Becca Wilhite Blog

April 2, 2012

Bring it, Monday.

Filed under: animals,body image,debts to the Universe — becca @ 8:34 am

Here we go. Fun, full, busy weekend is over. Nunsense is over (mostly — you never know when a function is going to require some faux-nuns as entertainment). The cold/laryngitis is nearly over, leaving me with a more sultry than squeaky sound. Yay for more sultry, right? Turned down sub work for today, because, you know, someone ought to go to the bank and the grocery store and possibly vacuum the floors and FOR SURE mop the kitchen. Also I really, really should go out to lunch with my friend C today. Because it’s been way, way too long since I saw her, or did anything like going out to lunch anywhere cooler than the high school teachers’ lounge.

Here’s what we learned lately: Hope, the thing with Feathers, comes. It does. And when it does, weeks and months and years, years, YEARS of concern and worry and anxiety get feathered into the background.

Also: The fish (Minion) can handle Life on the Outside (the counter) for as long as it takes me to discover that he flipped out of the measuring cup while I was scrubbing his bowl, plus the several long seconds it took me to decide it was worth the effort of cupping BOTH MY HANDS around him to transfer him back to water. He’s happier than ever, back in his (clean) bowl. Really, happier than ever. I think he has done more laps in the past 20 hours than I’ve seen in months. Since Sushi died, I bet. And here’s the lesson: Sometimes we need to spend some outside our element in order to rediscover life’s passion. Or something like that.

Also: God is merciful. He gives us more chances than we would ever give each other. For which I am grateful.

And this: Did I tell you I stole Ann Cannon’s great idea and gave up Fear for Lent? Well, I did. And it has been the most freeing, lovely few weeks. When I send away the fear, there is so much room for joy and cheerfulness and celebration. And trust. And forgiveness. And noticing things. And I hope I can keep this going for forever. Because Fear? I can live without you.

One more thing: At fifteen pounds down, the pants don’t fit anymore. So I need to go shopping for smaller sizes. Shall we just say that again? SMALLER SIZES. (oh, yeah)

(Thanks, Google, for all the images. And, y’all, maybe don’t get used to images. It’s just that today is special.)

February 12, 2012

Creepin’ Death, My Brother’s Dorm Cat

Filed under: animals — becca @ 5:27 am

**UPDATE** One comment on any of my brother’s posts (2-11, 2-12, 2-13) wins an Amazon gift card. Go. **

Here’s another brilliant guest post from my brother. Remember how I am SO not a pet person? Well, he is. And has been for many, many years, apparently. Also a fan of eclectic music. And big, peroxide-damaged hair on metal-band members. And here you go.

Creepin’ Death the Dorm Cat

I’m guessing that most readers of this blog aren’t huge fans of Metallica (and if you are, Rock On!), but lead singer James Hetfield was integral part of my freshman year in college.  I’ve never met him, and while I’m not what you’d call a huge fanatic, my kids have been rocked to sleep with “Enter Sandman.”  Freshman dorm life is interesting no matter how you slice it.  Lots of dynamics and lots of interesting personalities as well.

One of the things you had to account for in the dorm is diverse musical tastes… especially when rooms weren’t what you’d call “sound proof” and iPods were still a thing of the distant future. With favorites ranging from Classical Tuba (yep, really) to Vanilla Ice to Garth Brooks to the Free to Choose soundtrack (for the non initiates–and if you read this blog, you know who you are–that’s a collection of songs that accompanied a series of still-shot videos for LDS High School-age religious education), it was uncanny that one of the sounds enjoyed by all was the thrashings of Metallica.  Truth be told, not everyone wholly tolerated it. The Free to Choose guy had among his goals (posted on the outside of his door) to shake at the sight of evil.  One of the other residents routinely walked back and forth past the open door just to see what would happen.

So when we found a small kitten (without being too graphic, we were certain it’s mom wasn’t going to be able to help it) on a late-night Run for the Border, there was only one fitting name: “Creepin’ Death” after the Metallica single which references the Biblical story of the Egyptian plagues.

We had that cat for 3 weeks in our 3rd floor dorm.  It was a fun game trying to keep it a secret while packing food, water, kitty litter, etc. into the building.  The RA had his suspicions, I’m sure.  The beginning of the end came when Creepin’ Death wouldn’t stop crying one night.  That led to a flurry of activity to keep the noise level high enough to keep RA distracted.  Backfire???  Yes it did.  He was on to us.  What happened next was just like a movie where you see the characters try to complete their tasks before something catastrophic happens.  Think Valkyrie.

