Let The Rehearsals Begin…


Dearest Readers:

Good morning, World. Another beautiful sunshiny day! After two cups of coffee and my morning yogurt parfait, I decided to rehearse the tentative songs for the show scheduled for late May — May 30, to be exact! All of my pups, with exception of grouchy little Hanks, were outside while I popped the CDG’s in the stereo. Turning the microphone on, I recognized it is not working. “Rats!”

“Unchained Melody,” starting playing, so I belted out the notes, moving and dancing around, I glanced at the carpet. Hanks the Tank sat motionless — something extremely out of character for him. His eyes stared at me, still motionless while listening to me sing.

I patted his head to thank him for his attention. The first notes of “At Last,” began, so I belted those long notes out. Hank is still mesmerized while listening to me singing.

The last song, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” is a duet I will sing with another singer. He has a great voice and I am honored to sing with him at rehearsals. As I sing the female notes, Hanks is still sitting about three feet from where I am dancing around. His eyes are still glued to me!

When I finish, Hanks approaches me…grumbling…as if to tell me he is enjoying listening to me. Funny. I’ve never noticed him listening to me while I sing. For me, this is the ultimate compliment. My energetic, grouchy, once terribly abused and unloved mini-schnauzer, Hanks the Tank, is letting me know how much he enjoys hearing me sing!

If all goes well, I will sing one song, and a duet at the show. I suppose I’ll share more details later. Now, I must decide what dress to wear. Those decisions are for a later date…after all, we still have rehearsals for all of us. We have a great bunch of singers for this variety show. No doubt it will be fun for all.

I cannot wait to get up on that stage and sing. Of course, you, my readers, know that — don’t you! This girl simply comes alive on stage! Yes, I was born to sing — and that is why I do it!

Today is a beautiful day. Think I’ll go work on my tan! Have a great weekend readers, and keep listening for more songs. Hanks is rubbing my leg now as if to say, “Sing…Sing…SING!”  Silly boy! Some people believe dogs do not enjoy music. I say — oh, yes — dogs LOVE music!

Maybe one day I will record a CD to share and to play — for my little Hanks! More details — LATER!

A Tribute to William Lloyd Garrison and My Precious “Shamey-Pooh”


Dearest Readers:
If you follow the page, “Following Atticus,” on a regular basis, you know that precious, Sweet William Lloyd Garrison, aka “Will” left this world yesterday, October 25, 2014 at approximately 3:30pm. Will, as you probably know, is the lost, angry oldster that Tom Ryan rescued from death’s door in May, 2012. Sweet Will, as I describe, was a beautiful white, curly haired schnauzer with one of the sweetest faces and the most beautiful, expressive eyes that one can imagine. Each time I saw a picture of him with his long eye lashes and amazing face, I melted. I asked how anyone could ever neglect or abandon such a precious life. Each time I watched him prancing and dancing around in a video, I laughed, enjoying those special moments. Although he was considered a senior dog, he certainly did not behave in such a manner.

May 2012 is so significant to me. Perhaps I failed to connect the significance of that sad month until reading about Sweet Will yesterday. May 2, 2012 is the day I lost a special part of my heart and soul when Prince Marmaduke Shamus left us due to a terminal illness. I do not remember the exact date where I discovered the Facebook page, “Following Atticus,” but I am certain it was right after the loss of precious Shamey-Pooh.

When Shamey-Pooh left, my heart felt completely empty. For weeks all I could do was cry – sometimes exploding into an ocean of tears. While it is true, I have suffered great losses prior to the loss of Shamus, I must say, never have I cried like I did with his loss. One night in a dream, Shamus spoke to me, telling me I needed to open my heart to another rescue, and so the exploration began – to find a lost animal to help ease the pain. Shakespeare Hemingway, the boss of our home, gave me great comfort after losing Shamus, but nothing could ease the pain. I searched online, checking the Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas website, in hopes of rescuing another giant schnauzer. No, I was not replacing Shamus, because I fully believe each of our animals, like children and loved ones, cannot be replaced; nevertheless, we can find a place inside our hearts to allow new love to enter. I checked other sites, failing to find ‘giant schnauzers.’

I found numerous sites to purchase a giant schnauzer, but I knew I had to find a rescue. Still, each time I looked at a picture of Shamus, my heart told me to wait and rescue. Early one morning, I opened Facebook, discovering a photograph of a solid black giant schnauzer needing a home. He was a stray that arrived at an animal shelter in Athens, GA. He was beautiful, with sad black eyes. I phoned the shelter. If I applied for him, I was told I would be the ‘fourth in line for him.’ Quickly, I filled out the application and faxed it to them, phoning to confirm receipt. The next morning, I was told he was still available and if I truly wanted to adopt him, I would need to be at the shelter the next morning at 10 o’clock. I was hopeful no one else would arrive before my husband and I did. That afternoon, I received a phone call from the shelter, letting me know that if I wanted “Schultz” I could adopt him!

Within 24 hours, I would meet “Schultz” arrange his neutering surgery and take him home. I was ecstatic!

My new guardian angel, Prince Marmaduke Shamus, helped me to find another animal needing a good and happy home. After meeting “Schultz” at the animal shelter, we fell in love. We were told he loves to jump, and he can jump extremely high, but that would not be an issue. “We accept and love our animals and I am certain we can teach him a few things in our home.”

Today, Prince Midnight Shadow is a different boy. He still loves to jump and tries to jump into trees to capture squirrels; however, he hasn’t managed to catch any, and there are a few squirrels that appear to tease him when they stop at tree level, as if to say, “Ha. Ha…You can’t catch me!” Shadow continues jumping in air, wishing and hoping that one day, he will catch a squirrel. He is quite comical with his behaviors and he loves to walk and chase balls. Shadow is the perfect friend to help with the loss of Shamus.

