Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A White Tiger Rug

As y'all know, I've gone back to work. The last time I worked on a medical/surgical floor in a hospital was 1985. (Since then, I've worked in the Operation Room, PACU, and in Primary Care, but I hadn't worked in nursing at all since 2002.)

Things have changed since 1985. Just a bit.

(Oh, I'm 55 years old.)

The hospital is wonderful. I'm so impressed with the nursing staff. They are orienting me as though I were a new grad (GOOD IDEA!), and at the halfway point, I'm now taking my own patient load, under the watchful supervision of my (SAINT of a) preceptor. She is a sweet, beautiful soul, three years out of nursing school. She is a very good nurse.

(Yes, I am 55.)

While I'm in orientation, I work my preceptor's schedule. We worked Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I will be honest with you: I was very worried about my physical capability of working three twelve hour shifts in a row. The young nurses at work said that it's really hard.

(I am 55.)

I was worried about the dogs. Okay, that's not the whole truth. Bill has been doing great with the dogs. I was worried about me missing them. You know. There is a big ol' chunk of my heart that doesn't beat quite right when I'm away from them for too long. It beats, but that big ol' chunk is not quite in rhythm, so it sounds like, 'lub-dubb, oh thunk, lub-dubb, hmmmm thunk, lub-dubb, sigh thunk.'

(My heart is 55, too.)

Well, it turns out, that I was worried for nothing. I am a Tiger! A fifty-freaking-five-year-old White Tiger*! Three twelves in a row was a cinch.

See? Here I am arriving home on Monday night:

Note the victorious thumbs up!

The dogs rush to greet me.

Sammy -- don't forget he is a Therapy Dog -- astutely checks for a pulse, and immediately calls

Swede William says, "Whew Lordy!! You can say that again!!!" Easy can't look.

Mama Pajama to the rescue!

A sweet Mama Pajama kiss can revive the weariest of souls. It can make a 55-year-old soul feel brand new. A Mama Pajama kiss can make a heart that was going kerthunk-plop just race along lubby-dubby, lubby-dubby, lubby-dubby-doo!

I am the luckiest older than dirt nurse alive.

hug your hounds

* Thanks to Sue for the White Tiger reference!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Dressed for Christmas

Here is the sum total of the Christmas decorations at the Casa Renzulli so far:

Bill plugged in the string of lights that's been hanging around the gallery door since last Christmas. Or the one before.

But the town of Paducah is a different story. It is lit.

The charming Texaco Station (now an information booth in the Arts District)

The Hotel Irvin Cobb - a classic from the past, where Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, The Tommy Dorsey Band, and more entertained Paducans - now hosts a lovely florist shop, and housing for the elderly and disabled.

The costume store is in the spirit. (Click on that to see the look the 'Car Freshener Baby' is giving his less than thrilled Christmas Tree Mother.)


The downtown gazebo, where you can catch a horse-drawn carriage ride.

The downtown directory, reflecting the snowflake street decorations.

Back in the Arts District, The Colonial. Isn't she graceful?

I hope to write a story tomorrow. One is tickling my brain. I'm back to work on Saturday. I get to see how I do with my first "three twelves in a row." I work Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I'm afraid they might have to call a code on me by Monday. Not a code blue; it will be too late for that. Just a code D.E.D. (It's spelled D-E-D, but it's pronounced dayedd. There is no such thing; I made it up.)

"Code D.E.D. in the hall, 3C. Code D.E.D."
If you hear one, that will be me.

Nah, I'll be fine. But as much as I can, today and tomorrow, I'm hugging me some hounds, while the hugging is good.

You could hug some, too.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday Shoot Out on Saturday and Stuff

In the words of someone, I'm late I'm late for a very important date.
This week's My Town theme is from Emma in Arizona, who said:

When I think of trying to photograph weather, I think about [...] any type of clouds, the sunset, a beautiful snowfall...should the weather cooperate for us, I thought it would be a fun topic to catch on film!

I haven't been out in the weather much. Heck, I haven't even been out in the daylight much. So here are some photos of last winter's once-in-a-hundred-years ice storm, just to make you feel warm and snugly where ever you are. Except Minnesoooooota. And Norway.

It was beautiful.

From indoors.

