Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Reasons to Love the Season!

     The writing prompt was “Three Things I Hate About the Holidays”, but I can’t bring hate into this season!  I love Christmas!  The music, the movies, the good cheer – I love it. 

     When I was little I would sit next to the record player and put on Mitch Miller, Bing Crosby, the Christmas Is for Kids album, even How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  We actually had an album.  I can’t remember if it was the whole story or just the music, but I loved listening to the Whos in Who-ville, singing their song.  As a teenager I veered away from the classics and gravitated to Mariah Carey and Paul McCartney and anyone else that was popular at the time with a Christmas song.  I still like to hear Bieber and Gaga but I also love Tony Bennet and Ella Fitzgerald and Dean Martin.  It brings me back to that living room, that record player, and that family.  It was a good time to be a kid.

     When it was time to get the tree my dad would grab his old handsaw and we would pull on our boots and coats, hats and scarves, and if it was really snowy (which it usually was) we would have to wear snow pants or even a skidoo suit.  When I think about it now I bet we looked like Ralphie’s little brother in “A Christmas Story”.  We would trudge out to the forest behind the hill out back, looking for the perfect tree.  We always found one, and it was always the best one we ever had.  Even when we pulled it into the house and set it up and we could see the glaring holes and wayward branches.  Somehow, once the decorations were on there, no one ever noticed.  We had such old and beautiful decorations.  

My brother and I always longed for the newer ones.  Now I wish I had those old frosted glass baubles.  A few years ago my cousin sent me an ornament that our grandmother had acquired at the last minute after a Christmas Eve disaster.  Every year since, when I hang it on the tree I tell the story of how it came to be in our house, and the kids say “You say this every year!” and I always say “Tradition”.  (Huge Fiddler on the Roof fan, here)   We go to a tree farm now, no woods behind our house, but we still go out and choose and cut our tree. It takes a while, but it is still fun and everyone looks forward to it.

     My mom would slave in the kitchen for days making cookies.  Mainly sugar cookies, the kind you would roll out and cut into shapes.  After they were baked we would all sit around the table with different colors of homemade frosting and colored sugared and sprinkles (my favorite) and we kids would get to decorating.  There were four of us at the most, sometimes three and we would decorate about six or seven dozen.  Mom would make up plates of all the cookies and pass them on to our neighbors and friends.  She’d wrap them in cellophane and put bows on the top with a Christmas card.  She made cookies that were rolled in corn flakes with a cherry pressed in the center, and peanut butter balls that had rice crispies in them.  I can’t remember the other kinds.  When I got older I made hard candy that she included.  When I got out on my own I started my own baking traditions and started building gingerbread houses.  I make peanut butter balls and Oreo truffles, biscotti and sometimes Russian tea cakes.  Only no one wants food anymore.  Everyone makes their own now.  I do it anyway.

     Christmas cards were a family affair.  Dad would write a Christmas letter and we would all sign it. I tried to do one too, but I reverted to cards.  I used to write them out on Thanksgiving night, after the tree was set up (back when I had a fake one).  It was a quiet time of reflection, being thankful for the folks I was sending warm thoughts to.  Now we make our cards and it is a rush to get them out.  This year I got them to the post office on December 22.  Too close for me and not a lot of time for delivery.  I will start earlier next year.  I will be prepared.

     We have been watching some of the classics with the kids – Rudolph, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and Elf.  I’m waiting my turn at the library for “The Muppet Christmas Carol”*, which was recommended to me by my boss and a movie I have never watched.  I still watch “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s A Wonderful Life”.  On Christmas Eve I even cuddle up to Alistair Sim and watch the original “A Christmas Carol”.  I know that they will keep some in their repertoire and discard others as they get older, but I hope that we are giving them some permanence in a very Bedouin type of life they were born into.

     Yes, I love this season!  People are nicer, they smile a little easier, they seem to be more considerate, and a little less hurtful.  Merry Christmas everyone, and may you keep a bit of it in your heart in the coming new year.

*Fun fact – On the news the other day they noted that The Muppet Christmas Carol taught more children about the spirit of Christmas than any other Christmas film.  They got the message.  Now I have to see it.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

It Figures...

Such a beautiful day.  (For December)
The Sun is shining.
Sixty-four degrees as I drive to work, listening to Christmas music on the radio.
Leave the window cracked for fresh air as I walk to the office.

