Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Friday, May 28, 2010

One Book One Community

I met Outreach Librarian Melissa at the Service Learning Fair in April. She asked about my work in Riverside and when I told her part of it involved reading and getting books into the children's hands, she asked to meet with me about the One Book One Community project that will kick off this fall at Ole Miss. When she came to meet with me, she laid the book Listening is an Act of Love on my desk and sat down. I commented immediately, "Oh, StoryCorps!" She was excited that I had heard about StoryCorps, so I explained my Unalaskan friend's participation and credited her with telling me about it.

Listening is an Act of Love is the first book we will be using to introduce the project, whose primary mission is to strengthen literacy, for the community to read and learn together, and to develop a sense of community focused on conversations around what is read. I was on board from the first explanation of the mission.

In practical terms, what that means is I will assign this book in a class--or more than one--and build assignments around it. In brainstorming with Melissa, we talked about how readily the stories will lend themselves to social work--assessments, for example. It lends itself to analysis of diversity issues presented in the stories, and how it relates to the promotion of social justice. All involve critical thinking, reading, writing, research skills that are needed by our students.

In addition to what we do in the classroom and the community--we will extend this into our Riverside program--there will be campus and community activities to which the students can connect. The idea is to connect individuals who might not otherwise be connected.

In my grad class this summer, we have an assignment where the students post a short 1 page paper about the readings as connected and applied to the activities we do in class. Then, they have to converse (via the discussion board) with other students about the ideas contained in the paper. I have been amazed already at the depth of the conversation and see it as a valuable resource to their learning; I don't know how they see it, but I am just fascinated by their comments--comments that I would never know about if not for this method of eliciting them.

I will use that same process in the practice with groups class this fall in implementing the One Book One Community Project. I plan to use it in the Research Writing class as well. Nothing else has worked to get them interested in writing, so I will not lose anything by trying a different approach. I am enthusiastic about the possibility to create a new partnership with others on the campus about writing and reading, and try once again to find a way to connect students to the joy of lifelong learning and what it can add to the richness of our lives.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I know I should have posted this before, not after.

I predicted last night that Lee would win AI this year. (Well, I only predicted it to Randy, but still that was my prediction.) Not because he was the best singer or the most talented. He is a good singer, and he has talent, but he is not in the league with Crystal in terms of talent, or comfort with his talent.

Kind of like last year and the difference between Kris and Adam. But then, "ain't that America." Earlier this evening, I told Rand I thought Lee would win; the "America" who watches AI will vote for a paint salesman...or a married guy from Arkansas...before they will vote for an unmarried mother or a flashy guy who wears nail polish and eye makeup, regardless of the talent and ability to sing. And when it was time for the grand announcement, I said "Lee" one second before Ryan did.

Even after Crystal outsang and outperformed Lee by a mile last night...and tonight.

So, I predict that Crystal--now in the eye of whoever it is that decides to record someone--will do well for herself. She certainly has the stage presence--even tonight--and I think her talent has never been in question.

Frankly, I miss Simon already.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why is finding the cure to cancer more "scientific" than finding the answer to social problems?

Full disclosure: I am a behavioral scientist, not a "hard" scientist.

I was having a conversation just now with someone from pharmacy, who was talking about how hard it was to get a PhD in pharmacy and do research in pharmacy, "because you have to have positive evidence and so much research ends in failure."

Yes, I understand that. Much of my research--and that of other behavioral scientists--ends in "failure." You do not find what you hoped, or what you thought, or the answer that will make a difference. And it was hard to get a PhD, and to do the research necessary to further the development of our profession--social work is a profession, not a discipline. We have to have a license to practice, just like pharmacists and nurses and doctors.

"No, this is different. You have to have data that shows dirt is dirt, and if you don't, it is failure."

Okay. How is finding out dirt is not dirt any more distressing than finding out we cannot figure out how to end poverty? Why is not finding a specific protein that contributes to x disease more important than not figuring out why Johnny can't read, or why men beat their wives, or why there are more black children in child welfare custody than there are black children in the state?

It seems to me that we have more than enough "hard" things to do in advanced education and research--and in trying to change the conditions that in many ways we have created for ourselves--than to be wasting effort convincing someone of whose job is harder. Frankly, back in my former life when I mopped grocery stores from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m, wielding a mop that weighed more than I did just so I could pay my rent and eat, I am not sure you could have convinced me that any job was harder.