It will be another hundred years before the trees recover, and I will never forget the sound of all of those huge branches cracking and crashing. Some people in neighboring counties were without power for 32 days.

Enough of weather. (I am not such a big fan of winter and it's been dismal cold and gray.)

On to stuff.

We are hanging in here. Bill and the whippets are getting along just fine without me. Bill loves to cook, and now he has a couple of hours to kill after the gallery closes until I drag my weary bones in the front door. He fills that time by piddlin' in the kitchen. On Thursday, I opened the door to the sound of manic whippet woo-woo-woos and to the smell of Italian heaven.

I had had a Fairly Hard Time of It, and spent some part of dinner sobbing into my linguine with sweet Italian sausage marinara, Sammy's worried face resting on one thigh, Swede William's on the other, Easy and Fat Charlie lying like twin Sphinxes waiting for plates to lick. Between those pathetic tremulous gasps that possess your throat when you've fought tears all day, and moments when I almost fell sound asleep face first in my plate, a little bell went off in my brain. Tinkle! Hey! You! This pasta that you are crying into is really good!

And then I wasn't crying any more.

I spoke to my Nursing Director yesterday. I said, "Um. I feel like the learning curve I'm facing is as though I'm driving the Le Mans, in a Gremlin, and they're holding it on Mt. Everest." I asked her to please be honest with me, and to let me know if she had any doubts that I was up to this task. She cocked her head at me and said, "Patience, you've only been on the unit for two weeks. I think you are being a little hard on yourself. I knew when we hired you that you would need extensive orientation. Actually, I've heard that you're doing really well." She went on to say kind things.

(Thing is, I'm used to being more than competent. I'm used to being the one who people come to with questions. I'm accustomed to having solutions. Whoa Lordy!!! Now? I'm checking everything with my SAINT of a preceptor. Even stuff that I know I know, I check with this dear soul first. Twice. Once more for good measure. And when you read this, please be sure to give those italicized words sufficient punch.)

So last night when I got home, after doing fairly okay and getting the nice pep talk from the Director, I was feeling a little more rosy. The whippets picked up on this and gave me their best Excessive Greeting Disorder Welcome Home ever. There was crazy chaos and folderol. Mad, wild, loud bedlam. Luciano stood halfway down the stairs with his nose pointed to the heavens and his lips in a perfect O, just a'howling to beat the band. Sammy ran silly little mini zoomies around the dining room table. Easy barked his head off and jumped up to give kisses. Delia ran between Bill and me, screaming the entire time. William and Lindy wooed and wrestled for good measure, William throwing in a hump or two while Lindy was distracted. Mama Pajama and Fat Charlie wagged and danced and smiled right into my heart.

And Bill said, "I've made something I've never made before. You are going to love it." There was a Bon Appetite magazine on the cooking island. "It's penne with root vegetables," he beamed.

It smelled wonderful.

The recipe called for golden beets, which were not to be found in Paducah, so Bill substituted regular beets. They made the dish a lovely, bright rose-fuchsia color. Just perfect for my new outlook.
The dogs all had precious pink lips after they licked the plates.

I was still smiling when I fell into bed.

Life, even when you feel not quite up to the challenge, is good with eight whippets and the world's best husband.

hug your hounds

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Here we are!


Playing catch up.

I've got some orders to get out: thank you wonderful people who are buying my book! You know how in that James Stewart Christmas classic movie every time a bell rings an angel gets wings? Well, for me, every time a book sells, I feel like I can fly. Just for a second.

But it feels great, so thank you.

We went to a dog show on Sunday and had a blast. All three dogs showed like pros! Emmett went first, and did better than I imagined he would. His Heather was home - baby Ben's little brother is due in four weeks, but that wasn't why. Ben's daddy had to work, so Heather had a day with Ben, just the two of them. My great and generous friend Dee (of Lee and Dee fame) went with me, packing a yummy lunch to eat on the way, to hold dogs ringside and be excellent company on the SIX hours - three up, three back - of fascinating southern Illinois Interstate.

So Emmett had to go first, and didn't have his Heather to cheer him on, but he was a brave and happy and wonderful boy. No stage fright for him! Then it was Swede William's turn and he gave me goosebumps. Not so much the judge, though, who apparently got indigestion from William's glorious Swedish color. Dee reported hearing collective ooooh's and aaaaah's from the whippet folks ringside, which is gratifying.

