Saturday, August 22, 2015

No One is Perfect

I love to hear stories about when my mom was a little girl, especially stories about her experiences when she was in school, so I am really excited that Zeus and I are going to go to be going to obedience school.  Mom said that I don’t really need to go but that it would be fun for me to be with other puppies; “Zeus, she said, is a different story.”  Every time someone opens the door Zeus takes the opportunity to run out and see what is going on in the neighborhood.  She said it isn’t that he is a bad puppy but that some obedience training would be good for him and keep him from getting into situations that aren’t safe for him.

On the first morning of school, when we were getting ready to go, mom was brushing our hair and telling us to listen to the teacher and mind what she told us to do.  “Zeus,” she said, “you especially need to listen to the teacher and follow her instructions.”  “Mom,” I said a little self righteously, “Will Zeus get in trouble if he doesn’t mind?”  “Well,” mom said, “I think that Zeus will learn that it is in his best interest and in the interest of his safety to listen to his teacher.” Being a little full of myself for being the good kid I said, “I will mind and not get into trouble just like you did when you were in school.”

“None of us are perfect Zena,” said mom. Zena responded, “I know you never got into trouble but wanted to be kind to other kids like you did with the DuBells.  I want to grow up to be just like you.”  Zeus gave me a dirty look and gave a little growl, making it clear that I was making him a little sick being so goody goody.  

Mom’s brow was furrowed and she looked like she was remembering something not so pleasant from her past.  She said quietly, as if the memory was still a little painful, “I did get into trouble once and I have never forgotten it.  We don’t have to leave for an hour, so why don’t you sit here beside me on the sofa and I’ll tell you the story.  We snuggled up to her waiting with great anticipation to hear this most unexpected story; we couldn’t imagine her getting into trouble at school.

I lived across the street from Mt Pleasant grade school when I was in the sixth grade and could have walked up the block and crossed the street at the cross walk and walked straight up the stairs to the front door and it would have been a two minute walk to school.  That was very boring and uneventful and I much preferred to leave early and go through the winding paths in the Scotch Broom and enter through the side door of the school.  I loved the color of the golden yellow blossoms of the Scotch Broom and there were the most vivid large orange spiders that lived there.  I loved to see the sunlight coming down through that canopy of lush green foliage, illuminating the golden blooms and shining through the translucence of those gloriously brilliant orange spiders.  That was before I was afraid of spiders. In those days being tardy to school was a semi serious offense but sometimes I was so lost in the glory of my special fairyland that I lost track of time and had to run as fast as I could from the end of the tunnel to the side door of the school to get to my seat before the tardy bell rang.

There were no spiders or blossoms in the tunnel the day I got into trouble because there had been a big snowstorm and the tunnel had been turned into a sparkling fairyland.  It was so beautiful that it took my breath away and I was glad that I left home a little earlier than usual to have time to take in the full glory of the experience.

Just after I entered my tunnel of enchantment I felt the pain of something hitting me hard in the head.  I looked down and there was a snowball that someone had made into a ball of ice.  No wonder it hurt so much when it hit me.  The next day this happened again and I saw a boy named Donald running away from the path and toward the school.  The next day it happened again and I was really mad that he was ruining my morning adventure and thought he was really mean.  I wanted to make him stop so I made a great big snowball and was going to wash his face in snow.  He ran up the steps to the school door that entered into the main hall and I caught him just as he got to the door and put the snowball right in his face. Well, I was horrified when he jumped back just as I was pushing the ball toward his face and his head hit one of the glass window panes in the door and broke the window. The school nurse was called, Donald stood there crying like a baby and his teacher swooped down on me, grabbed me harshly by the arm and marched me straight to the principal's office while yelling some very unflattering things at me all the way.  I was saying to myself that I thought that Donald was a sissy and a big baby.

The principle was also my teacher so he looked quite surprised to see that a girl who was usually so quiet was in so much trouble.  He kept trying to ask me what happened and all I could do is cry because I was so frightened to be in so much trouble.  Finally he said he was going to call my parents to come and get me and then I really started crying. He tried very patiently for a very long time to find out why I was crying so hard. He patiently and kindly questioned me so I finally trusted him enough to tell him the truth.  I told him that my dad said if any of us ever got into trouble at school we would get a spanking when we got home.  He said, “Don’t worry, you can wait here in my office and I will talk to you after I get the class started on the assignment for the first class of the day.”  So that is how it happened that the only time I ever got in trouble in school and was sent to the principal's office, I spent the entire day there.

