Monday, April 6, 2009


CAUTION: This post is very upsetting but I hope you will read it because it is a story of a hero from another land. I hope you read this story so that we can all remember that not only human lives are destroyed by war. I hope you read this story so that we can all remember to have compassion for every living creature on this planet. I hope you read this story so that we can all know that love does endure.

I cried and unless you are a much better person than I, you will cry too. I read about this hero months ago and I knew I wanted to tell as many people as I could his story but I have not been able to. Every time I started to write about him I would start crying. I am certain that there are far worse atrocities in this world but there is just something about this story that breaks my heart.

The city of Kabul, Afghanistan once had a beautiful zoo. In 1978, the zoo received a lion cub from a zoo in Germany and they named him 'Marjan', which is Afghan for 'precious stone'. He was only two years old and little did they know just how precious he would turn out to be.

The Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1978 and for more than a decade, Kabul was spared the ravages of war. In 1992 after the Russians left, civil war broke out and it centered around Kabul. In the months that followed the zoo was virtually destroyed and the animals that were injured were not even given pain medication because the shelling had destroyed their medical supplies.

After the civil war in 1993, a foolish soldier decided to show his friends how brave he was. He went into the lion, Marjan's den and decided he would pet the mate, Chucha, of Marjan. The lioness did not react to the soldier but Marjan ran across the enclosure and killed the man. Now it is a lion's nature to protect his lioness and Marjan was no different than any other lion. The dead soldiers brother retaliated against the lion by coming to the zoo and throwing a hand grenade in with Marjan who though it was food.

The purpose of a male lions mane is to protect him from other lions who might attack. It apparently works with hand grenades as well. When the grenade exploded, Marjan's neck and chest were spared serious injury but his face was badly mutilated by the blast. One eye had to be removed and shrapnel became embedded in his jaw and mouth and most of it could not be removed. The concussion also rendered him deaf. But Marjan recovered and lived on.

Despite the massive injury to Marjan, he was still standing and a photojournalist who was present and who assisted in holding the lion for treatment said that it was amazing how Marjan seemed to know that the stranger was trying to help him and did not struggle.

Marjan was loved by the people who took care of him and Marjan showed his love for them in return. Lions are very spiritual people and are capable of forming the deepest bonds with humans (Just watch youtubes video about 'Christian the Lion' if you doubt this).

Love can give new strength to someone who is weak and Marjan's relationship with his human friends surely strengthend his will to live.

Still it was not easy for Marjan. He had surgeries to repair damages to the jaw but he lost his teeth. Majan could no longer chew on bones. He had to be fed soft meat so he could eat it properly. He needed other types of special care too but in spite of everything he continued to thrive.

The peaceful times for the Kabul Zoo were short lived when the Taliban took over in 1996. They regularly tormented the few remaining animals in the zoo. Marjan was badly stoned and the Taliban officials wanted to kill all the zoo animals. The animals were spared when it was pointed out to the officials that Mohammed had loved animals and kept pets.

Some time in 2000, Marjan's lioness, Chucha, died of a mysterious illness. Marjan grieved her death. He did not eat for a week. He was closely bonded to his keeper and received comfort from him. The keeper had no fear of Marjan. The keeper said he was a noble, gentle king.

After 9-11 when the U.S. began their attacks on Afghanistan, things at the zoo became even worse. The zoo workers received no pay but they loyally remained and cared for the animals left at the zoo. A local butcher saw to it that Marjan always had something to eat. He was already a local hero with the people. He was the lion who would not give up and continued to be proud.

Marjan became world famous in 2001, when Kabul was freed from the Taliban. Soon after the plight of the zoo was made known around the world and help poured in, especially for Marjan. There are several organizations in America still helping the zoo.

Eventually a team of zoo experts made it to the Kabul Zoo. After a thorough exam of Marjan he was reported to be weak and thin but in reasonably good health. They felt any further surgeries to Marjan would be risky because of his age and his injuries had healed fairly well. He was treated for parasites and put on vitamins and heat was installed to his den box. They also decided to build a ramp into his den box as Marjan often stumbled as he entered it. It was believed he was going blind in his remaining eye.

