Poem for Grief, On the Death of the Beloved

It’s been two weeks since Lucy died and it feels like I’m walking through sludge. One of my daughters said we have no ways to mark the death of our sweet, four-legged guardian angels and she’s right. There’s no funeral, shiva, or memorial service. Maybe that’s too much to ask since we enfold our furry companions into our families knowing we will outlive them, but still…

Lucy was also beloved by friends, neighbors and community, and the outpouring of sympathy is a tribute to her big, brown, expressive, soulful eyes and loving spirit. Those eyes. They talked to you. We went on so many adventures together. She brought us closer.

We miss her terribly.

On the Death of the Beloved

by John O’Donohue

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again. 

Dogs Bugging Out

Lucy wonders what I'm holding.
Lucy thinks, what is Mommy holding?

Lucy says, "How does it smell?"
Lucy thinks, how does it smell?

“When are the cicadas coming out?” I wondered.

“I can’t wait to see them,” replied a daughter. “There’s been so much hype.”

She doesn’t remember when they emerged in 2013, but will our dog Lucy? Her eyes–ummm–bugged out when she sniffed and inspected Little Miss Cicada (the one I bonded with–lol). Hubby mentioned (at dinner!) that a friend in VA shared what happened when her dog ingested a bunch of the bugs. Let’s say the digestion process did not go smoothly! Yuck! Today, I’m re-posting “Cicada City Part II,” my impressions–or should I say Lucy’s impressions?– when the cicadas were everywhere.

2013 might be the Chinese Year of the Snake, but at Bmore Energy it’s the Week of the Puppy.

Lucy “guest blogged” “Fluffy Father’s Day” and, in honor of her turning two, I’m featuring my furry sweetheart again.

In my recent post, Cicada City Part I, you met Little Miss Cicada.  What I didn’t say was how Lucy reacted to her first encounter with the large buzzing bug.  Before Lucy met Little Miss Cicada, several dog owners told me that their dogs were feasting on the cicadas. One told me she didn’t even need to give her dog kibble because he was eating so much.

Teenage Daughter #2 babysat for a family who warned her to keep their dog, Molly, inside because Molly was eating the cicadas then throwing them up.  But when Teenage Daughter #2 opened the door to let the kids in, Molly ran out and, you guessed it, ate a cicada.  Teenage Daughter #2 reported, “Molly started acting really weird.  She was twitching and gagging.  I think the cicada was still alive in her stomach!  I was just praying she wasn’t going to throw up!”

Teenage Daughter #1, who babysat for the same family, replied, “I’m afraid of throw up!  Literally, afraid.  And I couldn’t even walk on their grass because of the cicadas.  It was like step, cicada, step, cicada!  They’re disgusting!”

Cicada shells clustered in the grass.
Cicada shells clustered in the grass.

Back to Lucy.  Hon, the photos and 45 second video say it all!

Lucy's not sure she likes this big bug!
Lucy’s not sure she likes this big bug!

Lucy, the Snow “Bunny,” a Joyful Video

Lucy looking for her ball in the snow.
Lucy looking for her ball in the snow.

Some”bunny” loves the snow!

Whenever it snows, I tell Lucy, “You should live in Alaska!” Though ice crystals form on the tips of her fur, she self-insulates. Her puffed up fur keeps her body warm and making her paws look three times their normal size. She hops in the snow, herds anyone who sleds, and “helps” us shovel.

Want to see pure joy? Click “Snow Puppy” or hit the play button below.

Thanks for watching, hon!

 

Top Ten Unexpected Positives in 2020

Happy New Year Hon!

Thinking about the holiday events we’d be attending and hosting if we weren’t in the midst of a global pandemic, my mind turned to silver linings. In 2020, believe it or not, there was actually amazing news (Polio has been eradicated in Africa) as well as mundane news (Flour was in high demand.). Focusing on how the pandemic effected everyday life and in no particular order, here are the…

