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Archive for November, 2010

Nov 30 2010

Collie Mix?

Posted by Mugs @ 12:48 pm in Family,Pets

My dear friend loves animals and although she owns two cats and for a limited time a hibernating hamster, she has long pined for a puppy. Her husband does not love animals and held out on the puppy request until there were no children left to potty train.

For months, she has been scanning collie rescue sights seeking a collie mix to call her own. A few weeks past, up popped a photo of a puppy too cute to resist and off she went to claim her. I wish I could tell you that all has been love and happiness ever since. However, that would make for a boring story.

When acquiring a mixed breed dog, I highly recommend you attempt to determine which breeds created the mix. The hesitation taken while determining breed mix might give you enough time to back out quickly. Unfortunately for my friend, she did not consider the rest of the mix. She heard the Collie part and away she went.  After three days of puppy sitting and observing this dog dashing around at a frenetic pace, I have come to suspect that the Collie part has been overrun by the Jack Russell Terrier part.

This puppy ran loops at extremely high speeds and would dash from room to room to room in a never ending check on what was happening. She bolted up and down stairs to see what was going on. She launched herself onto furniture, people, and Blaze. She chased squirrels, birds, and Patches. She did not stop until I put her in her kennel to sleep. Even then, she would catch sight of the neighbor dog, a bird, or a squirrel and bark at it for good measure.

We had to block the stairs with an old crib rail to prevent her from going up to pester Patches, but that did not stop Patches from coming down to tease the puppy. Patches would sit on the steps just the other side of the rail and stare at the puppy. This would drive the puppy nuts, so Dale hung a blanket over the rail to block the view. Then, Patches moved up several steps and peered over the top of the blanket.

As a result of these antics, we were less than sympathetic when the puppy actually caught Patches unaware in the kitchen and started chasing her around the kitchen/office/hall loop. Because the stairs were blocked, Patches could not get up them quickly. I would have caught the puppy sooner had I not been laughing so hard at the sight of Patches’ big belly dragging on the floor as she skittered and hissed and tried to make her escape.

Blaze was on duty three days straight and taught the puppy games to play: fetch, keep away, wrestling, and “I’ll take that stick, thank you very much.” The puppy did not relent no matter how many times he knocked her back. She jumped on Blaze time and time again. Eventually, he would get sick of it and sit on her which made us all laugh.

The puppy could not quite grab the ball in her mouth, so we would throw two sticks instead, one for Blaze, one for her. Blaze would fetch his stick, bring it back, and then grab the end of the stick the puppy was carrying and take it away from her.

I put the kids on 10 minute “keep the puppy entertained in the yard” cycles in an attempt to exhaust her. Instead, she exhausted us. Blaze felt it the worst. The morning after her arrival, he stood up, hobbled a ways, and then stretched for a really long time.

Nov 25 2010

Why Turkeys Trot Fast

Posted by Mugs @ 1:30 pm in Family,Running

This morning Dale, Josiah, and I ran the 5k (3.1 mile) Turkey Trot in Fredericksburg. Zeke started us off by running the mile fun run. His heat was boys/girls 6 and under. His minders (Dale and Josiah) kept him on pace as he darted in and out, here and there. (The boy can’t run straight.) Dale made sure that Zeke didn’t make the same mistake as last year and take off from the start at a full sprint. He finished 14th in his heat, sprinting past another child to the finish with a time of 9:31.

In the starting chute of the 5k race, there were signs with mile pace times spaced out for all the runners to figure out where they should stand. I walked from the start line backward and passed where Josiah stood (6 minute mile), where Dale stood (7 minute mile), and where most of the rest of the runners stood. I didn’t stop until I reached a sign that said “Walkers and Strollers.” I stood just in front of that sign, hoping I would be faster than them.

One funny thing about starting at the back of the race is you don’t hear the race instructions or even the gun firing. Everyone in the back is talking and laughing and running into old friends. There are whole family groups in matching shirts, Indians, Pilgrims, Santas, reindeer, dogs, and guys wearing nothing but shorts and body paint.

One family had jerseys printed with a thanksgiving food item on the back in place of their name. There was “mashed potato”, “buttered rolls”, “stuffing”, etc. They were pretty funny.

At some point we all noticed that people had started moving and we began to move as well. It was a bit like being in traffic: gaps opening, slowdowns, stops, and restarts. It took me almost 3 minutes of movement just to cross the starting line. Gabe told me later that the last people crossed the starting line 6:25 after the start of the race.