We started by shoving stacks of pennies between the door jam and door of the RA’s room.  This effectively locked him in the room.  The pressure created was sufficient that he couldn’t turn the door knob and open the door.  He tries calling his buddy, the 2nd floor RA, to open the door, but we created a distraction and RA2 isn’t in his room (and of course no cell phones in 1990 college dorms). So RA climbs out his window (where there was a ledge about 3′ deep, which of course we were forbidden to access) to the neighboring room and convinces the occupants to open their window to let him in.

OK.  Game on!

As RA climbs back into the room and out into the hall, we mobilized a quick relocation of Creepin’ Death… into RA’s room.  Using the same ledge he had used to get out of his room, we moved Creepin’ Death, the water and food bowls, the kitty litter and toys, the bedding, from the west end to the east end (probably 50 yards).  While he was grilling residents about what was going on, and did we have a pet, etc. his room was re-set into a quaint feline lair.

We snuck back into the dorm from the ledge and into the rooms of our co-conspirators.  Everyone on the floor did their best “what’s all the hoopla?” face and a very frustrated RA went back to his room with no evidence and no information.  We milled around in the hallway so very nonchalantly, that I’m unsure what surprised him more: the cat in his room once he removed all the pennies from his door, or the gaggle of 18- and 19-year-olds standing behind him laughing uncontrollably.

He had nothing to go with from there.  The cat was in his room.  No one was talking.  He scooped it all up and took it to a friend’s place where pets were allowed.  We got a lecture, but nothing more… and we never heard anything more about Creepin’ Death.

However, to this day, whenever I hear any Metallica song, I think of that little cat.  And I remember that James Hetfield cares!

December 6, 2011

RIP Sushi

Filed under: animals,anxiety — becca @ 7:34 am

Guys, it lasted a long time. Way, way longer than I’d have thought. But it’s come to a halt, suddenly…

We’re a One Goldfish Family.

Do you not know this story?

Maybe you should head over here to read all about it.

(Minion is still going strong, and there’s a strangely gleeful flip to his fins today. But I’m not saying it means anything about the loner lifestyle. I’m not.)

September 19, 2011

Fun Things Happen

Filed under: animals,books,familyness,food,school,writing — becca @ 10:37 am

Here’s why a girl doesn’t blog for nearly a week:

She has a birthday. She spends this birthday doing really fun things. She finds herself inundated by happy b-day messages here, there, everywhere and SHE LOVES IT. (Fear not. I am done referring to myself in the third person. This causes instant distress in all my Kids. The 3rd person, not the stopping.)

Writing group happens. Oh, writing group, I love thee. See, sometimes we redefine ourselves as “eating/cooking/moaning at the goodness of it all” group. But other times we WORK. And work is good, remember that? And I have some great direction for revisions.

There’s also the new gig: I get to be a Private Tutor. This is second only to my lifelong goal to be a Tudor. Okay, that is a total lie. I’ve never really wanted to be a Tudor. Just to dress like one. (Tights and Wimples, rah!) I am teaching writing to the two loveliest young men, as part of their homeschooling. And people, let me tell you this: It is Fun. We write. We talk. We eat an apple. We write some more. We read. We write. We laugh. We write again. I know, right? Am I the luckiest? Yes. Yes I am.

Familyness happens. And that is good. I like my family a great deal. They are lovely. And funny. And usually very nice to each other. And — did I mention — I like them? Well, I do.

And then there’s the revision. It’s going to be a big one. That may take forever. But that’s okay. I have as long as I need.
I can do what I need to do to make it what it needs to be. <— Did that sound like song lyrics to you? Well, maybe it should be.

Meeting with friends. Eating soup. Playing. Teaching. Presentations in classrooms. Making maps of the United States (okay, only one). Planning stuff. Visiting the sick and afflicted. Exercising with the company of the 2010 BBC Sense and Sensibility (for which Edward deserves his own post). Slogging through a novel that I should just put down already, as my TBR pile grows. Laundry. Soccer games. Cooking. Cross-country meets. Dishes. Watching leaves change (that happens early up here in the mountaintops, but it sure is lovely — come and see). Talking to my parents on the phone (which I love to pieces, but is also an adventure — repeat after me “speakerphone is an invention of the Devil himself”). Watching Kid 1 get asked to Homecoming (also deserves its own post). See? These are the things that keep us from the computer, right? The things that are life. And I’m liking these things.

