Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sophie and Lulu

Last spring we noticed changes in our 9-year-old schnauzer-terrier mix, Sophie.  The vet confirmed... our dog was blind.  We heard the best thing to do for a blind dog is to get another dog, so at the end of the summer we did. 

 Lulu, a cockapoo, came into our lives the same way Sophie did, through the Humane SocietySophie had been surrendered at 6 months old, but Lulu was a 9-year-old family dog (they think) who was lost and never claimed.  We welcomed her into our home, but it took a little longer for Sophie to warm up to this friendly newcomer. 

 Sophie and Lulu    by Janet Sobczyk, 2013ⓒ

Sophie enjoying the sunshine on our porch.

                   Nine years in a 1-dog home
                   top dog for so long
                   Sophie was slowing down
                   going blind
                   darkness settled in
                   as black as her furry coat.

                   Lulu arrived so happy
                   greeting everyone
                   a smile from ear to ear
                   so perky
                   with a golden coat
                   a sunny disposition.

                   They sniffed
                   circled 'round
                   nose to nose
                   then walked away.

                   Lulu explored the whole house
                   tested the sofa
                   sampled the water bowl
                   ate a treat
                   smelled the dog bed
                   and seemed to like her new home.

                   Sophie tolerated her
                   followed her around
                   treated her like a guest
                   not happy
                   to have her toys touched
                   but just waiting for her to leave.

                   Lulu stayed
                   didn't leave
                   took up space
                   Sophie simmered.

                   After 3 days Sophie snapped
                   she had had enough
                   they were begging for treats 
                   Sophie nipped
                   Lulu yipped and jumped
                   the girls were separated.

                   Lulu learned to show respect
                   followed Sophie's lead
                   let her be first to eat
                   and outside
                   and most important
                   to avoid her fav'rite spots.

                   Lulu stayed
                   and obeyed
                   and quite soon
                   they became pals.

Lulu enjoying her new home.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Mom helping me plant flowers at my own first house- spring 1990.

by Janet Sobczyk, 2013ⓒ

There's something about the first warm days of spring
that makes me want to clear leaves out of flowerbeds,
sweep the porch, clean out the cars, and
wash my windows and curtains.

I don't feel that strongly about those things
at any other time of the year, so why then?
Maybe it's because of my mom,
who set a fine example for years.

Twice a year, spring and fall, without fail,
she would go full speed cleaning the house and cars.
She washed walls, windows, and floors.
Always top to bottom, of course.

All the furniture would be moved, cleaned, rearranged.
The vacuum would probe every corner.
Sometimes tiny treasures were found
under the couch or behind the console TV.

As a child I enjoyed watching her.
Sometimes it was best to stay out of the way
before being enlisted to lend a hand.
But I always enjoyed the finished results.

Rooms that almost glowed.
Everything seemed so fresh and pretty.
I loved the novelty of furniture in new places
and clean windows open to the breeze.

This is the first year that Mom is not spring cleaning.
She talks about wanting to work in the yard
and needing to clean windows.
But she doesn't have to now; she is in "assisted living."

She can't quite adjust to having things done for her.
After so many years of spring and fall cleanings,
she still thinks it needs to be on her to-do list.
I guess a woman's work really is never done.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Monica's First Communion

It's the time of year for many children to be receiving their First Holy Communion and it brings to mind the year that Monica received it. 

For me it was as stressful as a wedding because of her contrariness, so typical of children with Down syndrome.  Would she wear the fancy dress? (Yes, but not be happy about it.)  Would she wear the flower and ribbon veil?  (Absolutely not!)  Would she process down the aisle with her classmates?  (Yes!)  Would she remember what to do when she went up to Communion?  (Sort of.)  Would she stand still for photos or smile?  (Some yes, some no.)  Would she use good manners at her party?  (Only after taking off the fancy dress and getting into comfortable attire.)

Monica with her Godparents

Monica and Peter show off her banner.

Monica and Joe celebrate afterwards.

