Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My letter to Eternal Earth-Bound Pets

I sent the following in an email to Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA

Dear Eternal Earth-Bound Pets, USA

As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I don't believe in an a Rapture scenario like that made popular by the recent "Left Behind" books; however, I have some questions about your business.

Among Rapture theorists are those who believe that the Rapture will occur before a period of intense tribulation. According to the "Pre-Tribs," this will be a period of war, disaster, famine, oppression, etc. etc. Pets are suddenly going be pretty low on the list of priorities--especially someone else's pets. Animals are going to be valued as much for meat as companionship. Plus, you say in your FAQs that you are nice folks and open-minded, but in the post-Rapture tribulation, there is going to be LOTS of persuasive anti-Christian propaganda. Many fewer people are open-minded during times of extreme hardship. Furthermore, it may be flat out illegal to have a contract with Christians or to take care of their property. I'm curious to know if you have given any thought to this issue?

Lastly, considering what a bum trip the Tribulation is expected to be, there may be those who do not want their pets to live through it. Have you considered an alternative service where, for $50, you will promise to euthanize their pets? I know that seems cruel, but if the whole Rapture/Tribulation scenario plays out, it would be doing them a favor unless you believe that a dog has a soul AND you believe that our souls are purified by tribulation. But then I doubt you would be a Pre-Trib. Besides tribulation is meant to bring us to repentance and how would a dog repent?

Thank you for listening.

Jason , Topeka, Kansas

I'll let you know if they reply.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

End of training season

A friend of ours gave David a bicycle a couple of years ago. For the first year we had it, he was too small and could not control it. But he has done ok with training wheels for the past year. Recently, I had noticed that, when he was riding in a straight line, he would todder back and forth from one training wheel to the other, indicating that he was not relying on them to keep him up. But I was not sure that he could start and stop--the points at which he would need strength and coordination to stay balanced. I feared the bike was still too heavy for him. On the other hand, he was clearly sick of training wheels. Many of the kids his size in the neighborhood had already removed theirs and David had reached maximum speeds, distance, maneuverability, and tricks possible with a four-wheel setup.

So, 2 1/2 weeks ago, on one of our lovely July Saturday afternoons, we pulled off the training wheels and headed to the parking lot across the street for a few hours of falling down. As I predicted, when dad held him up and gave him a push, he was fine to ride in a more-or-less straight line for about 80 yards and then fall over. I would walk to him, put him back on, point him in the other direction, and push. Gradually, he experimented with turns, and then with stopping. Then with starting on his own. One time out of ten he could get going by himself. After and hour he was confident enough to leave my sight. The lot where we were learning is a school campus so it has acres of black top and buildings and stuff to explore. I explained that the lot went all the way around the nearest building and challenged him to ride circuit. This gave me a couple of tense moments to question my wisdom until David came tearing around the corner at the bottom of the lot, up to me and right on by as I yelled "allez allez allez vite vite vite!" By the end of that first day, I dusted my own bike off, hitched up the trailer for Simon, and went riding in the parking lot with him. David fell down a lot, but I was in the clouds. I am sure there are few greater pleasures than riding bikes with one's sons. At one point he decided he wanted to go up a road from the lot that he had never been up. "I don't know what is up here, I just wanted to see." That, is the essence of a boy on a bike in July.

But here is what impressed me the most: his diligence. I could not have kept track of how many times he fell off that bike. And not just the little falls where the bike stops and tips over and he has to scramble to get out from under it (though that happened hundreds of times); he took some serious falls. There is a stretch of sidewalk in center of our own parking lot that forms a narrow, tall horseshoet. It is on a gradual slope. In the grass below the curve of this horseshoe are several utility pipes that stick up just a couple of inches and have metal or pvc caps. So, a boy on a bike will fly down this hill and try to take the very tight curve at the bottom and if he misses, he has iron and pvc mushrooms to deal with. And he dealt with them, spectacularly, in clouds of dust and pain. He got Tylenol at bedtime that evening. Another time we were in the school lot after a rain. I explained how wet tires don't turn well so he should avoid the puddles--the big puddles, the long, straight little streams of run-off like silver temptation down the middle of the lot. Sure enough, when you take a tight turn and then break with those wet tires--POW! And back up again. But mostly, it was stopping and starting. Oh the frustration. Over and over and over again he fell as he tried to get started. And I would refuse to help for long stretches of time. Once, the bike fell over and he made a couple of violent physical gestures towards it and then stomped over to me, fists raised and clenched, and pounded once on my hip. "Do you feel better?"


"Ready to get back on?"


It took me a week to realize that there was room to lower his seat an inch. That cinched the deal. Now. after a couple of weeks of constant riding, he is an old pro, having conversations with friends while turning slow, lazy little circles in the parking lot and then racing like a mad fiend a top speed around and around and around. He has switched from playing with the younger kids to playing with the older kids. He snaps his own helmet and parks the bike on the back porch (most of the time) when he is done. He comes in for the evening sweaty and exhausted and showers himself off.

I remember when he was barely eight pounds.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Dad is threatening me unless I update the blog and I will admit that a lot has happened since the last time I wrote to you. Mostly: fishing and bicycling.

