Going to the Dogs

IMG_0793Just so there’s no misunderstanding, this entry is about the four legged variety, not the two legged version. 

It’s also about fantasy colliding with reality.  And, for those of us with any years of experience tucked under our belts, we know exactly what that means. 

This all started back when BlackJack moved onto Kitty Heaven and I was pet-less.  I signed up at the local humane society center to be a dog-socializer which was a lot cooler than walking the pooches in 100 plus degree weather. I also signed up to cuddle the cats, but, given truth in advertising, they really needed volunteers to clean the kitty litter boxes and I am past that stage of life.

So, by default, the dogs got me.

Sammie’s Friends, a rural county facility staffed by employees and volunteers, is really remarkable. There are two buildings, one for dogs and one for cats.

The dogs are walked twice a day by volunteers along a mile plus long trail; there are outdoor pens for small, medium and large sized dogs where a behaviorist works with the dogs individually and in small groups, and then there are the socializers, who are also assigned a day or more a week to sit one on one with the animals.

That’s me.  We socializers go into each kennel, all of which are rather large and remarkably spotless. Each pooch has toys as well as a comfy bed, water and food.  The socializer’s job is to spoil the dogs, so we arrive, grab the provided stool, and go into each kennel laden with dog treats and ready to pet, play and cuddle each animal.

It’s a tough job, but given my background as a grandma, I already had the prerequisite training.

Some of the socializers prefer the little dogs, but I like the larger ones.  So, when I was being trained, which was really how to open and close the kennel doors without being run over by an escape artist, I said I’d take the larger dogs.

Then I discovered that most of them were pit bulls.

It’s not that I have anything against a particular dog breed, but let’s just say, some of the breeds leave me a bit leery.  Fortunately, the majority of the pits are actually quite sweet and love the treats.  We get along just fine.

Then, there is Bailey.  It was love at first sight.

I’m beginning to recognize that I’m a romantic at heart. 

Bailey is an eight month old purebred German Shepherd.  She is stunning.  She was also abused by her owner, who should be hung up by his toenails.  Evidently Baily finally did something to protect herself and law enforcement and the courts stepped in. Good for Bailey.  An intelligent Shepherd to boot.

When Bailey arrived at Sammie’s Friends, the staff housed her in a two room kennel, separate from the rest of the animals, their barking and the general confusion.  She was terrified and cowered in the corner. Her entire body would tremble when anyone entered the room. She was under court ordered supervision to watch her temperament so that a decision could be made about her future.

As I’ve had German Shepherds throughout my life, including one retired K-9, the staff told me to go on in.  I took my little perching stool and entered her turf.  She watched me from her corner and, about thirty seconds later, had her front paws planted on my lap and was licking my face. 

Sometimes dogs just know. It was love at first sight.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time with Bailey.  We not only play in her kennel, but also go out to the pens where she can really run and work off some of her puppy energy.  A staff member watched the other day and asked if I wanted to take her out to a park, to my home, or anywhere in the area.  She also mentioned that the courts were going to be releasing Bailey for adoption and would I be interested?

And that’s where fantasy and reality collided.

The heart yelled YES!!! 

The mind yelled even louder, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? YOU HAVE NO FENCED YARD. YOU RENT. YOU ARE JUST ABLE TO PLAN A BIT OF TRAVEL. AND YOU HAVE TORN LIGAMENT IN YOUR KNEE, CAN BARELY HOBBLE AND BAILEY DOESN’T HEEL.

OK. But at some point, the knee will be better. Unless, of course, I destroy it again playing at golf.  Who knew golf could be so dangerous, but that’s a topic for another day.

By the time I got home, the mind had won.  Bailey will find the perfect home, just not mine. Hopefully she will be with a loving family, children to grow up with, and acreage.  She deserves nothing less.

 

 

Flashback: 1950

FlashbackThe strangest thing happened yesterday.  I could have sworn I was back in the 1950’s.

It was the monthly meeting following the Lady Niners golf.  The secretary was on vacation and her substitute was running late, so I stepped in and ended up taking notes for the meeting.  It was not a big deal, as I had been the secretary for another association in a previous life.

Pen in hand, I’m taking notes, settling back into the role of scribe and not actively participating in any discussion.

There was the usual business, along with an update from our Sunshine Chair. 

