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!
Below is a story written in 2007 when our household decided to remodel our kitchen. Enjoy!
TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2007
Remodeling 101 –
The Saga of Remodeling a Kitchen, and a Marriage
For many years I’ve dreamed of a modern kitchen, filled with contemporary, custom-made cabinets with plenty of storage space, a place for the microwave and the clutter that was swallowing my work area. I dreamed of granite counter tops, traditional customized cabinets that opened easily and were convenient for storage. I wanted pretty wood instead of drab, cheapened boards containing too many coats of monotonous paint and drawers that refused to open easily. Recognizing it was time to sale our home or remodel, my husband and I decided to take on the task of a kitchen facelift. Knowing life is ALWAYS filled with unexpected surprises, we decided it was in our best interest to hire a contractor, a master of remodeling, instead of another Do It Yourself project that would undoubtedly take my husband years to complete. He has the tendency to start a project and finish it when he ‘gets around to it,’ and when he takes on a project, I serve as his helper which leads to many heated disputes.
After meeting with kitchen designers, we finalize the plans, pay for the project, including the expense of custom-made cabinets, new sink, granite countertops, faucet, a new stove and a convection/microwave oven. Our original budget was $10,000. After discussions with the kitchen designers, we decided to increase the budget. After all, we want the kitchen remodeled the right way, without cutting corners.
Next step for the renovation – packing up the kitchen and moving forward with the gutting process. The custom-made cabinets are scheduled for delivery March 22, so now, it is onward and upward! Every night after dinner, I empty a cabinet or two, package the dishes, cookware and ingredients into boxes so the facelift may begin.
February 26 – with cabinets and the pantry empty, and a portable kitchen area set up on the breakfast room table – microwave, coffee pot, and other incidentals that a family must have just to survive – we are ready to move forward with the first phase – demolition. I inform my husband that for the next few weeks, until the kitchen facelift is complete, we will be connoisseurs of microwave foods, nothing more. No gourmet dinners until. Our dining experience will include Lean Cuisines, Healthy Choice, sandwiches, and paper plates. Bon Appetit!
Thank goodness I do not have a headache today, and if I survive this date without a migraine, it will be a miracle! The contractor arrived early at 8:00 sharp. Before 9 am, the cabinets by the sink are gone. That’s where we run into the first surprise, and I am one who doesn’t like surprises.
Our old cabinets were built over a soffett, a construction term used to describe the installation process of the existing cabinets. When the top of the cabinets are removed, we discover exposed beams leading to the roofing. Apparently when the first remodeling was done in the early 1970’s, the couple who owned the house chose to cut corners and not box in this area. The cabinets they installed were built overhead, leaving the ceiling exposed. Thank goodness we chose not to cut corners and do this renovation the correct way.
Later, when the enclosed pantry is ripped out, we run into a brick wall – literally, figuratively and physically. My husband and I wondered why the pantry was such an odd and non-user-friendly pantry, designed with angles and corners leading to wasted space. I do not question it anymore. When exposed, the contractor discovers the pantry is attached to an exterior brick wall, which was built at a 45º angle. Now we will need to have the custom-made cabinets re-made. By this discovery, my husband is on a business trip and I am stuck at home to take care of all of the incidentals of this mess. Several phone calls later, I am relieved, but furious that I rarely have a husband who will take care of such things. Sometimes I wonder what the convenience of marriage is; nevertheless, I can certainly understand why marriage is referred to as an institution, and I agree with this description. My friends laugh when they hear me grumble about the business of marriage. If only they walked in my shoes. After phoning my husband, I reassure him I have taken care of the matter and everything will be worked out.
“Good,” he replies. “I’ll try to get home early.”
Knowing him as I do, I understand he feels a bit guilty for not being home now, and he should. My one request just last week was for him to be home, but Corporate America dictates his schedule, so I take this in my stride, thankful that I can write even when the hammering and banging sounds like a wild eyed monster is loose in my gutted kitchen.
