Monday, May 31, 2010

'Cat Man Do'

Because I have been incredibly bad about not posting the past few days and because I don't like to end things with odd numbers if I can help it, I am sharing the following video with you. Plus, it's fun!

It's called 'Cat Man Do'. It is part of a series called Simon's Cat, and every video I've seen (which is not that many...such a shame), the cat reminds me of my own cats, Tink and Squeak.

The cat is like a combination of mine. Tink is the noisy one and gets right in my face. She will meow and meow and meow and meow and meow until I recognize her presence, then she leaves the room only to come back 10 minutes later after I fall back asleep. Squeak will sit on me and touch/tap my face or hand if I don't do what she wants.

Thankfully neither of them can hold a baseball bat.

Happy watching! Posts with actual substance should follow soon as long as I don't get swallowed by the pile of laundry in my room.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Smooth Criminal

Okay, not the Michael Jackson song or the Alien Ant Farm version, but you get the idea. This was a post that I had planned on doing a few days ago. Being on vacation is nice because I don't remember to do anything but lay around! I digress.

I'm definitely not a smooth criminal. Remember when I told you about the ticket I received for speeding and following too closely? Damn moving violations.

Last Friday I went to court instead of just paying the 2 tickets (at $97.75 a piece), getting 6 points on my license, and possibly jacking up the insurance rate. It was my vain hope that I would have both things dismissed, get probation, and not have to pay court costs.

Well, 2 out 3 is good right?

Sure. Tell that to my wallet! I got the speeding and following too closely citations dismissed and the judge put me on 30 days probation. As long as I don't screw up (ahem, get caught...just kidding) for the next month, then I don't get the points on my record. However, I still had to pay court costs for both citations. The municipal court of Knox County/City of Knoxville kindly took $193 from a poor college kid.

I could point out the injustice of it all, but really there was no wrong done. I committed the crime and received a punishment.


I will say that I got shafted by the judge. Of the group of people (certain letters of the alphabet) that went right before me, a few of them had the same things as me: speeding and following too closely, plus some of them had received tickets in the past. They got off on the counts, got probation, and didn't have to pay court costs for both things.

I had to. And it sucked. Big time. My Mom knew I was doomed when the lady in front of me, who incidentally never had a ticket before in her life (like me!) and who had the same citations as me, had to pay court costs. Mom figured that the judge was tired and had handed out too many "free passes." Plus, it was almost lunch time so he wanted to expedite the process.

In the end, I learned several valuable lessons. After spending 3 and 1/2 hours in a stuffy, poorly lit courtroom with the best, brightest, worst, and not that smart-est that the area has to offer: I gained a great deal of patience, I learned to entertain myself with the most limited of resources, and I realized that the cops pull over all kinds of people equally. To me, there was no evidence of discrimination in terms of who got pulled over. There were white, black, Asian, and Hispanic folks. Male and female. Young, middle-aged, and old alike. Rednecks and white-collar people. College kids and farmers.

One funny thing I'd like to mention (as if the entire recollection isn't knee-slapping) is that a friend from church got pulled over the same day for the exact same reasons by the same cop as me. How funny?! We sat near each other in court.

One nice thing about this whole courtroom drama was that the cops pronounced my last name right, both during the reciting of the docket and when they called me up to the bench. Saying my last name right rarely happens in the wild my friends. For the record, Siferd is said like Sigh-ferd. In middle and high school when new teachers would call roll, they almost always said Siferd wrong. I had friends, acquaintances, and even kids that I didn't really know tell the teacher how to say my name. I never had to! The whole class would yell back, SIGH-FERD. I miss those days.

Immediately when I got pulled over, but for sure after court, I realized that I am not a smooth criminal. If the worst thing that I ever do is get a moving violation, well, then I guess I have a lot to be thankful for.

I thought the Cops theme song was appropriate. It's freaking hilarious actually.

Don't speed. Don't follow too closely. If you still do those things, just don't get caught if you do!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sabbath Sunday: Oh Happy Days...

It's Sabbath Sunday! I'm out of town, but here is my post. I missed Mass today, but I feel that this post is as close as a Holy Spirit/Pentecost experience can be for someone like me, who hasn't had many "earth shattering" encounters.

You can read "Oh Happy Days..." here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Natalie Dee Thursday: Quit Calling Him Ladybug Guys

This week's Natalie Dee Thursday comic is for all the ladybugs going through gender-identity crises because we humans just don't know any better.

Quit Calling Him Ladybug Guys
Natalie Dee 4-13-10

This one reminds me of the ladybug from A Bug's Life. Poor Francis was always mistaken for a girl, "Bein' a ladybug automatically makes me a girl."

