August 27, 2009

John Stewart, the character whom I represented on the trek, was a large man (about 6′ 4″). His wife, Ann, was a tiny woman. Over the course of the journey, John became very ill. In fact, he was so sick that they thought he was dead and placed him in a pile with the other dead to be buried in a mass grave. At this point, his wife noticed that he was still breathing and dragged him from the pile. With the help of others, she revived him. However, he was so weak that he could not walk. Ann wrapped a shawl around her body and tied their baby, Margaret Ann, to her chest and pulled her husband in the handcart along the journey. The afternoon of our first day, we were at the visitor’s center and Sis. Sillivan, who was Ann Stewart, called me over. She had Margaret Ann wrapped in her apron on her chest and asked me to get into the handcart. She wanted to see what it would be like to pull a grown man in the cart while having an infant tied to her chest. So I got in the cart. As Sis. Sillivan started pulling me around at the visitor’s center everyone started looking at us. Boy did I feel like a heel… None of them had read the history and they didn’t know what we were doing. It was a very humbling experience because I caught a glimpse of how that must’ve made John Stewart feel to have his dear wife pulling him in the handcart. Also, I’m sure Sis. Sillivan gained some insight as to how hard it must’ve been to pull a grown man in the handcart while carrying a baby on her chest. She only pulled the cart about a hundred feet, but that little experience was enough to gain a small understanding of what these two pioneers went through. Consequently, John died not long after getting to the Valley, but Ann and Margaret Ann lived.


Called to Serve

August 27, 2009

As you may or may not know many of the men in the Mormon Handcart companies died because they gave their scant rations to their wives and children. As a result, by the time they reached Rocky Ridge, those pulling the handcart were mostly women. In order to simulate this great sacrifice, the older men “passed away” and left the group and the young men were all called on missions. They were each issued a mission call and given a companion. Then they marched up the trail ahead of the ladies with their companions. We all hiked up a steep, sandy pitch with many rocks. At the top, all of the men were given instruction that we were to line the sides of the trail going up this steep pitch and encourage and cheer on the ladies as they pulled up this hill. We were also instructed that we could not help them physically in any way.  I hurried down the hill as the women were starting to ascend, but as I watched these women pulling so hard and I couldn’t help, I couldn’t do any cheering–the lump in my throat would not permit it. How difficult it was to just watch and encourage while these ladies struggled their way up the hill. In the end, they all made it up the hill just fine. In fact, the first ones up were on their way back to help the rest when the last handcart made it up the hill. The women pressed onward up the trail and the men assembled again. At this point, President Sleight, the Stake President, talked to the young men and told them that their duty now and always would be to support and help women. Then he released them from their missions and told them to “go help those sisters with all due haste.” You should have seen it! Forty strong, young men took off running as fast as they could to get to the handcarts and help push them along. As they took off, some of the more experienced men said they were going to take it slow and for a moment I thought I should stay with the leaders as well, but the moment got the better of me and after only 3 or 4 steps, I broke stride and ran as quickly as I could to catch up to the handcart. Now, I’ve never been a good runner–just ask my PE teacher–but I felt like my feet weren’t even touching the ground! In fact, I even outran a few of the young men! It has rarely been the case in my life to outrun anything but cows that were chasing me. Call it adrenalin or the heat of the moment, but at times the pioneers would look back to see who was pushing their carts and no one was there. Considering this, it is entirely possible that I was being helped by someone I could not see. Either way, it was a remarkable experience and it stirred within me such a feeling of love and respect for these wonderful young men who did as asked by their Priesthood leader and truly did run as fast as they could to come to the aid of the sisters! It is something I will never forget and gives me great confidence in the future because I know that these young men are willing and able to press forward and carry out the Lord’s work.

