Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

I so enjoy hearing from you...so leave me a comment; it'll make my day!

Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Personal Plea for Chained Dogs- I Beg You To Read This!

I am reposting this piece (and will continue to do so occasionally) to remind folks not to chain their dogs...

As by now, you are aware, we had to say goodbye to our beloved dog because of an incident precipitated by Leash Agression.

Yesterday I called our trainer, Jennifer, to tell her the news. She too, was saddened by this incident. Koda was so bright and personable, she could have been a wonderful dog. Jennifer was very kind and consoling, assuring me that we had done everything in our power to retrain Koda. We discussed the role that the psychology of her past had played in the incident. One of Koda's former owners, a young man, used to take her to work on the night shift at a cement plant and tie her up ourside. It is likely that he unwittingly caused her much psychological damage in doing this.

Jennifer told me that in her experience, more than 90% of the dogs she deals with who have issues, have been affected by human treatment. I find this appalling. Power comes with responsibility. We as humans have a great responsibility to the creatures on this planet. Our everyday decisions impact their individual destinies, and ultimately their survival as a species.

Eons ago, the wild canine species, for some reason, agreed to domestication. Probably of necessity and later out of affection. Think of all of the other wild animals who have not submitted to human will. But cats and dogs, horses, and a few others have willingly come under our subjugation. There is no turning back to wildness for them, nowhere to go. Now they are utterly dependent upon man for their existence. In return for this dependence, they are mistreated and abandoned at our whim; treated as an object for our amusement...discarded when they are no longer wanted. Our shelters are bursting at the seams and animals are being euthanized at a rate that would shame Auschwitz. Perhaps it is we, and not the canine who are animals!

I am posting this excerpt from Life on Chain by Margaret LaTour,  http://www.spdrdogs.org/pdf/Life%20on%20a%20Chain.pdf ,  in an effort to educate people about the horrible practice of chaining dogs, and the effect it has upon them. Please take the time to read this article, then educate your family, your friends, and your co-workers about it. Please do this for me...and for Koda.

Why is a Chain Abusive?

Dogs are social animals, needing to be with their human families.       Being chained outside isolates them and denies them this basic need. The dog quickly becomes neglected and its intellect must find other   outlets – for instance, digging, chewing, barking, nervous pacing,     and aggression, all for which the dog will be punished.

The behavior of the chained dog is a result of fear. S/he is exposed to danger, real or imagined, and cannot run away or defend. This   dog lives in a world of terror. The dog can see its outer territory -  
the house, other parts of the yard – and cannot defend it. This drives them to intensify defense of the small area they occupy, the perimeter of the chain. Many people have been bitten by a chained dog.

The chained dog receives little or no positive, loving attention. What they do get from people is teasing, taunting, poisoning, thrown rocks, and more terror. Since the chained dog is exposed to whatever comes by, s/he becomes, in the words of Dennis Fetko, Ph.D., “defensively aggressive. The chain/tether also promotes attack by triggering an opposition reflex (thigmotaxis).”

Living life on a chain is also dangerous. I recently grief counseled a man who had tied up his 11 month old female German Shepherd in his yard and went into his house. Thirty minutes later, he found his dog hanged to death on the other side of the fence. Another 14-month old female German Shepherd was brought to the Bellevue Humane Society for attempting the same maneuver. Besides this danger, there is the very real chance of attack from stray dogs,
coyotes, or raccoons. The chained dog cannot get away. Also, physical injury can result from the chain or rope itself— neck injury, injury to the trachea or larynx, or to the teeth from chewing on the    chain. Herniated disks can occur from pulling against the tension.     

The chained dog always remains exposed to the whims of people      outside. A person intent on robbing the house or hurting its occupants is aided by the chain. Also, a person who intends to         
injure the dog has no obstacle. Dogs belong in homes with their        families. Any applicant coming through SPDR{Seattle Purebred        Dog Rescue} applying for a dog that will be chained is denied.       

These are just a few reasons why.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Where do I hang the herbs to dry?

