Friday, November 19, 2010

Miss Becky

Sam was having a minor eye issue, so I took him to the vet yesterday.  He's just fine.  But, while waiting I heard the receptionist's talking to another client about Becky.
Becky reminds me of the dog I grew up with, a Springer named Sugar
Becky's owner is elderly and has cancer.  Just over a year ago both her and her then dog were both going through chemo.  Her dog didn't make it, but she went into remission.  So, apparently she went to the local shelter (same shelter I got my Sam) and adopted Becky. 

Becky needs to go on a diet,  but chasing around with Sam will help!

Things were going well for this lady and Becky until early this fall when the lady's cancer returned.  She started chemo again, but things do not look good for her.  She called our vet and expressed her concern for Becky.  My vet took her home, thinking he would keep Becky.  However, although Becky got along with everyone, she did not appreciate the cats and the cats did not appreciate Becky.  So, Becky has been living at the vet clinic the last 3-4 weeks while they tried to find a home for her.

I thought, "Poor Becky - being passed around through no fault of her own or her new owner."   I asked about Becky.  She is somewhere between 4 and 6 years old and a "hound" mix.  Loving and gentle they told me she was a very sweet girl.  They brought her out and she and Sam immediately hit it off.  And, being the sucker I am I agreed to "foster" Becky until we could find a new home for her. 
Sam and Miss Becky hit it off right away.

And, Miss Becky is a sweet girl.  The only two problems are that she is a complete pig when it comes to eating!  She would eat 24/7 and is a little pudgy.  And, she is terrible on a leash - always pulling.  So, Miss Becky and I started a diet today and tomorrow she will get some leash training.
New best friends

The bet is will I really ever give her up?  Hmmmmm . . . . .

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Belated Halloween Pictures

My neighbor, Valerie, took some fun pictures of Sam and me on Halloween.  The darling little girl is her daughter, Evelyn, who made a charming octopus that day.  In honor of my church ladies, I wore my special witch's hat.  Sam, who always wants to be part of the action, was a bumble bee.  Enjoy!

Sam loved wearing his costume.  Probably because he knew how adorable he looked!

How cute is Evelyn?!
Sam sniffed every kid!

Sam & I sat here and waited for the kids to arrive.  We had a crowd and Sam was loved by everyone!

Monday, November 15, 2010



Suzanne, Marlon and I looked up, at the front door and then at each other.  We were busy putting together a quilting cutting table for me and the THUD at the door startled all of us.  We could see through the door length blinds that no one was there.


Let's go back a few weeks.  Sam and I were walking when we came across a little terrier dog with a bad tremor.  It was running down the the road of the subdivision.  I called to it and he came to me.  He had a tag with his name and a phone number, along with his rabies tag.  His name was Flash.  Flash followed us home and I was able to get him secure in my fenced in back yard.  I called his owner, Rachel.  Rachel laughed when I told her I had Flash.  "Oh, just let him go.  He will find his way back to my mother's house about 3/4 of a mile away."  I was appalled.  "No," I told her, "you have to come get him.  I won't let him wander around."  She was very calm and agreed to come get him after they finished dinner and some errands.  I was upset.  Didn't she even care about Flash?  What kind of an owner was she?

It seems Rachel and her kids lived on my street for a couple of years.  She lost her job, rented out her house and moved in with her mother.  During the last year and a half, she fell in love, got married and she, her husband and her kids were moving back into her home.  So, Flash was very familiar with my neighborhood.

Now, I didn't know all of this.  All I knew was I had Flash.  It took over 2 hours for Rachel to arrive.  By this time Sam, Flash and I were waiting on the front porch.  My neighbor, Shane, arrived home.  "Hey," he said, "I see you've met Flash!"  He went on to tell me the story of how Flash was the neighborhood dog.  Most people knew him and looked out for him.  He was an independent little guy and loved nothing more than to visit people.  "You just wait, " Shane said, "some day you will hear a thud at your door and Flash will be calling.

Rachel finally arrived and explained that Flash was getting old.  He has tremors and a large cataract in one eye, but still was a happy, active little fellow.  Rachel also told me that Flash was up-to-date on all of his shots, neutered and very much loved by his family.  I could see he was loved by the way her kids held him.  So, at least he wasn't mistreated and/or abused.  I was still a little upset with her, though. 

A week or so later, Rachel and her family moved back into her home.  I was happy to see a that their house included a large, fenced in yard for Flash.  No more wanderings.

 I had told my Flash story to several other neighbors and all knew of him.  One lady told of a time he came to the door, walked in, ate her dog's food, jumped on a comfy chair, slept for over 3 hours, got up and left without a backward glance.  What a guy he was!

