Catch and Release

Our Princess came in from reading her science book yesterday afternoon.  She was quite upset.

“Mama, do you know why the pond down there isn’t running over with fish?!” she asked, referring to a fun fishing pond we’ve visited a couple of times.  “Do you know?  It’s BECAUSE THE FISH ARE DYING!”

Sometimes I cannot keep up with the trails her mind runs down.

“Ummm, okay?  And why are the fish dying?”

“See, it says right here.” She held out her book.  “Fish have a protective layer on their scales that protect them from bacteria and bad stuff in the water.  When people catch them and touch them, even if it’s so they can release them back into the water, those fish are likely TO DIE BECAUSE THEY’VE LOST PART OF THEIR PROTECTIVE LAYER!!!!!”

She was really getting wound up now.

She assured me she would no longer have any part of “catch and release”fishing if there was even the tiniest chance she was harming them.  “I mean, first of all, there’s a hook in their mouth…..”

I was thinking about that yesterday evening, and it occurred to me how we do this in life.  With people.  Folks we know and folks we don’t.  We have good intentions.  No plans to do any harm.  We’re just hanging out, enjoying ourselves, living our lives, and we meet folks, spend time with them, and then we return back to our own story.  But whether we realize it or not, we touched those folks.  And sometimes without intending to, we have left a mark on them that could be harmful.

It could be something we said, something we didn’t say, how we really didn’t acknowledge their presence, how we didn’t see them,  or how we made some offhand comment that was said in jest but really hurt.  We have the power to hurt without even realizing it.  Just in the way we touch someone in a moment.

We also have the power to heal.

I don’t think through the things I say or things I do nearly often enough.  My girl reminded me how important that is.  Fish are dying, people.  So are tender spirits.  It’s up to us to make things better.

May we all seek to heal with our touch.

Love to all.


By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Lesson From the Lyrebird

We are traveling around the world with our homeschool lessons this year.  We’ve been in Australia, and we’re about to move along to China next.  There is so much to learn about each one that it’s hard to decide when to stop and move on to the next country.

One of our favorite parts of our Australian studies has been the folk tales.  We’ve been reading from this book.

We found our copy at


The littles have asked me to read their favorite stories to them again and again.

One story stood out for me, and I learned about an animal I’d never heard of before.

The Lyrebird.

They are fascinating animals who get their name because the males have tails that resemble the ancient Greek musical instrument, the lyre.  They are simple yet beautiful to me.

Photo by Debra--

Photo by Debra– Thanks to

What is most amazing about these birds is that they can copy the sounds of other birds and the things they hear around them.  Even–the click of a camera and the sound of a chainsaw.

What?!  Yes.  Watch this video.  I have yet to tire of seeing this.

(Is the song “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree” playing in anyone else’s head now? No?  Okay, just checking.)

This bird is captivating, isn’t it?  I mean, that camera shutter and forwarding?  The chainsaws?  The CAR ALARM?

And while the talent of this beautiful Australian bird amazed me, it also made me sad.

Why is this bird of the wild able to imitate such things?  Why is he hearing a car alarm or a chainsaw out in the wild where he lives?


And he thinks it’s beautiful as he incorporates it into his mating song.   He doesn’t even know what he’s “singing.”

The lyrebird is a lot like our children.  They listen and hear the things we say and the things said in their presence wherever they go, and they repeat them.  Not knowing what they are saying, only that it’s a part of their world, so it must be okay.

Or not.

That’s the lesson I learned from the lyrebird.  I have a tender spot for these birds now, maybe because in the story he was especially kind and generous.  Or maybe because he is able to sing such beautiful things, and bless him, he thinks the sound of a car alarm is just that.

Either way, the lyrebird reminds me that more are listening than I know.  At any given time, my children and others are watching and listening to find beauty in this world.  May what passes through my lips only add to it.

May your day be graced with sounds of beauty.  Love to all.







Knickers in a Twist

Warning:   I’m gonna mention some unmentionables. 

Almost as an afterthought when the littles and I were at the Red Bullseye Marketplace the other day, picking up something to go with our supper and one other thing we needed from there, I ran through the underwear section.  I like their underoos, and it’s been years since I’ve had to buy any.  Those things hold up.

In our house Santa brings underwear.  When one of the children questioned this gift usually stuffed into their stockings, I told them the truth.  “Santa brings you underwear if he really loves you.”

And yet, somehow, I haven’t gotten any in years.

So, yes, some of my undergarments might be starting to show a little wear from all the times I’ve had to put on my big girl panties and pull them up.  Since I rarely go to this store anymore, I decided to take a moment and pick out a couple–just a couple–pair to begin cycling some out.

Sorry to get so personal people, but this is real life.  Perhaps this is the next sign of independent living, right behind buying your own toilet paper–buying your own underwear.  I don’t know.  But stay with me–I’m going somewhere with this.

I brought them home, washed them, and put on one of the brand new pair.  Funny.  No one else has a clue you’ve got them on, and yet, you feel different.  New underwear, fun?  Well, yeah.  So I was getting dressed, and after I put my capris on, well… to say…..

Things just didn’t feel right.  I felt as though my pants didn’t fit right.  Were they too small?  Why didn’t my pants fit?

I decided to start back over from “base layer” so to speak.  I pulled out some old, trusted unmentionables and then put my capris back on.

And you know what?

They.  Fit.  Perfectly.


Picture me rubbing my head as I shook it and tried to figure this out.  Yes, the new underoos were made a little different, but I didn’t think they were THAT different.