(Fast-forward three hours)
Pouring down rain, infiltrating my car, as I sit a block away.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Writing Challenges and Completing Goals

Well, I did it.  I have submitted my poetry chapbook for review and now I wait.  I have to say that I’m new to writing challenges.  I like them.  I did the poetry PAD in April, which I’m hoping I will at least get recognized for one of my poems, and I really enjoyed it.  The November challenge I tried to do a theme with my poetry and I think it turned out well.  I’m happy with it, anyway. 
            The chapbook challenge was not something I was going to take part in.  In fact, I encouraged my brother as he is a beautiful writer and I think he would have excelled had he given it a chance.  Maybe he did.  He never did tell me. 
During the challenge I would miss a day, here and there, so all my submissions were not on time.  It was hard to think of a poem on the spot some days, and so easy to do three the next.  I just had to let my mind wander and choose the subject matter and what I came back to, over and over again, were my teenage years.  I ran with that most of the time and interspersed the days with other poems about my dog, or my job. 
After the month was over we received direction on what we needed to do to submit our work, and an actual book came together beneath my fingertips!  At first, it was a bunch of poems strewn together all willy-nilly.  I read through each and every one and crossed out what I wouldn’t be using, circling what I would.  Then I started checking grammar and spelling and asked myself questions like “Does that sound right?” and “Seriously? You’re going to leave this like that?”  I scurried to a nearby bagel shop at lunchtime and drank cocoa and ate bagels and gave myself the luxury of being with my very own creation, alone.
Imagine my surprise when I was editing my work and I found that my theme had parts – a beginning, a middle and an end.  I had no idea while I was poeming that something like that would happen!  As I put my poems in order, I could see where it was all going and the satisfaction in that moment was something I had never experienced before in my writing life.
Now, today, I am done.  With trepidation, I have forwarded it to the powers that be that will judge my precious and deem it worthy or not.  I have not shared this with one single person I know.  Being judged by strangers is a lot easier than being judged by family.  Someday, perhaps if I am validated by being published, I will be able to share, with confidence, with those I love.  Until then I will practice and work and create and become the person I dream I can be. 
At the beginning of 2015 I promised myself that I would write.  I promised I would write my novel, although that hasn’t happened yet, but I did write and I finished a project and for me that is monumental.  I can’t wait to see what next year brings, but I’m going to make my goal to get back into my book and really work on it.  I want my characters to be known.  They deserve it.  So 2016 will be my book’s year.
Thank you so much to everyone here that has encouraged me.  Thank you to the challenge generators that make us all strive to create and complete.  For once, I am proud of something.  I haven’t been able to say that for a long time.

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

So Much to Do!

So many things, so little time and so much feeling!

Does everyone feel the same way I do?  I feel overwhelmed, but at the same time accomplished for the tasks I have finished, and in awe of what I still have to do!

At this point in the game I have finished a month of poeming with Robert Lee Brewer and the crew at Writer’s Digest.  Now I need to read and edit my work into a chapbook and send it off to Robert for his perusal.  I’m actually looking forward to that but I’m wondering where I will find the time! 

I just finished building a gingerbread house with my family for a local contest.  If that sounds like a simple task, think again!  Besides planning it, which was easy, we had to make the gingerbread (several batches), create building templates, cut and bake, wait for cookie cutters in the mail (which took forever because we live in the middle of Nowhere’sville), make umpteen batches of icing, show kids how to decorate and then not correct them or try to tell them how to do it better (because you want them to do their own thing), deal with arguments about structural integrity and how things should be done, blah, blah, blah.  Plus take the roof off after an accident and replace it the next night after repairs.  Yes, it’s a big job and I have to give props to the folks that can do whole towns.  A barnyard scene was enough for me.

But it’s done.  I can breathe – for a second.  I also have Christmas cards to do.   Every year I say I will start making them (yes, you read that right) in July, so there will be no rush.  Every year I don’t start until December.  Why do I do this to myself???  Because my other half thinks they’re great, that people love them, and will help me make them.  We pick out four different cards, I make up the kit and show him how to put them together, and then he does.  He enables my crafting desires just so I will do this once a year.

