My Silver Lining


Seems like such a short time ago, our grand dog, Hammie was just a pup. He’s 11 years old now. How time flies, except when you’re confined to quarers for an unknown length of time.

It’s tough right now, trying to find the silver lining in our disrupted world. We’ve been invaded by an invisible, unexpected, and uncontainable virus. As unpredictable as the Corvid-19 journey has been, so have been our responses to it. Confusion, denial, fear, anger, frustration. All reasonable, all understandable. Yet, with any crisis, there is opportunity from which we can benefit. Even Hammie is taking the Shelter in place command seriously.

Some folks use humor to get through the stressful situations. That includes me. I love some of the social media pictures and quotes that make me laugh out loud.

I ignore the rants and raves that do nothing more than stir negative emotions. It doesn’t mean I am oblivious to the seriousness of the situation, but many of the political pokes and ventings do nothing but spread anger and fear. I choose to focus on the positive.

So here are a few of the positive opportunities I’ve been given.

I’m saving lots of money because I traded trips to the casino for daily runs to the store in search of toilet paper. Down to two rolls. I got desperate and ordered some on line. Good news, I found some. Bad news, the deliver day is May 22. I thought it was a typo, but Alexa confirmed it.

I’m getting my daily 10,000 steps in by walking room to room and taking note of the chaos I’ve neglected for some time. Every once in while, I find an object that’s been missing for months. Found a Christmas present I forgot to deliver yesterday. Now won’t they be happy when it shows up in their mailbox. Spreading the joy.

My daily wardrobe consists of sweat pants and a t-shirt. Haven’t had to wash a bra in a week! Just think about the water and soap I’m saving. I saw a Facebook post that said to cut them up to use as a mask when necessary.

I’m not gaining weight because we aren’t eating out. All the burger and chicken are gone by the time I get to the store, so we’re cleaning out the freezer, trying to identify what’s each shriveled, rock hard, frosted package contains.

I’ve got lots of time to clean those closets and organize the pantry now. Could wash windows too. Choosing to save those fun thing in case I get really desperate!

Best part is that I have more time to write, and I am. Veins of Gold is taking form. The Dahlonega Sisters are busy keeping me front and center by my laptop.

The girls wanted me to do something to brighten your day, so they suggested I reduce the price of their first book, The Gold Miner Ring. The e-book is now available for $1.99 at your favorite site. Here’s the link: https://books2read.com/links/ubl/mVrL2p

Stay safe everyone and don’t forget to lighten up. This too shall pass and with a little luck, we’ll all learn something positive from the experience.

What’s your silver lining?

Life Preservers


Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left thousands of people homeless and in desperate need of assistance. Well deserved attention was given to the humanitarian efforts by those who helped provide food, clothing, shelters and money to the victims.

The heroes who saved and sheltered thousands of animals during these tragic times deserve a round of applause, too. Thank you, wherever you are.

Here is a short story I wrote after a flood some years ago in Missouri. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Life Preservers

 

River Rats. That’s the name for people who live near the river, refusing to give in to the unpredictable vengeance of Mother Nature that sometimes makes life challenging. My master, Jessie, is a river rat. Not sure what that makes me, but I live with him along the Mississippi near a dam in Missouri. His house sits on stilts as tall as some of the nearby trees. I’m Clyde, a yellow lab who lives in a large kennel next to Jessie, but on the ground…well most of the time, anyway.

Living by the river is fun for the most part. Jessie takes me along when he hunts because I can pick up the scent of other animals faster with my keen nose. When I spot something, I chase it until it runs into a bush or a corner and can’t get out. Sometimes they get away, but most of the time Jessie takes it from there. I do other things too, like protecting Jessie by warning him if something seems out of the ordinary. One time, I even saved his life by fighting a water moccasin that snuck out of the rocks by the boat dock. Jessie gave me some extra treats after that and patted my head, which I really liked.

I’m an outside dog. Jessie doesn’t let me in his house, but in the evening as the sun goes down, I get to pounce up the stairs and sit on the porch while we watch these big boats, think they’re called barges. They shine their bright lights to the right and left as they inch forward toward the dam. Jessie doesn’t care for it when they shine the lights on us. He gets mad and yells at them, but they still do it anyway.

Winter’s ok because I get to go hunting. Spring used to be my favorite time because there are more things to sniff, like rabbits and field mice. Last year changed that. Mother Nature forgot to turn off the faucet. Once the rain started, it didn’t stop. Days turned into weeks and the continuous pelting began to irritate me. I had to eat fast or else my food would float in water and get mushy. I hate that. I also missed our special time together on the porch and the extra treat he gave me before putting me back in my kennel when it got dark.

