Where There’s A Willow, There’s A Way

                                                                                 How Could You??

The puppy is now about a year and half old.  She has come a long way from berserk. four pound sheep hunter to wily, seventeen pound combination persistent nuisance to all things and loving, loyal member of our home pack.  She still has miles to go before we all sleep well, but the girl is on a good path.

I know a lot more now than I did “B.W.” (Before Willow).  My two other Jack Russells lulled me into a smug sense of security that time and training would produce a calm, stable, companionable dog in a year.  Willow has dispelled any notion I had that nurture can override nature, sort of like the false security you have that your software will protect you against Heartbleed or some other such insidious virus.  She has a prey drive second only to a hyena with the scream to match, and only another piece of prey can pull off one scent to another. There’s yet to be a cookie invented that can compete with a chattering chipmunk. Perhaps if I rolled myself in raw meat, I might have greater appeal to her, but I have this image in my mind of being taken down by coyotes or bears, or at least every other dog in the neighborhood save mine.

Her recall is spotty.  I don’t chase her any longer.  Long gone are the days when she would take off through out rural area, this mostly small white streak, with me in pursuit (usually in my bed slippers), through horse pastures, cow pastures, pig sties, and chicken coops.  If she leaves the farm perimeter (which is, admittedly, less often) for far-flung fields, that’s her choice.  It isn’t that I don’t care or that I don’t worry:  I’ve simply learned that the less I holler for her and simply take Martha and Gus inside or continue playing with them, the game is over.  She can’t stand not being the center of attention and comes back of her own accord out of curiosity about what she may be missing.  Like the new raw food treats.

She’s also taught me you can put everything you’ve got into a dog, but the dog has to want to meet you halfway.  A  dog makes choices, good and not so good.  Sometimes, you just have to wait until the brain is more mature and just hope the dog survives its less stellar choices.  Willow isn’t Gus, who walks at heel through the forest off leash, looks up for permission to chase a squirrel, and, now that he has the Tasmanian Devil as a little sister, has the patience of Job.  Martha, blissfully deaf and much less patient with Willow’s antics, snarls.  Any resemblance to my own human family life is purely coincidental.  Or maybe not.

I am hoping one day, in our dotage, to be glad after all that I brought her home.  I want to look back and, like labor, not really remember how the early days of our lives drove me to the brink of psychosis.  I want to be able to buy good sheets again without resigning myself to the holes that will be chewed in them.  And I would like to answer the front door like a normal person, not hiding behind the tiny crack like a hoarder, with dogs snapping at my heels to charge the unseen intruder.  I’m certain at this point, we’ve been removed from the Jehovah’s Witness visitors list, and I must admit, I miss having someone to talk to occasionally.

The Pride Of Frankenstein

My mom died.

I needed to step away from everything after my mom’s death.  I don’t have to explain that to any of you who have lost your parents at any age.  All the times I pleaded with them to “just leave me alone.”  Now they have.

I needed to step away from the blog and writing and try to find a voice in images.

So, I did.  Or I tried.

And I picked up my camera, went to the Wyoming Badlands for a bit this summer and photographed cowboys and horses (and cowgirls).

Wyoming.  The ranch life, the Badlands, the landlocked cocoon of the wide open, windy spaces took me outside of my life.  I felt invigorated and refreshed.  I got up before dawn to shoot sunrises on an incredibly different landscape and stayed up to learn how to photograph star trails.

This Is What I Did Last Summer Report (the short version).

8 Seconds

and

kate

and

Spencer

And dozens more.  I had a great time and met some fine people.  I didn’t want to come home.

I didn’t want to come home because I knew I have to face the fact that home isn’t home any longer.  That it never really has been.  That I have a lot of to-the-bone truths to work out, including the fact that no matter where I go next, I will be taking myself with me.  How dreadful.

Wouldn’t it just be brilliant if Dr. Frankenstein (that’s Franken-STEEN) had perfected his art, and you could have elective surgery to replace your funky brain that misfires with a better one that was more optimistic and talented, less turbulent and prone to bad thoughts?  And, if it’s not asking too much, maybe a little off around the middle-age waistline and a boob lift?

That would be work in which the good Doc could take pride.  I wonder if that might be covered under my ObamaRama Plan?

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The Following

No, not the creepy tv show starring Kevin Bacon (although I know people who know people who are cousins with him twice removed).

I’m talking about the abundance of emails I get advising me that someone with a “blog” of some sort is following me. Even on days when my stats show not one view on my site. Even in the month I took off from blogging to attend to my mother’s death, AND my stats showed almost no activity. No views and no reads.

And there’s something else fishy about these new followers — they are either posting one or two posts with only links selling weird things from foreign countries or, when I click on their blog site, nothing appears.

Is this happening to you?

Is this about

those pesky ads

at the bottom of our blogs?

Hey WordPress–what gives??

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And In The End The Love You Take

If there is one truth that all parents must embrace sooner or later, it is that no matter how much they love their children they must learn to let them go. Eventually, children must learn the same thing. When a parent dies, children do not say goodbye as much as they release them.

On February 18th, we released our mother in the early morning, as the deep indigo sky released itself to rising dawn, and soft pink and yellow light streamed through half open blinds into her hospice room, across the blanket that covered her, and quietly bathed her still face with a diffused glow.