Carrying Whitney

August 25, 2009

One of the young women who came on the trek with us to Martin’s Cove had some definite physical challenges. I don’t know specifically what caused her difficulties, but she couldn’t walk as well as most and her legs were somewhat crooked. However, Whitney was determined to walk every step of the way–and as much as she could, she did! When we left camp the second morning to trek the three miles back toward the visitor’s centers, Whitney walked. At one point, she slipped in the mud and fell and I quickly jumped in front of our handcart and pushed against the bar to stop it from running over her. We were following a bit close, but when your family members are eager to push the cart, it’s hard to say anything to discourage them. At any rate, Whitney was fine and got up and continued walking. The pace that morning was much more relaxed and she was able to walk the entire way. In fact, she even walked another mile up to Dan Jones cove where we heard the story of the Cove from one of the senior missionaries who serves there. It was awesome. After he was finished, we all began to walk up into the cove. I don’t know why, but I ended up walking right behind Whitney. I didn’t really know her. In fact, I had never even talked to her before, but I knew that she had some difficulty walking and her Ma was not nearby for whatever reason. So, knowing how eager all of the youth were and feeling that someone might accidentally give her a “flat tire” and trip her up, I walked behind her up the hill. The youth who were walking faster walked around us and all was well. At one point, Whitney staggered a little bit and and I asked her if she was ok. She said she was and I told her to let me know if she needed help. She probably walked another half mile, during which time we formed a single-file line and walked a few feet apart in silence so that each might have the chance to have a spiritual experience in that sacred place. Sis. Taylor (Whitney’s Ma) was out of breath when she caught up. She had hurried to make sure that Whitney was alright. When she caught up, Whitney could walk no further so I offered to carry her because the carts cannot be pulled up into the cove so everyone was afoot. I crouched down and Whitney climbed onto my back and I piggy-backed her up the hill. What a beautiful experience! I had no real personal spiritual experience about the cove this time through like I had had before–my sole focus was on making it so that this wonderful little young lady could have one. She’s a tiny thing, but carrying her up the hill was more difficult than I had expected. However, I truly felt the joy of service at this moment and would never have complained and, if necessary, I would have carried her all the way. I’m sure that I would have been strengthened just as the pioneers were in their time of need. However, there were many strong young men in the group and there was no need to carry her all the way by myself. Sis. Taylor went and found a young man and asked him if he would carry Whitney for a ways. What a beautiful thing! This young man took her on his back and carried her up the hill, but more than that, he talked to her and cared for her and made sure she was ok as he walked up to the top of the cove. It was truly beautiful! We took a rest on the benches at the top of the Cove and heard more history/stories from the missionaries there. During this time, I decided that maybe if two people locked arms and made a bench, that they could carry Whitney more easily, but Seth said that he could carry her by himself. I had not doubts but that he could, but had only hoped to make it a little easier for him if possible, but he wouldn’t let her go. Again, he hoisted her onto his back and carried her down the back side of the cove. Many times, he was asked if he needed to be spelled, but he refused. Many young men offered to carry her for a while, but were unsuccessful.  Finally Seth allowed another young man to carry her for a ways down the hill. What a wonderful experience! I wish that each young man there had had that experience. I think it was one of the most spiritual of my life and I feel so blessed that I was able to carry Whitney for a part of the journey. Nothing selfish in my life seemed to matter as I was completely focused on helping Whitney to do what she so desperately desired, but that her body was unable to do. Someday, this beautiful young woman will be free of her physical challenges and will have a body that will match the strength and determination of her spirit. Another experience that I’ll never forget as long as I live…

Crossing of the Sweetwater

August 24, 2009

The first time I ever went to Martin’s Cove was Memorial Day weekend of 2007. The weather was perfect and we had a great time. I had heard as a kid the story of the 3 young men who carried many people across the river at this crossing. Because of the difficulty of crossing the North Platte near present day Casper, WY, many of the people just did not feel that they could cross the ice-laden stream. Crossing the river at this location and trying to imagine what it must have been like was a truly moving experience for me, but after having left the river I had one regret: I wish that I had carried someone across the river! I truly wanted to have even the slightest glimpse of what it might have been like to have carried someone across the water on that day–to have risked my life to save another’s. But, the moment had passed before I realized that I would like to have done this and the opportunity was gone. I can’t even tell how much I was looking forward to my next adventure at Martin’s cove the next summer. We again went on Memorial Day weekend, but this time I had recently had my appendix out and was still very much in recovery mode. However, I had been released from any lifting restrictions and was determined to carry out my goal of experiencing the crossing of the Sweetwater as one of the “rescuers.” But, in the days before we arrived, there had been much rain and the river was high. In fact, so much rain had come that the trails were covered with water in many places and had even washed out in some others. Nevertheless, I still held out hope that we could cross the river. When we arrived at the location of the crossing, we determined that it was too dangerously high to cross and many of us were saddened that we would not be able to participate in this activity at all. I was even more disappointed that once more I would miss my opportunity to carry someone across the river.  I figured that I had missed my chance and was a bit downtrodden, but there was nothing that could be done about it so I quickly moved on to enjoying the other experiences at the Cove. I figured I’d probably never again get to go to Martin’s Cove–twice in a lifetime is more opportunities to go there than most get. At any rate, soon after I moved out to Nebraska, I was called to be the Branch Young Men’s President and was thrilled to find out that we would be doing a trek at Martin’s Cove for youth conference. I anticipated the trek for the whole year and was so excited to be once again at Martin’s cove (the third year in a row!). I was bound and determined that I was going to carry someone across the Sweetwater this time and couldn’t wait to be there at the crossing, though I enjoyed many of the other experiences very much. Finally, the time arrived! I was so excited I could hardly stand it. As the crossing progressed, I asked if I could carry someone across the river.  In disbelief, I accepted the reply to my question that could be summed up that they really only wanted the people whose characters were rescuers to carry people across the river.  Kudos to them for trying to keep the reenactment as true to history as possible!  But, despite feeling I must do as instructed, I was heartbroken.  After the two previous years of wanting to experience this and feeling like I now had the perfect opportunity, I was not going to be able to after all.  I turned away and tried to keep my disappointment from showing, though I doubt I did a very good job.  I had no desire to show off or anything like that, but truly hoped in my heart that I would have been like those young men and would have been in the river helping others cross.  I wanted to feel a little bit of what that would be like.  I waited until nearly the last of the people had crossed the river and prepared to cross carrying only my heavy heart.  However, I think that Sis. Sillivan sensed that I more disappointed about not being able to carry someone across the river than I was letting on and as we got to the edge of the water, she said to me that she thought John Stewart (whom I was representing) would have carried his wife across the river.  So I carried her across the river.  I can’t even say how excited I was to finally have this chance to do what I had longed to do for nearly three years!  I’m sure I was beaming from ear to ear as I carefully carried her across the river.  (My elation was verified later when I saw a picture of it and I was all smiles.)  I finally got a glimpse of what it would have been like!   Sure the water was not that cold–there was certainly no ice floating in the water and there was no blizzard; but I realized that it would have taken a great deal of love to have sacrificed in the way that those young men did.  I was elated!  The rest of the day passed without much distinction; I had fulfilled the goal of carrying someone across the Sweetwater.  I felt the Spirit so strongly as I carried Sis. Sillivan across the river.  I’ll never forget that moment and how it touched my heart and made me feel like I truly would have been willing to carry those who could not cross over to the other side.

