A Year in Review

Costa Rica last December (2015) and Ecuador last summer (2016) have me enjoying and growing in Spanish more and more. Ecuador was a most amazing and epic adventure. Experienced once-in-a-lifetime activity conditions. Hard to believe that just a few more months will wrap up my 3rd year of teaching of Spanish down here in Alabama. I thought I might be returning to Ecuador this summer, but complications have turned my eyes to considering traveling to Spain instead. SPAIN!! Although I'm a Central and South American girl at heart, I hope that I can fulfill my childhood dream of making it to Spain... perhaps dreams do come true! It looks like this summer will also hold a cross-country road trip... details suspended because it is a surprise for certain peoples. Epic adventures keeps this teacher sane for the rest of the year. Well sort of. ;P

Bentley is doing well. He does suffer bouts of going crazy when I can't spend as much time with him... Don't worry I make it up to him with cuddles and hide-and-go-seek and occasional runs around the neighborhood. I ran another 1/2 marathon last summer, but haven't run since then until now. Starting to work towards regular runs to keep in shape. My most recent exciting purchase was Cortagua (Spanish for "Cuts water"), my very own kayak. It's a beautiful, blue, Calypso kayak built for women. I love how narrow Cortagua is because it prevents my knuckles from banging on the edges while paddling. She is also a mere 30 some pounds so I can carry and load her on my Honda Civic with relative ease. I have explored the TN River and Anderson Creek so far. I am organizing a Paddle-for-a-Cause team with my 8th-graders and will paddle the Elk River with them for the event.

In just one week, Lord willing, I will move into a lovely house and share it with 3 friends. It has a lovely backyard surround by a high privacy fence. The house has a ginormous deck and room/ability to hang my new hammock that my brother gifted me. My bedroom (once the dining room) windows face the front of the house and flower bed with a tree directly in front. Perfect staging ground for bird feeding and watching especially since Bentley won't be scaring them while in the backyard. Unfortunately I will no longer be able to walk to work as I have for much of the past two years, but fortunately I realized that I could easily bike to school!! I jumped on Craigslist yesterday to find a bike because I have never officially owned one. I found a brand-new Schwinn Cruiser for super duper cheap that was posted that same day. I get to pick it up on Monday!!! AND it wasn't until I really started looking at it that I realized... IT's PURPLE!!!! A beautiful deep dark purple. Soooooo exciting!

Another exciting fun will be getting into Letterboxing... kind of like a form of geocaching... basically a treasure hunt where in the end one finds a box with stamp and carries a journal to collect the stamps. There are letterboxes hidden all over the world... which means maybe some to find in SPAIN this summer!! I am planning an adventure with the young teen girls at our congregation. I have put together letter boxing adventure kits with a stamp and ink and journal and compass in a waterproof bag for the girls and we are going on a surprise adventure! Can't wait!!! Genuine letter boxing includes a hand-carved stamp. For the girls, I hope to try my hand at carving their initial with a surrounding border. For myself, I hope to carve a bird with a flourish based on my trail name "Tangara" (Spanish for Tanager [one of my favorite birds]).

Hope everyone is doing well!
  • grandmadiane
    God bless you, girl I have MISSED you! Your adventures and joy for life are such that make me long for the 1700's with a fire place and couple of rockers on a cool fall evening where you could warm our hearts with stories of your adventures. (Course it wouldn't take the whole evening before I'd belonging for the modern conveniences of plumbing and electricity!) When you are back in my area can we get together?
    by grandmadiane at 04/20/17 7:55PM
  • lovescats
    Oh I know! Thank you! The legs have bruises in various places now. I try to be aware of them but sometimes - and then it's a big ouch!
    by lovescats at 04/21/17 10:10AM
  • chickadee
    It is so good to see you here... Now to read your post.
    by chickadee at 05/10/17 7:47AM
  • chickadee
    Wow, my head is spinning with all your adventures! I hope your travels bring you up this way.
    by chickadee at 05/10/17 7:55AM
  • lovescats
    You are so welcome! AND, ditto, ditto, ditto!!
    by lovescats at 08/27/17 7:58PM

Follow me!!

I have been on many adventures since July of last year and I have more planned on my calendar.
I hope to blog about these adventures to keep everyone more up-to-date!
If you would enjoy reading about my crazy adventures that include travel abroad in Costa Rica in December (2015) and plans to travel to Ecuador this summer (2016), let me know in a comment below and I will send you a link to my wordpress blog.
  • grandmadiane
    Please do, but at the same time visits here .. Either in pleo land or Mboro... Are appreciated!!!
    by grandmadiane at 04/07/16 10:53PM
  • lovescats
    Me! Me!
    by lovescats at 04/08/16 7:42AM
  • TNShirley
    I would love to keep up with you.. Still miss you in Murfreesboro. Drive by the home place real often and think of you & your grandparents.
    by TNShirley at 04/08/16 1:09PM
  • chickadee
    I sure would! please
    by chickadee at 04/08/16 1:44PM

I love my job!