At first Marjan responded well to his treatments and then he seemed to have trouble moving around. Then he started to go downhill and he stopped eating. It was not long before he became very weak and required assistance to get in and out of his den box. Always the strong lion, Marjan did not appear in any distress and enjoyed lounging in the warm sunshine. Within a few days he became so weak he had to be carried into his den box on a mattress. The next day his caretaker found him dead lying in the same spot he had been placed the night before. Grown men cried. Marjan's age had been established at just over 25 years at the time of his death.

It is believed that Marjan died of liver and kidney failure. He would have been about 88 years in human years. Lions usually live about 20 years in captivity.

Some wondered why Marjan had died when he was in reasonably good health a few weeks earlier. The old lion had led a tough stress filled life for most of his years. His deep relationship with his caretakers enabled him to ward off the adverse conditions in his life. He was much loved by his caretakers and the Afghan people. He was able to let down his stress defense and relax for the first time in many years. So Marjan, who had survived many tough times gave in to old age.

They said that Marjan did not appear to suffer very much. Even though he did not move around very much in the end his caretaker said he appeared content. They said he drifted off peacefully and died in his sleep.

Marjan is in that special place God has for brave souls (and creatures). He is once more whole and he can see and hear and he is free from the suffering and cruelty of this world.

After Marjan died, his body was left where it lay. Many Afghan people came by to pay their respects to their brave hero. His remains were buried on the zoo grounds. A memorial service was held for Marjan and a statue is being erected at the zoo entrance when it is rebuilt.

A sign was erected over Marjan's grave. The sign reads, 'Marjan. He was about 25 and he was the most famous lion in the world'.

Marjan was born in captivity and lived a life on the front line. Marjan was a symbol to the Afghan people. They felt he was old like their country and like their country he went through hardships but remained strong.

He is a symbol of strength when all hope is lost. He was a symbol of love that few of us can really understand.

Marjun 1976 - 2002
A King.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Well, I hope everyone made it through April Fool's Day. Why do people think this is such a fun day? Why does this day cause a sane, peace lovin', usually the first to come to the rescue of anyone havin' a problem, person who is old enough to have grown up enough to have gotten all this nonsense out of their system, wreck havoc on their household?

I just don't know the answer to that, I wish I did. I mean I wouldn't even think about puttin' a rubber band around the sprayer on the kitchen sink so when the innocent spouse turns on the faucet first thing in the mornin', well, let me just say they got sprayed good. Or when the coffee pot button is pushed (the thoughtful spouse prepared the coffee the night before) and the yummy smell of fresh brewed coffee entices one to reach for their favorite coffee cup, but for some reason they can't pick up the cup because the offendin' spouse has rubber cemented it to the shelf!

Maybe this was a sign? Maybe someone has put sugar (a lot) in the bottom of the coffee filter in the pot and just put a little coffee on top of said sugar. The innocent spouse doesn't even notice the color of the coffee is off. I mean, that coffee was certainly needed because the poor tricked spouse had to get up at 2 a.m. and again at 4 a.m. to see why the car alarm was goin' off.

You think it would end here, right?

It's sad to say, this was kinda just the start. The poor innocent spouse was soooo glad when April Fool's Day bit the dust.

I must say my husband is such an easy goin' person AND a good sport!

So to make it up to him today I am gonna make his favorite coffee cake.

I call this coffee cake Blackberry Buckle and is it yummy. All the ingredients combined make this one of the best coffee cakes you're ever gonna taste. It's full of good for you goodies like blackberries, oats, nuts, milled flax seed, more nuts and.......well, let me just give you the recipe.


1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup nuts, chopped


1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup nuts, chopped


1 cup sugar
3/8 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 cup oats
3 teaspoons bakin' powder
1 teaspoon bakin' soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milled flax seed
2 cups frozen or fresh blackberries

Now I use blackberries 'cause I have frozen ones on hand but this recipe can be made with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and peaches. Just about any fruit you want to use will work.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

We'll mix the toppin' first.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar, flour and cinnamon together.