Maybe it is all a matter of perspective. But then, I felt like I had the supreme compliment from my boss today. When I told her someone had told me I was like "Dr. X" she replied, "No, the thing that makes you different is that you are willing to consider that you might be wrong."

If I am Home, this must be Mississippi

When my niece picked me up at DFW last week, she had just come from Kool, Texas--home of then Idol contestant Casey James. She (and apparently a lot of other Texas folks) are a fan of the young singer. He lives in Milsap, right next to Kool, which is just out of Mineral Wells not far from Fort Worth.
While he definitely has the cute factor going on for him, I am not as big a fan as apparently half of Texas. Texas power voting put some numbers up there for him to keep him in the running. He plays in some of the area nightspots, and in places near my old stomping grounds at PK lake--which in the music business is not all that prestigious from my memory.

Country music has certainly changed a lot in the days since I was growing up listening to Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, George and Tammy, and Willie Nelson--long before he was someone everyone listened to.

On the way to DFW yesterday, I mentioned seeing Dolly Parton on the Oprah show, and talking about her as a young singer fresh in Nashville and on the Porter Waggoner show. My niece said "Who?" No, she has never heard of Porter Waggoner. In today's standards, Porter probably would not have made it...or perhaps he would have. Watching Lady GaGa a few weeks ago, I see the parallels across the generations.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The things we do for love...and addiction

I am in DFW, waiting for the flight to Atlanta. It has been the comedy of errors since I stepped into the security line. It seems that the bins are loaded on one counter, and then the passenger must take 3 steps to place the bins on the rollers into the x-ray machine. Not very difficult, unless you are using a cane with one hand and trying to pick up a pan with a lap top with the other...and a pan with shoes...and a pan with your 311 bag of liquids...and your carry on...and your purse...and then have to hand them your cane. You just gotta love this place--of course they cannot help you, and yet, somewhere in some airport, someone who should not be getting on a plane is likely getting on one with something he should not be taking on a plane.

After locating my gate, I ambled down to find a coffee place and got a latte and a scone. The latte had a hole in the cup, and unbeknownst to me, the first sip sent coffee down the front of my shirt and all over my carry on. Frankly, it was just too much work to get back to the coffee shop with a carry on, a cup of coffee, a purse, and a cane, and I dumped the $8 worth in the nearest bin and then went to change shirts. Fortunately, I had another tank that also matched the skirt I am wearing, so at least I am not looking like a bag lady.

This flight to Atlanta is full. The gentleman next to me, who is also using a cane and thus struck up a camaraderie as my new best friend, is on his way to Italy. He has a cigarette (unlit) in his mouth--has to be ready for the smoking room when he lands in Atlanta. He hopes he has time before his flight to Italy. This guy does not seem like the kind of guy who would be going to Italy; he seems more like the kind of guy who would be riding one of the motorcycles (in a caravan of a couple of hundred) as we reached the metroplex.

Then there is the lady in the wheelchair in front of me, who has her little doggie in a baby carrier suspended around her neck. She has to keep her hands free for her cane--which is a lovely blue and purple--I should ask where she got it. I have been thinking of training Libby as my service dog--she loves to carry things around in her mouth. Perhaps I could train her to take the items from my hand to the security roller when I check in at the airport.

I wonder if she would have to go through the x-ray machine, or if she could just go through the gate with me? :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vacationing in United Grocery

Princess Kate likes to wait for Randy to get out of the shower every morning...on his pillow. I am ready to see my doggies, and my little red-headed step-child, Libby, who has missed me very much.

I was chatting with the "coffee girl" as they call the woman who is older than I am as she was making my latte this morning. I told her the highlight of my day is to come to United to email and get my latte, and she was so gracious and thanked me so much. Okay...what does that tell you? I know I am pretty dependent on my online world, emailing, blogging, researching, etc. The United Grocery has free wireless, so it is my little respite (and air conditioned at that!) every morning. I pick up "fixin's" for lunch and supper when I finish. I know it is strange, but I love grocery stores, and United does have pretty produce. I also can get my Mountain Valley Spring Water from Hot Springs, Arkansas here--woohoo, what a treat!

It has been an interesting week here at home. I told my sister once I thought she must be pretty ticked at me for moving off to Mississippi and leaving her to deal with my folks alone. Somehow, even though I watched my parents care for their aging parents, it never really occurred to me that this would happen to my parents. Mom and I took so many trips together in the past, shopping, to San Antonio, to Ruidoso, etc, and now she rarely gets out of her chair to even go to the grocery store.