Sometimes it is a good thing that I cannot crawl through the telephone lines because if I could, I would probably want to do something not too nice. Perhaps now he understands why I insisted on hiring someone to remove the cabinets. Our marriage would never survive if he took on these projects. I suppose it is good that opposites attract – since I am the partner in our marriage who is gifted with multi-tasking, and he is good at directing, controlling, and walking off when things do not go as expected. Since today is only Day One of things to go wrong when remodeling, it is the perfect day for his business trip and my stress level to be tested.
In the afternoon, the construction crew leaves and I have the luxury of quiet again. I decide to turn the stereo on and when the music fails to relax my mood, I leave the house to get a manicure. Sometimes a woman needs a bit of pampering! Tomorrow will be another day of hammering, sawing, the constant ringing of the telephone, and more unexpected surprises. Calgon, please take me away!
Three Weeks Later – March 22, 2007
D Day arrives – Delivery Day! Last week I received a call from Kraft Maid. The cabinets are on track, scheduled for delivery March 22. There is a three-hour window of opportunity set for delivery, between the hours of 12:00pm – 3:00pm. At 11:40, the truck arrives with seventeen boxes. Last week I was told, we would need 337 cubic feet of room – whatever that means. I do not claim to be a mathematician! Now, I am living in a sea of boxes – everywhere! Even the front door is backed up with boxes, especially one lengthy box exactly 94 inches in length so large it cannot turn the corner to go into the kitchen. Since we are blessed with a kitchen located in the front of the house, we have no option left. We must place this monstrous box next to the front door! The question at hand is – when the cabinet is removed from this coffin sized box, will it turn the corner into the kitchen for installation? Let us hope we do not have a fire in the house. We only have one exit/entrance now. I created a Caution Under Construction sign, taped it on the front door, in the event someone rings the doorbell, and does not understand why we cannot open the front door.
I confess, I did everything humanly possible to prepare the house for this arrival, feeling as if I was giving birth to these cabinets and this project. Why is it a woman MUST DO EVERYTHING in a marriage???
This morning, I rushed around in anticipation of an early delivery since my husband had something to do this morning and wasn’t around! I had labor pains, excruciating pains from muscles stretching to move so I can lift awkward pieces of furniture. The coffee table bit me when I moved it, leaving a nice scratch and bruise on my leg. Labor pains! I moved living room furniture around, making way – only to discover due to the tall pantry we ordered, we cannot open the front door. If I survive this disaster, it will be a miracle! My husband is receiving the cold shoulder treatment from me – well deserved. This is my way of dealing with his abstinence!
When Phil arrives home, he asks if I have contacted Home Depot to let them know the cabinets are here. My reply, “I’m working on a deadline. Why don’t you call them?” He grumbles, requesting the phone number.
Later we have a slight discussion. Phil reminds me he has done his part to prepare for this project. He was the one who rented the machine to strip and remove the wooden kitchen floor. He was the one who sanded the concrete smooth. He reminds me he worked on this labor pain for two days while I was out of town.
“Oops,” I reply, conveniently forgetting that I was out of town for four days during this process.
“Oops,” I apologize. “I’m so sorry.”
I move closer to him, managing to give him that stupid, innocent grin that usually works to make this stubborn, persnickety man respond to me and forgive me. Then, I kiss his lips. He pulls me close for a moment. Grins. We’ve never been the type of couple to remain angry for long, so the moment of silence and cold shoulder is gone. Anger never resolves issues. Never.
Friday, March 23, 2007
The representative from Home Depot arrives a bit late, due to traffic in Charleston. No surprise there. Traffic is ALWAYS a problem in this holy city. After a couple of hours of opening boxes and investigating what is inside, it appears we have one or two damaged cabinet doors. I must say, the cabinets are beautiful. Later, while basking in the sun, the phone rings. I ignore it since I am outside enjoying the beautiful spring weather we’ve been blessed with. My cell phone rings and I’m surprised to hear that the scheduled installation is set for Monday, March 26, 9:30 am.
“I had no idea,” I shriek, excited that soon I might be able to do my spring cleaning, instead of having a sea of boxes and kitchen clutter everywhere in the house. The dining room table is covered with items we might need during this process, and there is not a corner left to place anything else. At least for now, I’ve recognized that I can sort mail and put it away, instead of allowing it to clutter the kitchen and dining room tables. I make a mental note to self – Never allow mail to be left on the tables. Put it away.
