Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm sorry, that leaf doesn't belong there

I have spent a large amount of time watching the large staff of groundskeepers and landscapers here at our apartment complex.  There are lots of trees, plants, bushes, and grass here.  Very beautiful, perfectly manicured.

I can understand mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges on occasion, but what really gets me are the leaf blowers.  I thought leaf blowers were for October when all the leaves fall off the trees.  When I got here in October, there were a select few trees that did lose their leaves, so it made a little sense to me that they were using them.  But it is May, and they are still using them.

There are people whose job is to move all the leaves around all day.  They blow them off the sidewalks.  They blow them off the tops of bushes.  They blow them out from under bushes.  They blow them out of the parking lots.  They blow them around the pools.  They blow them off the grass.  Some of it just doesn't make sense.

What is so wrong about having a leaf under a bush or sitting in the grass?  I bet my rent would be at least $50 cheaper if we just let nature do its thing.  You know...decomposition and stuff.  Some things like moving your leaves around just doesn't seem to be of any importance to me.

The other thing that bugs me a lot is, they wait until the grass gets too high before they mow it.  It's not like they are waiting for a day when it isn't raining to mow it, either.  Then, when they finally get around to mowing it, they mow it first thing in the morning after the sprinklers have been running all night long instead of waiting until the afternoon or evening when the grass is dry to mow.  So all they did was cut some grass, while laying most of it down and not cutting it.

On another note, the lawn mowers look really fun here.  They are the kind that you ride behind, but you stand on this little platform that swings around when it turns.  They go a little faster on them than I would thing.

I think this is just a reminder to take a look at some of the things I do, and see what I am wasting my time on.

Dispelling the myth: You can teach an old dog new tricks!

So we just had our week 4 Intermediate training class at PetSmart today.  So far, my three year old beagle Lyna has only had training classes with puppies.  She was put in the puppy class because there weren't any other dogs signed up for the beginner class with her.  There were about 6 other puppies in that class.  Now in her intermediate class, there are 4 other puppies in this class.

While all of the dogs are successful on some level, Lyna seems to learn things faster and performs them better overall.  (Aside from the trick "spin.")  While instilling good behavior is important from a young age in all dogs, that doesn't mean that old dogs can't learn good behaviors and should not be a disqualification for not adopting an older dog.

From my personal observations, having a dog that isn't a puppy means that it is easier to keep her attention.  She does not get distracted as easily.  At the end of training class, she isn't asleep on the floor from too much stimulation, like the puppies are.  Even one of the pet parents of 2 golden retrievers commented to me, "She is so well trained."  We've both been through all the same training classes, the only difference is breed and age.  Typically, golden retrievers are known for being intelligent, fast learners.  Beagles are known for being food motivated yet very stubborn.  So I don't believe that breed is a main factor.

If you are considering getting a puppy, first of all, DO NOT buy one from a pet store.  Most of those puppies come from puppy mills, much like the one where Lyna and all the other beagles she was with were rescued from.  For more information about why puppy mills are so terrible visit the Humane Society of the United States' Website.  There are plenty of puppies turned over to animal shelters that you can adopt if you really want a puppy.  However, I would also urge you to consider adopting a dog that is a few years old or older.  These dogs often have a more difficult time finding homes, so you will be doing them a favor.  Senior dogs (7 years+) especially have a difficult time, and with them you don't have to go through any of the bad "puppy" behaviors (chewing, barking, jumping, etc).  They are just wanting a family to live out the rest of their lives with in a happy environment.

So, can you teach an old dog new tricks?  My experience says absolutely, and it may be even easier!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I Want to Run

Everyone knows by now how obsessed I am with my dog.  She's perfect in every way.  Except of course for a few things.  Like how she destroys the house if we leave her alone.  And how she is SO incredibly lazy.  I've started calling her Lazy Lyna more frequently.  This laziness is the root of one of my current problems.

I picked her thinking that the beagle stamina would make for a good running partner.  Boy was I ever wrong.  We go for a half mile walk and she lays down part-way through to take a nap in the grass, and then I am forced to carry her the rest of the way home.  And it's not like I can just leave her at home like a normal dog to go running for a little while.

I've been working on this desensitization/counter-conditioning training for about 6 weeks now.  They say that most dogs are "cured" in about 6-8 weeks if you really stick with it.  I have really stuck with it, and so far we are only up to 15 minutes (barely).  That is enough to go for a jog around the building, I suppose, but not enough to do the distance running that I enjoy.

To make matters worse, a couple days ago while trying to do tote my laundry to and from the laundry room with a dog on the leash, Lyna managed to try chasing a cat with me and the laundry attached resulting in twisting my knee.  It's not bad, but it feels like it is back to how it felt while I was training for the marathon.  Stairs especially hurt all over again.