Lindy Loo, who is the worst little fussbudget when we practice, was showier than a Rockette! She stood like a statue, arched her neck, cocked her head at the judge and moved like a dream. I couldn't help smiling - okay, beaming - at her. She had a blast.

These three dogs just love to show, and that makes it so much fun for me. Plus I got to see some friends who I haven't seen forever. Dee and I got home to Bill and Lee enjoying wine and cheese in our kitchen while Bill made a signature pasta dish - oooooh sun dried tomatoes artichoke hearts shrimp wine and cream sauce ohhhhhh ahhhhhh. It was just a great day. I was asleep under a pile of whippets by 8:30.

Work is going fine. (Although you've noticed it cuts into my blog time something fierce.) Bill is doing a heroic job of being primary dog servant. I am so enjoying giving patient care again: it is such a special privilege. I don't have the time to devote right this minute, but in another post I'll talk about that. The gift of caring for people.

And I'm having a blast getting to know the staff of the floor where I'm working. It's a delightful, fun, energetic, responsible, cooperative group of people. They help each other, and they put their patients first. That makes for a rewarding work environment. My preceptor is a very good nurse. So young! More on that in another post, too.

It's a busy day. The Paducah Kennel Club Christmas Party is tonight. No rest for the weary!

Hug your hounds - it's good to 'see' you!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Is It Friday?

The two weeks of classroom orientation at the hospital is over, and I've begun working twelve hour shifts on my unit. This week is a doosy, as we had our last two eight hour days on Monday and Tuesday and then yesterday and today are the twelve hour days on the floor.

This is my lengthy excuse for not having gotten my Friday My Town Shoot Out up. My kind blog friend, Barry
over at An Explorer's View, said some lovely things about my little book, Mama Pajama Tells a Story. He was generous enough to purchase one, and then he mentioned it on his blog. (Including a lovely photo of Springer Spaniel Lindsay reading it!) Thank you, Barry.
The photography assignment for this week was to show off Paducah's Christmas celebrations. The town is lit up, let me tell you! But I can't now, as I must dash off to work.
hug your hounds, I miss mine!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Smiling Faces

Today's theme is brought to us by the very talented Sarah from Idaho - a very favorite subject of mine: Smiles!

One of the treasures of my town: Baby Ben. I love this picture. I think my sweet, late Giacomino (Very Old Dog) is smiling a little bit in his sleep.

The bravest smile in the world - my big sister.

I miss these smiles. They used to brighten up Paducah Kentucky, now they brighten up southern California.

Carolyn (Easy's late mom) gave me a shirt that said "Official Dog Walker - CAUTION: FREQUENT STOPS", and I gave her the shirt with the three running whippets. This is a little cheaty becaouse my great friend Laurie from Minnesooooooota took this photo (not me) somewhere around 2004-ish. I love it.

Sam I Am is the smilingest dog I've owned since Uncle (Saint) Opie the lab.

hug your hounds and enjoy your leftovers!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Hallelujahs

Someone is trying to tell me something.

Last Sunday I was a big jumble of raw emotions as I walked the dogs on my final Sunday of life before returning to hospital nursing. I was excited, nervous, frightened, grateful, reticent, eager, worried. The old dogs go around one block, maybe two since Mama Pajama is doing so well and the weather is just right.

These old dogs: Fat Charlie, Mama Pajama, and Easy. In their eyes are twelve golden, magical years of my life. Of long trips with heart friends, of thrilling runs, breath-stealing sorrows, of laughing so hard that soda shoots out of your nose, of soaking toes, wrapping feet, of pride, of couch piles with me on the bottom. Of children growing up and moving out. Of grandbabies born. In Easy's eyes are my late friend Carolyn's voice and laughter. Her "Oh gawsh!" Greg's jokes. And Spice. I always see Spice in Easy's eyes.

As we walked last Sunday, I heard music coming from the Presbyterian church. It was in the afternoon; long past Sunday service. I deviated from the old dogs' normal route - much to their delight - and turned right, to hear more.

