Ready Or Not

Life happens

Thoughts following my album from 21 years ago

Today is a mental battle day. It is common for these days when I am also fighting my right to breathe. Yesterday my asthma snuck up on me after a warm bath. i did not even know my breathing was labored. It become so shallow that I blacked out twice. I sent my dog out to “find dad” and convince dad that I was in need. (She simply went back and forth until he followed her.

That’s another one of those problems with living in a glorified hallway. Someone in the back eighty can holler all lungs depleted and the front room occupant will never hear a thing. On a couple of past occasions people have come to the front door and i never knew knew they came. Of course, for me being in the back end and partially deaf does not help much for the matter.

Anyways, asthma is like that for me. Sometimes it catches me off guard. My trusty Honey was sticky enough that her “find dad” worked and the nebulizer was administered. I lived.

This picture below was taken in November after Coca’s bi-monthly nail trimming. We were teasing that we could paint his nails pink. It seemed to lighten the mood and make Isabelle less scared. Until Coca tried to tast her little boots. The moment was funny to me, not so much to the two year old.

So this morning, once again the air pump was used before the days activities. Today it was an appointment with the local horse shoeing specialist. Cocoa was amazignly well behaved for the sub-zero weather. Today I did not hunt him down. I simply said, “Come on Cocoa, Bradyn is coming today. You know that I can’t see very well. We are the same that way aren’t we buddy? So you come and put your halter on nice and easy. I’ll give you some oats and an apple if you behave. Now that’s a good boy.”

It worked. All went so smooth. And the good little pony received his apples and oats. I’d like to say with gratitude. But he devoured the apple so fast, I’m not sure the juice even squirted on the oats!

I have been watching a new Amazon prime series that was put together in the late nineties . “Dogs with jobs” continues to impress me. Sometimes it seems it is really all about the inteligence of the handler rather than the good senseof the dog. Other times it is obvious the dog is superior in intelligence and their sixth sense. So from now on I am just going to expect more out of my animals. If a horse can be used to lead a blind person around New York City, well, then my horse can put his halter on nice and easy. And Honey can learn to fitch my inhaler. (Now, how do I teach that, again?)

Every one of the dogs on the show works for some sort of reward . My daughter told me that there is a new style of parentying that removes the reward system. That’s the stupidest idea that I ever heard. Really? I grew up with one parent taught motto, If You Don’t Work, You Don’t Eat!

Really! Even as a small child, we were taught to help with the meal. From settign the table, to picking up the dishes, to simply putting away our toyw before the meal. As soon as a child can dump out the blocks, they can also put them away. My mother made games out of so much of what we did, it hardly felt like work.

So today the mental battles loom large. I find sitting and resting very heavy. Not only is my body weighted down by it’s lack of oxygen, then my mind gets to going into the past mistakes until I want to scream or cry.

So then, I tell myself to pick up the prayer list. but concentration is hard. I have to force myself to think about other people. Composing a compassionate thought for someone else makes me remove myself from the “woe is me” trap.

We all have cages and kennels to break free from… perhaps yours is more fiancial, or spiritual, or physical than mine. I believe that God gave us dogs so that we can learn lessons and know true unconditional love at some point in our lives. The capacity of a dog to go from extreme abuse to full trust is so amazing. I wish I could remove my inhibitions and trust in God like that.

Why do I find so much comfort in the company of animals? Maybe it’s because they do not talk back. Because they simply do what you ask of them. They do not whine at the task you give them. the love to work their reward drive is so strong. I have been trying to “promise” myself things more. Like when this blog is complete, I’m going to have a chocolate covered blueberry. Not before!

I am so tired.

I took a break the other day and it is now Monday morning while I revisit this journal entry. Morning is usually my favorite time to be in the library or office. Today it was subzero weather for my morning rounds. It looks like the cold will hand around for a few days. what this week holds will probably be more of the same asthma struggles as my lungs tend to twinge in pain when the cold air hits them. Even with a mask, a scarf and limited time, trouble will arise. Teaching Honey to retrieve something that is not “hers” will be quite a challenge. I’ll have to tie the inhaler to a toy for a few sessions.

Twenty one years ago I put together a music CD that I titled “Are you ready?” It was a music business flop. But the history is still there. The melodies still find their way into my mind on occasion. The song that is a one hit wonder is for another blog. But the title track was such a “God-thing” for me. I remember constantly asking what the Lord’s will for my life was and this song being His answer.

“Are you ready?

Are you ready to do My will?

Are you ready?

Are you ready to do My will?

When you seek Me

The you’ll find Me

You will know My will.

Search for Me, Watch for me. And be still.

And she listens,

yes, she listens for the voice of His word.

Oh, she listnes,hush! She listens for the voice of His word.

When He speaks out her name,

She’ll rejoice at His word.

Search for Me. Watch for Me And be still.”