That was a bunch of complaining.  On a happier note, I cleaned the house this evening!  I even did a load of dishes.  Pretty impressive, right?  :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What to do when you just don't know the truth

As a Christian or someone trying to figure out if God is real, etc. there are often things that we just don't know what is right and what is wrong.  I had a great conversation with a friend today on one of these topics.  What are you supposed to do when you are stuck in limbo trying to figure out what is the truth?  What do you do when you ask God, but you aren't hearing any clear answers?

God created gay/lesbian/bisexual/heterosexual people, right?  Some heterosexual people might say that gay people choose their orientation.  I have a really hard time believing that just because if that were the case, it would be a whole lot easier to choose to be heterosexual over being gay.  I think God did create people to have different sexual orientations because God is a pretty creative God.

Christians always say that this "being gay is a sin."  "Love the sinner not the sin." And so on and so forth.  But what if you are gay and a Christian?  The only seemingly plausible option for such a person is to be a gay Christian who remains celibate for the rest of their life.  That seems simple enough until you take into account that real people have real emotions.  Emotions that God gave them for a reason.  You steal a cookie from the cookie jar, and you feel guilty about it.  You see a cute kitten or puppy, and you want to cuddle with it.  God gave us emotions for a reason.

So that brings about the question, what purpose does a gay Christian have in regards to their sexuality?  Why did God make them gay?  If I take everything that I've been taught about homosexuality, throw it away,  and start from scratch, here is what I come up with:

God loves love.  God wants us to love him.  But we can't actually love God like we do with our brothers, sisters, friends, husbands, and wives.  The only way we can truly love God is by loving others.  Now that I am married, I've thought about this a lot more.  I can love God by loving my husband.  I can do laundry for him when he has to work late.  I can talk with him, listen to him, cook dinner, clean the house, have sex(!), and so many other things that I can do to love God by showing love to my husband.

But if I am a lesbian, I can't do any of those things?  I can do them, but I can only do it to a certain extent.  I couldn't have a girlfriend?  I couldn't get married?  I would be forced to deny the feelings deep inside me that are pulling me closer to someone else.  I couldn't love God by loving someone else in the way that a marriage/dating relationship allows us to love another. 
Now I am forced to consider, well why would God not want that?  Why couldn't I love someone else like a husband and wife/boyfriend and girlfriend do, just because they are the same gender as me?

Leviticus 20:13 clearly says, “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."  But one chapter before that it says, "‘Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material."  Zonkeys are a pretty big deal.  Corn and soybeans; and so many other seed mixes.  My shorts are made of cotton & spandex.  Does this mean I need to go through my wardrobe and throw away half my clothes?  I think someone might have to explain why we can pick and choose which parts of the Bible still apply today because I honestly don't know the answer to that one.

If I remember correctly, there were some pretty important church people in the Bible who got smacked down when they were paying more attention to all the little "rules" of the Bible over what really mattered.  

What really did matter?  People loving God by loving people.

So is being gay wrong?  No.  God made gay people just like he made heterosexual people.  Is being gay and acting on those feelings wrong?  I don't know.  Having sex outside of marriage is wrong, but that's not what everything is about in a gay relationship kind of like sex is not the basis of a heterosexual relationship.  Could I potentially date someone who is the same gender as me, without having sex, and still be honoring God because I am loving someone else like he has asked us to do?  What if gay marriage is legalized?  Then what does that mean?

Take what you have been taught all along about homosexuality, throw it out the window, start from scratch, and see what you come up with.  Cause what I came up with honestly shocked me a little bit. I don't know if I'm right or wrong, but it's just my thoughts. I have many years of Bible studying ahead of me, and I am sure that something I said may not be accurate, so correct me if I am wrong.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lyna, our adorable dog.

We bought a car!

Meet my yet-to-be-named, new-to-me car!

Two weeks and two days ago, my first car "Mallyboo," met her death-tree on the side of the road.  My husband, Peter, was taking a friend to the airport early in the morning, and on his way back, fell asleep for a split second, and missed a turn, but hit a curb and side swiped a tree while driving my car.  Thus, we were forced to find a replacement car as soon as possible.  I can't believe it has only been two weeks and two days since then because the car buying process was NO FUN at all.  We managed to find all the bad cars and bad dealers in Southern California.  (*cough* California Auto Liquidators in Ontario, CA*cough*).  We finally found a seemingly nice auto dealer in Rosemead, CA, and there we found my 1996 Toyota Corolla with only 73K miles (old lady's car).  We bought it for about $800 less than the KBB value, and were smart about it too.  (Carfax report, vehicle inspection all completed.)

It's a big step buying a car without my dad by my side.  It is especially big when buying it with my husband by my side!  He did his best to keep me calm during the whole process, and I did my best to convince him not to tell the dealers that we liked it until after they accepted our offer.  I used to be proud of my Mallyboo because I had worked hard at McDonald's in high school to pay for her.  Now I can be proud of this car, because my husband and I worked together to purchase her.