Oh! I thought it was a recording of Handel's Messiah. But it was (I think) The Paducah Symphony Orchestra Choir rehearsing. All of the windows were open. The old dogs and I stopped on the sidewalk just outside those windows. All three dogs pricked their ears and tilted their heads, listening.

It was such beautiful music. The voices didn't strain, they gloried. We walked in the grass around the church. I couldn't bear to walk away. That music gave me a sense that it would all be okay.

And then the week of reality hit me. I forgot.

This morning I headed off to blog land to play some catch up. The first blog I came to with my coffee and my sleepy breakfasted dogs was a new one I just started following last week. I don't know the blogger well yet. She's in Australia and it's hot there. She posted a video of k d lang singing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. (Do click on that link. Do!)

I sat weeping.

I spent the next hour listening to all different versions on Youtube. Here is one for you.

I have read your generous comments, and I thank you. November 18th was the one year anniversary of Maria's death. This awful year of loss. I pronounce that year OVER.

Say Hallelujah!

I pronounce that year OVER.

Sing Hallelujah!

I pronounce that year OVER.


hug your howling hounds - we're having a good one here!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sweet Saturday

It is a G.L.O.R.I.O.U.S. day in Western Kentucky. Sunny. Warm. A little breeze.

Swede William allowed us to sleep until 6:45 this morning, before he sounded his, "Hey, it's a beautiful morning and time's a-wasting" alarm. (One of the great personal joys of starting this new job is my being able to wake up Swede William for a change. Ha!) Sleeping in until 6:45 felt delicious. Decadent. Ahhhhhhh.

I know that you all are curious about how the new job is going. (I won't ever talk about actual patient care. There are privacy issues that trump all.)

This week I have been in a classroom, although the last two hours yesterday I was on my actual clinical unit, simply observing. I am so impressed with everything I see in this hospital. Their orientation is excellent. People who work there have been there ten, twenty, thirty years, and there are LOTS of employees with that kind of longevity. That says a lot.

Bill and the dogs have done fine. I've been getting home around five. (I don't start the 12 hour shifts until December.) I change my clothes, feed the waggle, and then we go for our walks. Yes it's dark. Less stupid city squirrellies. More C.A.T.s.

Including an all white C.A.T. who wants to be friends with the whippets.

Who approaches us when she sees us coming. In the dark. Under the streetlights. Like a white baggie on the lure machine, screaming "CHASE ME! GET ME! NANNY NANNY BOO BOO!"

Oh boy.

If I'm feeling a little peaked from trying to absorb the last, oh, 24 years of updates in hospital nursing in, say, eight hours, if my feet are dragging and my head is pounding and my neck is more knotted than my gramma's tatting, well, let that white C.A.T. start trotting toward Sam I Am, Lindy Loo, Swede William and me. I am no longer feeling exhausted, no I am NOT! I am shot through with adrenaline. ZING! My personal catecholamine level is suddenly high enough that I could hop right on up to the tippy top of Mt. Everest and not even notice that it was chilly out.

And that white C.A.T. is one of those souls who 'doesn't take a hint so good'.

"SHEW," I say.

"We're going to EAT YOUR HEAD OFF, you beastly white flukinschmordablueysnorkle!" scream the whippets. (They actually sling all sorts of horrid epithets, vulgarities, and plain old cuss words, I'm ashamed to tell you, Dear Readers. Along with foamy spit and biting anything in their reach.)

We get back from the walks to the smells of Bill's heavenly kitchen miracles. Thanks to the C.A.T. my plate is spared my face falling into it. I am wide awake, and able to enjoy the most delectable delights he has created.

After dinner the dogs drape themselves around the TV room. I sort through the pages of handouts (more than 250 so far) and try to get my 55 year old brain to process what it took in. The dogs twitch and bark in their sleep, no doubt chomping on any number of white C.A.T.s with exaggerated fangs and stinky butts in dreamland.

I twitch and cry in real life. I have always had things come so easily to me. I was born with a brain that could grasp, figure out, problem solve, and retrieve anything I told it to in a snap. I was the pain in the ass in class: first one with her hand up, first one with the right answer. Now, I'm not.
It's scary.

I feel more like the white C.A.T. Like I'm approaching something all friendly-like. Only it wants to gobble me up. And I'm de-clawed.

