I have discovered that when I travel long distances I only need three things, a good audio mystery, great music and snacks. Also helpful are gas stations with clean restrooms. After my eleven hour trip home on Monday, I was still high from the wonderful weekend in Cambridge, NY where I attended Creative Workshops nd the Bedlam Farm Open House. I met some great new friends and reconnected with old friends, learned a few things and laughed more than I have in a long time.

When I arrived home, I discovered I had velcro pets. Usually our animals are pretty independent but I must have been missed a lot. The dogs would not let me out of their sight, the cats surrounded me in bed, and the uncaged parrots followed me around, landing on my shoulder or head. Gerry has started wearing an old hat around the house for painless head landings and I may have to do the same.

One of our parrots, Merlin, is a Military Macaw. We rehomed him last February when we found out through the vet that his owner had to move quickly. He is absolutely gorgeous but, for some reason, he doesn’t fly. His wings appear to be okay and I don’t have the backstory. Anyway, Merlin has a cage but Opus, the African Grey, lets him out whenever we forget to wrap the cage with bungee cords. Merlin slowly waddles into the kitchen, the cats know to steer clear, and there he wreaks his havoc. He is like a two year old with a can opener on his face. He climbs onto the counters, tears open packages of food, throws things on the floor and tries to incite the dogs. He especially loves me and yesterday he even followed me up the stairs. We have to be careful not to step on him.

With all of the chaos, one might wonder why we have these animals. I would agree that it isn’t always easy but they provide a lot of pleasure. The cats are all rescues and most have special needs, at least half of the parrots are rescues, and the dogs are our special companions. Since we are retired now we can spend time with them and use them for special endeavors. Tug is a therapy dog who works with kids and loves his job. Mackay is on a tricks team along with his obedience training and will attend community events.

I hope I am able to tap into my creativity and keep the flow going, I would like to reach the point that I need to write something almost every day and that I will begin to feel that what I do is worth writing about. I have had some awesome coaching, now let the blogging begin….


March Madness has brought back a memory from long ago.

I was 12 or 13 and after school some of my friends and I would walk to the basketball court at the local elementary school

and shoot baskets. None of us aspired to play basketball for a team, it was just fun.

A young man in high school lived in a house just off the school playground and occasionally, when he saw us out there, he would join us. He would give us tips, show us how to make baskets, and sometimes just talk with us.

I had quite a crush on him, my first real crush. He was nice and kind and never took advantage of us.

I wanted to have a party with my friends. Back in the day invitations were delivered, not word of mouth. The only problem that would occasionally crop up would be party crashers with beer. I thought long and hard about giving Eddie an invitation because he was so much older than we were, but he was my friend, so why not.

The day of the party came and I was so excited!  My friends came and we were having lots of fun. Then who should show up but Eddie. A young girl’s dream to have an older guy that she had a crush on come to her party.

Eddie and I never had a romantic relationship, we were friends. He took the time to instill confidence in a young girl without ever taking advantage of the situation.

I can’t remember if I ever saw Eddie again after my party. He graduated from high school and got married shortly after that. The following winter Eddie and his wife were both killed in a car accident, in bad weather, on the way back home from Western VA.

Why am I sharing this ? Young girls need to be validated and encouraged by young men without threats and fear. Even though this happened a long time ago, these things have never changed and I doubt they ever will.

The Dictionary (A Christmas Story)

The year was 1987, long before the start of the digital age when everything is at our fingertips. My dad decided everyone in the family needed a dictionary so he went out and bought nice desk dictionaries for everyone for Christmas, including himself. This was a true act of love because my father did not go Christmas shopping ordinarily.

My youngest son Jeff, was a senior in high school that year and really needed the big book.  He put it in his back pack and carried it everywhere. As time went on he used it more and more. He could have chosen a smaller paperback version but he wanted the big heavy dictionary.

When he began college the following year, the dictionary became even more important to him.  One day he told me he had to write a paper for his English class  about a gift he had received that at the time didn’t seem like much but that become very valuable. He decided to write about the dictionary.

Education was very important to my dad, he came from a long line of teachers.  We told him about Jeff’s paper and he was so happy.  My dad was quite ill by this time and 1988 was to be his last Christmas.  Every visitor who came to the house got to hear him proudly tell his Christmas story about the dictionary. The story even became part of his eulogy several months later.

Following my dad’s death my mother gave his dictionary to the minister who had given the eulogy who was also a personal friend.  Several years later that same minister was assigned to our church congregation in Richmond and he performed the marriage ceremony for Jeff and Mary, his high school sweetheart.

A few years later that same minister baptized Jeff and Mary’s first child, Collin.  Following the service he presented my dad’s dictionary, along with a Bible to Jeff to be given to Collin when he got older. The circle of life and love.








Eleven Days

Eleven days was all he had when the prison gate slammed shut behind him.
Joy to finally have our boy turned into man with us again.
We loved him, spent time with him after so much time gone.
We prayed that the depression, anxiety could be held at bay.
In the early morning hours of 9/11 he met his lover and this time she was not so forgiving – she took his life.