We have Christmas concerts to attend, local book signings (not mine, no book yet, but which I view as a learning experience and am looking forward to attend), tree cutting, cookie making, gift shopping, house cleaning, etc., etc., etc.  It’s enough to make one yell Bah Humbug, if it weren’t for the fact I love the season.  I started listening to Christmas music on two weeks before Thanksgiving!  Oh yeah, and I have to find a Santa that will visit with the kids because we missed the one we normally see and there’s a particular 10-year-old that called me out on it.  As long as he still believes, I will enable.

So as the season rushes up and upon me I wish all of you what I hope for myself.  Have a good time.  Enjoy the spirit.  Take some time to reflect.  Stay up late to get things done, but don’t rush through, take your time.  Smile.  Bite your tongue.  May “good will” be your motto and the motto of those around you. 

I wish you all a very merry holiday season, and however you spend it, I hope you are surrounded by love.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Face of Christ - Draft

I observed you there, at the museum, watching me from the corner.
Your eyes seemed to know me,
to beckon me,
and drawn by their intensity I came to you.
Standing before you, I glanced to the left and to the right, and then,
I looked at you.
Your brown eyes, soulful, honest, knowing.
I could not look away, but I wanted to.
I knew I wasn’t worthy, I knew you were just a painting, but
Rembrandt must have captured some part of your soul
because there you were!
You seemed to know everything,
all at once,
about me. 
I stood before you, unable to look away, seeing only your beautiful face,
feeling your grace, your forgiveness.
You stared deep into me, and
for one moment I felt total. 
My eyes filled with tears as you gazed my way,
knowing that I would hold this moment forever.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Help! Need Advice!!!

     Need a little non-writing help here.  
     My grandson and granddaughter steal once in a while.  Never money, but usually something small.  
     This last time they stole candy bars that we were selling for a friend’s daughter to support her skating.  We realized it after they left.  We haven’t spoken to them yet.  
     If it comes down to it, they may be spending their holidays with their parents who are the influence of their behavior.  I don’t want them there because we do all the fun stuff with them and it won’t happen if we don’t take them.  
     The boy is ten, the girl is twelve.  Has anyone dealt with this situation before?  It’s driving me crazy.  I’ve had him bring things back to the store and hand them to the manager, and as far as I know this is his sister’s first time.  
     Last night my boyfriend asked me what I wanted to do, and my response was to cut off one hand.  
     I’m so sick and tired of the disrespect and the disappointment.  They don’t need to steal from us.  They don’t need to steal at all.  Yet they do.  
     Any advice would be appreciated.  Help!!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Outsiders - Draft

It was always us against the world.
We singled ourselves out of the mainstream.
We were different, and proud of it,
even though we wanted desperately to fit in.
When they chose sports, we chose art
and when they chose preppie, we chose grunge.
It wasn’t grunge then, there were a few more years before the label for that came out.
We were the living epitome of The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, and we wanted it that way.
We wanted to be misunderstood,
too complicated for mainstream.
Posing a tragic figure was an opportunity to stand out
and also a way to blend in with the background.
No one tried to figure us out (like we were THAT complicated)
and for our part,
we didn’t want to know them either.
Our denim jackets were our shields from the outside world. 
One could see us, but they would never know us. 
Not how deep we are,
not how talented we are,
not how painful our existence is to us. 
I didn’t know it at the time, but that
angst never leaves.
It’s still there, it still whispers in my ear that I am more,
more than any of you will ever know, and there is tragedy in that.
The tragedy that will keep you from knowing me
and the missed opportunity of me
ever trying to know 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thanksgiving Prep

They slammed the cupboard doors and yelled about the filthy house.  Nothing was ready for company.
“I’ll take care of it!” I screamed. 
It had been a long week and I was extremely tired.

After they finally left, I lit the match.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Afterblock - Draft


I wrote a story once, about a memory from my early childhood.
It was the first time I put myself out there, published,
and when she read it she asked me if I really thought
she was that “terrible”.
I never thought she was. 
I didn’t see the story in that light at all,
but her comment effectively
shut me down.
Even now, if she read this
she would make me feel guilty
for not writing what I felt
because of her.