I never shirked my duties though. I kept an eye out for strangers but no one came over the levee. Seemed all the animals had run off to higher ground, even the birds were gone. No stray cats, no deer. The only movement came from Jessie as he loaded the lawn mower and other things onto a flatbed trailer. I wondered what was up.

The next morning, Jessie filled my bowl with food and patted my head. My tail wagged as fast as my heart beat. I loved it when he petted me. Made me feel good all over. But the feeling quickly passed when he said, “Take it easy buddy.” He got in his truck and drove off, over the levee. I whined for a while, but decided it wouldn’t do any good as no one could hear me.

The rain never stopped and I watched the river’s edge creep closer and closer to my cage. I sniffed every inch of the cage trying to find an opening, then I jumped up and down trying to unlock the gate to get out. I started to panic, barking and pacing continuously, but every time I moved, the kennel weaved up and down making me lose my footing. What the heck? My whole kennel was floating, just like when Jessie takes me fishing.

 

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Just before dark, I saw some movement on the levee. I barked again hoping Jessie had come back for me. It was him and my tail wagged anxiously as he climbed into a boat. He glanced at me, but kept on paddling toward his house, then went up the stairs, dragging a long rope, one end attached to his boat and the other he tied to the porch railing, way at the top. That’s when I began to worry.

The water kept rising and so did my kennel. I tried to stay awake to keep watch but sometime during the night, I dozed off. The next morning a noise startled me awake. I barked, to warn my master just as a large tree branch smacked into my cage. I shook off my slumber and gave another yelp, hoping Jessie would come get me.

Waves tossed my cage up and down and the sudden movement made me stumble. I almost laughed (yes, dogs can laugh), thinking I looked like Jessie when he drinks too many brown bottles, but the seriousness of the situation worried me. I adjusted my footing and paced around the kennel, proud of the balancing skill I learned while riding in our boat.

Hours later, I heard a door shut and Jessie walked halfway down the stairs where the river greeted him and pulled on the rope until the boat was near enough for him to get into it. I watched anxiously as he rowed next to my kennel and unhooked the latch. I stuck my head out trying to get into the boat with him, but he blocked my path.

“Stay,” he commanded as he cleaned out some of the mess in the kennel. Lots of leaves and branches and other stuff I won’t mention covered the floor.

“Kinda scary, huh? You’ll be ok.”

“Scary as hell” I wanted to shout, but could only whimper in reply. He rubbed my ears and then gave me some more food from the large tin can in the corner of the cage.

“This should hold you ‘till I can get back. Gonna be a long ride. Hang in there.”

I had no idea what he meant by that, but I tried again to get past him and into the boat. Surely he’d take me with him. It wasn’t fun being out here all by myself.

“Sorry, Clyde. You have to stay here.”

That didn’t sit well with me, but I didn’t have much choice as he closed the door, then paddled toward the levee. My eyes blurred as I watched my best friend fade from sight.

Later that day, the rain slowed to a drizzle and I walked around the cage trying to work out some of the aching in my legs. I noticed the pads on my paws were getting sore too, so I went into my house and rested. Darkness crept in and my cage continued to rise.

It’d been a long time since I’d seen Jessie or any other creature. Something must have happened to Jessie or he would have come back for me. Hunger made my belly grumble and I remembered the food in the can. Pushing the lid with my nose didn’t work, so I jumped on the can and it fell over, popping the lid off. The food spilled all over. Thankful to be able to eat, I scarfed down as much as I could because I knew the rain water would turn the rest into mush soon.

My body twitched and ached more every day. It got harder to stand up and walk around. I hated the musty smells, even myself. Yuck. I forced myself to sniff around the cage for something to eat. Everything was gone, even the mushy stuff and still no Jessie. Maybe he was hurt. Maybe he needed me.

The water level no longer rose, but it wasn’t going down either. I stared at the levee and decided I might be able to paddle to it, if only I could get out of the kennel. Maybe Jessie was on the other side waiting for me.

The next few hours, I jumped and nudged my nose and teeth at the latch with no success. Worn out from trying to get the gate open, I laid down and fell asleep. Another large branch slammed into my kennel and startled me awake. As I walked around inspecting the damage, I saw a break in the metal links and with renewed spirits, I chewed and pawed until the hole was big enough to escape.