Top Ten Unexpected Positives of 2020

  1. Dogs were happy. Very happy. “Shelters, rescues and breeders report increased demand as Americans try to fill voids with canine companion” (Washington Post)
  2. Kids rode bikes to socialize. “How the pandemic has inspired some teens to get off their laptops and go outside” (Washington Post)
  3. Walking was a pastime. “Why Walking is the Ideal Pandemic Activity” (National Geographic)
  4. People stayed outside, even in the cold and rain. “Why You Should Brave the ‘Bad’ Weather” (The New York Times)
  5. Books sales increased. “A Surprisingly Strong Year of Book Sales Continues” (Publisher’s Weekly)
  6. Comfy clothes took over closets. “Dressing for success these days means ‘Athleisure'” (CBS News)
  7. Home cooked meals promoted healthier eating. “Home cooking is the new normal.” (Smart Brief)
  8. Families sat down to dinner together. “The return of family dinner” The Boston Globe
  9. Exercise classes were more accessible than ever. “Virtual workouts have exploded in popularity—and they’re here to stay.” (MindBody Business) And…
  10. Grandparents learned how to FaceTime! “Grandparents, thank you for FaceTiming and learning how to use Zoom during this quarantine” (Motherly)

Alpha Dog!

Lucy was almost attacked by another a dog! 

Last weekend, I was walking Lucy when we passed a house on a hill with a large, tan, mixed-breed dog in the front yard. The dog did what most dogs do when people pass by–she ran back-and-forth and barked. You can bet Lucy lets her presence be known when people pass by our house. I always tell her, “No one likes a barking-maniac-doggie.” I called, “Hello, sweetheart” because the tan dog looked like a nice family dog. One minute she was pacing on top of the hill; the next she was bolting straight for Lucy, snarling and lunging!

Lucy was chased into the middle of the street and, since I was holding her leash, that’s where I ended up, too. Thank goodness, there were no cars in the road. I tried shoving the dog away with my foot, but that didn’t work. I turned toward the dog and yelled, “STOP THAT!” She hadn’t actually bitten Lucy…yet, but she was still growling and lunging. I grabbed Lucy’s leash, hauled her to the other side of the road, and tied her to a tree. “Stay!” Then I rounded on the attacking dog.

“GET BACK! STAY AWAY FROM HER!” The dog paused.

In the meantime, a runner approached and a couple of cars slowed down. Imagine them coming across a shouting, gesticulating, crazed person in the middle of the street! And I mean me! It was obvious, though, what was going on. Lucy cowered on one side of the street, while the other dog was backing away.

The runner and people in the cars asked if me and my dog were okay. “It’s a good thing I’m an alpha dog!” I answered.

“ACROSS THE STREET!” I hollered.

The dog skulked.

“GO HOME!” I yelled.

The dog slinked.

” ALL THE WAY BACK UP THE HILL!”

The dog ran back to it’s home.

Whew!

In my panic, I hadn’t actually secured Lucy to the tree, but she had stayed. Good girl! Good girl! We continued home. Wow! I really was an alpha dog! Who knew?

Follow-Up: I stopped by the house on the hill. I wanted the family to know that a) their dog had tried to attack mine, b) she had run into the middle of the street, and c) her invisible fence collar might need a new battery. (She either didn’t feel the invisible fence collar warning or didn’t care.)

The dog’s owner was apologetic, relieved Lucy was fine, and glad I’d stopped by. I told her my own nice family dog’s scary “psycho-doggie-eyes” pin workers to their driver’s seats, and how her insane barking causes delivery people to chuck packages across the driveway. I don’t blame them!

It turns out that the tan dog really was a nice family dog and her name is Stanton. Standing at her front door–sans Lucy–Stanton wagged her tail and was as pleasant as can be. I told the owner how surprised I was that the whole neighborhood hadn’t come outside to find out who was causing such a racket. I told her how I’d gotten Stanton to head across the street and back up the hill. “Wow!” she said, “You are a dog whisperer!”

I’m a dog whisperer AND an alpha dog! Who knew?

Jekyll and Hyde Doggie

Lucy hypnotizes us with her “people eyes.”

Don’y let Lucy’s cutie cuteness fool you.

I am an accessory to aggravated assault and I blame Lucy!

My former sweet, little angel has never shown an interest in birds. Chipmunks? Yes. Squirrels? Definitely. Groundhogs? Think fatality. In the animal kingdom-also-known-as-my-backyard, she saves growling and running around the yard 30 mph for small, skittish mammals. Birds are barely worth a low huff, wet nose, or tail twitch.

Our vet thinks Lucy is a part Border Collie, part Black-Lab (aka. Labracollie), which explains why she loves to retrieve tennis balls and herd young children. When Lucy herds, she uses a “soft mouth” and wet nose, bonking and nipping as if to say, “Hey, you sheep, you cows, cluster!”