No ladybugs, it shouldn't.

As always, visit for more comics.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's Not What But How

Don't you hate how, when you're doing absolutely nothing substantial, life decides to bring you up short? Yank your collar back on the leash? Jump into a cold pool expecting it to be warm?

That happened to me the other day. I was just sitting on my bed, trying to catch up on the issues of National Geographic that I didn't have a chance to read since February. I was reading about carnivorous plants (awesome, by the way) when this pesky little thought entered my mind.

What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?

It's a simple enough question. It's the answer that is far from being simple.

Oh hell, I thought. Here we go! Another fun rollercoaster brought to you by Life. As of late, I have been worrying about how my summer classes will a) be paid for and b) how they will actually go since I will be gone for the first 2 days of class. Why does this appear to be the root cause of my misfortune? Well, not taking summer classes could put me behind on my major. My major means a job after graduation. The longer I wait, the more student loans I accumulate. The more this. The more get the picture.

I can't help it that I love science and that I chose geology as a major. I love learning about the earth beneath me. The problem is that there are an awful lot of prerequisites that I need to get out of the way sooner rather than later. My faculty advisor told me that I didn't have to take summer classes, but when I looked at how things go, I knew that I needed to take class this summer if I wanted to get things done in a somewhat organized and timely fashion. I want to graduate in 4 years. So, to get the ball rolling on prereqs for certain geology courses, I am taking Chemistry 120 this summer. I'm also taking Anthropology 130, but this is a prereq for a fun anthro class in the fall.

Hopefully I won't change my major after this, given all of the trouble I've already gone through to try and achieve it. The trouble is really more anxiety over the fact that financial aid at UT is dragging their hind-parts. I can't wait much longer. I owe the school money, but I don't have money to pay. That is why I need a loan from financial aid! You would think that they would hurry these things up. I turned my application in on March 26. I still haven't heard from them.

One of my highlights this summer is being able to go back to NPH El Salvador. But when I realized that my deadline to pay UT was inching closer, I thought that maybe NPH could wait a few years. The money I used for the trip could be used for my schooling. However, I can't get my plane ticket refunded. Looking at the situation bluntly, I have to go to NPH. I can't not go. I want to go so much, but it seems that my trip has already had a shadow of blegh cast over it because of myself.

I overstretch and over-commit myself all of the time. Unfortunately, I did not realize that committing to both NPH and summer classes was going to be so difficult. I learned my lesson the hard way. I made my bed, and now I have to lie in it.

Then add the anxiety of not knowing what my future holds. Do I really want to be a geologist? What about teaching? Social work? Marine biology? The military? If it were ever possible (not likely), the priesthood? I have always wanted to do many things. Ever since I can remember, I have fallen in love with so many career fields. I have a hard time choosing anything be it where to go for lunch, what shirt to wear, which song to put on a mixed CD. How the hell am I supposed to choose what potentially will determine the rest of my life?

This entire post, of course, happened within the span of 10 minutes or so. I looked around at my room, with evidence of all my dreams surrounding me on walls, shelves, and the floor. I couldn't look at anything without getting frustrated. Science all around me! History all around me!

If you asked me right now, I would say that being a geologist and being a priest are vying for the top spot. You know as well as I do that there are no recognized female Catholic priests. I understand that, but I can dream right? People have told me to become Episcopalian. That would work, yes, but I like being Catholic.

All I'm trying to say with that last paragraph is that being a priest would be so much easier for me than a geologist. I wouldn't have to take these silly classes over the summer now!

After trying to avoid looking at my volcano and shark things and history books, I looked down at a daily prayer book. I only open it for night prayer, but suddenly I felt this need to open it in the early afternoon. So I did.

What was written instantly took away my worries and my doubts.
"Better is the lowly man who provides for himself than one who pretends to be important but is without bread." -Proverbs 12:9

"The value of our life does not depend on the place we occupy. It depends on the way we occupy that place." -St. Theresa of the Child of Jesus
Only when I reached out to God did I feel at ease, a sense of peace and calm. I realized that I wasn't giving my problems to Him. Humanly and naively, I thought I could fix them myself, but I can't. That Scripture verse and those words from St. Theresa of the Child of Jesus could not have come at a better time.

No matter what I do with my life, God will take care of me. My life doesn't have to be carved in stone or written in the finest ink. It can be put together, piece by piece and prayer by prayer. Doing it that way involves God. My human frailties will still expose themselves, as they always will.

