Just a Dog

May 16, 2010

I received the following in an e-mail yesterday and I was so touched by what Catherine Moore had written that I wanted to share it with you.  At the bottom of the e-mail it said to share it with four of your friends, so I don’t think that she will mind that I share it here.

May this touch your heart as it touched mine:

CHEYENNE

By Catherine Moore

‘Watch out! You nearly broadsided that car!’ My father yelled at me. ‘Can’t you do anything right?’ Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn’t prepared for another battle.

‘I saw the car, Dad.. Please don’t yell at me when I’m driving.’ My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then, turned away and settled back. At home, I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.

What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon . He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn’t lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day, I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age or when he couldn’t do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived.

But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor’s orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned and then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon, I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session, he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad’s troubled mind. But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day, I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered. In vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, ‘I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article.’ I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one, but rejected one after the other for various reasons, too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen, a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world’s aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

I pointed to the dog. ‘Can you tell me about him?’ The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement..

‘He’s a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him; that was two weeks ago and we’ve heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow.’ He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in, I turned to the man in horror. ‘You mean you’re going to kill him?’

‘Ma’am,’ he said gently, ‘that’s our policy. We don’t have room for every unclaimed dog.’

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. ‘I’ll take him,’ I said.

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house, I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch.

‘Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!’ I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. ‘If I had wanted a dog, I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don’t want it’ Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples.

‘You’d better get used to him, Dad. He’s staying!’ Dad ignored me.. ‘Did you hear me, Dad?’ I screamed. At those words, Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate.

We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when, suddenly, the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him.. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.

Dad’s lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently.. Then, Dad was on his knees, hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne . Together, he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad’s bitterness faded and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then, late one night, I was startled to feel Cheyenne ‘s cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe, and ran into my father’s room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

Two days later, my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad’s bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad’s peace of mind.

The morning of Dad’s funeral dawned, overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And, then, the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers.’

‘I’ve often thanked God for sending that angel,’ he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article.

Cheyenne’s unexpected appearance at the animal shelter, his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father, and the proximity of their deaths. And, suddenly, I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.

Life is too short for drama & petty things, so laugh hard, love truly, and forgive quickly. Live While You Are Alive. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second time.

May your Sunday be blessed.  Sandra


Don’t Duck the Question!

April 27, 2010

I love “before” and “afters” — I suppose that’s the reason I enjoy the Home and Garden Network on TV so much!

So, regarding the picture I posted yesterday (btw, this is one of the spring-fed ponds in our addition and it occurs to me that I should assure you that that isn’t oil on the surface.  This was taken in late afternoon  and the design on the water comes from reflections of near-by homes), here is the “before”, straight out of the camera:

and here is the “after” that I posted:

Have I ever mentioned?  I love color!  So when I adjusted the saturation of the colors in the original, I was delighted with all the vivid color that showed up in the “after” that reminded me of an abstract painting.

But later I looked back at the original and second guessed myself (another hobby of mine) that maybe it was the best version after all, because the duck is the most colorful thing in the photo.

And, if I crop the original . . .

. . . it puts more emphasis on the duck .

I have many other variations of this picture that I won’t bore you with.  But let me just say that when I get a photo that interests me like this one does, it pays for itself in entertainment value, in the fun time I have playing with it!

Now … the question.  Did I post the right version of the picture?  Or, to be perfectly honest, should I have posted it straight out of the camera?  Because I’m fairly new at this, I’m never sure of the ethics of photography.  In order to be completely truthful, should I always post pictures “as is”?  I really don’t know.

I’m not sure I can ever be cured of my addiction to color, but I will certainly take to heart any opinions you have!

Okay, I do have to share one other variation that I really like …

Oh, and I forgot this one — I really like it too …

Stop!  Get a grip, Sandra.  Just step away from the duck picture and go do something else!

Content is copyright protected.


Duck in Abstract

April 26, 2010

To see some of the interesting detail, click on the picture once to make it screen size.