It's a conundrum, a kerfuffle, a head scratcher. Now that I have all of these wonderful herbs growing out back, they've got to be harvested and dried...but where? It's supposed to be dry. Airy. Light. They'd look so pretty in the kitchen window above my sink. Too steamy. Laundry room...steamy. Garage...dark and spider-y. Family room, living room, bedrooms...kinda weird. I mean, I like the earthy, herbal vibe but when your whole house is filled with things hanging upside down it becomes a little, well; do you remember that old Disney movie 'Thomasina?' The yellow British cat with nine lives who is somehow (and I don't remember how) raised from the dead by a beautiful but eccentric spinster that everybody thinks is a witch because she grows herbs and makes concoctions? I do grow herbs and fully intend to make concoctions and decoctions and such; still I don't want to be 'that woman'. You know? So I finally settled on using the mouldings around the kitchen door. We'll see how this batch goes. If it doesn't work, perhaps my summer house-guests will find themselves sleeping beneath a lovely bower of magical herbs dangling from the ceiling! Gotta go. My cauldron is boiling over.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Possibility of Failure

(Photo credit, John A. Byers, my son. Subject: my grandchildren who are the essence of joie de vivre)
My friend Jack R. flew small planes in Wyoming. He kept reading the stats for small plane crashes and it finally got to him. He knew that statistically, his number's gonna come up. Jack doesn't fly planes anymore. He drives. Maybe he would have crashed; I don't know. Who really knows?
And maybe the pretty girl will say no when you ask her to dance. Maybe the dog will bite and the roller coaster will careen right off the tracks and we'll be left lonely and dog-bitten, and... dead.
Failure is a possibility. It lurks around every corner. Failure is 'the valley of the shadow of death' that David walked through...it was there he learned that 'your rod, and your staff, they comfort me.'
Without the possibility of failure, life (and stories, you writers) is drab, lackluster, nondescript. Nothing is ventured. The princesses remain hidden away in the tower, the shelter dog is euthanized because we think he may be part pit-bull, and we never have a parade; there's a 50% chance of rain, you know.  But isn't the possibility of failure, both in real life and stories, the juxtaposition of failure against the hope of success beyond one's wildest dreams, good fortune, love, and fame..is not this where the joie de vivre of life resides?
Are we really going to keep riding our tricycles, knees knocking against the handlebars, all hunched over and fearful of tipping over, taking only wide corners and staying safely on the sidewalk?
NO! Get on that bike and take your spills! Isn't that precisely why you ride it? It's tipsy, it's turvy, it's exhilarating! Take your feet off the pedals, coast a bit and feel the wind against your cheeks.
This, my friend is how we lost our youthfulness. It happened when we stopped jumping into Lake Whatcom because it's cold and gives us goose bumps, when we stopped asking pretty girls to dance; it happened...when we stopped flying. 
My story, I mean, my novel-- and all of it's quirky characters, if I write it well enough, will have many incidents where failure looms around the corner. 

 So will my story, I mean, my life.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Berry Nice...Sugar Free Jam

If you're anything like me, you love to make jam; but when it comes time to dump a bucket-load of sugar all over your beautiful, already sweet berries, you feel guilty. Like you just drew a mustache on the Mona Lisa. It's just wrong. So this year I searched around and found, what I think is the perfect answer to the problem. Pomona Pectin. Now, I'll admit, I haven't actually tried the stuff yet; but I rushed out and bought the last remaining box at our local health food co-op. I've checked their site and their reviews out pretty carefully. This stuff looks like the real deal! Not like that 'reduced' sugar pectin where you only have to dump half a bucket into the pot. And oh my goodness, their site has the tastiest recipes for jams. I will definitely be making Blueberry-Lavender jam this year! Here's the link; http://www.pomonapectin.com/. And here's the link to the aforementioned jam recipe http://www.pomonapectin.com/recipes/blueberry-lavender-jam/

Speaking of berries...last Saturday my friend Demetree and I headed out to Deborah Lubbe's organic farm to pick some strawberries. Her berries are the sweetest thing this side of heaven.

I learned something about strawberries from Deborah. She has 3 varieties of berries on her property. The orangey-red variety was by far the sweetest. The red-red ones were tangier. And the deep ruby-red ones were juiciest, but less sweet. So you can't judge your berries by color. Deborah's Nooksack Valley farm is nestled in the foothills. It's a down-home, earthy place with roosters wandering about, a Shetland pony pastured nearby, and field-flowers growing amid the grasses. A place to breathe.


