Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gotta Love Cats

You know, I never realized this until I did some house-sitting for a lady in my church, but I am a cat person. I always liked cats and dogs and have owned and loved them most of my life, but after spending the night with a couple dogs for two weeks, I realized where my true devotion lies. Don’t get me wrong, I have a Welsh Corgi, Zoe, and I love watching her kick a ball around with her nose or eating a block of ice on a winter day. But when it comes down to the animal I’d rather have at my side for comfort, I choose a cat. Dogs can be so active and dependable. Zoe will keep running that ball back to me as long as I’m still there kicking it for her, or she’ll even kick it around the yard herself to show off. Sometimes that dependability is a good thing, but sometimes they just get in the way, like my mom’s poodle. That dog will get right up under your feet and then have the indecency to yip when you step on her. One of the dogs I took care of would start to bark at me if my attention went somewhere else for too long; she was not going to let me ignore her. Dogs tend to do that a lot, they whine or bark or howl, even within minutes of being left alone. Now cats, on the other hand, are much more independent. They don’t expect you to give them constant attention and may even get angry with you if you give them too much. I’m not really a touchy, feely person, so I don’t really care to sit and pet the animals for too long. I just enjoy the presence of their company.

            Cats can also be a great source of entertainment with their quirky ways. My cat does some pretty strange things. Sometimes, in the morning, she just zooms through the house. If I walk into my room, she gets startled or something and speeds out the door. I’ll find her on the couch and try to approach her, and whoosh, there she goes again, back to my room. She also tends to disappear at times. We’ll look everywhere twice, and all of a sudden she’ll just show up in the kitchen out of nowhere. One time, she was watching a moth in the bathroom very intently. I guess she really wanted to get a hold of that moth because all of a sudden she literally jumped about 3 feet and grabbed hold of the trim on the wall. She just hung there on the wall by her front claws for about 30 seconds, it was quite a sight to see. My cat also likes to sleep in many different positions, but her two favorite seem to be lollicat, like in the picture, and the disappearing limbs position, where all her legs and tail are tucked up under her. Her tail seems to have a mind of its own, so she usually has a paw resting on top of it to keep it still. I’ve heard stories of others who have cats with strange behaviors. My coworker has a big cat that loves to eat marshmallows. I heard about someone who hung his Christmas tree from the ceiling so his Siamese cats couldn’t get to it. One of my favorite stories was from my mentor teacher during my first year of teaching. She said she had just got home from shopping and opened up her trunk to unload groceries. She came back to grab a second load, and found one of her bags split open, with a giant chunk missing from her loaf of bread, and her cat sitting next to it in the trunk. She swears that cat gave her a look of defiance as if it was her fault for not bringing home any treats.

            Cats can be comforting, too. Not my cat, she bites if you pet her anywhere but on her neck. But, my family’s new kitten likes to snuggle up. He just plops right in your lap, almost like a dog, but without the panting and licking. I had a cat in Arizona who was very sweet. She would rub up against me and purr if I was crying, or even when I made a sound like crying. She knew how to make me feel better. For all you dog-lovers, I know dogs can be comforting, too. I do have some great stories of some lovable and very smart dogs; I guess I’ll just have to do another blog about dogs sometime. But, for now, I’ll stick with the kitties :)

            I know this entry is already pretty long, but I thought you might enjoy this Christmas poem that my brother wrote. (By the way, if you would like me to include any writings in my blog, you are welcome to send me a message, or you can add your own thoughts in the comments on here or facebook. It might be fun to share and interact with other people’s writings.) Anyway, here’s the poem:

There’s a kitten in the Christmas tree
and the fire’s going blissfully--------
Snowflakes tickle the roof
I thought I saw the other kitty
But it must have vanished-poof
Probably stole an ornament or two.

Sugar cookies start to brown
Jingle Bells plays with that tingly sound
Flashing lights cast pretty hues
on a manger scene--------------
I tie my shoes
And prepare for snow-outside I go.

Crunch, crunch-the snow sounds great
To build a snowman is my fate
I roll a snowball real fat
and notice icicles hanging down
and I see through the window-that
there’s a kitten in the Christmas tree.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Life Worth Remembering

            This has been on my mind since my church’s ladies’ retreat back in September. The theme was “A Legacy to Remember” and each of us was asked to name someone who left a legacy in our lives. Almost half of the women present, myself included, named our grandmothers. With Christmas just around the corner, I can think of no better time to celebrate the life of my mother’s mom and remember all those childhood Christmases I spent at Grandma’s house. I was only 12 years old when she died, so I was too young to notice some of her character traits. But, looking back, I can see some of those qualities that make me wish I still had her here today.

Louise Swoboda was a devoted wife. Granddaddy had a stroke before I was born, and it got to the point that Grandma could not handle taking care of him by herself, so she put him in a nursing home. Whenever I came to stay a few weeks over the summer with Grandma, she would go to the nursing home to visit Granddaddy at lunchtime, every single day. I would sit in the floor and play with Polly Pockets or explore the corridors with the nurses. Sometimes she would bake cookies for him and his roommate. I remember one time that my cousin, Susan, and I got into an argument over who would give the cookies to Granddaddy and who got stuck with the stranger. When it came to Thanksgiving or Christmas, Grandma would take Granddaddy home to celebrate with the family. I remember he slept in his old chair most of the day, but now I know that those were probably some of their favorite days, spending time at home together. Granddaddy died in July of 1996, and Grandma died a few months later. She was so devoted to her husband that she didn’t want to live without him.

Louise Swoboda cared about people. She was very giving, not only with gifts, but with her time. I got an extra aunt because my Grandma took her in as an “adopted” daughter. Mary loved Grandma as her own mother because of the care and time that she gave Mary’s family. I have almost as many memories with my “adopted” aunt as I do with my real aunt. I asked my mom about my grandma, and I found out Mary wasn’t the first. Grandma had a heart for teens and young women. She would invite them in her home and provide them with a meal and Godly counsel. I remember getting to know the small town of Globe, Arizona pretty well. Whenever I stayed with her, she would always be visiting someone. She liked to play dominoes with some ladies her age, she visited the homes of her pastor and his wife and their grown children, and she would even visit with and get to know some of the other residents in the nursing home. At home, she kept herself busy with phone calls, writing letters, baking, and caring for grandchildren. And she didn’t keep these traits to herself; she passed them on to those she came in contact with. She taught me and Susan how to decorate Christmas cookies, and more importantly, how to share with others and that giving is much better than receiving.

Louise Swoboda was a faithful servant, and her life is an example of her love for others. She was truly the matriarch who held our family together. Maybe she didn’t do everything perfect, but her love for God allowed her to become a great woman, at least in the eyes of those whose lives she touched. This will be my 15th Christmas without her, but I hope that her legacy will live on in my life.

With love to Grandma Louise (Ryan) Swoboda, you are and shall continue to be greatly missed. One day we will meet again in Heaven. Thanks for the treasured memories here on Earth.
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