Toss in the nuts. I use pecans but walnuts work just as well.

Mix in the softened butter. Set this bowl aside.

In another small bowl mix the brown sugar and flour.

Add in the cinnamon.

Any cinnamon will work but Vietnamese cinnamon is considered the best in the world and if you've never tried it well, tarnation thunder, it tastes like it's already got sugar in it! It is sweet and the best tastin' cinnamon you'll ever taste.

Add you melted butter to the mixture.

Stir in the nuts, and sit this bowl aside.
Now for the cake,

In a large bowl, mix the sugar and oil together well. Please disregard the wrong picture here. The correct photo disappeared and it's out floating around blog land somewhere.

Whisk in the eggs and buttermilk. Set bowl aside.

In another bowl, blend flour, oats, bakin' powder and soda, salt and flax seed together well.

Blend flour ingredients gently into egg and buttermilk mixture just until well blended together.

At this point it kinda looks like a bowl of oatmeal.

Very gently mix in your blackberries or fruit of choice. If you use frozen fruit, do not thaw, just mix the frozen fruit right in there.

Spread 1/2 of the blackberry batter into a 13x9" casserole bakin' dish.

Sprinkle the middle streusel fillin' over the top of the blackberry batter.

Drop by spoonfuls the rest of the blackberry batter over the streusel.

Sprinkle the toppin' mixture all over the top.
Pop this bad puppy into your preheated oven and bake 45-50 minutes.

Your kitchen is gonna smell like heaven while this is bakin'. And the flavor, I reckon it's about the best coffee cake I've ever eatin'. And I know it seems like there is a lot of sugar in there but it really isn't too sweet so don't think that.

Brew a pot of coffee (minus the cup of sugar), add a dollop of whip cream and any girlfriend will be happy to come over and spend the mornin' visitin' with ya.

And your husband will forgive you just about anythin'. At least until next April Fool's Day.

Youn's come back dreckly, ya hear?

Monday, March 30, 2009


Hi, my name is Sadie and I rule the roost around here. I may be a little dog but I'm a mighty dog, all 3 pounds of me. My favorite place to lie is on the couch. My favorite toy is a toilet paper roll, no paper just the empty cardboard. I love to chew on it and tear it to pieces and even though my mommy has a whole basket full of toy's, that ol' paper roll is the cat's meow.

Speakin' of cat's,

My life was very peaceful here until my mom thought I needed a companion. For some reason she thought I would like a cat. My life has not been the same since they brought HER into the house. They thought it was cute to name her Skitty because she's Sadie's kitty, get it, Skitty. Yeah, I'm greatly amused.

No matter where I lie, she thinks she needs to be there too. She hogs the pillow and is constantly pickin' a fight.

I love lyin' on the furnace vent when the warm air is blowin' and now it's a constant battle for the one I want to lie on, never mind there are a half dozen other vents SHE can go lie on, it has to be the one I want.

Mommy thought it was so cute to put me in the clothes basket today. That pesky cat wanted in the basket with me but I wasn't gonna let her.

SHE is so annoyin'.

"I said, You are not comin' in here with me!"

"Ha ha, I'm in and you're not."

"Stop that you pesky thing!"

Okay, now I'm gettin' out!

"Would somebody get me outta here?"

"Back you BEAST!"

I gotta get out of here!

"Mommy, please get me out of here"

Now this is the way it should be. Just leave HER in there forever as far as I'm concerned.

"Ha ha you stupid cat!"

"They're gonna leave you in there forever!"

"Hee hee hee"

Oh yes, back on the couch where I belong and no pesky cat in site!
Be sure and come back to see me again, I love the attention.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


It's beginnin' to look a lot like Spring time,
Ev'ry where you go;
Take a look in the yard and then
you'll see bloomin' once again
with daffodils and hyacinth's aglow.

It's beginnin' to look a lot like Spring time,
blooms on trees and more,
But the prettiest sight to see is the
forsythia that will be
At my own back door.