On my previous post over a year ago, I had a comment requesting to hear about the new job! So hear ye, hear ye!

It is such a dearly, splendid one! I teach 5 Spanish classes to 7th, 8th, Juniors, and Seniors at Athens Bible School in Alabama. Juniors and Seniors take Spanish 1 and 2 and have the option to take the course as dual enrollment - receiving college credit while taking a high school class. We have soooo much fun... rather TOO much fun! I try to think of different activities to teach vocabulary and grammar. The students paint watercolor artwork to learn their colors. They create family trees and runway shows to practice families and shopping/clothing. We have class outdoors and have challenges that include scavenger hunts/races all over the school. It is amazing.

It is a challenging job. I am blessed to have a principal who backs me wholeheartedly and refuses to allow the students to disrespect me. I still struggle with classroom management because I did not know how to start the year out on the right foot. I'm excited to change some routines and procedures for the next year.

I already returned to my classroom a week ago with my sister. We moved the furnishings and it is suddenly filled with air, space, light, and joy! I love the new look! It's beautiful!!! And soooo functional!!!!! 110% better! It makes me soooo excited to start teaching in just a few short weeks.

I am also working on receiving my teaching certificate through an alternative route that will finish next spring. Afterward, Lord willing, my longer-short-term goal is to study for my Master's in Spanish Education. I will do the work through Auburn University's online degree program.

So much good and abundance and blessing and joy and happiness have filled my life in the last year. It helps ease the homesickness and missing friends and family and my "home-state." Alabama however does not look so threatening any more. I worship with one of the most encouraging congregations I have ever met. They immediately embraced me as family even before I could genuinely call them my own. They have flooded my phone with texts of love and desires for me to hurry home the entire month that I was vacationing in MN, WI, PA, and RI. Their studies and preacher and teachers and elders are top-notch. They challenge me to do better. There are about 100 members with a delightful balance of young to elderly. I have never worshipped on a regular basis with such a large number of Christians near my age. Their enthusiasm and joy bolsters my zeal! New family members are being added almost monthly. May it ever continue to be so!

  • beulah
    So very glad for you. Praying that all goes well in the year ahead. Miss seeing you! Love and hugs!
    by beulah at 07/13/15 10:16PM
  • grandmadiane
    My heart sings and hurts all at the same time! You are missed beyond your compression and yet who could desire to hold you back from so much JOY! I hear your excitement in each word and wish I could go back in time and sit in your class! Maybe then I would have gotten a better grade in Spanish!
    by grandmadiane at 07/13/15 10:46PM
  • snickers63
    Pics????????? So happy for you that things are going so well in both work and spiritual manners!!
    by snickers63 at 07/15/15 12:57PM
  • chickadee
    by chickadee at 07/15/15 5:48PM
  • lovescats
    awww...you're welcome! Hope you're well!
    by lovescats at 08/30/15 7:47AM

Long-Eared Ledger

Friday, April 11, 2014

Started out to the field on this morning and saw Cucuho on the lying on the ground. Didn't think anything of it besides a morning siesta until I saw the other donkeys grazing at some distance. I began to whistle and call and run. She never stirred. She had died during the night. She was my little darling. She was going to be sooooo beeyootiful this summer.
I don't know what happened. Could have been some internal sickness or Taho chasing her. She is sorely missed on our little farm… even now, one month later.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Had a vet come out to the farm to castrate my jack. Taho did very well! I have to admit it was kind of amusing when he came to after the surgery and was swaying like a drunk. Hoping that we will have no more inbreeding disasters. I just can't wait for Coneho to have her little one. I expect it will be any time now!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Returning home from a morning walk with Bentley, I noted that only 3 donkeys were grazing in the field. I knew something was in the air when I realized that the missing one was Coneho!! Her whereabouts was betrayed by a cloud of steam rising from the ground in the center of the field. As I approached, I saw a tiny hoof protruding from beneath her tail. She was giving birth and I was about to witness it. Begging her to hang tight while I grabbed my camera, I dashed to the house and back to the field. By then she had 3/4 of a leg and some sac hanging from her. As I watched, my dear friends (the Blicks) hailed me from the fence and when I went to speak to them, Coneho suddenly rose and started walking around in circles with a leg and sac dangling. Uhhhh… you know better than I do, but that looks super uncomfortable for baby and mommy alike. Oh! And did I mention it was time for the kids to be dropped off at the middle school built on what was once our farm?! EMBARASSING!! Haha!

