Batarang!

Last night, I woke up past 11:00 p.m. Somehow the room had gotten warm, and I was sweaty. I looked up at the ceiling fan, ticking away. Something was flying around. A large insect, mayhaps?

No.

baby bat flying

(source)

“Is that… a bat?” I asked Jonathon, nudging him awake. Because we have had bat visitations 2 other times. As in, twice, once in Portland and once in our previous house in Shelton.

“Looks like it,” he said. We dragged ourselves out of bed and onto the floor. I shoved my glasses on to see better in the dark. We knew the drill. We sat with our backs to the bedroom door and watched the fledgling bat follow the ceiling fan around and around, maniacally orbiting the air-splitter. All I could think was, Again??

“Maybe if we opened the door it would find its way out,” I suggested. We have a small deck off the master bedroom. Jonathon crawled over the threw the door open. There! But the bat continued to circle and circle, oblivious.

After about 15 minutes, Jonathon advised me to head downstairs.

“He’s swooping lower and lower as he gets tired,” he said.

I brought a pillow down to the living room couch, away from Zac tickety-ticketying on the computer keyboard and Dakota’s bedroom in the rotunda. I laid down and waited for sleep to claim me again. Overhead, I could hear Jonathon trying to escort the bat out. Unfortunately, it sounded like a lot of thumping at irregular intervals, aka a ballerina on steroids.

After an interminable amount of time, I heard him descend the stairs. He walked over to Zac and explained his mission. I know this because I heard Zac say, “What??” Then Jonathon walked over and closed a pocket door to keep it quieter for me.

“Is it gone?” I asked from the couch.

“No,” he said, “just getting more tools.” Then he headed to the basement.

Moving to my office seemed the best solution. I pulled out a fuzzy blanket and situated myself on the plush carpet, ignoring the pine needles and dog hair. I didn’t think I would sleep. But I did. Having a door to close made all the difference against a potential bat invasion and extra noise.

In the morning, Jonathon told me it was a baby bat, and he’s pretty sure (!) it escaped our room. Infant bats fledge in August. They start learning to fly, and use their echolocation to guide them. The poor little guy upstairs would stop flying and attempt to land on the wall, only to slide off and have to fly again. He is a work in progress.

The only way Jonathon was able to lure it out was to close all the windows and leave the door open. Only one way out, just like a lot of humans. Block every exit and maybe, finally, we get the hint. Doors opening and closing make all the difference. They shape our potential. Changing our perspective allows for new directions; noticing when doors are shut against us makes us search for another opening, often helping us find the one we were meant for all along. Friends, we are all works in progress.

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends...” – Revelation 3:20

 

Running and Flying

running_with_the_seagullsPhoto courtesy of runningzen

I went running in the icy blue today.  I couldn’t help myself.  The sky here is an intoxicating shade of blue.  Contrast that with red and yellow trees and I’m in primary color heaven, a gargantuan child’s crayon box.

I’ve been battling some sort of cold plus allergies.  I’ll blame it on the fog that never seemed to lift, trapping any possible foul thing by its suffocating presence.  I felt pretty lousy over the weekend and am just now starting to feel like myself again.  I don’t get sick very often anymore.  When I do, my emotions tend to flatten out and I feel like “meh”.  Who cares?  Not a great place to be.  Life itself feels trivial.

This morning, though coughing and battling a little congestion, I figured I’d give it a whirl.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that running should be fun.  I donned a garish fleece hat and headed out.

The cold nearly took my breath away.  This was our first hard frost since early last year.  I shoved my earphones further into my ears and tugged my hat down.  The first few steps were creaky.  My legs protested.  I am definitely feeling my age lately, folks.  Yet as I trekked up the hill, I couldn’t help smiling.  Saturday’s golden leaf drifts were gone.  Most sidewalks were clear, or were being cleared by swaddled men with leafblowers.  Frost silvered the grass as the glorious sun beat down.

I guess this is as good a time as any to tell you I’ve been mostly sugar-free for two weeks now.  I had coffee with a friend of mine last month and her story of giving up sugar made me think. I couldn’t shake it. Oh, I’ve fallen down here and there.  Instead of doing it perfectly, I now think of it as a baby bird learning to fly.  They soar a little, then crash.  They might even get a little frustrated, if birds have such emotions.  They get back to the tree, regroup, and jump again.  Some birds get a running start on the ground, then lift off.  Eventually, they fly freely on their own.

