Cold Morning in August


Daily Prompt Isn’t Your Face Red When was the last time you were embarrassed? How do you react to embarrassment? 

This morning I woke up because I was cold. It’s the first week of August. Yikes! But then I remembered the summer of 1971 when I was a counselor at summer camp and, at the same time, I was in love. That summer, one in which I spent most nights sleeping in my sleeping bag, I noticed the season change, too. July was summer. By August, the dew was heavy and fall had extended it’s long fingers into morning.

J was a little younger, 3 years, not much but at 19 and 16 it seems like a huge difference. He was incredibly cute. He was also living in Holland most of the time — divorced parents, summer with dad type thing. His mom was a teacher in International Schools with USIS. He saw me and started following me around, no, not quite like the puppy does, but…

I tried avoiding him. I’d already had a serious broken heart and didn’t want to experience that again. And like I said; he was cute and exotic. Why would he be interested in me? I had no idea that I, too, was cute and exotic…

My defenses finally broke down and we had a great time together. We understood each other in the way and on the level that only starry-eyed adolescents can. Then it was time for him to leave. He left. The following Sunday a friend and I went up to his father’s house to visit and spent the day. At the end, when it was time to really say goodbye, he followed me out to my friend’s car. We sat in the shadows holding hands. He leaned forward, whispered in my ear, “I love you.”

I was too cool to say it back.

It didn’t go away the way my mom predicted it would. “He’ll forget about you. Holland is a long way away and he’s young.” J came back. I was married. J came back. We slept together (I was still married). I told him we needed to make a clean break. He stopped writing me. My marriage broke up (no cause and effect relationship). Years passed (four). I got a job in China. I wrote him to tell him. He didn’t answer. I gave up. I met someone. We fell in love and decided to get married and go to China together. J suddenly appeared almost out of no where. I got married anyway, and J attended the wedding. J went to Africa. We wrote from China to Bangui. Two years later, we ran into each other in San Diego where I had moved (he had no idea of that) and where he had an old school friend. Nothing had changed. We spent the night on a beach (under the friendly shadow of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant <3 ). He left. I was to leave my husband and meet J in China. I decided to stay in the marriage. Contact ended (1987). I found him in 2003. I was happy he’d found all the things he’d been looking for — the worthwhile career he’d wanted serving people, a wife, a family. I contacted him. We spoke on the phone several times.

We met in Atlanta in 2004 (where he lived) at the airport; he happened to be flying in and I was meeting a connecting flight to Munich. It was as if no time had passed. I continued onto Italy, he went home. Years passed, I found him again, I initiated contact.

He sent me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Oh well… Embarrassing.



Polar “Snowflake” O’Bear is growing. She’s eating like the starving little creature she is/has been. Her fur isn’t scruffy and dry any more. It didn’t take long. Five days with good care at our local animal shelter and a few days with me. She’s also beginning to show more of her personality now that she’s not tired, hungry and scared. She’s definitely ready for some formal training, and tomorrow I’m going to try taking her on something like a walk, and hopefully we’ll be alone. As I recall, those first few puppy walks can be pretty strenuous for pup and person and she still has her stitches! The mischievous side of this pup is beginning to emerge. She’s intelligent and will need to be well-stimulated by her life with me. I have a responsibility.

It turns out there is a dog trainer here in the San Luis Valley. I’ve contacted her. Her rates are amazing, but I’d like to see what her classes are like before signing up. I’d like to go with Bear to puppy school because I’d like her to be a well socialized dog. I’d also like to have that time with her away from Dusty and Mindy.

Poor Dusty has never played in his life. He gets nervous when Mindy plays with Bear and wants to protect Mindy from the new-comer. I hope he gets used to it because Mindy clearly enjoys it and it’s good for the puppy.

I wish we had better prompts

Daily Prompt Lucky Star Today is your lucky day. You get three wishes, granted to you by The Daily Post. What are your three wishes and why?

Here’s what I wrote last year. I’ll stick with it.

Otherwise? I’ve been a bad blogger. I went off on another person’s blog at comments yet ANOTHER person had made. I hate it when I do that and I think I’ll take a break for a day or two.

Back from the Vets; a Dog Saga


Polar “Snowflake” O’Bear Puppy came back from the vets this morning. Mindy was delighted to see her, wagged her tail and did her little Mindy dance. Bear was glad to be home, too, and this time not surprised that we came back here. She ran immediately to her pee space and peed and that made me happy.