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Twitter:  @jennifermcann06

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

For Your Own Good

Anxiety rips my chest apart and causes pain in my
heart and
non-stop thoughts in my head about
how I can make everything better,
that kissing your boo-boos will make all the bad stuff go away and
then I realize I can’t fix everything like I used to and
you are an adult with a husband and
children and
you both need to stop acting like kids yourselves and
face up to the fact that he is mentally unstable and
my grandchildren are living in that environment and
getting more and more unstable themselves when they are faced with moving yet again and
this time without more of their stuff even though their father gets to take all of his toys and
the system that is set up to protect them does nothing,
they are left on the wayside again even though
we’ve told their teachers there is something wrong and please,
please report something, anything,
so they might have a halfway decent life, even if it is in a stranger’s home, and
even if we never see them again as long as they’re safe and away from him, and
then maybe you will decide you’ve had enough and
leave him too and
start your life the way you would have had you not decided to leave home at sixteen and…
…then I take a breath.  I think that this will never change.  This story will play out over and over again, and
I need to check out.  I look at the clock. 
Twilight will not make the dark circles under my eyes any brighter. 
I love you, but this is your circus. 
You chose that monkey. 
I will help destroy him, but in doing so, you and I may be destroyed too. 
As a mother
I have to tell you
– it’s for your own good.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Live, Learn and Have Some Fun!

Recently, very recently (this October!), I joined Writer’s Digest Platform Challenge (Writer's Digest).  I did so with some trepidation because I am in no way even close to becoming a seriously published writer, and I had no idea if I could put myself out there.  However, Robert Lee Brewer(on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer) has a way of making one feel like there is value to who they are and what they write so I took him up on it. 
Every day I print out the directions and staple them into my notebook and carry it around with me so I remember a few things.  One, that I am part of this group, and two, that this is a challenge I am going to step up to and complete.  I have been awful in posting to the challenge page every day, and engaging in the #platchal conversations on twitter.  I’ve considered going back to when I stopped and just posting “Done” for every day I missed, but I feel like that was just a part of the challenge I missed and if I get dinged, well, that’s my problem. 
I will tell you this – it was a really cool experience.  I’m glad I did it and I look forward to using some of the tools we gleaned from this exercise, but I will also step back and see what is working for me and what isn’t.  Being on social media takes a lot of time out of a person’s day!  And it takes twice as much time when you have personal and professional sites!  The fun part of this challenge was meeting so many different people and connecting to them through this craft that we all have in common.
I also joined Yeah Write! (Yeah Write!) for their weekly challenges.  Already I am learning that just submitting something you wrote isn’t good enough.  One needs to know the challenge fully before beginning and how to use correct punctuation to be considered for public judging.  Unfortunately for me, I raced through the challenge idea with my eye on finishing the challenge and submitting it on time.  As easy as that sounds, it was not easy at all.  And it was just plain dumb.  I’m a better reader than that, and I am a better writer. 
That said, I never realized my punctuation was wrong.  I’m still having trouble processing that and it worries me.  Will a good editor eventually take care of that for me?  At this point in the game, I’m a little bit set in my ways and I don’t want to worry about whether a quotation mark is in the right place.  Is this wrong of me?  If someone corrects it enough times will I finally get it?  I wish my aunt was still alive.  She would set me so straight! 
Even though I got shot down with my first submission I am going to try again next week.  This group at Yeah Write! seems like a pretty good group to be in, with a lot of feedback and folks interested in the same thing- writing.  They give good advice and take one’s questions seriously.  They post interesting things to think about and seem to genuinely want your opinion.
Another challenge that I came across with this submission was linking a link-back to their page.  I had never done one and even though the directions were clear on their part, and even though I have been blogging for over a year, I had no clue how to get the link to work!  After some help from my new on-line friends, I was able to get the link right!  I guess you could say I learned some new things this week that might not help me out on Jeopardy, but should help me in my writing and blogging.
It’s not like I didn’t know writing was a challenge.  I always knew my novel wouldn’t write itself.  But for now, I realize I’m not alone in it.  I have found community through the Writer’s Digest Platform Challenge and through the Yeah Write! group, and for that I am ever so thankful!
It's a journey I'm going to take.

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Twitter:  @jennifermcann06

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Concert

“I know I’m going to have to put out to get into the show”, she wailed.
“Why ever would you do that?” I asked.
“How else am I going to get in? With my good looks?”
“You can pay”, I said, smiling.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Puppy Mill Stupidity

Nothing gets my panties in a bunch more than stupidity.  Let me say this, once and for all – it is stupid to buy a puppy from a pet store, and here is why.  You are not getting a puppy from a responsible and certified breeder.  You are getting a puppy from a puppy mill. 
When you tell me that you went in to the pet store and all the puppies were clean, meaning they must not be from a puppy mill, do you realize how dumb you really sound?  Of course they’re clean.  Who wants to spend a thousand dollars on a dirty dog? 