Without food, I wouldn’t last much longer. The decision was made and with one last look around my kennel, I squeezed my body through the opening and made my way into the water. The cold, swift current grabbed me and dragged me away from the levee and the safety of my kennel. Oh, no! What did I do? I paddled furiously trying to get back but within seconds, my doghouse faded from view. I wondered if I’d ever see dry land again, or my buddy.

Exhausted from trying to fight the current, I held my head high, trying to stay above water, and floated with the current. The cold water made my legs stiffen and cramp. My head kept going under and the river threatened to take my last breath, but I fought back with everything I had left. Just then, a large branch floated close enough for me to snag it with my mouth and I managed to get one paw over it, then the other.

After a while, the current slowed and the branch, with me still hanging on it, moved toward the bank and became lodged near a boat dock. I decided I’d had enough of the water ride and managed to pull myself up onto the platform. Tired, but determined to get back home, I climbed one concrete step, legs wobbling, then a second. Near the top, I collapsed, completely spent, but happy to be out of the water. I closed my eyes, trying to slow my breathing as my chest heaved up and down.

***

“Oh my, you poor thing. Where’d you come from?”

The unfamiliar voice stirred me from my sleep. I opened my eyes, yet couldn’t find the strength to lift my head.

“Harold! Come help.”

“What’s wrong Gladys?” a male voice called in the distance.

“It’s a dog. Bring a blanket and help me get him into the house.”

Into the house? Are they’re going to take me into their house?

Harold appeared with a large blanket and wrapped it around my wet fur. I tried to lick his hand in appreciation.

“I think it’s Clyde, Jessie’s dog. I bet that fool left him in his kennel all this time.”

“Oh Harold, do you think so? With all the rain and flooding for weeks on end? How could he do that to a dog?”

“I asked him about Clyde two weeks ago when I saw him in town getting groceries. He told me he was doing fine in his kennel and to mind my own business. Harold reached in the pocket of his bibbed overalls and pulled out a handkerchief, wiping his eyes and dabbing his nose. “I should have gone to check on him myself, but that fool might have shot me for trespassing.”

“That’s horrible, just horrible. You poor dog. You deserve better than that.”

“You’re safe now buddy. Let’s get you in the house and dry you off. We’ll find something good for you to eat and you’ll be up and about in no time.”

Harold grunted as he lifted me and then carried me into his living room, placing me on the warm, soft rug. Gladys appeared with a bowl of water some scraps of meat in her hand.

“Sorry, Clyde. You’ll have to eat table food until we can get into town.”

My eyes widened when I saw what was in her hand. Bacon!

This must be Heaven. I think I’m going to like it here.

Four Legged Friends – From Fear to Fondness


I’ve often heard the phrase A dog is man’s best friend. I am sure that is true for most, but for me, the unexpected appearance of a canine can send me into an immediate panic attack. A neighbor’s ferocious boxer probably was at the core of my fear. Unlike me, my daughter never met a dog she didn’t love. If something happened to Lassie http://www.lassie.com/ during an afternoon show, she cried for nearly 24 hours until the next episode aired, when she could be reassured that she was alive and well.

I once tolerated a dog named Henry that my daughter toted everywhere as a child. Heck, I even wrote stories about his adventures. There was the time his arm was crudely torn off in a kidnapping attempt. Another time, he was rescued from drowning in a swimming pool. Henry traveled with us and was known to play hide and seek in the hotel lobby or restaurant on numerous occasions. Heck, I nearly faced abandonment charges when he decided to take a nap in a baby crib at a Top Value Stamp store. The charges were dropped after I drove another 80 mile roundtrip to retrieve him.

Henry and Henrietta
When Henry met Henrietta, my daughter’s interest seemed to wane. The pair took up residence on her their homemade sleeping bags and became sedentary. By then my daughter was old enough to know the difference between a stuffed animal and a live dog and she frequently begged for the latter. My husband and I agreed to a compromise when a neighbor entrusted to us a funny looking creature that almost looked like a dog, a Peruvian guinea pig http://www.guinea-pig-paradise.com/guinea-pig-breeds.html.

My daughter named him Opie and he was the first of many. His most fierce bite was a nibble and he didn’t require much maintenance. In fact, most of his time was spent in solitary confinement, inside a large cage.
patches_puddlesMuffy, Buffy, Harley, Puddles and Patches followed.

Two small water turtles also called our house home for a while until they were stolen from the swimming pool in the side yard. With my bawling daughter in hand, I visited our neighbor and suggested that I was pretty sure her son was the thief. A short time later, she returned the two miniature pets with an apology. My daughter turned to her dad and asked they could take them to the river and release them to their natural habitat. It was a pretty mature decision for a young child.

