Swap-Bot is an interesting web site where people exchange "things." Sometimes it's postcards or photos or books or...well, just about anything someone wants to exchange. I signed up to do something that sounded interesting. As a group we wrote 8 questions that everyone would answer. But instead of doing it like a regular meme, we were to write a letter to one of the other members of the group and incorporate the questions in the body of the letter. I decided to share my letter here. See if you can figure out what the 8 questions were!
Dear Nikki –
I just returned from lunch at Steve’s Place, the pizza restaurant with the great salad bar. I always get the salad at Steve’s, one of those big salads, with cherry tomatoes and pieces of chicken, kidney beans, broccoli, avocado (if they have it), and grated cheddar cheese, all topped with Ranch Dressing and lots of those croutons that they make out of last night’s leftover garlic bread.
Sometimes I put mushrooms on the salad too. Funny thing about mushrooms–I always hated them as a kid and now I love ‘em. I love them sautéed and put over steak, but they’re good on pizza too, especially with Italian sausage.
When I got home, I decided to read for awhile. I have one of those new Kindles that everybody talks about. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about an eReader, liking the feel and smell of real books, you know, but I started with a Kindle app on my iPhone and liked that so much that I finally bit the bullet and got the full Kindle. I’m discovering that I really like it – I especially like that it has a battery life of 2 months! My iTouch only lasts a couple of hours, and even with the battery charger that Tom bought for me, that life can only be extended to about 8 hours. With the Kindle, I can go away for a couple of weeks and not have to worry about where to recharge the battery
Right now I’m reading a book called "Faith," which is a novel about the sex scandal in the Catholic Church in Boston. It’s an unusual book for me to be reading because for the last couple of years I’ve been on a "blood and guts" spree. I love books by authors such as Michael Connelly, Lee Child or John Grisham. The temptation is always there to check the last chapter to find out if it’s all going to work out all right, but I refuse to do that. I hate knowing the ending before I’ve gotten into the book!
Yesterday I finished reading my friend Joan Callaway’s book, "It’s an Ill wind..." which is the story of the death of her husband and 13 year old son in a house fire back in the 60s, leaving her a young widow with 4 children. It’s an inspiring story about how one can recover from such a catastrophic tragedy and move forward in life. Joan is really an inspiring person.
Everyone asks what your worst nightmare is and I think for any parent it would be having to face the death of a child. So I can relate to Joan’s book because I, too, have experienced the grief that comes with losing a child...in my case two children. It won’t surprise you to know that the death of David and then of Paul were the saddest times in my life. There were parts of Joan’s book when she wrote things that I have felt or thought or experienced (like former friends who turn away so they don’t have to talk to you because they can’t handle your grief), and I admit to being brought to tears in a few places while reading her book.
Of course no book could ever make me cry the way "The Velveteen Rabbit" does. I remember reading that book to my kids when they were little and I could never get through the end of it without crying.
There is always the temptation to want to rewrite a book like that and give it a happier ending, but, you know, even the books that end sad or books that don’t turn out the way you would like somehow have to be that way. I wouldn’t try to rewrite another author’s work because this is the story the way he or she envisioned it and it just wouldn’t be the same if it were done another way (though I certainly would be tempted to change a few of Patricia Cornwell’s books, because I hate what she has done with characters I loved in earlier books!)
I wonder what my dogs think when they see me sitting in a chair reading. Do they have any clue what I’m doing. I’m sure they think I lead a pretty regimented life, which they contribute to. They tell me when to wake up, when to feed them, when the let them out and let them in. They get a bit impatient with me when I spend so much time sitting at my desk, but if the whine enough, they know that I will get up and give them their dinner. They also know that whenever I put on shoes, I’m going out and that before I go out they will get a treat, so I think they look forward to those times!
I was so lucky that I offered to volunteer for the SPCA because it gave me the chance not only to help more than 100 dogs find "forever homes," but it also helped me choose two of our dogs to join this house as our own forever dogs. Everything you do has an impact!
I often wonder what it would be like to be a dog, to spend your whole life dedicated to a single person or family. To have all those heightened senses that dogs have, and to have someone scritch you behind the ears or scratch your back whenever you itch. I always said that if I were to be reincarnated, I would want to be either my mother’s dog or my friend Peggy’s dog. Now those were pampered pooches.
Peggy is one of my favorite people to spend time with because we have so much in common. We always laugh a lot when we are together, which is difficult since she lives more than 9,000 miles away in Australia. For that reason, I guess if I were to choose a place to live for 6 months or so, it would be Australia. I fell in love with the country in 2003. I had a relaxing 6 weeks there, but how much better I could get to know the place if I really lived there. Of course I’d pick the cold, rainy part of the year. I don’t think I could handle an entire summer there (which is a reason why I wouldn’t want to spend 6 months in the South of France either!)
I would also like to visit some of my Compassion children. I read about sponsors of Compassion children going on group trips to visit their children. I would like to join them, but one thing that stops me is the whole religion thing. I consider myself a Christian, but not in the church-going, Bible-reading sense of the word. I suspect I might not fit in with a Christian group traveling to visit sponsored children in the poverty areas of the world.
I look at the pictures that these sponsors post on their trips and I marvel at the sheer joy on the faces of the children. It’s wonderful that they can be so happy when they are dealing with so many problems. I am fortunate to have had many happy memories throughout my life, mostly related to my family, the birth of the kids, tiny little moments stuck in your brain forever which may be insignificant to anybody else. It would be difficult to pick out any one as a favorite, but whenever I think of being perfectly happy I always instantly think of one tiny, tiny moment back in 1973 when we were living in Oakland. I was sitting on the grass in front of our house and the kids were all playing down the hill at the home of some friends. Suddenly I see tiny David running up the hill. He couldn’t have been more than 15 months old, but he threw his arms out wide and ran into my lap and gave me a big hug. That may not have been the happiest moment of my life, but it ranks up toward the top.
Well, Nikki, I’m going to end this letter now. I hope you have been able to find the answers to all the questions contained within it. I will end with my answer to the question, "You have to punch Jesus, your grandma, or you mom or they all die. Who do you punch?" Of course you have to punch Jesus for two reasons – he will instantly understand your dilemma and forgive you, and he can’t die anyway.Have a lovely day.