When Lucy’s outside, she surveys the meadow (umm, yard) from the porch, alerting us to cars and passersby. I’ve read that Border Collies hypnotize herds with their intense, brown eyes, and I believe it. Lucy stares at us intensely with her “people eyes,” hypnotizing us with her inner thoughts. (“Give me meat.” or “Play ball with me.”)

A few days ago, we spotted a Blue Jay fledgling on our driveway. It was all fuzzy down and short feathers. I was fascinated. (Hon, do you know me at all?) I squatted down. It stared at me. I inched closer. It squeaked. I came a little closer. It hop hop hopped down the driveway. Adorable! Lucy was indifferent. Since birds were never a cause for maniacal barking or hypnotism, how was I to know she was secretly Jekyll and Hyde?

The next day, Lucy and I spotted the fledgling on the sidewalk. “There you are,” I said. “Aren’t you cute?” I said. “We won’t hurt you,” I said. Lucy lowered her head as if to sniff the bird, so I let her get a bit closer. All of a sudden, she lunged and grabbed the bird!

After yanking Lucy’s collar while screaming, “Bad dog!”, I picked up the baby bird* who wasn’t bitten or bleeding but limp-ish. Oh no! Did Lucy break its neck or pick it up with a “soft mouth?” Was the bird was just shaken up, stunned and going to come-to later? I searched the internet to find out if birds play dead, and found that some people witnessed this phenomenon, but without confirmation by an expert, it seemed like a wish.

When I returned to the scene of the crime later that day, the baby bird was gone. Did a cat find it? Or a fox? Or–maybe, just maybe–as soon as we left, it perked its little head up and hopped away?

One can only hope.

Adorable Baby Jay.

* It’s a myth that if you touch a baby bird, the mommy won’t take care of it anymore. Click here to read more.

Source: Live Science

I’d love to hear if your “sweet little angels” are harboring killer instincts.

Mousse Mouse

IMG_9535
This was one of my kids’ favorite books.

Lucy's toy bucket.
Lucy’s toy bucket.

There is a mouse in my house!

Even if I weren’t living in a historic Victorian built in 1882, I might have a mouse in my house. But an old house has lots of great places for a mouse to come and go at will: fissures in the foundation, chinks in the brick, fireplaces, wood beams and an attic. Cute little field mice have made their presence known for years, mostly in the winter. When Polar Vortexes plus long winters equals long-term stays, I set friendly traps baited with typical mouse fare. Say cheese. Our visitors usually high-tail it outside in warmer months.

One year, my cat cornered a cute, little field mouse in the bathroom. Kimba announced her prize and the mouse sat in stunned silence. It was squeak-less.

Another year, my cat discovered a tail trailing back and forth under a kitchen cabinet toe-kick. Note to mouse: pull in your tail!

Hon, if you think my ambivalence towards cute, little field mice is due to my love of children’s literature, you would be mistaken. I’ve always loved animals, even–gasp–rodents. Just ask Hubby or my kids. They think I’m crazy when I say I bond with wild animals, but I actually do! We make eye contact. We “speak.” Either I’m Dr. Dolittle or I was a Cute Little Animal in a past life!

Do you think I should add “Bonds with Animals” to my cover letter bios? Maybe if I do, agents and editors will know that when I write from an animal’s perspective,  I am being authentic. But, I digress!

This year, our cute, little visitor seems to have moved in permanently. I heard ch, ch, ch, ch under the fridge and shone a flashlight so I could see him. I placed the open end of a friendly trap adjacent to the fridge with a bit of bait. No luck.

The next night, he moved to the linen closet.

I repeated my flashlight shining and friendly trap setting routine, switching out cheese for peanut butter. No luck.

When he moved to the laundry room, I tried to entice him with dog food. Still no luck!

Not only was this mouse disinterested in ordinary mouse fare, he was brave. My daughter ascended our creaky stairs to find the cute, little field mouse sitting in the hallway, perky as a bunny at dusk.

About a week later, Hubby was hanging out in the kitchen when you-know-who scurried out from underneath the fridge. The mouse looked at Hubby with his small, dark eyes and twitched his nose and whiskers. Hubby asked, “Who invited YOU into my kitchen?”

If creaky stairs and encounters with people couldn’t scare him away, could our dog Lucy?