And yet they must have been.

Lesson learned.

It’s like that in life too, isn’t it?  If things at our very base level, deep down inside of us are all out of sorts–everything else in our world and life and day to dailies will be too.  If we are sad or lost or broken down in our core, if things are not just right, eventually it will out.  There’s no covering that up completely.  At least not comfortably.

It might make us walk with a hitch in our getalong.

Just like I was when I had on the new underoos.  (Yeah, literally.)

And nobody has time for that.

Tonight I give thanks for old and dependable underwear that gives me the sense of a good foundation and makes for a good fit.  I’m even more thankful for my good foundation, put there by my Mama, my Daddy, and Aunts and uncles and friends and family and people who have loved me “anyway.”

It just makes everything fit better.

Love to all.



What I’ve Learned From My Pup’s “Little Presents”

First of all, let me assure you, there will be no pictures with this post.

You’re welcome.

We took Miss Sophie to her first night of Puppy Beginner’s class last night.  The littles have been calling it Puppy School, and Cooter insisted that we needed to go out and get her a backpack and pencils.  And a glue stick.  When I told one of our young neighborfriends that yesterday, he looked excited and said, “Really?”

No.  Sorry.

But we did give her a good brushing and loaded her in her carrier and headed to the pet store where the world’s best pet trainer teaches you how to teach your puppy good behavior.  We were joined in the class by a sweet German Shepherd/Akita mix and two beautiful Corgis.  All girls.  Our trainer asked us to introduce our pups, tell their ages, what our favorite things are about our little ones, and what we wish we could change.


We were the last to introduce.  I had a decision to make.  I could go with the simple and truthful and expected response that we didn’t like her biting.  Which is true.  Very true.  Or I could get even more truthful and tell what really frustrates me.

So I introduced Miss Sophie, almost five months, shared how funny she is and how she turns her head trying to understand exactly what you are saying.  I said that she does the puppy biting/chewing thing that the other dogs do, and then I dropped the real truth.

I blame it on my writing.  I can’t seem to keep anything in anymore, and since Mama died, I seem to have lost my filter.

So I said, “I really don’t like it when she ingests the presents that she leaves, by intent or accident, on the floor.”

The face the trainer made said it all.  Her expression screamed what can usually be heard when this happens, “Ewwwwww.  Grossssssss.”

But then, as often happens when the truth is told, grace abounded.  Because you see, they make pills you can give your dog to discourage them from doing that.  So…..she is not the only dog that does this.  They have a whole line of products for just such a situation, so I’m thinking there must have been at least ten or twenty-two dogs or more who have done this before Sophie.  Right?  Relief right there, folks. Relief.

I clarified that she doesn’t do it when she goes outside, only when it happens inside. And then Miss Ren, the trainer, turned on the lightbulb over my head.  “She’s cleaning up her mess.  She doesn’t want you to see it.”

Well, duh.  Why hadn’t that occurred to me?  The poor thing is always hiding when she does it.  It all makes sense now.

Again, relief.  My dog is not extraordinarily weird or off-balance.

She’s just like the rest of us.

Trying to clean up our messes before someone else sees them.  From the literal scrambling to get the clean clothes off the couch when someone’s coming over to hiding behind our masks to keep folks from seeing the mess and brokenness inside of us.  We all tend to stuff the yuckiest *ahem* junk way down deep inside in an effort to keep up the appearance that we have it all together.  It all goes pretty good until the mask cracks or someone catches us trying to hide our messes.

One day I took Miss Sophie out for her afternoon constitutional.  I saw in the yard where she had gone earlier in the day, and our Princess hadn’t gotten it up.  A color other than normal glinted in the sunlight.  I walked over.  Oh my word.  A Polly Pocket shoe.  A sandal to be exact.  It was little and tiny and soft, thank goodness, and bright blue.  And also completely intact.  I knew exactly where she had found it.  But seriously?  I went back in the house and asked our Princess about it.  She had the grace to blush and said, “Yes Mama, I saw it when she left it there.  I was going to try to get it back, but I just couldn’t. I’m sorry.”

Oh baby girl, NO.  That’s one Polly Pocket shoe we will just have to do without.

And as I was cleaning it up out of the yard, I thought about this.  Whatever we put inside of us is going to come out.  If we spend our time “ingesting” junk–on tv, in what we watch, listen to, talk about, or read–it will come out in one way or another.  And when mess like that comes back out of us it is very noticeable, because it’s not really who we are or what we are made of–much like a bright blue shoe in the midst of a little present.  Just as I should have been more careful about what Sophie had access to, we need to be careful about what we take in, what we let touch our souls.

No, I’m not going to buy any of those pills marketed to keep pups from “cleaning up their own messes.”  I’m going to do a better job of paying attention to Miss Sophie’s signals–about what her body needs to do–much as I need to be more aware of my own signals.  About what my spirit and soul needs.  And much as I need to pay attention to those around me to figure out what they need.  Not to be a mind reader, but to be compassionate and caring.

So puppy school was quite educational last night.  Sophie did not learn to do a backflip or roll over as our neighborfriend’s sister suggested she might.  However, she did learn to relax and feel okay in a new situation, and me–I learned that she and I have more in common than I originally thought.  We both like to hide our messes, and we both wish we could understand all that is going on around us.

Oh and we both love naps.   That’s another thing we have in common.  That and our love of yarn and knitted and crocheted things.  *sigh*  But that’s a class for another week.