Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There's Something Happenin' Here...

What it is, is exactly clear
There's a bed hoggin dog over there
Tellin me I got to beware

I think it's time we stop, Mabel
What's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

There's battle lines being drawn
Mabel's right; and Mama's wrong
 Silly dog, speakin her mind
Giving much resistance with her behind

It's time we stop
Hey, what's that sound
Silly dog is staring me down

What a fine night for bed hogs
Queen size bed sleep like a log
Growling tunes she should keep inside
Sayin' "Mama, It's ALL my side"

It's time we stop
Hey, what's that sound
Mama wants to lay down
Hidden cookies strike deep
so the pup, she will creep
moves her booty yes, slides away
Step off my side, mama needs to make hay!

You better stop
listen, what's that sound
Growl again, you're going down!
*with apologies to Buffalo Springfield

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Weight of Things

I have been on a insatiable cleaning jag lately. Not that I'm cleaning house so much as just getting rid of STUFF! I find it shocking and appalling that a single woman with one dog moved into this four bedroom house with 360 boxes filled in a semi. And I've managed to accumulate even more now that own a business! I'm sick and tired of it all and am starting to feel that I'm drowning in stuff.

I've been auctioning off old office equipment and a soap opera wedding dress I found for my niece at a studio sale (we found her an even nice couture dress at the thrift store for even less money!) Bulky items that I don't want to ship have been relegated to CraigsList. Smaller jewelry tools and such head to the Garage Sale page on the Lampworker's Forum.

I was quite shocked this week to realize that the craft books I had accumulated while producing the t.v. show were over four feet high! All got listed and I've sold all but about a foot of them! This stack of craft books mixed with Southern Living recipes is all that is left!

I've cleaned out all the copper cookie cutters that never really sold from my website. They did well at shows where I could demo...but not online. As I called around to refineries in the area, I was amazed that copper only fetches around  three bucks a pound (still, 90 bucks is 90 bucks!)! I mean, people have been stealing the wiring from new homes to sell the copper... do you realize how labor intensive that is??? It seems to me you'd make more picking up cans and bottles!

I've got bags of tin cutters to go along with the copper and a bag of stainless steel rods that are bent. And I've fired all the precious metal clay that had long since dried out to take to the fine metals refinery. I have bags of scrap silver from my wire classes and got on a wild hair and decided to get rid of all the jewelry I never wear.

That's where I hit a snag. How can get rid of the gold watch my mom gave me?? Forget that I intentionally stopped wearing watches in 1993! (Passive aggressive boss constantly asked me for the time.) Never mind that the watch no longer fits and still wouldn't if all the links were in place. 

And what to do with these little treasures?

You may see a five dollar bill and a little bracelet that would fit a toddler. The bracelet was given to me by my sister when I was in her wedding in 1966. The five dollar bill was the last money my father ever gave me. I had begged off of seeing him the last weekend he was alive in 1975. My mother and he spent the weekend alone and she returned and pulled my allowance from him out of her pocket. I stashed it in my room and three days later, when I realized he was gone, I put the money in my jewelry box. I have no idea why my eleven year old self did that but now at 47 that five dollar feels like it weighs a ton. 

So what do you do with memories that weigh too much?  Do you cast them aside? Or do you hang onto them hoping some part of who you were still exists somewhere?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

These Two

I love these two. I love them together. I love them apart. I love watching their relationship to each other.

I find it hard to believe that for FOUR YEARS, we kept them apart! Bart had such a nasty reputation in the neighborhood (mostly from stupid leash walkers who have no concept of socializing dogs or how to deal with a dog that is off leash) & Mabel was such a dominate brat...we were afraid to introduce them. But once Bart officially belonged to the bestie, we HAD to allow them to meet. As I've written was such a non event!

It's a rare day we don't hike together. These two are pack mates now.

She protects him.
She corrects him.
He looks to her for guidance when meeting others.
He longs to be alpha but doesn't step on her toes.
She dashes off after coyotes. He's got her back.
Mischief seeks them both.

And I day, all to soon...their rolls will reverse. I'm glad Mabel has a friend like Bart. I'm glad Bart has a friend like Mabel.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bart's Game For Mabel

The bestie is still nursing her torn meniscus and it appears long walks are in our past. But what to do with two dogs who relish long runs and swims as a way of tiring themselves out? You invent a game for them!