Eleven days, just eleven days.

Therapy Dog

When I  retired, it was important to me to do something to help others. I have a yellow Labrador Retriever that I was training at the time and he seemed to have the perfect temperament to be a therapy dog. We worked hard, got him certified and began his career.

Our actual therapy training took
place in a nursing home but I realized that it was not the best environment for Tug’s talents. The opportunity arose for Tug to work in a school setting with kids and I  thought that would be perfect.  It was.

I was a little nervous on the first day because l wasn’t sure what to expect. I shouldn’t have been, Tug just took over and knew exactly what to do. He seemed to know which kids needed him the most and he gravitated to those kids. He amazed me with his intuition.

In one school Tug’s job is more relationship oriented and he knows who needs what. If rough housing is involved, he’s game. He always loves to chase a ball. If a kid just wants to sit quietly and pet him, that’s great too. It is very rewarding to see kids smile that don’t smile often.

In another school the kids are younger and they read to Tug. When the teacher brings a new group in to meet Tug, I  have noticed that he greets each child individually.

I could never have taught Tug these things, he just knows. He is definitely making a difference in these young lives, and also in the lives of the adults that watch him in action. I am so glad that I am part of a team that can help in this way.


Tug Goes to School

I think a lot of you know that I have a therapy  dog. We started  out visiting nursing  homes but it was hard on both of us, particularly  when a couple  of people we had spent a lot of time with died. Many times after we returned home Tug would need to decompress and one time he even refused to get out of the car when we arrived at the center.

As luck would have it, one day I was in a meeting with some people at United  Methodist Family Services  (UMFS) and I mentioned  Tug and they got very excited because they wanted to have a therapy dog in their school for their residential  students. These kids have been through a lot and animals have a way of connecting with them and helping them that nothing else can.

We began working  with the kids at UMFS late last spring and Tug was amazing. On the very first day we walked into the first classroom and Tug walked over to a girl and he lay down next to her and rested his head on her foot. She  was so excited and said, “He chose  me!  He chose me.” Her teacher told me that she had been afraid of dogs. Tug seemed to know just what to do in relation to these kids. If they wanted to read to him he would lie down  quietly.  If they wanted to play he was all for that as well. The teachers and the kids decide the routine for the time with Tug.  We also work with a class of Autistic  kids and in that class the kids mostly love on Tug.  Unfortunately  I can’t  take pictures  there due to HIPPA regulations.

We went for an interview to be part of the PAWS to read program at an elementary  school in  the city of Hopewell about 30 minutes from us. Tug  was very well recieved.

The day before we were supposed to start back to both schools after  summer break I took Tug to the groomer for a bath and red bumps began popping out on his head. I took him to the vet and he thought Tug was having an allergic reaction to something  but at that point he couldn’t be sure what. He took samples for slides and prescribed antibiotics  and antihistamines along






with pain killers. Tugs head only got worse throughout  the week and on Wednesday  the vet amped up the antibiotics  and antihistamines  and on Friday  the lab results were back and they showed Tug was stung by either hornets or yellow jackets. He received  intravenous  steroids and after that he began to get better.

Tug stayed out of school for two weeks to avoid scaring people because his head was such a mess and also  to avoid secondary infection. When he returned  he received  lots of love and sympathy from both teachers and kids.

The kids at the elementary school are adorable. They are in second and third grade and their reading skills differ. Some of these kids have come from difficult situations  as well.  One darling little boy was found in a trash can in Africa  by a missionary. I can’t  even imagine. The missionary brought him home and adopted him. He is a happy little kid and he and Tug  love each other. These pictures are from our visit to  the elementary school.

I  have finally figured  out what I want to do when I grow  up. Don’t  you think it’s about  time?

My Tree

Early (for me) this morning I took the puppies out to the back yard to run around and play.  It was a beautiful morning after the rain last night, cool and fresh with a slight breeze.  I haven’t spend much time in the back yard this summer, the “no see-ums” have been really bad and not conducive to spending much time in my meditation spot so the outside furniture has not even been cleaned off and set up.  I looked around for a place to sit and then I saw it, a low sturdy branch on a maple tree that we planted when we moved into this house in 1981. 

I don’t know why I never noticed that branch before, I guess I didn’t need to.  Anyway, for the first time since I was a little girl, I decided to climb the tree.  I needed something to get me started and behind our shed I found some plastic chairs stacked up.  That will be perfect I thought, and it was.  I took the chair over and got onto the low branch which was about as high as a horse. 

Our back yard has a perfect canopy of trees so there is no clear view, but through the leaves I could see puffs of clouds and the beautiful blue sky.  No camera, so no pictures.  I just leaned back against the trunk of the tree and felt more peaceful than I have felt in a very long time.  I let thought slip away for awhile, then I thanked God for my place in the world.  I think I will visit my tree more often,