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Monday, April 27, 2009

La Bamba; Confidence and Self-Importance

Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it - what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellowmen. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.

Carlos Castaneda Anthropologist and Writer
University of California

Do you remember in the movie, "La Bamba" when Ritchie's mother, Connie Valenzuela gets offended because the band does not allow her son to play solo at an evening garage performance? Ricki jumps in the car where his whole family is waiting and she asks, "What did they mean ...not letting you play, Ritchie?" He says, "Don't worry, I'll get them to listen." Connie is angry, though, and she says, "My Grandfather was a full blooded Yaqui Indian..."
I aways smile when I think of that pride. What is it? Mother's pride? Family pride? Some part of me knows that it does not really matter how you came into this world and which group of people you belong to...but another part can relate to that indignant mother! Respect! It's like Aretha Franklin R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

(Photo Yaqui People C1910 Mexico)

I'm thinking about confidence and balancing our needs with the needs of others....of knowing that you can make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others....of putting yourself out in the world. I think many of us are born with a introverted character, we have to learn to express our needs. Others are born with an extroverted tendency and may overlook the needs of others. Neither is necessarily better because we have to learn balance, either way. I know some people who keep giving until they harm themselves...and others who tightly hold on to what they have -but the universe or chance creates hardship and loss anyway. Perhaps, teaching generosity to some children is difficult in some way but so is teaching children to stand up for themselves and be noticed.
Many years ago, when my daughter was singing at a small theatre for a school function, I watched her get pushed away from the microphone by a more aggressive singing partner. (I have it on film so it's clear in my memory.) The other girl's parents had the shame of their daughter's public behavior to deal with but the girl who pushed was the one who was heard the most. I kept thinking that my daughter should have moved back toward the microphone and tried to sing again instead of staying in the background. I always wonder what is the right guidance to give in those situations. I didn't want my daughter to grow up into an aggressive personality but I did want her to know how to stand up for herself. She's turned out fine but I still wonder how to handle pushy people in the world.

As a shy child, I had to learn how to stand up for myself. My mother frequently commented about my own sensitive ways. She used to say, "I worry about you. You need to toughen up!" I think I must have gotten much bolder in my teen years but I remember feeling the need of support before I could try something new. I waited for friends to say, "Hey, you can do it!" I think you miss a lot of opportunities when you need to wait for someone else to discover your talents and encourage you to move ahead. Sometimes even people you love just don't want you to excel too much . Why is that? I'm naive a bit- when someone tells me it's control and jealousy, I don't want to believe it. Usually, I just look away and try not to notice. I think maybe my daughter does that too. It's a strategy. I don't know if it's the best one.
What do you think about confidence and self-importance? Sometimes when it comes to my children, I'm like Ritchie's mother, Connie Valenzuela. Do you remember when she was imagining for her son and she looked up into the sky while visualizing, "Ricky Vallenzuela and his Flying Guitar?" She's dreaming big for her child...her cause...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Planting Acorns and Growing Oak Trees

Hello dear blogging friends,

Excuse my absence and thank you for your encouraging words...I am on the healing end of a seasonal cold...just a little cough remains. I have news:

The charming Catherine of A Thousand Clapping Hands has honored me with the Renee Award which was created by two artists, Bella and Ces:

It is one of the most meaningful awards in blogworld because it honors someone who is incredibly inspirational in her intelligent and witty writing. And by doing so, this award celebrates women's smart, strong and inspirational spirit. It honors women who spread joy and love like an acorn...a small package growing into a tall and sturdy oak tree which gives more acorns that continue growing into tall and sturdy oak trees. ..

Friends, I don't mean to be mysterious but I also have been out of touch this last week because of a multitude of acorn troubles. (Perhaps you've noticed that I'm a squirrel this week? I've taken some inspiration from Miss Potter again and read A Tale about Squirrel Nutkin who is naughty to the point of insolence!) As I mentioned, it's been a stressful week.

On Friday, I took myself to bed with chamomile tea, toast and a heavy dose of movie magic. Between intense viewing, a bit of light reading, cooking, cleaning, and dozing on and off all weekend, I feel nearly ready to face the world again. (At this point- in the beginning of the week- I caution myself that the only solution to this anxiety residue is to go into a problem solving mode.)

I think most of the troubling acorns are collected together into a light beige Easter basket, recently filled with pink or blue plastic grass, and the New Beginning Acorns will be set into the ground. Soon by the universal magic of life, they will grow into little sapling arbol de robles.