This sea of brown boxes is confusing our pups, The Three Stooges, Shamus, Shakespeare, and Shasta. Shakespeare continues sniffing at the boxes, as if he cannot wait to find the perfect spot to lift his leg and claim his territory. When I scold him, he rushes away, as if to say, “I was just testing you to see if I could do it.” Our pups do not like change and this clutter is mystifying to them.
Shamus likes things clean and tidy, with everything in its proper spot. He prances quickly through the rooms, as if to say, I gotta get out of here. This mess is driving me nuts.
Shasta, our princess of a Maltese, the smallest of our troop of rescue animals, doesn’t like change – in any way, shape, or form. She is the ditzy little blonde in our household and each time I open the door to let her outside, she scatters back to her little bed, her private territory. Her tail is tucked between her legs, and she looks back at me as if to say, I’m so confused. I may never survive this change.
Tomorrow at 1:30, Phil and I are scheduled to go to Home Depot to learn how to paint a textured wall. Since the walls in the kitchen are plaster and quite defective – fifty years of age has not been graceful to them – I made the suggestion to texture the walls with a textured paint, and use stencils with a nautical theme. I found some cool looking dolphin and nautical stencils at a craft store and I’m hopeful they’ll give me the look and creativity I desire.
Home Depot was swamped on Saturday so I suggested we could play with the paint technique at home. If this textured effect works well, I have a master bathroom to do, using the nautical theme, or maybe I’ll get more creative and do a lighthouse on the wall. Wouldn’t that be cool!
Monday, March 26:
Today is the day. Installation of cabinets. Let us hope it goes well. The installers are named Scott and Kyle. Not your typical construction workers, they are tall, lean, and hard working. They arrive on time and go straight to the task at hand. I am impressed with the quality of work they do. With saws grinding a painful tune into the wood, I am reminded of dental visits, and I clench my teeth, thankful it is not me on the cutting board. I am so grateful I do not have a headache today.
Phil arrives home at lunchtime, no doubt to stupervise. Yes, I said stupervise!
He walks through the kitchen, looking at things, especially looking for things that can go wrong. He questions a few things, makes comments and suggestions. Again – stupervising!
After a few minutes of his getting in the way, I remind him the kitchen is long and narrow, only having so much room. He looks at me, turns his head, continues to ask questions. Always in charge! Think I’ve decided if we remodel again, I am running away for a while!
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/
Have you missed me? I’ve certainly missed the opportunity to sit down at my desk, glue my butt to the chair and write. I’ve had so many unexpected interruptions and demands I’ve actually wished to run away from myself. Life demands is what I call them.
The City of Charleston, SC has had an amazing amount of rain falling last week, and this week appears to be a repeat. I’m sick of it. I am such a light sleeper that when the roaring, thunderous storms scream with life, I cannot sleep. On one occasion, late at midnight, I awoke to my precious Prince Midnight Shadow crying and moaning from the storm. He is a solid black, beautiful giant schnauzer, a rescue we adopted about 14 months ago. He hates storms! Absolutely detests them and doesn’t want to go outside when he hears them. He will moan and cry until I touch him and rub his fur, and then he moans, moving closer to hug me. He is such a silly guy. Today is no exception! Hearing the storms, he rushes to be by my side. We bought him a thunder shirt, but it doesn’t work with him. Tightly embraced inside the thunder shirt, his body still trembles and he moans, so the only way to hush him is to move closer to him and rub his ears, or stroke his back. It’s no wonder I am so exhausted. I have insomnia and I’m a light sleeper, so when the thunder roars, I toss and turn in bed, wishing to sleep. On the night of the threatening, torrential storm at midnight, lightning crashed, taking out a transformer nearby. Our power was out for over five hours, so no sleep for me. How nice it would be just to close my eyes, listen to my breathing, inhaling…exhaling…drifting to sleep. I envy people who sleep like babies. Those days are gone for this chick!
