Guinea Pig Galaxy

Last week, we attended a home school gala day for Canterbury Home Educators and did some great curriculum shopping.  I already felt it was an afternoon well-spent after buying several Horrible Science and Horrible Geography books from a lady named Colleen.  Then, Charis pulled me over to one side and urgently whispered, “The lady we bought the books from is giving away guinea pigs for free.”  I asked her to repeat her message – her voice was so low.  “That lady you bought books from has guinea pigs to give away!  For free!” she emphasized, in case I failed to get the meaning of “to give away”…

Well, as soon as I got down on my haunches to check out the little cage, Colleen drew the gorgeous critters out and we fell in love.  (And so did a dozen other kids who promptly wanted them!  Where’s my defensive line-up when I need them?)

Their names were Coffee Bean and Peanuts.  Coffee Bean is black and tan with a very hip hairstyle (centre-parted and spiky – she can borrow my gel!) and Peanuts is a smooth, delightful ginger, smaller than Coffee Bean and my fave!   After quickly checking with Charis if she was willing to take care of them, (Really, Mom, are we getting them??? squeal!!!), we said we’d take them…which was a sweet victory, considering there was one extremely aggressive teenager who barged in and demanded to have one!

Within the week, Colleen delivered the critters to our home complete with a hole-y cage , some food, and stakes, net, and pegs so the little ones can run around in their own little paddock.  Thing is it’s so makeshift that today, they escaped from the pen and Charis frantically dashed into the house screaming, “They’ve ESCAPED!  Come quickly!”  Well, what a to-do that was!

Iain and I DASHED out of the house to rescue Peanuts, who was standing out in the huge lawn where predatory cats from the neighbourhood like to idly hang out sharpening their claws.  We held our collective breath and prayed she wouldn’t move!  There she stood, still as an explorer quietly observing the landscape of her newfound freedom.

We gingerly surrounded her, and Iain pounced and caught her up, whereupon she proceeded to squeal like a little piggywig.  With relief we exhaled, only to hear Charis scream, OH NO! NOW THE OTHER ONE’S GOT OUT!!!  I turned on my heel and sprinted (as swiftly as a mid-lifer who works out three times a week can sprint  :)), trapping Coffee Bean between the devil and the deep blue (read the piece of plywood and the metal tray) and shooed her little bee-hind back into her safe wee paddock.

We felt mighty proud of our successful rescue operation!  Enough excitement for the day!  I think this guinea pig mommy deserves a latte!


My Girl

I educate my precious little girl at home.  And yesterday, we were fully able to exploit one of the perks of home-schooling, i.e. unrestricted, unlimited, it-doesn’t-matter-how-long-it-takes hugs 🙂

Charis, 10, decided that, as a reward for finishing each task, we would hug for as long as she wanted.  (Obviously her love languages are physical touch and quality time.)  Plus, she insisted on climbing atop mom’s lap for a real clinch and she clung to me like there was no tomorrow, rocking back and forth, fully savouring the joy of the moment.  I think, like Thoreau, she is well-versed at sucking the marrow from the bones of life!  Well, as we rocked back and forth enjoying our hug, the chair began to creak like an ancient steamer and I said, “Ohhhh, it sounds like we’re on a boat that’s about to keel over.”  “No,” she replied, “we are orbiting the planet of love…” 🙂

This is the girl who, when I return home from gym, rushes to meet me at the door with arms open wide exclaiming with a wide happy smile, “Mom, I’m so glad you’re home.  I missed you!!!”  Even if I’ve only been away for an hour.

One day a few weeks ago, she lovingly removed my shoes, then peeled off my socks, then massaged my feet – all without being asked.  I marvel at the miracle of her love which I feel I haven’t earned, but which I am ever so grateful for.

Out of the blue, she told me, “Mom, I want to be someone God loves as much as David.”

“You want to be a woman after God’s  own heart?” I asked.


She has even written a Psalm.

Who can deny that children are a blessing???

I have always loved Desiderata

Sometime in the 70’s I remember hearing this beautiful poem by  Max Ehrmann set to music.  Desiderata is Latin for “Things to be Desired”.  If you have never come across it, I want to share it with you.

As the year draws to a close and a new one unfolds, it seems appropriate to ponder on this poem, which was said to have been ” inspired by an urge that Ehrmann wrote about in his diary”:

“I should like, if I could, to leave a humble gift —
a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods.”


— written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s —

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


Date with My Soul

Julia Cameron talks about going on a date with your soul – your artist’s soul.  So today, with hubby and daughter safely dispatched to have fun at Lollipops Playland, I looked forward with RELISH to some peace and quiet and the glories of solitude. 🙂  First things first, I needed a hallowed place.  So I cleared a spot in the family room, opened the ranchslider to the secret garden and immediately felt the cool wind whip the lace curtain and fan my face.  Well hello there, it teased.

Food for the soul can wait.  I needed food for the body.  With glee, I poured some fruity chardonnay into a crystal wine goblet, then prepared a slight repast of crackers crowned with tasty cheddar cheese and sun-dried tomato pesto. And for afters, fresh ruby-red strawberries.  Perfect.  Settling into my chair, I picked up my mental broom and swept all the usual preoccupations of worry and anxiety into tiny little cubicles and locked each one.

Now I was free to gaze at the sky, to feel the wind, to just BE…to really taste the flux of favours in my mouth, to savour the wine as it snaked down my throat, to laugh at this freedom.  I realised that the smile had not left my face.

I thought about how this time of solitude was pristine and special because it is so hard to come by.  Were I single and lived this way always, would it be quite so special, or would I grow lonely and bored with the predictability of aloneness?  Many times, the value of things is highlighted by the backdrop it’s held up against.  Contrast is the key.

Last night I caught Christian quadriplegic, Joni Eareckson Tada, on TV as I channel-surfed.  She spoke with such passion about 2 Corinthians 4:17.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory…”  and she said that for quadriplegics and paraplegics, decades of paralysis don’t seem like a light affliction, BUT, she said, when compared to the scope of eternity, all of this present day suffering (in light of the fact that our lives are but a mist and a vapour) is accruing an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  She looked positively triumphant as she said this, and I realised that here was a woman who spent time with God.  Here was a woman who believed God was good. Here was a woman of great faith.

She said that many disabled people did not see things the way she did.  No surprises there.  But she wanted to be able to reach out to them and share this viewpoint and this faith which could give them hope and freedom.  So she set up her website called  Such selflessness.  She wants to bring others this hope even if , I suspect, she knows others will mock her as a Pollyanna.  Still, she reaches out because she cares.

I laughed to recall that today, for the first time, I signed up to “Santa Call” and arranged for Santa to ring me so I could give him my wish list.  There was nothing material on my wish list other than a brand new two-storey house that could better accommodate the thousands of books that now lie under sofas and against couches for lack of wall-space against which to place bookshelves!  🙂 Other than that, everything else I wanted with hunger was, in some sense, spiritual: happiness, shalom, better relationships, etc.

I gaze at the sky and think that the sky has no need of stuff, whereas I always feel the need for stuff, mostly books, and, more books.  I have never fathomed the source of this addiction., but the state of my house convinces me that I need deliverance!  How can I create when I am hemmed in with too much stuff?

So, in the coming year, my desire is to simplify and to shed.  I want to create.  There are so many dreams waiting to be born, to see the light of day.  But for as long as my life remains as crowded as it is now, I do not see any runway for the plane of my dreams to take off, to free itself from the ground.

I want to see with spiritual eyes.  I want to see into things, beyond the now, to the eternal significance of things.  What kind of person do I need to become so that I can live like that?  What kind of person do I need to become?