Ideas, they come to me in the wee hours. Sometimes they are unmistakably bad ones, such as "Hey, I should rip up the carpeting to see what's under it." Occasionally I get an answer to a problem that's been plaguing me. When my friend Kevin died, I couldn't find a way to write about him until the words finally came to me in the darkness. A few nights ago, I woke up at 3:38 a.m. with the thought that I should sign up to be a speaker at church. Talk about "coming out of left field."

At our UU fellowship, the pastor is in the pulpit every other week. We share her with another congregation. On the in-between weeks, the program committee typically arranges for a speaker from outside the fellowship. I can't tell you how much I learn by having different speakers each week. At one service we learned about yoga and meditation. Another week we learned about oral histories from a Native American speaker. Sometimes the presenter is someone from our own fellowship. There's quite a talent pool there as well.

When I woke up the next morning, the idea was still firmly in my brain (often they are gone by sunrise, and that's probably a good thing). In spite of myself, I created a brief outline and sent it off to the program chairperson to get her input. My proposed topic, which is still relatively sketchy at this point, is "Breaking and Repairing the Human/Animal Bond." I figured I could draw heavily from my ten years in rescue, of course. I planned to work in an angle about animals and spirituality as well. My big idea sort of peters out after that, so I guess I must have fallen back to sleep at some point.

My outline was accepted and before I knew it, I was booked to speak in October. The only problem with this scenario is that . . . I am not a good public speaker. I am not being modest here - I just turn into a big goober when you put me in front of a crowd. I act like I just hatched out of a pod and have never been out in public before. I volunteered to speak, though, because I've somehow convinced myself I've got a worthwhile message to impart. If I get through this, I may just keep my promise to try kayaking before I die.

To my UU friends who may actually be at this service in October . . . whatever you do, do not attempt to make eye contact with me under any circumstances. I will whip out my disk-shooting spaceship* and aim straight for your forehead. Don't test me.

*If you have a cat, you have to get one of these. Dogs are fun, too, but they tend to run off with the foam disks and eat them. Cats just look spectacularly annoyed.