Life, According to Bagheera: Ahh, this is the Life!

“This is how to live!”

Out of the five cats we’ve had, Bagheera is the only one to get along with every other one, without either lording it over the others (GINGER!), getting into fights (Juniper and Scout) or being run over (like poor Spot). He’s a peaceable fellow.

Bagheera was sandwiched between Juniper and Ginger, purring loudly with closed eyes, while the other two groomed him enthusiastically.  He had a look of such utter contentment on his face–and it was so funny to see him being doted on by his two “girlfriends”–that I hurried to get my camera.  As I snapped the photo, he looked up at me with a look that clearly said, “This is the life.”



It was late, and I really was heading to bed…in a few minutes.  I scrolled a little way down my Facebook feed, one last time.

A nervous half-smile and a pink shirt stopped me.

The photo that stopped me in my tracks.

The piece of my heart in Indonesia.

I read the name attached to the photo, and the description in the caption.  “This is Prily…Her favorite subject is art, and her performance in school is above average.

The friend who posted the photo continued, “This month I am participating in Compassion’s Speak Up for One campaign. Prily needs a sponsor so she can continue to attend the Compassion project, where she has access to medical checkups and treatment, nutritious food, health and hygiene training, educational support, and mentoring. Will you consider sponsoring Prily?”

I felt a little tug on my heartstrings.  It’s not just an expression–I actually felt a leap or a pull in my chest. Perhaps this was the moment when my heart left me and sailed around the world, into another hemisphere, and settled on this young stranger from Indonesia.

My instinct was to take a step back from the emotion.  Whoa, I thought.  It’s late.  You’re tired.  Sleep on it and talk to Shaun, and then make a decision.

So I closed out Facebook and went upstairs to do just that.  But something in my imagination had burst free and was running wild.  I was thinking about writing letters, sending photos, wondering how much a sponsorship cost.  What was Prily like?  What was her family like?  What was her community, her country like?

The next morning, as Shaun was getting ready for work, I brought up the subject.  “So, have you ever considered sponsoring a child, like through Compassion?  I wanted to start after college, but somehow I forgot over the last three years….”

To my delight, he was enthusiastic.  After he left for work, I went online and did a little research.  I decided to start sponsoring that day, before I forgot again.  I wondered if Prily was still available–on social media, so many things could happen over the course of 12 hours.  Someone might have already contacted my friend and said, “I’ll sponsor her!”  That would be a good thing for Prily, I told myself.  There are plenty of other kids who need sponsors.  As I searched Compassion’s website without any sign of Prily, however, disappointment replaced my excitement.  Eventually I concluded that someone had, in fact, already decided to sponsor her.  I started looking for another child, and picked out a few possibilities.  But I couldn’t quite get Prily out of my head.

For some reason, while I was struggling to choose between three different girls, I decided to Facebook message the friend who was advocating for Prily:

I’m glad you posted about Prily and Compassion International. My parents sponsor a girl in Africa, and it was something I wanted to start doing after college, but I totally forgot about it over the last few years. I couldn’t find Prily on the website (maybe she already got a sponsor? that would be great), but there’s a couple other girls I’m thinking about. Thanks for reminding me.

I fully expected to get a reply message along the lines of, “Yes, she already has a sponsor, but it’s so great you are thinking about sponsoring anyways, etc. etc.”  What I actually got back, two hours later, made my heart dance:

“She doesn’t yet have a sponsor.  I’m her advocate, so I am trying to find her one!  Which is why she’s not on the website.  …So, you sponsoring any kid would make me happy, but speaking as the advocate, go for Prily!”

I kind of couldn’t believe it.  She was still there, waiting for me.  After this sunk in, I messaged my friend back.

Oh! If Prily doesn’t have a sponsor yet, then I am definitely still interested in her! So, what do I have to do to make it official?”

Aided by Facebook chat, we filled out the sponsor sheet, made the first payment and talked about Compassion and Prily.  Shaun came home from work in the middle of all this, and I told him what I was up to.  He was immediately excited and curious, asking me all sorts of questions about Prily and her country–most of which I couldn’t answer, but I was glad to know that he was enthusiastic.

Even over Facebook chat I could tell that my friend was as excited as I was (or perhaps even more so).  Later in the conversation, she typed this to me:

“I hesitated over signing up for this advocacy thing for DAYS.  I was so sure I didn’t know enough people or talk enough, or know enough.  and that I would get a kid who then wouldn’t get sponsored and I would have failed and the sun would go black, etc.”

I had to laugh and typed back, “well, i am so glad you decided to do it!”  I, too, had had some doubts niggling in the back of my mind that day–would we be able to afford it, was this really the best way to help out?  On top of that, I felt a bit guilty that I had forgotten for so long to do this good thing.

My friend continued, “God is amazing. I was feeling kind of awkward about posting it, in a way.  It feels funny asking people to give when I know most of my friends are far from rich.  But I really, really care about this organization, and she needed somebody.”

“Turns out she needed you.”