When we’re in the yard and Lucy sees chipmunks, squirrels, and groundhogs (see Lucy versus Groundhogs), she either wants to make friends with them or eat them. There was evidence that the mouse had played in Lucy’s toy bucket, which sits right next to the dog bed. Lucy is also known as The-Dog-With-Bionic-Hearing-If-Deli-Meat-Is-Being-Unwrapped. Since the mouse had evidently roamed freely unscathed, I can only assume this rodent is not only a gourmand, but a hypnotist as well!

We finally called in the big guns (a pest control person) who put out more friendly traps. Still, I heard ch, ch, ch, ch under the fridge.

Since the cute, little field mouse hasn’t been interested in cheese, peanut butter or dog food, I wonder if he might like mousse. Chocolate mousse. I like chocolate mousse. I bet we would bond!

 

Motto Mom In the Moment! (Snow Day Shenanigans–a Short Video)

Liquid Copper, Curly Girl and Me.
Liquid Copper, Curly Girl and Me.

“I have this theory that people make an implicit decision as to whether they’re going to stay young and curious and interesting and interested, or whether they’re just going to let themselves age.”*

Call me “Motto Mom.”  Maybe mottos would roll off my tongue even if I didn’t have triplets, but mottos have allowed me to live in the moment.  One of them is, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” If it’s a snow day, and there is NO WAY I’m going to get any work done, I allow myself to enjoy the found time.  Guess where you’ll find my kids, their friends and me?  Outside playing because 1) living on a hill makes us the “Sledding House,” 2) you’re never to old to play, and 3) there’s always hot chocolate and marshmallows afterward!

You know what else I’m good for, besides serving snacks and hot drinks?  Videoing the shenanigans.  Except when I decide to video the “sled train” head on!  Ahhh!

Enjoy the 1 minute video of being in the moment!

Click link to watch video:  Snow Day/Blizzard 2015 

 Related Videos:  

December Defined 

Snow Puppy

* Quote by Mitch Rothschild, Chief Executive of Vitals, a website that connects patients and doctors, from a 1/25/15 article in The New York Times.

**music on video, Paul Hardcastle-The Jazzmasters “See You in July”

Top Ten Reasons Why Lucy Is My Inspiration Puppy

Inspiration Puppy
Inspiration Puppy.

Lucy is my Inspiration Puppy.

Lucy is my chapter book’s muse. She and my main character both have silky fur, flappy ears, round, brown eyes and a fluffy tail. My muse shows me how a dog behaves, and my uncanny ability to translate WOOF adds to my main character’s authenticity. Writers are advised to “write what you know,” and I know Lucy. You know?

Top Ten Reasons Why Lucy Is My Inspiration Puppy

(with commentary from Lucy)

Lucy is not just a dog, she’s also a:

1. LEG BONKER. Lucy gets attention is by bonking her wet, black nose into legs. Again and again. “What do you want, Lucy?”

Lucy asks, “Do I have your attention now?”

2. VACUUM CLEANER.  Lucy finds the messiest eater and places herself under his/her chair.  If it falls on the floor, it’s hers.

Lucy says, “I’ll eat whatever YOU are eating!”

Hiking Bear Mountain with a stand-in for a mountain goat.
Hiking Bear Mountain.

3.  FOOT WARMER.  This canine is hot, and I don’t mean that in an inappropriate way. Got cold toes? Get a dog!

Lucy says, “Feet schmeet. It’s still petting.”

Pooch Pillow.
Pooch Pillow.

4.  POOCH PILLOW. Need a cuddle or a cry? Tired? Bury your head in a Pooch Pillow and you’ll feel better immediately.

Lucy says, “I’m an affectionate girl.”

Intelligent eyes.
Intelligent eyes.

5.  SMARTYPANTS. Maybe its the Border Collie in her or maybe I’m just bragging, but that dog knows a lot of words.

Lucy says, “First of all, I don’t wear pants and, second of all, of course I’m smart.  I watch your every move.”

Guarding from the front porch.
Front porch perch. 

6.  SECURITY GUARD. Lucy announces strange cars parked in front of our house (or anywhere up and down the street), men walking up the driveway, and delivery trucks–especially the mail truck–by barking her head off, ripping up up her doggie bed, jumping on the front door, growling like a psycho doggie and bolting down the yard at 30 mph.

Lucy says, “Don’t complain. I’m just doing my job!”

