Tuesday, June 25, 2013

B-Lowe & Jesse Sittin' In A Tree


"A man, a horse and a dog are never weary of each other's company" (18th Century).


"They are better than human beings because they know but do not tell" (Emily Dikinson).


"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole" (Roger Caras).


"Every boy should have two things: a dog and a mother willing to let him have one" (Anonymous).


"You want a friend in Washington?  Get a dog" (Harry S. Truman).

Thursday, June 20, 2013

An Evening With Geese


Ever wonder what its like hanging out with Geese on a Summer night?  Come on in!


They've spotted us!


They are awake now and will shortly be on their feet.  There goes Sammie, the biggest bird in town.


Gerty and Ruby are less motivated.


Give them a second.


On their feet.


Singing a tune...something about a guy named Ol' McDonald and a farm.


Woop...they're looking a bit groggy.


Ruby stretches her leg and left wing.


"Hi-ya-ump-uh"

That's the sound they make when they get good extension.


Next, Gerty's stretch.

"Hi-ya-ump-uh"

"Honk!"


Sammie remembered her own Jane Fonda moves.  She got up, walked past Gerty, and stretched out like a yoga pro.

"Hi-ya-ump-uh."

"Hic-cup!"



She had to top off some crab grass before bedding down again.


Sometimes, you can't pass up crab grass.  I passed up a $50 pillow in a store today with my mom.  


And that's it, friends.


THIS, is an evening with Geese.  


And a Poodle.


Lying directly next to the Geese.


"Mooooo!"

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lacking In Style? Never Fear!

Can you find the duct tape in this picture?  You have to check this guest room makeover out with the use of a flat sheet, duct tape, crate paper, and stuff already in your house.  I love it.  Good one, Nester!

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Dog Who Struggled To Be Good



By Mark Spearman.
The Scottish poet Byron had a big shaggy Newfoundland called Boatswain. A Boatswain is a rank in the old Royal Navy. Seems an unlikely name for a dog. But for all I know Boatswain was the “Scout” or “Rover” of the 17th Century. Like, you bring a puppy home and some guy in a powdered wig squeals “Omg! He’s ADORABLE! Let’s call him BOATSWAIN!”
Byron loved Boatswain. So much so that when the dog passed on, he wrote a poem in his honor, a poem inscribed on Boatswain’s headstone. I recall being touched by these words when I first read them. Sometimes when a friend loses a pet, I send it to them. It is known as Epitaph to a Dog:
He Possessed Beauty Without Vanity
Strength without Insolence
Courage without Ferocity
All the Virtues of Man
And None of his Failings
I do understand the sentiment Byron expresses, but here’s where our conclusions differ: I don’t think dogs are always altruistic and virtuous. Many of them have jealousies, fears, demons. They struggle to be good. That’s what makes them compelling.
I’m not talking about the shortcomings of dogs in cartoons and sitcoms. I’m not talking about the “Oh-Gee-Buster-Chewed-Up-Dad’s-Newspaper-AGAIN!” (Cue Music: Wah, Wahhhhh… ) types of issues. I’m talking about stuff that’s messed up. As dysfunctional and weird as any human behavior.
We had a dog named Patchie. He had many nicknames and variations of Patchie through the years, but we’ll stick with Patchie. You can stop worrying that this is another sappy dog story. It will not reference a small child pulled from the path of a speeding bus; there is no frantic face-licking to awake a family as fire breaks out, no impossible high-jump to take a bullet for humans in danger.
Patchie was a golden retriever. He was beautiful, and he knew it. He enjoyed comfortable sofas and quiet afternoons. He never chased a ball in his life and had a disdain for mindless canine frolic. He was often unkind to his brother, Ned.
While other dogs lived for car rides, Patchie squirmed anxiously, panting so heavily as to fog the windows. He’d push his way to the front seat, harummphing and glaring, periodically sticking his head through the sunroof to see where the heck you were taking him.
What he adored most was being lovingly petted and groomed and fawned over. What he detested most was another dog being lovingly petted and groomed and fawned over. It led to much drama.
This underlying deprivation and martyrdom, intolerance for others being the center of attention, wasn’t limited to dog brethren. At Christmas, the sight of humans excitedly unwrapping gifts infuriated him. He was like the crazy uncle on day-release you invite for the holiday. A few glasses of eggnog and his resentment builds and crests until he’s ripping up wrapping paper and bows and stomping off to the kitchen.
One afternoon my kids were huddled together on the floor playing the board game Life. If you remember this game, it is played by spinning a tiny wheel, located in the middle of the board, with spaces numbered one through 10. The game ends, abruptly and permanently, when a golden retriever, incensed from social exclusion, rips the little spinning wheel from the board with his teeth and runs away.
Despite his acting out, Patchie made strong and deep connections to people, and he loved fiercely, no doubt with the same frail heart that so feared loss and craved acceptance. He had a way of sidling next to you, burying his head in your chest, leaning in with all of his weight. You could feel him soaking it up.
He was a good listener. He stared intently into people’s eyes as they spoke, not so much to divine meaning, but to savor attention. When people returned home from school or work, he was the first off his perch, intensely eager to reconnect.
Patchie was most at peace sitting quietly in the garden as his humans tended the flowers and plants around him. He posed, as if he were some exotic hothouse bloom.
We’re told not to impose human emotions and motives onto animals. But there’s a theory that an adaptation, born over 10,000 years of human contact, has granted dogs the ability to understand a moral code, to abide by social rules. I do believe that Patchie struggled to become a better dog.
This was evidenced by something extraordinary that happened the day a new member of the family arrived. As a nervous Brittany spaniel puppy entered our house, the suspicious and defensive Alpha dog slowly slid to the floor, paws outstretched. As if to say to the much-smaller spaniel “You are welcome here. No harm will come to you.” To all those who witnessed, it was Patchie’s finest hour.
It is true: Old men miss many dogs. I think of him often.
There’s a picture I took of Patchie and my younger daughter that hangs in my living room. It is late summer, their faces dappled in sunlight filtered through the canopy of an ash tree. He looks directly into the camera.
That image crystallizes my memory of him in a single moment of grace. The noble protector, loved and accepted, but still, in his eyes, a faraway hint of something. Maybe a constant appeal to his better angels to dispel the demons who sometimes made it hard to be a good dog.
And it reminds me that Patchie was, in words borrowed from another Byron poem, ”A troubled stream, but from a pure source.”