 Bart's eye is on the ball (rock); Mabel's eye is on Bart!

The bestie discovered that her boy, Bart, will chase rocks endlessly especially if thrown in water or large bushes! I've tried throwing rocks for Mabel and she just rolls her eyes at me! "As IF MOOOOM!" she seems to say. I can almost envision her with her paw firmly planted on her hips as she looks at me in utter disgust!

So when we happened on Bart playing his game, I was quite surprised when Mabel joined in. Mind you, she does NOT chase rocks. No... it's Bart's fuzzy tail she prefers!  Bart will chase rocks for hours on end. Mabel  will chase Bart for hours on end! All this equals a pretty easy hike for two feeble middle aged mommas!

Heaven forbid we should stop throwing rocks at our dogs and start talking to each other. They both stand there, impatiently waiting. Mabel understands that it is the throwing of the rocks that begins the play. Even though she has no interest in that, she stares at us, eagerly waiting...

Hey Moms! We're WAITING!!!
One good splash and they are off and running. Bart after rocks; Mabel after Bart.

On the odd chance that a rock ends up on land, Bart will do his best to  pick it up! But by then, there's another rock headed for water! Every now and again, Mabel will make contact with her "prize." They tussle a bit and it's off to chase more rocks!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mabel and the Heron

I was down at Dirty Creek the other night, looking for the ducks when Mabel decided to take a swim...guaranteeing I would not see my ducks!

There was one creature that was not intimidated by her though:

Mabel stared at the heron and he kept watching her. In the end...she went on her way and the heron stood his ground. I love this photo for many reasons: I can read Mabel's prey drive in every fiber of her body; the heron's cautious posture; the way Dirty Creek is so over-grown this time of year (making it a safe haven for late-season ducklings!); and finally, that one strip of sunlight streaming right down the middle.

Since this set of photos was taken, I've seen the ducks...swimming in duckline and have been able to verify that all were present. But I hadn't seen all of them clear enough to count on this particular evening. I stashed Mabel in the car and drove around for quicker access to Dirty Creek at dusk.  While I stood there waiting, hoping with my camera, I became aware of duck noises coming from the runoff channel to my left. I couldn't see up the channel without getting into the pond. But there was definitely one duck in there.

I started to fret that one of the ducklings was separated from the team! I moved downstream to try and get a better view of the duck upstream. She was walking about and kind of fussing and I started to think it was Mallory. I told her, "It's O.K. girl! Go to your babies!" And she took off! I followed her with my camera and yes, she landed right in front of the tall grass the babies are living in! She went right in so I'm certain it was her!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dust to Dust

Velvet wrote an excellent post whereupon she considered her own funeral and inquired if any of her readers had ever done the same. Since I have, I'm blogging about that subject. I do urge you to read Velvet's post first, especially the 2nd paragraph!!!

Although I am the youngest in my tiny family of four, at the ripe old age of 47, I think I have pondered the thought of death far more than anyone. My mother, age 88, is by far the healthiest and the youngest of us all! As down as she gets sometimes, I don't think she really considers death very often... at least not her own. My sister, age 68, is on her third round of cancer and I am certain that she does not consider death. And my dear brother in law just doesn't speak of such things. He married into a family of three outspoken, hard headed and strong women...he doesn't get to speak much at all except to referee from time to time. This makes him qualified for Saint-hood in my book.

Sometimes I wonder if it's in my Piscean nature to analyze death. Those who are really into astrology say that a Pisces child is neither of this world or the next...but somewhere in between. I would say this is true.
 My Maggie May is the sparkle in the pink of this worry stone. 

One of the longest short stories I've ever written was about the subject of death and how many people that have been taken from me. Southern children are not shielded from death the way many of my California friends do with their kids. I remember going to funerals at quite a young age. I lost friends to the mishandling of firearms at ages 8, 15, and 19. I lost friends and relatives to cancers at ages 16, 18, and 28. I lost my father at 11 and my grandmother at 19.  Sometimes I feel I know more people on the other side than alive in this world. I live with lots of ghosts.