The principle was a very thin spare man and always wore a pin striped suit with a vest and white shirt and tie.  He seemed very serious so I was a little afraid of him. I was very surprised to find that he was very kind and patient and kept quietly talking to me to find out just what had happened and why I was so upset. Tattling wasn’t allowed at home so I was afraid to tell him what Donald had done but I could tell that he didn’t believe for one minute that I had just pushed Donald’s head through the window for no reason. He kept me in his office all day and just left the room to start the class on the next assignment and then came back and talked to me until I trusted him. He made me understand that he would not think I was tattling, that I had a right to stand up for myself and that he believed I was telling the truth.  He even got out of me the reason why I was so good at standing up for myself. He made me feel safe enough that I told him that my brother, who was five years older than me, was a bully and since I wasn’t allowed to tattle I had to defend myself.  He seemed to be very understanding so I felt safe to tell him everything.  He even went to the kitchen and brought lunch for both of us into his office. He had won my confidence and we continued to talk all through lunch.

Later in the afternoon he got Donald’s teacher aside and told her what he had found out about what had actually happened between Donald and me and of course she was very surprised because Donald hadn’t told her any of the details about his part in the whole drama.  It was of some comfort that she had a very changed opinion about me and was even a little nice to me after the principal talked to her.  Still, I never trusted her completely after that.  I couldn’t forget how mean she had talked to me and how she pinched my arm.

The Principal and Donald’s teacher decided that we were equally responsible for the broken window and that we would each have to bring a nickel to school by the following Friday to pay for it.  Only one problem, nickels were very hard to come by in my house.  So I had all weekend and clear to the next Friday to see if I could find enough pop bottles to turn in to make the 5 cents.  I knew I had a lot of competition for the coveted pop bottles that were just thrown away.  I imagined that only a person that was very rich could waste money like that.

I looked for pop bottles and wracked my brain to think of what I could do to make a nickel.  Not one pop bottle was thrown in the fields or by the side of the road that weekend unless someone had found it before me.  Earning money wasn’t even a possibility because in my family you worked just to help the family and didn’t even think of expecting pay for that work. I couldn’t sleep at night and heard my grandma’s grandfather's clock chime all night announcing the time painful hour by hour.  When Thursday night came I didn’t sleep one wink because I dreaded asking my dad for a nickel knowing he would want to know what I needed it for and that the answer would land me in big trouble.

Morning finally came and I couldn’t even eat my breakfast because I was so nervous about asking my dad for money.  I wouldn’t have thought of lying about why I needed the nickel and I was sure he would ask what I needed it for.  I walked by his dresser and could see some change in the little log cabin jewelry box I had made him out of match sticks for his birthday so that did lessen the anxiety a little bit.  I casually walked by his dresser just as he was picking up his car keys and said as sweetly as I could, “Daddy, could I please have a nickel?  I need it for school.”  He said, “Sure dolly,” that was what he called me when he was in a good mood.  He handed me the nickel and I have never told him the story to this day.

When the story was over Zena said, “Mom, why do you think that Donald was mean to you?

“Well, I said, I have thought about that now that I am an adult. I think that it is most likely that he wanted my attention.  What do you think?”  Zena thought a minute and then said, “He didn’t have to make the snowball into a ball of ice if all he wanted was your attention.”  Zeus interjected, “mom was probably taking so much time looking at the frozen spiders that the snowball turned into a ball of ice while he was waiting for her to get close enough to throw it.”  We all laughed and mom said, “In the car you two, it is time to leave for school and you don’t want to be late the first day.”

Friday, January 6, 2012

Let your Light So Shine

The next day after mom told me the story about the Dubells, I told mom that I want to go to school so that I can help little children, like she did, when boys are mean to them.  Mom told me that there is definitely a difference between just doing good and doing unto others as we would like to be treated no matter what the consequences might be.  She said, “sometimes there can be a cost for decisions we make that we might not foresee when we decide to put our integrity on the line."  “Well," I said, since I wanted to be just like my mom, “I don’t care, I want to help others just like you did."  “Well, said mom right back, I think we will home school you for a while yet."
Mom sat quietly for a few minutes; I looked at her and her forehead had the little creases between her  eyes that told me she was going to tell me something really serious, so I snuggled down on the pillow at her side, anxious to hear what she had to say. “This took place a very long time ago," mom said seriously, "and I can still remember how difficult a choice was presented to me.  How I laid awake at night thinking of the consequences my decision cost."