***And now, I really must clean out a goldfish bowl. Yes, they’re still alive. Yes, this is 7.5 weeks. Yes, they’re growing on me. ***

August 20, 2011

Minion and Sushi

Filed under: animals,familyness — becca @ 2:26 pm

It’s not some existentialist post, really.

It’s about the fish.

I’m here to update the goldfish situation in the Wilhite home. And here’s the update: Minion, the free goldfish that Kid 4 won at the county fair, is the proud owner of a real fishbowl (as opposed to the cool round vase he lived in for his first week here), complete with aquarium rocks, a bamboo plant, and a buddy. Sushi. That’s the goldfish buddy’s name. He’s cute, even in goldfish standards. He has a flowy tail with 4 pieces, as opposed to Minion’s streamlined fins. He’s short and fat, and — you know — that means he’s jolly. Just ask anyone.

After a sketchy first week, Minion started to eat. So, that’s good news. Have I mentioned that goldfish are a little bit disgusting? In so far as it concerns swimming around in one’s waste? We’re learning to deal with that, too. I’ve put my foot down about purchasing any more fish equipment (sort of… but I’m a softie, really) so I don’t see a pump/tank situation arising any time soon. My skills in fishbowl cleaning are now going on my resume. I’m that good. The fish are totally relaxing to watch (I doubt they feel the same about the Wilhites), and we are all doing very well, thank you.

Carry on with your weekend.

August 16, 2011

Duck Tales

Filed under: animals,Dads,familyness,history — becca @ 8:25 am

I sort of promised you a story.

And here it is.

Once upon a time, we lived in Oklahoma. No, I am not making that up. We lived there for 51 weeks. And we loved everything, everything about it. Everything. (Except the job.) (And the weather.)

Oklahoma is a lovely, wonderful place. As long as you have air conditioning (check), a zoo pass (check) and a creek in your backyard (check). Oh, and friends with teenage kids so you can leave your small girls and go out to eat (check, again). Lots of eating in Oklahoma.

So this creek in our backyard was a source of constant adventure. It was a slow-moving, creeping sort of creek, just busy enough to make some noise, but not scary for the small children to explore. (I thought.) There was this huge, flat submerged stone that showed itself during a long, hot summer and became a perfect place to stand and discover wildlife. Which seemed like such a good idea.[1]

But guess what. Go ahead. Guess.

We didn’t have to stand in the creek to discover wildlife. Wildlife occasionally came to us. In the form of ducks. In the spring, when the redbud trees reminded us of all the reasons to live in Oklahoma (see above), ducks began hanging out on our back porch. Six or seven of them. And we’d feed them leftover pancakes. To the point of training them. No kidding. The ducks got so used to our leftover pancakes showing up on the back porch that they’d come knocking if the cakes weren’t there. Really. They’d come right up to the back kitchen door and peck on the glass with their duckish beaks.

“Hello?”

“Breakfast time, isn’t it?”

(Note: Ducks prefer pancakes to bagels. FYI.)

After breakfast, the ducks would get amorous. Oy. I know. Small children, welcome to the Circle of Life. [2]

Fast forward a few weeks, and only the green-headed boy ducks came for breakfast. What happened to the brown ones? the kids wanted to know. Oh, they’re nesting. Babies soon. Won’t that be fun?

Yes. Oh, yes.

Fast forward another couple of weeks. Babies. Oh, the cutest little yellow puffballs you’ve ever, ever seen. They breathed these little chirping sighs that would just make us insane with their cuteness. We’d sit beside the creek on our tri-leveled porch and watch them paddle by. The mamas and the daddies would take turns coming up to the door for breakfast. We delivered, these days. To all seven babies.

Wait. Six babies. And a few fewer adults.

No. Now five babies. And three adults.

Um, four?

Three babies? No adults? What’s going on here?

It really didn’t take that long for us to understand the Circle of Life playing out in our backyard. Some of those huge Oklahoma snakes were snacking on our babies. And possibly their parents. Vengeance was only a matter of time.