When I started to feel lousy, all I wanted was a piece of cake with chocolate icing.  Luckily, I had some hanging around.  Seriously, I’m learning how my emotions are tied to eating, especially sweets. I’m learning to drink tea or eat a piece of fruit if  I’m really hungry and craving something sweet.  I think my symptoms haven’t overwhelmed me, in part,  because of avoiding sugar.  It also helps that when I’m ill i don’t worry about it anymore.  I pray, rest, dose myself accordingly and move on.

Will I keep this lifestyle forever?  I don’t know.  All I know is I have more steady energy without it.  I’ve lost a couple of pounds and that’s great.  But what I like most of all is rising above sugar’s pull. I’m starting to fly.

Top Sider

Today we are flying to Minneapolis. As I type this, we are at 30,000 feet. I can see the puffy top sides of clouds. We soar over a patchwork of circles, trapezoids, rectangles and squares. Unknown lakes and mountains quickly skate by underneath us. The random clouds far below us cast shadows on the land, blob-like dark splotches moving at a glacier’s pace.

It’s strange being up this high. A fine layer of mist covers the territory out the window to the south.  Lucky me. I scored the window seat. I will switch places with Jonathon…if he asks. Flying on a plane is one of the few situations where being short is an asset. I never fret about leg room or cabin height. I fit! I ship!

It is also strange to travel without the kids. There are a couple of little kids across the aisle, on the far side of the plane. I hear the piping  voice of a little blonde girl, coloring and pointing out what she sees to her mom.  The timbre of her voice cuts through the deadening drone of the jet’s diesel engines. The excitement in her voice makes me smile.

Since I awoke at 4:30 today. I should probably nap. But I dislike sleeping in public. Nobody needs to see me drool. I am putting on my best face but I have recently discovered that I no longer like flying. I hate waiting in lines. I don’t like waiting anyway, but you have to wait to check your bag. You wait to board the plane, clumped together at the gate, upright beasts of burden.  You stand behind a thousand people to get through security. The line winds around and doubles back like the line for Space Mountain at Disneyland, yet nobody is excited to be there. You basically make yourself most vulnerable, stripping off your shoes, purse, wallet, keys, sweater and watch. You ditch your electronics into a tray. Somebody scans all your items and your person. If you’re especially blessed, somebody feels you up. And no admiring comments on your fabulous figure or even an “I’ll call you!” Add it all together and I feel penalized every time I fly.

I loved flying as a kid. It was exotic and exciting, traveling by air. Somebody brought me soda and lunch. I read a book or played cards with my brother. I listened to music and nodded off, waking up in a new place. Of course, my parents planned all the trip logistics back then, too. Us adults do it now. The reduced expectations back then of not expecting someone – or something – to entertain me created a relaxed atmosphere. I enjoyed the ride and all its quirks.

But now:  You pay for everything except headphones and soda. I expected to catch up on Facebook and email while aloft. And I can, if I am willing to pay.  Alas, I am cheap. I fully expect to pay to use the restroom on my next flight. Hey, the use of good public restrooms in Paris cost one euro! It’s a growth industry.

I know, I know. The tragedy of 9-11 changed us all forever. I remember.  I can appreciate the necessity for heightened security even as I lament the loss of personal privacy and public trust, not to mention the poor folks who died in that horrible tragedy nearly 12 years past.

As the sun beams through the window, warming my right arm, I find I must “choose my own adventure”, to borrow a phrase made popular by a book series from long ago.  I will adjust my expectations in order to rediscover the fun. I can entertain myself.  This trip presents me with a chance to find the good, to actively look for what is amazing and exceptional.

I am on the hunt.

Sent from my iPad

Plane Folks

Up and away…

It’s good to be home. From Hastings to Detroit is about 2.5 hours. Then flying from Detroit to Chicago. We sat on the runway for 45 minutes in Detroit, 3 hours in Chicago.

