Javan Leffel: May 2006 – December 13, 2020

I often called Javan my “birthday present from God” after rescuing him from the road, three days before my birthday. It was pouring rain that night, and the little kitten was soaked and sick. I took him home, dried him with a towel, then hair dryer, and took him to the vet. He bonded with me immediately, trying to get back to me even as the vet treated him.

I named him Javan, a character from a novel I’d read. I later found the name in the Bible (a grandson of Noah) and discovered that it meant “effervescent and lively.” It fit perfectly. He was unique and funny, starting with his “thumbs” on his front feet. He did forward rolls on the floor, front hip circles on the ladder to my loft, and played fetch. He liked to play in water. It was often hard for me to vacuum, as he loved to BE vacuumed. He would repeatedly lie down in front of the vacuum so that I would stop and vacuum him. Going for a ride in the car was a treat for him.

He was smart, and a smarty pants. I taught him that he could only have his front feet on the table, so he would stretch as far across the table as possible, while keeping his back feet on the chair or a lap. Before he went deaf, he would come when his name was called. If I asked him, “do you want to go out?” he ran to the back door. I taught him to “sit up” for treats. He would then sit up if he thought we had food to share with him.

Javan’s favorite thing of all was cuddling, especially with me. He would have been happy to be carried around the house or draped across my back, all day long. If I was busy, or he was otherwise inclined, he was happy to hang out with his other humans or his dog friends. He took good care of anyone who was sick. At night, he often slept under the covers with me, “back sleeping” or curling up in front of me. He liked tucking his head under his humans’ chins.

Diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of 6, Javan lived well, with his changed diet, until early 2020, when he began to decline. He got slower and lighter, but still loved going outside and cuddling with his humans. He was always quick to purr when I walked into the room. He rallied in June and enjoyed his summer in Maine.

As anyone who has loved a pet knows, he will be greatly missed. If you ever met him, you understand how much I loved him and how special he was. I really hope we can get our beloved pets back, in Heaven.

Summer Resident

I was acting as tour guide, the way people do when others come to visit.  I was showing Mom and Don around Portland Head Light. We took the usual pictures from the most photographed side, then walked closer and around to the north side. The wind ruffled my hair as I paused at the railing.  I listened to the seagulls’ calls and feasted on the visual buffet of craggy rocks, ocean waves, and sailboats. Below me, the waves and the shape of the rocks created an occasional “bloop, bloop” sound. Continue reading “Summer Resident”

Two Huge Endings In One Day

Friday couldn’t have been much bigger!

Here I am, at the end of a 30-year career in teaching. When I looked at my Google calendar Friday morning, I chuckled when I saw the reminder that I’d set a month or so ago. It read “School’s Out Forever!” Perhaps I should rewrite the song, from a teacher’s perspective. Continue reading “Two Huge Endings In One Day”

My 2018 – A Review

The timing of milestones and important events are easy to forget. It can be hard to answer questions about which year things happened or what was done at a certain time. I  had to consult my calendar to write this post.

Here are my key moments from 2018, or at least the ones that currently come to mind or were on my calendar.  Continue reading “My 2018 – A Review”

Friday Night Football and Memories

This Friday night was so like another Friday night a year ago, that the memories flooded my brain. The difference between then and now flooded my heart.

It was another football game, a year ago, when my younger kids’ birth mom joined us. Katelyn was already with the marching band, but Conner and I arrived in the parking lot right after Annie. I parked my motorcycle in front of her company van and we shared a parking space. From there, we went to the field and watched the game together, chatting and laughing.  Continue reading “Friday Night Football and Memories”

John C. Campbell Folk School

For years, my mom had been talking about wanting to take a class at the John C. Campbell Folk School and she wanted me to go with her. Over a decade ago, we’d attended a summer program for educators at Savannah College of Art and Design and had a blast. We decided to have another mother/daughter experience and go to the folk school this summer. I found places for my kids and Mom found us a house/pet sitter. Mom chose a woodturning class and I chose the writing class.

I didn’t pick a “one word” for myself this year, but one that would have fit is “risk.” I’ve been choosing to step out and do things that don’t feel safe. Choosing to take a writing class with strangers fit “risk” well. I knew I’d be faced with writing prompts with a time limit, followed by sharing with the strangers in my class. Continue reading “John C. Campbell Folk School”

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice If…”

It started as a dream that we were hesitant to put into words. My cousin, Jenny, and I would lament the distance between our homes as we continued to grow closer. We started noticing property for sale and started expressing, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I/you could have a place up here?” The dream started sounding like a possibility when we looked at the tax-acquired (foreclosed) property lists for the town. These properties were to be sold at bid, with low minimums. I submitted a bid for a 5-bedroom house on 2.1 acres last week, for the small amount of  $13,050. It needs a lot of work and money to be livable.

On Monday night, the sealed bids were opened and I won! I was, in fact, the only bidder on that property. The work it would involve scared all others away. Thankfully, I have a cousin and her husband (cousin-in-law?) who have the vision to see the potential of the place AND can provide help. Conner and I left Tuesday morning and we saw the house for the first time on Wednesday. Continue reading ““Wouldn’t It Be Nice If…””

When Hope Meets Reality

I thought we’d write a book together some day. There was even a title for it – “An Unlikely Friendship.” Many of you have followed this story and have been praying and cheering from the sidelines. I didn’t expect things to go the way they have in the last few months. Continue reading “When Hope Meets Reality”

Another Great Birthday

Most of my birthdays pass quietly, but this year and last were different. Last year was the party where I celebrated the big 5-0 with friends and family. I was celebrated and encouraged by those who took their time to be there and the written words they gifted me are a treasure.

This year, my day began with my daughter, Katelyn, taking me to Shenandoah Joe for coffee. It was a fun and special way to start the day. Continue reading “Another Great Birthday”