Archive for January, 2012

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We’ve had a warm winter so far (knock on wood!) and my foot was feeling battle-tested,  so yesterday I ventured out for a six-mile walk.

But before I did, two things happened:

1. I read about a meditative exercise during which one is asked to pay more attention to nature while outside. The idea being to become more aware of the energy around us, and to perhaps come in connect with the Sidhe.

2. The headphones for my iPod broke, and I didn’t feel like driving to WalMart to buy a new pair.

So, since I’ve been practicing looking at my life as if there were no coincidences, this particular walk would be done without music.

Hiking poles in hand, I headed out the door and down the highway. After crossing another highway, I reached the safety of a lightly traveled, yet hilly, residential road.  Then I tried to quiet my mind and notice what was around me:

  • Birds singing.  I recognized the calls of crows and hawks, but not the others.
  • A group of hawks appearing to follow me.  🙂
  • The rustling sound of dead leaves as the wind blew.
  • Water babbling over rocks in the river.
  • A car, perhaps with its driver late for church, pulling out in front of another car and almost causing a wreck.
  • Dogs running at break-speed to the edge of their yards, barking at me all the while.  At this point, I expressed gratitude for electronic fences.  I’m normally not scared of dogs, but you just never know how a territorial dog will act when you walk by its yard.
  • A red fox running in the woods.

I haven’t seen a red fox in years, and most certainly not at 11 a.m.   And, judging by how quickly the fox skedaddled once it made eye contact, it wasn’t expecting me either.

I continued with my walk and arrived home shortly after and looked up ” fox” in my copy of Animal Speak by Ted Andrews.   Lo and behold, several meanings of a fox totem spoke to me immediately:

  1. learning to manage energy, shapeshift and become invisible
  2. learning good eating habits, and
  3. being a guide to the faerie (or Sidhe) world.

Here’s a  page that gives much of the same information that was in Animal Speak.

So, I’m thinking I need to spend some time with fox.   And perhaps walk more often without the headphones.








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I’ve written a lot about my dog Bailey, who recently passed away. But I have neglected writing about my other dog, Nanaline.

Poor Nan was on the short end of the receiving stick all last year, not only in my blog but also in real life.   Now, lest anyone worry that she was being abused … no such thing.  She was fed, watered, petted, doctored.   But in the past, she practically demanded attention the entire time I was home.  Last year, I just couldn’t give as much to her, as Bailey’s dementia and arthritis (and the resulting anxiety and physical debilitation) required so much of my energy.

But now that Bailey is gone, Nan has all my attention.  The issue is she rarely wants it.  And I think part of the reason is that she’s sinking deeper into dementia.

I first suspected Nanaline had dementia several years ago, when she would jump up startled from a deep sleep and walk around as if she didn’t know where she was.  She also started getting confused on how to get out the door;  we had quite a time during the last Connecticut visit, since those doors opened in a different direction than the ones at my house.

But Nanaline’s dementia has always been easy to handle.  An animal communicator described it as being similar to a little old lady who forgot what she was going to say and laughs at it.  A complete contrast to Bailey whose lack of ability to understand created massive anxiety and fear.

Nan might also be losing her hearing and possibly her understanding of words that she used to understand.  When I say, “want to go outside,” she looks at me blankly.  It is not until I grab her leash and walk toward the door that she gets up from her blanket.

Now I’ve noticed that sometimes when I come home from work, she looks at me with an expression of “who are you?” It breaks my heart.

I’ve read that keeping a routine is helpful for dogs with dementia.  And luckily, I’ve always had some basic routines in place.

So Nanaline’s routine is just getting simpler.  Because getting in the car is hard for her,  we only walk in the neighborhood.   She doesn’t want to sit in the backyard by herself, so I honor that and keep her inside, even on pretty days.  And I let her sleep as much as she wants.  And sleep she does.

Sleeping a lot is probably good, since when she’s asleep, she won’t be lonely.  She had never been apart from Bailey, and she was very much a follower.  So life without her alpha dog has got to be a bit scary for her.  But I tell her she’s doing a good job, give her hugs and pats when she requests them, and keep plenty of puppy treats on hand.

Nan’s always had a very sweet personality.  I just hate seeing it slip away.












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I’m not quite sure how I managed to live my adult years in four different states without ever getting called for jury duty. But somehow I must have slipped through the cracks — until now.  In the beginning of my 49th year, “the man” finally caught up with me.  It was time to perform my civic duty.

This past Monday, I trekked down to the county courthouse.  After receiving instructions from a very stern-looking sheriff (with a gun!), I walked down a flight of stairs and turned right.  After checking with the court clerk, I joined about 50 other people in a holding cell waiting room.  Soon after, the clerk welcomed us and asked us to watch a video about the judicial system.