In fact, she was supposed to come with me this morning so I could help her stock up on groceries, but she was still asleep at 11 and I needed my latte/wireless fix. :) It is not like I have anything pressing to do to keep me from coming back this afternoon if she gets around to dressing. I have students who come to class wearing pajamas, so I don't guess it is much different for my mom to stay in hers. It worked for Hugh Hefner all those years as well.

I have enjoyed the times I spent on the deck with Dad. We watch the cats play, pet the dog, and catch the occasional glimpse of Rio, the horse, as he wanders in from the pasture. I guess Dad has told me 3 times this week that he has to take the dogs and Rio to the vet next week. I spent an afternoon with my sister, seeing all the remodeling she has done on her house since she retired. I am quite envious--it is beautiful, secluded out in the country, and relaxing and pleasant. No dog hair anywhere, so I told her I would mail her a boxful.

And, speaking of mailing, I trekked to the post office Thursday morning to mail some things home. Randy's dad seemingly never understood that I had flown in and borrowed my mom's truck to drive up to see him, so sent something for me to "take" home to Randy. It would not fit in my carry on, so I mailed it home. I spent $5.50 to mail something home that cost my father-in-law 97 cents. The postal worker suggested I send it express mail so it would get to Mississippi the next day. :) Ah, parents--got to love them.

It is noon now, and the United Deli is starting to come alive with the lunch crowd, so I guess it is time for me to sign off and go find something to do for the next few hours until bedtime. My niece will pick me up at 7 in the morning to take me back to DFW, and the flight to Atlanta, so I can get back on a plane going back to Memphis. It's hard to fly Delta in and out of Memphis without going to Atlanta, no matter where you are going. I won't complain though--shortly I will be back in hot and humid Mississippi instead of hot and dry Texas.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stovall Hot Wells

First, a post script on the Mineral Wells "crazy water:" Additional research uncovered that one of the minerals in the water was lithium, discovered to help stabilize the moods of people with bipolar disorder. It would stand to reason, then, that someone suffering from mood swings would have benefited by drinking the mineral water, particularly as the discovery of lithium's effects on mood disorders was a major breakthrough in mental health treatment.

Continuing the theme of mineral water treatments, and "taking the baths" or "taking the cure" I made a brief visit to the remains of the Stovall Hot Wells, at South Bend--a few miles out of Graham on the Brazos River. This was oil country, and one well resulted in mineral water. Stovall, the driller, capitalized on the boom in the late 1800s and early 1900s of taking the baths, and opened his hotel/baths. Little remains at this time, though I recall my few visits to the hotel in the 70s to try the baths.
On driving up the curving road, the first thing--and only remaining structure--one would see was one of the motor courts and the sign pointing to the main hotel structure. It was also made primarily of tin, with concrete floors and little in the way of decor.
A fire in 1994 claimed the remains of the building--which was already pretty dilapidated at that point. The bathing rooms were separated by gender, and the pools were concrete tubs sunk into the floor. The high sulphur content made the pools smell, and the water had a black, oily sheen to it. Yes, I actually submerged myself in it, believe it or not. The water was so hot coming out of the ground that it had to stay in a "cooling tank" before it could be pumped into the bathing pools.
The hotel itself was a sparse two floors of simple rooms with nothing more than a single bed, small dresser, and a single chair. As a young girl, I also recall visiting with my family for the monthly "singings" when local musicians would gather and play and folks would drive over to spend an evening outside listening to the music.
I don't recall which church this was, but I would guess Methodist as generally the Methodists and Baptists were the only churches in small communities in this area, although one would find the occasional other if the community was large enough. This design is more similar to the area Methodist churches, and the Baptist church still stands in operation in South Bend.
Another common site would be the 'travel courts' once motoring became popular. Here, it also likely had to do with taking the baths, as the hot wells were only a short distance up the road from South Bend.