Then you say that by buying one you are saving it from the puppy mill.  No you’re not.  You freed up a space for another puppy mill puppy.  You are the reason there are so many shelter animals.  You and the others that think the way you do.  If you go to a pet store that doesn’t try to re-home shelter dogs, then you are, in fact, contributing to the problem. 
Ever been to a puppy mill?  I haven’t, but I’ve seen the videos.  I’ve read the investigative articles.  I’ve seen the pictures.  Do you realize the moms are bred until they are broken?  They don’t get recovery time like a responsible breeder’s bitch would.  There isn’t any breeding of the finest with the finest, there is the mentality that we’ll breed what we have, without a care for the consequences. 

Designer dogs?  Yup, they have the mutts your looking for.  So do the shelters. 
If you saw the lives these puppies live before they get to the pet store you would want these places shut down.  They live in wire cages. They are taken from their mothers too soon, stunting their socialization skills. 
A lot of people will say that they got their puppies from a pet store and they were fine.  Good for them.  The practice is wrong and outdated.  If you want a purebred dog go to a responsible breeder.  Do your homework.  Check references.  Go to a breed specific rescue.  Spend some time there.  Let your next dog find you.  Go to your local shelter.  There are kennels full of love just waiting for you.  But for God’s sake, stay away from pet stores.  Let’s shut these places down.  There is no reason for them to exist except to sell supplies.  They should not be allowed to sell animals. 
So please, walk by that shop.  Don’t go in.  And if you do, please educate anyone that might be thinking of purchasing one of those cute fuzzballs that unless they came from a shelter, their mother is living in a cage somewhere with barely enough room to turn around, preparing for her next litter.
Let’s give puppy mills a reason to go out of business.

Please check out these links for more information:

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Being (A Little) Bad

     My friend, beastlybearfiction, turned me on to this writing challenge yesterday at YeahWrite.  It's pretty cool, you should check it out.  I would have participated had I read the guidelines sooner, but I did not.
     Here is what I would have submitted:

     Wolverine banged on their doors while I waited, amused.  Old ladies peered out their windows, cautious.  Children laughed seeing him standing there, swaying just a little.  I told him he was early, but no, he just had to go trick or treating.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Sea Turtles

Sea turtles.  I love them.  They are these huge slow moving creatures (on land) that when you look in their eyes, one can see a wisdom that is seldom seen elsewhere.  They look like they are flying underwater and I could watch them all day.  Their population is also dependent on how we treat our planet and at this time sea turtles aren’t doing so well.
Someday, when I’m older and can afford it, I am going to become a turtle lady.  Some old ladies wear purple, and some take tea in red hats, but I am going to walk barefoot on the beach keeping a lookout for freshly laid turtle nests in the morning, and guarding the nests at night.  I will make a solemn vow to protect the beach and its inhabitants from trash and intruders.  I will check in rocky areas to make sure momma turtles are safe and not stuck on their backs in the hot sun after nesting.  I will help guide baby sea turtles to the ocean upon their hatch and boil.
Please be aware of the items you buy and the packaging you throw away.  If you buy your soda in plastic rings, be sure to cut them so no rings remain to get caught around a wild creature.  Try to use fabric bags instead of plastic bags, as the plastic bags look like jelly fish once they end up in the ocean.  And they will.
There is a sea turtle named nimbus at the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium.  He is all white.  I saw him several years ago when I visited the aquarium.  My niece went this past summer and she says he is still there.  Because of his color he would never survive in the ocean.  I saw him when he was maybe four inches long.  I wonder how much he’s grown now.

