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This lady’s gaga

I thought I’d share my babies with you, so you can see why I’m so gaga over them…

This is one of the teenagers – about 4 1/2 months old.  He just got a treat and is busy eating it, but look at that goofy face!

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All the babies get hammocks to lounge in and they love them to bits.  Literally, sometimes.

This is Poochie, named that because when she came into the clinic, she’d had an unfortunate encounter with a dog.  We weren’t sure she was going to make it, but she’s fully recovered and thriving!

So, can you see why they’ve become my passion?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about finding your passion.  If you’re very, very lucky, you find your passion and it’s your vocation.  If you’re just very lucky, you find your passion and are able to do it alongside your vocation.  Right now, I think I’m very lucky.  My practical side (and the people who want me to pay the bills they send me) says that wildlife rehab is something I’m not going to be able to do as a vocation.  But, now that I know how much I love it, I can do whatever’s necessary to do it in addition to a job that actually pays a living wage.

So, how do you know what your passion is?  For me, it’s the thing that makes me lose time.  It’s what makes me smile whenever I think about it.  It’s what my mind drifts to as a default when it’s just wandering.  I had no idea when I started volunteering that it would be this way.  I knew I’d like it (I mean, really, it’s helping baby and injured animals – how could I not enjoy that?), but I never thought I’d turn into a gushing, gaga fool about it.  I’m a very lucky woman.

I hope you all find (or are way ahead of me and have already found) the thing that turns you into a fool, too.

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Because I found a few on the beach.

I grew up near Lake Ontario.  When you grow up near big water like the ocean or a Great Lake (ie, water you can’t see across), it gets in your blood.  Well, it did mine, anyway.  I’m the most relaxed near the ocean.  I love the smell of the water, the sound of waves crashing on the shore, the feel of the sand as it disappears from under your feet when a wave comes.  I love watching dogs romp on the beach.  You’d be hard pressed to find a creature having more fun than a dog romping on the beach.

So, I went to the beach for a couple of days.  I figured if I’m going to live in a coastal state, I should spend a little time exploring its coast.  This morning, before I left for home, I took a long walk on the beach.  I noticed some things, which got me thinking about Life.

First, I noticed that the waves that make the most fuss – crashing the loudest and and throwing up lots of foam  – very rarely get my feet wet when I’m walking along the water line.  It’s the ones that sneak in on little cat feet that make the most progress up the beach and swirl around my ankles.  Sometimes a big one will, too, but more often than not, a quiet one is involved in pushing the big one’s water further than it would have gone on its own.  It reminded me of the difference between the people who peak early in life (like the high school football player who looks back on his glory days in his middle age) and the ones that move steadily and quietly through life, making a big difference all along the way.   I’d like to think I’m like the quiet wave, not making a big fuss about things, sometimes helping the big ones, but trying to move steadily forward.

Next, I noticed the horseshoe crabs that wash up on the beach.  They get stuck in the sand, which is not where they’d really like to be.  They don’t seem to panic about it (although, really, who am I to know what goes on in the mind of a horseshoe crab?), they just wait.  They know that one of two things will happen – either a wave will come along and wash them back into the water or it won’t.  Since there are way more horseshoe crabs in the water than on the beach, the odds seem good that they’ll get back in the water and there really isn’t a whole lot they can do in the meantime to control the waves.  So, they hang in there.  Accepting what they can’t control.

The last thing I noticed was that the closer you are to the water, the firmer the sand.  It’s not as comfortable to sit in and relax, but it makes moving forward very easy.  The dry, soft, squishy sand is much more comfortable to sit in and is very cozy, but it’s a hard slog to make progress through it.   There are times in life when the comfy sand is the right place to be, but if you want to move forward, get close to the action.  Walk on the edge.

So, there you have my philosophical waxing of the day.  Move quietly, steadily forward, accept what you can’t control and stay close to the action.

Uppy downy

Life is full of ups and downs.  Reinventions are packed solid with them!

Selling a house I really like is definitely a down.  The whole process is a pain, from getting it ready to sell to racing around cleaning for a showing and then vacating the house for however long it takes to show.  There are ups, though,  like when someone likes your house enough to make an offer on it!  Yes, I got an offer in the first week on the market.  After some back and forth, we came to an agreement.  Then the inspections came (yes, this is a down coming).  The inspector found some minimal evidence of termite activity.  No big deal, right?  You treat it and everyone’s happy.  Well, not these buyers.  They bolted (big down).  I suspect they were having cold feet about buying more house than they had any business buying and used it as a excuse to get out of the deal.  So, I’m back on the market.

On the other hand, having the time to do volunteer work is a huge up.  I’m having the time of my life working at the wildlife rehab clinics!   It’s the best job I’ve ever had and it costs me money to do it.   I learn something every time I’m there and I’m dusting off a lot of really rusty vet tech skills.  I love working with the babies.  Baby raccoons really are the cutest, most curious and comical critters I’ve ever seen.   I wish I could make a living working with them, but they really don’t pay well.  I mean, the pay is literally poop.

Home sellers have a love/hate relationship with home buyers.   You really want someone to come along, fall in love with your house and offer you boatloads of money for it, but this requires that people actually come into your home and look at things.  They open the closets and drawers, use the bathrooms, pick up decorative objects for reasons known only to themselves and things like that.  It feels really, really weird to have people in your house when you’re not there.  There’s a very high ick factor involved.