Zac and Jonathon were about 15 rows back. Jonathon managed to get our 4 scattered seats into 2 sets of 2, so the kids woulnd’t have to sit with strangers. Because that’s what you’re doing. You’re travelling thousands of miles sitting mere inches from nobody you know. It’s kinda mind-boggling. But not this trip.

Our plane at Ohare had a bad tire that first passed inspection, then didn’t and had to be replaced. Then there was the odoriferous problem in the back of the plane; something smelled terrible in Denmark. They deplaned the last 5 rows so the floor could be vacuumed. Several teams of cleaners trooped back there, armed with mops and vacuums and blue plastic gloves. We got regular updates. “Just a few more minutes”  “Now it should be about 20 minutes, folks”  “Just need some juice and water from catering” and on and on.  Made some friends on the plane. Ruby mooched apples and candy from our seatmates. She epitomized the great advantage of being cute and charming.

We watched the rain pour down outside, puddling onto the tarmac. After awhile of sitting there and asking “Are we moving yet?” Ruby got a little frustrated and restless.

“Could you just swipe your card, Mama?  Then we can watch TV”, she lamented more than once.  I was reluctant to spend money on TV or movies when it was uncertain if our plane would get airborne that night.  She must have watched the same preview for Toy Story at least 50 times.  I saw the promo for The Avengers at least that many as well.

Because of the delay, we got water before the plane took off.  They kept the engines running, which meant we had air.  We got a semblance of cookies.  And, because of our great patience, we got free TV.  Well, I did.  Ruby’s screen didn’t work.  So she used mine and my headphones and watched part of the chimpanzee movie (ick!) and Toy Story and some kids’ shows. She decided to fall asleep at about 12:30 a.m. Michigan time, which was 9:30 p.m. Washington time. She found an awkward position to curl up in and sacked out.  I dozed off now and then, only waking up when there was an announcement from the flight or the 3 guys behind me started laughing maniacally.

I think I was impressed and a little scared at how obedient we all were.  Sure,we’d paid the $25+ to check our bags, if we brought more than carry-ons.  If your bags were over 50 lbs. – and ours always were – you opened your suitcases in front of God and everybody to shift things from one suitcase to another.   We submitted to the screening, taking off our outer garments and shoes, unloading pockets, laptops and pocket change.  I started to feel a bit like a refugee. Where was the love?

And now we were content to sit like sheep in our jammed-together seats, staying buckled in, waiting for further instructions.  I think the 9/11 scare was on everyone’s minds.  Nobody wanted to rock the boat. We wanted to say and do as little as possible to get the jet in the air.  Nobody dared complain openly. But gone are the days when things were free, part of your ticket price.  Sitting in the bulkhead (don’t get jealous!), I had a close-up view of the first class passengers.  They got meals.  They got real food, on real china with actual silverware.  Their TVs worked perfectly and for free. No plastic for them!

I felt empathy for the flight attendants.  It could’ve been a disaster, with angry passengers and people having to disembark to a new plane. They had connections to make and places to be, as did all of us.  They paced like polyester-clad tigers up and down the aisles, looking busy. They tried to make the best of a tough situation. 

As did we, the hundreds of passengers.  I talked with the gal in the window seat, Jennifer, who shared her dinner with Ruby as well as her candy.  She told me she grew up in Western Europe, going to college in the states.  She was a pharmacist.  She helped Ruby with her TV controllers.  I felt perfectly safe leaving her in the seat when I needed the restroom.

The lady that gave Ruby one of her apples was a grandma type.  She loved Ruby’s humor and verve.  She told me, as I thanked her again for the apple, “What a great kid!”  Yes.

All I could think was: Because of the lack of care from the airline, we took care of each other.  We became a community for a short time, commiserating and helping each other get bags and such.  But somehow, some way,  it’s got to get better.

Bat in the Belfry

I’m not sure what a belfry is, but I do know what a bat is.  We had one in our bedroom…again.

The first time was more than 6 years ago, back in Portland in our house on NE Killingsworth.  Great neighborhood.  Bus stop in front of the house, a drive-by shooting, street closed down for police action – twice. All of that happened in the space of three and a half years.  One time the police even used our house to wire-tap a neighbor’s home where a hostage was being held.  Good times.