While writing this, my heart is still breaking over the loss of Sweet Will yesterday. If you do not know the story of Tom Ryan and his love and acceptance for animals, allow me to explain. In May 2012, Tom heard about a lost and neglected senior schnauzer that was dropped off at a kill shelter. He decided to rescue Will. Arriving at Tom’s home, Will was angry, short tempered and fearful. He bit Tom many times. Tom Ryan is a patient and gentle man, never lashing out at Will, simply remaining calm. He discovered Will’s spirit was broken, and Will was almost blind. He had the ability to see shapes, and he loved music and flowers. Tom wrote about Will. Reading his stories helped me to see how broken Shamus’ spirit was until we adopted him. Losing Shamus left me with such emptiness, but the words of Tom Ryan and his stories of “Following Atticus,” and the additional of “Will” helped ease my pain.
I still have days where losing Shamey-Pooh torment me. The emptiness I feel during those times is impossible to describe. When Shadow hears my sniffles or sees my tears, he rushes over to place a paw on me and to lick my tears away. This week, Shadow has heard me cry many, many times while reading the deterioration of Sweet Will, his inability to stand for long and the weakness in his body. As for his heart and soul, Sweet Will never lost it. If anything, he grew into a younger, feistier little fellow with expressive eyes, opened wide, ready to melt the heart of anyone he met. Yes, the body aged and was quickly giving out, but his spirit kept fighting.

Reading the compelling, touching words of Tom Ryan and his love for Sweet Will forced me to think about Shamus all over again, only this time, I recognized the guilt I had from allowing Shamey-Pooh to die with dignity while we held him was the right and dignified way to allow him to go. I did not want Shamus to ‘die on a table while bleeding out,’ nor did I wish him to suffer like my dad suffered a few weeks before his death. I wanted to sing to Shamus since he always loved to hear me singing.
One thing I have learned about the dying process is those who live deserve to die with dignity. While it is true, we allow animals to be euthanized when their life is almost over; we do not do the same with people. I believe we should. For two years, I watched my dad daily battling esophageal cancer. Gone was the privilege for him to walk, without a walker…Gone was his ability to eat, without regurgitating his food…Gone was his independence. At first, he was determined to continue living; however, the longer he fought, the angrier he became. At one point while visiting him in the nursing home, he shouted to me, “Just let me go. Go on. Get out of here…Leave me be!”

I visited my dad daily, unless I was sick. I did not want him to die alone. I refused to give up on him; however, on July 6, 1999 as he was dying, I remained strong when the nurses said they could bring him back. “Let him go,” I whispered through tears. “He wants to die with dignity.”

Today my heart aches for Tom Ryan and Atticus, while recognizing Sweet Will was allowed to leave on his own terms, just like my dad and my precious Shamus. Although he could not speak to Tom Ryan, Will’s tired, aching body was telling him that his life would end soon, and so this week, although he struggled to get up, he braced his legs and pranced around until collapsing. He was determined to smell the scent of the endless supply of aromatic flowers his fans sent to him. Sweet Will found happiness amongst scented flowers and music and when he left this world, he was surrounded by the therapeutic vibrations of music and flowers. We should all be so blessed when our life escapes us. Rest in peace, Sweet Will. May you and Shamey-Pooh prance around, making new friendships in the life beyond.

To read the inspiring, touching stories of “Following Atticus,” and “Will,” click the following link: http://tomandatticus.blogspot.com/

Excerpt from “CHATTAHOOCHEE CHILD”


Dearest Readers:

Today, while finally gluing my butt to the chair, I am writing again. Today, I would like to share the latest Excerpt from “Chattahoochee Child.”

I hope you will enjoy!

A FAMILY MATTER…

Domestic Violence…Domestic Abuse… Regardless what it is called, it is truly a vicious monster. A wild, destructive monster that roars with such anger and turbulence I vowed never to allow it to knock at my door as a grown up. There were times I felt domestic violence knocking at my door, especially whenever Garrett felt threatened by his green-eyed monster of jealousy. At times I was horrified of my husband, especially on one occasion when we were fighting most of the day. He was in one of his PTSD rages, shouting at me, raising his fist, threatening, and when his anger got the best of him, he thrust his fist through the doorway of the hall. I jumped back.

“Was that directed at me?” I asked him.

He smirked. “No. I’d never hit you.”

I raised a manicured finger at him. “If you ever hit me, our marriage will end. IMMEDIATELY. Domestic violence is something I will never forgive.”

Garrett rubbed his fist. “Whatever,” he said, walking away.

In my marriage I was blind sighted to domestic violence. I made excuses. Always forgiving Garrett’s jealous rages, I tolerated his verbal abuse. Excusing his quick, hot temper as another rage from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I apologized for making him angry. Whenever men looked my way, I quickly glanced away. I did not want Garrett to lose his temper, or to shout at me. I closed myself inside my home, afraid that if he called and I wasn’t home, he would retaliate with another shouting match.
Domestic violence I knew much about as a child, although at the time it did not have the title of domestic abuse or violence. It was labeled a “family matter…” Shunned…Never mentioned. Ignored! As a married woman, never did I consider that my husband might become violent, and on the day that he thrust his fist through the door, I felt the fear that a victim of domestic violence fears and I promised myself that I would not become the next victim.

At the age of five-years-old, I saw domestic violence for the first time. My mother was outside, gossiping with neighborhood women at Joel Chandler Harris Homes in Atlanta, Georgia. I was inside our apartment playing with my doll babies when I heard my daddy shouting, calling in a harsh voice for my mother. I screamed at him, “Daddy, she’s outside talking to the neighbors.”

“Go get her.” My daddy demanded.

I rushed outside. “Mommy. Daddy wants you inside.”

My mother laughed. “He can come get me,” she said. One of the five women she was gossiping with snickered. “Guess you better get inside. Gotta keep the ruler of the house happy!” All of the women roared in unison.

