silent

I honestly have never been at a loss for words. As a child my father called me a chatterbox. I could chat anybody up on almost anything once I got an idea of their interests.

But this strange restriction has got me. I have realized I am fed up with it and am trying to quietly wait it out. I’m at a point where I am certain a doctor will have a universal solution and we will all be free of this.

Freedom is not just movement, but a state of mind. You can have all the money you could ever imagine, access to any form of travel, homes in many countries and still be bound in some way.

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I hear over and over of Christian or prisoners of other faiths, wrongfully imprisoned yet their hearts and minds are unbound by the cell that has become their world. They sing, they accept with joy even the vile or menial tasks they are given and do their very best at it.

This virus is very odd. There seems to be more to it and we are fighting psychological as well as social and emotional bondage from it. I for one am beginning to tire of the same doctors who have been directing us these past several months. But when new doctors begin to tell us of therapies that have proven successful in treating this malady, that could give us immunity and therefore freedom, they are quickly silenced.

Why?

I may never know the answer. I do know that God knows the number of our days. This relieves considerable stress. I no longer worry irrationally about masks or hand sanitizer. I do what I am legally directed, follow sensible advice and leave the rest.

Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu have experienced little change in their routines. We have never been banned from parks so as long as the weather has warranted we go for walks. The summer has begun to be summer hot so we are limited in time of day, but they are older now and do not mind the extra long afternoon nap times.

The beach inn where my family and I vacationed every summer cancelled all existing reservations, then opened to new reservations. This made no sense, since many simply made new reservations. We did not, nor did anyone who shared the inn with us for ‘our’ week.

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So since I did not get to visit my family last year for any holiday at all it’s been a year since I have seen them. Call me foolish but I’m driving to east Texas from coastal NC next week. Packing masks, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes.

Unless this Isaias storm has other ideas.

(why couldn’t it just be called Isaiah?)

skipping seasons

Well it’s happened again. Winter ends abruptly in summer. We never really had a winter here, this year. Four, maybe five days with early morning frost. No ice or snow when generally we see a couple of flurries. But what happened to spring?

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A couple of mornings started out with a chill only to melt it off in a few short hours. The petunias I planted were perky with bright, full blooms. By afternoon the heat wilt had melted them into a vegetative heap. The cultivated spring flowers have burst through the soil and daffodils (they are first) stand cheerfully announcing tulip’s arrival. Before they are gone the azaleas bloom. Tree leaves are just now budding, the mighty oak leaves are tender, tiny and baby soft and seem so vulnerable for such a formidable tree.

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I think I enjoy the wildflowers most. This comes up each year at a nearby park and it colonizes. This plant was on its own but next year will likely be a family. I have collected a seed pod or two but it does not grow for me.

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There is another park where pathways are well-defined in winter months, and rescue dogs Lily and Lulu love pioneering through the trails. In summer the undergrowth and smaller trees make the paths undefinable so we stick to the paved walkway. Also we miss out on surprising an occasional snake which works for me.

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Yesterday we sat on the riverbank before the day was too hot and were treated to this sailboat venturing out to sea. I often wonder where people go.

So we still enjoy watching trees wake up and giving cool shade. Anoles are thawing and can move faster than Lily and Lulu already. The carpenter bees (bumble bees when I was little) are busy in what flowers we have and finding some wood to lay their eggs. I have seen butterflies emerge from cocoons, even baby earthworms warming up, but I never saw a carpenter bee hatch.

5EE0C213-CBBC-4888-B9DE-53B8EED77293Robert Louis Stevenson, “XXIV Happy Thoughts” from A Child’s Garden of Verses

 

early

I can’t speak for every teenager but I was not a morning person those years. I relished occasional late night movies, “Creature Features”, “Thriller Theater”, anything that riveted my adrenal glands. So after the last one ended at 2 a.m. I toddled off to bed unless my dad had already gotten up to shoo me away from the television. So my mornings  started around noon or later.

After my son was born that all changed. Life was lived for a higher purpose and early mornings were part of it. Then I worked and until I became a librarian morning started where life’s mission was to get my son up for breakfast and in the car to get to school. Library days  started at 11 a.m. a couple of days a week when I worked 2nd shift till 9.

Now I am retired. I am managed by two rescue dogs, husky-mix Lily and terrier-mix Lulu. Mornings are the most important part of the day. The sleeping quiet of the pre-dawn, 4 or 5. Hearing each bird sing its wake up song. Walking our favorite paths before anyone or anything has made its mark– people, cars, even the sun. So this morning we saw in the earliness a primordial mist clinging to a nearby field

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and Lily and Lulu take note

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It’s early too for woodland spring flowers, these being ones I do not know what they are before they open

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except wintergreen. Easily identifiable for its tri-leafed form, and a tiny flower bud at the center that will become a brilliant white 5-petaled flower, which will then become the brightest red berry

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Later a different trail turned up wild blueberry bushes absolutely loaded with blooms which will soon be luscious, sweet berries

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Payback for a long, very cold winter… an abundance of spring, newness, refreshment and food. If I am lucky I will be early enough to have some before the birds eat them all.

“Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances.”   –C.S. Lewis

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever, amen…” –Ephesians 3:20, 21

Lulu

So when my special-needs rescue dog Murphy died I really thought rescue-mix husky Lily would recover. Eventually. After about 2 years we even moved 4 hours away but she kept looking for him. So when we were at the pet store to buy food and treats I stopped in front of a little black and white dog in a crate at an adopt-a-thon.

Lulu.

She sure looked an awful lot like Murphy. So we got permission to foster her. She and Lily got on well, so we adopted her. A few weeks later she scared the lights out of me looking for all the world like she was having a seizure. But she didn’t convulse, she didn’t lose consciousness. I did not believe it actually was a seizure. Her vet disagreed. So I got a second opinion. The next vet suggested a back muscle spasm. He took an x-ray and did not see an evident problem.

Things went along fine until 5 months later when she had another one. The vet gave a prescription for a sedative in case they really were seizures and same guarded prognosis.

Just before Thanksgiving this year we were walking and a little girl asked to pet Lulu. I said yes and her mother asked a question. As I spoke to her Lulu yelped. She seemed ok, we finished our walk. But then Lulu started yelping at strange things. She yelped if Lily came too close, if she jumped down from a chair, if I picked her up, so we went back to her vet. More x-rays, blood work, maybe a ct scan they said. Next day they said the blood work was fine but she has an anomaly in her back. Right where her tail joins her spine. So more prescriptions and special food.

I looked this medicine up: it is a pain blocker. Ok, so she can’t feel pain but shouldn’t we be working on the thing that causes the pain? Or an anti-inflammatory medicine to help the pain without disguising it?

And what about this “anomaly”. Has she always had it (she was several years old when I adopted her), and if she has did it just get worse? Will it go away? Is it the disc or the vertebra? Is this a thing she was born with or did it happen some other way?

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Lulu feeling better chewing a salmon treat

What is it about phone conversations? I thought of none of my concerns until I’d hung up. I know vets are busy and it’s hard enough to get them on the phone the first time. So I will wait with all my questions until Monday when he said to call and give an update.

So she has made progress. She is not yelping anymore, even growls at Lily again which is a good thing (Lily can take it). She can go down steps but has some trouble going back up. She has not lost interest in her food or her toys. But it is not easy just hanging around the house. She loves her walks and Lily really needs to get out, being a large dog. Chasing the squirrels in the backyard is ok but only takes a few seconds. They both love their long walks at the nature preserve (a couple of miles) or nearby parks.

But the vet has said she can’t have any real walks for about a week, no matter how good she feels. I have tried a couple of times, we walked in the neighborhood and got to about 100 yards from the door and stopped. Lulu gave me an “uh oh” look. So I carried her back home. We are learning our limitations, but I know she really hopes this doesn’t last forever.

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Autumn, finally

It’s been summer hot for so long fall colors completely surprised me this week. We went for our usual walk in the woods, rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I. Foggy morning, but we came to the millpond…

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Eerily still, drops of mist plinking into the pond, no crickets, no birds, no frogs.

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Lily, always looking for something of interest

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Lulu quite ready to move us along

So still, as though waiting for something. The autumn, a flash of brightness, the days grow shorter with brilliant reds, yellows, orange to show for it in maples, sweetgum, dogwood, cypress. Lighting our way through the onset of the dimmer winter, such as it is here, before they fall, those leaves, to carpet the forest floor. Then sleep. Dying to rest, waking in a few brief weeks to bring newness of life again.

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Enshrouded like this almost ashamed they’ve lost their summer’s glory, giving way, saying goodbye to this year’s offering of shade, food, nesting homes, the grace of the air we breathe. Cleansing our atmosphere for us, now losing their power to begin the long sleep.

Yet still, life emerges, continues amid the preparation for rest….

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barely visible on the leafy ground a turtle looking for a safe spot to dig its winter haven.

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no, Lily, don’t think he needs our help.

Summer, 2017, signing off….

Skateboards and snapping turtles

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So there’s this great park near where I live. It’s got a huge skateboard ramp, a little pond with a couple of fountains and lots of benches around the pond. Rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I enjoy late afternoon walks around the pond, stopping at the odd bench to sit and feel the cool breeze. As we walk often a skateboarder will stop to pet Lily and Lulu, which they absolutely love, each pushing the other to glean the most pets.

As we were driving out of the parking lot recently I noticed a guy standing by the curb across the street, an odd, dark lump at his feet. So I asked, “What is that?”

“Turtle,” he said.

Me: “Is it dead?”

Guy: “No, I’m kicking it to try to get it to go off in the drain ditch.”