-Are you ready? Written by Yvonne age 30 in 1998

Today, I have a new thought…

Ready or not…

Yep, ready or not, God’s will for our lives is done. Whether we recognize Him or not.

Isaiah 55:6. “seek the Lord while he may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.”

Out of sight, out of…

I have never claimed an out of body experience, but lately these nightmares have me wondering. Sleep does not always come easy as the winter days keep us cooped up indoors. Honey begs for exercise. I just crochet another row…

“Out of sight, out of mind” is my policy when it domes to cleaning. but last week as the winter slipped into a January melt, there was no denying the need to clean. My allergies and asthma demand an environment something like a hospital clean zone. (The idea of hospital triage in an empty parking lot really scares me.). So when I could not figure out where that smell was coming from, well< I tried. Then vertigo took over as my ears plugged up to the Hilton top floor. So finally after enlisting the the aid of my husband I think we finally found that smell that was no longer able to stay out of sight and out of mind.

“Out of gas” is how I felt much of the past week. The medicine for the vertigo did help me feel not so nauseous. At least I could eat something other than jello. If this is what spring in January is like what will spring be like when it actually arrives? Never-the-less I was able to start a new crochet project for my hours of stillness.

It is not however, the plan to keep the greenhouse warm during the bitter cold nights. The little propane furnace keeps the temps above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I added two compost bins and a few other thermal water containers. We have discovered that our water tank made out of two tractor tires is just a little too deep. The depth allows the tank to stay at fifty degrees rather than actually warming up. So we are making plans to remake the water tank this summer. It should be only four feet deep and have a larger surface area.

Out of house and home is how Honey must feel after I took her old bed away. we bought a raised bed cot for her so that it will be easier to clean. The first night on the cot was really more like her usual of sleeping on the hard floor all night long. I honestly don’t know if she rather likes being uncomfortable or if that’s just her nature. I did make a new comforter/twin fitted sheet pad to put on the top of the cot. We will see if she has more “staying” power tonight.

She has taken to the new bed, but still does her floor flopping a few times during the night. I also started watching some dog training shows again. We play a short game of hide and seek before her morning breakfast. She loves this intelligence sharpening tool and we seem to get along better throughout the day. It is all about “communication.”

Out of orbit continues to be our status with friends and family, because of the pandemic. The little kiddos were sick the last two weeks and their mama, so I have only had face times with the grandees. Kids really do bring a lot of hope and cheer into the world. So glad for the video visits.

Out of sugar use to be the reason for many a neighborly visit in the long ago days. Lately I wish I had a neighbor that would take that as an excuse for a fence chat. Seems like the pandemic has made people even afraid to pick up the phone, let alone take over a cup or two of sugar for the batter in the mixer. Sometimes we regret moving closer to family. The friends that we had in our previous two inhabitations were worth much more in terms of friendliness and comoradery. Sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings. No, not sorry. It’s just the way it is.

Out of toilet paper is not an option anymore in the family’s toddlerhood. Out of diapers gave my daughter the drive to potty train her two year old. It was successful. We had an enjoyable visit the other day and no accidents!

Things that run on empty sure had me feeling in the dumps for a few days. Finding something new to listen to, something new to do, and someone new to thing about sure helps. Was so glad to get a few phone calls to turn the tide. I also had a visit to the chiropractor and that gave my lungs some renewed capacity. Yay! Life feels better again

.Out of yarn is not something I can claim very often. But when I ran out of aran for the pillow that I was working on, I began digging through the stash. Actually trying to find the inspiration for the next project, I was unsuccessful on the mosic crochet front. So the idea as to clean out all of the old crochet swatches from patterns that i had tried for the last so many years. This pile was in the bottom of the yarn basket.

While there, i rediscovered the tulip stitch shawl that I made a few years ago. then the idea occured to me that perhaps this pattern could be used in the mobius shawl. I do not really have enough of these, I am sure. And something homely for home wear sounded good to me.

After the finished tulip edging, I decided to see how many I really do have. there are only ten of them and each one has a story of it’s own. but the Pretty-Tulips-All-In-A-Row is the only one that was truly started in the figure eight crochet. And those first two rounds were difficult to get the right size on the shawl. I finally measured from the tips of my fingers to my chin and it fit just right.

Möbius twist shawls have a way of keeping the shoulders warm . And they kind of remind me of the pretzel. Of course the history of the pretzel is the monks bringing a simple lesson on prayer into everyday life. The folding of the hands in prayer and the bread of life come together in the lovely salt of the earth snack. Look up the story some time. (I tell myself, too)

The Mobius shawl is names such for it’s figure 8 twist. I had never done one from the center. The others were all twisted and connected after construction. And of course my history of the shawls goes from right to left in the picture. Oops. Blue and lime are made out of a cotton thread that is great for the cooler summer days. Then the yellow and white ones are also summery and great covers for an air conditioning chill. Wine was made for my daughter’s winter wedding. Then the fuzzy grey/green for it’s softness and visiting grand-kiddos and cuddles. Pink was actually the very first one I ever made. I keep thinking to do away with it, but actually have a lot of spring attire with a hint of pink in it. And finally there is the wool twistee that is great for those howling windy winter days. Oh, some war! Each one has purpose and I need them all. Haha

Once a moss stitch had that never really did the job of keeping my ears warm, this stocking cap finally came to life last week and now I love it. The fun ball on the end keeps the dogs eyes on me while I am outside. I think they find comic relief in it’s bouncing about my head while we play fetch.

