Gourds and Human Imperfections

This morning I was working on making gourd birdhouses. My gourds were grown last year and have been sitting in the garden waiting for me to do something with them for all this time.  They have been moved from place to place, had things piled on them, been out in the rain and in the blazing summer sun. The rains had yielded black and white molds and the sun had baked these fungal imperfections into place. Continue reading

Posted in God | 1 Comment


Cariann, me, Catherine and Michael at an ornament party at my house in 2004

If I had to come up with one word to describe my relationship with Cariann, it would be “conversations”. When I was thinking about this, I was torn between the word “questions” and the word “conversations”. Cariann has always really loved to ask questions and has been very fervent about making sure she gets the answers. However, as I think about it, it hasn’t been so much the questions that were important to me as the conversations that ensued as a result.

When she was younger (I am 11 years her senior), the conversations I remember were about relationships (with boys), being an adult, politics. As we got older, the conversations were about relationships (with friends), health, food, religion, and crafts. In the past year the conversations were about relationships (with God), friendship, love, heaven, food, health, journeys, life, afterlife, sushi, family, religion, pets, books, our souls and death.

This year, we’ve really made time for the conversations and I have really valued this time. Death is a scary topic, and even scarier if you’re not sure if you’re allowed to talk about it. With Cariann, there has been no doubt that, not only were we going to talk about it, but that the conversation was going to dive deep into every crevice and bring it out of the scary darkness and into light. And, in the light, nothing is quite as scary. Continue reading

Posted in God | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Relax into it

I just started riding my motorcycle again after a very long time off.  On last week’s ride I was working on remembering all the things I needed to do.  I found myself working very hard to turn the bike and then recalled a very important lesson I had learned just before I stopped riding.  “Relax into the turn”.  When I’m trying too hard, one hand is fighting the other and the bike doesn’t know where to go.  Without going too much into the mechanics of steering a motorcycle, when you’re turning, one hand is doing the work while the other hand could just as soon be off the handle.  You simply relax into the turn – lefthand turn, left hand pushes on the handlebar and you relax to the left.  As I remembered this, I felt exhilarated as I glided into the next turn. Continue reading

Posted in Animal Rescue | Leave a comment

How I Became “The Pit Bull Gal”

I am an all breed sort of person. Growing up, we never knew a time where one breed was deemed better than another in my family. I do remember that the folks down the street had a Doberman on a chain in the garage and we weren’t supposed to approach him, but more because he was on a chain than that he was a specific breed. Other than that, dogs were dogs. We had a poodle and an all American mutt. We think she was German Shepherd, Beagle, Huskie, Collie, but who really knows for sure? You got them from the shelter and you tried to figure out what they were because it was fun but it didn’t really matter in the end.

Continue reading

Posted in Animal Rescue | Leave a comment

15 Reasons that Search Dogs Rock!

This past week I was invited to attend a special demonstration by the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. I have to say, these dogs are incredible. There are so many things I didn’t know about how these dogs are acquired, trained and maintain their focus. The demonstration showed how solid the dogs are in their basic training, how they teach them to find a hidden person, how they work with them to teach them how to master more difficult terrain and the absolute joy these dogs seem to have when they’re “working”.

I hope you enjoy some of the many photos I took and the 15 things that I learned: Continue reading

Posted in Animal Rescue | Leave a comment

Don’t Tell Me that Pets Don’t Mourn

Please don’t ever tell me that animals do not mourn.  The left photo of Borrego was taken six weeks before our dog Midnight was diagnosed and died of cancer.  The right photo was taken three weeks after Midnight passed.  The grey shroud of mourning is so prominent in the photo it even made me gasp.  For the first week that Midnight was gone, Borrego merely wandered around the house.  Her demeanor is markedly more subdued, even now.  

Borrego tolerates very few adult dogs but was a constant companion with Midnight.  Three years Midnight’s elder, I think that Borrego counted on Midnight’s steadfast nature to keep her grounded.  I do not think that Borrego will ever again have a companion that she trusts and  interacts with as she did with Midnight.  Yes, we feel Midnight’s loss and many tears have been shed by the humans in our family.  Based on the white in Borrego’s countenance, I can guarantee you that she has done her share of crying as well.

Posted in Pet Ownership | 1 Comment

Spay and Neuter – What to Expect

Recently, a coworker mentioned that they were considering spaying their 6 month old puppy but were complaining that they didn’t have the 3 months to keep her calm during recovery. Three months – really?!? I’m certain my jaw hit the floor as I looked at her to see if she was kidding me. She wasn’t. And she even went on to say that they were about to go on vacation and she really needed the $1000 for the vacation instead. Surely I was being punked! I wonder how many people aren’t spaying or neutering their pets because their perception is that it is that invasive to their lives?!?

I quickly set about gently updating my friend. I have fostered over 30 puppies, not to mention countless other tiny beings. To that end, I feel like I have a pretty good perspective on what to expect on the days following a spay or neuter. Continue reading

Posted in Animal Rescue | Leave a comment

In the Shadows

Sometimes the most humane thing you can do in the face of cancer is nothing.

About a month ago, I awoke to feel my 16 year old cat, Shadow, trembling and twitching on the bed beside me. She saw me open my eyes and struggled to stand up only to collapse in a heap. Instantly awake, I picked her up and held her to my chest. “What’s wrong baby girl?!” I whispered. Her whole body was contorting and she stared at me with wide eyes. Holding her more tightly I willed the twitching to stop. It slowed as she relaxed into my embrace. I held her, tears running down my face. What was wrong? Continue reading

Posted in Animal Health, Animal Rescue, Pet Ownership | 2 Comments

6 Weeks Ago

6 weeks ago we had a healthy 5.5 year old black lab/hound mix named Midnight.  She bounced eagerly in place when I came in the front door, waiting for me to pet her shiny black head and tickle her under her belly and then to race to the back door to play ball in the yard. 

6 weeks ago we had a dog who would make near acrobatic moves to catch a ball in one instant and climb into your lap as if she was only 10 pounds of puppy in the next. 

6 weeks ago we had a dog that we were considering training for therapy work.  She was so gentle that people everywhere would squeal in delight to see her – “Midnight’s here!” 

6 weeks ago we had a hiking buddy, a nap buddy, a play buddy, a foster-sister to numerous puppies and a real sister to a golden, 3 cats and a rabbit. 

6 weeks ago we had a dog that was exquisitely trained and mostly well-behaved, the occasional counter surfer, cat food sneaker and litter box raider. Continue reading

Posted in Animal Health, Pet Ownership | 5 Comments

His name is Dewey

Dewey on the way to the hospitalThe Animal Control Officer led me down several hallways to a quiet area behind the main kennel banks. The echo of barking and whining faded behind us and all we could hear was the echo of our own footsteps. We came to a door with a small pan with an antiseptic-soaked towel, which we stepped in to remove any trace of contaminants from the soles of our shoes. Inside, the room smelled cold and sterile, all cement walls and floors, with few amenities in the kennels. Curled up in a ball at the back of the first kennel was a lanky brindle puppy, all bones, big eyes and huge floppy ears that stuck out at funny angles like the flying nun in a windstorm.

The ACO opened the door to the kennel and the puppy struggled to get up, head hanging low. Unfortunately his legs fell out from under him and he crawled quietly towards us on his belly. His eyes never left mine and I could feel the tendrils of his soul connecting with mine. Continue reading

Posted in Animal Rescue | Leave a comment