One husband had died, two others were on the mend after some serious ailments, another struggling.  Sympathies had been expressed from Sunshine and the members who knew the people involved.  The chair shared an email of appreciation from the recently widowed member.

And then, we moved onto other items.

Way down on the agenda were the updates on upcoming invitationals, including one for a Twilight Tournament.  Near Halloween.  Expect some craziness. Sounds like fun. 

Keep in mind, I’m new to all this and was more focused on capturing the discussion along with the correct names of members making comments.

Then it happened. Out of the blue, it happened.

One unmarried member asked for a women’s flight for the Twilight Tournament.  Simple request.

Oh no. came the response from the back of the room. Couples. You can call the men from the men’s clubs and get one to partner with you.

And there it was, FLASHBACK: 1950.

All I could envision was the recently widowed woman, who actually came out and played that morning but thankfully did not stay for the meeting, being told, So sorry your husband’s dead, but you need to find a man in order to play in the woman’s tournament.

Good Grief.

I’m not quite sure why a male appendage would be a requisite for a woman to participate in a ladies’ twilight tournament.  Perhaps said appendage will save us from the deer that roam the course?  Or, perhaps keep us from getting lost during the evening hours?

I can’t imagine a worst nightmare than calling down a list of the men’s golfers, most of whom I don’t know, and asking their spouses or significant others if I could borrow the resident male for an evening so that I could play in a ladies golf tournament.

I wonder if some of these women have actually look around the room.  The single members, through death, divorce or personal preference, are growing. It’s a pretty sure bet, that before The Game is over, every woman in that room is going to end up alone or dead.

Most of the singletons aren’t actually seeking a partner at this point in life.  From what I can tell, we all have full lives and rather like not having to share the remote.

Meanwhile, the discussion of the upcoming Twilight Tournament at next month’s meeting should be, ahem, interesting.  I’m just happy that I won’t be taking notes so I can fully appreciate what is sure to be a colorful and lively discussion.

 

 

 

Don’t Blink

Don’t Blink, Kenny Chesney

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Part of living in God’s country is country western music.  It’s literally the only music one can access on local stations. Thank goodness for all the alternative sources of music.

Country Western, in itself, wouldn’t be so bad except that more often than not, the theme is about loss…sad songs pulling on your emotions.

Regardless, a current local DJ favorite is an old Kenny Chesney song, Don’t Blink.

I’ve included it just in case you live in an area that does not favor the CW genre. The song plays well as the backdrop to this post so you might want to click on the play button just to get the full effect…

My kids and four grandsons descended this past week.  We had great fun — the boys spending most of their time paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing, playing marathon monopoly and eating.  Lots of eating, but then, they are all still growing skywards. They tower over me, making me that much more aware of just how quickly time is passing.

My oldest grandson recently graduated from University of California, celebrated his 23rd birthday and is stepping into a whole new life adventure.

Don’t Blink.

The two sixteen year old cousins remain two peas in a pod, even though they’re launching in very different directions — one, interning at the California Academy of Sciences, has a science bent that far exceeds his age, and the other, a strong student with multi-faceted interests, is currently dedicated to his first love, playing varsity football.  The fourteen year old missed the competitive gene despite having the build of a football player, but shows exceptional talent as an artist and sculptor.

My oldest and only granddaughter, in her early 30’s, is with her wife in London, where she is living her dream of being the lead pastry chef for a boutique cafe chain.  They are hoping to become moms in the near future.

Which also means I’ll be a great-grandmother.

Don’t Blink.

And my kids?  Hovering on either side of 50 and, despite life challenges in health, family and careers, remain good people.

And that is ultimately what counts.

In all of this, I find it a bit curious that as we age and perhaps face more goodbyes than new adventures, there are unexpected moments of solitude and reflection, usually in the silence after the cars, kids, grand-kids and grand-dogs have departed.

It seems, at least for me, that it is in those moments of Aloneness that I have become keenly aware that the regrets and losses of our lifetimes stay closer than the successes.

The importance of the triumphs of our lives, those events once celebrated, have diminished with time.  Like fine dust caught in a breeze, they leave little more than a whisper of a memory.

But the regrets? oh my.  They hover close, just waiting for that moment of Aloneness to remind us once again of what we might have done, might have given, might have said…

…the different paths that our lives, and the people whose lives we touched, might have taken, if only…

Don’t Blink.

 

The Cutting Table

IMG_0773This post is more for quilters or quilters-to-be.