May your Monday be just ducky!


I never get tired of “the show”

February 15, 2010

 

There are lots of big lakes within driving distance of the city where we live, so ever since my parents and I moved here when I was nine years old, I have known lots of people who had lake cottages, or even lived at a lake and drove into town each day to work.  And, even though, over the years I had been a guest at lake cottages many times, I really never saw what all the fuss was about.  Sure, it was fun for an afternoon of boating and swimming, but what was so great about spending alot of time at a lake?

Then, when Hubby and I were looking for a new home after a developer had bought our farmhouse, friends who lived on this small  lake in an addition right in town, had us over for dinner.  We loved the neighborhood (which includes two other small lakes) and we were intrigued by the fact that you could actually fish, swim and have a non-motorized boat right out your back door!  So, long story short, we ended up buying the house that was for sale second door from our friends.

And now I get it.  Yes, the activities we can do on the water (mainly done when our grandchildren are here) are fun, but for me, it is the constant entertainment right outside the window that routinely thrills me.

I know that geese are frequently considered an annoyance, but I love to watch them, along with lots of  ducks and occasional swans, loons or herons thrown in!

I’ve never considered myself a big lover of wildlife, but I have to say that I never get tired of seeing what’s going on on the lake.

I have also come to realize how hard it is to take a picture of birds in flight!  I’ve never gotten “the perfect shot” I invision — even though I’ve seen a perfect one many times, but always at a time when I didn’t have camera in hand.

Whether I ever get the perfect picture or not, I never get tired of the “show”.


Another Bunny Tale …

September 10, 2009

 

Linda e-mailed me to remind me of this other bunny tale I hadn’t told.  Thank you, Linda.  (She has kept an on-line journal FOREVER, so she probably just did a search on “bunny” and came up with every one of the bunny stories I’ve ever told her.  Now, THAT is organization!)

So, here’s the story.

When our children were very little, we lived in an old house in a small town.  Our block was somewhat unusual because a hundred years before, a working canal had gone through there, and a slight indention was still evident where the canal had been.  So, there was something like a sunken park in the middle of our block that all our back yards backed up to.  It was all grass (mowed by a retired neighbor) with a few trees at our end and it had gradually filled in over the years, so the sides sloped gently only about four feet — a perfect playground for all the kids.

We were blessed in that neighborhood with lots of little kids about the same age who all played together well.  But, Mark, the little boy who lived down on the corner, while he did play well with the others, was unique in a couple ways.  First of all, he was a little bit older, but also he was a foster child who lived alone with his foster parents (who may have been his grandparents — I was never sure).  They seemed to be a very nice older couple, but I don’t think they spent much time with Mark.  Another thing unique about Mark was that he was a very serious little boy with a very low, kind of deadpan voice.  So, it was cute on several levels that he would come and knock on our door and when I would go to the door, he would say in his deep voice coming out of a little boy, “Can the Cop come out and play?”  That was Hubby.  And sometimes Hubby would go out and play catch with Mark, or push him in the swing — just spend some time with him. 

One Saturday morning the neighborhood kids were playing on the swing set in our back yard.  But, Hubby came inside and told me that there was a problem.  He pointed out the window and I could see the kids all clustered around, looking at a tiny baby rabbit.  I immediately noticed that the bunny was just sitting there, not trying to hop away.  Hubby said that was the problem.  The dog, which he had put in the kennel as soon as he saw what was happening, had gotten hold of the bunny and apparently had broken its back, because it couldn’t move. 

Hubby (thank you God, for a husband who could/would take care of things like this), said he was going to have to kill the bunny, but, of course, didn’t want the kids to see.  So, his plan was for me to bring a treat out on the back porch and corral the kids there while he took the bunny out in the canal and killed and buried it.  Our garage was detached and sat a little behind the house, blocking the view of some of the canal.