Pre-teen Drama Queens

November 11, 2008

A friend invited me to a high school football game the other day.  I haven’t been to one in nearly 10 years.  I decided that, even though I didn’t know a soul who was playing, I would go because it was something to do and I had had a very stressful week and needed to do something to take my mind off of work.  So, I went.  It was a little chilly, but was a beautiful night.  The crowd was intense and it was a great game!  I even found myself standing up to cheer when we made touchdowns!  However, the most intriguing thing about the game in my mind was a group of pre-teen diva cheer-leader wannabes.  I’m not going to lie and, therefore, must make the disclaimer that I am completely and totally unfavorably biased against anything and everything that cheerleading stands for!  Drill team is slightly different.  Stunts are cool and those guys who hold a girl up with one arm are super strong and I would not make fun of them for fear of being pummelled if for no other reason.  Anyway, back to the point.  These young divas had practiced their leg kicks and arm movements with great precision.  They even made up new cheers all through the game and chided their mothers for not responding to their efforts to get the crowd on their feet.  One girl in particular was entertaining.  She was the next captain of the cheerleading squad for sure.  She had the “ready ok” and “last time” commands down pat.  She also was very adept at manipulating her squad to do whatever cheer she thought they should do despite their numerous and repeated suggestions.  She even sat down in front of them a few times and counted them off to evaluate their performance.  I think she had been watching the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders because she certainly knew how to move, act and look like a professional cheer leader.  The fact that she was 10ish made this really humorous!  There ought to be a law against corrupting innocent little girls’ minds with ideas of becoming cheerleaders!  Perhaps my Mother was wrong, but for some reason I’m pretty sure that she would have never let us publicly embarrass ourselves at that age if she could at all help it.  Perhaps that is why none of us ever became cheerleaders…  Whew!  Thankfully.  Who knows.  At any rate, I wish everyone could have been there to see the early corruption of little girls who so desperately wanted to be high school cheerleaders!  Frankly, I was embarrassed for them and their parents throughout the entire game.  I’ll admit that I do get embarrassed more easily than the average joe, but that is beside point.  We won the football game and I can’t help but think that part of it was because of these little girls ability to (to quote the gals from Man of the House) “inspire and electrify.”

