and it will be great fun to watch the babies explore their new world.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How Precious, Life

Yesterday I helped to bring a new life into the world. It was only a calf, thousands of which are born every day under similar circumstances. Some would consider it just part of the job, not much different than changing the oil in a vehicle or tilling the garden... but not me. No matter how many times I see a living creature take its first breath (or, conversely, fight for its last), I will never get over the feeling of what a miracle life is, be it human or otherwise.

As a woman who has given birth to my own babies, tending the cow as she was in labor and then focused on her new baby was instinctual. The look in her eye as she pushed... one of experience, yet tinged with pain and desperation, was familiar. The calf was a large one and did not come as easily as some, so I knelt next to the cow, tore the membrane away from the little black nose, grasped the legs and eased the baby into the world.

The metamorphosis which takes place in the next few moments never fails to bring tears to my eyes. To watch a wet, slimy creature slide into the world, so seemingly helpless and vulnerable, struggle to breathe, then rise, then nurse... and within hours, transform into a dry, furry, bright-eyed and hungry little animal with an attitude and a personality... it is nothing short of bearing witness to a miracle.

I've often wondered how anyone could witness birth and fail to believe in a Creator. Or death, for that matter. If we are but biological organisms, taking up space on the planet and with no purpose beyond reproducing, exchanging oxygen for carbon dioxide and food for fertilizer, there would be no need for emotion. No need for love or anger, fear or happiness; none of that would matter. We would not feel such joy at the creation of life and such profound sadness at its loss.

I believe in God the Creator and always have... but to be present as His Spirit breathes life into a creature, certainly reinforces that belief. I understand biology, but will never understand the miracle and mystery behind it. I will never understand why some creatures live, and others are conceived but never get to draw a breath. I don't need to understand; it's part of the mystery. Just because I do not understand it, however, does not mean I rejoice in life any less. On the contrary, the mystery of life and the loss of death, make life all the more precious.

Every breath, every moment, every creature... precious.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pullin' Truck

My husband rarely buys me flowers, and if I had to sell my jewelry to feed our family, we wouldn't be eating well for very long....

But after nearly twenty years of marriage, he knows me pretty well, and buys gifts that keep on giving. Not in the sappy Hallmark sense; rather, the gifts he surprises me with are the kind that serve me well as I do my job and make my life a whole lot easier.

Once, it was a heavy-duty stand mixer. I was overjoyed to the point of tears to receive it, and that machine has mixed hundreds of pounds of bread dough over the years. Last year, it was a much needed tractor that would help to put up hay & feed hay to the livestock and clear out snow.

A few weeks ago, when I was out of town for the night with our girls, his gift was to completely renovate our poorly-designed laundry room and replace the old machines that came with the house, with the newer, more efficient ones we had brought from our old home and had not yet installed. He stayed up all night to finish it, and even bought me new laundry baskets.

And today... today, it was a pullin' truck.

My old pickup's engine had given up its ghost, its tires are bald, and some jerk had found it necessary to smash out the rear window while it sat waiting for us to retrieve it from our old farm. Fixing it up just to the point it was usable would prove quite expensive, so we put off making a decision on it. I've since been finding it difficult to haul all the feed and bedding necessary for our animals with our Expedition, or wait until he was home and could help with his work pickup. And now, of course, we will more frequently be hauling cattle and horses to various places for various reasons.

So, he bought me a truck.

It's not a fancy truck, by any stretch... but I love the thing. We went to pick it up today, and while it is starting to rust a bit around the wheel wells, is missing some trim and needs a new front grille, to me it was a thing of beauty. She is an older diesel Ford F250 Lariat, red and silver, regular cab, five-speed 4x4 with lock-out hubs, a fifth-wheel hitch in the box, a heavy-duty bumper, trailer brakes, big ol' tires and an aftermarket turbocharger under the hood. Seriously, is sounded about like a Kenworth when I fired it up.

As I pulled out of the lot and into traffic, I gave thanks for all those dark nights chauffeuring my friend Tom around in the service truck during sugarbeet harvest, years ago... and all the miles driving grain truck in the years before that. I've not driven a five-speed or any truck like that in probably five years, and so was a little hesitant to jump right out into rush hour traffic....

But it all came right back. And as I drove out of town and began to see what she could do... WOW. It is not a Ferrari, and does not corner like its on rails. But its got snort. And guts. And rides far better than my husband's company pickup, a year-old Chevy .

I found myself eagerly anticipating each stop light and turn, because feeling the horsepower while I slapped through the gears was so much fun. Its low-geared and doesn't care to go much over 70, but sure doesn't take long to get there!

It even has an FM radio. Better pinch myself, either I'm dreaming or died and went to heaven!

Okay, so I like gifts that are practical and help me do my job. I don't need fancy, or shiny, or expensive. My favorite gifts are those which will put in as honest a day's work as I do.

The other girls can keep their flowers and jewelry. I'll take a truck with a turbo kit, any day.

Thanks, Honey!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Of Slander

"No soul of high estate can take pleasure in slander. It betrays a weakness." Blaise Pascal

It never fails to amaze me, the lengths some folks will go in order to slander and harm another, whether it be an individual or an institution. The greatest lies... and as a consequence, the greatest harm... seem to come from people who have an irrepressable need to blow out another's candle in an attempt to make theirs glow brighter. The problem is that in the process, they significantly dim their own.

One must always question, just what is the intent behind malicious words? So often, those who tear others down do so in a self-righteous, finger-pointing fashion. I've seen it so often that my first questions are, "What has this person got to hide? How might they benefit from harming this person (or entity) they so vehemently attack? Or are they simply so lacking in their own self-esteem and accomplishment that their only way to gain acknowledgement and self-satisfaction is to harm another?"

In regard to the horse world, there are even websites and blogs which attack individuals in a most vicious and vulgar manner. Breeders bad-mouth other breeders or even registries in their little phone and e-mail circles. Some intentionally attempt to harm others in every possible way... and I always consider such attempts to be a red herring. Rather than look at the horses and actions and website of those they attack, I look at what the attacker has produced and accomplished. Most often, its a very short investigation which raises significant questions as to the credibility of the attacker and the quality and legitimacy of their own stock and operation.

Frequently, however, and even more disturbing, are those who anonymously make these negative claims. If a critic cannot sign their name and stand by what they say, in front of God and man, it has no credibility whatsoever. A screen name or avatar is an assumed personalty and I consider them to be fiction, right along with whatever garbage they might spew.

The same could be said for any other corner of society. Trace a character assassination to its source, and there you will usually find a putrid, gangrenous root. Jealousy, most often... and usually accompanied by its pathetic friend, insecurity.

I truly feel sorry for those who get their kicks by tearing others down. Its pathetic, unseemly, and destroys their own credibility. For many years now, I've made a point to avoid association with such folks, but at times the spirit of negativity is so widespread it is difficult to escape entirely.

Slander, lies, untruths, malicious gossip... no matter the name given, the intent and the result are the same. It hurts innocent, often hard-working people, seriously and sometimes irrepairably. If you participate in it, your credibility and integrity and reputation are significantly diminished, both in my opinion and that of much of the community at large. There are still a few among us who see it for what it is...



I, for one, intend to be of the light... and shine that light into the darkness at every opportunity.