Find someone who needs you at Compassion International

More great blog posts on the same theme:
Compassion International blog:  What Are the Odds?
Tales of Child Sponsorship:  A Miraculous First Letter

Still Here

He stumped into the waiting room at the garage, supported by a cane made of polished, twisted wood.  I looked up from my crocheting and smiled, and he said hello.  He made his way to the desk and slowly juggled cane and wallet.  There was some soft grumbling about being sore and getting old, and I smiled sympathetically.  “Don’t get old,” he told me, and continued with a twinkle in his eye, “when you’re young, you think you’re so smart.  And then you get old!”

I returned the twinkle and grinned at him.  “I try not to be too smart for my own good.”

He chuckled and laid some bills on the counter.  When it appeared that all the mechanics were busy at the moment, he eased himself into the chair next to me and motioned to my crocheting.  “Whatcha makin?”

“A dishcloth,” I said, with a laugh.  “I’m only just learning.  I’m teaching myself, so it’s an easy project, but you can always use a dishcloth.”

“You’re teaching yourself?” he repeated, with some surprise.  “One of my sisters used to do that.  She’s ninety-two now.  She used to make…oh, lots of things.  Big tablecloths, beautiful things.”

I expressed my admiration.  “I’d like to learn that, eventually.”

He nodded, and his eyes were remembering.  “I don’t know if she does it anymore, since she’s ninety-two now.  But she used to make all sorts of things.”

He told me about a girl he had known once who was learning to crochet, and was trying to think of what to make first.  “Make me a scarf!”  he had told her.  “An orange one.  About that big.”  He was kidding her, and didn’t think she’d actually make the scarf for him.  But weeks later, she had presented him with a bright orange scarf.  “I kept it for years,”  he said.  “But…” he paused, and looked a little sad. “Do you know, I don’t know where it is anymore.”

Our conversation stretched on for almost an hour.  It was the most enjoyable conversation I’ve ever had with a complete stranger.  He told me freely, in bits and pieces and stories, about his life of eighty years. It had been a hard one.  “But what can you do?”  he asked, with a shrug.  “Just keep going.  That’s all you can do.”

I agreed, and added, “But–you’re still here.”

He grinned.  “Yup.  I’m still here.”

Ash & Acorn


My Etsy shop is open for business!  The new name is “Ash & Acorn,” which was entirely Shaun’s idea.  I like it–it references my name (Ashley, which means, “ash lea” or “ash tree meadow”) and the former name of my shop (Squirrel’s Spot–acorns, squirrels. Right?).  There’s not as much new inventory up for sale as I had hoped, but I’ll just do what I can for the time being.  The re-opening may not have been as grand as I wanted, but I like the direction I’m going with my crafting and my shop.

I’ve also re-named this blog “Ash and Acorn” to coordinate with my shop.  Let’s see where this new chapter takes me.

Ash & Acorn on Etsy

The Log Book: April 2015

Latest projects:
I’m learning to crochet!  My first project was a dishcloth.  My goal is to eventually be able to crochet lace.

What’s cooking?
It seems that just as I’m getting the hang of Lenten food, Lent is over.  Not that I’m complaining.  But I did invent a rather yummy Lenten casserole based on, of all things, my mom’s meatloaf.
This month’s favorites:
Lentil and rice loaf for Lent.  ANYTHING with milk, eggs, cheese, or chocolate for Paschal feasting.  Hard-boiled eggs never tasted so good.

Little Women

Mikis and the Donkey by Bibi Dumon Tak (a very cute book!)
Emma:  A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Data and Goliath by Bruce Schneier  (Read this book!)
A review of Data and Goliath: “As it becomes increasingly clear that surveillance has surpassed anything that Orwell imagined, we need a guide to how and why we’re being snooped and what we can do about it. Bruce Schneier is that guide—step by step he outlines the various ways we are being monitored, and after scaring the pants off us, he tells us how to fight back.”
—Steven Levy, editor-in-chief of Backchannel and author of Crypto and Hackers

Watching and listening:
All Creatures Great and Small, series 4 & 5
The Theory of Everything
Star Trek: Enterprise,
season 1
planet earth

I’m looking forward to:
May is going to be such a crazy month.  My brother graduates one weekend, and then gets married two weeks later.  Three days after their wedding, Shaun and I are taking a trip to California.  But if we survive, it should all be wonderful!

Other happenings:
Christ is risen!  Happy Easter!

Early in April I was diagnosed with mild bronchitis.  This was not surprising, since I have been sick with some sort of respiratory illness almost constantly for the last two months.  It’s still hanging on, but slowly I am healing.

Our car broke down in a rural little town on Easter Sunday/Orthodox Palm Sunday on our way back home from visiting my parents.  These things with our car always seem to happen around holidays.  I felt bad calling roadside assistance to get a tow 40 minutes back to our house, but the guy who came to rescue us was very kind and friendly, and waved off my apologies for interrupting his Easter Sunday.  Thank you, Lord, for the kindness of strangers!

…Unfortunately for the car–and our bank account–the engine had up and died on us.  Since it’s a good car otherwise, we decided to replace the engine.  It lives!

Shaun and I are planning to put in a vegetable garden this year.  We have two seed trays of veggies, berries and herbs on our dining room table, in front of a big window where they can soak up the sun.  Go spring!