She soon found shelter under a drooping pine in the back tree line where she once again lay down and started to push. I followed her progress with Arapaho right at my elbow. She is the dearest donkey EVER. Tallyho, Arapaho, and Taho formed a moving ring that encircled her all the while braying with ear-splitting cries. Remind me what I thought of this when I am about to bear children! haha! When Coneho settled down for a moment, they moved on to graze, but the once again returned when the moment neared.

I was enthralled. I read about a man who had bred donkeys for 15 years and never once witnessed a birth. Here I stood, capturing every moment in my mind and some on camera. Then, I panicked! What shall I name it?! LOL the list has been depleted over the years. Well, I still had Backho… that would work since I saw it come out the back… hmmm, not so much. haha! Then I remembered Oho (Ojo) which means "eye" in Spanish. Originally I had thought this a terribly, last-resort name. Who wants to name their donkey, "eye"? And then I thought, NO! It's PERFECT!!!!!! I witnessed its birth with my eye. It shall be named "Oho". I was thrilled. Happily settled on that difficulty, I returned to the fascination of watching Coneho finish out her birthing process. She stood up at the end and finally a tiny body slipped to the ground.

Coneho didn't turn around. The baby donkey didn't move. In desperation, I quietly returned to the Blicks who waited patiently and kindly by the fence and asked if I should touch it since Coneho did not seem interested. With their approval, I returned to the donkey, but realized that it had been stillborn. Still, I had to see it. So I pulled back the sac from the sweetest little face and body. Oho was a beautiful gray tone. She ---oh why did she just have to be a precious jenny like the other 2--- she was so dainty and, despite my first hesitations, soft to touch. Coneho would not turn around. The other donkeys brayed and brayed and brayed their hearts out. They knew something was not right. I wept quietly, not trying to bother the Blicks who had come over to see if they could help. When we left the field, the donkeys followed us but kept turning to look at Coneho and little Oho under the pine and braying their heart-rending cries.

I had lost my 3 expectations.

After work, I found Coneho still standing over her little one. I had to get her baby away quickly. Coneho finally went to graze a little with the others. Oho was so light to care for compared to the others. When I loaded her in the wheelbarrow for a ride across the greening fields, Coneho walked over and kept nosing her gently. Then, as I was leaving the field, she brayed her heart out for the first time. I was taking her little girl away. I could hear her all the way across the fields (and she would do the same when I returned with the empty wheelbarrow and she saw me) as I followed the tractor marks not yet effaced, although the grass had grown knee high. They remained from Cucuho's last journey across the fields just one month ago. Her final resting ground was a sweet place near Cucuho where the grass grew with a fresh, new green color under a small, young tree. By that time, her body had mostly dried and I was able to enjoy one last time the softest thing that I have ever touched in my life… a newborn donkey's coat and curly curly mane. I hope to never ever forget how that feels. It is the best!

  • grandmadiane
    Oh, Jennifer you take such pain and offer it to us wrapped in the beauty of loving thoughts! I would wrap you in my arms and comfort you if I could!
    by grandmadiane at 05/15/14 7:36PM
  • lovescats
    Oh Jennifer, this is just so sad. I wish I could hug you!
    by lovescats at 05/15/14 9:39PM
  • beulah
    Ditto the above sentiments. Such is life on the farm.
    by beulah at 05/18/14 6:59AM
  • lovescats
    Hey Jennifer! Just put a story on my Pleo page about a goat and a burro. Made me think of you. You may have already heard of the story but just in case not, it's on my page. It's a very touching story and the video is also so heartwarming.
    by lovescats at 05/24/14 10:55AM
  • chickadee
    Congratulations on your new job! Please update us when you get the time.... In English please!
    by chickadee at 08/01/14 10:44PM
  • beulah
    I loved him. I love Lis. I love you, too!!
    by beulah at 03/13/15 11:13PM

Long-Eared Ledger

I have been avoiding writing these next few entries because they are sad. I like being a happy person. =) However, I do want to keep this little story in my donkey history, and several people have expressed curiosity about what had happened to my expectations of 3 little ones this past fall.

November 13, 2013 - sunny, cold

I received a message from Mr. Blick that a donkey was in the shed and might be near to birthing. Only 10 minutes before time to leave for school, I dashed to the shed to find Arapaho standing guard over a new little one. So brand new that she was still wet and the umbilical cord and sac were still dangling around her legs. I rushed inside and grabbed a towel to dry off her beautiful mouse-gray coat. She was adorable! I rubbed her all over and she let me… because she couldn't help it. It was all I could do not to cry. Her legs barely supported her. She could barely shuffle on her front ankles into place to nurse her mother.