I am certain my father has visited me just as I am certain my aunt did right after she died. My uncle has been a presence in my life since his absence from this earth. Heck! I'm just as certain even my DOG came back for a visit! With all of that going on... death doesn't scare me. Pain, yes; but death? Nah!
My personal heroine, Maggie May

I do worry about what would happen to my dog and if I ever have enough dough to do a proper will, I want to make arrangements for her.

I want to be cremated. Part of me feels that I just don't want to take up one iota of space in this world of too much after I'm gone. I remember hearing that cancer continues to eat your flesh after you die and the mean bitchy part of me would want to slap that cancer in the face and say, "Fine, you may have killed me but I'm taking you with me!" Cremation is a sharp deviation from the way I was raised...forever at some too damp cemetery in a dang rainstorm.

My mother gets so upset that "no one visits Daddy" or her brother. Or that no one is taking flowers to them. Even as a child I would say to her, "Why? They're not there!" Still, I do confess to visiting my own father's grave site every time I'm in Hattiesburg. I've left flowers and flags and even Krispy Kreme's there. But I think that's more about me having so little time with him and that so many of the places we were together have been torn down. My father built Hillcrest Hall on the University of Southern Miss campus and I sometimes go in to touch the plaque that bears his name. I'm still surprised that I, the baby of my family, have changed my whole family's thoughts on cremation. Before, the thinking seemed to be that only the damned were cremated... Kinda like a pre-burn before Hell? But, I know Mom wants to be cremated and my sister has given it thought.

I have to say that as a beadmaker, I've gotten to incorporate cremains in glass for a handful of customers. It has been some of the most meaningful work I've ever done. I wouldn't mind leaving a few tablespoons of myself to certain loved ones for that purpose.
The Allie Heart - made with the ashes of one of my hiking buddies, Rottrover's Allie. 

But it's a weird thing growing up knowing that your entire family will probably die well before you and leave you all alone in this world. So that's another factor in my not wanting a grave. Who would visit? Would I even want someone standing there crying? Not so much!

But some part of me does long for a grave...because of a television show! I wasn't a big fan of Northern Exposure... I've seen maybe five episodes. But there was one scene that stands out for me. There was a teen named Ed whose good friend Ruthanne was turning 90. He was upset trying to find the perfect gift for her. So he took her hiking up an Alaskan mountainside where he presented her with a deed to a six foot by 3 foot rectangle of property. Yes, he had given her a grave! I was appalled and as I waited for the actress' reaction, I was most surprised. Ruthanne smiled at her gift and said to her young friend, "Why Ed, you've give me the most unique opportunity. May I have this dance?" The show closed with the two of them dancing on her grave.

I still have my dog, Maggie's ashes. She saved my life and I just feel I need her with me. Mabel, when her time comes, will most certainly want to be in her beloved creek but I know I will make myself a memento of her in glass. But when my time comes, I want to be scattered, with Mags, near some peaceful body of water. Which is why, when I find myself in such a place, I always dance a little jig...just in case.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yay Team!

On my way to a business meeting, I dashed down to Dirty Creek with my longer lens to see if I could spy the family. I learned just today that they are to be referred to as a team of ducks. I spied them immediately coming down the ramp!

They are such an impressive site in the wild and I finally realized today that I've never seen a mallard with more than four duckings. The norm around here is more like two or three! To see this many is just amazing! It also makes our group really stand out and I know I'm looking at / rooting for the right team!

My very first shot was the best of the day but still a bit fuzzy:

 When I blow that up in photoshop, I can count 10 heads! So happy about that!

I crawled through various bushes and hopped over three different streams trying and trying to get closer. They were always aware of my position and went far in the other direction.  This is another blurry shot of them heading into the tall grasses to hide.

Determined to try and see them up close, I took the high road back toward the car and dropped down into the Eastern edge of the pond again. I stirred up some very loud doves and a long time resident of the pond, which scared the ducklings deeper into the grass:

The blue heron has been there a long time and for years was only spotted with a white crane. I thought they were just the oddest couple until two years ago when the crane had a family. This year, both have little ones...but oddly enough, they still hang out close to each other and often just one on one with the babies somewhere else. I like to think of them as long time besties!

I feel really good about this place, knowing the little team has a lovely shielded area to start learning to fly!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Ducks Are Free!