I haven’t written anything in a few weeks, and I have posted a bit too much on Facebook, so starting tomorrow, I am checking out of Facebook for a bit and write. I do believe I have joined the addictive club of Facebook and I have promised myself that I will break that addiction! If I can learn to control food choices, I can certainly teach myself good habits and start writing again while exiting from such non-interesting social medias such as Facebook.
If only my brain will allow the words to flow again. Wouldn’t that be nice!
This epistle is simply a free writing sample, just to convince myself that I CAN WRITE again! If you read my posts on a regular basis, you will know I am a member of Weight Watchers, losing weight ever so slowly. I have a new NordicTrack treadmill that seems to be helping with the weight loss and every week, I attend the meetings for my weigh-ins. I will be so happy when I reach my ‘unpublished’ goal, and I am not sharing that – with anyone! Let’s just say, I am still taking the journey and when I do reach my goal, you, my readers, will be the first on my blog to read all about it. Yes, I will do a happy dance, and I have warned all of my friends at Weight Watchers that I will SCREAM to the moon and back with delight, so if you should hear a loud scream later this year, you might be able to say, “That must be Barbie, reaching goal!”
This free writing is really getting on my nerves today. Perhaps it is because of all of the late night storms; the rolling, monstrous roar of thunder, and the threatening, horrifying flashing of strobe lightning igniting the late night skies. Each time I see the lightning, I jump – almost out of my skin. I still remember the words from my mother’s lips when I was a child. When we had storms, my mother would say, “You better be a good girl or God will strike you dead from lightning.” Believe me; I worked hard to always be a good girl. I did not want lightning to kill me.
Once I told a friend about my mother’s words and she stopped, glanced back at me saying “Your mother really painted some strong, cruel pictures for you. That is sad.”
I brushed the comments off, thinking that is what a mother does. It is her duty to say such things. Fortunately, after I woke up, recognizing my mother really had a colorful, cruel way to describe life, I decided to step out of those shoes and make my life different. Never has it been easy, but when I became a mother, never did I say such cruelties to my child.
Glancing outside as I sit glued to my chair, I see the clouds are still gray and thick. Just when will these thick clouds leave and allow the sun to shine again? That is almost a $64,000 question now. At least our city is a bit more comfortable now…only 78 degrees at the moment. Isn’t that nice?!?
Suppose I will close for now and stop this free writing exercise, especially since it really isn’t going anywhere. Please stay tuned readers. I will strive to take five minutes to write in my blog a bit more and I do apologize for being a bit reclusive. I did not mean to be so quiet, but with life, there are demands and I’ve had many unexpected demands lately. Hopefully soon things will change, especially since I’ve decided to take a break from Facebook. It is too addictive. There are many people who post way too many personal items there…like – I’m at the store now – shopping, or I’m out with friends at XYZ Bar having drinks…or…I’m on vacation now. I ask you, do these people even consider that we, the social media, never know who is reading our posts. At times I am amazed at the ‘too much information’ posted. I still prefer my privacy.
For now, I think I will close and make the attempt to make a bit of dinner. I have a taste for crab legs…and yes, they are Weight Watcher friendly! Thank you for asking.
The weather report is not calling for storms tonight. Yes, rain is forecast, but no storms…of course, you must realize, the weather forecaster is the only profession where the forecaster can be incorrect and still keep his or her job. Let us hope tonight I will sleep. Wouldn’t that be grand!
Sweet dreams…of course to dream – one must sleep!