While cleaning up the residue from Christmas, I decided to listen to some music on my prime account. It keeps me entertained more times that I can I can count. Being “out of Ideas” for musicians, I decided to run through some names on the country music women hall of fame.

My pleasant surprise was that Reba is such a spiritual inspiration to so many in the industry. I am not plugging her for any other reason, that this… when you are fresh out of music artists and need a lift-me-up from an old standby, the song below really surprised me. the past week while I spend much of my time Out of orbit with the happenings of this old miserable world. Prayer is such a vital part of my alone time, and this one is so important.

While country music is known for it’s ability to be played backwards and get everything back that you lost, perhaps the truth of this song will hit home. Instead of turning our backs on the ways of the world and all of it’s misery, we should give everything that we in our selfish pride call our own, give it all Back to God!

Check it out sometime. The practice of prayer in one’s life is more than a calling, a habit, a time buster, or any other function you might come up with to call it. Having a life filled with prayer does not mean that solitude is easy either. Some days I feel that my life is a constant prayer monologue. Other days it is more like breathing. And then there are days when it is a battle to focus on the list in my hand and lift up those desperate for God’s touch in their lives. No matter the day, I hope that when my life is done others will say that like some practice, law, or piano, or medicine… “she was in the practice of prayer.”

Psalm 143:1 NKJV “Hear my prayer O Lord, Give ear to my supplications In Your faithfulness answer me.”

We “paws” to reflect

From gratitude to warm fuzzy feelings

This is the time of year that many people take a moment to reflect on the happenings of the past year. Some people that I know are skipping their “usual” in light of this very unusual year. Guilt over their abundance seems to make them pause their reflections and feel overwhelmed by the lack in others lives. That is not the case for me. I just decided to not stress out about writing a holiday letter this year.

Somehow, the common boasting about all that we have done, everywhere that we went, and all of the other things that find a way into the holiday news… well, what is wrong with saying “All is well” during a pandemic? Perhaps, that very statement should be our focus, and praise to the Maker of all things for our blessings.

Our lives are so full this year, it seems to overcome the emptiness of social distancing and quantified gatherings.

My favorite thing about this mild winter so far, is the abundance of geranium blooms in my greenhouse. The new baby plants get their blooms plucked before they have a chance to sneeze their fragrance. But the older plants are allowed to do their thing. The red, white and green keep me feeling so very blessed with new growth. But the “Pink Blush” geranium is my favorite. And of course it is taking it’s own sweet time in multiplying. I have only been able to take one slip from the mother plant so far. The construction hub and the bloom sum up the large majority of my time this year.

We “paws” to reflect on how our lives changed during this year of world wide health crisis and the conflict that spilled over. Anger was just something that I do not choose to live in. The constant upheaval of other’s inappropriate actions will not be my guide to how I live my days.

My consistent browsing on the internet at puppies, found me an old doggie to ad to our farm yard collection. Eva is an old breeding retiree. Her yellow Labrador retriever attitude has brought some upheaval. Otherwise, we just buy more food. She simply does not want to leave anything alone that does not belong to her. I think her years in the kennel have left her wanting. She will spend most of her retirement plainly being a dog.

Honey does not know how to behave with such a mild momma. We discovered that she was snapping at Eva a bit excessively. At one point Honey even caused a blood vessel to rupture in Eva’s left ear. We had to put Eva on steroids. Our little yellow “Ewok” has nearly recovered. She looks like a little Gremlin greeting us in the morning because that ear sticks out some.

Most days the two of them get along okay. They have their own ideas about companionship to me, so we get along okay also.

Christmas would just not be the same without some woodworking project to keep us preoccupied during the preparations. This year our stress level could not handle any large project like tables or desks. So we chose to make a new piggy bank for the newest member of the family. Of course if I say too much, someone will not be surprised. So, you will just have to wait for a full view! Nevertheless, i was rather pleased that making the poly-shade green was easily done with a little tempra paint I found in the back of the closet.

So far, so good! These two unlikely pet-sisters managed to sort of stay for a photo moment. It took over a dozen pictures to find one that is just right for the Christmas card.

However, because we have a new grandson this year, he and his sister will get first pick. Sorry puppies! Christmas at our house will be about the little grand babies!

Merry Christmas to all of my readers.

Thank you all so much ofr the feed back. It is much appreciated.

The dog ate my Christmas

No, really! She did it, Mom!