Living in a housing project, the women were not exactly the Donna Reed style of women, dressed in fine clothing and high heels. My mother wore bed room slippers and a dirty house coat. No makeup or lipstick. Two of the women were dressed in raggedy jeans and T-shirts. Their hair was messy and they smelled like a dirty ashtray. I decided on that date that I would always do my best to look my best – to groom myself like a woman and wear makeup and have my hair styled. Never did I want to be ‘frumpy’ or a plain Jane.

“Mommy,” I said, my voice rising a bit. “Daddy’s gonna get angry.”

The back door closed. My daddy rushed outside, waving his fist, shouting.

“Sa-rah!” He roared. “You get in here now.”

My mother did not move. Daddy rushed to her, grabbing her arm. She pushed away from him and he shoved her, knocking her to the ground where she hit her forehead on the concrete curb. The metal trash cans by her fell over. I saw blood on my mother’s forehead. Daddy grabbed her arm. “You get up…Now.” He barked.

My mother struggled to get up. I reached to help her. I touched her forehead. “Are you, Ok, Mommy?”
I stood between my parents, my arms crossed tightly in front of me, daring my daddy to reach for her again. “Daddy, don’t you ever do that again!”

My mother glared at me. “Hush, child.”

Daddy stomped back inside. Never did he show any concern for my mother. Mommy followed. The women standing nearby snickered amongst themselves and I realized I was the only one who came to my mother’s rescue. No one cared. Domestic violence was a family matter at that time. Everyone looked away, with exception of me.

One of the women turned to move away, whispering something about a family matter while blowing smoke from her mouth. I didn’t understand her words, but I did know I didn’t like any of these shabbily dressed women, and I hoped that woman would choke on her cigarette smoke. I wanted to shout at them, asking why they didn’t help my mama. After all, I was a small child. Too young to help, too young to have any rights or say-so. I decided these women were nothing but trouble! ‘Poor white trash,’ I thought to myself…’Nothing but white trash!’ I followed the blood trail from my mother’s forehead back to our apartment.

After Mommy got inside, I got her a cold washcloth, placing it on her forehead.

She rested on the tattered sofa of our apartment, blood still pouring from her forehead. I brought her another washcloth.

“Get me a butter knife,” my mama screamed. I rushed to the kitchen. She placed the blade of the butter knife on her forehead.

“Don’t cut yourself, Mama. Please. You’re still bleeding.”

“The butter knife will make the swelling go away.”

That night when I said my nightly prayers, I prayed that my mama would be all right, and I ask God to make my dad stop hitting and knocking my mother around. After my prayers, I made a promise to myself that I would never allow any man to ever hit me, or knock me down, like my daddy knocked my mother down. At the age of five-years-old, I became the referee to my parents.

Ten years later, I served as the referee for the final time… Arriving home from Russell High School in Atlanta, I rushed inside; anxious to tell my parents I had the lead in a play at school. I knocked on my parent’s door. No answer. I rushed to my room, but something inside my head encouraged me to go back to my parent’s door. I knocked again. I heard the shuffling of feet, and a slap. I opened the door. My mother was standing hunched over, blue in the face, gasping for breath. A hand print was on the side of her face.

“What’s going on in here?” I asked. My mother was getting weaker. I rushed to her side. My dad stood by the bed, cursing and throwing mail at me.

“She’s made all these damned bills. They’re garnishing my wages. I can’t afford this. To Hell with her.”

Moving my mother to a chair, I sat her down and moved closer to my dad. “Don’t you ever hit her again? Do you hear me, Dad? I’ve watched you over and over again hitting my mother, and I’ve watched her hitting you, but this has got to stop! One of you needs to leave this house and marriage. One of you needs to leave before someone gets killed.”

The next day, my dad moved out. My mother told me that from this day forward, I did not have a daddy and I was never to speak about him again. I ignored her. She said my dad was divorcing her and it was my fault. I caused the break-up of my parent’s marriage.

Years later, I became an advocate for domestic violence. I was thankful when laws against domestic violence became a crime and I was thankful that I did not have to be the referee between my parents anymore. In their later years, I became their caregiver, serving as a parent to my abusive, cruel parents.

After their divorce, my dad became a new man. Kinder. Happier. Religious and gentle. I received birthday gifts on birthdays and Dad and I bonded as a father and daughter. Never did we discuss domestic abuse. We focused on happy times. The birth of my child. The home Garrett and I bought in South Carolina. Our strong, happy relationship as father and daughter. Before his death in 1999, we were closer than ever. Dad was fun to be around. Never did he show any anger or hostility at my mother. Reborn inside the body and mind of my father was a man easy to love. So different. So kind. So caring.

My mother? Slowly, she became outraged. Violent. Bi-polar. She died a questionable death after suffering a stroke. The one concern from my youngest sister on the day after her death was, and I quote, “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”

My youngest sister spent the night at the hospital with our mother on the night of her death. Suppose I’ll let this story decide if an autopsy was necessary, although I suspect an autopsy should’ve been completed – to discover the true reason our mother happened to die on the one and only night my youngest sister chose to spend the night at the hospital. Interesting?

And so – now I am developing the poignant story of “Chattahoochee Child.”

Animals Communicate to Us…


Dearest Readers:

Today, I awaken to another gray day in Charleston. Now, it is raining outside. Raindrops tap, tap, tap, on the windows and I’m thankful I called my four-legged family members inside only moments ago. They are so funny when it rains. When the back door opens, they rush inside, only to stop as the back door closes. They lift their little heads up. Their eyes stare at me, as if to say, “Where’s my towel? I don’t like being wet!”

Drying them is a funny site. First, Sir Shakespeare rushes to the front of the line, to get dried. Sometimes, Sandy Bear is second. He loves to feel the soft, fluffy towel rubbing his fur. Many times, he will moan, as if to say, “Um-mmm. That feels so good.”