Wasting time…

October 13, 2008

So, this afternoon I was bored.  I got home from Church around 2:30 and ate lunch.  Then I passed out on my bed for a two-hour nap.  It was glorious.  However, a two-hour nap is generally a bit much for me and makes me groggy the rest of the day.  Besides, it may make it so that I cannot go to sleep very well tonight…  All of which is beside the point!  Anyway, I was on Facebook hoping to run into some of my friends.  I think that on Facebook that that word is loosely defined, but, Facebook is great because at least once in a while I know that my Friends are still alive because they either update their profile or I see that they have changed their status.  All of which is better than what I would likely know about a lot of these people if I was not at least connected with them through Facebook.  More digression…  So, the point is that I was killing time so I decided to take a couple of quizzes.  They are kind of fun, but I only do them when I am bored because they are very low on my priority list.  However, I had a random thought this afternoon while taking a quiz…  At the end of the quiz, it generally gives you the option of taking more quizzes or making your own.  I have never attempted to make my own, but may try it sometime.  The point is that if I only take quizzes on Facebook when I am bored to tears, what can be said of those who spend enough time on Facebook to make up their own quizzes?  An interesting and poignant question, I think, with no criticism intended or implied.  I just wonder how many people on Facebook have hundreds of “friends,” but in reality are bored and lonely while hanging out in cyberspace with their cyber-“friends”.  I have never pondered this before, but the thought struck me today.  However, Facebook and the like are not the only ways that we are becoming cyber-isolated.  For example, I often use the self-checkout at WalMart because it is faster than waiting in line.  However, this means that I have no interaction whatsoever with anyone while shopping unless it is the “excuse mes” and other such pleasantries (or occasionally not so pleasantries) while playing shopping cart bumper cars down the busy aisles!  We can access our bank accounts without so much as ever speaking with another human being–not to mention the computerized systems we all dread when calling an 800 number for Customer Service of some sort!  I’ve gotten so I prefer to use email or online account information because there is no point in calling if you never actually speak to a person.  In some cases I agree with a friend of mine who has said that we have become a series of account numbers and PINs.  Seems tragic that human interaction in simple everyday matters is becoming less and less important.  I think that a lot of people communicate primarily with idks and omgs and the like at the expense of human interaction and intellectual (or at least social) conversation.  (It doesn’t take much intellect to rise above idk, omg and bff 😉 !)  Now, don’t get me wrong…  I spend my fair share of time texting and IMing and enjoy it very much.  However, I think there is something to be said for having a personal converasation with someone that goes beyond the simple, rudimentary communication process.  And not just with those to whom we are close.  There is something deeper in us that finds satisfaction while looking into the eyes of a “stranger” and saying…hello.

Ever try to cut your own hair?

August 29, 2008

When I was a kid, my little sister decided that she wanted to cut her hair.  Since we were always partners in crime, I helped.  For some reason, we imagined that our Mother would never notice if we hid the hair in her closet, which is where we set up the barber shop.  Needless to say, Mom definitely noticed and she cried!  My sister’s hair grows incredibly slow and it was just long enough to put in pigtails and I cut them off!!!  The only way to fix it was for my Mom to give her a pixy do.  So, she had what she termed a “boy hair cut” for quite some time.  The whole point of this seemingly random thread (when compared to the title of my post) is that since I have no close friends yet in my new location, I decided that I would cut my own hair.  You would think that I had learned my lesson as a kid…  But…I guess my frugality keeps influencing me.  If I’m home often enough, I can get my Mom to cut it for me, but now that a weekend trip is not really an option, it’s either cut my own or pay someone else to do it.  I have contemplated the idea before and have even done most of a self-trim a couple of times.  If you’re a guy and buy the clippers with the plastic guides, it is pretty straight-forward to remove some length from your do.  However until last night, I had forgotten why I had never actually completed a haircut without someone else’s help.  The other two times when I did partials I had someone to do the trimming around my ears and in the back.  I told myself that this couldn’t be too hard because it is just a little trimming.  It is the smallest portion of the haircut, but is likely the most important.  We can’t be running around with one sideburn longer than the other…  That would be an utter disaster–especially if in JH or High school.  Then again, most people in JH and HS these days have longer hair than I have ever had, but…  Ok, back on track!  The point is that by the time I got to this stage of the haircut (definitely way past the point of no return), I was dripping with perspiration because it was about 80 degrees in the house and the humidity was up pretty good.  So I had hair stuck all over my face and on my neck and shoulders.  It was getting in my mouth and up my nose and in my ears!  So I wasn’t in the most patient of moods which is not good when you are attempting to cut your own hair!  It is difficult enough to work hair clippers when viewing them through one mirror.  Throw two into the equation and a barely-coordinated novice like me hasn’t a chance at wielding them without making a mistake.  I managed to trim around my ears without too much trouble and I even got my sideburns even (I think).  However, it is very difficult to hold a mirror up behind your head with one hand and wield the clippers in the other hand while looking at the image of the back of your head in the mirror in front of your face!    I kept getting the wrong angle or moving the clippers in the wrong direction.  I finally got so frustrated that I just blindly took them to the back of my head!  I’m not sure that i did any worse than a beauty school drop-out, but let’s just say that the line across the bottom of my hair across my neck would not be the shortest distance between two points…  I decided to quit while I was ahead or at least figured that I wasn’t going to impove things with continued use of the clippers in my current state of frustration and heat exhaustion.  (Melodramatic, I know, but it’s my stroy I’ll tell it how i want to!)  It doesn’t look too bad, but I think that I either need to accept fate and realize that I was not cut out for cutting my own hair no matter how much it costs to go to a shop OR I need to practice a lot and develop the dexterity to hold a mirror in one hand, the clippers in another and the presence of mind to not be confused by so many reflections!  A third option I suppose is to find someone to trim around my ears and across the back of my neck, but I don’t think that either of my cats (or the both of them in cahoots) would be up to the challenge.  The good thing is that I can go about two months between haircuts these days.  The downside of that is that it is because my hair has stopped growing on top and is starting to fall out.  I suppose before too long I could just bic it, but I’m not ready to fully embrace my bald self yet!  A fourth option exists, but is hardly qualifies as one.  I could just let my hair grow until I (hopefully) go home at Christmas time.  The reason that this is hardly an option is because, with the increased himidity here, my hair is completely out of control when it is not very long.  I can only imagine how scary it would be if it got some good length to it!  The other thing is that I cannot stand for my hair to be long enough to tickle my ears, so I doubt that I could successfully sport the 70s look.  At any rate, like my Mom always said, “the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is about 2 weeks.”  Thanks, Mom.  That helps a little.  Whether my haircut looks ridiculous or not is really a sidenote.  The most important thing is that it is shorter and, thus, less frizzy and much cooler than it was before!