I always felt guilty that we did not afford our daughter the pleasures of a four-legged best friend, but nearly any unexpected sound that resembles a dog set off an alarm in my head that released enough adrenalin to cause a panic reaction. Even as a child my daughter seemed to understand and she recognized my problem was not imaginary. As she grew older, she found my condition humerous at times.

For instance, I was browsing through a general store with my, then, teenage daughter. In another isle, she found a wooden duck with a long handle on it and rubber flappers on the wheels that made a slapping noise when it was pushed. kinderkram-duck-wooden-push-toy[1] The sound effect was much like that of paws trotting and caused me to jump and squeal, like a fool. When I realized the toy would not harm me, I looked around the room where a dozen people were bent over with laughter.

Unless a dog was under lock and key, I did not enter a house. I would sit in a car rather than take a chance, no matter how many times I was assured He wouldn’t hurt a flea. Most of my friends and family accommodated my fear. However, I won’t forget the time I took my nieces and nephews back to their house after an overnight stay. I was greeted by their full grown German Shepherd as she stood on his hind legs and planted her huge paws on my shoulders. I can still see the look of confusion in his eyes when I screamed bloody murder.

I’m ashamed to admit that I even offered up my daughter to an aggressive Doberman Pincher when he charged out from a nearby garage and threatened to eat me alive. I grabbed my daughter by the shoulders and placed her between me and the beast, jumping up and down and yelling to the top of my lungs. She bravely confronted the aggressor while commanding me to shut up and stand still. The owner stood nearby laughing hysterically. What can I say? Desperate people do desperate things.

The opportunity to redeem myself came when a friend offered a black Labrador puppy to my husband. My husband contacted our daughter, who lived nearby, and asked if she was interested. She eagerly accepted the offer and a few weeks later, Hammie became part of the family. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I knew it was time for me to tackle my problem because I didn’t want my daughter to have to choose between me or the dog. I embraced the chance to bond with Hammie while he was small enough to be loveable. My husband and daughter were pleased to see the change and even caught me kissing his little head once.

Hammie has stayed overnight at our house often and I’ve even attempted to walk him on my own. Unfortunately, he flunked out of obedience school. The word stay means nothing to him and he now weighs 60 pounds. At the risk of landing face-first on the asphalt when he eyes a squirrel or rabbit and takes off, I usually hand over the leash to my husband and walk by his side. He’d much prefer my husband anyway.
hammyA

Being an only child (yes, I’m talking about the dog), Hammie is spoiled and enjoys being the center of attention. He loves to explore every nook and cranny of our home with one limitation. He is terrified of the plastic gate that is used to contain him to an area. It’s not a bad thing sometimes. He doesn’t try to push it down or escape. In fact, he will not pass over the gate even if it falls down. He demonstrated his limitation when I fell down the stairs and he rushed to my rescue. Forced with the decision to cross the fallen gate and come to my aid or retreat to edge of the stairs and whimper sadly on my behalf, he chose the latter.

Hammie’s role as king of the house has been challenged during the past six weeks with the arrival of Herkie, a 47 pound Basset Hound. herki_bed My daughter offered to care for her until she completes her required stay before flying to Hawaii to be reunited with her owners. Herkie adjusted quickly to her new surroundings. She confidently plopped herself down on Hammie’s bed and took a nap. The first night, Hammie was beside himself trying to understand the change. He laid at the end of the bed and stared at Herkie most of the night. Overall, they get along fairly well, but Hammie still seems a bit miffed about the arrangement.

My daughter and her boyfriend took the dogs to a lake house over the weekend. They needed to leave the house for a while and put both dogs in an upstairs bedroom with the plastic gate across the entrance to the room to keep them confined. Upon return, they found Herkie milling around downstairs while Hammie sat whining on the other side of the flattened gate upstairs in the bedroom. Even with the temptation to join his buddy roaming freely about the house, Hammie feared the wrath of the plastic object. (I can relate. Fear is fear!)

An internal alarm still goes off occasionally when a dog approaches unexpectedly, but my reactions are not quite as traumatic as they once were. When I met Herkie for the first time, I reached out my hand to pet her and she anxiously jumped to greet me so I withdrew my offer. No problem for Herkie, she just rolled over on her back and begged for a belly rub, for which I obliged. I’m making progress. Actually, I’ve replaced fear with fondness – at least that’s what I’m working toward.

How about you? Do you have a fear you’re working to overcome?