But. I'll take it one day at a time. There is plenty of support available to me. I am going to the hospital today to use the online study programs available in the hospital's excellent library. I will do everything I can and if it isn't enough, I'll know I tried.

I will hug my hounds when I get back from the library. Then we'll walk in this beautiful sunshine.

You can hug yours now!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Premier Attraction

Kent in Montana ( chose My Town's Premier Attraction for this week's topic. He tells us, "Since we all live in such different places, I thought a good theme might be to show what your hometown is most noted for." You can see the other places featured by clicking on the camera in the sidebar on your right.

Well, Paducah is Quilt City. First, foremost and famously.

It is home to the Museum of the American Quilters Society. And if you think of quilts as grammy's old mothballed fuddy duddy stuff, think again. Click on that link and take a gander on what is housed here, right here in Paducah, Kentucky.

The annual Quilt Show attracts around 37,000 visitors to Paducah in April. Retailers do better during Quilt Week than Christmas. Our UPS man always takes his vacation during that week. It is wild. The Quilt Museum is right downtown. Traffic is clogged. There are routinely cars heading the wrong way on any number of one way streets! But we love quilters, yes we do!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention The Paducah Bank and Trust.

It is still un-conglomerated, and it won some huge award and honor for being chosen as one of the best places to work in the entire United States of America! I think that is really something.
There is so much more, but if we're talking PREMIER attraction, the Quilt Museum is it.
Now, I don't know about y'all, but after a week's worth of training for a new job, I am going to put on my red flannel jammies with the paw prints and bones design, I am going to lie down, and I am going to hug my sweet hounds!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The End, The Beginning

Oh that's quite the dramatic title, isn't it?

The beautiful woman is my mother, Marietta Norton, in her graduation photo from nursing school in Des Moines, Iowa. I wish you could see how blue her eyes were. She died in 1974, when I was twenty. She was younger when she died than I am now.

I have spent hours today unsuccessfully searching for a photo of my own graduation day from nursing school, 11 June, 1983. My six year old son, dressed in a little jacket and tie, with his hair slicked is standing next to me on the steps of the first home Bill and I would make together. It was a week before Bill and I married. My son looks proud. I look so young.

I wore a dress uniform and my nurse's cap, and an expression of happy nervousness. My classmates had elected me to give a speech at the graduation ceremony. Our dog, dear Measly, waited back at my apartment; I'm afraid it was a long day for her. She never complained.

Measly. Our last shelter rescue. Doesn't she look whippety? She was whippet-sized, whippet-shaped, and loved to run zoomies. But I think it was just a happy accident. She was a great good dog.

Tomorrow morning I will restart my nursing career. I will be working at Western Baptist Hospital. The first two weeks will be the hospital's mandatory new employee orientation: classroom instruction from 8 to 4:30. Then I'll do four to six weeks of full time twelve hour shifts of orientation on my unit. After that I start my part time job.

I am as certain as we can be about these things that I'll work at this hospital for the next ten years. Since moving to Paducah, time has been flying by me, catching me in its jet stream, spinning me like a dervish. Occasionally I tap a toe down, and thrust my arms out to stop: eight puppies born, Xela winning at Keeneland, a first draft of a novel finished, treasured visits from friends and family. And then the time whirlwind catches me back in its tornado. Can it be that we just celebrated our seventh year in Paducah? How can that be?

In ten years, I'll be sixty-five. Bill will be eighty. In just ten years.

Ten years ago, Mama Pajama was the #1 AKC Lure Coursing whippet in the country. Fat Charlie received his Award of Racing Excellence, and his Field Championship. Sam I Am's mom, Jessie, got her Championship in the show ring. Every weekend I headed off with friends in the Warburton Whippet Wagon to have some dog fun. My son was in college. We saw patients everyday in Bill's office on our farm. We had eight horses and ponies, who whunkered to me in the early morning when I opened the barn doors.

Ten years ago, we lived on the farm with Uncle (Saint) Opie the black lab, Gracious, Caruso, Giacomino, Maria, Mama Pajama, and Fat Charlie. Luciano and Delia weren't even born yet; they're nine and a half now.