The next time they do, though, I can take comfort knowing that I am not figuring out my life alone. God was there the entire time. I just didn't see Him, maybe because I forgot to look. Whatever the reason, I now know that it isn't what I do but how I do it that will define the person that I am. I can be the best geologist in the world by letting Christ's light shine through me. I can be the best janitor in the world by being the face of Jesus to others. If I don't let God work through me, then whatever I do will be devoid of meaning and of light.

It goes for all of us. Geologist, biologist, teacher, police officer, fire fighter, soldier, sailor, construction worker, farmer, married, single, daughter, son, priest, nun, deacon, writer, photographer, janitor, principal, store clerk, fisherman, zoo keeper, landscaper, artist, president, congressman, actor, producer, mayor, stay at home mom, working mom, stay at home father, working father, grandparent, waitress, truck driver, cab driver, student. No matter what we do...

It's not what, but how.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Houston, I Have A Problem

You know that timeless human belief that we are in control of everything? Well, in case you did not already know, that is a fallacy!

Being in control is a false and mistaken idea.

I was mostly cognizant of this, but it didn't really hit me until Wednesday afternoon when I had to take both of the dogs to the vet.

In the past, I had taken both Rocky and Duke (may your memory be eternal) to the vet at the same time. That was no big deal because both boys were leash trained. It didn't take much to get them back in line if they ever got out of line. Duke was also very good at being an exemplary role model for younger Rocky.

Now, however, Rocky is the big brother and the role model. He has assumed that role with mostly flying colors. Charlie is ever the puppy and the follower is always up someone's behind. He's just so darn adorable that you can't help but stay mad at him for only 2 seconds.

I'm getting ahead of myself. My youngest sister, Kayla, was home with me. At 5, she was my designated helper. I knew right away that the trip was going to be fun when poorly leash trained Charlie tried pulling out of his collar in the driveway! We hadn't even made it to the car.

Kayla and Rocky hopped in the backseat, and Charlie was tossed/shoved into the backseat. Off we went, and thinking of the loose canine cargo, I took the least curvy topsy turvy roads. We finally arrived at the office, and that's when the real fun began. I didn't want to take the chance of Charlie not behaving so close to a major highway. So I picked up the 22 pound ball of fur in my right arm and grabbed Rocky's leash with my left hand, all the while making sure my sister didn't get left behind in the melee.

Kayla didn't want to hold the dogs leashes anyway, and she could barely open the heavy glass doors. The lady that had arrived at the same time as us must have been terrified of large dogs because she avoided coming near us at all costs (Rocky isn't really that big anyway), or she must not have been in a very helpful mood because she didn't help us! Once safely inside, Charlie was allowed to meander within the confines of the vet's office on his short leash. Kayla took Rocky to the little waiting area, but Charlie couldn't bare to be separated for one minute from his big brother. So the receptionist had to talk loudly across the room to explain some things.

Meanwhile, Rocky had hopped up on the people/dog waiting bench right next to that unhelpful lady. He was practically laying on her. He had no ill will towards her but was looking for some kind of comfort. She was not. It was incredibly amusing, but I told him to get down. Rocky hates going to the vet anyway, but he was especially on edge doing the "I hate being here dance" and rightfully so. The last time he was in a vet's office, we had put Duke down with Rocky there.

Charlie on the other hand, was doing the "I have never been here before and it's kind of exciting!!!" dance. Between the boys and my sister, I thought I was going to lose my mind. Actually, I was just hoping to make it through the afternoon.

Their checkups and shots went well. With the 52 and 22 pound canine babies in tow, I drove back home on the curvy roads. That trip was way easier and less stressful.

Before we had even left the house, I had a feeling that this vet trip would be no big deal. They are just dogs after all and my sister can help.

I should have known straight away that the trip would not go as planned when I told myself that I had everything under control! Houston, I had a problem.

The trip was more than I anticipated. I didn't have much under my control like I had originally thought. Mission control was no help at all. Actually, I think that was the idea all along. In order to teach me something valuable, God put me out in the world by myself. I learned, because of my dogs, that I will not always be in control of everything, even the most mundane of tasks.

I am not in control, and I can't do everything by myself. It's only when I ask for help, human and Divine, when endeavors have the potential to fare better and be less of an epic fail.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Natalie Dee Thursday: Our Lady of Perpetual Diet Coke

This is so late! I was over visiting with a good friend who I haven't seen in an incredibly long time, so I know a late Natalie Dee Thursday is acceptable.

I thought this was pretty funny. It's called Our Lady of Perpetual Diet Coke. Amusing, yes?
As always, you can find more awesome comics at Until next time friends!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sabbath Sunday: Wild Fire

In honor of today, this beautiful Mother's Day, I chose the post "Wild Fire" for today's Sabbath Sunday post. You can read it here.