Boredom-Induced Humiliation

August 23, 2008

As you could probably all recollect for at least a few more days or at the very least ascertain by looking at a calendar, it is Friday.  However, I’m going to state that for the record–and so you don’t have to look at a calendar before finishing the rest of my post should you read it at some later date.  When I got home from work tonight, my Friday night plans were rather scarce.  In fact, they didn’t exist.  I toyed with the idea of cooking and eating the pizza that is in my freezer, but in view of the fact that I ate nearly my body weight in chips and salsa as an after-work snack, I decided that it was not in my best interest to eat pizza tonight.  So I ate a quesadilla instead, which kind of hit the spot.  I was imagining what there might be to do in this small town on an average Friday evening.  They do have a movie theatre and as I drove past the other day I thought I saw that the current attraction was Mama Mia.  I drove on past without thinking much about it.  I had really wanted to go see Wall-E when it was in town last weekend, but managed to be pathetic and work or clean or something else and never actually made it there.  Prospects weren’t looking good and I actually hoped that the poster for Mama Mia was for next weekend and to be surprised by what was playing tonight.  But, it was true; the screen was reserved for Mama Mia.  So, I thought I’d at least follow the link to the page showing the trailer.  Well, I do like musicals and it looked kind of funny and I love Meryl Streep so I thought:  “What else have you got to do?  You have no friends other than your cats.  (A well-timed “oh…” would be appropriately placed here…) You haven’t joined netflix yet and you’ve watched all 10 of the movies you own within the last three weeks.  You have no library books to read; you cleaned the house last night; and it’s still too hot to go for a long bike ride; and your brain is too fried to accomplish anything at work.  So…  What the heck?”  I almost talked myself out of it because it is such a chick flick and I definitely did not have a date–nor could I take my Mom, sister or friend that is a girl.  Have to phrase that carefully–wouldn’t want anyone to have a stroke thinking that I actually had a girlfriend…  You see men can deny liking chick flicks, but still go if they have a woman to take along.  This way they don’t have to admit that they like the show, they just say that they went because of the woman.  It’s a pride thing. 

So I was playing the piano and deciding what to do and thought that I’d brave it.  When I rode up to the theatre on my bike some Jr. High girls were outside and I almost rode on past without stopping, but the prospect of sitting at home with my cats all night was good motivation.  My cats are very good company, but not very socially engaging and I was feeling pretty cagey.  Well, I went in the theatre and looked around for other males.  There were a couple of guys in there.  One with his daughters, one with his girlfriend and another with his sweetheart of many years.  I think that was it–3 other males and they had their chick flick scapegoats with them.  This was not helping me feel more secure.  But, I bought a ticket for myself.  Tickets are half as much here as they were in Bozeman so I almost bought 2 just so it didn’t look like a man was attending Mama Mia by himself voluntarily.  But, money is tight and I am trying to be frugal.  The cashier was put out by my paying for my $4 movie ticket with a $20 and at first I thought it was because she was running out of change.  (In my defense, I didn’t know how much movies here cost, but they were $8.25 in Bozeman and I hate carrying a wallet around in my back pocket so I stuffed a $20 in my pants pocket and took off).  Upon further reflection, I couldn’t tell whether she was more perplexed by counting the change or by the potential lack of it.  The drawer seemed well-stocked to me…  Anyway, I sit down and anxiously await the dimming of the lights–the sooner, the better.  I figure that from what I have heard the few places I’ve gone, everyone in town has seen my picture in the local paper and they all know who I am and what I’m doing in town, while I have no idea who any of them are.  Down go the lights and on come the previews.  I can finally relax and, hopefully, enjoy the show.  The music was fantastic although I had a hard time taking Pierce Brosnan seriously when he was singing.  There was a strong element of humor and I ended up laughing a lot.  I could have done without the one guy “finding his true self” at the end, but it was a happily ever after and, what can I say, I don’t watch movies to see how real and cruel life is.  I get enough of that every day when I watch the news or watch the world go by.  I watch movies to check out of reality and am completely ok with a fairy tale ending.  Don’t get me wrong.  A movie does not have to end happily for me to like it, but a majority of the movies I like end happily ever after.  My friend always says that I’m such a little girl.  Whatever… 