I do love them, and at this point all I can do is bring awareness to their plight.  I envy and applaud all of the people who donate their time to these beautiful creatures.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

I Can Drink A Little Or A Latte

Tim’s.  I love Tim’s.  I don’t ever drink coffee, but if there’s a Tim’s nearby I will drink a latte.  I used to love cappuccino, but a latte is my newest love. 
And please don’t judge me for this, please.  I do not jump on the pumpkin bandwagon every year.  Pumpkin spice everything is not my secret sin.  However, upon trying Tim Horton’s Pumpkin Pie Latte, I have become a devoted fan.  And here’s the funny part.  When I first ordered it I thought I was getting an apple pie latte.  No, they don’t even serve one and that shows you just how connected I am to the real world – not very.  I found this out the next time I went in and asked for one.  That was three lattes ago.
It’s a good thing we don’t have a Tim’s in my tiny village and that I would have to drive twenty miles out of my way every day if I wanted one on my way to work.  Good for my purse and my waistline.  I’m sure if I was counting calories I would be counting for a while. 
It’s not just coffee – it is a processed whip cream (that is heavenly) and crumbles of what I believe is supposed to be a flavorful pie crust.  Whatever it is, it works.  To me, it is a paper cup full of warmth and goodness that makes my mind peaceful and forgiving.  It makes my sunny days sunnier and my rainy days a time for reflection.  It slows me down and helps me reflect on what I’m grateful for and what better time of the year to do that.
So thank you Tim Horton, for creating such a lovely product that makes my time seem worthwhile to me.  There is goodness in the world.  It’s at Tim Horton’s.

Check out the great customer service:
It’s like they give out smiles.

Monday, October 12, 2015


     I feel like the Walter Keane character in the movie “Big Eyes” when I sit in front of the computer and try to decide what to write.  I am a fraud.  I pretend to be a writer but I have no stories that pop into my mind at a moment’s notice.  I can’t look at a prompt and pull a story out of my thinking cap.  
     Why did I think I could continue this charade?  I get a story in my head from time to time, but nothing great,   nothing that will separate me from other writers except that it will show that I am an amateur.  I feel I had more stories in junior high and high school than I do now.  
     As Keane sat in the court room, looking at a blank canvas, so do I.  This is where I judge myself. Perhaps it is time to give up.  To put away my childish dreams of becoming an author and writing a book the world will want to read.
     Check out the movie trailer here:
I just watched it last night when I should have been writing.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Free At Last!

The fear in her heart raced with itself.  The pounding wouldn’t subside as people in white masks, showing only their eyes reached for her, grasped her limbs with their gloved hands and pulled her towards them.  She could hear them murmuring but could not decipher the words although the tone was a mixture of sadness and hushed excitement. They took her from one receptacle and placed her in another, the first one hard and cold and bright, the second warm and soft.  As they closed it her heart continued to race.  Where was she going?  Who were these people?  Where was she going?  What would they do to her?  What hadn’t been done to her?  Was she in for more pain, more uncertainty?  She felt the earth move under her, and finally the soft hum and gentle rocking put her to sleep. 
Awake and alert as soon as the vehicle stopped she gazed in the darkness for some sort of sign that all would be good.  A door opened, then another.  Light spilled in to where she had been held, caged and alone.  At least she thought she had been alone.  Sounds and smells assaulted her senses, as if this were the first time she opened her eyes or took a breath.  There were others!  As they tried to communicate, her captors began unloading the receptacles, one by one. 
Out into the warm sunlight on a grassy yard, they were set down, one by one.  The openings to their cages were opened all at once by a personal attendant.  And that voice!  Oh, that soft voice!  It sounded so gentle!  Not harmful at all.  She looked around.  Then she looked down.  What was this?  She sniffed the air.  It smelled so good!  Not like chemicals or soap or metal!  As she stepped out, cautious but curious, she grew wondrous as to what was on the bottom of her feet.  Soft and cool, she laid down upon it and was still for just a moment.  She looked around.  The others were watching her.  All of  them.  No one else had ventured out yet.  She was the first, and danger be damned!  This soft floor felt marvelous and she rolled and squirmed and memories, distant though they were, pooled up from somewhere within.  She had done this before, as a young puppy, with her brothers and sisters!  She had forgotten, after years of torture that she was a dog, not a thing to be prodded and shaved and hooked up to machines.  She was a beagle, of proud heritage, with a nose that could smell amazing things that no other living being near her could.  She stopped wiggling for a minute and looked up.  Her tongue hanging out of her mouth, her eyes bright. 
“Woof!”  she exclaimed.  It came out as a whisper, as her vocal chords had been cut years ago to keep her quiet in the lab.  (No one wants to hear dogs bark and cry while they do experiments on them.)  But it was a woof nonetheless and the others heard her and so had their attendants and all of them, with their eyes bright, seemed to smile – human and canine.
“Good girl!” someone said, tears running down their face. 
Another beagle stepped out of a carrier, then another.  Freedom had come, although they had no idea that they were waiting for it.  All had lived to see the day when they could walk on the grass, sniff other dogs, and run and play.  At the moment most were shell shocked and it would take days, months, maybe even years for them to trust the hand attached to a human being, but with time anything is possible.  It was possible for these dogs to survive horrors that we wouldn’t want to inflict on our own.  Now we could give them the life, the love, and the care they so deserved.

