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Archive for April, 2011

Apr 28 2011

Dog Trade

Posted by Mugs @ 7:58 pm in Pets

On Tuesday, I traded in my Golden Retriever for a Lab.

After 3 years of pitiful, sorry grooming attempts which ended in bleeding ears, bleeding nails, and snarled chunks of fur hacked out, I brought Blaze to a groomer. As usual, I had to drag Blaze into the car to go to the vet for his checkup and shots. (He hates to ride in the car.) At the vet, I sat there completely embarrassed by the poor state of his ungroomed coat and the clumps of snarled fur behind his ears. Another woman was sitting there with her beautifully groomed sheltie. It’s coat was groomed really short, but looked terrific. I asked her what dog groomer she went to. She told me, and then remarked, “They aren’t cheap, but they are good. They are always booked. You have to make an appointment.”

After the vet gave Blaze the yearly thumbs up, I drove to the groomer, sending up a prayer. The thought of dragging Blaze back into the car on a future date was not very appealing to me. When I arrived at the shop, the crazy dog lady groomer came out to talk to me. I asked if she ever took walk in appointments and told her about the sorry state of my dog. She replied, “Usually, I am solidly booked, but today, I don’t know what happened, bring him in.”(I know what happened: God answers prayers.) She asked me what I wanted her to do for him, and I said,”Shave it all off.”

She said she would give me back a Lab, but I didn’t believe her. I should have. She knew what she was doing and Blaze apparently realized that as well. Blaze had always been a monster when we attempted to groom him. The last grooming attempt, Josiah and I tried to hold Blaze in place while he fought us throughout as Dale was trying to cut out chunks of his matted fur.

Tuesday afternoon, when I returned, the groomer informed me that Blaze had gotten up on the table, stayed calm about the clippers, and genuinely behaved like a well adjusted dog.

As the Dog Whisperer claims, the problem is rarely the dog, it’s almost always the owner…

Oh, that would be me.

When the groomer brought Blaze out for the reveal, Gabe, Zeke, and I were completely shocked. I swear she switched dogs on me. He looks completely different. I gave her a hug and thanked her profusely. There are many things in life that I tell myself I will eventually take care of. The tasks seem simple enough that I should be able to do them. Then, life comes along, and I never make the task a priority. It gets neglected or poorly done and it wears me out with its guilt. Grooming the dog was one of those tasks.

Blaze was in the van when we picked up Abby and Josiah from the bus. Abby wanted to know whose dog we were watching. When Dale arrived home from work, the sight of Blaze gave him a shock and he laughed and laughed and laughed.

The New Blaze

 

Apr 26 2011

A Stove Too Far

Posted by Mugs @ 2:37 pm in Family

Some traditions passed down from the Meloch Family linger amongst us Manrys. This year, I was thrilled that our church had an Easter Sunrise Service outside, followed by a breakfast. As a child, I loved Easter Celebration. Christmas brings me joy with its message of hope and promise, but Easter makes me want to shout and cheer Christ’s victory over sin and death. “Allelujah! Christ Arose!” My Mom, my sister, and I each sang “He Lives!” in different services hundreds of miles apart. I am one who prefers to sing new worship music, but the memories that accompany the singing of “He Lives!” bring me happiness.

The most impressive Sunrise Service I have attended was at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. We had to meet at a parking lot at O Dark Thirty and get bussed to the site. Many, many people attended the service. The most memorable Sunrise Service was at the River Courts at West Point in the pouring rain. Gabe had just been born and I had him in a front carrier under my coat. Josiah and Abby were in their Easter Sunday best each holding an umbrella. The water poured off the rock cliffs that held up the school. Giant Falls of water appeared and ran to the river. I stood amazed at God’s mighty power.

Throughout the years, the memories that linger most for me are of joy, fellowship, and Easter Nest Cookies. We Manrys made the Easter Nest Cookies this year, altering the cookies slightly for Manry particularities. The kids substitute green sprinkles for the green coconut, and Zeke uses Robins Eggs (pastel malted milk balls) in place of jelly beans. Dale helped the kids dye eggs (a tradition from his Mama who used to die 500 eggs and hide them for a massive Children’s Church Egg Hunt each year).

However, the most anticipated Easter tradition in the Manry home is the hiding of the Easter Baskets. Dale hid the baskets this year and has been known in the past to make finding them very difficult for the searcher. He has hidden a basket inside a beanbag, the dryer vent, and the air intake grate. He was irritated last year when I found my basket right away and decided this year to hide it so well that I could never find it.

He succeeded. Gabe found my basket using a flashlight after three clues were given. The first clue came the night before Easter when I heard the drawer under the stove crash to the ground. The second clue came when Gabe was trying to figure out how someone could hide something behind the lazy susan cabinet without it being forced out by the rotation.The third clue came when Dale told us it was literally on the floor.

I had pulled the drawer under the stove out several times and looked, but not until Gabe crawled underneath the stove and shined the flashlight left and right did he see my basket between the wall and the back of the lazy susan cabinet. Gabe and I were forced to pull the stove out from the wall so he could climb behind the stove and retrieve the basket.

My sister declared this location outside of the rules of basket hiding. My Father declared that I now had sufficient evidence against my husband that would hold up in court. My mother said nothing, because she wished she had thought of hiding a basket there.

My husband just smiled, because he had declared that I would never find it, and he was right.

 

Apr 12 2011

Contemplating an Amish Life

Posted by Mugs @ 12:04 pm in Sightseeing

While driving about Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I was able to observe some aspects of Amish life and spent the majority of my time pondering what my life would have been like if I had been born Amish. My Dad loved to take our family on vacation when I was young, and we saw many sights from Florida to New York to California. Those trips and the subsequent return to the confines of a small town birthed in me a desperate determination to leave northern Minnesota to see the rest of the world. Pondering the thought of having to spend my entire life within a 30 to 60 mile radius of an Amish farm is difficult to fathom.