Anyway at the end of the movie, the lights come up before the credits have barely begun to roll.  I start squirming, but Donna and the Dynamos are singing at the end and then all the cast comes on for one last number.  So, I stay and rock out to “Dancing Queen” and whatever the other song was.  I get up to leave and when I turn around, there are like 20 old ladies in the rows behind me in the threatre.  I completely avoid eye contact and walk straight for the exit.  But, a woman is standing by the door.  She just smiles one of those smiles that says:  “You’re a pedophile aren’t you?  But, I’m a Christian woman and am going to smile and say hi to you anyway.  I’ll just tell my kids tonight to look out for you and warn the other ladies when we go walking in the morning so that they can tell their kids.  The school board meeting is tomorrow night, I’ll be sure to attend this week.”  Perhaps that’s not what she was thinking at all; I have no idea, but I ALMOST DIED!  I’m a little weird of course, but I’m no freak show.  I hurried out of the lobby, got on my bike and hit the road for home.  What a humiliating evening!  I still liked the movie, but was completely and totally embarrassed that I was jamming out to “Dancing Queen” with a bunch of old ladies.  But, I was desperately bored and am sure I’ll be able to laugh about the experience later.  Welcome to the life of a stranger in the first few weeks of life in a small town in the middle-of-nowhere Nebraska.

Moving from a Cat’s Perspective

August 18, 2008

My recent experience in moving my cats and me nearly 900 miles from Montana to Nebraska for my new job has given me an idea for a (perhaps) rather unorthodox post: moving from a house cat’s perspective.

During the first week of my new job where I was working on curriculum preparation from home and preparing to move my cats were probably wondering why I was home during the day.

Toby may have thought something like this:  “So he hasn’t gone to work for about a week which is kind of weird.  But, it is nice to have him around to pet me instead of being gone all day.  Besides, I like sitting in his lap, leaning on his arm while he types away at his computer.”

Jasper cat may have entertained this thought while chirping near my feet: “You are usually gone at this time of day.  What are you doing home?  Are you sick?  I’m going to jump up into your lap and check it out for myself.  I may even stay a while (which I never do) because it seems that you are a little stressed.  Perhaps if I purr in your lap for a while it will help you relax.”  It did.

By the next Tuesday, their thought processes had likely changed as I packed up the entertainment center and all of its components.

Jasper’s thoughts were most likely: “Hey!  What the heck did you do?  Under the entertainment center was my favorite place to nap and now it’s gone!  Why is my stuff all lined up over in the corner?  What is going on here?!?!” as he paced nervously up and down the hall checking out everything in the house to make sure it was not disturbed.

Toby was more chill.  He was probably thinking: “I think I’ll go outside and take a nice nap in a shady spot somewhere.  It’s too noisy in here for me and he keeps pacing around and moving boxes from here to there and back and forth.  I was out all night catting around and can’t even get a decent cat nap in…”  Pardon the puns.  I couldn’t resist!

On Wednesday morning when the movers showed up, it was a completely different story.

Toby was thinking: “Hey who are these guys?  I’ve never seen them before.  And they reek like cigarette smoke!  Oh, well, I can rub their legs and see if I can get some attention.  Besides, there are a lot of boxes to inspect.  Alright, well, that was fun.  I think I’ll exit and take a nice siesta” while Jasper cat was melting down pacing up and down the hallway, thinking:  “Who the heck are these guys and what are they doing in my house?!?  Wait!  Those are my things!  Why are you putting them in boxes?  Get out of my house!  Wait.  Let me see if I can trip this guy.  Ouch!  It worked for a second, but mostly I got booted across the floor.  Oh, good, they’re finally gone.  These boxes are kind of cool.  I think I’ll jump on top of some of them and see what’s shakin’.  I’m so glad that they left my favorite sofa.  It’s way past time for my nap.”

Then Thursday when the truck driver arrived to load things Jasper probably thought:  “More strange men!  What the heck?  Hey, put that loveseat down!  Don’t you dare take my scratching post!  Put that bed back down.  Where am I supposed to sleep when I return from my nightly stroll?  Guys?  Hey, why are you letting these strangers take all of my stuff? Hey…  Come on, please.”

Toby was outside somewhere.  I was worried that he might be checking out the semi truck.  The guys that came yesterday to pack my boxes told me a couple horror stories about cats getting packed up in moving trucks.  He probably wondered what was up with all the racket and why we were making so much noise and making so many trips in and out of the house, thinking “How am I supposed to catch a bird when you keep scaring them away? Hello!?!  Fine.  Ignore me.  Forget it.  I’ll be taking a nap if you need me.”