This old girl’s name is Eva. Sometimes I think it is a misspelling if you get my gist. But most of the time she really is an angel. I suppose it’s our fault. We didn’t put a water in the kennel, so to lock her, there will have to a lot of cord juggling and such so that her water would stay thawed out and the bucket not get cracked.

Meanwhile, we decided to use an automatic food service delivery and she learned that the packages contain food. Well, that started the whole ball rolling and even though we do not have snow right now, there was a mighty large snow mountain in the yard and the mess nor our attitudes towards her could handle the ice and snow!

So this particular day, we tied the box to her collar and made her drag around “Christmas” all day so that she would stop eating it. I honestly do not think it will work, so we will just lock her up if a package should come when we are gone. Which by the way it did several times this past week. And I am not gone from home much these days.

This one day I decided to crochet another remake. The hat was so thin and not very warm. Also the mittens were a pair of fingerless mitts that I wore on the motorcycle some. The job took me a couple of days but it was just in time for an outing on a warmer day.

Honey must have felt a little bad that Eva got in so much trouble for the package thievery. She has taken up one of her toys to tell me that “Somebody in a car is here!” I was both pleasantly surprised and a little bit in awe when it was the mail-lady with a parcel delivery. Yeah, Honey kept Eva out of the dog house! Haha!

The tethered box, got me to thinking about solving one of my walking problems. The dog’s compete so much to be first while on separate leashes, that we often get tangled up or my shoulders hurt really bad after the exercise.

So I tried the tethered walk with the two dogs one day. Amazing! Eva gets the harness latch on her collar and I run the leash through a slip hook on Honey’s collar. Wow! Solved my problem of sore shoulders all by myself. Neither one of them pulls on the leash anymore. And Honey has to be the dog-in-charge like she really is supposed to be. No more pulling! the double sided tug on Honey works like the harness. Yay! And I have my hands more free to swing my arms as is natural to walking.

We finally found someone to reupholster the old day bed from Gavin’s folks. She did such a beautiful job. I had a picture of the whole day bed, but don’t want to spoil the beauty by giving away the picture! So Here’s the little story. We cleaned up the wood a couple of summer’s ago and it sat in the old house next door for two years. Then we ought the fabric pre-Covid. I had one lady lined up and she canceled on me with the “mask shortage.” She was busy sewing masks for the healthcare etc.

This fall I got on the phone and made a few calls to find a new person. I forgot that my husband was buying the fabric based on touch. The feel of the daybed is both luxurious and simple. This little pillow was another one of my mosaic crochet studies. Now that I know how to make the continuous crochet tapestry fabric, more pillows may find their way into my loved ones lives. It was so much fun to do, I could not put it down until it was finished.

Meanwhile, out on the ranch… haha. My husband pampered me by trying this mulberry stump rocket stove. We burned it three weekends in a row, putting the fire out with water each time. The third time it began to fall apart. It was a fun way to warm up while the forty degree weather tempted us to stay outside awhile longer. Don’t judge us for using up good firewood. The stack by the woodshed/chicken coup would supply someone for at least two winters. If the racoon’s don’t destroy the stack too many times.

Only two weeks until Christmas and I have not done any of the usual things. My gift making still seems to be far delayed and not near enough time. Letter writing is still on the back burner, and the thought of trying to do a Christmas card seems overwhelming. The gatherings so few, there really are not very many pictures to use.

Looking forward to the Holiday holds a hint of apprehension. Some have already had the virus, but others have not. So caution will probably hold a great big yellow yield sign over every thing that we do.

Hopefully, I can get you another update on all the happenings around here sometime soon. Trying not to get overly “busy.” It seems like focus on the true gift of Christmas is far more important than on all the trappings of the holiday.

Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (ESV)

For bitter or for sweet

The long and short of it all…

This blog was suppose to be published in June, as we celebrated 29 years of marriage.I should not be so bold to say celebrate. Actually we spent the week waiting for the arrival of our second grand baby. At the time we were still guessing wether he would be a boy or a girl. Boy, some of us were wrong!

Twenty nine years is significant in some ways. Many people don’t make it through the adulting of their children. Either by illness or divorce. This year the month concluded with news that indeed was the case for some people we knew. Divorce. Our hearts were broken for the friend. And especially because the news took two years to reach us.

“For better or for worse, for bitter or for sweet, in sickness and in health, until death do we part…”. Does anyone even make this kind of a vow anymore? It seems the whole of world thinks the rose bushes no longer have thorns. I am glad that my daughter has such a bush right out her kitchen entrance. Every time they leave and come back to the house, it is visible and during the summer on full display.

Marriage is work. And it takes two. So many are disillusioned by the pursuit of happiness they forget the true purpose of marriage. Here is the jist of what we believe: marriage is a reflection of Christ and the Church. Marriage is so that the onlookers will know that the Lord is God. Marriage is so that each partner has an opportunity to learn the value of unconditional love.

Unconditional.