I continue to be amazed by this dog and grateful that I’ve owned — shared my life with — so many dogs of so many different breeds. Truffle was a lab/springer and her mom was a good friend of mine. I know it sounds a little odd to say a dog was a friend, but Shadow, black lab, broke loose from her tether every morning and came to my house to get me. She sat on the sidewalk and barked one “Woof!” Never two. I almost always came out with a leash and took her on a walk, sometimes an adventure into the canyon near our house, sometimes just a walk around the block. Then I took her home. A neighbor kid, when I told him about Shadow and that Truffle was her baby, said, “The One Bark Family.” Truffle also only barked one “Woof.” Then Molly O’Wolf, the Malamute/Aussie. Then there was Paddy – a poodle/springer mix (could’ve been Truffle’s brother, I don’t know) whom I fostered and found a home for. There was Kelly, the purebred Golden Retriever — affectionate, responsive and trainable to a fault, rescued from a family who thought she was “too much to deal with.” Then there was Maggie a Girl of the Streets, a stray — husky/golden retriever mix (wonderful dog) who chose to move in with me. There was Aschi (found a home for him) and Zorkie (Absaroka because she was a black dog and so Crow) and Xiao (a little corgi mix). I babysat a friend’s dog for a year, a yellow lab mixed with akita, Cody the first who was (dumb) golden and German shepherd died of multiple rattlesnake bites. He was attracted to the sound of snakes an went into a nest and came out with 18 bites. There was a beautiful German shepherd who tried to adopt me, but it was impossible because he was a male and I, by then, had Lupo, a male German shepherd/husky/golden retriever mix. There was the beginning of the Siberian husky influx with Ariel Punky, husky/wolf mix, a chow/golden puppy named Mila, Persephone the Pitbull, then Lily and Jasmine, Cheyenne (all huskies), Dusty (godnose — lab dobie dane?), Daisy (lab), Cody (Siberian husky) and Reina, a special needs Aussie. Then (meaning now) Mindy (an Aussie) and Polar Bear.

From all those dogs — many of whom I went to training with and a four of whom were professionally trained in a residential program — I’ve learned how much a dog’s breeding affects their behavior. No Siberian will NOT run. They all must run and hunt. Labs WILL retrieve and eat everything. Aussies may or may not want to herd, but they will be smart, playful and loving. Pitbulls are naturally affectionate and loyal, but can ‘turn’ under the wrong circumstances; it’s best for them to be an only dog belonging to a loving person who can work with them as puppies. A mixed breed dog will have traits of his parents (I am sure Dusty is part Doberman because of his protective nature, appearance and the sound of his bark) but they are somewhat more of a blank slate when it comes to nature vs. nurture. The shelter from which I adopted Dusty said he was untrainable, but they were completely wrong. Mila, my chow mix puppy, was sweet and loving and passionate and optimistic; Ariel, the husky/wolf hybrid tried to kill her twice, but Mila just continued in her warm and positive way — I found her a new home.

Polar O’Bear is the most interesting puppy of them all. The way she pays attention to her world is very impressive to me. When I brought her home from the vet, she began to lick her stitches. I moved her face away from them and said “No.” She tried again. Again, “No.” I went back to the vet to get an E-Collar for her. When I got back, Bear had found one of my shoes (“I’ll shoe you!”) I gently took it from her, put it away and walked into the kitchen. She followed. I told her to sit and gave her a cookie. She has also not messed with her stitches again. She watched me mow the lawn then checked with Dusty and Mindy as if to find out if this was a normal occurrence or something she should pay attention to. I guess they told her not to worry, that I did that from time to time. She went to sleep with Dusty on the floor instead of what she was doing, lying on the grass watching me.

I found this great description of the breed. Another I found last night sounded as if it were describing me, not a dog.

“Pyrenees needs to have free roam. They are not a breed that you can chain outside or lock up constantly. A large, fenced yard is a necessity for them and preferably a country setting with multiple acres for them to wander. They will not go out the backyard and run around but would rather have half the day to walk around slowly and see what has changed.” (I love that)

“They must also be allowed “alone” time more so than other breeds. They need to have a place to retreat to if they are feeling overwhelmed, they want nap, or just need to get away. If they are not allowed this “alone” time they may become aggressive with those who are interfering in their space.”

Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha Oh My, You’re Joking, Right?

South Fork, 9:2014, rainy day, early fall

Lamont and Dude wrote this last year and they already thought it was stupid beyond belief the first time. We were all living in a cabin in South Fork Colorado waiting for our house deal to be done, so, you know, this prompt came around some 9 months ago?

Well, at least what they wrote was amusing. Here it is from their post entitled, “Enervating Prompt from Hell.”