Hankster the Prankster is usually third in line to get dried. He doesn’t really care to be touched, but he does allow the soft towel to rub his fur, while he growls, and growls and growls. I continue rubbing him until he backs away. He is such a funny and grouchy little character. Saved from a kill shelter, only to live for a bit with people who did not understand him, this precious, confused little mini-schnauzer communicates his needs to me. After he left our foster home, he communicated to me in three different dreams that he wanted to come back to us. One dream said he wasn’t happy and the people did not understand him. Later, in another dream, I awoke early one morning, in the early gray darkness of an extremely early morning, to hear whining and a familiar bark. In my dream, I slumbered towards the front door. Opening it, I discovered a cold and wet Hankster. He lifted his face towards me as if to say, “May I please come in? I ran away and I’m tired. Hungry and cold. Please, Mom.”

If you, my readers, read my blog at all, you will remember I have visions. Sometimes these visions are so strong that I know, deep inside, that this vision will come true. My last vision about Hankster was the strongest one. In this dream, I was driving along the Interstate. Traffic was bumper to bumper. I was curious as to why the traffic was moving at a snail’s pace. I didn’t see any emergency vehicles. No sign at all of an emergency; however, as my car crawled along, horns were blowing. People were shouting. I looked to the right of the road. In the emergency lane, there stood a small little dog, hovering down. Afraid. The animal advocate in me kicked in and I pulled over. Carefully getting out of the car, I prayed, “Dear God. Keep me safe and please let me capture this scared little fellow.” I moved slowly, making soft noises so the tiny dog would not be afraid of me. He crawled towards me, and when I was able to touch his fur, he howled. Carefully, I picked him up, thinking, wishing and hoping that he was Hankster.

Placing the frightened animal in the back seat, I covered him with a blanket and buckled him. I lifted his collar. “Hank,” I read.

My eyes opened. I looked into the darkened room, hopped out of bed and turned the light on. This dream was so visual…vivid…almost as if Hank was communicating with me. I kissed the pups sleeping soundly in their beds and I rushed to my computer. Downloading e-mail, I discovered an e-mail titled “Hank isn’t working out,” in the subject line. I opened the e-mail. Tears rushed down my face as I realized those dreams were now a reality that Hank needed me.

Two days later I was informed that Hank was coming back to the rescue center. He would be placed in a kennel and re-entered into the foster and adoption program for the rescue center. As silly as my dreams sounded, I notified the director that I needed to be the one to rescue and foster Hank. I mentioned my dreams. Much to my surprise, when I got a reply, the director understood my dreams. She thought our family would be perfect to assist Hankster.

That weekend, we rescued Hankster again. At first, he barked. I allowed him to smell my scent and scooped him in my arms, placing him in the back seat. On the drive home, Hank was fine. He curled himself into a little ball and slept the entire two-hour drive. Arriving home, he rushed inside to the water bowl, then to the toy box. He remembered our home and our four-legged-family.

Some people say that animals cannot communicate simply because they cannot speak our language. I correct those people, letting them know that animals do communicate their needs by their actions, and sometimes, in their dreams. I am convinced that Hankster was communicating to me for weeks and that is why I kept dreaming about him.

Today, Hankster is happy. We adopted him and slowly he took baby steps to improve his attitude and disposition. For a few weeks, he bit my husband’s hand and he chased after his feet, especially whenever my husband moved closer to me. It was obvious that Hank did not like men, nor did he appreciate Phil giving me a hug. His story is one of abuse. After he lost his first home due to death, the family members took him to a kill shelter. Fortunately, Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas stepped in to save him. He went to a foster home, then to our home for us to foster him. A few months later, a family adopted him but Hank wasn’t happy, so we re-fostered him, only to fall in love with him and adopt him. Today, Hankster the Prankster is curled at my feet while I write this. Yes, he growls at my husband, but when he realizes he has no reason to growl or be ugly to Phil, he rushes up to him, as if to say, “Hi Daddy. Pet me please.” Hankster has truly grown into a little guy capable but skeptical of trust. Yes, he is still protective with me, and I imagine he always will be my little protector, but he does know how to love and how to accept love. Baby steps. Hankster has finally found the road to happiness.

This morning as the rain pours from the heavens, I give thanks for this precious little bundle that could’ve been put to sleep alone, without anyone to care for him. People ask me why we foster animals. I think Hankster tells the story better than I, or anyone, could by his actions. I will let you, my readers, decide. As for me, I feel blessed to love Hankster and to be the one he rushes to whenever he is wet from raindrops, cold, hungry, or just needing a little pat on his head while he growls. What is his growl saying to me? One word. One syllable. “Thanks…!”

Yes, animals communicate. All we need to do is open our hearts, and our minds, to listen to and welcome them!

Gobble…Gobble…Gobble…Happy Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Dearest Readers:

On this date, November 28, 2013, we celebrate Thanksgiving. As we grow, there are many traditions made, and some traditions are broken. Growing up in the State of Georgia, my family taught me many traditions during the holidays, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holidays were for family. I recall celebrating Thanksgiving with my maternal grandparents. Although when I was little, I often was curious why my maternal grandparents and paternal grandparents did not come together for the holidays. Later, I discovered how strange our families were and I did my best to welcome all of my relatives.

I remember my maternal grandmother always prepping, baking and cooking for the holidays. Our table was filled with most of the foods we celebrate and gobble down a bit too quickly. We always had a country ham, turkey, homemade biscuits that felt and tasted like a cloud and I recall eating too many of them. OK…so homemade biscuits are my weakness, and that is why I do not make them! Additional foods included cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, Southern potato salad, mashed potatoes, candied yams, and of course, we had a variety of desserts. My grandmother was a great Southern cook, so you can just imagine all of the food we ate. Another tradition we shared was always saying the blessing at the dinner table. Joining hands, we would ask my dad or grandfather to lead us into prayer.