There’s also the logistical problem of scheduling showings, while still trying to maintain some semblance of a normal life for yourself.  Take yesterday for example.   Someone wanted to come back for a second look (they’d made an offer, which I countered and they wanted to come back before they responded).  They were supposed to be there between 5:45 and 7:00 pm.  You know, dinner time.  So, I made everything pretty and hightailed it to the Wegmans cafe, where I read the paper and nursed a cup of coffee.  Then I got a call that they were running late and wouldn’t be out before 7:30.

When I got home, I was starving, so I started dinner.  Just as dinner was ready, I got a call that they wanted to come back for a third look.  <insert bigasseyeroll here>  Well, dinner was soup and salad.  I had a bowl of soup sitting there that was way too hot to eat and I had to vacate the house in 5 minutes.   I was really, really hungry and didn’t want to wait till 8:45 to eat, so I put a cover on the soup bowl, headed to the car, drove to a local strip mall and sat in the car eating my soup.  I think I can safely say that I’ve never eaten soup in the car before.  I don’t recommend it.

Oh, and no word yet from the indecisive ones.

It’s a sign

A For Sale sign.  In my yard.  That’s the reason I haven’t posted here in a while.  I’ve been getting the house ready to go on the market.  I’ve watched way too many of those shows on HGTV on how to sell your house, so I know the value in fixing things up.  I had the outside of the house cleaned, all the gardens got new mulch (oh, my aching back), there’s new carpet in about half the house and boring, inoffensive paint in the master bedroom.  It’s so clutter-free around here, it doesn’t seem like a human lives here.   It just seems weird to fix things up to get ready to leave the house.

University of Delaware is about 60 miles from my current home.  That’s not a huge distance in the overall scheme of things, but the commute would involve 3 of the worst roads in the area for traffic tie-ups.  Depending on when I leave, it could take more than an hour and half each way.  I decided that 3+ hours on the road every day I have to be on campus (which would be most days) is too much.  I’d rather spend the time reading, writing and generally doing something productive.

So, I have to move.  Right now, that idea makes me sad.  I like my house a lot and I’ve done a lot to make it me.  I like my town and I like that I know where things are and the back ways to get places without hitting too much traffic.  I know the best place for strawberries (willowcreekorchards.com if you’re in the area), the little local pet food store (http://perkvalleypeteatery.com/) and the gas station that’s easiest to get to and usually the cheapest.  I like my doctors, my vet, my plumber, my YMCA, stuff like that.  I’ve lived within about a 5 mile radius for almost 22 years.  That’s a long time.

Of course, part of my ambivalence about moving is tied up with being more than a little bit nervous about going back to school.  Putting the house on the market is one of those really definitive steps towards that goal, which makes it just that much more real.  Then there’s the anxiety about the selling process itself.  It’s such a royal pain to keep the house ready to show on a moment’s notice.

But, I’m looking to the future.  That’s what this whole thing is about anyway, right?  I’ll get to discover the new best places to go for things.  I’ve already been educated about the best ice cream place, so I’m all set there.  Newark is a nice little town/city and, as a college town, there are a lot of little hole-in-the-wall restaurants, coffee places, bookstores and boutiquey little places.  That’ll be fun to explore.  A new place where I don’t have to track down a plumber if the drain clogs (just call maintenance!) or fuss with the yard has a real appeal these days.   So, on to new places and the joys of exploration!

A little house-selling mojo would be greatly appreciated, too.

And the winner is…

It’s been a really difficult process to decide where to get my master’s.  I’ve really been torn between the two schools, since each have pros and cons.  Since I wrote that list, some of the cons for one of the schools were alleviated.  I spoke with additional faculty and had some additional contact with the Assistant Director of the program (he’d been very formal on first contact, but has since relaxed quite a bit!).   So, this morning I officially accepted an offer to join the Master of Energy and Environmental Policy  program at the University of Delaware (formerly known as Univ D)!

While I would love to be near my parents and the people at Univ R were really open and welcoming, the bottom line is that I think the MEEP program (ok, the acronym is just a little twee, but I didn’t name it) at U Del is a better fit for me.  It has a good reputation with people working in the field, the faculty have good networks and are committed to securing research projects of interest to the students.  They have a very active research program and students have the opportunity to work on several of them during their time in the program.  The additional faculty I spoke with were really enthusiastic and friendly (and very casual, which I like).  Plus, it lets me stay in the general Philly area.

So, the big decision is done!  Onward…

I just had the best morning!  It was my second shift at the wildlife rehab clinic and I fed about thousand baby squirrels.  Okay, so it was only about 35, but it seemed like 1000.  They’re just so damn cute.  A new little female came in that someone had been trying to raise on their own for a few days.  She was remarkably healthy and loved, loved, loved her first taste of formula.

Some of them are adolescents now and weaning themselves from being syringe-fed.   There were a few that I swear rolled their little black eyes at me when I tried to feed them.  “Seriously, lady, do I like look a baby or something?”  Well, yes.  Yes, you do.  But since you ate your Cheerios, veggies and rodent chow, I’ll give you a pass on being fed like a baby.

So, you want to try something fun and challenging?  Try transferring 4 teenage squirrels from one cage to another without any of them escaping or ending up in your hair.  I managed to thwart the escape attempts, but at least two did spend some time in my hair.  Too funny.

I also helped the rehabber set the broken leg of a chukar partridge and gavage an injured mallard duck and a herring gull.  All new stuff for me!   But apparently, I made the biggest impression on the staff by showing them how to remove permanent marker from a dry-erase board.  It was the talk of the clinic.  So, I guess all those years spent in corporate conference rooms weren’t wasted!