I have a quilting room.  At times, it’s the designated second guest room, but most of the time, it’s just for quilting and it’s mine.

Among the quilting bloggers, the where and how to manage the fabric storage and cutting of said fabric seems to be a topic of much discussion and consternation. 

I thought men stressed over their garage workrooms. They have nothing on quilters.

Given that I was a novice, I read quite a bit about how others set up their rooms, especially as I had never sewn before, much less quilted.  I needed to learn from others who were more experience than I.  That meant I read a lot.

My quilting room, an office in a previous life, came with a closet that is actually a wall of built-in shelves hidden behind folding doors.  Not so good as a bedroom closet, but perfect for fabric storage.  A match made in quilting heaven!

Finding the perfect cutting table was a different story.  Dining room tables apparently have a corner on fabric cutting.  It seems no one eats in dining rooms any longer and, as they’re a wasted room, why not turn them into cutting rooms?

My dining room was once a family room/kitchen.  It’s now a dining room/kitchen, not that it makes any difference.  I seldom eat in there.  But, as it’s in the heart of the house, I didn’t want it cluttered with fabric, scraps and threads.

Besides, the table height would break my back bending over to cut, and my back is already old and broken.

Scratch the dining room.  And find a designated cutting table.

I first looked at the standard cutting tables made for home use and quickly discovered that they are (1) not that stable, (2) relatively expensive for what you get, and (3), being perfectly candid, ugly.  Not as in ugly like a lovable ugly dog contest ugly, but ugly as in old Formica white ugly.  Scratch them.

Then I looked at the hacks. Ikea has the market on cutting table hacks, with hollow core doors balanced on cubed bookcases a close second. All workable and all solid and presentable, but the cost for delivery far outweighed any potential benefits. I needed a truck to make that one work. The hacks hit the dust.

That left me searching for a reasonably priced counter height dining table, preferably in a dark wood that would blend with the rest of the furniture in my quilting room.  Yep, picky, but it’s a room that needed “sing” to set the stage for comfort and creativity. 

It was an adventure, so to speak, searching for the perfect cutting table that was really a counter height dining table.  Months passed, and then finally, there it was:  a 36″ deep X 60″ long x 36″ tall counter height table.  Dark wood.  Solid wood.  Free delivery and a very reasonable price. A steal when compared to the advertised cutting tables, even if those do fold up when not being used.

The box holding the table top and four legs arrived at my front door, free shipping included, and it took me all of ten minutes to drag it inside and attach the legs.  My neighbor helped me turn the table right side up. It took longer to cut the box into pieces for recycling.

The quilting room is finished. I’m happy, my back is happy and my quilts are happy…it’s all good! 

 

Le Chat Noir

Chat NoirThere is no easy way to say this, but once a much loved pet has gone onto Pet Heaven, you are left with all the belongings to deal with.

I called the local cat shelter and asked if they’d take donations.  Gladly. 

So I gathered up the bed BlackJack refused to use, and litter and food and dishes and carrier and catnip and brushes and toys and loaded them into the car, certain that I would never again have a pet.

uh huh.

My rationale goes along the lines of a new cat would probably outlive me, or, if I got a senior one, I’d be going through another death and I don’t think I could manage losing another animal.

So, off to Sammie’s Place, the local cat and dog shelter.  I walked in and was immediately greeted by the lead volunteer, who wanted to first show me around and explain their program.  Then, we could unload the car.

I probably should have bolted right then and there. But I didn’t.

They are short on Volunteer Cat Cuddlers and, in the neighboring building, Dog Walkers. The cats were now vying for my attention and cuddling. I needed at least two or three more arms.

I have to admit, the cats were very well behaved and no doubt wanted to be adopted.

Three or four rooms later of cute kitties, of all ages and colors, and I was getting sucked in.  Then the volunteer dropped the other shoe.

It seems they also have a Foster Program…take a kitten to socialize, no thanks, past that stage of life, or a senior cat and provide loving home. They would cover all costs — food, vet, litter — and all the foster parent has to do is provide the home.  They would even take fostered cat back for visits if the foster parent wanted to travel, had guests, needed a break or was done fostering.

Such a deal, as my dad used to say.

It was about that time that we walked into the last Kitty Room, the one with the more skittish and/or feral cats.  And, there, in the middle of the room, sat Le Chat Noir.  He was very skinny with unruly black fur and wild gold eyes.