Some traditions must be preserved, and that is why when Phil and I eat at the dining room table, or at the breakfast table, I always remind him we must ‘say grace.’ Phil did not grow up with that family tradition, and the more I discover about his family, the more I recognize that his family was more estranged than mine could ever be. His mother did not cook a Thanksgiving turkey or dinner. His mother said she hated turkey because it was dry. She changed her mind when tasting mine! After moving to Charleston, I went to the trouble of inviting Phil’s family for Thanksgiving Dinner; however, after the way his mother behaved, I was a bit annoyed with her. Just picture it. As the cook for the Thanksgiving Dinner you are tired. For many days you have prepped the foods, thawed the turkey and prepared it. Baked. Cooked. Cleaned the dishes. Dressed the dining room table with your finest linens, china, candles and all the fun things I enjoy doing for the holidays, only to be told — perhaps in a dictatorial tone — that you are hungry and want to eat…NOW!

I asked Phil if I could speak to him privately, letting him know I was furious that his mother was so demanding. He shook his head, refusing to speak with his mother. I returned to the kitchen, letting his mother know I had some peanut butter and bread and if she wanted to EAT NOW…she could fix a peanut butter sandwich. She growled at me… “Just give me a paper plate and I’ll dig in…”

“You’ll do no such a thing. Dinner isn’t ready!”

That was the last Thanksgiving I shared with Phil’s mother. New traditions were made, in hopes we as a family could teach our child that holidays were family days and were not to be dictatorial.

Now, our son is married, building new traditions with his wife and child. As for us, I still prepare a Thanksgiving meal, and I dress the dining room table with china, a lace tablecloth, and candles and we take the time to enjoy our meal. Occasionally, I invite our friends over but as life has a way, most people have plans for the holidays.

A new tradition we started two years ago is to decorate our Christmas tree on the weekend of Thanksgiving. Last year, I was so sick with acute bronchitis I did not feel like cooking Thanksgiving, although I did. Weak and exhausted by dinner time, I did something I rarely do.  I asked Phil to help with the clean up. That weekend he put the tree up. When I asked him to help with the decorating he grumbled, so like his mother —
“I HATE decorating the tree…”

I gathered the decorations and with tears in my eyes, I decorated the tree. Exhausted, I went to bed, furious with Phil and his hatred for the holidays.

This year, I’ve let him know how his cold, and demeaning words hurt me last year. There I was as sick and as weak I could be, and all he cared about was watching his stupid football games! How dare him! Never did he consider how sick I was and how hard I worked to keep the traditions going.

Traditions are important to me, and they should be for everyone, especially at the holidays. Much to my surprise, Phil has mentioned twice that we are decorating the Christmas tree this weekend. Sometimes I cannot help wondering just who is this strange man I married. His moods change quicker than the winds!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We are sharing it with friends, and on Friday, I am cooking a Thanksgiving meal at home. After all, some traditions need to continue. Since early marriage I have cooked the Thanksgiving meal. That tradition must continue. Additional traditions will continue, and a few will change. We have a family of four-legged children to celebrate the holidays with. This year, all of them — Shasta Daisy Shampagne, our 12-year-old, frail Maltese will probably share her last Thanksgiving with us. She has seizures now. Until last evening, the last was three weeks ago. Our pet sitter describes her as a frail, little old lady most comfortable in her rocking chair. Only for Shasta, she is most comfortable curled on a pillow with her blanket at my desk. Last night’s seizure scared us and I prayed, “Please God, let her live just one more Thanksgiving!” She made it through the night, and she is curled at my feet now.  Thank you, God!

Our other children are Shakespeare Hemingway, a salt and pepper mini-schnauzer, Sandy Bear Sebastian, a blonde mini-schnauzer,  Sir Hankster the Prankster, a smaller mini-schnauzer who grumbles and grumbles and grumbles… Our youngest is our biggest, a giant wiry schnauzer named Prince Midnight Shadow. We adopted him from a shelter last year after my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus crossed Rainbow Bridge. All of these precious children will enjoy a taste of Thanksgiving this Friday with us. Yesterday, the rescue I volunteer for requested for us to consider fostering a pup from a kill shelter. Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas needs fosters willing to help these little guys adjust to a life away from kill shelters and crates. At first, I thought “No, I cannot do this again.” If you recall, my last foster was Sweet Little Cleet…Cleet…the Pup Who Ran Away, But Came Back! I confess, I fell in love with Sweet Cletus and hated to let him go when he was adopted. I am happy to report he is progressing ever so slowly with his new parents. It has been a long process for him to forget the abuse he tolerated as a puppy mill stud, but now, he has a caring family who do everything they can to give him a life filled with love and tender care. Together, Cletus, now named “Little Buddy” and his family are taking baby steps. Baby steps leads to independence and trust, and I look forward to the day when I hear that Little Buddy is now a changed guy!

I am happy to announce, Phil has agreed to take in another foster – a Maltese. So now, this Thanksgiving, even though we do not have the newest foster in our household, we have much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving 2013. This year I have good health again! We are still together in this marriage. We have love and peace in our world at home. We are thankful for our soldiers who are away this year, and we are hopeful they return home safely, soon. We are thankful for our grandchild, William; and we are thankful and so appreciative of our good friends. May we all have a toast for Thanksgiving, and may we all give thanks to God for another Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your special day!