– Lots of ways to approach this one, dude.
– Like, what?
– How I’ve misused the word “love” for example when I really meant “Do me NOW.”
– You can’t write that here.
– C’mon. I took out the F word for those with squeamish sensibilities.
– Stop laughing.
– Seriously. I use a lot of words wrong and I misspell them, too, and having learned that spelling conventions change, I’ve been in hot dispute with some spellings of words.
– Yeah, but Lamont is this a prompt you really want to write?
– No. But I’m still grateful because I SHOULD do my laundry today and a compelling prompt would keep me here writing. I’m liverated from that, irregardless.
– There’s no such word, Lamont!
– I know! Isn’t this FUN?

Night One with a Great Pyrenees

IMG_2265 (1)

When the crate training was clearly a fail, I wondered, “How am I going to be sure the puppy is OK through the night? That she doesn’t get into things she shouldn’t and possibly hurt herself?” I honestly don’t worry much about cleaning up after dogs. I have a carpet cleaner and 30 years of experience with at least 20 dogs.

I took her to my room and tied her to the end of my bed so she’d have only a short distance in a safe place to get into trouble and I went to bed.

She wasn’t happy. When she stopped whining I looked at her and saw she didn’t know where I was. I thought, “Most of my friends sleep with their dogs. A lot of the websites that talk about the Great Pyrenees say that’s just the way it is with this breed. OK.” I untied her and lifted her into my bed. She was happy to know where I was, but still didn’t settle down. “All the websites say these dogs are nocturnal. If that’s really absolutely true, that might not work,” I thought. I looked at her. She was vigilant; sitting up and staring out the window at the moon.

Then I understood. She needed out. I leashed her and Mindy and I took her out to pee. She peed immediately and then I thought, “What if she just wants to be like Dusty and Mindy? She loves them already. Maybe she just wants to be like the other dogs who’ve successfully made lives for themselves in my life.”

I left her in the living room with Mindy and went to bed. I got up at 3 to take her out. Mindy was happy to help and came along. When we came back, I went back to bed. Bear went to sleep beside Mindy. This morning, they were all waiting. No trouble. Nothing chewed. No accidents. Just three happy dogs who seemed to have been together forever.

In nature, the Great Pyrenees is confident, gentle (especially with children), and affectionate. While territorial and protective of its flock or family when necessary, its general demeanor is of composure and patience and loyalty. It is a strong willed, independent and reserved breed. It is also attentive, quite fearless and loyal to its duties.

I’ve never had a young pup who behaved like that through the night. I thought back to my first puppy — Truffle. I didn’t have any dog experience at that point, and I didn’t know much. I put the puppy outside and closed the door. She cried all night. After a couple of nights, she stopped crying. I began to view dogs differently, especially after going through obedience classes with Truffle. My perceptions continued to evolve once Truffle and I began hiking and she was less and less my “dog” and more my hiking pal. One thing is certain; I began to see that I could work WITH my dogs’ natures. I didn’t have to impose my will on them. I simply had to behave with certainty myself. It no longer seemed like a human “training” a dog, but a human communicating with a dog to build a workable, complementary partnership. It’s not a partnership of equals but only because dogs don’t want that.

Anyway, this little being has bonded to me and the other members of her pack and this morning it’s pretty clear to me that she wants to get it right. It seems all she’ll need is love, care and the knowledge that she’s safe and at home. Her natural intelligence and breeding will do a lot of my work for me.

Day One with a Great Pyrenees

Dusty and Polar

If you have a Great Pyrenees or have ever had one please tell me everything you know. I have never even met a dog like this one. In some ways she reminds me of my Aussie/Malamute the puppy school drop-out, Molly, who got so bored with puppy obedience training that she went to sleep in class. Like Molly, Polar seems to want to serve me of her own free will rather than being an “underling” in the sense of being dominated by me. I’ve had a couple of other dogs like that, but this dog is really different. I’m sure in puppy school Polar O’Bear (She’s an O) would go to sleep, too. After one full day with this dog I would say:

1) She does not believe she needs a leash in order to walk with me. She believes that BECAUSE she WANTS to walk with me the string is silly. She does as she’s told/asked, but mostly because Dusty and Mindy get very happy at the word “Walk” and will practice with her. I will continue to leash train her, but never have I had a dog who just WATCHED me and FOLLOWED me AT HEEL.

2) She has her own mind. She is a little scared in a new place, she wants to stay, she wants to please me, but she has a mentality of her own. We had a little struggle over the crate (I’ve crate trained several dogs and never had any problem inducing them to at least stick their head in to eat their dinner the first day). After that, I realized the best strategy for me was to treat her like I would a cat and wait until she came looking for me, momentarily, at least, abandoning her and the whole project. It was effective. I have put the crate away and am contemplating not using it with her. Why?