Tomorrow begins the next ten years. I'm excited to be given the privilege of taking care of people again. I've missed that. I'm nervous about how the dogs and Bill will fare. How I will fare - given my well known separation anxiety from the waggle! I'm excited at the notion of being able to enter some dog shows and agility trials.

I'm beyond thrilled to have been hired at the hospital where I will work. I am so impressed with everything I have seen there. It's a good place. I will be proud to be a part of that caring.

I loved being a nurse. It will be wonderful to be a nurse again.

Christmas 1983. I was working straight midnights and Jake had a Dukes of Hazard lunchbox.

hug your hounds and please think of mine

Friday, November 13, 2009

Best Wishes for a Dear Wire Fox Terrier

The whippets have a friend out in blog land who needs some good thoughts and prayers. She has the same name as a wonderful 15 year old whippet who is so very special to us, and who is FINE, so we didn't want to scare anyone. This wirey friend is named Snickers, just like our 15 year old whippet friend.

But Wire Fox Terrier Snickers is needing some positive healing energy.

So, some other very cool blog friends of ours, Jake and Fergi, are asking everyone to set your alarms
And at exactly 11:00 PM GMT on Saturday 14 Nov 09
(Go to this link to find what time that is for you)
5:00 PM Saturday evening in Iowa (that's 5 PM in Paducah, 6 PM on the East coast)
as Snickers' family sits down to eat
Turn toward them (in the central USA)
And join together in a silent minute
Of prayer, meditation, contemplation, reflection
Whatever feels right to you.
Followed by whatever means of communication
You choose.

To wish and send Miss Snickers and her family
whatever is in your hearts
That will help them feel the Love and Support
They need right now.
Personally, we’ll be sending Miracle Whippet Magical Wishes.
Blow a Kiss
and send your Love and Prayers and Best Wishes
to Miss Snickers and her Family
and they will feel their arrival
in the breeze.
hug your hounds
in gratitude for their
good health

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Places of Worship

Today's Shoot Out topic is brought to us by Rebecca of Ambler Pennsylvania. She says:

This week I picked places of worship because I was thinking that so many churches & synagogues (etc.), have such interesting architecture and symbolism both indoors and out. In addition, there is often much history surrounding the older buildings used for worship as well, adding to the interest.

Western Kentucky is known around these parts as the very buckle of the Bible Belt. I could fill up blog posts for the next year and still not come close to including all the churches. I've chosen to show you some of the ones in my immediate neighborhood.

The flood wall features a mural with Paducah's historic places of worship. The beautiful Jewish temple - seen with the golden minarets - burned before we moved here, but it was right downtown.

you might have to click on the photo to enlarge - use your back button to return

This is the Presbyterian Church three blocks away. The congregation has been so welcoming to the artists who have relocated to their neighborhood. It is a beautiful church.

The Methodists are also just three blocks from our house. There's an indoor swimming pool in this church! They're very generous about letting the neighborhood use their meeting rooms to gather.

This is Grace Episcopal -five blocks from our house. The Stars of David fascinate me. During the Civil War, her courtyard was used as an infirmary. They allow us to hold our rehearsals of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues there. Every year the performance raises money for the domestic violence shelter, and it raises awareness. Grace Church lives up to her name.

This is the Catholic church, St. Francis de Salles. It is six blocks from my little computer room. Ironically, Bill took care of the brothers from a St. Francis de Salles monastery back in Maryland, in his old practice. I miss Brother John.

St. Francis de Salles

The churches are, for the most part, segregated here. Not by law any more, thank God, but sadly by choice. I find it sad, anyway. This is a Baptist Church four blocks in the other direction from our house.

This is another Baptist church. I don't know if it is for white Baptists or black Baptists. It's the furthest, about eighteen blocks away. But it's right across Broadway from the hospital where I'll be working. (Yipppeeeeeeee!)

This is a spiritual place for so many people. The cars in this photo each contain one man. And there are always cars backed away from the river, occupants staring at the water. Always. I have written about these lonely men.

Bill's place of worship is his studio.

Mine used to be here. These were the fields behind our farm. I walked with the dogs, whistling to the red tail hawks and being thrilled when I got good enough that they would call back. (I always hoped I wasn't saying something rude in hawk-talk, and I'd laugh at myself.) I walked the dogs all at once, three times a day. Only twice a day in winter when it was dark after work. I rode the horses here with the kids before there were whippets. When there were Opie the lab, and Measley the very mixed. Sara and I found the Magical Lands.