 

Communicating With My Precious Animals


My silly pups. Prince Midnight Shadow, my cold black giant schnauzer rushes inside to brush against the leashes, hanging near my office. He is telling me he is ready to walk today. “Mommy,” he says, staring into my eyes. “It’s nice outside today. The heat will not burn my paws. Can we go for a walk later?” I smile. Nod at him. Now, he is resting by the leashes. And to think, I’ve actually been told that only a ‘crazy person would believe that dogs communicate and understand what we are saying to them.’ I smile, snickering to those people saying, “Maybe you are the crazy one…I communicate with my animals. They understand what I say, and they love me for communicating and understanding their needs.’ Like earlier this morning, when Hankster the Prankster, my smallest mini-schnauzer, raised up by my legs, wanting me to pick him up. He doesn’t like to be picked up. He’s always afraid that he might get hurt. It is so obvious that he was mistreated by someone. It doesn’t matter who mistreated him. All that matters now is he is not closed inside a crate where he was barking…barking…barking…at the top of his little lungs when I agreed to foster him. It doesn’t matter that someone raised their arms to him, ready to attack him. It doesn’t matter that he was dropped off at a kill shelter, to end his life. What does matter is this little guy has found a home that loves him, regardless of his demeanor, temperament, and personality. He is finally getting more comfortable with us, and he hasn’t snapped at my husband’s hands in a few days. That is an accomplishment for him. Although he is small, he is powerful and quick with his mouth. He defends me from everyone!

Hank is unafraid and will protect his mommy, at all cost. He doesn’t care that something or someone could harm him. He cares about me and his home. That is, now that he has a home that accepts him and is teaching him he doesn’t need to snap at others. All he needs to do is trust. Today, when he raised up on my legs, he scratched his little paw on my leg, as if to say, ‘pick me up, Mommy.’

“What’s the matter, little buddy,” I asked him? “Do you want Mommy to pick you up?” He growled. When he growls it is usually a warning to back off, but I carefully scoop him up in my arms. He grunts, placing his little salt and pepper fur next to me, then he cuddles next to my neck. This is something he has never done before. He rears back, to look into my eyes. “What’s the matter, Hankster? Are you finally saying how much you love me and this home?”

He grunts again. I place him down. Moments later, he returns. He wants me to pick him up again, and so, I do. We talk for a bit without saying words. Our eyes stare into one another. He moans, moves his head close to my chest. He is telling me how much he loves me. My eyes fill with tears.

Today is Wednesday, a day of remembrance for me. On Wednesday, May 2, 2012, I lost my precious Prince Marmaduke Shamus, also known as “Shamey-Pooh.” Wednesdays are still a sad day for me. Words cannot express how deeply my heart ached after losing Shamey-Pooh. A tsunami of grief appeared to wash over me, like a gigantic, rushing, angry tide and for weeks I wasn’t certain if I would survive. I did survive. The sun still rose in the morning, and set at night. Bills still needed to be paid, and Father Time continued to tick, tick, tick the minutes of life by. Still, my heart ache for the loss of Shamus continued, and that is when I decided to foster Hank, until Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas could find a suitable home. Hankster and I bonded, even after he left our home for an adoptive home. I dreamed about him on several occasions, dreaming he wanted to come back to us. That dream came true, like many of my dreams.

Last October, Hankster returned. When I suggested allowing us to pick him up from his adoptive parents, some people were afraid he would not remember us. At first, he seemed aggressive, only to relax inside the car when he heard me singing. Silly dog. I think he remembered that I liked to sing. Arriving home, he rushed inside, to the water bowl, the toy box, and to greet our children. Hankster announced, “Hey guys, I’m back!”

Today, Hankster communicated to me — as if to say — thank you! Snuggling next to me for a few minutes, he grunted, and then he brushed my face with a soft kiss, something he never does! Now, he is resting next to me, along with Shasta, and Sandy Bear. Hankster is home! It is such a beautiful, cooler day outside so I’ve decided a brisk walk with my babies will be more healing to me than a treadmill!

Domestic Abuse — Just WHEN Will It End???


Dearest Readers:

This will probably be the shortest blog I have written in a while. I am busy with life today…cleaning the house, getting dressed to go to the doctor for my last Supartz injection and caring for a husband with a neck ache. I’ve always said my husband is a pain in the neck, and now I suppose that is true!

Today, I simply must express a bit about domestic abuse. I know lots about the subject matter since I served as the referee between my mother and dad when they fought, sometimes attempting to kill each other from their raging, violent tempers and toxic voices. Back when I was a child, domestic abuse was not an issue or a crime. People simply swept it under the rugs, while whispering “He Beats Her…” Yes, and she “beats him!” Never could I call the police, or 911. Crimes of ‘passion’ from parental hatred and jealousy simply did not exist. Thank goodness our Nation finally recognized that domestic abuse DOES EXIST, and it is definitely A CRIME!

Yesterday, I got a phone call from a close, respectable friend, sharing with me that one of our co-workers at Johnson & Wales University was killed by her boyfriend. http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130824/PC16/130829578/1009/boyfriend-charged-with-killing-woman-in-west-ashley&source=RSS

I am so outraged I could scream. Reportedly, he is in jail now. How I hope and pray he will remain there for the rest of his life, but as we know, these maniacs manage to get out of jail. Reportedly, he beat her badly, leaving internal injuries and strangulation. Obviously, David Reagan meant to kill her. They found an empty purse by her body. He reportedly used her credit cards after the crime, to purchase beer. Just what an abusive maniac needs, isn’t it!

I don’t have many details at the moment, but I am so sad to hear and read about how Kathy Hawkins died. She was 52 years of age, with a nine-year-old daughter. Like all who succumb to domestic abuse, she did not deserve to die in such a violent manner.

As I’ve stated, I know a lot about domestic abuse. Not from my husband, or any prior boyfriends before marriage. I observed domestic abuse as a child, standing between my mother and father, telling them it was time to stop the fighting and be nice to each other. When I was five years old, I saw my dad knock my mother to the ground for the first time, leaving her head bleeding from the force of his temper and rage. I made a promise to myself that I would never allow anyone to beat me, and that is what domestic abuse is — a beating — and now, a crime.

Please, let us do all that we can to STOP DOMESTIC ABUSE. And let us remember, it is not just a crime for women. There are many women in the world who abuse their loved ones, regardless of who they might be. Domestic abuse is wrong. It should end…NOW! No one deserves to die from the violence of someone we once loved and trusted. NO ONE!