3) I also realized she may not need to be crate trained. Thinking of her very strongly pronounced Pyrenees mentality, I realized she could feel the crate would hamper her ability to do what she’s bred for — take care of me, my house and my other dogs. I felt like she was telling me, “No! I have a job to do. Have I given you any indication today that I WON’T pee when you want me to? Walk where you want me to? Sit when you tell me? This really hurts my feelings and I feel insulted by it.” I found it interesting because at the shelter she went right into her kennel. Here she would have no part of it; perhaps because it reminded her of the shelter. I’ve adopted other shelter dogs and they were happy to have a crate. It made them feel safe and gave them their own domain. This morning when I went to get her she was EXTREMELY happy I was back and that might be part of it.

3) She lets me do everything to her. I have cleaned both her ears, wiped her eyes cleaned, brushed her seriously to remove the little mats and she is completely happy with all that somewhat intrusive contact. She did not like the collar or the harness but quickly learned there’s no choice and has accepted them both, even letting me take the harness off and put it on again.

At the end of day one, I think I’m in for an experience. But again, please, I would really like to hear anything anyone can tell me about how best to train this breed so she will be happy forever with me.

She has given me the incentive I needed to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to talk about a knee replacement.

Heaven, Hell, Faith, History


Daily Prompt ______ is the new ______ Click over to your favorite blog, and pick out the 4th and 14th words (that aren’t “the” or “an”). Drop them into this phrase: “_____ is the new _____.” There’s your post title. Now write!

“Security is the new establish” (Blognovic) — yeah, that works (huh?)! But…doing a nounification on the verb “establish?” “Security is the new establishment” is somewhat better and fits (more or less) what I want to write about this morning — my next novel and my philosophical/spiritual problems with approaching my characters, people who emigrated from Switzerland for their SECURITY and to ESTABLISH themselves safely where they could practice their religion unmolested.

I woke up this morning with anxiety for the first time since I moved into my house… It could be that my Samter’s Triad had blocked my breathing passages or I could be scared about adopting a giant dog…

But it gave me time to think about the book that’s kind of hanging around in my future. It’s going to be about immigrants to American in the 18th century, Anabaptist, Mennonite, immigrants.

I got a couple of books from Masthof Press, a small press in Pennsylvania that publishes books related to Pennsylvania Dutch culture. Most people are interested in this subject because of their interest in their family’s genealogy. Me too, in a sense, but not who my forbears were. I’m interested in their beliefs. The Brothers Path was difficult to research because I could not sympathize easily with most of the characters and I despised their world. Those are difficult things to get around. One huge problem for anyone writing historical fiction is finding the imaginative energy to abandon oneself, ones biases, ones beliefs long enough to get into the protagonists’ world. I don’t think people writing fantasy or science fiction have to accomplish that to the same degree. They can create a dystopia or a utopia; it just has to logically follow from the world we know, one of infinite futures that branch off from the present.

The most difficult thing for me to get is the question of salvation. You see, I don’t believe in it. The idea seems completely crazy to me. I can understand intellectually THAT it matters to many people today and even MORE in past centuries. I can understand that it is the ONE important question for many people, “How can I know I will not go to Hell?”

Thinking about this, I realized that is all I’ve written about, a question I don’t understand and yet one that has motivated all kinds of horror for centuries. It hit me that perhaps that’s a wish fulfilling prophecy kind of thing; the fear of hell has impelled people to create hells on earth. The paradox is that the people in my book will be trying to move as far away from that as they can — but motivated by the same question, “How can I know I will not go to hell?”

The different religions inspired by the different sects of Anabaptism evolved to be, for the most part, pacifists. They include the Quakers, the Amish and the Mennonites. Other more mainstream religions have roots in Anabaptism (Baptists, in particular) without having followed two main principles — the refusal to take oaths and the refusal to take up arms against an enemy. I got a book that contains letters and sermons by Menno Simons, the “founder” of the Mennonites. I had some real hopes for what I might find in his words, but so far, I’m disappointed.

It’s the same cant I’ve heard since childhood. Us vs. Them.  I’d rather read St. Augustine.

Just Another Time Capsule, Innit?


NASA is building a new Voyager spacecraft that will carry the best of modern human culture. What belongs onboard?