“There was a little group of girls in my class," my mom continued, “each one exceptionally pretty, or so I evaluated by my fifth grade perception of physical beauty; they always had the latest fad in clothes and their hair was pretty, shiny and stylish.  The girls chosen to be in this group always walked around holding hands or with their arms across the shoulders of one another.  One day these lordly ones came up to me and told me that they liked me and thought I was really nice, and as if that wasn’t enough they asked me if I would like to be a part of their group.  I, of course, said yes, and it felt so good all that day to be one of the chosen ones; to walk hand in hand with one or to have the comfort of the arm of another resting on my shoulders as we walked down the halls.  It felt good to be popular."

"Walking home from school I felt like I was walking on air; I loved the whole world and felt it was a pretty wonderful place to be.  I told my mother what had happened and then I used some of the new found power I had been feeling since I had been asked to be one of the special ones and asked her if she thought I could have some more up-to-date clothes because the group all had what the latest fad dictated, especially sox, snow white sox with fluffy angora tops.  Most of all I wanted those sox.  Later, when I no longer felt powerful and laid awake at night contemplating the world and how hard it is to find a comfortable place to be, I think that I felt worse about asking my mom for things that she could not give me than anything else; to that point in my life I had never asked her for anything.  Her life was already hard enough."  Zena broke in by asking, “Why couldn’t your mother give you those things, especially just a simple pair of sox?" "It wasn’t so much about the asking but the reason I asked," said my mom.  “If you have to change who you are to belong to a certain group, it is better to be alone or find friends who accept you as you are."

Mom told me how excited she was to go to school the next day and how anxious she was to see her new friends.  She said she got to school early and the group told her they wanted to talk to her.  The leader stepped forward, put her arm across mom’s shoulder and told her that there was one thing she had to do to be a part of the group.  My mom couldn’t possibly imagine what this could be and since she was still feeling the power of belonging she thought maybe it was simply a childish ritual to perform, nothing too hard; after all they had invited her and obviously wanted her  My mom asked, “what do I have to do?”  “Actually, you can’t be friends with the DuBells,” said the leader, “and you can’t speak to them either,"  My moms eyes opened wide with disbelief  and she said, “I won’t do that.” And, with that firm declaration, my mom’s world came crashing down around her.  She tried to talk to her mom about it when she got home but her mother really didn’t understand.  Mom said to me, “It was in the still of the night that I struggled and suffered and truly came to peace knowing that I had done the right thing.  I don’t even remember those popular girl’s names but I have never forgotten the DuBell’s; how brave they were and how pretty their name really is."

My mom told me that she has thought about these happenings so many times through the years and she wonders about what happened to the DuBells.  She did hear, not too many years after that painful classroom humiliation, that Laura had became a missionary; mom said how wonderful that she wanted to help others less fortunate than she.  Mom said that she respected so much that she brought good to the world by serving others after the terrible pain she suffered as a child.

Recently we were all out in the garage running all around putting our noses into everything while mom was sorting through boxes of her things.  She said that she didn’t want to leave them behind for someone else to have to go through someday.  I don’t know what she is talking about because I know she would never leave Isis, Raphy, Zeus and me because she loves us all so much.

All of a sudden I heard mom say from amidst the boxes, "oh my goodness look at this."  I bounced right over there very interested in what she had found.  There she was with an old autograph book in her hands and tears running down her face.  Of course I had to get my nose up there first to see what was going on and just what it was in the autograph book that made her cry.  I peeked over her arm at the book and the signature on the book said Mrs. McRae; here's what she had written:

                                                (That was mom’s name when she was a girl,
  Dear Emogene,                      it's Jeanne now.)
Let your light so shine before men that they will see your father in heaven.  You are already doing this dear, I hope you grow up to be the same kind of woman that you are a little girl.



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Do Unto Others as You Would HaveThem Do Unto You - 4 PAWS UP

Our Raphy isn’t doing so well, sometimes he falls down when he is just walking across the room.  Mom says that we should be sweet to him because he can’t help it if he gets cranky.  Sometimes when I try to be nice and give him a little lick on the nose he just licks back as nice as can be but other times he growls and takes a little nip at my nose.  I don’t like it one bit but mom says that he can’t help it if he is in pain and crabby.  Sometimes Zeus, Isis and I get tired of it at the same time when Raphael is especially snippy and obnoxious; then all three of us try to put him in his place at once and all his little nips get reciprocated.  I feel bad when that happens because mom looks so sad and sometimes I even see tears in her eyes.