So, I did as he asked.  And, while I was talking to the kids and they were eating their treat, Hubby took a shovel out into the yard and scooped up the bunny.  When the kids wanted to know where he was going with the bunny, he told them he was going to let it go in the canal.

Okay, we had a plan.  We were going to spare the children from one of the harsh realities of life.  We thought.

When Hubby returned to the porch a few minutes later with an empty shovel, one of the kids said, “Did the bunny hop away?”  Hubby said, “No, the bunny died.  So, I buried it.”

Then Mark in his serious, low voice said, “Did it die before or after you hit it with the shovel?” Apparently I wasn’t doing as good a job distracting him as I was the smaller kids.

Hubby just said, “It was hurt when I took it out there and it died.”  Then I offered more snacks and changed the subject.

Bless his heart, Mark didn’t ask any more questions, and I don’t think the other kids caught on.

Sometimes even a well-intentioned plan just doesn’t work out as planned.

I hadn’t thought about Mark in a long time and when I re-read this story I suddenly had tears in my eyes.  I wonder where he is now? 

Dear Heavenly Father, whereever Mark is, I pray for his good health and happiness, and may He know you and Your love. Amen


Hold The Bunny, Please

September 9, 2009

 

I have a fairly new blogging friend in the UK named Leslie.  She and her husband are great chefs, hence the name of their blog, Cooking with the Joneses.

I love reading their recipes and seeing the usually delicious-looking pictures, and am often tempted to try one.  So, if anyone could make cooked rabbit look or sound good to me, it would be the Joneses.  

They have now posted a recipe for rabbit here.

But, I’m sorry to say, Leslie and Baz, it didn’t work.  I still just can’t imagine eating rabbit.

And, let me tell you, this isn’t the first time I’ve resisted.

~ When Hubby and I were first married, he went rabbit hunting one Saturday at his parent’s farm.  Being a 19 year old city girl, or maybe just being in denial, it never occurred to me that he might actually shoot a rabbit! 

Several hours later, when he proudly walked in the front door of our apartment, which was the bottom floor of an old house (I tell you that to explain an apartment with a front and back door), he was carrying a plastic bag with a long naked body in it!  It was a rabbit carcass!  I remember how proud he looked, and then he began to talk about how we were going to cook it.  I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I think I could sum it up this way, “NOT A CHANCE!” (possibly accompanied by tears).  And then after whatever “discussion” we had, I next remember him walking out the back door to put “Bugs” in the trash and telling me, somewhat grumpily, that I should never tell his parents that we threw away good food!  (I don’t remember them asking how we liked our rabbit dinner, so they may have suspected, or even privately predicted, what would happen.  Remember, they knew me too!)

~ Then when DD and Gunny were approximately 8 and 10 years old, we had a rabbit take up residence in the back yard of our rural home, eating everything in sight.  Several efforts to run it off had been unsuccessful.  So, since I had become much more accepting of my farm boy’s ways,  it didn’t surprise me when he said he was going to have to get rid of the rabbit.  And, this time, he said HE WAS going to cook it!

Okay.  I had become more realistic about the food chain than I had been as a young city girl, but I still just couldn’t imagine eating a rabbit.  Well, Hubby had also learned and become more accepting of a few things about me.  So, we came to an agreement … he cooked the rabbit and he and the kids ate it (and the kids even said they enjoyed it!) … while I went to the mall to shop.  They had the kitchen all cleaned up, with all evidence of their meal gone, by the time I got home, with a cute new pair of shoes.  Perfect.

Even though I was raised on beef, pork and chicken bought from the grocery store, 44 years of being married to Hubby has made me much more realistic about where my meat comes from.  But I still just can’t get used to the idea of eating “wild stuff” … especially bunny rabbit.


The Zoo, A Camera, Mimi and Me!

August 25, 2009

 

P1030643   We have a wonderful children’s zoo here.

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  P1030644(1)   The entry sets the tone for a first class experience.