There my soul found its breath and its reason. There was where I knew God was listening, and more importantly where I could hear.

Here I find my breath in the smiles of the people on the sidewalks. In the fact that at Kirchhoff's bakery, they work at perfecting Bill's favorite Ciabatta, and give me a loaf for free because they're excited that Bill will love it, and because they felt bad that they had none the last two times Bill came in. In knowing every person in the audience at the 7 o'clock Sunday movie at the independent movie theater.

In caring about my neighbors, because in reality they are dear friends.

It's a great town.

hug your hounds

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank you

I got a job!

Thanks for all your good wishes, encouragement, hanging in there with me, and being there in blog land and real life.

Yay oh yay. I'm going to be looking up some dog shows and agility trials to enter.


hug your hounds and any nurses you know and hug yourselves for me!

image from google images HERE but I messed with it. I tried superimposing my face but it was spooky freaky.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Helpful Ben Takes A Hike

You all met helpful Ben before when he threw a party for Lindy Loo and her brother, Emmett. Well, Ben is still helpful and he thought that Lindy Loo and Swede William, and especially their old servant Patience might need to get out of the city and take a hike.

So he helped his mom Heather get all ready, and he even wore his big boy underpants. He brought his Old Dog Edgar, and his Young Dog Emmett, who is Ben's good friend. Ben helped print out the directions and the whole kit and caboodle headed north to Ferne Cliffe State Park, in Illinois.

Before they all started hiking, Ben peed right on a leaf and the grass. (It was okay, because we were in Nature, not in civilization.) That was very helpful. His mom was glad that he did not need to change clothes.

Once they started hiking in earnest, (they were in Illinois, but they were also earnest), Ben realized that the stroller was going to be a lot lighter without a Ben in it. "I'll walk," he said. And he did. The whole way.

Ben grabbed his mommy's hand and helped her escape from being squished on the head by a giant tree!

Ben helped his mommy from tipping over when he showed her the cool stuff. Ben's mommy is a little tippy these days, since his baby brother is taking up a lot of room in her belly.

Ben was showing his mommy the gargantuan rock. Ben's mommy smacked her own forehead in disbelief and amazement.

Ben helped his mommy and his baby brother and his Old Dog Edgar and his Young Dog Emmett who is his friend through the muddy slippery part. He held on extra tight, which helped his mommy be extra brave.

They made it! They thought this was where Ferne Cliffe State Park got its Ferne Cliffe name, though they didn't know where the extra ees (Ferne Cliffe) came from. This cliff was covered with ferns. (You can click to enlarge and use your back button to come back. Ben said so.)

Ben helped his baby brother feel like he was part of the gang by sitting on him!

Ben helped show his mommy and his dogs the way.

Then Ben showed his mommy the slimy stuff under the biggest rock in the world. Young Dog Emmett didn't care to see, and Old Dog Edgar thought they should have a snack.

Ben helped by posing handsomely in front of a Big Dark Crevice. Ben is not only helpful. Ben is brave.

Ben realized that his Old Dog Edgar was thinking about a little snack. He gave each dog a dog treat, and then got out the graham crackers. He gave each dog a graham cracker, and then he gave his mommy one (who shared it with his brother in her belly) and he even gave Lindy Loo and William's old servant two! (Maybe three, but who was counting.)

This will be hard for you to believe, but Ben went down all of those wooden steps far away, and then he went up all of these wooden steps right here, by himself without help! Yes, that's right, he did. His mommy and Lindy Loo and William's servant carried the stroller down and up and Emmett the Young Dog decided this was an opportune time to try to romance his sister Lindy Loo. He got a head bop from Lindy Loo's servant. He decided it was a bad idea after all.

Ben even made his own sandwich in the picnic place after that long hilly hike. He ran up and down the hill and helped lead his Old Dog Edgar back to the car.
On the long ride home, Ben sang his A B C's and 1 2 3's and made everyone in the car just a little smarter.
Anyone who got to take a hike with helpful Ben is lucky lucky lucky, and they know it.
hug your hounds and any helpful Bens you know!