Archive for February, 2007

Here Comes the Sun!
February 24, 2007

One morning this week I awoke to the sound of raindrops. As I had no particular place to go, I rolled over for another forty winks, thinking there would be no chance for dog ‘walkies’ or running.

 But get up I did. When one has two hungry dogs who want breakfast and need to go out, one cannot sleep in. Ears flap and tags jingle. If any of my limbs hang over the side of our (very tall) bed, a cold nose reminds me that it’s time for breakfast (it’s always Bailey; Shadow ‘the perfect dog’ would never do that). Four dark eyes watch for any sign of movement. I don’t know how they can tell time, but at some point during the wee hours, they both come stand at attention on MY side of the bed (always!).

 Thank goodness they don’t require scintillating conversation, because I’m always rather dull witted in the morning (a nice way of saying ‘stupid’) and definitely not good company. Just give me the paper and don’t expect me to talk much. Not that I’m crabby, just un-sociable.

 After awhile the rain ceased, so despite a leaden sky, we were able to go out after all. My usual routine consists of a ‘power walk’ with the more energetic Bailey and then a short stroll with Shadow, who loves to dawdle at each post. After that, it is my time to run, and on this particular day as I made my way through the neighborhood, the sun broke through and burned away the clouds to unveil a BRILLIANT morning! With the freshly washed trees and yards set against a bright blue sky, the effect was sparkling! One couldn’t help but revel in the beauty of the day. Crisp and cool, it was so refreshing that I continued my morning outside with a post-run bike ride, smiling with delight all the while.    

The crystal clarity of the day made my heart sing, and while no one could hear me (my heart sings to itself!), the words it sang were from an old 19th century hymn,

         When morning gilds the skies,

my heart awaking cries,         

May Jesus Christ be praised!         

Alike at work and prayer,

to Jesus I repair;         

May Jesus Christ be praised!

 No more dull wits for me! The cobwebs in my brain were whisked away after all that exercise, and I felt as brilliant as the morning. I suppose it was a function of getting the old heart beating faster to pump more blood to my brain, but I like to think it was the fact that my heart was so uplifted by God’s gracious gift of sunshine after a rain. A smile was my own personal rainbow!

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My New Hat
February 17, 2007

One had as good be out of the world, as out of the fashion.

   Colley Cibber (1696)  

Why are bicycle helmets so weird looking?  

I finally picked up the birthday bicycle! It’s been awhile since I’ve ridden a bike, so I was rather clumsy with the initial fumbling for gears. But once I got going, it was just like, as they say… ‘riding a bike’. You don’t forget that part. I didn’t go very far this first time, just a three-mile loop on local sidewalks (safer that way), but when I got off, I discovered I’d found some new muscles!   

That and a really bad case of helmet hair… When I pulled up to the gate, the dogs both barked suspiciously at the sight of me, even though I was right there and talking to them. It was as if they were saying, “Danger! Danger! Mom! There’s something really stupid looking on your head!”   

It’s not just Shadow and Bailey who feel this way. Over the years, I have gotten to know some other dogs around the neighborhood during my morning runs. There are two in particular that I always take the time to stop and pet: Charlie and Blondie. When they see me running along with my sun visor clamped on my forehead, they both race to the fence for a visit. Not when they saw me with that helmet on, though! I called to them as I sailed by, but they both barked as if I were a total stranger.  ‘Fashion police’ dogs, all!  

So now my new ‘hat’ hangs along with all the dog paraphernalia by the back door, ready for the next ride. Personally, I’d rather not have to wear it, and in my fearless youth I would have gone without it. But I am now acquainted with a very nice young man who is an avid cyclist (not a ‘biker’, mind you!), and he has had enough close encounters with automobiles that have made me realize that it only takes one unfortunate spill to do some major damage. So wear it, I will. I’d rather be out of the fashion but of this world!  

I just wish that it were really cute…

Popsicle Toes
February 10, 2007

As a rule, man is a fool. When it’s hot, he wants it cool; When it’s cool, he wants it hot. Always wanting what it’s not.

-Nat King Cole

 I marked an annual rite the other day when I donned my running shorts for the first time this year (instead of leggings or sweat pants). The month of January here in Houston was dreary, rainy and chilly. Since I have a propensity to Popsi-cality, I suffered through it with only a fire in the fireplace and a bundle of covers to keep me warm. 

 I’d never make it up north; our yankee friends would LAUGH at what I think of as ‘cold’ (in the 40’s). Truly! Anything less than that, I literally turn into a Popsicle. For sure, my toes do.