 

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  The zoo is very well maintained and landscaped, so that it is a pleasure not just for children because of the animals, but also a real treat for adults, especially ones with a camera.

Last year my friend Linda and I took Coco, Lulu and Mimi there, and Coco and Lulu had their faces painted, but Mimi wasn’t comfortable having hers done.  So, when Mimi and I went to the zoo while the girls were here a couple weeks ago (her big sisters stayed home with Papa to swim), I think she had already decided she was going to having her face painted this time.  As we looked at the animals, she would ask every so often whether we would pass the spot where the face painter was last year. 

P1030496(1)  It was a beautiful day and not really “August hot”, but it was early afternoon and some of the animals, like these bobcats, were taking their naps.

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 P1030502(2)  When you enter the African Veldt, there is mist everywhere for dramatic effect.

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P1030513(2)   I have no idea what kind of bird makes this type of nest, but I am really impressed considering the trouble I have making a round ball of cookie dough when the recipe calls for that, and I’m not trying to fly at the same time!

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P1030523(1)   As you might expect, the ring-tailed slooths were acting, well, very slooth-ish!

P1030525   I can say, without hesitation, that this is the closest I have ever been to a lion!  There was a window that looked out into his enclosure and he was laying on a wide ledge up against the window.  There were alot of people crowding around so it was hard to get a picture, but it’s also no accident that I’m standing at the “south” end of the lion but just taking a picture of his “north” end.   Let’s just say that the position he was in, left no doubt that he was a lion and not a lioness!   Moving on …

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P1030544(1)   At first glance, I wondered if this was another unusual bird’s nest …

P1030557(1)   But then a giraffe wandered up and I realized it was his version of “fast food”!

P1030558(1)   This baby giraffe can still reach the ground to eat.  A worker told us that giraffes give birth standing up and the babies are born feet first, so they are born standing up!

P1030559(2)   A worker was up on the elevated walk letting people feed this giraffe his favorite leaves.

P1030545(2)   Up on the walk, it was fun to see his head up so close.  It was huge!

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P1030548(1)   Do you recognize the stripes that I had “colorized” for my post yesterday?

P1030548(1)(1)   A Photo-shopped “horse” of a different color!

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P1030562(1)   It added to the “feel’ of Africa that you could hear drums off in the distance occasionally.  Then we came around a corner in the trail and saw who was playing the drums!

P1030564(1)   Not exactly the fierce natives you might invision playing the drums!

P1030565(1)   The drums were very popular with all the children, except Mimi.  She suddenly turned shy and didn’t want to try them, so I had to settle for pictures of other kids playing them.

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Then we came to the face painter!

P1030578(1)x   There was no line, so Mimi immediately showed the artist how she wanted her face painted — she pointed at the butterfly.  Except ….. she didn’t want any paint on her eyelids.   Hmmm.  The artist and I agreed that the design would lose something if the eyes were left unpainted.  She could end up looking more like an owl than a butterfly!

So the artist came up with a compromise … she would paint a butterfly on one cheek and flowers on the other.  That sounded good to Mimi and me.

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P1030587(1)  A very pretty butterfly! 

P1030590(1)   But, apparently, her specialty is butterflies because I wasn’t as impressed with the flower on the other cheek.  I suggested she add a second smaller one  which she was perfectly willing to do.

At about this time she mentioned that she usually sold tickets at the front gate and was just filling in for the face painter.  Yikes!  But, she hastened to add that she was an art major in college.

P1030592(1)   Okay.  Not bad.  Maybe this was going to be just lovely.

P1030593(1)   Then she painted on the really green, really heavy vine to connect the flowers and the butterfly.

P1030600(1)  Okay.  The end product wasn’t bad.  Mimi got to have her face painted, without having paint on her eyelids.   And I really did appreciate that the face painter came up with a design that worked for Mimi.  So, we left happy.

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Our final stop was the seals’ pool.

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A fun day at the zoo.  And lots of pictures to help us remember our visit.