Husband, in a Herculean effort of Pet Rescue Bravery, borrowed a pool skimmer from the Gardening Neighbor. And we sat in wait for our remaining babies to float by.

Rather, make that Baby.

One lone baby.

Out came the skimmer. Into the creek went Husband. Into the skimmer went baby duckling[3]. Sort of screaming, I have to admit. It was one of those moments when we have to tell a smaller creature, “this is for your own good — trust me” but we feel bad anyway.

The internet (yes, it was around even then) had told us that baby ducks like cracked corn, wheat, and  oats. Um, okay. So I put some cornmeal, some oatmeal, and some whole wheat flour in a little pan. Then I put some creek water in another pan. Then I put both pans in a box. Then Husband put the baby duck inside, too. And we watched the baby duck whistle and peck and splash around in apparent relief. I can just see it from baby duck viewpoint: Two small human faces, peering over the edge of the box, two larger human faces, above the small ones. All smiling in a manic human manner. Stop looking at me, humans, and bring more cornmeal.

Everyone knows that a baby duck needs a name. So, Husband named our duck. Mabel Huntington. Do not ask me why. I cannot tell you. [4]

Everyone also knows that a baby duck needs a teddy bear. So, Husband bought Mabel a bear.

Wait. We didn’t know that? Well, the marketing department at PetCo saw Husband coming, then. There was a huge sign. Huge. It said, and I quote, “Birds Love To Snuggle!” Below which was a display of dozens of tiny teddy bears. Husband picked the cutest one, by far.

And brought it to Mabel.

Who adored that bear. And I am being so completely sincere. Even though I may have raised my eyebrows way up high in wonder that someone IN THE ADVERTISING PROFESSION could get snookered by an advertisement for something so unnecessary, he was right. Mabel snuggled up to the teddy and sacked out. With his/her fluffy little yellow head in the bear’s lap. Oh, heck. It was the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, duck-and-bearly speaking.

After a few days, we determined that, although we were pretty attached to the duck (and teddy bear) living in a box in our garage, there was probably a better way to raise this sweet thing. So we made some phone calls. To some of the nicest Oklahomans in the state. Finally, a wildlife rescue place agreed to meet Mabel. I drove her there, her box in the front seat of the Honda, kids safely belted into carseats in the back. The nice wildlife people told me that they’d be happy to do any kind of rehabilitation that Mabel might need and then help him/her to find his/her freedom. That many of the rehabbed ducks would choose to make a permanent home in the pond on the premises. I explained that she wasn’t hurt, exactly, just in mortal danger from the snakes and turtles that were making a habit of snacking on baby ducks in our backyard. Then I explained about the teddy bear.

Silence. Lots of it.

Then a slow nod. Riiiiight, lady. The duck loves the bear. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

I walked back to the car, watching over my shoulder as the brown-clad wildlife rescue worker hitched box over hip and walked away, toward Mabel’s future.

(Dramatic Pause Here)

After a few weeks, we took the Kids to the “museum” on the property of the wildlife rescue people. It smelled of taxidermy and dust. Many stuffed snakes. And live ones. But what I most remember was the possum. Oh, holy mercy. It was placed on top of a glass snake cage (which I’m sure has some manner of technical name ending in -arium, but I don’t care) so that it was, as I turned around, face to face with me. The possum reminded me of all the reasons I won’t ever have a possum for a pet. That, my friends, is a frightening creature. It was white with pink beady glass eyes, which, on its own is scary enough. Because it looked like a hugely overgrown lab rat. But the teeth. Oh, the teeth. There were a million of them. A million, at least.  Sharp ones. Its mouth was open, displaying all the fang-ed wonder. I suppressed both the cries and the gag reflex and shepherded my children out of the room.

We found a brown-clad rescue worker, who laughed when we mentioned Mabel the Duck.

“I remember you,” he said.

(Strangely for me, I couldn’t say the same.)

“Folks, when you brought the duck here that day, I wondered if you were crazy, what with you fixin’ to leave the duck with a toy.” (People in Oklahoma love the word “fixin'” — trust me on this one.) “But you were right. That duck still sleeps with the teddy bear snuggled up right next to her.” (She was a her. Apparently.)

Husbandly Vindication.

We asked to see Mabel. He brought her out. She was at least twice the size of the teddy bear now, and brown and awkward and lumpy.

Gorgeous, I mean.