 I actually think I’m part reptile, as cold-blooded as I am. People are forever commenting on how cold my hands are (but of course, I DO have a warm heart!). So I’ve been celebrating the recent warm spell, and am looking forward to more of it! All that rain and cold has made the sunshine feel like a much-deserved reward. Just hearing the happy birds singing has made it even better!

 But wait. It’s only February! Why on earth do I want warm weather to come so soon? Anyone who lives in Houston knows that once summer’s here for good, cool weather won’t happen again until October at the earliest. Why can’t I appreciate the seasons in their time?

 Because I know that when summer arrives, I’ll be the first one to wish for that first cool front of fall. Running in the summer here can be brutal. Early mornings, lots of water and iced down bandannas are the only way to survive. I will try to picture that scenario to help me better appreciate what coolness I’ve got while it lasts!

I think God, in his infinite wisdom, created the seasons to give us a certain rhythm of life… a time to sow, a time to reap, a time to rest and so on. If the weather never changed, how dull it would be! What I need to adjust is my attitude and savor the cold so I can better appreciate the warmth… and vice versa.

Guess what? When I drafted this earlier in the week, the sun was shining. Now it’s raining and chilly again….but I’ve got the fire going, and I ain’t complaining!

Ambulances and Other Traffic Tips
February 4, 2007

Exodus 14:15-16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve experienced three visits to emergency rooms, two to a people ER, and one to a pet ER. None was very pleasant, but because all is well both people and pet-wise, I can now say that the trips were rather ‘interesting’ in the sense that it was fascinating to watch the behind-the-scenes activities in each place, and on the way to one. 

There was nothing special about the trip to the pet ER; Joel and I just hauled Bailey there in good ol’ Donnie Ray (my car. If you’re curious about the name, ask me about it). But one of the trips to the people ER was in a real ambulance, and it was my first ride in one. I hope to never ride in the BACK of one, but being in the front seat is really kinda cool! (Of course, I was worried as we were driving along, but since all’s well now, I can positively report on the experience).  

First of all, let me say that the EMT guys from the Fire Station on Chimney Rock (Houston) are dedicated gentlemen, and they were so solicitous of Mom’s care and comfort. Polite, friendly and professional are other descriptions I might use for this team. When Mom was settled into the back, I asked if I might ride with them, and they said, “Sure, hop in!”  

An ambulance is a glorified truck, and in its front seat is a computer screen for the driver to communicate details to the hospital. There is a window between the front and back area, so they can each know what the other is doing. Once the guys in the back were ready, we set out with lights flashing, and that’s when the driver asked me if he turned left, could he get back to Westheimer?   

I was kind of surprised at his question, because I figured ambulance drivers knew where they were going! Joel will tell you that one of his pet peeves is when I tell him which way he should go, so I try to bite my tongue when I think we should go another route… but this guy actually asked me! I advised him to go right, and get on the Westpark Tollway, which would dump us onto the Southwest Freeway and to the Medical Center (we were going to Methodist Hospital).  

I always have trouble turning left at this one particular intersection to get to the Tollway, and I almost suggested that the driver try another street, but being in a ‘don’t be a backseat driver’ mode, I did the tongue biting thing. When we came to that tricky intersection, lo and behold, the driver turned on the siren! Wow! How cool it was that all the cars stopped for us! I told him that I felt like Moses parting the Red Sea.

Approaching Westheimer (four lanes in both directions with many speeders), he turned on the siren again. All but one Mustang obeyed, and that stupid driver almost broadsided us. I said that it was MY pet peeve when people don’t yield to emergency vehicles, and the driver chuckled and said, “Mine, too!”  

We sailed on through all the other intersections, and while I would have taken the freeway exit from the tollway, I’d forgotten about the magic of the siren. We didn’t have to stop at any traffic signals, so the point was moot. We got there just fine, and I learned a new, easier way to get to the Medical Center, thanks to my new EMT friend.  

So what other traffic tips can I share besides becoming an EMT? Here’s one more that my mother wrote about back in December of 1960 when I was almost six years old. Unfortunately, it probably won’t work during the first eleven months of the year, but remember this one next December: 

“Friday was the school party, and our job was to pick up Santa. Carol and Mary nearly took off when he walked out and got in the car with a jolly ‘ho ho ho!’ Carol made time by madly adding to her list all during the ride to school, and Mary just sat and held onto the fur tassel of his cap. I was amused at driving with Santa in the car. It was amazing how rapidly I got through the traffic! Trucks and taxis would stop and wave us on- and even the policemen had a big smile and would open it up for us to go through.” 

Ho ho ho… Merry driving!