Stop the abuse now – the abuse related to children, spouses, elderly, family members, animals…just abuse in general. I will have more blogs about domestic abuse later..after all, I observed it as a child. Never did I speak about it to others. I was too afraid I would be physically abused because I spoke up. Years later, I do speak up about it. My husband and I rescued one of my sisters from a domestic abuse situation many years ago, moving her closer to get away from a maniac, now ex husband. I will continue to vocalize my beliefs about domestic abuse. I will stand on my soapbox to do all that I can to stop abuse. I’ve seen friends abused and when I do, I react – jumping right into the fire, daring the abuser to hit me. So far, no one has taken my dare. I suppose they know — they will end up in jail. I will not be quiet. I will not walk away, and I will make certain I do not look the other way, like so many people choose to do.

Kathy Hawkins was the victim I am speaking about today. She is now deceased, from the hands of a boyfriend. Kathy was a lovely, friendly woman who deserved to see her nine-year-old daughter grow into adulthood. She deserved so much more. Rest in peace, Kathy Hawkins. How I hope David Reagan remains in jail, but I doubt it! Someone will probably bail him out.

More later! Trust me, this issue is not something I will keep to myself. Domestic abuse MUST END! It is a crime. Too many victims are murdered and murder is a crime!

Caring For A Sick Baby — Our Little Maltese


Dearest Readers:

To those of you who read my blog regularly, you recognize what an advocate I am for animals, especially rescued dogs. We are the proud family with five dogs, four which are rescues. Yes, they are expensive to keep up and care for, but words cannot express how fulfilling it is to see them grow under our care. Last month, Shasta, our aging Maltese, and Shakespeare, our oldest mini-schnauzer had their wellness checkups. We were concerned about Shasta because she has a slight growth on her nose. Our vet checked it. According to the reports, she has a slight cancer of the nose, so we are treating it with a medication. We must administer the medication — two pills every three weeks – with gloved hands. Upon giving her the pills, mixed with peanut butter so she could swallow them easier, I could not help wondering if I had to wear gloves to administer the medication, just what would these pills do to a tiny less than seven pound Maltese. Last week Shasta received her second dosage. Yesterday, I noticed how lethargic she is, lying around, barely moving at all, and she refused to eat her food. Knowing she must have fluids, I managed to get her to lick ice chips. When my husband got home, I shared with him my observations of how weakened she is. He tried to coax her to eat. She turned her head, locking her mouth. At dinner time, I had leftover mashed potatoes. Phil scooped a few bites of mashed potatoes on a spoon, and Shasta opened her mouth to eat – a bit.

Later, I noticed her blankets were soiled, so I placed fresh towels around a pillow so she could rest comfortably in the breakfast room. We managed to get her to drink ice chips again, deciding to leave her alone for the evening.

This morning, Shasta went outside to potty, flopping down in exhaustion. I’ve spoken to the vet’s office and this was anticipated. They reassured me we are giving her the proper care and this too shall pass — just like it did with the first dosage. Gathering all of her blankets and bedding to wash them, I placed a pillow inside a plastic container, a nice red blanket over it (her favorite) and I have Shasta resting next to me while I write and do laundry. Frustrated that she would not eat or drink again, I gave her ice chips. She locked her mouth down once again.

Earlier, for lunch, I decided I didn’t want to prepare anything time-consuming, so I made a fresh smoothie with bananas, yogurt, blueberries and strawberries. Shadow, my youngest, and most energetic giant schnauzer, loves yogurt. While I attempted to drink my smoothie, Shadow whined for his share. I poured a small amount into a bowl and he consumed it in moments. Now that he is outside, I decided to see if Shasta would drink a bit of smoothie. Pouring just enough to barely cover the bottom of the small bowl, I am pleased to announce, Shasta licked every bit of it and she is a bit more energetic now. Suppose it could be due to the storm and thunder brewing outside, but I suspect she is feeling just a tad better.

Her nose is almost healed now, but I cannot help wondering — when an animal gets sick from medications that they must have, should we administer them? I suppose I am questioning the ‘quality of life’ for now…and I do feel a bit of guilt while recognizing that I was the one who gave her the pills that have weakened her tiny body so much. She looks up at me with weakened eyes that cannot see me since she is blind now and can only see bright shadows. It breaks my heart to see her so weak and I have prayed that God is guiding me to care for her properly.

For today, she is enjoying her smoothie. If she wants more, you must believe her mommy will make certain she gets another one. We rescued Shasta in June 2005. She has blessed our lives with her sassy little demeanor and energy.

Looks like I must cut this short. It is lightning outside. I must cut the computer off. I will share more updates about our sweet little “Shasta Daisy Shampagne…She is white, like a Shasta daisy…bubbly like champagne. Such a little princess. At the moment, she holds her head high. Shakespeare, our oldest schnauzer that must snoop his nose into everything, is sniffing at her, making certain all is AOK.

More later, Readers — after the brewing storm!

The Journey of Cleet…Cleet Continues…


Good morning, World. It is a beautiful, sunshiny day in Charleston, SC — a beautiful day where I can see clearly now! What a relief! Thank you, God. To all who have asked, my foster child, Sweet Little Cleet…Cleet… is doing well with his new family. The moment I met them, I knew they were indeed the perfect family for him. His new name is Buddy and every day he takes a ‘baby step’ to his happiness. Truly, he was the hardest foster for me to let go of…but I learned something significant with him…I learned how to communicate with an animal. Occasionally, I will hear his bark and he and I will chat a bit.