For bitter or sweet, I love and serve the needs of another. It’s up to me to make the bitter sweet. Like making chokecherry jelly. Those little berries have got to be the most bitter things (buffalo berries are pretty bad too). When we are handed a pail of these cherries, it might take the whole bag of sugar to make them sweet. Roll up you shirt sleeves, gather up your best character values and make some jelly. Be the sugar if the other partner is the berries.

Does anyone know how to become better or is the whole world just becoming more and more bitter every time things get a little difficult. Learning to do things that are hard becuase of the value of doing it. Like a marathon, life can be hard sometimes.

Marriage in the evening years.

Maybe I should not classify us in the twilight of life. But some grandparents really do see this time of life as a sunset

Last week, I made a phone call. Perhaps it was a bad decision. But we adopted a ten year old retired breeding labrador retriever. Young families with children in the house don’t want to watch a puppy grow old. Let alone, an old dog get older.

The twilight of life for a breeding dog is the pleasant years. No more working for this sweet little girl. She can laze away her days on the porch swing if she chooses to. But don’t be deceived, Eva has a lot of energy yet. The first twenty four hours her little feet did not stop once! I think she tried to smell the whole acreage.

Adopting an elderly dog has both it’s sweet parts and its bitter parts. Of course learning all of her quirks will take at least a year. The sweet part is that she is already trained to heel, follow, retrieve, and does not nip or step on your toes. She really is a good oe’ girl.

Why in the world would we get another chore? Well, doing for another is not so bad when the another is so sweet. Serving the person with an applesauce attitude is much better than serving a person with the attitude of a rotten banna. You know what I am talking about don’t you? Please don’t make me spell it all out.

Honey was absolutely sure there was no room for another dog. She has tried to be the boss of everyone since we’ve known her. She snarls at nearly every dog she meets. Even with socialization, she is not real friendly towards other dogs. To other people she is on the top of the friendliness chart. She would go home with anyone. That’s why her collar has her name and phone number on it.

Eva… our evening doggie is so subservient, it makes Honey look like shoe leather. How one dog can be soft an another like shoe leather is pretty visible quite quickly. Of course this little bulldozer does know how to crash through the thicket that has been a stand alone for over twenty years. The only think I have ever seen come out of the thicket was a cat we had once that would eat the baby bunnies. Eva went right through like a bulldozer. she is pretty thick skinned actually. And so now the lily garden has a fence around it. And she gets tied up when I am in the garden. Or there won’t be any lettuce to eat.

So when things get a little too rough for this grandma, it’s time for an iced coffee and a lazy cat on the bench. This cat is Tabitha, or Tabby for short. She is last years kitten from a neighbor. Only two of the five stayed off the road. Our house is less than 100 feet from the pavement. Some of the cats are truly suicidal. I have to feed them before taking Honey fo a run or bike ride. But now the old mama cat had six kittens this spring and four of them are orange. Might have to come up with some new names that mean orange or maybe just the names of the oranges, like tangelos, nectarines, cuties, and mandarins? Do we have the right lifestyle to adopt another dog? We had all of the accommodations. Our kennel outside sat empty and there were plenty of leashes around here to hook up another walker. Right lifestyle or not, there are some things that change. For instance who is feeding who when? And perhaps we could use another walk at the state park nearby.
Affording the change? Well, she’s pretty small and there’s not much hopefully to anticipate for her needs. But just a week or so ago, at my annual physical, my doctor told me that I could afford a lifestyle change.

Really she said just that. Okay, maybe it was “your cholesterol ranks a little high and you could get those numbers down with diet and exercise.” I heard, “you are getting a little fat, this weight gan cna be reversed by taking up rowing,m running, weightlifting and it would be best to remove all the seet tasty treats in your life and eat just rabbit food. You know at your age you could afford to make a lifestyle change!”

Doctors never make those calls. It is always the nurse. She was mean. I knew all that just by lookin in the mirror. That’s wjy I avoid looking!

Twisting the facts a bit is not really telling a fib now is it? i just turned her bitteersweet news into a more audible warning. Twisting my nose would have been just as effective.

Eva and I have a lot in common actually. I’m pretty set in my ways at this point in life also. I can relate to the few extra pounds that one puts on after going into menopause. I know what it’s like to have habits that drive me to do things a certain way. But I refuse to a be a bulldozer into other peoples thoughts or lives. Hopefully, we can be sweet enough that the chokecherry jelly will turn out to be great syrup for pancakes. Just have to use more sugar I guess.

Distant Social Zing

Honey bear style

Social distancing is not something our honey bear understands. Golden doodles are bred for their friendliness and their adaptability with others. So when this whole covid 19 thing showed up, our sticky mutt decided if people were not coming to see her, then she would go see them.

My theory is actually much more complicated about why I am chose to run. Most dogs do run. But only a few will chose to run away from the immediate in search of what ever the nose might find.