Ah, WordPress Daily Prompt, this is a new level of lame. Last year, last fall, a time capsule was found in Boston.  It had been laid by Paul Revere and one of the Adams Family. I was SO excited to find out what was in it. I mean I live on not completely another planet, but I do live in the future and we say, now, “The past is another planet” so would not the future ALSO be another planet? What was in it? MONEY. Did Revere and the Adams Family think we’d need a loan? Were they showing us what their currency looks like? (Boring) there was a silver platter made by Paul Revere — very cool — but with a rather lame and pretentious engraving on it. There were newspaper clippings.

This said more to me about how they imagined US (still using money, self-absorbed and literate) than it told me about them.

Our own Voyager with its “Golden Record” is interesting to ponder from an anthropological perspective. More than anything it reflects not the values of our world but the values of the people who put it together.  Carl Sagan, said of Voyager and the record, “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this ‘bottle’ into the cosmic ‘ocean’ says something very hopeful about life on this planet.” Voyager (Vyger as I like to call it, live long and prosper) will arrive at its destination in roughly 40,000 years. Here you can experience the record. 

Personally, I love the rather romantic idea of this “letter in a bottle” and Carl Sagan and others involved worked hard to make it representative of our world AT THAT MOMENT but that was the 70s and I KNOW we don’t live there any more, even though we’re staying alive. ;-) And, naturally, it reflects mostly what they regard as important. Sweet as it is, it’s also, in my mind, hubristic and obtuse. Vyger will, itself, give the Extraterrestrials a lot of information about us, universal (ha ha) information — we are living beings, we a curious, we have a certain level of technological advancement, we have these materials on our planet. That’s a lot.

It’s impossible to make general statements about human culture. It’s varied and in flux. Well, maybe we can make THAT general statement.

Polar Bear T. Puppy

IMG_2265 (1)

The puppy is here visiting for the day! I have a lot of stuff lined up tomorrow and am not prepared to keep her yet, so I’ll be taking her back to the shelter in a little while. By tomorrow afternoon I’ll be set up for her. I had a very busy weekend and some ambivalence about the puppy, anyway, so I didn’t do things I would otherwise have done. I believe in crate training puppies, so I will be getting her a crate, safe puppy toys and a dish.

She’s a very LARGE puppy, very hairy, very soft and very smart. She does not bark. She vocalizes (so far) like a husky which is seldom and in something sort of like “words.” She’s affectionate, eager to do what Dusty and Mindy do, playful with Mindy and, today for the first time since Lily died, Dusty howled on his own when an ambulance went by. I think that’s the influence of Polar Bear T. Puppy. So far she’s learned to find her toy, to go in the back gate and up the ramp to the back door, to pee outside, to ride calmly in the back of the car and to walk on my left side. I think that’s pretty good for only a few hours away from the shelter.

She’s napping with Dusty and Mindy at the moment.


She’s Great Pyrenees mixed with husky and I’d say the husky is pretty far back in the woodpile (maybe not). But both breeds a notoriously affectionate and not loyal; they’re both working breeds but with very different jobs to do. The farm I visited yesterday used three Great Pyrenees to guard their stock. That had something to do with my deciding today to give the pup a try. The farm had two females and a male; the male was in no way a pet — no one ever touched him — but he stayed with his goats and took care of his people. The females were outgoing and friendly and calm.

Neither huskies nor Great Pyrenees are easily trained. I don’t really have a problem with that. I’ve had seven huskies and snow-dog mixes and I appreciate their independence and intelligence. They learned what they needed to know very quickly, sit, stay, down, wait, up (into the car) and no. Living with dogs like that, I just had to accept that no matter what I did, there was a chance they’d run away. I hated it when they did, but it was part of who huskies are. One of them climbed a fence that was supposedly unclimbable; the other dug under a fence that had be fixed to the ground and was supposedly un-diggable. Fortunately, only two of my huskies had the tendency to do that, and both of them decided one day that they didn’t want to run away any more and nothing would induce them to leave the yard without me.

I’ve enjoyed the way this dog has just observed how things go on here and has fallen in line because she wants to. To me, really smart dogs do that, not “shake” “rollover” “play dead.”

In learning about Great Pyrenees, I discovered that one characteristic breed trait is the double dew-claw on the hind feet. Here is the left rear foot of Polar Bear T. Puppy so you can see it. That means they actually have an extra toe.


I plan to build a better fence in front for her (and to give the neighborhood a break from Dusty’s bonzai barking). I think she’s going to be fun to work with and a wonderful little (large) being to live with. She’s nearly as large as Dusty right now, but half his weight. Great Pyrenees are “giant” dogs. So, not the practical small elderly dog I thought I’d adopt, but I think she’s the right dog for Dusty, Mindy and me.