Monica's First Communion
 by Janet Sobczyk, 2013ⓒ

The pretty white dress,
was too fancy for her taste.
The simple ribbon veil
was not to be tolerated.
But high heeled shoes
made her feel like a queen!

Now, would she perform?
Stand in line?  No way!
Smile for a class photo?
You've got to be kidding!
But add a brother or two
and her smiles were real.

She sang all the songs
and said all the prayers.
When it was finally time
she walked up with Dad
and willingly received Jesus,
her bread of life.

Mass was soon over,
it was time to party! 
But not until the dress
was hung on display,
so she could finally wear
comfy clothes instead.

The next Sunday she
knew just what to do.
No pressure, just joy.
Not standing out,
she was part of the crowd,
quietly happy and proud.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Poinsettia at Easter Time

A Poinsettia at Easter Time

Every year at Christmas Tom gives me a poinsettia plant.  And every year when it looks all dead in late January, I throw it out.  

This year I learned that poinsettias are a lot like rose bushes.  If they are pruned, they survive a dormant stage and sprout greenery again.  So I tried it and was tickled to watch it coming back to life!  I realized that this plant's stages have a tangible correlation to Christmas joy (in its red and green beauty), Lenten sorrow (in its dying), and Easter Resurrection (in its new life).

I don't have much of a green thumb, and many would think my "revelation" is elementary, but watching that plant change from December through March has given me a lot to think about this Lent.  Not just about Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection, but about the daily deaths and rebirths, losses and gains, that humans experience in our daily lives. 

Seeing that plant turn green after looking so black and wilted, gives me hope for healing in any areas of my own life that have felt dead and lifeless.  It helps me to remember that painful losses are our pruning, and with time and patience and care, the pruning can lead to beautiful changes.

Happy Easter to all!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

City Ducks

Sue with white duck, Jan and Ann with brown ducks.

   I wrote this poem as part of a series on pets we had when I was growing up.  The variety of pets we owned in Iowa is a testament to my mother’s love of animals.  That legacy continues with stories of pets that my children have had, too. 

  The ending of this poem is a happy note that we made the right decision for the ducks.  But as a child, I was sad that the ducks did not come to us or seem to remember us.  

Important note:  I do not endorse giving baby ducks or chicks to kids for Easter, unless the family lives on a farm.  I recently read an article about a duck rescue org that gets flooded with Easter ducks when the family realizes how much care (and poop scooping) they require.  Some people think these ducks can just be released at a pond or lake, but ducks do not usually survive the transition from tame to wild.  It's just as abusive as abandoning an unwanted cat or dog.  So please do not consider this a promotion for giving ducklings as gifts.

City Ducks by Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

One Easter I got a gift,
a most unusual gift,
a cute little baby duck.

My sisters got ducklings, too,
and we loved them as our own,
three baby ducks for three girls.

We didn’t live on a farm,
Dad was a city banker
and Mom just loved animals.

The ducks stayed in a small pen
in our warm basement at night,
and played outside everyday.

Their little fuzzy wings grew
and sprouted long, sleek feathers
which they flapped and learned to fly.

From our shoulders they took off
and then fluttered to the ground,
like proud mamas we helped them.

Ducks in the city, oh my!
Cars would pull over to watch,
It was an amazing sight.

When they became fully grown
we knew they needed more room
to swim and fly and be free.

So we took them to a farm
and said our last sad goodbyes,
we hated to leave them there.

But we went back to visit
and found our three ducks swimming
on a pond with their new flock.
This blurry photo is my daughter, Andrea,
 with a duck she was given
from her camp's taxidermy collection.

They looked happy and took off
with dozens of other ducks
soaring up into the sky.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lucky the Leprechaun

This is a lantern poem.  The lines have syllables from 1 to 5, which creates the shape. It's about a small St. Patrick's Day decoration that I display on a little shelf in our bathroom each March. 
One year the leprechaun started moving around the room.  I never knew for sure who was placing it in different spots each day, but I suspect my husband started it and the kids joined in.  It has become a bit of a tradition that the leprechaun moves each year.   