You're never too young to go berry pickin!

Taste testers

Talkin' organic, berries, and farmin'

Deborah Lubbe is as organic as her berries


Friday, June 14, 2013

Important! If you love children and education, you must see this!

Please friends, watch this film on CNN this Sunday at 6 pm. Spread the word. It's that important!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Listen to Your Heart

Many years ago I had a scary bout with my heart.  I had just worked up the courage to leave a career  that was beating me up physically and emotionally, and enrolled in college as a 40-something freshman.

During the years that I was working before this change, I used to envy women who worked part time or stayed home full time. On lunch hours I'd drive past the mall and marvel that there were people who could actually take the afternoon to go shopping or to the gym. What a luxury! But once settled in school, between classes and homework, I actually found a little bit of time for recreation. I decided to see what it was like to spend a sunny afternoon by the pool at our fitness facility. After swimming a few laps I got out and tried sitting in lounge chair and reading.  But I was still so keyed up and feeling guilty for being unproductive that I couldn't enjoy myself, so I gathered up my towel and sunscreen and headed for the showers; thinking I'd go home and work in the yard. You know--do something worthwhile.

All of a sudden my heart started to do funny things. After a few normal beats it would pause for what seemed like an eternity, and then beat madly to catch up. Terrified, I pulled my shorts and shirt over my still-wet swimsuit and drove like Jehu to to the doctor's office. He did all of the right tests, the halter monitor, the echo cardiogram, the treadmill stress test, and I'm sure other things that I've forgotten about. He said I was okay, in spite of the fact that my heart continued to flip and flop. If I wanted to, he advised, I could go on anxiety medicine to calm my frayed nerves and regulate my heart at the same time. I declined.

 Instead I called a minister friend to pray for me. She felt strongly that all of my problems stemmed from years of stress, and counseled me to take some time to rest. So I did. Gradually, the heart began beating normally and all of the nervous energy I was carrying about in my body dissipated. Since that time, I'm not afraid for my heart anymore; but I do tend to keep and eye on it.

I've learned a little bit about my body since then. My heart doesn't appreciate caffeine or super hot showers. And it lets me know when I'm not getting proper rest. Occasionally it will do a  warning thumpety-thump if I break those 3 little rules. When that happens, I usually pause, put my finger on a pulse point, and monitor the beats for a couple of minutes.

So the other night in bed, when I felt that quirky little thumpety-thump, I just lay there quietly and felt my pulse. One little hiccup. then it was normal again. It was so quiet I could actually hear it beating.

 A quiet realization came over me. I thought..."How wonderous is my heart! Listen to it; thumpthump...thumpthump...thumpthump. So dutiful and faithful to it's purpose; responding to electrical impulses that I have absolutely no control over. None. The One who set the axis of the earth and calls the stars by name...He's keeping track of my heartbeats. He knows the exact number of times that my heart will beat...and He knows the day and hour that it will stop."

And the understanding that my heart, the blood circulating through my veins, each breath I draw; all happening because of divine intention...flooded me with gratitude and peace. And I slept.

And as I slept, my heart went thumpthump...thumpthump...thumpthump...thumpthump...thumpthump...

Friends, I know you are talented and capable and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But sometimes it's good to know that we don't have be in control of everything. Tonight before you go to sleep, feel your pulse and listen to your heart beating. You are here because of divine intention. Listen to God's intention for you...thumpthump, thumpthump, thumpthump.  Rest in that knowledge. Be at peace.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A little walk in the herb garden

Would you like to join Posie and me for a little stroll in the herb garden this evening?

I think the herb-markers I made came out pretty cute! I used polymer clay in a nice terra cotta color. I stamped the words with a stamp kit, poked a hole into the bottom, and baked them for about 15 minutes. Oops, I should have put the hole at the top! Then I could have wound the copper wire into a pretty curlycue from the top. Then the disks would swing freely below the wire. But since I didn't do that, I had to use some twigs and wind the wire tightly around them to make them stand upright. But they're still pretty and I do sort of like the rustic twiggy bases. I made about 10 but have many more to make...so there'll be another chance to perfect the system! Some I've seen have been 'stamped' with the herb's leaves. Maybe I'll try that on my next batch.