That night they were both thinking:  “This twin-size air mattress stinks!  Every time he moves, he knocks me off the bed.  How am I supposed to get any sleep at all? Eventually Jasper says, “I give up!  I’ll sleep on the clothes bag in the corner.”

On Saturday morning, Jasper was nowhere to be found.  He probably thought that since all of his things were gone and his whole world had been turned upside down that he’d rather not be home in case something worse was going to happen.  Toby got suspicious when I closed all of the windows tight enough that he couldn’t get out and locked the cat door.  He kept rubbing around my legs saying: “What’s going on?  Why are you locking me up?  I wanna go outside.  Please.  Pretty please.  Hey!  Why are you putting boxes in the car?  Are we going to Grandma’s house again?  Last time we went to Grandma’s house, you didn’t pack this much crap…  Besides all those little kids really freaked me out!  Come on, please let me outside.  Please…  Maybe if I’m sneaky I can get out the door while he is trying to get through with those boxes.  Rats!  Foiled again!  Fine, I give up.  I’ll be on the couch.”

When Jasper cat finally came home he jumped up on the couch to see why Toby was so blue.  “Hey? Tobes?  What’s going on?  You’re usually outside somewhere right about now.  Everything ok?”

“No, that jerk locked us in the house!  I think he’s dragging us off to Grandma’s house again.  Last time all of those little kids were so annoying.  They kept chasing me around and made so much noise.  Alright!  What the heck is up with this harness thing?!?  Get it off of me!  It’s so heavy and weird-feeling.  I can’t stand the weight…  Ah, that’s better” he said as he flopped down on his side on the carpet.

Jasper cat was completely freaked out.  “What the heck is this thing?  Get it off of me now!  Well, if you won’t, I will.  I’ll kangaroo kick it off or bite it off or something…  Oh, thank you.  That thing was freaky.  You’re not getting anywhere near me for quite a while now” he said as he raced down the hallway.  Toby waited patiently, but was also relieved when I took his harness off.  I just wanted to adjust them so that I didn’t have to do that while trying to prevent them from escaping at the hotel.  Besides, they are always in a hurry to get out of their carrier and it is hard enough just to deal with that!

Then I loaded the cats into their carrier which they never really appreciate.  When I headed east into town, they were probably wondering:  “Where the heck is he going?  I thought Grandma’s house was the other way.  Wait a minute…   Grandma’s house is the other way.  Where are we going?”

After a while, they were resigned to the fact that they were stuck in the car for a while and fell asleep.  But, when we arrived in Casper, WY Toby let me know that he was sick and tired of being in the car.  “Meow.”  “Meow,” which could be translated as “Help, Help!  Get me out of this thing.  I’m so tired of being cooped up!  Where the heck are we anyway?  This is DEFINITELY NOT Grandma’s house.  Where have you taken us?”

After checking into the hotel, I returned to the car to fetch the cats.  Oh my gosh!  Good thing I had the car door shut.  They were out of the carrier like lighting.  I put their harnesses on them—believe me, they were THRILLED!  Jasper was moaning and digging his claws into my shoulder.  Toby was only slightly mellower.  A nice woman in the lobby petted Jasper cat and said nice things to him, but he’s kind of a particular cat and I don’t think that she helped calm him down any.   He was probably thinking, “Who does this freaky lady think she is?  And why is she petting me and talking to me like I’m some kind of baby?”  Toby was like “whatever dude…”  But, she tried and that was all that mattered.

Meanwhile back in the hotel room, the cats got locked in the bathroom so that they wouldn’t escape while I was hauling in all of the stuff.  I thought that this was the best place for them in case they had an accident while I was still hauling in the litter box.  They have never messed on the floor at home or at Grandma’s house, but their entire world had been turned upside down and I wasn’t completely sure that they wouldn’t show their disappointment with what I would call inappropriate behavior!

Being the curious cat that he is Toby searched every corner of the room and checked everything out including my Taco John’s take-out.  He did as he usually does—gave it a good sniff and moved on.  Jasper cat on the other hand was completely freaked out and hid under the bed for most of the evening.  It seemed that they had gone on a voluntary hunger and thirst strike to show me that they were not at all happy about the current direction our lives were taking; but, eventually, both at least drank some water.  I’m not gonna lie…  Jasper’s a toilet drinker.  I had no idea and don’t know when it got started, but I discovered it when I was home at the 4th of July.  I kept shutting them downstairs so that they could escape from my nieces and nephews, but every time I opened the door Jasper cat would sneak out and head straight for the commode to get a drink!  Kind of gross, but he is a cat and the water was clear so I guess…  ANYWAY big tangent!