From this video, I learned that, contrary to popular jargon, I was being called to “jury service.”  But somehow service doesn’t seem quite the right word to me.  In my mind, service implies volunteerism.  And there was nothing voluntary about the summons I received!

Next, I learned how they choose the jury pool.  Every few years, the clerk of courts office randomly selects names from the pool of registered voters in that county.  Maybe it was the day I went, or maybe it’s the people who are actually registered to vote in my county, but there didn’t appear to be a wide cross-section of society represented.

The third thing I learned is that some people actually want to be convicted of crimes.   One of the men sitting next to me shared a story with his friend about how he wanted to plead guilty to some unnamed felony, but “they” wouldn’t let him.

O-kay.  Unfortunately, since I wasn’t a participant in their conversation, I couldn’t follow up.  But inquiring minds wanted to know: What did he (allegedly) do? Why did he want to plead guilty?  Why is he talking about committing a felony like it’s something to be proud of?  Aren’t felonies really, really bad things?

Of course, I could have checked with my friend Google to find out more about felonies.  But I didn’t think about that at the time.   Instead, when we got up to walk into the courtroom, I made sure to grab a seat by a sweet-looking gray-haired grandmotherly type woman.  I’d take my chances that she wouldn’t stab me with a knitting needle.

Now the fun began.  The judge told us a little about the case (DWI) and introduced the lawyers.  He also introduced the defendant and the arresting officers.

He then asked if anyone had a reason to be recused.  Those people were invited to stand and state their reason.    Some, he let go; others, no.  I, myself, had been tempted to stand and say that this is a busy time at work and ask if  I could serve in the summer instead.  But since he said the trial would last two days tops, I decided to take my chances.

Then the judge told us that they would call 12 people to the jury box.  Those people would be subject to several rounds of questioning.  After the questioning, some might be recused, though he encouraged us not to take recusal personally.     No worries on that point!    In fact, if this had been a murder or rape trial, I would have spent those precious moments trying to figure out what I could say that would get me recused.

So the first 12 were seated.  Questions, questions, questions, followed by several recusals.  Several times for me to hold my breath and hope my name wasn’t called next.

While this was going on, I did learn some valuable information that, at least, applies to my county court system:

1. If you are related to a lawyer or a police officer, chances are you will be recused.

2. If you or someone close to you has been a victim of a similar crime, chances are you will be recused. Same  for if you have ever been arrested for committing a similar crime.

3. If you say that your religion doesn’t allow you to judge people, chances are you will be recused.

4.  If the case involves police officers, and you state a strong opinion, either way, about the police, chances are you will be recused.

5. If you know any of the parties in the case (judge, lawyers, defendants, witnesses), chances are you will be recused.  Probably also if you know someone else on the jury.

6. If you know any of the relatives of any parties in the case, chances are you will be recused.

Pretty much all these things happened during jury selection for this trial.   But at last the jury was seated, and I wasn’t on it.  I was free to go!  I had done my service — at least for the next two years.

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It’s a chilly, overcast, damp day: perfect for a filling bowl of soup.

I decided to make Laurel’s Kitchen Cream of Celery soup, mostly because I had all the ingredients on hand.

The recipe, found here, calls for celery, potato, onions, cabbage, veggie stock and milk.

I chose not to add the milk or the extra broth recommended to thin the soup. I wanted mine thick and hearty.

Can’t wait for dinner!

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I was pleasantly surprised to learn earlier this week that grandfathersky had  nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award.   Thanks so much, grandfathersky!  And thanks for writing such inspiring poetry.  I highly recommend checking out his site.

Now I’m supposed to nominate some more blogs for the award.   I’m going to stick with what appear to be non-business blogs (ie no ads, and people just writing about their lives and their interests).   These are blogs I check out regularly (in no particular order):

The Healthy Beehive

Fabulous 50’s

Source of Inspiration

A Structure for Spirit

In Fine Balance

The award rules state I should choose 15 blogs, so I’ll nominate more at a later time.  Unfortunately I tend to read a lot of blogs that are business-related, be they blogs about food, politics, spirituality or astrology.

The second part of the award is to write seven things about myself, so here goes:

1. I was born in Morocco but have always had US citizenship.  Unfortunately my parents moved when I was only about a year and a half, so I don’t have any memories of that time and place.  On a related note, back when I was a youngster, I thought I could not be president, since I was born outside the country.  Now that I know otherwise,  I have absolutely no desire to be president!