My great grandparents settled in this area briefly at one point. My mother tells stories of the Indian raids on the farm (to steal the corn from the corn crib) and has the lock my great grandfather used on his corn crib. There is also a small cemetery near by where my grandmother's grandfather is buried. I suppose being from Texas, it was inevitable that he would have fought for the Confederacy in the war. His tombstone carries the identification of his service. I find it of interest that a Scotsman would have felt that degree of loyalty, given that the family immigrated from Scotland to escape persecution and seek religious freedom.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The "Crazy Water" Well

Rear fire escape of the Nazareth Hospital. The hospital was built in the early 1900s. It operated until the 1960s, when the Sisters could no longer find sufficient staff to operate the rural area hospital.
Although a fire damaged part of the basic, much of the building is currently used.
Another "famous" aspect of Mineral Wells was the Crazy Well, on which the Crazy Hotel was built. Also, Dismukes famous water (including Pronto-lax) brought fame to the city. This well is still the only operational well in the area.
The well got its name when a local woman thought to be "crazy" drank the water and was allegedly cured. Word spread, and Mineral Wells was on the map.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hotel Baker

I arrived at DFW yesterday morning and my niece picked me up. We made a few stops along the way home, including the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. Sadly, this beautiful building may be going the way of many other of its ilk. My apologies in advance for the quality of the pictures--I opted to travel light on this trip and if it did not fit in my carry on, it stayed home. I brought the Flipcam only.

The Baker was built by T. B. Baker, who also built the Baker in Dallas and the Saint Anthony in San Antonio. Mineral Wells became somewhat popular during the early part of the century due to the "crazy water"--the mineral water from which the town takes its name. This part of Texas often saw visitors coming to take the baths, or drink the water. (A post on the drinking of the water later.) The Baker had 14 stories and 450 rooms, and was designed after the Arlington in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The Baker opened in 1929 two weeks after the stock market crash, and filed for bankruptcy in 1932. It was used as military dependent quarters 1941-44 (Mineral Wells is home to Fort Wolters) and was open until 1963.
While many locals (in fact, the gentleman who just stopped by my table and said "That looks like the Baker") are and were enamored of the hotel, Professor Jay Henry, author of Texas Architecture 1895-1945, called it "essentially a slab of guest rooms with public spaces at the base."

The bridge to the pool enabled guests to reach the pool without crossing the driveway that led to the underground parking garage.

The local resident just told me the hotel is for sale for a song--less than a million, but it is estimated to take $3 million to renovate it. If I had it, I would be right on that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mississippi Industrial College-one year later

I stopped at Mississippi Industrial College last July on the way home from Memphis. I only had my iPhone with me, but I had been enamored of this location since the first time I drove past it in 2003 on my first trip to Memphis;

A few weeks ago, there was a post about the damage to Catherine Hall from a storm. I am currently following a preservation blog in MS (check the blogroll to the side of this blog), and there was a request for any updated photos to the site as a result of the damage. This is the same site, almost a year later.

That out of the way, here is the interest to me: regular followers know J has been fairly ill this last year. I was about to leave today--camera slung over my shoulder--when he asked where I was going. I explained, and invited him to come with me. Holly Springs is only about 30 minutes from here, and he decided to join me. We had an enjoyable conversation on the drive over, ranging from his health issues to my interest in history and the misspres blog, and the reason for my trip over.

He gave me great resources for locating vintage preservation photos. He shared his latest work news (I cannot share here, as it is still under development) which was really exciting to me as he moves forward in his endeavors. It reminded me of when he was a young boy and would come into my room and plop himself on the end of the bed while I was working on my dissertation. It did not matter to me if I was at a moment of inspiration or understanding. I would put my notes down, and wait. It was a moment I might never have again.

Today was one of those days...a moment I might never have again. He was willing to drive with me to Holly Springs...to tell me about his work...to listen to my current passion...to just be...


Mama cat (aka the ghost cat) was halfway to the driveway when I walked outside. She made a beeline for the fence and the hole where a picket has come off. Being reassured (you'd think she would know by now) that I meant her no harm, she walked down the fence, skirted Killer and Maggie's graves, walked in front of Mary--guardian of my yard, thanks to my friend Jimmy W--and up the driveway. I turned around; it is not uncommon for her or Papa cat to be over under Randy's truck, or to scamper off through the woods or kudzu from that side of the yard.

Mama was standing next to the truck, facing the kitten's grave, mewing. "Where are you baby? I know you are here. Come on out, please." I watched while she took a few steps forward, standing on top of the grave, staring down at the ground.

She turned, walked back down the driveway and across the yard, this time behind Mary, and over to the hole in the fence. Somewhere out there in the kudzu that entangles this hill and the other side of my fence, she has sequestered her remaining baby. After a long enough time a couple of day's absence will not matter, I will contact the local humane society to borrow a trap, take Mamacatsox in to be neutered through the feral cat program, and bring her back to release her. I am happy to feed her, and any other cat or critter who shows up here homeless and hungry. I just really don't want to bury another baby.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why can't we all just get along? The ghost cat loses a baby.

