Thursday, September 22, 2011

Surprisingly, most dogs don't like the rain....

Ah, the one-of-a-kind smell of seven long haired wet dogs who go out into the rain just quickly enough to do their business and then come right back in the dog door.  Or  to scurry out to inspect the squirrel sitting high in a maple tree and throwing down bunches of leaves in its harvest.  Or to run down to the end of the fence to see what the neighbor's dog is barking about.  Or to run to the gate of the agility area, wishfully thinking it might be possible to catch the bird digging worms on the other side of the gate.  Or to tip toe out just to be sure it is still raining.  Or to all run out when one dog starts the "rumor mill barking" and all have to go see what the first dog is barking about.  The list is a long one from a dog's point of view.

During a rainy day, between short sleeps in the house, the dog door flap is constantly in use just long enough to enable the outer coat of each and every dog to stay wet all day long.  It is just a dog thing.  Yes, I could close the door, and keep all my dogs inside all day but then they get bored, and their curiosity wains.  The younger ones get antsy from lack of doing anything and create new, less positive activities.  No, it is much better to keep the dog door open and in use, not pay attention to the wet floors and furniture (thank God for leather) and just accept the whole experience as a special rainy day event.

For those of you who don't know much about collies, they have a very thick undercoat that keeps them quite dry close to their skin even though the outside coat looks sopping wet.  So when they come to cuddle with us, they are not feeling much of the water they are spreading all over us.  But you know what, I still hug and cuddle them even though I get sopping wet.  I seldom pass up a dog's request for attention.  Clothes, floors, furniture, and outer layers of dogs eventually dry, but our dogs are with us for such a brief amount of time.  So I react to them as if they were totally dry.  It is just my thing.

Take care,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Have been enjoying playing "Words"....

Am enjoying playing the game Words With Friends on facebook.  Sometimes I have 12 or more games going at once and it keeps my brain in gear.  In the circle of life, I am getting in the old lady class, and it is nice to have so many wonderful friends to challenge me and keep me thinking!  Almost every day I learn a new word that someone has posted.  It's not that I remember every strange word that pops up, but so nice to know there is so much I don't know.  It keeps life moving forward when we can keep delving into brand new knowledge (to us  To me, it doesn't matter whether I win or lose, just the journey of playing.  Each play a friend makes sets up a brand new layout that I have to think through.  Unlike some games, it is never the same from play to play, and from person to person.  So for all you wonderful people, young or old,  that are keeping me moving forward, a thousand thank yous!  Having a fun time with it all.

Take care,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Feeding the dogs....

Bowls are ready!
Here are some photos of the dog feeding process.  We feed our dogs 3 small meals a day, so that means 21 bowls of food prepared each day.  They are worth all the time it takes. Each dog gets exactly what is needed for his or her good health. All dogs get daily chicken and chicken broth added to every meal. As you can see, they all eat together well and stick to their own bowls which makes it much easier for me. I am so happy they all get along so well!

Seven dogs eating peacefully.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

...about how the school year creates order in one's life.

In my household, the school schedule has always had a huge influence.    Summers are rather chaotic but in an exciting, friendly way.  The rest of the seasons, except for school vacations, are quite orderly. Once school begins in the fall, things seem to settle down in a fairly predictable adventure.  Alarm clocks are set, people get up closer to the same time each day, the dogs fall into a well oiled pattern, and even the parakeets fall into line.

Having always been a student or a teacher, or married to a teacher, ringing bells have always controlled our lives.  Even here at home, Ralph calls at the same time every day to see how things are going.  My feeding and exercise schedule with the dogs stay the same from day to day.  Folks come over to eat with us every Tuesday.  Doctor, acupuncture, therapy, and chiropractic appointments fall mostly on their usual days.  Walks, agility, and playing times fall daily into place for the dogs.  Agility classes for our students fall on the same two days.

And so it goes until a vacation occurs.  Then we all cast our fates to the wind.  Getting up times change, the dogs take advantage of having two people at their disposal for a whole week and things don't run as smoothly.  Still these times are very dear to us, teaching us that sometimes have some non-scheduled weeks are just the right medicine for us all. It doesn't matter that we all get a little dopey headed from lack of sleep or sometimes ill because we let down our guards for a while.  These times let our bodies refresh themselves and get out all the bottled up stuff a strict schedule causes.

Life is never dull!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

...about my dear grandfather.

Got some very endearing news on this emotionally filled day.  By a classmate (Mark Peabody),  a beautiful, touching history has been unveiled  from days long since passed.  While my classmate's son-in-law (Paul Morin) was working on a camp at Sebec Lake (near Dover-Foxcroft, ME) several bits of history were uncovered.  My grandfather used to be the caretaker for that camp many years ago, and now in the remodeling process, these artifacts have been uncovered and shared through photos.  Not only that.  The same family, albeit grand children of the original owner, have shared thoughts of just how much my grandfather was loved and respected by them.  I feel the need to put this all together just so it is here to read whenever I wish to feel thankful that my grandfather was so important in my life and his memory still is.

Here is a letter written by one of the original owner's grandchildren:

A board removed from the camp with his signature.
from ~Biri Fay

"This is wonderful. Mr. Martell Pray was one of the finest men I have ever met and all of us loved him. He taught me a great deal about the woods and the animals and plants that lived there. He showed me how to build a squirrel trap. I caught one and let it out in the bathroom of the New House and it climbed up the shower and perched on the shower rod. Mr. Martell also showed me the peanut plant growing underground at the beach. My Mother was Jean Davidson Fay, the eldest of Sidney W. Davidson's children. Yes, we are still the same family. Mr. Martell was one of the few people with whom my Grandfather was on a first name basis".