Everyone knows the dog’s nose is number one in the scheme of reasons, I vote for that one. Some smells are intoxicating. Like a thirst for water after a good frisbee session, my nose gets a scent and it seems like a strong rope to the rest of me. No one can leave bacon alone, right? Well, that’s what some aromas do. They draw me. It’s hard to explain.

However, shortly before the stay at home order, I found out that one of our substitue mail carriers feeds us treats from her car. That mail carrier fed me right there on the road! Of course, I am thinking, how dangerous. But oh well, everyone slows down for me and the mail. Who would encourage a dog to jump up on the car for a treat? It’s so confusing. Some people use angry voice when I try to jump and she gives me a treat. I don’t know which is the right way.

Besides, the package guy always gives me a treat. But he comes into the driveway so that is probably safe. I love to circle his truck and smell all of the other places he stops at. Sometimes another canine leaves me a message on the tires. His truck is full of nose treats and cookie treats.

(Remember that sign we use to see at the zoo, or in the national park out at Yellowstone: DO NOT FEED THE BEARS ?). Well, I am about to post that sign on my lawn near our 911 address. Do not feed my HONEY BEAR! She’s rather sticky, and it will get messy and difficult in the future. It just encourages the friendly dogs, to chase cars and play on the road.)

This morning after a leash walk with my mom, to the corner and back, I found a juicy one. Smell, that is. It took me north a long ways. Suddenly, another scent interrupted me. I tried to find the first one, but I lost it. My one mile walk with mom was nothing compared to the five miles my nose took me. That plum bush that mom thought was worth stopping for and letting me go was nothing compared to my trail. After the hour and a half of tracking, I was a little thirsty. Maybe a drink would help me pick up the scent again. So I turned to go home. Up to the road I went.

Then, the nice lady slowed down and picked me up. She read my collar. She called me Honey and everything. I heard her use the box to call mom. Then she dropped me off at the end of the driveway, and said “Honey go home.” I was glad. All that tracking had me ready for a drink. I jumped right up on the deck with a thud so mom could hear me.

I was happy to be home. I don’t think mom sounded very happy.

(Of course it does not help that I am blind. Nor that she did not have her guide harness on at the moment. I do not harness her every time that we go out. She is still in training to help me and some days we take a break. So after five minutes of calling for the “nose to ground” hound dog, I gave up. It was useless to waste my breath on the four legged creature that can run nearly 35 mph in a short spurt and 15-20 mph for longer distances. She was no where to be seen in just a matter of seconds.)

Two hours later a friendly lady gave her a lift home. There is a reason we put her name and home phone number on her collar. Though I had hoped it would only get used during a grooming session, or at dog camp. Or perhaps emergencies unforeseen. Honey thinks it is so that she can go distant social zing!

Distant Social Zing!

Yeah, I said that exactly the way that that she would. Zing is her favorite thing. Just toss a frisbee sometime and you will witness how fast her zing really is. Zing is what a golden doodle does bed.

Zing is the thing that drives our Honey bear to fly through the air after the disc. Zing is the thing that makes our Honey seem so sweet to everyone outside of the family. Zing is the thing that this sticky girl does when she meets someone new. Zing is the thing that happens when I turn my head for two seconds.

Zing.

Distant social zing is what she has taken up now that no one ever comes over for coffee.

Zing.

And that is nothing like zoom!!

Epilogue”My mom is the best ever. This morning she got me a date with a runner. A real runner, not just for twenty paces. My runner can run a mile or longer in one breath. I think. And she’s a girl. Like me. Girls rock! My runner listens to music. And she tastes great too. She had lotion, hot dogs, and sweat all at once. My runner is my best friend. I hope she comes again. Mom just handed her the leash and we left. My runner is the best. I tried to tell her so. I licked her and jumped like crazy. I hope she comes back.”

Yep, we hired a runner. And we are trying to throw the frisbee at consecutive moments to keep Honey on the go for at least twenty minutes. She’s still not tired. Just very exuberant and very fit.

Post Script to the epilogue

We decided to build Honey a fort. Here begins the agility challenges. Quaratine has made us think of all sorts of things to improve our staying at home. Hopefully this will help improve Honey’s staying home also. She actually began the weekend by running off on Gain while he was outside with her. So by Sunday we made the decision start building more”listen” into her. The agility and cofidence course for the canine is all about building relationship with your dog. I hope it works for my dog. The fort has two platforms, a tunnel, and a ladder or stepping bridge. We have the items for a hurdle, but will make that this later. She is learning to slow down and listen. Hopefully there will be no injuries (to me or her).

This morning after just one day with the fort, she gave up chasing the cats for a romp on the fort while I fed the feline’s. I would say success. And she learned about slowing down for the stepping bridge. She tends to just barrell through every thing as if exuberance were the answer to the whole of life. Her middle name is zealous!