She looked up and closed her eyes against the brightness and the warmth of the sun.  It was a good day to be alive.  It was a very good day.  Her heart was full and no longer racing.  With a wag of her tail she set off to make new friends.

Friday, September 11, 2015

I Remember

I remember that morning.  It was a beautiful clear day.  The sun was shining.  It was warm.  I was sitting at my desk when my boss came out of his office and said “We are going to war”.  Everyone came out of their offices asking why and he told us that a plane crashed into one of the world trade center buildings or that a bomb had gone off.  Those details are hazy. 

I tried to get on the internet and bring up CNN, to see what I could find out.  I turned on my radio.  Then the plane flew into the second building.  And I sat there, not knowing what was going on, thanking God that my family was safe and my heart wringing itself over the families in pain and all of those souls gone in an instant. 

I remember trying to get in touch with someone and not being able to and hoping he hadn’t traveled to the city. 

I remember the feeling of helplessness and just sitting there, refreshing my screen, waiting for news sites to update, catching horrific stories of people trapped, of people jumping, of dust and smoke filled streets making the city change in an instant from life to some other-world that shouldn’t have been there. 

We worked the day as best we could.  When I got home I held my daughter, only eleven at the time, and tried to water down the details for her.  I didn’t want her to know evil, not yet, and I didn’t want her to be afraid of something she had no control over, like I was. 

In the face of great tragedy “I love you” is said easier, hugs are abundant, and people are more attuned to others’ pain.  In the days that followed tears flowed easy as news reports added more names to the list of those taken from us.  Tears flowed as others were rescued, though not nearly enough.  As dust cleared, a steel cross rose from the ashes as if by some miracle and brought some peace. 

As more details became known, tears and sorrow turned to anger and the country rallied.  It would not bring back the passengers and crew on that plane in Pennsylvania.  It wouldn’t bring back the victims in New York City.  It brought America together, united, at least for a while.  People were nicer, smiling, taking the time to say hello, how are you?, and actually listening to the answer.  Great tragedy brings people together before it tears them apart. 

I remember that morning, sitting at my desk, tears streaming down my face and thinking the world will never be the same again.  And it wasn’t.  It never was again.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Just A Dream

     This morning, as I opened my eyes, trying not to look at the alarm clock, I realized that I was outside and it did not surprise me.  I was in my bed in a field of wild flowers.  The field was surrounded by cattails and reeds.  The dainty white, pink and blue flowers swayed in the gentle morning breeze.  Peaceful.  I could spend the day here, I thought.  
     Then, to the right of me, I noticed movement in the reeds.  A great blue heron was standing among them, so thin and regal.  I gazed at it through half closed lids when it came to life and opened its great wings and hopped into flight to land on my bed and squawk up to my pillows to wake me up.  
     Wake me up thoroughly, it did.  I sat up quickly and once in position I realized I was clearly in my own bed, in my own room, staring at the dirty clothes on the floor.  The same job, the same chores, the same worries facing me.  The same grind.  At least I have the memory of it to sustain me today.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Weird Feelings...

     The last several days I've had the strangest feeling.  Every so often the hair on my head feels like it is standing up.  Why it does this I do not know, although I have my theory.  I'm being visited.  By a dead relative or friend.  My question is why?  Why aren't they coming in a dream?  Is there a message or is this just a way to let me know they are near?  Is this a warning?  Is something going to happen and I need to know that there is something more?  It's been the last two days.  I don't know if I should be worried or comforted.
     Then I start wondering, if it is a spirit then who is it?  Is it my dad?  Is it Jack?  Is it Bill?  Is it my nana?  Is it my dog that I had put down ten years ago?  I just thought of that.  Maybe he's come to make the transition for Sky easier and he's just nudging me to let me know it's ok.  Maybe.  I don't know.  
     All I know is that I like the idea of an afterlife and coming to visit to help out or just be a presence.  I hope it's true.  I hope they are there - all of them.  My cats, my dogs, my people.  I hope I get to see them all again someday.  Not soon, unless they choose to visit me in dreams, but someday.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Jack's Flag

