Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Now that I know I am a contemplator...

I've always felt I had some character defects.  For instance, I think, and think, and think about stuff, especially if there is a problem to be solved.  I can't stop thinking about it until I come up with solutions.  Like when I was a supervisor in our Christian School.  I had charge over the learning and accomplishments of all the 4th, 5th and 6th grade students.  They called this classroom "The Intermediate" learning center.  They should have called it "Precious".  Man, I loved those kids.  I got addicted to helping them succeed.  If they weren't going to make at least "B" honor roll, I would lay awake at night figuring out what the problem was, and how I could make it happen.  Then I would hover over their "offices" (cubicles) during the day making sure they were "nose to the grindstone".  When it was time to calculate their grades at the end of a quarter, if they were "this close" to making it, I would search through every one of their paces, looking for points that had been deducted for things that could legally be overlooked in emergency situations, such as a comma left out of a Scripture memory verse, etc.  It was exhausting.  However, almost all of "my kids" made either A or B honor roll almost every quarter.

So, back to my compulsive need to "think" about stuff...I'm easily distracted when I'm on a search for information.  I've been known to start out looking for information on how to build a composter, and several hours later find I've read 2 articles on red worms, 3 articles on wreath making, studied the inventory of 5 different bulb growing companies, and picked out 2 recipes I want to try for smoking meats.  Oh, and the composter?  well, I'll look again tomorrow for that.

Now all this thinking, although highly satisfying, did not seem to get me anyplace.  Because of that, I've learned to view it more as an oddity, not something you would share with people you meet.  Sort of a secret side that you wouldn't want others to spot you doing, like picking your nose or scratching your rear.

You might imagine that I was relieved and empowered when I attended a life language seminar recently, and discovered that not only was this behavior normal, it was expected of people like me...I'm a Contemplater!  Like Aristotle, or Plato.  That's what we do!  We think about stuff!  Contemplaters love to learn, they love details, trivia, where "expressions" originated.  Have you any idea why the expression "keep your nose to the grindstone" came into use?  Ask a Contemplater, they will probably know the answer!

So, I am simply fulfilling the purpose for which I was think, to solve, to wrestle with ideas, and to learn.   What a glorious revelation!  I will never again feel guilty for spending my time with such pursuits.   I have been set free to think.  And I don't care who knows about it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chiffy joins our pack

This will be my debut in the world of blogging. My inspiration is Kira, who has the ability to tell a story like a high wire act. The stars of her show, and she would call it a circus, are the 4 boys she has brought into the world, and their handsome, gracious father. Reading her blog has brought me such joy, I began to wonder if the things I put my time, energy and love into would bring happiness to others in the same way. The answer, I quickly realized, was probably not. But, it would give ME great happiness to tell my story, and even if no one read it, the satisfaction would be the same. Satisfaction of knowing that my “works” have value. According to Psalm 33:15, God does consider them (my works), and so, they must be better than worthless.

The name Mutt's End popped into my mind as I was contemplating what would best represent my life, my activities, my interests and my purposes. It was one of those random thoughts, that in retrospect, must have been from God. He does that, you know. Speaks to you using random thoughts that do not seem to come from your own.

When it popped into my mind, it just seemed “right”. After all, when our 3 kids grew up and moved out, my husband and I got 3 dogs. Then I began raising shih tzus. Then we inherited our daughter’s first and only dog. He’s the one I will tell you about today.

His name was Mischief. That was prophetic. Why would anyone name a dog “mischief” unless they expected some? The kids hadn’t been married very long, and not having any children, they had time to do silly things like go to the mall. That was in the day when the malls still had pet stores, and when pet stores still sold puppies. On this particular day, there was a little white fluff ball in the glass case, with a black nose, and black, button eyes. When he smiled, you could see his "cheeks" and of course, they could not resist him.