Back to the award:

I am instructed that award is to be passed on to one or many blogger(s) who are noted for their loving and encouraging words...actually, I researched the award (see the links above) and think it's up to me how (or if) I pass on this wonderful award. Here are the encouraging bloggers I selected. Thank you for your concern about my well being:

(Feel free to accept this award if I overlooked your charming, encouraging, witty self!)

1. Lori Ann of Lori Times Five

2. Elizabeth of About New York

3. Mrs. Fancy of French Fancy

4. Carol of The Writers Porch

5. Fhina of A Woman of No Importance

Finally, A quirky YouTube on the Subject of Acorns, Oak Trees and Mysterious Life:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Chicken Little, Beatrix Potter and A Zombie Chicken Award?

Do you remember the story of "Chicken Little," a story of confusion and courage that young children can identify with...oh, and me, too! I've always found her situation funny. I probably recognize the Chicken Little in myself, especially lately with so much to do. It's difficult to decide what is the most important task. I feel like running around and yelling, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" (Maybe my seasonal cold is a reaction to the temptation to give in...yes, friends, I spent all Easter day in bed watching movies and sneezing!)

Easter makes me remember Beatrix Potter and bunnies. I just love the video I posted for you below and I hope you can find the time to watch it. Her cottage is my idea of a perfect private creative space. I imagine I'm Miss Potter, I'm out in the field capturing a view with my watercolors. It begins to rain but this time, I'm not Chicken Little. I love the rain, ducks and mole...and my dog too. Then I sit at the desk and begin to create stories for my little nephews and nieces...sigh...complete with illustrations. Okay fantasy over! I must warn you that I have been give a most curious chicken award: The Zombie Chicken

Ms. Lucy of Enchanted by Josephine gave me this quack me up award (sorry-chirp me up just didn't work), which comes with quite a compliment and then a little sting at the end:

The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken-excellence, grace, and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, these amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least five other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by not choosing wisely or not choosing at all...

Every blogger listed here has the gift of eloquently fighting dark shadows of all kinds as well as celebrating life victories!

1. Carol The Writers Porch (She recently saw a ghost!)

2. Natalie Musings From the Deep

3. Rudee The Knitting Nurse

4. Catherine A Thousand Clapping Hands

5. The Pink Cowboy

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pet Tales; the Untold Story

Delilah: A Known Killer

Managing a makeshift homeless shelter for pets is a challenge. We have nine dogs and one cat. I'm going to write all of their names; Miss Nellie, Benicio del Toro, Delilah, Jessie James, Michelle, Fern, Pepper, Charlotte, and the young Mr. D'Arcy. Miss Junie is the much put-upon cat. Three dogs have health problems of some sort, Miss Nellie, Pepper and Charlotte.

Michelle loves me the most of all. She follows me with her eyes, body and heart.

Miss Nellie had a penchant for escaping under the fence. Though it was repaired, she continued to push herself under. She damaged her back and developed a neck tremor before we discovered that she was still attempting to escape. We took care of her in the house in order to keep her still until she healed. Then she tried to escape again and 'broke her back'. Now she walks sideways, falls down, gets up like a drunken bee filled with honey, and walks a bit further, tail wagging. It's as if she doesn't realize she is injured.

Pepper has a skin condition and the personality of a beaten homeless cunning wild dog. Pepper Pot runs away when you reach for her but comes up close with sad yearning eyes when you are petting another. She will let you pet her when everyone else is getting love. She has a skin condition from allergies, I think. Her hair grows a bit back then falls out some more. So far her skin does not respond to treatment.

Charlotte has the most problems. She was born with beautiful rust and white fur and then got an attack of mange (the kind street dogs are born with) and I started her on treatment. I learned how to give injections, bathed her with a strong poison and then she started to recover. She got another secondary infection and I put her on antibiotics. She recovered a bit and then got a stomach illness and (some other discusting problems) which I treated. She has nearly died four times.

We call her "Poor Charlotte" from the movie version of "A Room with a View," EM Forester. Right now her hair is growing back and she looks at me shyly as if to acknowledge all the trouble we both have gone through. She tilts her head to the side and down and timidly hopes I will pet her (but not too much because it hurts). Taking care of 'street animals' is extremely difficult and often heart breaking. Delilah adapted to street life by learning to kill live animals. If a cat comes into the fenced in yard-she will try to kill it. She has taught Pepper and Jessie to join her. We're taking her in to be 'fixed' this week. I hope she calms down.