Fast foward.


I got up to look.  Sure enough, there was Flash outside the door.  I opened it and he came bounding in.  He greeted Suzanne and Marlon, tolerated Sam's playfulness and proceeded to eat some of Sam's food and drink a lot of water.  He also did a tour of the house, checking it out.   After a few minutes he went to the front door.  Off he went.

A week or so later I was working in the yard.  THUD.  Sam ran to the back gate.  There was Flash.  Apparently not getting an answer at the front door, he came to the back gate.  Again, he somewhat played with Sam, came in the house, ate, drank, checked out the house and off he went. 

Today it was a cold, miserable rainy day.  I went out to get the mail and, low and behold, guess who shows up?  Only today Flash was cold.  His tremors were worse, probably because he was shivering a little.  I dried him off with a big towel, turned on the fireplace and placed Sam's bed in front of it.  Yup.  Flash climbed on and took a little snooze.  I am sure he would have stayed longer if Sam hadn't woke him up wanting to play.  But, he was no longer shaking.  He ate a little, checked out the house and went to the front door.  I felt bad letting him out in the rain, but he trotted off in the direction of his home.  Hopefully, there was someone home to let him in.  But, if not I am sure someone else heard a THUD at their door and let him in for a while.

I do not believe in letting dogs wander around on their own.  But, I have to say Flash is street smart, knows the area and I have been told, even looks both ways when crossing a street.  He has been doing this all his life.  And, he knows he has a safe, warm place here - with plenty of food and water and a soft bed to snooze on for a little while.  From now on I will keep my ears open for the THUD. 

Flash has a pretty good life.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

This I Believe - Some Thoughts on My Spiritual Journey

I was raised Lutheran - Lutheran Church of America synod, now Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.  This is considered the most liberal of the Lutheran synods.   My parents were active in our church, especially my father.  We went to church every Sunday.  I was active in Sunday School.  Dad sang in the choir and volunteered in other ways.  Mom and I (and my sisters) attended mother and daughter events.   I went to church camp for several years during the summers.  Church was important to our family.  Not all inclusive, but important.

I remember questioning my Sunday School teachers about the stories they told me.  Later, as I studied for confirmation, I questioned the pastor.  There were things about what the church taught me that just didn't add up in my head.  I just didn't "get it."  I could not  believe unconditionally things that just didn't make sense to me.  And, I formed my own ideas that didn't mesh with the teaching of the church.  So, after confirmation I pretty  much dropped out of church.  My parents, while probably disappointed, didn't push me to attend. 

Growing up and entering my late teens and 20s, I really tried to find that connections to God, to Jesus, to the church.  Nothing.  Nada.  I believed, but I didn't believe, either.  I found no comfort in prayer, I found no connection to God or Jesus.  So, I gave up.  Yet, I long for this connection, this comfort - what ever it was.  Again, I found what I did believe didn't mesh with what I had been taught at church.

In my 30s I found the Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church.  Ah, ha!  Here I could find my own spiritual path and be accepted.  I was encouraged to think beyond Christianity, to search, to find my own way.  At this time the UU churches were offering a curriculum for women called, "Cakes for the Queen of Heaven."  It encouraged women to find the feminine in the divine.  Well, HELLO!  Finally I found something I could grasp, I could understand.  I could relate to God better by thinking of God as a woman.  I learned about ancient spiritual beliefs, when women where honored and respected.  I started a Women's Spirituality group in my church. Later, two of my dear friends that I had made at church became facilitators in the follow up to the "Cakes for the Queen of Heaven" course entitled, "Rise Up and Call Her Name" and offered it at my church.  Hence, my wonderful "church ladies" groups really came to be. 

I was asked to serve on the UU Women and Religion Committee (W&R) for the Central Midwest District, which I did for four years.  I helped to plan UU women's conference and retreats.  It was a huge learning time for me.  A time of self discovery and major changes in my life.  I grew spirituality by leaps and  bounds, but not in the traditional way.  I began to see my higher power, my God, in nature.  I loved these conferences and retreat.  I met wonderful women and learned so much.

However, after serving on the W&R committee I felt burned out.  My church underwent conflicts due to the minister and many members, including my some of my friends, left to start a new UU church further west of the great Milwaukee area.  My other friends scattered to different UU churches.  While I considered myself  a UU and still do, I stopped attending the church.  I got antsy in church (and still do when I attend).  I wanted the services over quickly so I could get out and get going.  I found the conferences and retreats I helped plan and so loved attending, meaningless.  Same old thing.  I could no longer relate to what they had to offer.