Quick Update

This is an email I sent to some of my fellow 2011 graduates just recently.  It should catch everyone up on what's been happening since October 8, 2011.

I'll tell you what I'm up to since a lot has changed in the past "year."

Shortened version:  So I got murried.  That was cool.  And is cool.  I moved to CA.  Also cool.  I worked at Bass Pro Shops as an elf for Santa Claus for about a month.  Not so cool.  I got a job at a pet store in January and have been working there since.  Pretty cool.  Started going to a Bible study:  Not as cool as IV.  I got a dog.  Way cool.  Peter totaled my Mallyboo.  Definitely NOT cool.

Expanded version: 

Marriage:  Some of you seem to be at the stage where marriage might be an option to consider so I guess I can make a few comments on it now that I'm almost 7 months (!!) into it.  Well, it is work, but a lot of fun.  You can't love God unless you are loving others is something I've learned recently.  And marriage is a great way to practice loving God by loving another.  It's really hard to love God like he deserves when you ask your husband, "Hey, what do you want for dinner?   I've got ground beef thawing out," and he responds, "I don't know.  Pork chops or something."  But it's good practice to keep loving like God wants you to.  That's a silly example, but you get the idea.

Jobs:  Unemployment was rough for me.  I had to keep reminding myself of all the ways God has provided for me in the past and how He was still providing for me even then.  Being an elf as a temporary position was a good way to buy me time to find a job that I actually wanted.  I applied at a pet store (I am not allowed to say the name of the store because of a contract I signed) several times, and finally got a position there again.  I'm not sure that I'll make a career out of working here, but we'll find out.  My manager is going to work on a plan with me this week on what we can do to make me management material and hopefully I'll be promoted within a year.  I do love my job and the people I work with though.  I'm still trying to figure out how to be Jesus to them, but it will come....

Bible Study:  So the church that Peter & I go to is VERY different than what I am used to.  My church at home was Baptist, and this one is Free Methodist.  I'm not sure if every free Methodist church is crazy, but this one is.  They dance sometimes and stuff.  It has been a nice challenge though.  Bible study, too.  I've realized my image of God is WAY smaller than He actually is.  Someone said they would pray for my allergies to go away completely when they found out I was allergic to lots of things.  And you know what, right now, I just allergies haven't been a problem since then.  I don't know if I want to go eat sunflower seeds to test it out, but plants & animals haven't bothered me much.  Also, after that woman said she'd pray that prayer for me, I kept thinking about it.  And one day, not long after, I was driving in my Mallyboo, and my stinking blinker wasn't working again after a year of it not really working.  I was so frustrated with it.  Then it hit me, why don't I bring my blinker problem to God?  My image of God was so small that I didn't even think He could fix my blinker!!  So I prayed, "Dear God, Will you fix my blinker?  I've tried, and I can't."  And guess what?!  It worked ever since then!!!  I shouldn't have been so surprised.  I'm still not completely comfortable at such a wiggly church, but I am learning and growing.  (I'm peanut butter, they're jelly.  They wiggle, I don't.  Get it?)

Dog:  She's freakin' adorable!  Kevin & Christine can vouch for that.  I've wanted a dog FOREVER, but my parents never wanted one.  So this is my first real dog (except for that one dog that we had for a little bit).  Her name is Lyna (Lie na).  She's more expensive than we planned because of her separation anxiety issues, but it is very much worth it.  Very smart, but hates to be alone.  So we now have her on anti-depressants and take her to doggy day camp when we go to work for the time being.

Peter & My Mallyboo:  Most recently, on Saturday morning, Peter was on his way back from dropping Kevin off at the LAX airport, when he fell asleep at the wheel 1/2 mile from home and hopped a curb and side swiped a tree.  He was completely fine.  The dog was in the backseat and got a cut on her nose from the glass, but that is it other than being traumatized.  My Mallyboo's tire rim was bent, the front passenger window and mirror were shattered, and both passenger side doors were damaged.  The insurance let us know that my car is a "Total Loss."  They are paying us more than I paid for my car 5.5 years and 40,000 miles I guess that part isn't so bad other than all the hassle.
Currently, I have a rental car until the 8th, and we are looking for a used car for me to use.  When I first got my Mallyboo, I told God that I would use it for Him by taking people to church, etc.  I ended up doing that in a much bigger way than I pictured.  Taking people to retreats, Wal-mart trips, trips to &/or from the airport and train station, long conversations, and so much more.  There were times when I said, no, and I regret that, but I can only hope that whatever car comes into my life next will still be able to be used for God even though I'm not in college anymore.  Y'all know how much I loved my Mallyboo.  I cannot get mad though, because I am so unbelievably thankful that it wasn't any worse than it could have been.  Why God let the side of the car hit the tree as opposed to head on, I am not sure, but forever grateful.