The first mile was an obstacle course of runners, strollers, and walkers who decided to line up ahead of their actual pace point. There was a lot of weaving in and out, people dashing past, and others suddenly stopping. I maneuvered as best as I could and tried to run a steady pace. There was a hill halfway through the first mile that elicited groans from my fellow trotters. Josiah’s coach had warned us of the hill, and since it wasn’t as tough as I had envisioned, I made it up at a steady trot.

The first mile felt the longest to me, because with all the maneuvering, I was completely unsure of my pace.  I made it to the 1 mile point in 12:05 and was quite shocked as I had been anticipating running 13 minute miles. At one point, I saw the Kenyan who would go on to win the race heading to the finish. The second mile is usually my most discouraging, but on this course it was slightly downhill. Instead of my discouraging incline, I had an encouraging decline. I ran the second mile in 11:55 and surprised myself again.

I spent the majority of the third mile running with the Indians. A group of teenagers had come dressed as Native Americans and they were moving at about my pace. They received a lot of cheers from the crowds on the side of the road which further spurred me on. During the third mile, I passed a man pacing a teenage girl. As I passed, he said to me, “You’re doing good…Good pace…Keep it up.” I was thankful for his encouragement.

I was thankful to him and (throughout the entire race) thankful to God. I spent the majority of the race thanking God for all the blessings He has given me. My thanks started with the good health that enables me to run, and continued with the blessings of safety, food, home, family, and friends.

Towards the end of the third mile, I passed a guy running with a boom box and had to laugh at all the weird looks he got from the abundance of ipod wearers. I suspect he was blaring an 80s radio station while he ran along. It was as if he had been caught in a time warp.

As I approached the corner of the finishing chute, I saw Dale and the kids cheering me on. I turned the corner to see the clock at 39:30. I knew that I most likely had run 37 minutes or less because the time chip around my ankle would deduct the almost three minutes it took to cross the start line, but I was determined to cross that line before the clock hit 40 minutes. (My original goal was simply to finish the race having run the entire way, but living with my pace and time watching husband, there had to be a time goal for him.)

Turkeys trot fast for a variety of reasons: to finish in a higher place, to set a PR, to beat the guy next to him, and to accomplish a goal started 10 months ago by running at a full sprint.

Nov 23 2010

It’s Not Like You’ll Be First.

Posted by Mugs @ 10:10 pm in Family

This past Saturday, Mr. Matthews (Iwo Jima Vet/Marine Corps Museum Docent/Manry Piano Instructor) organized a program for the students in his studio. He periodically does this, not for parents and relatives who want to watch their children perform, but for the students to hear other students play. He firmly believes this inspires each one to hear what is possible for him or her to achieve. He hopes it will motivate the students to reach for the next level of competence.

He announced this program to us two months ago, but with the pace of fall term academics and sports, we Manrys had not been diligent in our practicing. Last week, after hearing his disappointment at my kids lack of polish, I cracked down. I doubled their practice time and insisted they only play their performance piece. I was determined that they would not let Mr. Matthews down.

Maybe I got a little carried away.

On the morning of the performance, the pressure got to Gabe. “I keep messing up. The more you make me play it, the worse I do.”

I decided to lessen up on the pressure by saying, “It’s not that big of a deal, Gabe. You’ve played it well before. It’s not like you’ll be first, and since it’s at someones house, there will probably be people milling around and talking.”

When the twenty three students and their families arrived, Mr Matthews announced, “Please find a seat. We will start with pieces from everyone’s favorite composer. Our first performer is Gabe Manry playing Valencia by David Lanz.”

Gabe stood up and made his way to the piano. Everyone in the house (even the babies) fell silent.

Nov 17 2010

When a Well Arranged Mind is Lacking

Posted by Mugs @ 12:28 pm in Family

One would think, the first batch of soured milk would have clued me in. However, I had bought the milk from a different store than usual and assumed incorrectly that they had sold me bad milk. It wasn’t until the second batch went sour, the meat went bad, the freezer frosted over, and the ice maker stopped working that I said to Dale, “Do you think something’s wrong with the fridge?”

It takes me awhile.

I don’t enjoy the days when things stop working, primarily because I am not handy. Dale, who is quite handsome in his new suit, has no time for handy right now as he is in the second week of work for his new job. The best he could give me was to pull the fridge away from the wall, listen to the compressor that was still running and tell me, “I have no idea.”