I'm happy to report Operation Duck Freedom was a great success!  The hiking buddy and I headed over to Twinkie's fairly early with two pet carriers, old towels and old clothes. We turned the carriers on the long end and each took a towel and started cornering ducks. Mallory tried to attack me several times! I finally managed to catch her in my towel and drop her in the largest carrier. By that point we had five babies in the small carrier.

In another few minutes, we had them all! We washed out the duck pool one last time and loaded them in the jeep. Here's Mallory and part of her crew.
We drove them to Dirty Creek. I had been scouting around there for a  good spot for them and decided that, in spite of the Cooper's Hawk that favors the area, the pond with the tall grass would provide the safest nest and good hunting for the family. 
We hiked them in and opened both carrier doors at the same time. Mallory popped out first and then the babies all followed rather quickly. Here they are enjoying their first taste of freedom since their third day when they left my house.

 They immediately jumped in the creek. They started eating vegetation right away and even fishing!

After a snack, Mallory took off exploring and the babies all followed. 

They quickly discovered all the tall grasses that line the pond area. The secluded themselves in there. We hiked back to the Eastern edge and looked for them. Not finding them, we hid the carriers and went back to the drop off point where we spied them in the tall grasses. The disappeared in a quick second. We grew tired of waiting for them to return. 
When we got back to the carriers, we discovered they were at that end of the creek. But they quickly took off again as soon as they saw us. 

I'm so grateful they are not accustomed to humans and that they have food, shelter and a wide open space to learn to fly!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Duckpdate 7/1

The ducklings are getting huge and we are planning a release for them - hopefully this week. It is back-breaking work caring for these guys. You can change their water in their pool and within minutes, it's disgusting again! Add to that it's impossible to stand up in their enclosure and you've got some serious back pain!

I feel so bad for Twinkie's mom taking on this mess, that I have tried to pop in a few times and wash out their pool for her. I've brought them guppies a few times too! Boy does that ever add to the excitement in the pool!

In the few days since I took this picture on July 1, they have lost even more of the yellow down and look near identical in size to Mallory! That little guy on the left was shaking a guppy!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Could I Get Some Help???

I need some help from some of you doggy bloggers out there!

Does anyone know in real life the person putting together the dog blog address list??? If yes, I need help getting them to send my invite to my google email address... the one that comes up on this blog when you email me.

I signed up, not knowing it was to be a google doc. I don't have access to google with the email I signed up with and even though I've requested access w/ the proper address like TEN TIMES, I've had no luck!!!

If someone could intervene on my would be greatly appreciated!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Sitting in the Light of Love

It's better now, the hole he left in my heart. It only took 36 years.

Every July sends me into a dark depressive funk. I flail around wondering why until I remember...It's almost July 9th. Once I realize what's happening, I give into the darkness until July 10th when it all seems to lift.

Days that change your life in a matter of seconds can do that to you. 36 years ago, my father and his driver, Buster (another man I loved and adored) died tragically in a single car accident. There were theories that my father had a heart attack and when Buster leaned over to see  about him, the 55 gallon drum in Dad's construction truck lost balance and sent them off the road. There was talk of my father having lots of cash on him to pay back a loan and their truck being chased. None of that ever mattered. It won't bring my Daddy back.

What matters is that this July, the predictable darkness never descended. I was aware of the date approaching. I was ready for it to surround me and take me down. And it never came. Am I finally a grown up?

I know that the circumstances around my birth are not normal. I was a love child, the result of an 18 year affair ended only by his death. My parents adored each other. They were happy and treasured their moments together. Sometimes I wonder if that was because they didn't have to live together. But either way, I have a high standard for happiness in my idea of what a relationship "should" be.

I have experienced shame and rejection simply from being born. And these days, with all the baby mamas and baby daddies and  no one getting married or respecting those bonds, I wonder if my parents were just ahead of their time.

And while I know my dad adored me, it kills me that I have exactly two photos of him with me. Two photos in eleven years!

The one above is my 2nd birthday party. It is also my earliest memory.  I've written about that memory before:
We ate in the dining room. I remember thinking that we had never done that before. My sister, (future) brother-in-law, aunt, uncle, mother and father were all dressed up... which I now reason that it must have been a Sunday and not my actual birthday.