Yes, I know…I’ve been quiet. As you recall, the new year started with a loss…not at Weight Watchers, but a loss of a loved one — our precious little Maltese, Shasta Daisy Shampagne. She was at least ten-years-old, probably closer to twelve. For approximately six months we watched her slowly fading away from us. At first, she stopped jumping across the gate. Then, she started to sleep — a lot…almost all day long. Occasionally she wouldn’t eat. During her wellness check at the vets, we discovered our suspicions — she was now completely blind, and that is why when she was awake, she raised her head high, to look at the bright lights she could see from the skyline of our windows. She could see a bright image, but nothing more. Each time I reached to pick her up, I would rub her and speak to her softly. She responded by struggling to jump into my arms. When she needed something, she did not whine or bark. She paced herself and I fully believe she knew exactly how many steps she needed to take to find the water bowl. She stopped playing with her favorite toys. When the seizures began, we strove to accept Shasta was fading away. I’ve never been a believer in ‘putting a dog down’ although we have let two go in this way. Their quality of life was gone, and so we made the decision to let them go peacefully, with us by their sides. With Shasta, it was different. Every time we considered making that dreadful call, she bounced back. Just like the Energizer Bunny. Twenty-four hours after a seizure, she worked hard to show us she could still walk and move. She could take care of her body functions. She could still drink and eat. Little Miss Independent Shasta wasn’t ready to go. Unfortunately, on January 4, early in the morning, I went to pick her up to let her go outside with me. She did not respond. She went on her terms. She did not want us to make that dreadful call. And so, we started the new year with the loss of our precious Shasta.
Life has taught me the fact of life that after death, we must continue. The question is how? How do we learn to live without those we loved? It is a known fact that we must continue to move. Demands in life force us to pick ourselves up. To take baby steps. To move. Simply — just to move. After losing Shasta, I wanted to just shut the world away, but the phone rang, door bells screamed, and I realized, I had to move on. I forced myself to get up and to return to my life. On January 9, I returned to Weight Watchers, anticipating more dismay, much to my surprise, I lost 1.8 pounds. This week, I lost .02 pounds. Baby steps. Now, I’ve discovered for me, it takes baby steps to continue my weight loss.
I do have a confession. Years ago, my husband bought a treadmill — one for him to use after heart surgery. Funny. He’s only used it twice. He used the excuse it was boring. He needed a TV so he could watch it while on the treadmill. We moved a TV into the room. The treadmill sat, all by itself, still awaiting my husband to move it! For years, I used it — to air dry clothes. After joining Weight Watchers, I stared at that treadmill. By now, it was dusty and needed attention, so I hopped on. ‘If only I can do ten minutes,’ I said. The treadmill is a 1998 version. The timer would not work, so I counted it down, while watching the clock and gasping for air. I’m asthmatic. Exercise is a bit difficult for me, but I was determined to do just ten minutes. At first, after five minutes, I had to jump off while gasping for air. That treadmill was getting the best of me!
Those of you who really know me understand how stubborn, independent and determined I can be when something intimidates me. I continued my pursuit. After joining Weight Watchers, I learned we must move to be successful with weight loss. I walked. I exercised, occasionally, but that silly treadmill all but stared and laughed at me. It was beating me, and I was just a bit annoyed.
Last year, I decided to set a goal of ten minutes again on the treadmill; after all, I had lost about 30 pounds. Just how hard can a treadmill be? My newest mini-schnauzer, Hankster the Prankster showed me. One morning while letting the treadmill down, he hopped onboard, as if to say, “Ha…Ha…I can do the treadmill and you cannot!” I turned it on just to see what he would do. That silly four-legged friend moved…and moved…and moved. Then, he barked, looked up at me as if to say, “Make it go faster,” so I did. Now he was running! A four-legged friend who knew much about me was using the treadmill. His little legs moved quickly and he barked a happy bark. I wanted to spank him!
Baby steps! The next day, I gave myself five minutes on the treadmill…a few days later, ten, and this time, I did not stop! Ten minutes was an achievement and I was proud of myself. I am happy to say, now, I can move on a treadmill for 50 minutes — non-stop! Then, I do an upper body workout. All to the credit of Weight Watchers!
This year, there is another new program with Weight Watchers — Simple Start, a two-week jump-start program that is easy to do. At the meeting this morning, many of the members shared weight losses and how easy the program is. As for me, I suppose you could say, I lose ever so slowly, but what I have learned this time with Weight Watchers is something simple. Weight Watchers works. No longer is it a difficult program. No longer is there a beige curtain with an intimidating scale staring in my face. The weigh ins are ‘confidential.’ Never do we share how much we weighed when we joined, and now, even a small weight loss of .02 is still — A LOSS!