Now what?  I still loved getting together with my church ladies and found our seasonal rituals very meaningful.  Yet, I was floating, spiritually.  Then slowly, very slowly I began to "get it."

And, what I "got" was the realization that for me, the divine was all around me.  It was in nature.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will remember posts where I talk about this.  How I found moments of pure grace while digging in my garden.  Watching the wind in the trees, a hawk soar, crocuses pushing out of the frozen ground in spring, brought me closer to God than any church or group ever could.  It was all right there - if I chose to look at it.

I don't believe in labels.  I am not a "witch."  I am not a Pagan (although this more defines my beliefs than anything else), I am not a Christian, but I do embrace the general teachings that the Lutheran church taught me.  I have a dear friend who had a calling/interest in Shamanism.  She paid a lot money to study it.  She loved it and it brought her peace, but some how I can't understand paying money to "learn" or study a spiritual path.  It has to come from within.  I believe, as do the Quakers, that God in not only all around us, but deep within us.  We just have to listen to our inner self and be aware of what is all around us.

I believe in God, in a hundred million guises.  I believe Jesus existed, walked this Earth and was a great teacher.  The son of God?  No.  I believe God gave us many, many teachers - some contemporary ones like Gandhi, Mother Theresa and others such as Mohammad, Buddha, Kwan Yin.  And, since I believe the divine is in all of us, we are each other's spiritual teachers.

In the past 6-7 months some pretty wonderful things have happened to me.  But, also, some very awful things, too.  I have been an emotional wreck and more depressed than I have ever been in my life.  Here in Georgia, after the hot weather broke, I started working on my garden (more on that in another post).  One day I had a complete melt down while planting shrubs.  I ranted and raved. I cussed.  I cried.  What did my boyfriend die?  My anger towards his actions came out and I vented.  Why did  my doggie girls, Gracie and Lucy Lou, have to die within three weeks of each other?  I dug, I cried, I planted, I cussed.  I watered and I screamed (good thing no neighbors were around).  I laid on the grass and sobbed.  After I was done and my triad over, I came in the house and looked at myself in the mirror.  My face was covered with dirt and tear streaked.  I had dirt in my hair, which was all  matted.  I looked so bad I had to laugh.  I took a shower, slept for a couple of hours and woke up knowing I had turned a corner. 

Since then I have slowly began moving forward.  The depression has lifted and my emotional well being has greatly improved.  And, I am happy to say that all of the plants I planted that day are thriving.  Me, too.  It took digging in the ground to dig out all the bad emotions in me.

I greatly respect those who find comfort in Jesus.  I greatly respect those who are active in their various churches, what ever church they belong to, who walk the walk and talk the talk.  I have no problem with the names people have to show their beliefs - I am a Christian, I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Pagan.  I encourage everyone to find their paths.

I also know that at this time in my life "belonging" or "joining" a UU church isn't in the cards.  This may change in the future, but for now I am content to attend a UU church on occasion and maybe volunteer with some of the activities like I did last month when my sister's UU church had their annual rummage sale.

To thine own self be true. 

We all need to find our own paths.  We all need to respect each other on this journey.  This is/was my journey.  I will continue to explore and learn about my  beliefs.  Now, as I look at my window and watch a chickadee at the feeder I know I am on the right path.  I have found peace.

Monday, November 01, 2010

MeetUp and the Tennessee River Boat Cruise

Ever hear of MeetUp?  It is a free, on-line group of people who share the same interests and get together to pursue these interests and have fun.  When I moved down to Georgia from Wisconsin I thought logging on to MeetUp and going places/doing things would help me to make friends, and I was right.  I am active in two book discussion groups and am part of two other groups who like to hike and do a wide variety of other fun things.  While there are specific "singles" groups geared to meet members of the opposite sex, I am not interested in those groups.  Being new to the area, my goal is to meet friends and get out and do things, while exploring the area.

On October 24 I went on a 3 1/2 hour Tennessee River Boat Cruise in Chattanooga.  I drove up with four other very nice women and we had a great time. 

It was a picture perfect fall day
The fall colors were at their peak.

Even the clouds were beautiful

Great views the whole time

So pretty

When you log on to MeetUp you enter your zip code and what type of activities you enjoy.  Different groups will appear and you can review them and see if they would be a good fit for you.  I plan to do more with the 'adventures" group. There were 44 on us on this cruise.   Other activities they do are game nights, movies, hiking, kayaking, dancing, holiday parties, concerts, etc.  I enjoy the book discussion groups, too. 

If you are new to an area or just want to meet new people in the area you are in, I highly recommend MeetUp.  Several of my friends throughout the United States have joined and like it, too.