We released her from our continuing need for her love and confirmation. We released her from our ambivalence — of her successes and failures as a parent — and of knowing that the perfect parent could not exist, for no child could stand them nor get free from them. All parents hurt their children. We vow to not make the same mistakes with our children. But we do, or we make different ones. And hope they have the capacity to forgive us. The miracle is that, somewhere in the process of releasing our mother, forgiveness became reflexive; there was only love.

Her death was not easy. She suffered hallucinations, physical and psychic pain. It was nightmarish. Yet, there were quiet moments in which she knew we were loved ones, even if she may or may not have known we were her daughters. I think there was comfort in that.

Here’s the thing: the mother of whom you can say loved you unconditionally; gave you a sense of purpose and possibility in life; and showed you what it means to live faithfully, to age courageously, and to die at peace with herself, is all the mother any child could hope for.

We had that mother.

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However Long The Night…

Eglon Beach Sunrise 2

I admit that I have been cycling downward for a while. Up, down, up, down, and occasionally, there is middle ground. When I’m in an upswing, I tend to get a lot done, or at least I start a lot of projects. Like three-quarter sleeves, however, I never quite make it all the way down to the wrist before the energy dissipates. When I’m on a downward trajectory, there isn’t much I can do but hunker down and ride it out. Because this is what I know — everything is fluid. Happiness, sadness, come and go like tides.

You don’t fight the beast nor do you give in to it. You meet it. And know it is impermanent. There is an African saying: “However long the night, there will be another dawn.”

I was there for this one.

The Astounding Free Range Horses of Patagonia~

Going To The Dogs:

I simply can’t come up with one sound reason why humans would want to slaughter anything so glorious.

Originally posted on :

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The free ranging wild horses of Patagonia are called criollos. They were brought to Argentina in 1535 by Spanish settlers and were bred from Andalusians. Hundreds now roam wild on the Patagonian Steppe and are considered native to Argentina.
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My husband and I were out exploring one day deep into the steppe on a dirt road when we faced a herd of oncoming traffic moving at great speed.
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We stopped the car and I got out as the criollos streamed around us and I got these shots. It was a thrilling sight!
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The criollos have the best long distance endurance of any breed next to the Arabians.
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They are hardy and able to live in harsh conditions and withstand the severe Patagonian winters.
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By nature they are said to be tractable, intelligent and sensible.
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We saw herds of them all over the steppe, sometimes at great distances. It was wonderful…

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Rescuing Ruby

Happier Days

Happier Days

This wasn’t what my mother had in mind for her dog when she had a mind.

In the same way we believe that nothing bad will ever happen to us when we are 18 and immortal, when Mom adopted Ruby, she never anticipated she would get Alzheimer’s. Mom never thinks she’s old, either, but that has more to do with vanity than the deterioration of her cognitive and motor skills. Mom was about 79 when she adopted Ruby, who was two. In fairness to my mother, none of us argued with her desire to have this little dog. We all thought it was a great fit. In that moment. And so it was for several years.

But no one asked what might happen to the dog as my mother aged. No one thought to make a plan for Ruby in the event Mom died. Or worse. And worse happened.

If you read my post from September about Mom and Ruby you will think that my mother’s sad story had a happy ending for Ruby. My nephew wanted to take her into his family. On paper, great. In the real world, not so much. Ruby doesn’t do well with 4 year-old boys whose love is expressed in an exuberant, physical way. She snapped at the boy, the boy’s mother (rightfully) nixed the deal, and Ruby came back to my sister’s house. With her two Yorkie Poos. And Ruby doesn’t really love other dogs. She snaps at them, too.

She wants what she was accustomed to — her human, her home. What she has is confusion and a lot of time in a crate right now. She has my stressed out sister who has a hellish schedule. What she must be thinking.

When my mother lived near me, both she and Ruby spent a lot of time at my farm. After my mom fell ill, I took Ruby for extended periods. She did just okay with my dogs (BP — Before Puppy). She has an autoimmune medical condition that requires daily meds for the rest of her life, and she is not a spring chicken herself. Flying her back here is not an option any more.

The upshot of this is that Ruby is going to an Italian Greyhound Rescue Organization foster home, maybe for the rest of her life. I am as horrified and heartbroken and guilt-ridden as I am grateful and relieved that these fine people are so dedicated to their volunteer mission that they are doing for Ruby what we cannot. I have never surrendered an animal in my life. If my mother knew the truth and understood it, she would be shattered. My sister and I decided it was best to lie to her and tell her that Ruby was going back to California to live with the cousin that gave her to Mom in the first place.

I know a little about where she is headed, having checked out the organization and spoken to the foster family, a retired couple who have been in rescue over 20 years. I tell myself to have faith that Ruby will find happiness and love there. And permanency. Faith is something that doesn’t come very easily to me. Lose your husband, your best friend, your father, your health, a few dozen friends to the scourge of AIDS in the space of a decade, and you begin to understand the point of view of the Pharoah a little bit when all the plagues were raining down in Egypt. Still, when all the other options are spent, faith is what is left.

When I had a health scare years ago, I made a will and a trust. I put all of my animals in as property in my trust as well as a fund for them. At the time, I had horses, so it was more elaborate than it is now. Like kids, each of my dogs has a guardian who has agreed to take them for the rest of their lives. It’s unlikely that I will bring any more animals into my home (or at least I won’t go out searching for any). Willow (if she lives as long as Martha has) and I will be old ladies together (I’m still on the fence about her chances of staying out of that much trouble but with age, hopefully, comes wisdom). Going through this with Mom and with Ruby has taught me that a part of our responsibility to our pets is also knowing when not to have them.