Gimme A Break


This was my kitchen yesterday.


This was my living room yesterday.


With the death of a dog on Friday, working on Saturday, and a baby shower on Sunday, I wasn't home to do anything.


But B-Lowe was.  Someone, beat me in the face with a shoe!!!!


This is my school/bible study/blogging space I'm responsible for.  Another disaster.


B-Lowe cooked a turkey dinner, re-loaded bullets, ate, drank and made merry.  I bought Coke on my way home and there is my bath robe over the chair on the end.  I have no memory of how it got there.  Too much stuff, too much happening.


Sunday night, all we had the emotional capacity to do was watch Sons of Guns and Modern Family.  It was dark, so I didn't have to look at the chaos around us. 


But this is what faced me Monday morning.  This mess from hell has pressed me to join the 30 Days without accessories challenge with The Nester.


The entire month of June, my house will be accessory free.  My stuff needs a break, and so do I!  I'm off to de-clutter and enjoy empty spaces.  Feel free to join in.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Tour Of Homes

It's here!!!  I wait for this every year.   A couple of my favorite bloggers coordinate the Summer Tour Of Homes One of my favorite things in life is to observe how different women nest.  Click around, have fun!

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grab A Kleenex With Aloe!


I came home today to a pink package and a card on my kitchen counter.  B-Lowe said it was from our next door neighbors (the normal ones).  He waited to open it until I came home.  We had no idea what to expect.  First, we opened a very sweet card.


Have you ever read something in the midst of sorrow that made you smile from your heart to your face?  This card hit the spot.  There's more.  Grab a Kleenex with aloe.  NOW.


M & L gave us our first Willow Tree ornament.  It's called Angel of Friendship.


We cried.  Again.


The dog looks just like Sandy.



As I turned the sculpture in my hands around and around, twisting it back and forth, we couldn't make a sound.  My husband held his hand over his mouth.  I grinned but my heart ached.  We were joyful, and comforted.  We were in awe someone cared that much about our pain and reached out in such a tangible way.


"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Galatians 5:4).

"As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you" (Isaiah 66:13).

Not There


Sandy hated my decorative pillows on my living room couches.  She would knock them all off before her daily snooze on the center cushion.  After we put her down, I came home and cried as I took one last picture of her handy work.


Our home feels empty without her.  We miss seeing her excited prance when it was time to go out, time to have a 'cookie', time for a car ride, everything.  Normally, she sleeps on our recliner at night, upside down, when B-Lowe and I watch T.V. before bed.  She's wasn't there last night.  We miss her.  Alot.  It hurts.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mourn With Those Who Mourn

After we put our sweet Sandy down yesterday, we came home and cried.  The house isn't the same without seeing her in the usual places.  The first order of business was to let the other two dogs smell a lock of Sandy's hair we clipped, hoping it would communicate to them she is gone.  Jesse, our Standard Poodle was in deep thought for a few moments as she inhaled the fibers.


My husband couldn't take being in the house so he laid on the lawn and let the ground soak up his tears.  Jesse plopped down next to him and watched his face.


She put her paw on his chest.


She jumped over to his other side...


To lick his salty tears from his face.


When he didn't respond to her, she got serious.  She made her love BOLD.


She lied down and pushed into him as hard as she could.


He threw his arm around her neck.


She stayed right next to him...


On his level.


She promised him she would stay right here, for as long as it takes...


Whether he needed her or not.


The world was still and calm for a moment.


B-Lowe laid his head in my lap and we marveled at her capacity to feel our pain.  Her paw stayed on my knee for a long time.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15).


Even the Geese stayed close by.


Only God can give us peace when there shouldn't be any peace at all.  His hand was upon us.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).