My father clapped his hands together to get my attention and held out his arms. I ran to him. He lifted me into my high chair. There I could see a cake with a clown face on it.

My mother was urging everyone to sit as she moved around the table pouring iced tea. She filled my father's glass and he took a sip. He looked at me, smiled and leaned in for a kiss. His lips were cold and moist and sweet. I decided I like iced tea from that kiss.

The other photo is missing Daddy's head! Moments before, he had been upset with me...something that rarely happened! I was squealing because he had asked me to hand him the container of crickets and I could feel their feet through the mesh sides. My dad believed that all fisherman should handle their own bait and me getting upset over the feel of a cricket was most disappointing to him. I don't know what he said to me, but here I am, moments later, holding that cricket container and a box of worms!

I did grow into quite a fisherman, always baiting my own hook unless Daddy wasn't looking. Buster would always bait my hook then because "a little lady shouldn't get her hands dirty." Buster would also drop me off at the movie theater if the fish weren't biting.

It feels good to remember them both sitting in the light of their love.

Friday, July 08, 2011


Yep, I now sleep with a three time murderer! She's done it again!

For those wanting the gory back stories, Incident #1   Incident #2

And let's not forget Attempted Murder of a cat and the big racoon fight!

But this time, was just too much! We stopped by to see 'tilla's dad last night. They hadn't made it to the creek and I needed to return some chain lube I borrowed. We woke Atilla up...he was sleeping in his front yard. He got so excited, his dad asked us to come in the back yard and play.

I inquired about cats. I had smelled a cat in the garage the night before. My pool man assured me that his cat could get away from Mabel and that he would shut his hall door, just in case.

A skunk had run out  from under my car the night before and sure enough, Mabel immediately went on the prowl. It took a minute to wrangle her into 'tilla's yard. I stopped to admire their hand made barbeque pit and big garden before I noticed Mabel was missing! I realized the garage side door was open to the garden! I raced there; I heard her barking. 

In the dark I could tell she had cornered a cat! I pulled but couldn't get her to budge. My pool man grabbed her hips and fell on top of her in the narrow space. She grabbed the cat as she was being pulled out. It was awful!

It turns out that the kitty, Freddy, was also my pool man's... a sibling to the one in the house. He honestly thought this cat was dead. It was 21 and had a cancerous tumor on his throat and could no longer eat. The family had made the decision to put Freddy down a week ago but...could not longer find him.  He apparently had hid in the garage to die!

But that should have been my friend's choice... not my bratty dog's!

I know she is "just a dog" and "doing what dog's do," "following her natural instincts." But that doesn't take the pictures out of my head. I'm shell shocked! I'm so angry at her.

I swear, my #1 criteria for my next dog will be zero prey drive!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Earning His Trust

When you get to know a dog that has...issues, it takes a lot of consistent work to gain his trust. A dog with a past that has taught him that not all people or dogs are good can take time to allow you into his pack.

Bart didn't have an easy beginning. He was allowed to roam our mountains. We know bikes and boys on anything that moves too fast can send him into a meltdown. We have witnessed him hiding from big dogs and yet watched him charge a coyote. He is wary of many people...never getting too close.

It's been an interesting year watching Bart integrate into our pack at the creek. He often stays on the fringes. Or he will dart into a dog pile and just as quickly disappear over a ridge to just watch. And always, he follows his mom to the car. He may disappear often while hiking...but he's not one to miss the bus home!

I've often begged him to stay with Mabel and me. He seems to understand. He seems torn, wanting to stay and play but in the end, dashing after his mom.

But all spring, his mom has been nursing a torn meniscus and Mabel and I have been his walking companions. All the humans at the creek have noticed how Bart comes around for scritches and he plays with the pack more often than before.

But yesterday, the breakthrough arrived with barely a whimper. Bart's mom had to leave. She started home knowing he would follow. Only, another 40 yards downstream, we realized Bart was still with our hiking pack! We phoned his mom...Don't worry, we'll get him home. He hiked, he swam, he played, he begged for cookies... he did everything the other dogs do.

And when we went to leave, he didn't even seem puzzled that he had arrived in one car and was going home in another. We are his pack. He knows we will take care of him.