 Every year I fill this birdbath with plants, and every year I've struggled to keep the plants from getting scraggly. So I went down to the local nursery and asked for advice. They suggested that I drill some holes in the base of the birdbath for better drainage and use succulents. So I did, and here's the result. The birdbath sits in the middle of the garden.

 Something caught Posie's eye. Probably a spider. She loves to catch spiders.
Loving the herb garden and the succulent birdbath. Loving the beginning of summer!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

My Baron, My Bubba, My Babba Louie

This is me and Baron... my Bubba..my partner in crime... my Babba Louie. (You have to be old enough to remember Quick Draw McGraw/El Kabong to know about Babba Louie!)

Baron is a full bred American Field Labrador Retriever. American Field Labs are taller and lankier than their British counterparts. Even so, he's the tallest lab I've ever seen...and most folks who know Labs would agree. There's more to Mr. Baron that his devastating good looks. He is the sweetest creature on the face of the earth. He adores small children and small animals. At the dog park Baron will take his ball and drop it in front of smaller dogs that seem frightened of him; a gesture of friendship. When our grandchildren squabble he becomes very upset. He barks and puts himself between them as if to say, "can't we all just get along?"

Like any two year old, Baron has tons of energy. We walk him faithfully every morning and evening...rain, snow, or shine. At least twice a week we supplement the walks with swimming, outings to the dog park, or a run in the woods for a real workout. We find that if we don't do this, his energy levels just build and build...which can lead to mischief! In addition, we've spent hours and hours in training with him. If you are going to make a dog live in human society, he has to be given the skills to get along.  This means walking nicely on a leash, sitting, staying on command, and just basically having good manners. These niceties will keep him out of trouble with the neighbors, small children, other dogs, and ultimately keep him from winding up on death row in the animal shelter or from getting smashed under the wheels of a car. It is for him, more than for you, that you train him!

 Dogs purportedly  have the intellect of a toddler with the capability of learning several hundred words. It would be unconscionable to raise a young child without training him or giving him the opportunity to communicate with you. The same goes for dogs. They really want to understand you and are very adept at learning words. So far Baron knows sit, stay, wait, treat, eat, food, heel, back, ball, stick, drink, go, break, come, no, leave it, go for walk, go for ride, lay down, off, down, look, fetch, release, poop, pee, Papa, Mama, and Posie Cat, shake, knuckles, we're done, and go to bed.  Most recently I taught him to turn left and right. The way I did this was when we set out for a walk I would walk straight down the driveway without committing (either with my body or verbally) to turn either right or left onto the sidewalk. When we came to the sidewalk I'd say "right" or "left" and then turn in that direction. He soon caught on. At first I wondered if this skill was limited to walking, and if he really understood the meaning of right and left. So we expanded on the concept at the swimming hole. Sometimes when we toss a stick into the water, he'll leap after it, but then lose sight of where it is. When this happens, we yell, "left" or "right" depending upon the location of the stick. When we do this, our Smarty Pants boy-pup invariably swims in the direction that we command and finds his stick! Honestly, he's so smart that sometimes I lie awake wondering what I can teach him next! Algebra?

Bottom line...having a dog is one of the most wonderful things you can do. But I must warn you; as with having children, you must be committed to them for life. If you cannot see yourself exercising your dog daily, providing a safe comfortable environment for them, paying veterinary bills and attending training sessions...don't do it. And for heaven's sake, don't buy a puppy for little Billy for Christmas! How absurd. Is little Billy capable of taking care of a baby? No, you say? Then he's not capable of taking care of a puppy. Period. Just know that that puppy is YOURS, your responsibility and yours to take care of. Little Billy will enjoy playing with him, much as he enjoys playing with his baby sister...but you must not make him ultimately responsible for the welfare of a dog. It's not reasonable or fair to either the child or the pet.

That said; when you're willing to take the plunge; and if you want a big, goofy, loveable family dog, get a Lab. They are angels...angels with an insatiable desire for goodies!
Quicks Draw and Babba Louie...'sallright!'


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