Wild Fire will be 1 year old in July! He's grown so much, and I believe he is getting ready to be adopted out to a great home in the next few days/weeks. Here he is, in all his ungroomed glory. Such a handsome boy.

I'm going to miss him, but I'm grateful for the time he spent with us. Also, thanks to his mom Fancy Pants for bringing him into the world and our lives!

Thanks to my Mom for doing the same for me! Happy Mother's Day to all you Mommas out there.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lessons Part 2: Perseverance

I did not forget about my lessons series, I promise. I just haven't really had time to thoroughly write out what happened and what I learned from my experiences. That takes time that I didn't really have to give the past 2 weeks.

In light of recent events, I decided that my next lesson would be about perseverance.

I was able to help out with a confirmation retreat a few weeks ago as the "college help." When it came time for the group activity, there were two options: rock climbing or paint ball. Personally, I think paint ball is a little silly, but if you like it, that is quite alright. Just don't call it a sport (like ping-pong = table tennis?) I don't think so.

I digress. I had not filled out the form before the retreat, and when we got to the rock climbing wall, I wasn't going to do it. I'm usually the photographer at youth events at St. Thomas, and I'm fine with that job. It's fun. Although, this time I actually wanted to be a part of the activity and take pictures. So I quickly filled out a form, put on a harness (that was weird), and then got in line.

My friend Steve was the first one to go, and he made it halfway up the wall. My goal was to either tie or beat Steve. After watching most of the kids go up, I thought that was a pretty reasonable goal. Then, 2 of the girls got all the way to the top. They were like monkeys! They just shot up there. I'm still amazed at Isabel and Idania. They're my heroes.

Then, it was my turn. I climbed up to the halfway mark, and I felt fine. Awesome! I tied with Steve. I decided that I was going to try and reach the cowbell = the top. A little after the halfway mark, though, my body all of a sudden decided that climbing a 50 foot wall wasn't such a piece of cake. At about the 40 foot level, my fingers literally cramped up and were in the shape of the hand hold! I was sort of paralyzed for a few minutes, unable to pull/push myself up, not to mention the fact that I was at a weird spot on the wall where the hand/foot holds were very spread out.
After some extreme reaching into the depths of my physical and mental self and with the help of all my friends (who were serving as excellent cheerleaders and motivators), I made it to the 45 foot level. Then, I got stuck again! I was so exhausted, and my arms and legs were shaking. The rope guy and Steve were both urging me along, helping me find holds when I couldn't see them. Meanwhile, it had started to rain ever so lightly. That was not going to stop me, by God!

Eventually, with faint stars in my vision and with a view of the mountains on the other side of the wall, I heaved my tired self up the last few inches and grabbed that cowbell. That was the best sound of my life. SUCCESS! What was even better, though, was the sound of all of my friends down below cheering and hollering for little Ashley. I made it to the top of the 50 foot wall.

However, when I got back down, I really began to feel just how exhausted I really was. Then I found a ton of splinters all over my knees, mid-thighs, elbows, forearms, hands, and fingers. Oh, yeah, and I had a 2-3 inch splinter in my right thigh. Somehow on the way up, I got that pleasant gift but I didn't even realize it was there. I was able to pull most of it out, but about 1/3 inch was still stuck in my leg. Later on, one of the youth leaders and the longtime teacher/nurse performed triage and removed the splinter. That was quite interesting.

I almost got sick in the van on the way back. I sat on the floor outside so that the cool breeze would help me cool off while I picked splinters out. Then I crawled into my bed and fell asleep. I was so tired, so exhausted, so sore, and very much in pain. After that, everyone called me Sleeping Beauty because I was out for awhile and no one else got a nap!

I hadn't realized how much of myself, how much energy, I had expended to reach my goal. I don't think I have ever worked that hard for anything before in my life, at least physically. I had to draw on reserves of patience and strength that I didn't know existed. Looking back, I wouldn't change anything except maybe wear pants instead of shorts to avoid splinters.

Fast forward to this past Friday, May 3. Fr. Christian, a parishioner named Ken, and myself went on a 12.3 mile hike. We started out on the Rainbow Falls trail at 2000ish feet and proceeded to make our way to Mt. Leconte, which is around 6500 feet. Right before Rainbow Falls, I tripped over a rock and caught myself with my right leg. At the actual falls, we stopped to take a break. We climbed around to get closer to the water, and when it was time to hop back down, I must have landed funny on my right leg.