I have noted of late that the ghost cat is on the screened porch when I go out at odd hours. She or he leaps out of the debris and over the gate that still blocks the opening to the front porch from the days of the puppy kennel...2 summers ago. To be honest, I have not thought that much about it other than wondering why she (or he) was still coming in on the porch when it was no longer cold outside.

I was out this afternoon filling the bird feeders, the ghost cat's food dish, and cleaning the water in the bird baths. Rex was on the screened porch. I heard him making a ruckus, going through things that have been piled out there during the endless time we are remodeling the bath room. I put the hose down, and was on my way in to either put him in the house or the back yard when I heard a cat cry. Almost at the same moment, Randy from inside the house and me from outside reached the porch, but it was too late. We understood instantly why the ghost cat continued to visit--she had kittens in there--a thought that had never occurred to us as we had never seen them or heard them.

Just as we were trying to ascertain the damage to the kitten Rex had found, I spotted a second one hiding . I picked it up and cuddled it next to me while Randy got Rex outside. From an intellectual point, it was interesting to me how a young kitten could instinctively be so aggressive and anti-human, but that is what happens when animals are not socialized to humans early on. There was no saving the kitten Rex found first, but mercifully, it was a quick death. Once more, we buried another Mississippi loss. Truly, it was very emotional for both of us; it seems that it just renews the feelings about Penelope, and Jack, and Trina, and Killer, and Maggie--all losses since we have been here. While we did not even know the kitten existed until today, it was still a loss. Randy buried it, but not next to our beloved Killer and Maggie. He put him over by the woods, where the two cats we now assume are his parents, often sit and watch the house.

We searched the rest of the porch to make sure there were no more kittens, and finding none, I moved Killer's cat house out to the front porch and put the remaining kitten in it. Still spitting and hissing, I might add. :) The mom and dad cats were in their usual places, one under the tree and one by the fence. I did not feel comfortable leaving the kitten out on the front porch, though he or she was safer than on the screened porch, now that Rex knew it was there. I checked on it a time or two and it was still in the little house, curled up in a corner.

I know there are just some things I cannot control, and this is one of them. Still, I am saddened, and it was a hard thing. Add it to the end of the semester, and the loss of students whom I have come to care about, and it is not an easy thing with which to cope. I just can't help but wonder what the ghost cat is thinking tonight when she comes in to feed her babies and one of them is missing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Juxtaposition in Kroger

I pushed the "submit" button on my last class grades at 5:15 this afternoon--after spending the entire day in front of the computer grading, calculating, and posting. Six, yes SIX emails from the registrar reminding me I had outstanding grades. Yes, I know they were due today by 6--that is why I have been working on them for the entire last week since the papers and final exams were all submitted. Give me a break--I am going to check email and say "OMG--I had no idea that grades were due at 6 today." Wow, they have only been due at 6 on every Monday following the end of the semester since the first day I worked for this university? And, what? I would not have been grading and calculating and finalizing grades until TODAY when I got your reminders? Okay, enough of that.

When I finally finished grades (and oh, I really have been grading since the last two weeks of the semester, stopping only long enough Saturday to DO graduation and then right back at it Saturday night and Sunday and today), I decided I wanted steak for dinner.

I was in the check out at Kroger and had just piled my $60 worth of thick-cut rib-eyes, along with some potatoes and rolls on the counter when the woman in front of me said, "Wow, I wish I was coming to your house for dinner." I smiled. And then mentally made note of her very small package of ground beef on the counter...and watched while she counted out quarters to pay for it. Embarrassedly watched--as she counted out 5 stacks of quarters at a time...$1...$2...$3...$4...$5...hooray, she got back 15 cents in change!

I went next door and bought a $30 bottle of Clos du Val cabernet sauvignon--I can splurge a bit now that I can rarely drink wine on the current medication--two days with no meds and I can have a couple of glasses. Then I came home and replayed all the things I "should have done."

I don't guess it is any different than sitting in South Africa drinking 200 rand a bottle wine and eating a meal that costs as much as a family of 19 would spend in a month. The truth of it, though, is that it has bothered me ever since. The truth of it is that life is just not fair.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Graduation 2010

Another year, and another graduation ceremony. Secretary of Navy, Ray Mabus was the commencement speaker this morning. I was pleased to see one of "my people" speaking for a change.