The Kids couldn’t believe this was the same duck. Then the worker showed us the bed. With the teddy bear inside. The bear that Husband had known, KNOWN would make the duck safe and happy. This little bear was loved up. Nips out of his ears, covered in… something aromatic, matted and completely adored. For a guy who doesn’t like animals, my Husband sure knows how to take care of an accidental pet.

[1] Did you know that snakes live in Oklahoma? They do. And pretty much every single poisonous snake in the northern hemisphere wants to live in Oklahoma. They’ve never, ever read “Grapes of Wrath” apparently.

[2] I may have been heard to open the door and hiss at those amorous ducks, “Hey, there are little kids around here. Take it under the bleachers, why don’t you?”

[3] Telling it this way, it sounds a lot less… wet than I remember it.

[4] Just kidding. Of course I can tell you. Mabel Huntington lives upstairs from Mr. Kreuger and complains that her pipes don’t bring her heat, or water, or something. Mr. Kreuger is convinced that she’s lying for attention. We (heart) Jimmy Stewart.

August 10, 2011

Pets. Who needs them?

Filed under: animals,anxiety,familyness — becca @ 8:56 am

If you’re new here, you might need to take a second to discover how I feel about animals.

Or just take my word for it: I don’t need anything else hairy, smelly, or germy inside my home.

But you know, sometimes things just happen.

The boy wanted a turtle, and his sister bought him one of those science-y things that you drop in a bucket of water and it grows to an unreasonable size. The boy wanted a dog and we bought a stuffed animal that he still sleeps with (shh – he’s seven and doesn’t read blogs, so there’s no reason to tell him that you know about Snuggle Puppy). The boy wanted a fish and he went to the county fair and won one.

Oh, dear.

He brought me the fish in a zipper snack-sized bag. A big fish for a small bag. I held on to it for an hour and a half, while it leaped around in its plastic vault. Before he ran off to test his stomach’s strength on the freaky carnival rides, I warned him that the little darling in the plastic bag might not last until we got home.

“No problem, Mom. It’s just going to be fun while it lasts.”

Well, okay.

Fast forward FIVE ENTIRE DAYS, and Minion is going strong. Well, except yesterday when he started … listing. To the side. Swimming backward and sort of … listing. Husband, ever the Animal Rescue Agent [1] pulled out the Big Guns: Goldfish Rescue 911. I wish I was making this up, but I’m clearly not that clever. It’s a real site, and he really read every word (I think).

Turns out that Minion was suffering from Lack Of Oxygen. So when I came into the kitchen, I found Husband pumping air through a basketball pump-drinking straw contraption. He had already done the salt-water dip and taken a cutting off a kitchen plant. Then I left for my meeting. When I came home, I found this:

Because, you know, plants give off oxygen until the sun goes down. Then, Carbon Dioxide, which we (fish and human) don’t particularly want to be breathing. So the fish got a “sunlamp” (which usually lives over the piano, so – wait for it – Kids can see their music when they practice). But not today. The lamp belongs to Minion, and with Minion it will stay.

Updates coming your way.

I know. Eyes Peeled. Me, too.

[1] Remind me to tell you about Mabel Huntington, the duck. It’s a good story.

July 22, 2011

“Kiss Your Face” Week: Day Five

Filed under: animals,gratitude — becca @ 11:43 am

Once again, a slightly more theoretical face-kissing today.

The Birds.

Not the freaky-fabulous Hitchcock film (although, if you could kiss a film’s face, we’d have YEARS’ worth of blog fodder). The real birds that live in my neighborhood. There are the ones in my yard — mostly robins and magpies and swallows — and they’re nice (robins for chirpiness and swallows for swoopiness and magpies for general malevolence [1]). And there are the other ones in the ‘hood – like the totally white something-something I saw in my pre-sunrise walk this morning. It was getting amorous with some other little something-something birdie who was a fairly normal mountain birdish gray-brown, and if I had not been in such an understanding mood (love is colorblind and all that) I might have stopped it. It was so lovely, all glowy-white, and didn’t it want its babies to be just the same?

I love that these little birdies wake me up with their singing (except the weird black ones that sound like a backed-up kitchen sink drain), and that they keep it up all day long.

Thanks, birds. I love your guts. I kiss your faces. From here.

[1] I’ve been writing a demon magpie into my WorkInProgress. There’s a constant stream of inspiration in my strawberry patch. *Shudder*

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