There will come a day when I will hand over all these ‘fix it’ tasks to Gabe. Perhaps it should have been yesterday. If I had let him loose with a screwdriver and a fridge repair manual, I’m certain he would have eventually figured it out. However, with “He’s just ten.” and “How long will I be without a fridge?” giving me doubts, I decided to enter the world of the yellow pages.

The first number I saw was for a repair guy further north. One thing I have learned in the 3 1/2 years I have lived here, is that the closer someone is to DC, the higher the bill will be. Instead, I called the guy listed for my town and heard a message in broken English. I wasn’t feeling good about that one and tried again. Down in Spotsy there was a guy whose ad read “Over 30 Years of Reliable, Honest Service.”

At this point, I remembered to pray, “Lord, help me find someone who won’t rip me off and will fix what’s wrong so that I don’t have to buy a new refrigerator.” I had thumbed through the Sunday ads to view the fridges listed for “Just $999.” The ads proclaim it in such a way to make me feel foolish to want to declare, “$1000 for a fridge…Just too much money!”

The message I heard when I called the guy in Spotsy was spoken in a rural Virginia accent and it ended with “God Bless You”. I figured I was on the right track.

Then, I spent all morning waiting for his arrival. He had another job before mine and his office manager told me that I would get a call when he was on the way. I don’t know what it is with me that makes waiting time less productive than regular time. I spend the time working, but am not nearly as successful at getting a lot of things accomplished while I’m waiting.

It might be because my thoughts wander about from “Maybe the call hasn’t come through because the phone line is dead” (Keep in mind he has my cell phone number) to “But if I start this major task, he may interrupt me causing me not to finish.” (I love to ignore the fact that the primary reason I never finish a major task , especially those I don’t want to do, is that I never start them.)

Thankfully, I was able to complete the one task that was key and essential: clean off and clean out the fridge.

Most people, upon returning home, have a ‘set down’ place. Whatever they are carrying in their hands or their pockets is set down. For some, this place is a shelf, a counter, or a big island. For Dale, this set down place is the top of the fridge.  I filled a handled grocery bag with Dale’s top of the fridge collection. Upon his arrival home, Dale pulled his keys out of his pocket, looked at me, looked at the top of the fridge, and upon hearing  “Don’t you dare” decided it would be best to find a new set down place for the day.

The second place I had to clean off was the outside of the fridge. We Manrys go way beyond the front of the fridge. We stick things up with magnets or tape from top to bottom on all three sides. There are bugs to race, barns to sing along with, photos of people whose names have become vague, comics that made me laugh three years ago, old art projects, everybody’s magnets but Gabes (the beware magnet has not yet arrived), and fortunes from inside cookies that proclaim “Well-arranged time is the surest sign of a well-arranged mind.”

I filled a second bag with stuff from the outside of the fridge. When the kids arrived home, I said to them, “Doesn’t the fridge look great? No clutter…all clean lines and open spaces.” Abby replied, “It doesn’t look very homey.” She and my mom, they know all about the homey.

I filled two tall garbage bags with the food I had to throw away from inside: freezer meat that had thawed and refrozen, ice cream, sour cream, ricotta cheese, milk, buttermilk, lunch meat, leftovers, and all the half drunk/half finished this and that which fills the door shelves. The few things that were salvageable, I put in the cooler with some ice. Yes, Mom, the freezer jam and frozen strawberries survived.

When the repairman finally arrived, he unscrewed the cover over the coils and declared I had a faulty fan. He made me come and look and see what the problem was, he gave me a thorough explanation of how my fridge worked, he dug around in his truck looking for a replacement, but was unsuccessful in finding one. He had his office manager order a new fan using overnight shipping.

…So I sit, waiting for the call that will tell me when he will arrive with the new fan, and watch the opportunity to prove I have a “well arranged mind” slip away.

Nov 14 2010

Running With My Bucket

Posted by Mugs @ 7:56 pm in Devotional

By Mugs Manry

“Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Matthew 6:26 (NIV)

My husband and I have matching chairs in front of our pellet stove, and we love to sit down in them together to read. He has his cup of coffee; I have my cup of tea; and there are usually piles of papers, books, and magazines. This would seem an idyllic scene, yet there is one item that detracts from it. Between our chairs sits a narrow, rectangular side table which is not quite up to the task at hand.