A short while after that, as we were climbing higher in elevation, I realized with a sudden sharp pain that my leg was killing me. Whatever I did, my body was not happy with me. We were only a little over 2.7 miles out of 12.3 miles total, and I didn't think I could make it. Honestly. But Fr. Christian and Ken urged me on, saying it is "mind over matter." Okay, I'll try that. I was annoyed with that phrase, but it really does work.

It was so hard to keep thinking that. I ended up taking up the back of the line, because I would stop periodically so that my leg and my breath could catch up with the rest of me. At times, I thought I was going to just keel over. I was fully prepared to curl up in a ball and cry.

But I didn't. With the help of my friends and drawing on my not too recent rock climbing experience, I pushed myself further and further. When we made it to the intersection of trails, I practically shouted to FC to take a picture of the sign that said we had made it. I was so happy to see the sign. We didn't go to the Mt. Leconte Lodge at the very top, which was another 0.6 mile uphill climb. I knew I couldn't do it.

From then on, after we got on the Bull Head trail, it was all downhill. That was better on my leg, but of course, as clumsy as I am, I managed to trip even more...making the stabbing pain in my leg even more unbearable.

This picture was taken right before the top, and I love it because it very well depicts my mood. Don't take a picture of me! Just kidding. I'm glad we documented the experience. I can read my thoughts and emotions extremely well just by looking at my pathetic expression. Estoy patetica!

At the end of both of these outdoor adventures, I learned a lot about myself. I was given 2 hardcore crash courses in finding the will to keep going. I'm pretty sure that my container of perseverance just outgrew itself. I need a bigger container! I hope to remember to draw from it. For sure, I know that it exists. Ashley Siferd can persevere.

Now, the real challenge is to apply this perseverance to my spiritual life. If I could just extend the same level of commitment and steadfastness to prayer and building upon my relationship with God, the possibilities are endless.

My sufferings pale in comparison to what Christ went through, but now I have a healthy respect for and an admiration of the gifts that were given to me. It took a lot of sweat and almost tears to realize that, but I'm grateful for the gift and lesson of perseverance.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Natalie Dee Thursday: Vatican Garage Sale

Thank goodness for Natalie Dee Thursday. It's a nice break between finals, studying for more finals, and packing.

This one, I believe, is quite hilarious. It's called Vatican Garage Sale.

Natalie Dee 3-27-07
Now if the Vatican really had a garage sale, I hope that they would consider selling some of their famous pieces of art. Although, a mitre would be fun to wear around campus...

As always, check out more Natalie Dee comics at her website. Until next time friends!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

800 Miles is a Real Humdinger

I am proud to introduce to you, ladies and gentleman, the brand spanking new blog:

800 Miles Is A Real Humdinger

My friend Fr. Christian and I are going to hike all 800 miles of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. What's the time frame? I'm not exactly sure.

If you're in the area, come join us! It's going to be fun. And I will still post here like I normally do, but now there is an addition to the Siferd Internet Routine.

Visit the blog for more information!

Hasta el jueves para "Natalie Dee Thursday."

Monday, May 3, 2010

I Can See the Finish Line

As I walked away from my last class of my freshman year on Friday, bells started ringing off in the distance. Poetic, I thought. And I don't recall bells ever going off when I left class on Fridays.

The earth didn't shake or fall out of orbit. The sun stayed where it was in the sky. My dress didn't fly up with the sudden gust of wind. I finished my freshman year, mostly.

My freshman year of college flew by. I barely remember and yet I clearly remember the day I moved in and my first day of class. Now all that is left to do is study for my exams, take them, and move out.

When people ask me how school is going, I tell them, I want it to be over now and I want summer break! However, my summer break will just be more school! I'll be taking 7 hours: an intensive chemistry course and an introductory anthropology class. What's wrong with me? I have yet to determine my malady.

In the end, I love college. I like learning new things. Class and campus life had its ups but also its downs. Then again, everything in life does. If that didn't happen, I would be concerned.

To cap my year, I won this:

My best friend came along with me. You can tell a friend is a true friend, among many things but in particular when she will go with you to something that she doesn't have a boring awards ceremony that lasted one hour and 20 minutes.

My award was also money in the bank. Hopefully, if I stick with Geology, I will continue to be a good student. The smarter you are...the more money you get. What a novel idea.

Back to studying, which is the bane of my existence. Right now all I want to do is take naps and eat food, not read books and do math problems and conjugate verbs in Spanish.

I can see the finish line that is my freshman year. Whoo-hoo finals!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sabbath Sunday: Learning from College Orientation

It's Sabbath Sunday. Once again, here is an old post that I'd like you to read.

It is a reflection from my first college experience...orientation. You can read it here. More about the end of my freshman year will be posted soon!

Happy Sunday!