Perhaps I owe the credit to Hankster the Prankster for teaching me that IF a tiny dog could work out on a treadmill, then I could too! There are days when he still wants to show me up on the treadmill, after a few minutes he hops off, as if to say, “OK…it’s your turn now!”
Thank you, Hanks. Yes, it is a new year. A new year to remember little Miss Shasta, and I still hear her little bark sometimes. When I walk by her bed, I still speak to her. As the year continues to move forward, I must focus on the blessings I have, including my precious four-legged children, and I must continue to move on to accomplish my weight loss.
Thank you, Weight Watchers. Thank you Hanks for teaching me I can do the treadmill, and Little Miss Shasta, thank you for the spunk and determination you taught me. I suppose people who do not have animals cannot understand how much they nourish, teach and inspire our life. These four-legged friends are there for us when we need a hug. They will lick away your tears, and melt your heart. I am blessed to have them in my life, and I am blessed to have a new inspiration and determined with Weight Watchers. It is a new year with Simple Start. A new year to count my blessings. Now, if I could only convince Hank I must use the treadmill before he does! Baby Steps!
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!
Thursday, November 28, 2013
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!
As a writer, I enjoy nothing better than reading a book that captivates me. One that is a page turner where my imagination and passion are consumed, or perhaps, kidnapped with the book. A few months ago, I found a Facebook site, Following Atticus. The site caught my attention because I am the mom to four schnauzers. Three mini-schnauzers and one giant schnauzer. All have unique personalities. I do not treat them as dogs. I describe them as my babies. My groomer gets a big kick out of that!
When I started following Following Atticus, I became captivated. Last week, I ordered the book. Yesterday, while I was baby sitting the service techs for a major repair of our heating and air unit, I sat in the kitchen, with my babies, reading Following Atticus. Some will describe it as a book about a man and his dog. Those of us who rescue and foster animals describe this amazing book as something more. It is a book about forgiveness, finding one’s self, compassion, acceptance, and in many ways, a story about finding yourself when you thought you were lost and alone and the journeys we take to come home again.
Atticus and Tom have a relationship extremely close to the relationship I have with my animals. Last year, when I lost my precious giant, “Prince Marmaduke Shamus,” aka “Shamey-Pooh,” I thought I wanted to go with him. I am pleased to say, my babies taught me how to accept his loss and how I must move on. That is when I decided I had to adopt another giant schnauzer, preferably, a rescue. For weeks I searched and could find nothing. One morning when opening Facebook, I found a posting of a black giant schnauzer now available for adoption — in Athens, GA. Immediately, I phoned to inquire and was told, if I applied, I would be the third person in line for him. Within 24 hours, I was contacted that if I wanted this abandoned giant, I would be the adoptive mommy to him! Isn’t it funny and strange how things work out. I believe in the power of prayer, visions and the power and strength to be clairvoyant. No doubt this was a sign from my precious Shamey-Pooh. He wanted me to go on and to stop all of the tears. The tears haven’t stopped, but I have opened my heart to love once again. Shamey-Pooh and I had a connection — a deep, passionate connection, but he was leading me to something he wanted me to do – to find the love within my heart to love and accept a lost and lonely black giant schnauzer that had been abandoned. In a dream my beautiful, silver gray Shamus pranced around again, telling me he was fine and I needed to “Move On,” just like I moved on after my dad died. This was truly another hard lesson in life, but Shamey-Pooh was guiding me, showing me how to journey into love again.
Now, a year later, my new giant schnauzer, Prince Midnight Shadow, has not taken Shamus’ place. That portion of my heart is reserved for Shamey-Pooh, but recognizing that life must go on has given me a new perspective to allow my heart to heal by allowing another rescue to teach me more about life, acceptance, forgiveness and love. “Shadow Bear” is full of life and in many ways, he is still a sneaky, energetic puppy that loves to jump up on me, until I remind me to ‘get down.’ His eyes grow wider with excitement when I come into the room. No, he isn’t Shamus. No one can replace that precious and fearful love, but we can grow and learn to accept the journeys we take in life, even the heartbreaking journeys.
If you have never read the book, Following Atticus, I strongly encourage you Continue reading “My Thoughts About “Following Atticus””
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!