Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chortle - Adventures with Animals


Pronunciation: \ chȯr-təl \
Function: verb
Etymology: blend of chuckle and snort; coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass
Date: 1871
1. to sing or chant exultantly
2. to laugh or chuckle in satisfaction or exultation

It began early one Tuesday morning when I was dropping off food before work at the house. On Tuesday evenings I go to the house in country and make dinner for the boys. (With Jacob in the Air Force and Jared 24, I guess at some point I need to stop saying “the boys.”) It’s a way for me to stay connected and they do it for the free food.

As I got out of the car I heard what sounded like a goat bleating. I quickly dismissed it, thinking it must simply be some odd bird upset in the early morning. But then I noticed that the dog door that leads from the mudroom/laundry room to the outside was nailed shut.

I woke Jared and he explained that we were now providing foster care for a goat. A friend of Jared’s had the goat in the bustling Willamina metropolis and was told by law enforcement that it wasn’t an approved domestic animal for the city limits. We, with 16 acres in the county, have no such restrictions. Worried about the dogs (Indie a large mixed bread and the ever annoying pug) not accessing the yard, I was assured by my son that this arrangement was only temporary.

By the following week my boys, along with the two brothers who own the goat, had acclimated the dogs to the goat – to some extent. As long as Marty the pug was not around the goat and Indie tolerated each other. Once, however, you added the pug, it became a circus of running, barking dogs and leaping, bleating goat. Great exercise yes, but not a permanent solution.

All was going well with Indie and the goat sharing the yard and doggie door as long as Marty stayed inside. Granted the goat leaves droppings everywhere – including the laundry room floor and the dog bed, but there was no major head butting going on. That was until I needed to do laundry and walk outside to get reception on my cell phone.

The goat was resting on the dog bed when Marty came through the house door. Hearing the barking Indie joined the melee. I was outside and when I mistakenly opened the door to separate the combatants they all ran out - goat down the driveway followed by both dogs. Flipping my phone open I dialed Jared to tell him I had lost the goat.

Interestingly enough it was the goat that came when I called. He came through the door and into the house chased by both dogs. I yelled to Jared I had to go and follwed the parade into the house. All three went straight through the kitchen and living room to my bedroom. The goat ended up standing on my bed followed by both dogs.

The goat was going nowhere. So, after locking the pug in the bathroom and getting Indie outside with a dog bone I returned to push, pull and coax the goat off the bed and into the kitchen. That is where he pooped all over my freshly mopped floor.

Goat sitting – at least where the goat uses the dog door – isn’t really working for me.

What Worked for Me Today
Remembering to Laugh - and recalling a myriad of odd animal adventures in our family.

Men Who Stare At Goats - available streaming on Netflix

Friday, June 10, 2011

Vernacular - Learning the Language


Pronunciation: \ ver-nak-yuh-ler, vuh-nak-\
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin vernācul ( us ) household, domestic, native
Date: 1623
1. the native speech or language of a place.
2. the language or vocabulary peculiar to a class or profession.
3. the plain variety of language in everyday use by ordinary people.

When Jacob first said he had to go to MEPS, I wasn’t the only one who was confused. My housemate, a former marine, did not know what it stood for. Of course, in my odd brain, one of the things that came to mind was Beaker, the Muppet character who only says “meeps” (MEPS is pronounced with a short vowel /e/).

Military Entrance Processing Station – MEPS – is a nondescript building not far from the Portland Airport. No matter what branch of the military you are joining you process through this facility. Entrance tests, medical exams, orientations, all take place here. All recruits also sign their contacts and swear in at MEPS. So I am learning the language.

Jacob was one of seven Air Force recruits to leave on Tuesday. The day was stereotypical in many ways (hurry up and wait). Family needed to arrive before 8:00 a.m. to witness the swearing in ceremony. I of course was there just after 7. It gave me the opportunity to meet the other Air Force recruits since the swearing in didn’t happen until 10:30 a.m.

The teacher in me kicked in as well. One recruit was having a very difficult time remembering the Air Force Core Values. In that moment I said “ISE” (pronounced “ice’). He smiled and said I think that I can remember.
Integrity First
Service Before Self
Excellence in All We Do

There is a lot more for me to learn. I have time, however – six years to learn Air Force speak. Today I am very thankful for my first phone call from Jacob. He sounded great – describing “zero” week, knowing that the next weeks will be harder. No care packages allowed, but letters are welcome. I finally have something to do – and I can stop carrying my phone into the bathroom with me.

What Worked for Me Today
Having the phone at my side!

Watch Beaker sing!
He’s actually using words in the one below – a Cold Play song.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ululate - Letting Go


Pronunciation: \ UHL-uh-layt\
Function: verb
Etymology: from Latin ululāre to howl, from ulula screech owl]
Date: 1623
1. to howl or wail, as with grief

Yesterday my son raised his right hand, took an oath and gave himself to the United States Government. I am not sure that he is the one who should have been asked. Perhaps, just perhaps, if we asked the mothers and sisters and girlfriends in the room, perhaps the answer would be different.
It is difficult for me to have Jacob gone on many levels.

Politically I have been opposed to registration for the draft since I was in college. I have developed the belief that either we all serve, or no one serves – a model not too dissimilar to Israel. Unfortunately, that has not meant the lessoning of hostility or the need for the military, but it has leveled the playing field.

I am also jaded. I begrudgingly had to admit that at least the contract that Jacob signed was honest. In my words (not theirs) the contract read “We may hand you a gun and tell you to kill people.” These first two arguments are the same for any child looking at the military.

That is just it – child. Jacob is my son. I did not give him to the United States Government. They do not have my permission to take him. They did not ask me.

So I join a group of people – not just mothers – but fathers and brothers, sons and daughters as well, whose loved one can’t come when we need or want them. They can’t answer the phone. They aren’t home for birthdays and holidays, picnics or trips to the vet.

We are not there to hold them, feed them, laugh or cry with them. We cannot watch over them when they are sick or scared, bored or challenged.

We wait. We get up and make coffee. We go to work. We clean the house. We go on. But we go on with an empty place at the table and an ache in our hearts.

Yes, this is day one. And though there are hundreds more like it to come – this is the only day I have. So I pray for Jacob, giving him to G-d , and get on with my day.

What Worked for Me Today
Writing - Prayer - and a massage at 10:00 a.m.

Main Web Page for Lackland AFB in Texas

Basic Training Website - I couldn't get past the first video.