Operator error

Follies and fortunes with Honey

The follies and fortunes of owning a mixed breed dog have been part of our co-existence for three years now. It was of course my foolishness that requested a “hypo-allergenic” dog as a guide dog companion. Having no previous experience with either a poodle, or a golden retriever should have been a warning signal. Choosing this breed mix was a new challenge altogether. The misfortune of owning such a hyper energetic dog is that I do not run marathons for a living. Frisbee has become our mode of energy draining!

In this day and age of technology driven work and social lives this is one sign that we hope not to see. However in-frequently it’s message interrupts our screen this message clearly points fault. Today while blind guide training my dog the message spoke loud and clear. Operator Error was flashing a message loud and clear. Let me explain myself.

For the past month Honey and I have been training independently on guide dog behavior. Most days we work together-that’s a joke. The independence that I mention is without the aid of a certified guide dog therapist or trainer. Together, I have learned that she still backs away whenever the harness comes out. High value treats help some. Together, we have been learning the words or commands associated with the use of the harness. Together, we are learning some completely new skills.

HOWEVER

Yeah, you knew that one was coming. Because of her her hyper energy and sensitive nature, communication between the operator and the wearer has been rather botched. For starters, we have had three years without the use of the tool. The harness acquired less than a month ago is new to Honey. Most guide dogs get the harness fitted at full growth spurt completed. Approximately one and a half years.

Day One had my sensitive hyper bee jumping kangaroo style every time the handle found contact with anything. She has always gotten more agitated every time we get ready to go somewhere. We would try to put her in a stay mode, and it never worked. The more I move around, the more she moves around. Getting ready to go anywhere, meant there is a sixty pound banana following you. We were sure to run into her frequently in the search for shoes, coat, hat, purse, backpack or anything else needed for the “going.” Needless to say, it has taken her three weeks to learn STATUE. Learning that the harness handle bumps into chairs, doors, walls or other items if she does not stand still, took a little bit of patience. So week three has arrived and Honey now stands still in statue after the harness is on. Yep, she’s smart. (Three weeks seemed like a long time to me.)

Okay, next lesson.

With the harness on our roles are completely reversed. She is no longer a sixty pound banana behind me. Now, I am the drag weight in the tractor pull. Wherever she goes, I follow. This is hard to do. TRUST. That’s not very easy to do when this jumping jelly bean has broken my nose in the past. Her excitement has to be toned down somehow. So the other day while going for a walk, I actually followed her. Into the ditch we trailed the scent she had just discovered. However, because free-time is not while she is on the harness, it did the kangaroo hop that she does when she is excited and does not know what is next. “Oh, no, where are we? What are we doing here? What happened to the road we were walking on? Why do feel like sliding down a slippery slope into the abyss? Where’s the road? Where is my walk?” It worked. She got us back on the road and towing the white line on the edge.

On to the blind guide training and the operator erro. So today we took the harness for a five minute waltz. Just the the green house and a few other frequented places on the acreage. At first I said, “Go to…”. Each time I began with that phrasing she turned to go for a walk. Ergh. My frustration was setting in. Doing this trust thing is not going very well, I told myself. Try again. “Find…”. YAY! We have success.

Finding OUR way

Find is her favorite game. We have spend many rainy days playing find tug, or find car, or find ball, or find cookie. I show her the toy we are using, ask her to sit-stay or place. Then I go throughout the house pretending to hide the item until I choose a spot. Sometimes I continue pretend for more than the actual placing of said object. Then I return to Honey and praise her for stay and say FIND.

So, operator error flashing, I began to ask my harnessed guide dog to “find” various places around the acreage. Wahlah! We had success. Apparently GO means a walk, or the car, or go with. Communication to a dog has always been a challenge for this family. We had a little dog for ten years that refused to COME. But if you said “Go” follwed by your own name, he came right to you. Somehow in the training years come meant bad things to the little furball. I hope it does not take me ten years to figure out this girl.

Now give

Snags, snarls, and clumps

Woke up this morning to the weather report. Knowing how many layers for morning chores is critical to my survival. Not much to chores with just one scoop for the five or six mousers that we feed. Morning feeding for cats on a farm keeps them doing their job at night: hunting mice. Some times Honey the doodle-dog needs a reminder to get to business rather than herd the feline’s. Out we went with my wind breaker, hat, boots, and mittens.

Then it was time for my own fast breaking with a solitary muffin and some water. Next to the radio voices, mine was pretty dry and scratchy. On to the dog’s grooming routine. It will probably take all day. She was out in the wind and sunshine for a couple of warm springy days. So all that diving after the frisbee made for some pretty good tangles.

This week has a few scheduling trespasses. One for the horse and one for Honey’s spring spa date. Should have made a nail salon date for myself also. The problem is that the farrier for Coco is the same day as Honey’s salon appointment. Or maybe that’s a good thing. No dog to add tension to the pony’s anxiety.

The weather took a dive back into winter this week, so we are back to hats, scarves, and gloves. This bomber’s hat is a crochet version made from two previously not so warm beanies. The ear muff wrap attached inside adds an extra layer of warmth for my sensitive nerves.