2.  I am actually “MaryNell IV.”   Growing up, I hated my name.  Now, I think it’s kind of cool that I have a family name, and all the stuff that goes along with it (some portraits of the ancestors, a few pieces of monogrammed silver, MaryNell I’s engagement ring).  But there’s also a bit of sadness in that I will, in all likelihood, be the last MaryNell.  One brother has already had his kids, another probably won’t have kids, and the last isn’t interested in passing along the name.   Not that he should be pressured into naming a child a name he doesn’t like!

3. I froze my tail off at Obama’s inauguration.  It was an amazing experience to go to an inauguration and to witness history. Actually, I always find it inspiring when I visit DC and feel the energy of those old buildings.

4. Speaking of old buildings,  the ones in DC are babies compared to some of the buildings I saw in India.   Thanks to my cousin C for marrying D, who is from India, and giving me the opportunity to visit that country.  And thanks to DaddyNell for footing the travel costs!

5. I will probably always provide homes to rescue animals.  There’s something special about helping animals heal and connect with humans.  That being said, I could never be a vet.  Or a doctor.  Or a therapist.

6. My favorite foods are broccoli, black beans, and oatmeal.   I also love everything I grow in my garden.  Note that I do not grow eggplant.

7. This one pains me to admit it:  I watch “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.”  Yes, I am embarrassed to admit that. I’m not quite sure why I watch these shows since they make me fear for the future of our country, in general, and most of those babies, in particular.    But there you go.  We all have to have our faults.

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As I was going to sleep last night, I realized something very important: I am DONE with my job.

Now, to be honest, I’ve been “done” for quite some time now. But I have stayed around for several reasons: one being that I don’t have a clear concept of where to go next. Another being that I feel I had some karmic stuff to work out with a co-worker.  And, probably most importantly,  I have been fearful about holding onto a job, much less leaving a stable one for something unknown. So I’ve been doing what a lot of people have been doing: I’ve been telling myself to quit complaining and instead thank my lucky stars I have a job at all.

So, yes, I have been doing some thanking (and there are things to be thankful for*), but I’ve been doing a lot of grumbling**.

* A short list of things to be thankful for: a steady paycheck, insurance, paid vacation, nice people to work with, a casual atmosphere, flexibility to deal with sick pets, a cheap gym membership, access to libraries,  access to basketball tickets, an easy commute.

** A short list of things to grumble about: doing the same, repetitive work over and over, not doing anything creative, being around someone who doesn’t do his work, and just generally having outgrown the job.

So, as I have already established, I’ve been done for awhile now.   But along with that feeling, I’ve also been fearful and I’ve demanded change right NOW.   Then, when I haven’t been able to make a move,  I’ve become frustrated because of my  (also-already-established) lack of clear direction.

So, you  may ask, what was different about last night’s revelation?

The difference is that it was a calm feeling, and not made out of frustration or unhappiness.  There was no frantic, grabbing energy.  Just a knowingness that I’m really done with the karmic stuff  and with the job in general.   No need to make something happen, because something is in the works.  I just don’t know what it is, yet.

But now what… what does one do when one is done with one path, but not quite on the other? Any suggestions?

And on an unrelated topic, thanks to GrandfatherSky for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  There are some duties associated with the award, including nominating some other worthwhile bloggers.  I need to spend some time with that, but hope to get to it by the end of the week.

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So yesterday was my birthday. Happy Birthday to me, and to MLK, and to all others with a January 15 birthday!

My day was pretty low key, which is about right for where I am in my life.

In the morning, I journeyed to talk with my power animal. The journey confirmed that it’s time to get a move on, and to quit holding onto the past.

It also confirmed that I need to focus on the journey, not the destination. Too much of my life has been spent in the future and thinking things will be great when… Be here now… Yada yada yada…

Later in the day, I went to see “We Bought a Zoo.” I was looking forward to a sweet movie about a man who changes his life after tragedy.

I didn’t realize that I would bawl during pretty much the entire movie. The cute little girl making PB&J sandwiches, the boy fighting with his dad, the entire tiger story, the beauty of the surroundings … All these and more had me tearing up.

Though, speaking of landscapes, every time they showed that overgrown grass, I kept thinking of one thing: chiggers!

Even though I cried a river, I enjoyed the movie, and I’d love to read the book upon which the movie was based. And who knows? Maybe I’ll get to visit the zoo next time I’m in England.

The rest of the day included talking with family and eating some yummy chocolate orange cake. A nice day!

It can be a challenge to pitch one’s old life and start anew, but I’m up to the task. I’m not quite sure where my journey will take me, but I’m looking forward to enjoying the view along the way.

Here’s to a productive, peaceful, prosperous 49.

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