One day when we were all jumping on Raphael, to keep him from sitting on mom’s lap where we all wanted to be, mom told us a little story about a long time ago when she was a little girl. The 4th and the 5th grades were together and had the same teacher.  The teacher’s name was Mrs. Mc Rae and mom said that she just loved her, in fact she wanted to grow up and be a teacher just like her.  Mrs. McRae often had mom help other kids with their work after she was finished with hers; she told her that she thought she would be a wonderful teacher when she grew up.

One thing Mrs. McRae was quite strict about was being late to school.   Being tardy was especially  embarrassing since the door to the classroom opened right in front of the class; then to make matters worse, the coat room door opened at the side of the room so you had a second chance to feel humiliated when you walked out of the coatroom after hanging up your coat.  Mom said that she will never forget how much anguish she felt for the two little girls who walked into the class room late one cold winter day.  They looked like two slight waifs standing in front of the classroom, shivering from the cold, with nothing on but their mother’s old house dresses…no coats, each one clad in only a thin, worn dress.  The tense silence was broken by two loud whistles and then in chorus some of the boys yelled, TWO SMELLS FOR DUBELLS.  The two small girls stood there with their head slightly bowed as if in acknowledgement that they deserved this kind of treatment.  They sat in their desks shivering from the cold and all mom wanted to do was go over and give them her coat.  At least they were spared the humiliation of going into the coat room and then once again having to appear in front of the class.  At recess mom told each one of the boys what she thought of them, she asked them how they would like to be treated that way.  Then mom looked straight at me, Isis and Zeus; she asked us how we would like to be treated like that (no paws went up),  then she said that is how you are treating Raphael because he is different and can’t really defend himself.  Mom said that treating other people like we would like to be treated has great rewards; she said that she knew those boys would never be mean to the DuBells again, at least as long as she was any where close by.  We knew that was  meant for Raphy and our treatment of him.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Zena"s New Friends

You go first Lady Olivia
Mon Cherie and Lady Olivia
My mom's new friend, Heidi, sent us these pictures of Lady Olivia and Mon Cherie using a Puppy Stairs ramp.  The first thing I thought was hey, "you two are on my ramp '.  I know that I am the star model for Puppy Stairs but I didn't realize that other puppies could actually have them too.
Practice makes perfect.

Look at me, nothing to it.
I'm going to ask my mom to ask Heidi if Lady Olivia and Mon Cherie would like to be friends and come over and play with Raphael, Zeus, Isis and me.  Our garden is so fun; it has rock paths to walk on and tall flowers and bushes for us to explore.  We are pretty careful to stay on the paths so we don't break off any flowers.  We love to chase each other and run through the flowers and shrubs which are all sized just right, compared to our sizes, to call it a forest.  Our very own secret forest.  

In the picture below you can see our beautiful garden forest just before the icy cold weather and winds came and took the blooms of our flowers.  We miss smelling our favorite blossoms but it is quite an adventure to walk through the foliage and brush a plant that is laden with rain drops and get a delightful shower.  I hope that Heidi will let Olivia and Mon Cherie come over and play with us.
Our special corner of our garden


Friday, November 4, 2011

For the Love of Raphael

When we first moved here, Raphael got really sick and couldn’t even stand up or walk.  He had to be carried around like a little baby.  The doctor didn’t give my mom much hope and we were all very sad when he said that Raphael had suffered a stroke.  But Raphael just tried as hard as he could to get up on his legs and stand and our friend Wil stayed right with him and encouraged him day after day to not give up.  Finally one day he actually stood up on all four legs at once for a few seconds and then tipped over.

The next time he got up he stood a little longer and each time he tried he did better, and one day Wil said, “I do believe that he will walk again.”  Every day Wil sat on the ground and coaxed him to stand and take a step by putting his arms out to him and then move them back slightly when Raphael, with his legs shaking and trembling,  would use all his strength and will power to reach Wil’s out stretched hands, and as he started to fall, Wil would gather him up in his arms and praise him effusively for being such a good boy.

  Then one day when Raphy stood up in his usual precarious manner, Wil stepped back a little further than usual, and Raphael actually ran a few steps to him.  That was a day of rejoicing for all of us.  Sure, his legs were all wobbly but Wil said they would get stronger, and sure enough our Raphael can walk and even run, with an unsteady sort of gait for sure, but he can run.  He’s still a bit wobbly and sometimes falls down, but he gets right back up and tries again.  Sometimes I see my mom get tears in her eyes when she is looking at Raphael .