     On my walk today I detoured by Jack's on Goodrich Street.  Every once in awhile I walk by there.  Last week there was a deer out back on his neighbor's lawn.  Today there was a yard sale. 
     There were a lot of old things so I stopped, thinking I might find something of his, maybe lost in his attic til now.  I asked the woman taking the money and she said that no, none of it belonged to him.  She asked me why and I told her that Jack was a very good friend and that when he passed I never received anything and I didn't realize that there had been an auction to get rid of his belongings. 
     She told me to wait, then opened his garage.  His flag was rolled up and in the rafters.  His flag.  Not one that he carried into battle or was draped on his coffin, but the flag he had been flying on his house.  She got it down for me and as she placed it in my hands she told me she had felt him in the house.  She felt that he had been a good person.  I assured her, through my tears, that he was. 
     Just the other day I was talking to D about how much I still missed Jack and how I wished I had something, besides memories, of him.  We agreed that the memories were enough.  Today, I believe that Jack decided that maybe I could have a little bit more. 
     Thank you Jack.  I miss you and love you.  I know what that flag means to you, and I am honored to care for it for you. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Start of Goodbye

            It’s happening.  We’ve been waiting for it and knew the time was coming.  Our old girl, Sky, is feeling her age.  This morning we woke up to pitiful cries coming from the living room.  D usually gets up with the dogs, and it’s been getting earlier and earlier.  I told him this morning (at 4:30am) to put in his ear plugs and wait until five.  They need to learn one just does not get up at the crack of dawn when one goes to bed AFTER dark.  So he gets up at five (4:55) and goes downstairs to find our girl in a mess of pain.

Sometimes I feel like such an ogre. 

So he gives her an aspirin, lets them out, feeds them and then later comes upstairs to tell me that she is really sore.  We know that this has been coming.  She’s been very stiff in her hind legs for a while now and when she walks up steps her hind end actually hops.  Luckily she doesn’t have to use steps all the time.

She’s been incontinent off and on, and we know it’s not behavioral.  Last night she lost control and pooped a little in the house.  I told him when I went upstairs to bed.  We know this isn’t good and this is finally what prompted me to have my old dog, Jack, put down.  Not because I didn’t want to clean up messes – I would have forever, if he was happy, if his quality of life was good.  But he wasn’t happy and he was hanging around for me.  It was the hardest decision I ever made. 

Now the decision belongs to D.  Sky is his dog.  All I can do is let him know of my experiences.  I’ve had dogs and cats all my life.  Sky is his first dog and from the way she looks at him I believe she absolutely adores him. 

When I came downstairs to get ready to leave for work she got up and walked out to the kitchen to see me.  Her legs were so much stiffer than I’ve ever seen them and I was afraid she was going to fall over.  D wondered if maybe there were pills the vet could give her to make her comfortable, but I think a cortisone shot will make a difference.  He wonders if it’s his fault she has lost her muscle tone and is so frail.  I told him that some old dogs get fat, some lose weight, but they all get old and this is normal.  I told him it wasn’t his fault.  She cannot stay a puppy forever, no matter how little gray she sports. 

We’ve been lucky to have her as long as we have.  We know she is between 12 and 14 years old.  She was hit by a car when she was a puppy and within the last several years her back legs hurt when she exercises too much.  She loves to swim but she won’t stop once she’s in the water.  She’ll cry as she paddles but she won’t get out.  And she’ll bite at the bubbles until her tummy fills with water.  It breaks our hearts to keep her out of the water, but she’s so obsessive compulsive we can’t let her in for fear we won’t get her out.

If only they all went peacefully in their sleep.  I held a cat once while he was dying.  His lungs were filling up with fluid and there was nothing I could do but hold him and talk to him and pray it went quickly for him.  His family had abandoned him and he adopted me.  I never want to lose another animal like that.  I never want her to feel helpless and in pain and not in control of herself. 
This will be a hard summer of saying goodbye.  I hope we do her justice and make her as comfortable as she can be and I hope when the time comes he will know it was the only decision he could make for her.  And that it was the right decision.