Mischief went home with them that day, along with a sturdy wire crate, dog food, accessories and toys. The instructions were; ¼ cup of dog food 2x a day. Being one who was used to doing things by the book, my son-in-law did just that. ¼ cup, 2x a day. Not a kernel more, nor less.
Trouble was, Chiffy burned nails from dawn to dark, and the kids weren’t told the formula for converting matter into energy, so when Chiffy's demand for energy grew, the matter was not being increased proportionately. That’s when Dad and I began to 'meddle,' and ultimately to smuggle food into their house. We became Mischief’s favorite visitors. We fell in love with him, and he with us. Luckily, the vet advised the kids during the well puppy check some weeks later, "You need to feed him a little more." :D The necessity for smuggling food got less, but we did it anyway because Chiffy loved it so much.

When my daughter got pregnant the next year, Chiffy's antics were less appreciated. He became really good at escaping out the front door, and would run full speed down the street, turning his head every once in awhile to make sure his mistress was still involved in the “chase”. Her shrieks of excitement only made the game more fun. As they would get closer and closer to the busy highway, her shrieks would become more urgent, as she begged him to stop. “Chiffy, pleeaase come back, Chiffy, I have a treat for you!” and finally, “Lord, please don’t let Chiffy get hit by a car.”

Thankfully, that never happened, and eventually, Chiffy learned that this was inappropriate behavior. God bless my son-in-law, who understood how to train. Chiffy was quickly house trained, trained to sit and stay, trained to roll over, and most importantly, trained NOT to go out the door when it was opened. That dog even learned how to keep a dog treat on the end of his nose until my son-in-law said, “Get it!” and then he would snap it up. I don’t know what impressed me more; Chiffy’s ability to learn, or my son-in-law’s talent for training. It was a beautiful thing.

There was only one thing that Chiffy would not learn to do, and that was to “be quiet.” His job was to protect the family, and he took it very serious. In due course, it was his dedication to the job that got him ousted; that and his marvelous talent for doing “fly bys”. Faster than a speeding bullet, Chiffy could fly out the back door and create enough turbulence to knock the new toddler clean off the porch. That’s when his mistress ran an ad in the paper, “Free to a good home.”

The day of Chiffy’s departure arrived, and Dad and I took a drive over to say “Goodbye.” This marvelous dog was going to a good place, with young owners who had plenty of time to play, and who did not care a lick about his barking. So, with tears flowing down our cheeks, Dad and I hugged Chiffy one last time and drove away. It was for the best, and everyone agreed.

 2 weeks later Kira got a call from the Animal Shelter in Spokane, 30 miles away, announcing wearily that they had, after 3 days of chasing, finally caught one white, Miniature American Eskimo dog, who had a microchip claiming he belonged to Kira McKee of Coeur d’ Alene. Would she like to come and get her dog?

How could this be? Amazed and alarmed, Kira went by the address of the new “owner”, expecting to find a fine house by the river, with a big, big, all fenced yard, but what turned out to be a little trailer in a tacky trailer court, with a yard the size of a postage stamp, and a 4 foot fence enclosing it.
Deception! The dog-catcher reported an eye witness saw a car with Idaho plates dropping Chiffy off in Spokane and then driving away. What followed was a royal brew-ha-ha . Speculation about who did it and why, resulted in our deciding that one of the residents of the trailer court must have really hated listening to Chiffy bark, and decided to spirit him away when his owner wasn't home.

Confident of what happened, Kira was sent off to the trailer court to collect the toys, the sturdy crate, and the food, and our capable son-in-law was dispatched to the animal shelter 30 miles away, to pay the fine and collect the dog. Needless to say, Chiffy was a hero, for having evaded capture for 3 days, and he was overjoyed to be back home. To complete the happy reunion, Dad and I declared, “We will take him! We’re not going through that again!” It was for the best, and everyone agreed.

That’s how Chiffy came to live in our “pack.” None of the dogs seemed to mind that Chiffy was my favorite. He took his place and immediately started “guarding” us all from strangers. I never was able to get him to ‘be quiet.’ Like it or not, for the next 9 years we were well protected, no doubt about it.