Raphael tries to play with us and likes to run after a toy that has been tossed.  He falls down often but he gets right back up and still tries to be the one that gets the toy in his mouth first.  The other day Raphy and Zeus both had the same toy in their mouth and they played tug on the toy for a while, but then I saw Zeus gently let go of the toy so Raphy thought he won.  He looked so happy it made me happy, and I thought it was really nice of Zeus to let him have the toy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Zena Returns From Her Sabbatical

It has been a long time since I have written on my blog and I have missed all my followers and the kind comments they often left for me to read.  So much has happened and there is so much to write about that I don’t know where to start so I will just tell you a little about my new
surroundings.  My whole family moved to a beautiful, peaceful island where we have a big fenced yard, a beautiful flower garden that is tended by our friend Wil and a glorious panoramic view of the ocean from our front windows.  We love it here.  We have our whole yard to play in; I especially like to walk on the paths in our garden that wind around and under the plants and flowers.  I adore getting up each morning and going out in the garden and smell the Posies (that’s what Wil calls them).  The flower I like the best is a yellow and violet pansy that has a pungent, spicy aroma; I even took a little bite one day and it tasted good.  I pretended like I didn’t hear when my mom said, “do I see a puppy eating my pansies?”  Raphael ate the spinach plant before they even got it planted.  Mom said oh well, spinach is good for him, it has lots of iron.

I’m putting some photos of Raphael, Isis, Zena, Zeus and me on here for you all to see.  In case you don’t remember, Raphael is my Uncle, Isis is my Momma and Zeus is my daddy.  They all said to tell you that they like it here too and that they think it is special to have their picture on my blog.  Zeus wants me to tell you which one he is in the picture so you can see how cute he is.  Now they all want you to see that they are cute too, so I’ll start with the pup on the left in the picture that shows all four of us.  First pictured is Isis, next Zeus (he wants me to say he is the handsom one), then Raphael and me, the last one.  Mom says we are all totally adorable and with that I’ll end for today…more tomorrow.

 P.S.  You can see the four of us at our job as famous models at

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In Memory of Chi Chi (Final Episode)

The relationship between Chi Chi and my mom was so close that they were inseparable. Each day at 3:00 Chi Chi would sit on the stairs leading to the street from the house and wait for my mom to come home from school. Mom always ran all the way home filled with excitement to see her special friend and was greeted joyfully with puppy kisses. Some mean boys walked by every night and told mom that Chi Chi was mean and would bite her; that thought was totally incomprehensible to her.

Almost every night before dinner my mom's mother would send her to the corner store for items like milk and bread and Chi Chi would joyfully follow her. About half way home he would routinely lie down on the sidewalk and cry to be carried home so mom would put the groceries down on the grass parking strip, pick Chi Chi up and tenderly carry him home and then go back for the groceries. Her mom said Chi Chi was getting old and was tired at age 12 but mom didn't understand and thought that 12 sounded pretty young; after all, her mother was 30; that was old.

Sometimes when my mom was sad and felt like no one in the world understood how she felt, Chi Chi would quietly sit by her on the same stairs where he waited patiently every night for her to come home from school and be the greatest comfort to her. When mom would cry because of some injustice that had been heaped on her Chi Chi would gently lick each tear from her face and snuggle close. Mom felt no embarrassment or judgment from her precious pet and would bury her face in his fur and unashamedly sob out all her pain and heartaches. Mom said that she felt that God had sent Chi Chi to her and felt that he must love her very much to have given her such a magnificent gift.

Then one day mom’s world was shattered and her faith in God was rocked. When she came home from school for lunch her dad told her that the bull dog belonging to the neighbors that gave Chi Chi to mom had bitten him in the eye and since he was so old the Veterinarian thought it was best to put him to sleep. Mom said everything turned white and that she could hardly stand up the shock was so great. When the tears came the loss was even more profound because there was no Chi Chi to comfort her at this hour of her greatest heartache and need. She asked her dad if he thought that Chi Chi was in heaven and her dad said that if there was a doggy heaven that surely Chi Chi would be there. That was some small comfort because her dad was a minister and he knew about these things.

That afternoon mom’s dad held a little funeral service for Chi Chi in the back yard. Her beloved pet was wrapped in a little blanket, put in a shoe box and buried under the lilac trees in the back yard. Mom made a little cross with her dads help, painted Chi Chi's name on it and put it on the freshly dug grave.

It is said that you never forget your first love; mom says hers has enriched her life forever.