Last year I took photos of his "antics" and then shared the story with the first graders where I work.  I could honestly tell them I've never actually seen him move, but somehow he ends up in different places. Their reactions changed from disbelief to excitement when I showed them the photos. 

Some students thought the photos proved he was real, like the characters in  the movie, "Toy Story," which come alive when people aren't looking. They named him Lucky and wrote sentences about him.  Their illustrations were priceless.  :)

Lucky the Leprechaun
by Janet Sobcyzk, 2012ⓒ

Moves unseen
Surprises me
Where will he be next?

Lucky on our shower door


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Celebrating Heritage

Some schools celebrate St. Patrick's Day a little differently.  Instead of everyone wearing green, students are encouraged to wear the colors of their heritage or an ethnic costume.

In 1998 this is how my two daughters looked in Polish heritage costumes (not authentic).  They took homemade Polish cookies to their classes as a treat.  

Friday, February 22, 2013

Found old photos!!

At long last my old photos have been located and I have had fun inserting some into my older posts.  Check them out  by going to my blog archive at the left.  Click on "2012" and go to the posts in June, July, and November.  Gotta love old photos!

Silence and Forgiveness

The season of Lent brings my thoughts to things I regret and want to do over.  It's a time of starting fresh and improving oneself.  It's a time to give up bad habits and cultivate good ones.

I want to share this small story of forgiveness because it may inspire others to mend old relationships, too.
"Pop-pop" and me, approx. 1962

Silence and Forgiveness  by Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

Grandfather was called "Pop-pop" by his grandkids.  Maybe it was a childish way of saying Papa. I don't know for sure who started it, but that was his name.

When I was little I enjoyed taking walks around the block with him and his Chihuahua or riding with him around his small town.  He had a habit of reading every sign to me, which I didn't mind too much as a child.

When I was fifteen, Gramma died suddenly and everything changed. Pop-pop found a new lady friend and married her.  He didn't seem to have time for his grandchildren anymore, so I just stopped talking to him.

It went on like that for years.  Just silence between us.  And lots of distance since we lived in different states. I didn't think we would ever bridge the gap.

But when I grew up and got married my perspective changed.  I could understand the loneliness he had felt and his desire for a wife.  My heart softened.

We never spoke about our feelings or apologized.  We started with hesitant smiles and then polite conversation.  By the end of his life I could hug him and mean it.

I am so glad that at his funeral I felt peace.  No more bitterness or regret.  Just peace and a comfortable silence.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

This is a paper mosaic picture that Andrea made.
 It reminds me of my valentines to loved ones floating out to them like balloons.

Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday because I enjoy being able to give people little expressions of my love without the big expense and long to-do list of major holidays like Christmas.  I also need that visual pick-me-up of pink and red during winter's bleakness. 

I know that this day can be a cause of sadness for some people who feel unloved or lonely (I've been there).  But by focusing on surprising others, it becomes joyous.  So.... spread the love and enjoy the day!  

PS:  Feel like a poem about married love?  Go into my blog archive to Sept 6 to see Phases of Love, which has been one of my most-viewed posts.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Calendar, My Self

My Calendar, My Self  by Janet Sobczyk, 2012ⓒ

This is my collection of 30 calendar diaries: 1983 to 2013.

A new year lies ahead
waiting to be filled
like the blank pages
in my calendar.

Some calendars are small
fit in a pocket
with tiny spaces
for one person’s life

Some are on a bright screen
and filled line by line
with a small stylus
or quick keyboard strokes.

There are also planners
with daily pages
and hourly spaces
and a to-do list.

Wall calendars are big
with a pretty scene
or playful photos
so nice to look at.

But a mom’s calendar
has to have large squares
to coordinate
the entire household.

Mine is like a tall book
and contains the lives
of children and spouse
and my own life, too.

It’s written day by day
and month by long month
soon the pages fly
another year gone.

It becomes a record
to be kept each year
and looked back upon.
It’s my diary!