Anyhoo, one evening in August, Jonathon and I were watching “So You Think You Can Dance”.  Wait, that’s familiar.  We were in our tiny living room on the main floor.  I was very pregnant with Ruby.  Suddenly, something caught my eye.  Reflected in the mantle mirror, a baby bat circled the room.  It chased the ceiling fan around.  It knocked into the mirror. The only light in the room was a leftover glow from the sun. 

We jumped up.  Jonathon shooed me out of the room.  He put on his blue coveralls – leftover from a previous project – and grabbed a broom.  We knew bats carried rabies.  But this bat was tiny and disoriented.  What to do?

We thought we got it out.  We opened the front door.  But no.  It kept flapping around helplessly.  Finally, Jonathon called Animal Control and told them our situation.  The wonderful people told him not to hurt the bat.  What?!  At this point, I was wishing for a gun, , a net, or at least a phaser. 

Finally, we went to bed.  Only…the bat had flown upstairs and fell asleep on the back of our door, apparently, because the next night he was flying around our small low-ceilinged bedroom, bonking his miniature head on said ceiling. I don’t remember how we got him out, only that we were both pretty wired after that.

Fast forward tot his morning.  It was about 4 a.m.  I couldn’t sleep anymore so I thought I’d get up and read Bible and get ready to workout.  I put my sweatshirt on and started to head downstairs, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed something flying around the ceiling of our bedroom.  A bat!  I woke Jonathon up.  He ushered me into the study. He got dressed and shoved a blanket around the base of our bedroom door so the bat couldn’t crawl out.  We were wise to the buggers now.

He didn’t get nearly as upset as the last time.  He didn’t need to call animal control. He calmly plucked the broom and mop from the downstairs and headed back into the bedroom. I suggested opening the backdoor that goes out to the rotting staircase on the back side of the house.  Our bedroom used to be a separate apartment and the staircase serves as a reminder.  He opened the backdoor with the lights on.  He turned off the box fan in our window, as he’d since learned that bats are confused by fans, their noise and air circulation, and it interferes with their sonar.  After a few minutes, he closed the door. He checked around for any other stray animals (raccoons?) or a hidden bat.  Finding nothing,  he closed up the room.

Then he came into the study.  We have a spare bed in there and so he went back to bed and I headed downstairs.

There you have it.  We don’t know how it got in, either time. Is it gone?  Your guess is as good as mine. We wish it well. We are…bat magnets.

Holding Pattern

Flying and flying and flying...

So, we’re still here.

Nothing has changed.  No job for Jonathon.  My job, such as it is, is stagnant.  I’ve read 4 sections in a 19-section notebook and logged more than a dozen hours I’ve yet to be paid for.  Grant money?  What grant money?!

We are at a standstill.  We live Groundhog Day, every day.  Oh, sure, we get the kids to school, make meals clean (sometimes), pay bills.  All the basic things get done, needs are met, praise God.  But no movement on anything.  The kids haven’t even been growing lately. 

Have you ever been on a long flight and the captain announces, “Well, folks, we’re starting our descent over Chicago (or wherever; you choose).  We’re 9th in line to land so we’re going to circle around up here until the runway is clear for landing”.  You can’t get out of your seat to stretch or go to the restroom.  There will be no more food or beverages served, because the plane will start its determined downward dive at any moment.  That is what is known as a holding pattern.  It describes our situation perfectly.

What do you do with “a thousand lifetimes”?  I wouldn’t have been able to tell you yesterday, but I realized that silly movie with Billy Murray had more to teach me.  I need to take advantage of this time and see it as a good thing, a “selah” or designated rest and reflection time like in the book of Psalms.  I need to get projects done that I can’t do when we’re running full tilt. I need to stay up on the things that make life bearable for me – meeting with friends, running, working out, reading, praying.  I need to remember the blessings actively.  I need to watch my attitude because it is contagious. 

Unlike Bill Murray’s Phil, I am not at the “acceptance” stage yet.  I’m working on it.  It probably involves more surrender, natch, to the place that I’m content to stay holding indefinitely.  So, I’m taking my own advice and doing what I need to do.  For those of you who pray for us, keep it coming. And thanks to the many who have encouraged us.  We need it and will continue to do so on our end.