Yesterday, he told me he was getting better…The confusion of my giving him to another family is easing, and he recognizes that he was loved by me, but he had to find a true, forever home. My mission was to teach him that humans are trustworthy, and many are loving, wanting only the best for him, a well deserving, gentle but fearful foster child. He said he was sad for a few days, and he watched the actions of his adoptive family, seeing many of the behaviors he saw in our home…the gentleness, kindness, the sweet, soft stroking of his skin…the soft whispers…no shouts…the encouragement. He said he still missed me, but he understands that he needed to go to another home where he could continue his journey to love and trust ‘humans.’ I am so happy for him. Tears drip down my face when I remember how dreadfully sad and terrified he was of me and my husband…at first…and that is probably why he chose to run away. When he saw the posters with his picture on the poles, signs and every location we could post, he recognized that someone actually cared enough to find him…to search and show that he was worthy of love. And when he returned, three weeks later, that is why he was different to us. No longer did he pull his face away, and he learned to look into my eyes! From a dog’s perspective, looking into a human’s eyes is a significant sign of trust! To quote the adoptive mommy, “Baby Steps!”

Today is a beautiful day for us, and for sweet little Buddy. Continue your journey while knowing that you are loved by many…and you are indeed worthy of L-O-V-E!

Sweet Little Cleet…Cleet Finds a New Home


Dearest Readers:

If you read my posts on a regular basis, you will know our sweet little foster Schnauzer/Maltese mix now has a happy home, filled with much love. His adoption day was Friday, March 15. After I took him to his new home, I sat down on the couch, talking with his adoptive parents, Cindy and Jeff, sharing the bits and pieces I learned while caring for him. While I was there, I watched sweet little Cleet, Cleet, moving around a bit. He kept coming to me, wanting me to pick him up, which I did, holding him close, stroking his fur for perhaps the last time. No, I did not cry. I was happy for him, knowing that this family was the most special family I had prayed so hard for Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas to find for Cleet…Cleet.

A few moments later, I left, confident and happy for him. Arriving home, I gathered my group of pups, telling them that their foster brother, sweet little Cleet…Cleet had a new home. Sandy Bear kept going to the bed that Cleet, Cleet slept in during the day. He curled his little blonde body into a tight ball, perhaps talking with Cleet Cleet.

Since his adoption, I have communicated with Cindy, the adoptive mom. After I left him, Cletus kept going to the corner of the sofa where I sat and to the front door. When I read this, I was heartbroken. In his little mind, he felt abandoned. I decided it was time to speak to Cletus…to attempt to reach out to him and communicate, just like Karen, the animal communicator, communicated to him when he was lost. I had a bit of knowledge about clairvoyancy since my grandmother had this gift, so I sat by my window, tears rushing down my face, making the attempt to contact sweet little Cleet, Cleet, to let him know it was OK to accept and love his new parents. I was thankful that my husband was asleep during this time. He has never understood how I receive visions, sometimes in dreams, other times, throughout the day. I curled my body into a restful position. My children were outside, so quiet meditation could occur. Softly, I spoke to Cleet…Cleet like I did on Thursday while bathing him.

Two days later, I heard a happy bark in the house. All of my children were outside, playing. I recognized the happy bark — Cleet…Cleet. Again I spoke with him. This time, he was telling me how nice the people were. I let him know he was in a new home now, a safe and caring home. Silence for a few moments, then he barked again…a distinctive bark that only comes from Cletus, now known as “Little Buddy.” He shared with me that he was feeling a bit better now. I asked him if he felt abandoned by me. He paused, processing his thoughts carefully. “No,” he said. “When you left I did feel abandoned, and I stayed by the couch where you sat. Then, I remembered your conversation with me when you bathed me, and I must say, I loved that bath time together. I remembered you said you loved me, and your job was to teach me that I could trust some humans. I didn’t trust humans for a long time, because they were so mean to me…and when I ran away, I was afraid that you might hurt me too…but when I came back, you smiled at me, you held me close, you kissed my head, and I knew you really were happy that I was back. I told you I’d never run away again…Remember.”

I nodded. We were communicating like I hoped we would. He understood why I had to find him a really good home, and with Cindy and Jeff, he would have a happy, caring and loving family. My job as the foster mom was successfully completed. A few nights later, I dreamed that Cletus needed a new name. The name I dreamed of was “Romeo.” That morning when I checked e-mail, I read an e-mail from Cindy. They decided to change his name to “Buddy.” They called him several different names, which he did not respond to. When they said, “Little Buddy,” he turned his head and responded. Simple…his new name is Buddy.

During his time in our home, I called him Little Buddy when I picked him up in the mornings. His new name was perfect for him! He is a sweet, timid little Buddy.

Last week, Cindy and Jeff took Little Buddy for his wellness check-up. The veterinarian gave him a complete exam, with blood work. Buddy is in great health, and the vet thinks he could be a cairn terrier. Cindy shared that she thought he was a Norfolk terrier. When I pulled the website for Norfolk terrier, I looked at a pup that was identical to “Buddy,” including the docked tail and blonde coat.

As a foster mom, it is easy to fall in love with the animal that you foster. I fell head over hills with “Cleet…Cleet…Little Buddy…” and I miss him terribly; nevertheless, my job was to care for him. To teach him that humans will not thrust a water hose in his face, to make him move…to feed him, keep him clean, and brushed…and to show him that there are humans who will treat him with respect and love. Our job at this house was completed when we found him a new, adoptive home. Yes, it was hard to give him up, but that is what fostering is about… Little Buddy is taking baby steps now to adjust to a new life. I am certain he is watching how their Schnauzer responds to them, and he will learn much from their actions. I am so happy for him.

Perhaps now, I will take a bit of time away from fostering… I grew to love Cleet…Cleet probably more than I should, but who wouldn’t love him. He was so gentle…so quiet, at first…and when I heard his happy bark one afternoon when I returned from errands, I smiled at him…so happy that he was expressing happiness. My wish for Cindy and Jeff is that Little Buddy will soon bark that happy bark. Baby steps. Patience. Love. Affection…Tenderness… only a few of the ingredients to be a foster mom.

My job is done. Sweet little Cleet…Cleet now has a new home. Wishing you much happiness, good health and much love, Little Buddy!