The first name from my "-ho" list that popped into my head was Coho. "Coho?" my brother Michael had queried just a few days previously. Doesn't "Coho" mean "lame"? "NO!" I exclaimed. "It is a variety of salmon in the ocean." The silvery, gray fish fit perfectly with her beautiful, soft gray coat. Then, as I painfully watched her shuffle around, I realized that "Cojo" (pronounced: Coho) in Spanish indeed meant "lame". What a bittersweet, dear little name! And she was a sweet, dear little thing!

Sadly, I had to leave for work and let nature and fate work their will. On my lunch break, I forwent the pleasure of eating and found nourishment instead by hurrying home and checking in on the nursery. Coho was out in the warm sun hobbling around, nursing well, and walking right into my arms anytime that I approached her. There was improvement! I would call the vet the next day and see if he could splint her legs until they could sufficiently strengthen.

School dismisses at 3:15… Guess where I could be found at 3:25pm! In the donkey field of course! Coho just loved cuddling with me. She seemed to choose my arms over anything else except when she was nursing voraciously at Arapaho's side. She just might pull through. Maybe she is a little fighter!

November 14, 2013 - sunny, frigid

I ran out before work to see if Coho had made it through the frigid night. She had, but it did not look good. She was standing listlessly. She wasn't nursing. She couldn't move her legs. I carried her into the sun and hoped that it would warm her up. As I walked off to work, I looked back once more only to see Arapaho nudging Coho back behind her to protect her… but, out of the sun.

The message arrived during math class at about 12:30. Mr. Blick found Coho in the tree line about where I had left her. She did not make it. The tears flowed.

Well, I certainly have made a name for myself at the high school. I am the girl who wears skirts a lot. I am the girl that loves to run marathons. I am the girl that has 5 donkeys. …and now, I am the girl that cries in class when her donkey dies. Oh wait, I am the WOMAN that looks like a girl. =)

Oh! Funny story: So I am in a math class, and a boy asks me if it would be rude to guess my age. “Well, yes! But, you are already doing it, and I am curious, so you may.” “I would guess in your 40s or at least your upper 30s.” HA! This is the first time that anyone at the school has guessed anything older than one of the students in the high school. Even the girl discussing it with him immediately said that just the day before her mother saw me after school and thought I was a new senior at the high school. The boy just sat there shaking his head in wonder. He added, “Wow. I am never wrong about these things!” Well, there you have it! Maybe someday I too can eventually start thinking of myself as a woman. =)

November 15, 2013 - cloudy, cold

Had to take care of Coho this morning. Did not want anyone else to have to deal with the sadness and ickiness. I first attempted to drag her on the towel, but that necessitated repositioning the body every few steps. It would take me hours at that rate since I had decided to lay her to rest out in the far back pasture. Finally, my mind cleared enough with the physical exertion (She was one heavy little girl!) to figure out how to carry her in a wheelbarrow. One long, heavy load across two pastures and many tears later, I left her to nature. Give her a few months or a year and my dear brother can have himself a little donkey skull for his growing collection! ;)

January 4, 2014 - sunny, clear skies, 32 degrees

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! If anyone would like to come visit the farm, please do! I have an oh-so-precious little donkey here. Cucuho is 2 months old now! How the time has flown! I have had very little time to give to coddling her until the past few days. I have thoroughly enjoyed my break from school! My family has been here! Molly is my new donkey-trainer. She is so like myself that year long ago when I came here to go to college and took on the challenge of taming the very first donkeys on the farm. She has a way with them that I no longer have… of course, I have to be the one to chase them with wildly flapping hands when they attempt to escape through the fence gate. =) She was riding Tahoe: yes, I do mean that little jack that has never been even halter broke. She petted my little Blackie (Cucuho) until she even comes up to me. How I have enjoyed these last few days! Cucuho brings her soft little self right to me and just stands while I rub her oh-so-soft little neck. She is the prettiest donkey I have ever seen!

The other donkeys are so sweet, and even Tallyho seems to be mellowing down in her old age. The girls could pet her face! What about the 3rd expectation that I keep mentioning?? Well, I think the other donkey just might still be carrying a little one! I thought she was 2 months ago… and then I gave up…. and now, she is showing her belly out her sides that I just know she has to be! =D Getting excited to meet the next one and hoping it is another little girl! =)
  • lovescats
    Happy at the new ones and so sad with the loss of one. I'm sorry, my friend.
    by lovescats at 01/04/14 1:25PM
  • snickers63
    Hey you!! :-)
    by snickers63 at 01/04/14 4:10PM
  • slave_of_jesus_jdb
    Glad you are enjoying marathons and your donkeys! I'm sorry to hear about Cujo. :(
    by slave_of_jesus_jdb at 04/02/14 8:11PM
  • grandmadiane
    I thought I had read all this post and came hear to find I hadn't. My heart mourned with you for your loss. We would have come to help bear your burden had you wanted but recognize your courage of doing it alone. Bless you dear girl/woman.
    by grandmadiane at 04/08/14 12:57PM