We have a large space for all of the dogs and they have also helped us. One time a person broke in the yard by taking apart the fence and road a scooter around back to the side entrance. It's quite isolated. I imagine that as he was driving around to the back of the house, the dogs woke up from their afternoon nap. They must have chased him; he ran into the white wall where tire marks still remain, and escaped out of the yard. When we came home, the top part of the fence was dangling but the bottom was secure. After a bit of investigation, we realized what had happened and understood that the fence was put together upside down so that it could be opened even when it was locked and chained. Probably, the house was 'cased' for a while but they didn't notice the dogs. What a surprise!
All of the dogs know how to" behave." I continue to teach them to sit, lift up on their back legs and they understand hand gestures. They need worked with or else they will revert to extremely 'wild' behavior and we will all get into trouble. If I hadn't been raised around animals (4H and all that) I would have had a real problem on my hands. They have gone through many naughty stages: from digging holes in the yard, eating socks and underwear from the clothes line to chasing the lawnmower.

Recently, I discovered that dogs can get addicted to gasoline. They chewed the tube that runs out of the gas tank on our second car and were sipping, licking and finally drinking gas. I was home alone one night, when I smelled a strong 'dangerous' smell. Was it lighter fluid, or poison? I emptied out all of the cupboards in the kitchen but couldn't find anything. The smell was strongest by the kitchen window and it was open. I went outside and thought maybe someone is painting and the smell is paint thinner. I found the dogs acting strange and a little crazed. When I looked for the rest of them- they were fighting to get under the car.

Then I realized that the smell was gasoline. I got the hose and sprayed forcefully under the car, finally they moved out and away from the car. I rinsed the driveway and contained the gas with a metal pan. It was held in place by being pressed up next to the gas tank. Later, the dogs kept returning to the scene. Elizabeth must have been successful in drinking the most gas before I discovered the problem. She died.

I've never heard of it before but now I know that dogs do get addicted to gasoline. When my husband W started up the car recently, some fluid came out and the dogs were after it again. Strange. He was able to repair the tube with a material made to harden against metal. I hope it holds! (He’s teaching a night class this month.)

This year we had three cats die from leukemia, combined with old age, and finished off by dog terrorization. But I'm mixing the tales (tails!) together-the California cats, Tierra and Playful were 14 and 15 years old. Both contracted leukemia from our Mione cat- a beautiful black intelligent cat who strolled around the house like a demanding toddler who constantly raised his voice for attention. "I want that! Let me sit there! Where's my snack!?" He died when he was 4 and we all suffered over that one. The disease process was-first occasional 'colds' fever and sometimes a hematoma (blood clot bubble) because the immune system starts to fail. Then they' recover' with antibiotics until the next bout of infection. They eventually lose a lot of weight and give up eating and drinking. I had to use a dropper for Playful but he just couldn't make it. He was the largest black and white cat with a generous trusting personality. He died first. Then Tierra got so confused. She started wandering toward the dogs. She was the oldest and 'wildest' cat; she could balance on a thin fence with all four paws. She was loyal to me but clearly toward the end, it was her time. For most of her life her fur was like the earth of New Mexico or Scottsdale, Arizona; so rich and multi-toned, accented by an earthy red shade. We found her on the driveway. Licked clean. The dogs had that guilty," I'm sorry don't be mad at me look." They didn't tear her up but I'm pretty sure that they killed her and also Mione. (Since then the
dogs have killed two cats who wandered into our yard.) It's shocking but you start to realize how a life of survival can make a dog give in to instinct, especially when there is no one around to give them food. That was a stressful time.

Junie is confident and empowered

Now Junie is our last remaining cat; she is 10 years old and we have to watch her carefully. Junie is a peach-toned, powder-soft bossy kitty. She also was exposed to the cat virus but I hope she can survive for many more years.

The young Mr. D'Arcy

under an arbol de Naranjas

These are the animals that we share our lives with; today, the young Mr. D'Arcy pushes his way into the house and makes a run for the cat food. When stopped, he goes to the garbage bag. “No D'Arcy,” we yell . He settles for the bowl of puppy food all the while keeping his attention on the dinner table hoping that perhaps some food scraps will fall to the floor and he will be in the right place at the right time. ♥