7.  TENNIS BALL CATCHER. Lucy LOVES tennis balls so much, she could play ball all day. I throw it and she catches it mid-air.  When I toss the ball up a hill and say, “Roll it,” Lucy nudges it with her nose so it rolls back down to me. See? Smartypants!

Lucy says, “Tennis balls are chewy, bouncy and roll-y. And you’re playing with me. What’s not to love?”

Teen daughter pets Lucy. Lucy reaches out and touches back.
Pet Lucy, and she reaches out and touches back.

"Who wants to scratch my belly?"
“Who wants to scratch my belly?”

8.  LOVER GIRL.  Pet Lucy and she reaches out to touch you back. Want to be greeted in the morning? Get ready for lots of licks. Trying to leave the house? Have work to do?  Too bad.  Lucy the Lover Girl will flop on her back and beg for a belly scratch. She’s very distracting!

Lucy says, “I give what I get.”

Those eyes!
Those eyes!

9.  HYPNOTIST.  Seriously! She hypnotizes us with her eyes. She stares into our souls. I read that Border Collies hypnotize their flocks of sheep or cows with their eyes, and we think Lucy’s part Border Collie. I dare you to look away when she stares at you.

Lucy says, “What’s a soul?”

Such a silly girl!
Such a silly girl!

10.  COMEDIAN.  True, I DON’T laugh when Lucy rolls in…shall I…say disgusting things? But, most of the time she’s a comedian.  Like when we put her outside to get some “fresh air” (see #6) and she stares at us through glass doors. Or when she rests her head our laps during dinner. Reaching for a napkin, instead you find a Lucy’s head on your lap and  she’s begging for people food with her hypnotizing eyes.

Lucy says, “Glad you find my begging amusing.”

Sweet Angel!
Sweet Angel!

 Hon, do you have a pet? How does he or she inspire you?

 

Rosie the Riveter (a Lost Dog)

Rosie, a Boston Terrier and lost dog.
Rosie the Lost Dog.

Rosie the Riveter.
Rosie the Riveter.

"Running around the neighborhood makes you hungry!"
“Running around the neighborhood makes you hungry!”

"Don't you want to hear my side of the story?"
“Don’t you want to hear my side of the story?”

My doorbell rang at 9 am on a Thursday morning.  There stood my neighbor with a lost dog, a Boston Terrier.  She’d put her big dog’s leash on the small dog, giving it an “on-the-lam” appearance.  It was yappy.  It had attitude.  It barged right in.

Lucy, my sweet dog, isn’t so sweet when delivery trucks pass the house, mailmen deliver the mail, workers come to the door, or when small dogs with large attitudes try to assert themselves.  Lucy barks, jumps, and runs around like a nut, saying, “I’m the alpha dog!”  She did all three while I chased her around with a leash, clipped it on her collar, and tried to restrain her from pouncing on the small pooch.  Morning mayhem!

The Boston Terrier had run up my neighbor’s driveway, and my neighbor figured a fellow dog-lover-like-her might know who it belonged to.  I had a hunch.  She started making calls, taking photos of the dog and sending them to its Likely Family.

My neighbor and I both had to be somewhere in 10 minutes.  What should we do?   I ran both crazed canines upstairs to my college daughter’s room to wake her up.

Lucy was riveted by Rosie (we found out her name when we called the Likely Family), but not in a good way.  While making calls, taking photos and sending them, Rosie had eaten Lucy’s entire bowl of kibble, drank from her water bowl, and snuffed and huffed at Lucy.  Lucy was having none of it!

Teen Daughter graciously got out of bed and gave up going to yoga. Instructions?  Separate the dogs and watch Rosie (she might need to relieve herself after eating more than her body weight in kibble) until her Mom, a teacher, arrived.

My neighbor left, apologizing for leaving us with a lost dog.  I left to go to work, apologizing to Teen Daughter that she’d miss yoga.

Later, I got the full report.  Teen Daughter kept the dogs on two sides of a glass door.  Lucy was riveted by Rosie.  Then Rosie barked and Lucy barked back.  A lot!

Rosie’s mom arrived around 10 am and Rosie was on her way home (where she was going to get a replacement battery for her electric fence collar).  The morning excitement was over.

Naptime!

Hon, do you have a lost dog story to share?

"All this excitement has worn me out!"
“All the excitement wore me out!”

Teen Daughter who was on "Doggie Duty."  Thanks, sweetheart!
Teen Daughter who was on “Doggie Duty.” Thanks, sweetheart!