My colleague and co-researcher for the social justice study, Desiree.
My colleague, and soon-to-be co-researcher for an article on combining the new EPAS competency based curriculum with service learning, Jerry. Jerry taught me about "cultural cues" this morning, when I asked about the significance of the decoration on his regalia.

And, finally, I have managed to get a video to upload to blogger! I have long been a fan of bagpipes, and love that our School of Applied Sciences utilizes them. My mother's side of the family was Scottish, and I have our Scottish Coat of Arms for the McBrayers. My friends find it amusing that the family motto is "In defiance."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Rattlesnake in the Puppy Sack

All my life, I have had vivid dreams, that I recall in great detail. Those dreams have been the basis of short stories, conversations, journals, essays, and many hours of my attempts to figure out "what was that all about?"

It has been a rough three weeks here. When I went to the doctor 3 weeks ago and saw the x-ray of my right hip joint, it was surreal. That hip joint, in a year's time, has deteriorated to the point that it looks like someone took a hedge trimmer to it. It is no wonder to me now why I have not taken a step without pain in the last year or how this has increasingly come to affect the quality of my life. Things I have done without thinking all my life are suddenly very difficult, if not downright impossible. It is a sobering experience.

In some ways, the "cure" has been worse than the disorder. While the Physical Therapy has been helpful, actually kind of fun in ways--what a great PT we have at the University!--the medication has been horrible. I am still suffering major withdrawal symptoms--from a non-narcotic, non-addictive medication--that I cannot take at the same time as the pain medication. Major headaches (which I rarely have in "real life"), almost constant nausea, and in general, a feeling of just feeling like the bottom of a trash can full of fish and beer cans has been the norm.

Add to the mix the pain medication, which on one hand has been great--the way it works is amazing, and I have had no hip pain and can actually walk without limping and rocking again for the first time in over a year, and it does not affect my mood or sense of reality as it does not feel like I have taken medication--but on the other hand causes me to wake up at odd hours, lose all sense of taste, and feel nauseated after I eat. Nothing has tasted good in 3 weeks. Of course, the up side to that is I have lost over 5 pounds so far, with the decrease in eating and the increase in physical activity. It's just that it doesn't feel good to feel bad.

All those things, coupled with the stress that comes with the end of the semester, dealing with cases of academic dishonesty--which breaks my heart because I teach social work students for crying out loud, the extensive grading marathon days, have combined to put me squarely on the pity pot of late. As I often do, I try to deal with it all with a sense of humor, I rely on my intellectualizing about how my problems are nothing compared to people dealing with chemotherapy or who cannot walk at all, look at the lessons I am learning, and so on. And usually, after a short time, I can get off the pity pot and back on with my life.

Last night, a friend from work called and left me a message that she had a question to ask me. I returned her call and got her voice mail and replied: "If the question was 'are you sorry you moved to Mississippi?' then the answer is yes. If that is not it, call me back." When she called back, she said she did not know whether to laugh or cry over my response, so she chose to laugh. That is kind of where I have been of late. All of that--and our discussion related to the reason she called--were rolling around in my mind when I went to bed last night. At least, the headache that had made me as sick as the proverbial dog (why do we say that? how many sick dogs are there? what does a sick dog feel like?) all day long, resulting in literally having to lie down with an ice pack on my head for most of the afternoon and evening had finally abated, and there had been no bout of nausea after the hamburger I had eaten. But dogs must have been in my head.

The gist of the dream that awoke me was finding a sack of abandoned puppies. The kicker was someone had put a rattlesnake in the sack. I had taken the sack of puppies to our shelter to drop off, and written a sign that said "Aviso! Warning! Rattlesnake in the puppy sack!" I did not want any unsuspecting person to put his or her hand into the sack and get bitten, but I did not really have a clue as to how to remedy the situation myself.

When I woke up this morning at 4, my logical self said the puppies would already have been doomed and I should have just killed the snake. Growing up in the country in west Texas, I saw plenty of rattlesnakes. At an early age, we were taught to watch for them while outside playing. The absolute unbreakable rule was we were never ever to attempt to kill one, but to immediately leave the area and go find mom or dad. So, what is it about a rattlesnake in the puppy sack that leaves me feeling so bereft that I have sat here and watched the dark turn to day light? Do I dare open the sack and save the puppies, or just leave it for the next worker coming on duty?