My friend, Debby (who attended West Point with me), grew up in Ohio near a large Amish community. She had Amish children in her elementary school classes (most do not pursue education beyond 8th grade) and had Amish neighbors who lived down the road. When I asked her if she could fathom us being Amish, she started laughing and told me some stories. The first story she could not tell without laughing and laughing: it was the memory of two Amish youth driving their buggy through town with a beatbox playing in the back. “That would be us,” she said.

Some Amish refer to that time as “rumspringa” or “running around” (the years between 16 – 18 years old when the adults tolerate the foolishness of the youth as each youth determines whether to be baptized into the church and commit to staying Amish or to leave and embrace modern life.

The other story she told me was when she started running to train for the fitness part of the West Point admission exam. As she ran past her Amish neighbor, he called out, “Why don’t you get into your car? You’ll get there faster.” She still laughs at the memory of it.

As I drove around, I questioned how the culture did not die out. I saw all the clothes on the lines hung from the porch to the trees, I watched a woman in long skirt and bonnet mow her lawn with a push mower, I saw children under heavy blankets riding along in the wagon while the rain came down, I saw a grown man pushing himself along on a scooter with bicycle wheels, and I saw buggies tied up to hitching posts at the local hardware store.

Thinking the population must be declining, I was surprised to discover that the number of Amish continues to increase. In 1920, statistics estimate that there were 5,000 Amish. Today, it is estimated that there are 249,000 Amish. The Amish have one of the fastest growing populations in the world with 6.8 children per family. I find that statistic remarkable.

Throughout our drive about Lancaster county, the women’s ministry team was trying to increase the Amish population by one. Observing all the Amish around her, Robyn commented, “We have found Amanda’s  people. We must return her to them.” Amanda is Robyn’s sister and is as conservative as Robyn is wild. Amanda wears long skirts and has long straight hair, and could very easily be Amish. We decided it was a good idea to spend the rest of the day looking for a potential husband for Amanda.  We had one clue to rely on: he would not be wearing a beard.

I told Amanda when we got back that if she wanted, I would simply leave her on the side of the road in Lancaster County. I am certain that eventually a buggy would pull up and happily whisk her off to a new life.

Turns out, that some Amish make it more obvious than that. If there is a daughter of marrying age living in their house, they paint their yard gate blue. (I better warn Abby that marrying age can be as young as 14.) I think I’m going to recommend painting the yard gate blue to  Mac (Amanda and Robyn’s dad).

It will be interesting to see how many buggies pull up to their house.

Apr 11 2011

Holding Up a Rat

Posted by Mugs @ 1:49 pm in Family

This past weekend, I traveled with the women’s ministry team from my church to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We went to see the Sight and Sound production of Joseph. Periodically, I stumble across places in the world which take me by surprise. The Sight and Sound Theater is massive, the sets used are massive,and there are camels and horses being ridden down the aisles. The most impressive part of the set to me was when a large boat sailed across the stage, but my favorite part of the production was when a camel trotted past my friend, Robyn, who was sitting in an aisle seat.

The guy next to me thought the show was the greatest thing he had ever seen and clapped and cheered after each act. I have a friend who used to put on Christmas and Easter productions at our church, and the entire time I was watching the show, I kept thinking, “This is what Barry would do if he had unlimited funds.” Goats pulling carts, song and dance acts, humorous characters added to lighten the mood, the show had it all. The worst part for me was when Joseph was chained to a rock in prison and the scene opens with him holding up a rat. He puts it down and the rat is trained to run along a curved ramp that weaves in and out of the rock. Robyn thought that scene was great. The thought of holding up a rat three times a day for months on end gave me the shivers.

What engaged me the most during the show was contemplating Joseph’s life. God used his brother’s and employer’s betrayal to put him in a position to save his entire family. To endure unjust enslavement and imprisonment and arrive at the point of forgiveness and the ability to see clearly that “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (NIV)

Walking that path is a task far more challenging than holding up a rat.

Apr 04 2011

Cotton Candy, Ponies, and the Mad House

Posted by Mugs @ 1:00 pm in Family

One of Gabe’s classmates sure knows how to throw a party. Whole families were invited and there were ponies to ride, animals to pet (the baby goat was the cutest), an obstacle course bouncy, a regular bouncy castle, a trampoline, a pinata for the little kids, a pinata for the big kids, a limbo pole, food, cake, and cotton candy. Gabe and Zeke thought they had gone to the fair.

The obstacle course bouncy, filled with swarms of 5th graders, turned into what Gabe termed “the mad house.” It was full of pushing,  shoving and dog piles of children. Unfortunately for Zeke, he was caught underneath one of those giant piles. He managed to escape without injury and I suggested to him that he might want to spend more time in the other bouncy castle with the smaller kids. One of the Dads at the table seconded my suggestion. Telling Zeke, “You don’t want (my son) to fall on you, because there is A LOT of (my son). Zeke laughed and ran off.

Gabe’s class’ ability to quickly unite against a common enemy, and just as quickly fall back to fighting and arguing amongst themselves when they get bored is quite amusing to watch. The boys versus girls stance has been fairly solid throughout their last four years together, but Gabe is now watching with surprise as the girls block is dissolving into petty feuds. The boys just punch, push, and wrestle each other when irritated. Then it’s all over, and they are fast friends again.

When we got home from the party, Gabe informed me of all the latest news. “(Two girls) who used to be best friends, aren’t even talking to each other. (One girl) called (her long time friend) a brat. I don’t get it,” he remarked.

No. Boys never do.