I don't remember now where David got the idea that he wanted to fish, but it came from somewhere a long time ago. I am always interested in learning a new way to get food from scratch, so I was game. Thing, is, I don't know diddly about fishing. Last time I fished was when I was about 10. As I recall, a worm is involved as well as a lot of standing around being bored, ending with getting to eat fish. While standing still for a couple of hours and eating fish appeal to me now, neither of these are on David's List of Fun. So I wanted to begin with a minimal up-front investment. I borrowed a rod/reel from my brother-in-law and then set out to equip us as inexpensively as I could. I started at the local fishing/bow-hunting supplier by basically walking in with Brooke's pole, setting it on the counter, pointing to it, then to a picture of a fish, then to my mouth and grunting. I walked out with floaters, sinkers, line, worms, and a license. At Walmart, I got David a rod, reel, and Spiderman tacklebox. $50.00 later, I was ready to kill me a fish. But I need skills, right? Well, I read the fishing section of the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department Web site cover-to-cover and hoped that would suffice. David and I set off to the closest fishing hole: A few acres of pond on the governer's property up the road.

David got the first hit. It was a small Green Sunfish about the size of both of his hands. I was really glad he caught something quickly. Before we went out the first time, I made him promise that we would go fishing together five times before he declared that he is no longer interested. I just didn't want to drop two bits, have him see how totally boring fishing is, and give up. Him catching four times as many fish as me on the first day really helped. What is funny is that he was so impatient. He would drop his line in the water, pull it up and exasperate, "why didn't I get a fish?" I tried to model proper fishing technique by dropping my line and then reading "War and Peace." Finally I told him that he had to drop his line and count to 100 before reeling in. I don't know that he ever got to 100. But 50 was enough to get a hit most of the time. That was a good evening. I even caught one myself. The next time we went, Simon went with us. To help occupy him, I tied hook, line and sinker to a stick for Simon to "play" at fishing. He had a hit before I could even get my own rig set up.

One thing that was iritating David was that I was casting and he could only drop his line from the dock. The reason was simple: I didn't think he could cast without injuring inocent bystanders. When I bought him the rod and reel, I was full of confidence so I bought him an open-face spinning reel and a rod that seemed small enough in the store. But the first time he held it realized that it was about as long and mine--about three times as long as him and the reel was a complete puzzle to him (they are to everyone at first). So I put off teaching him how to cast for as long as possible. The process of casting goes like this: you pinch some line against the rod just above the reel to secure it, flip the bail over to release the line, raise the rod up behind you, and then cast forward releasing the finger holding the line at just the right moment. Not too soon, not too late and not your whole hand. It took a lot of practice for me and I just was not sure that David has the coordination. So we set up on the hill next to the house. I weighted his line and tied some frayed rope to the end where a hook and lure would normally be. He pinched the line, released the bail, pulled the rod up over his head until it was touching the ground behind him, let go of the line, and cast, leaving the line on the ground. 20-30,000 casts later, he is a pro. The ease with which he pinches the line and flips the bail amazes me. He cannot cast as far as me for lack of strength, but he can cast successfully as often as I can (feint praise). We are ruthless with other about casting. When I botch a cast, David yells, "lousy cast!" I return the observation when he ties his line to the end of his rod. Open face reels can be a bit touchy at times and we have had to deal with problems with too much line coming off and getting tied up in knots. We have cut off scores of yards of line. I spend much of my time just helping him work out little problems like this. But the other day, I watched him cast, take up his slack, realize the line was acting up, re-release the bail and fix it without hesitation.

I remember when he barely weighed eight pounds and get all verklempt.

We have been fishing five times now in three different places on two different bodies of water. We have expanded our repretior in an attempt to pull in a larger, more varied catch. I have been working with jigs and we have fished with catfish bait. We've only gotten one catfish, which was not a keeper. The last time we fished, on my first cast, I hit our first keeper--a modest Drum fish with a tube jig. David was thrilled and spend most of the rest of the evening just watching it pout in the bucket of water we put it in. That evening I clumbsily filleted it and the next night we had fish tacos. David was excited until I put it in front of him when suddenly he was not hungry. Additionally, he has been getting bored earlier in each fishing expedition. However, he still seems to be interested in going again. We had to run an errand up by Lake Perry yesterday, but didn't have time to fish while were there and he was disapointed. Hopefully, he'll land a keeper before he gives up. Something I like about fishing with jigs is that you cast and reel rather than cast and go write your memoirs. It is more suited to a five-year-old. Likewise, I have decided I don't like worms. They are boring, easily picked off the hook, and you have to keep them alive.

I have a couple of friends and a brother who are anglers, so I hope to get some more lessons, soon. Lessons that will produce pictures of David and I holding up great big fish. I'll post them when I get them.


So I took the whole morning off yesterday to spend 30 minutes in a doctor's office to hear 30-seconds of sound--the sound of the heartbeat of an 11-week-old. It was totally worth it.

It was Jaime's first with the nurse/midwife who will be our captain of baby birthin' for number three.

This is a pregnancy blog again.