Last week I spent some time writing about the changes that my eyesight did to my social life. It was rather depressing, so I tabled the idea for awhile. One of the hardest things for me to handle is the identity change.

Writing about the past brings a lot of emotional pain for me. There is a new note to myself on my white board in my library: “NOW.” We cannot live in the past, it’s over. The past is for books and history lessons. We do not live in the future, it is so very unforeseen and creates fear and anxiety. We live now. This moment. This hour, this day. I choose to live in the NOW.

Letting go of who I use to be means giving room to who I am now. I could go on and on about the me that wants to stay. Gripping the frisbee with all of her might does not give Honey the thrill of the next chase. She has to let go in order to give into her instinct of hunting the prey. The word that is on the training agenda for this week is GIVE.

Give the ball. Give the frisbee. Give the rope. Give the tug. Give the stuffie. Give. Give. Give. You think I would have gotten the message by now. But I still have a lot to learn I guess. Perhaps I should listen up a little better to my own repetitive voice.

The NewLiving Translation for I Peter 5:7 says it this way: “Give all of your worries and cares to God, because He cares about you.”

Oh, yeah!

Leap year reactions

Learning to delight in the little things and find positive rewards in life’s moments

The other day we had a random lunch date with our daughters, and grand-daughter. The little one spent much of the meal hugging on the elders rather than eating. Her sweet touches and loves were enough to burst our hearts. But she was the one that let a moment of pleasure ring out across the restaurant. Her little voice emptied the silence when she declared “Oh, yeah!” -at her delight in the french fries. If only we could all declare such delight in spontaneous form.

My days in solitude are numerous. Having a dog in my presence fills the void sometimes with unexpected canine reactions. Honey is not as reactive as some others I have witnessed. So I spent the last month or so watching all the dog training shows on my Prime account that I can find. The rescue shows can be pretty disheartening, so I learned to avoid those. Besides there are children with higher value that need more attention than all those dogs out there. The multiple dog homes about drive me up a tree. I feel like a raccoon just trying to rest and the coon hound is circling. One dog seems to be an abnormality. Wow! Some times there is just too much “muchness!”

Makes me glad I only have one dog. Besides my eyesight has about all it can handle with just one. Playing canine games with Honey takes about 20 minutes out of my day. We do the walk and outside, and frisbee, and all the Happy squeaky ball fetch. But Find toy is her most rewarding. She is exhausted after about ten retrieves, and then I can sit down without interruption.

Of course naming each toy that we play with for Find is very important. I don’t think she’ll ever be as good at naming all of her toys as Furbie was, but she only has one trainer. Dad does not play this game. He’s more of an armchair dog handler. No apologies. It’s the truth.

We are looking for a harness that would fit her. She has a medium girth, but her shoulder/breast length is so small. I hope that when I do get her into one again this spring, she will make the connection to “work.” Right now when I try to do the guide commands with just a leash, she is just to hyperactive. I have even tried frisbee first and then the guide time training. She just wants to follow when on the leash too much. The handkerchief over my eyes when a nice day arrives should help.

Maybe I just don’t trust her much. She probably senses that.

This week we had an ambulance instance in the family. While all is well for now, it has put the family all on communicative overdrive. Just trying to keep everyone informed and at peace with all the goings on… We are praying more specifically as the call merits.

The warmer spring weather is on it’s way, along with the mud. A little flurries overnight left the pebbles sticking to the bottom of shoes again. More cleaning, and more dipping paws into the clean pail.

Yesterday it was almost warm enough for my grand-daughter to video chat with the horse! See how I rate. She starts asking about Coco before I even get a chance to say hello some days! The horse does love to ham it up on the phone, in videos or pictures. But the poor boy forgot about the electric fence between us and got angry enough at me that he would not turn around again. We had to turn the fence on because there is a young doe sleeping in our grove. I see her about every other day. This morning we actually did some scent chasing and I let Honey follow her trail about a quarter mile to the south. She is pretty brave. But has not knocked the fence down since we turned it back on.

From all the animals around to the house cleaning, my life stays boringly consistent. I finished another crochet project, but I really do not like it. It might be a stay home thing or another redo.

My thoughts and prayers have gravitated more towards children in need lately as I watch all of the dog-hype shows. It saddens me that people spend so much money on canine toddlers and less on children. The humane society advertisements to sponsor pet saving is just so over-rated. We have kids within my fifty mile radius living in such poverty. The passage that seems to fit the best comes from Matthew chapter fifteen and verse 26:

“And Jesus answered, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.'”

This leap year we are jumping forward over a new challenge. For twenty some years we have sponsored a child through the ministry of Compassion International. We chose them because over 95% of the money goes to the child’s needs. And the majority of the program is teaching the child about Jesus. Our sponsored child from Dominican Republic has moved out of the system. Sponsoring her cost less than our pet food each month. I think we will sponsor two children next.