"Liz, I hope you will come out to the Camp next summer and you will find your Grandfather`s name all over, and I can show you how many beautiful things he did there."

" I sometimes think that Mr. Martell's spirit was passed down to Paul Morin."

I am so thankful to Mark, Paul, and Biri Fay for making some brand new dear memories about my grandfather.

As if that isn't enough to feel joy about, another long ago friend (Kevin Stitham) wrote a wonderful piece about my grandfather's store on Lincoln Street in D-F.  This piece is also very endearing and adds yet another past memory for me to embrace with joy.  Here it is:



When I was eight years old, a twenty-five cent piece would find its way each week into my Christmas Club at the Piscataquis Savings Bank – located right across East Main Street from the Piscataquis Observer building. By the miracle of compound interest (but mainly by the bank kicking in the last twenty-five cents), I wound up with a $12.00 bank check the first part of December for all my Christmas shopping needs.

My grandfather, grandmother, and father (1930s)
In pre-mall 1960 there was only one place for your one-stop shopping, Lincoln Street’s own M.F. Pray’s right across from the Hayes Law Office.

One could quickly pass through the first floor, past the paints, sandpaper, artist supplies (whatever those were), wallpaper, and varnishes. You would be tempted to pause just before the stairs and place a penny in the slot of the mechanical marvel for a jawbreaker. But it was the stairs that took forever to climb. Spaced haphazardly along the stairway walls were posters with plastic bags stapled beneath garish ads proclaiming that you too could be the life of the party if only you purchased the fake fly trapped in the fake plastic ice cube. For 30 cents you could shock all of your friends with the electric joy buzzer handshake ring. It would take many a shuffle up and down those stairs to read all those ads, and to paw through all those exotic wares of magic snake pellets, x-ray glasses, metal wire puzzles, and nails in the bloody thumb bandage. With a fortune of $12.00 to spend, the wares of the stairs easily took care of those choices for those lucky enough to have the same high standards in gifts as you did.

Once one finally arrived at the second floor, one found the China gift shop and genuine, high-priced, authentic knickknacks. The curator of this treasure trove was a rather wizened, chain–smoking lady who alternated between having the widest smile or the severest frown depending upon the level of the traffic that stumbled up into her domain. The balance of shopping for those older sisters and of course all the adults in one’s life could be had here. She even had some surprises tucked away up here, like fake cigarette pens and even fake cigarette penknives. (I still have that fake cigarette penknife that I purchased some 32 years ago.)

A full hour of shopping found the wares of M. F. Pray fully up to the task of providing gifts for two brothers, two sisters, Mom, Dad, Gram, and Gramp. Sometimes there was even some coins left over from my Xmas Club bonanza for a treat for myself like those Chinese handcuffs… or maybe even that finger guillotine.

By November 27, 1992 on the busiest shopping day of the year, the Pray building had stood empty for many years. The hesitating steps of a boy’s feet encased in wool socks in rubber pacs upon its well-worn wooden stairs were heard now only in my memory. It is not surprising that at the start of this season of holiday shopping the Pray building drew in upon itself, heaved a giant sigh, and utterly collapsed. It left another hole in the downtown, but it is a hole that memories long since made have already filled.

--Kevin L. Stitham

I can sum up his courage with one short story.  I remember asking him one time when, still fairly a young man, he was so crippled up with rheumatoid arthritis, "How can you keep going with so much pain and creaking joints?"  His reply was very pragmatic.  "I know that if I don't get up even one day, I will never have the mobility to get up the next.  So I get up."  It was a very short reply but stated who he was.  He was a man who always "got up", took a step forward, and faced the world head on with humor, kindness, and bravery.  Bless you, dear Gramps!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Sometimes anxiety is relentless....

Have been doing much better anxiety wise, but the last 3 days have been a challenge.  For those of you who have made it through life without panic attacks and generalized anxiety, be very thankful you never have to face such a feeling.  That is worth repeating.  Be very thankful!  For those of you, like me, who just have an unpredictable fear that washes over you out of the blue, my heart goes out to you.  I truly understand what you face each day and how much harder it is to enjoy your day even with the fear filling your body.  It takes a mountain of courage to keep moving forward and to keep the anxiety from taking over.  We have all taken the meds that calm us down, not to mention, that have taken away our creative spark at the same time.  Many of us have taken alternate medical routes with some relief, wasted money on gimmicks that do nothing positive for our suffering, and have had therapy of all kinds to give us the tools to beat back the worst of it.  Frustratingly for some of us, the fear persists, and we have to learn to live with it.

I was very fortunate that I made it almost to 40 before severe anxiety made it to my doorstep.  Illness is the trigger for me so major surgery plus other assorted medical battles have recharged my anxiety every time I feel I have finally mastered it. So for 21 years, it has been a daily event to keep anxiety low and the joy of life high.  I have gone many months sometimes with no issues at all, then suddenly, like a bad friend, I wake up and it is there in full force.  So be it.  When these bouts happen, it takes much more energy to get through the day and to embrace the positive and be thankful.  Yet, staying positive and being thankful are  the only weapons available to use sometimes.  So be it.

One of the greatest tools is helping others.  By placing my focus on someone else instead of my anxiety, I am not fueling it or giving it the power it is seeking from me.  It is very hard to help someone else when I am shaking inside but it can be done.  And the person I am helping often has no clue what is going on because anxiety is one of those invisible illnesses that is not visible to others.

So I have had 3 days of fear in a row, but with moments of laughter, joy, and thankfulness mixed in, not to mention a ton of wet, slobbery doggie kisses.  I am keeping the faith that my anxiety will quiet down for a while once again very soon but until then, I will live in the moment and be thankful for all the good that is around me right now.  It is the best I can do.  So be it.

Take care,