He stared at me.  I smiled at him. The volunteer said Be careful, no one can get near him. He’s really skittish and he fights. 

The cat was now rubbing up against my legs and loudly purring. He wanted to be petted.

I reached down, petted him for a bit, purr, purr, purr. 

Be careful, warned the volunteer.

Put, purr, pure, answered the cat.

I finally told Le Chat Noir Look it, I’m old. Bad back.  If you want to be petted, I have to stand up and hold you.

Damn cat jumped into my arms. I stood up and cuddled him.  Purr, purr, purr.

The volunteer just watched.

After a while, I said This cat needs brushing. The volunteer said something about no one being able to get near him, was I certain I wanted to try?

Hand me the brush.  The cat loved getting groomed.  He even tolerated me working through some of the matted fur.  Purr, purr, purr.

Volunteer was sure she had closed the deal and Le Chat Noir had a new foster mom.

ah, not so fast.  I said he is so skittish that I’d worry about him bolting outside with the friends and family who wander in and out of my home. And he was too old to survive outdoors.

So we settled on me returning to cuddle cat(s), maybe walk a dog or two, and not making any donations quite yet.

I drove back home and unpacked the car.  Sigh.

Hot, Hotter, Hottest

It’s about the heat.  Oppressive heat.  Unbearable Heat.

I know the Sierra foothills are toasty.  Some, like me, might even call it hot. When I moved here, I was mentally prepared for hot.

Not this.

Even my friends in the cooler, temperate San Francisco Bay Area are complaining about the heat.  They should try here.

The local weathermen and women have been struggling to come up with different adjectives to describe what’s in store for the upcoming days.

Scorching, searing, blistering, burning, roasting, sweltering. Hot. Very Hot.

Day after day of unrelenting 100 plus weather has been challenging, not just in surviving, but in keeping any semblance of normal daily activities.

Household chores? Too hot.

Golf?  Are you kidding?

Quilting?  ah geez.

Even the lake activities are minimal.  It’s simply too hot.

So I read. And read some more.  Mediocre books, good books, almost great books. Books re-read. I feel like I’m back in the classroom as a student of English Lit,  except, to be honest, more often than not these are brain-candy books.

It’s just too hot to read anything else.

My neighbors, longtime lake residents, escaped last week to the northern California coast. They kept extending their stay, enjoying the warm, clear, sunny weather — typically the north coast is cool and foggy all summer, which in turn, keeps all of California tolerable. We’re all wondering if this, like other things, is going to become the New Normal. 

I want to know how to contact the  clowns that deny global warming.  I’d like to invite them here for a prolonged stay. And pay my electric bill.

In the midst of this relentless heat wave, I am searching for ways to keep the house relatively cool without breaking the bank over air conditioning. Windows open at night; closed before the morning sun intensifies. Shades drawn and lifted. Fans on.  A bit monotonous, but it helps mitigate things.

IMG_0758This morning I eyed the two large skylights which are fantastic for letting in the winter sun, not so great in the midst of a never-ending heat wave.  What to do?  While I had a couple ideas, I thought it best to at least venture onto Pinterest to see what others had done.

Quite a bit, evidently.  Everything from old blankets — functional, but not the most attractive — to high end blinds with remote controls.

I settled on re-purposing some old Ikea full length curtains, first used for screening a covered deck from the late afternoon summer sun, then reinvented as curtains to cover garage windows from the morning sun and help keep my previous home cool, and now, well, a new life beckons.

A little measuring, cutting, sewing and three curtain tension rods later, voilá!  A new skylight covering.  Not the sexiest, but not the tackiest either. 

The easiest one is done; the other, in the vaulted ceiling over the gas range, is going to have to wait until one of my tall, taller, tallest grandsons shows up. 

In the meantime, let the sun shine in…I’ve begun viewing the heat as just another excuse not to cook or do housework…now, where did I put my book?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BlackJack

IMG_0218

 

Today I said goodbye to my longtime feline companion, BlackJack, who slipped quietly into his next adventure. Needless to say, I will miss his energy, loving nature and friendly personality. As everyone who met him knew, BlackJack was a character who, at a muscular eighteen pounds, looked and moved as gracefully as a panther, acted and cuddled like a dog, but at the end of the day, he was a cat and he owned me. Especially my heart.