They were even more excited the next morning when they got locked in the bathroom again while I was loading the car.  However, I think they assumed that it was like all of our previous trips and that we were heading back home.  About two hours into the trip, Toby started to voice his objections by meowing repeatedly.  It wasn’t loud, but was still very annoying!  I’m sure he was thinking:  “What?  We’re going further from home?  Where are you taking us?  Why do I have to stay in this ridiculous cage?  Let me out.  Let me out!  Let me out!!!   No?  Ok, I give up… Sigh…”  Jasper completely hates traveling and endures by lying down and practicing controlled breathing the entire time, thinking something like: “You can do this.  Just breathe and it will be over soon.  Look Toby’s right here with me it’ll be ok.  Besides, I like Grandma and her house is pretty cool, too.  Maybe we’ll end up there or back home eventually.”

Toby woke up every couple of hours and protested until he tired of it and returned to sleeping.  When I stopped in North Platte to re-fuel and grab some lunch, Toby had had all he could take.  It was only 40 more miles to our new house, so I thought after I gassed up I’d let them out of the cage in hopes Tobes would stop yowling.  I’d let him out of the cage once before and, after exploring the car, he went to sleep on my lap.  Jasper is too petrified to exit the cage—or too stupefied by the anxiety to find the door—I don’t know which.  At any rate, we made it about a mile before pulling over and returning Toby to his place in the cage.  He was wandering rapidly around the car and yowling very loudly.  I had hoped the yowling would subside if I set him free, but now he was yowling AND he was pacing around the car.  And Jasper was looking more freaked out by the minute in the absence of his traveling companion and best bud.  I was afraid he might mess himself…  So, since letting Toby out of the cage had just complicated matters while not reducing his yowling, he got stuffed back into the carrier and eventually gave up and went back to sleep.

It was hotter than Hades when we arrived in Curtis and all three of us were thinking: “What the heck did this guy get us into?”  Toby and Jasper set about exploring the house and wanted absolutely nothing to do with me whatsoever!  I guess I shouldn’t blame them, but I was incredibly unsure about things and could’ve used a friend at the time and the only two I had—a black cat and a black and white cat—were mad at me!  So, I cranked the window AC and laid down in front of it and told myself that it would all look better in the morning…  It didn’t help much, but I was here and was dealing with it.  The cats were probably thinking that this whole nightmare would be over soon and that they would return to their beloved home in King Arthur Court by the little stream.  But, when all of the boxes and their things arrived the next day, I think they figured out that we weren’t going back any time soon.  They didn’t sleep on the bed with me like as was customary for several nights, but have since seemed to forgive me. 

Anyway, that is moving from a cat’s perspective.  Hope you enjoyed it more than I did while living the story…

There aint nothin’ random about me!

July 14, 2008

Nandango tagged me and insisted that I do this.  She said that these are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
6. Let your tagger know when your blog entry is up.

Six random things about me.  I think that it would be more fun to see if I could come up with six things about me that are NOT random, but, whatever, here goes!

1.  The tops of your sock make great napkins in a pinch…  I discovered this while living in Korea.  As is the custom shoes are removed when entering a home and people sit cross-legged on the floor–despite having a sofa.  Anway, it is also traditional to be served some type of food, but napkins (or the more commonly-used toilet paper roll) are not always readily available.  The top of your socks haven’t been in your shoes, are readily accessible when sitting cross-legged and work quite well as a napkin.

2.  I like to eat syrup on scrambled eggs.  None of that ketchup crap!  I think may be a genetic defect as it seems to come from my Dad’s side of the family.  My mother hates, but tolerates it.

3.  The only fist fight I have ever been in in my life went down something like this:  I was walking across the playground to the football field to meet my Mom as she was watching my oldest brother’s JV football game against the Browning Indians.  As I crossed the playground this Browning kid came up to me and asked me if I wanted to fight.  I said something like “No, I don’t even know you!”  To which he replied with a fist to my gut.  At this point in my life (1st or 2nd grade), I didn’t know people actually hit each other and so didn’t prepare for the blow.  He pretty much knocked the wind right out of me to which any normal boy would have responded with a fist, but I just walked past him and continued on with my day.  I’m special…

4.  I hate it when people pop their knuckles!  It almost makes me nauseous!  In fact, once I even had to ask a friend of my to please refrain from doing so when seated right next to me.  I know everyone does it and mine even pop occasionally, but the incessant contorsion of ones finger joints is completely stomach-turning to me.

5.  As un-American as I have been told it is, I have NEVER seen the Star Wars Trilogy all of the way through.  I’ve seen bits and peices of them, of course, but have never actually seen any of them from beginning to end.  My roomates freshman year of college were going to force me to, but they didn’t follow through, so I’ve still never seen them.

6.  I have mild scoliosis.  My back curves 14 degrees one way at one spot and then 14 the other way at a spot further up.  The major problem with this is that it makes it difficult to sit perfectly vertical on top of a horse.  I generally slide to the one side.

I’m definitely not going to tag 6 people because I think all of the people I know in the blogging world have already done this, but, ya know, if anyone reads this and feels a burning desire to respond, they are free to do so!