So I get out of the car, walk over. Kicking turtle man has dirty tissues gingerly held in his fingers where clearly he unsuccessfully tried to pick up this pretty large turtle.

“You can’t pick it up,” he says. “It jerks its head around and bites.”

So I bent down, picked the now really angry turtle up by the back edges of its carapace and, sure enough that head stuck way out and swung around to try to bite me. Not having any luck with biting me it seemed to consider its plight, now 3-4 feet floating above ground as I quickly walked it across the street to the pond.

I placed it in the fringed cattail edge and waited. And waited. I don’t know if it needed a moment to recollect itself, having been mortified at actually being touched by humans or it wanted to see if I had other plans. So I stepped toward it. >>Plop!<<

Off it swam, many stories to tell.

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Logging

Where we used to live there was some undeveloped property within my subdivision that belonged to the local electric company. There were those gargantuan electricity towers, but a lot of it was woods and some of the locals who had ATVs drove all through there creating these very convenient wide trails where husky-mix rescue dog Lily and I would spend hours walking. So when we moved east we were so happy to find not far a large farm that had been converted to a farm animal rescue and land trust, with wooded trails, a mill pond and a beautiful pine thicket.

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A year ago we adopted Lulu, terrier-mix rescue dog who enjoys these walks also. The most wonderful thing about this is it’s 62 acres with various levels of walking trails, the longest being about 2 miles, and friendly dogs can go off-leash. We really enjoy these walks and the other dogs and their persons, too. Occasionally we meet a dog that really needs to be on the leash but I guess friendly is in the eyes of the beholder.

So it did not surprise me when we saw a sign noting there would be logging back in the pines. I would imagine there needs to be some sort of hefty revenue to keep up all those farm animals. They have everything from pigs to sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, chickens, ducks and they used to have a cow but I don’t know about that now. Anyway, that’s what I figured, why they were taking some of these trees down to help pay for all these animals’ upkeep, but someone else told me, no, they had a CO2 agreement where they were required to thin the trees to allow other trees to grow bigger. Makes no sense to me, taking out some trees with a canopy to allow other trees’ canopies to grow bigger but anyway, they came this week and basically clear-cut this forest…

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So now it won’t be quite as shady, but the mill pond is still there to cool our feet/paws in–

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Exercise

My Dad lived to be 95 years old. Growing up in Colorado he was pretty active. Horses, ice hockey, mountain climbing. He’d had an accident when he was about 16 with a bad fall from a mountain. He lay at the foot of this mountain for about a day until his father came looking for him. His doctor there told him it was just badly bruised, prescribed bed rest but when nothing got better his father took him to Mayo Clinic. They found a smashed hip which they replaced, yet Dad for the rest of his life walked with a slight limp.

So when he was 93 or so he became what some call infirm, but he never got old. His doctor sketched out several exercises to keep him ambulatory, more or less active.

He almost never did these.

I would take him to his check ups. Doctor would ask if he was doing his exercises. “Oh, my yes,” he’d say. I, sitting behind him where doctor could imperceptibly look at me, would be frantically shaking my head, “no”. So his doctor who was quite fond of Dad, most everyone was, would ratchet up his insistence, in a gentle way, and Dad would agree whole-heartedly. But just like drinking his 6-8 glasses of water, it was whatever he chose to do.

He lived on his own terms, good or bad.

So when I had my 60th birthday a year ago I decided 20 years of running most mornings was enough and gave myself permission to stop. Maybe husky-mix rescue dog Lily was relieved, she seemed to enjoy our 3-4 mile-a-day runs. I decided to be kind to my knees. They’d served me well for so long, why risk pressing my luck?

So now Lily and terrier-mix rescue dog Lulu and I walk at a nature preserve here nearly everyday where they can go off-leash and it is a pleasant hour or so walk through 2-plus miles of mostly shaded trails. But sometimes I wonder if it is enough.

In warmer months I also ride my bike 5-10 miles a day but recently I have (in the occasional times I actually watch any television at all) noticed a commercial for a new stationary bike. One that simulates mountain biking (which I have never done), beach biking, and cycling in general. This ad is really tempting. A svelte young woman (who later turns out to actually even be a mom when her husband and child appear as she gently blots glistening dots of perspiration from her brow) in a picturesque glass-enclosed exercise room pumps away on this bike, listening to the digital “coach” encourage her up the grueling digital hills. This thing looks and seems so wonderful, I can almost see muscles forming at her calves, watch her arms as they white-knuckle the handle bars flex as she vigorously pumps.

Yes, I think, I should have something like this.

Never mind that the cost is in the thousands. Or that my day does not have the flexibility to venture forth on these precipitous digital rides. Where would I put this thing? Marketing is clever. We watch these commercials, forgetting we do not have a house like this with a glass-walled 200-square-foot room in which to house the bike. I’d have to build on an addition to my house. Then I’d need to tangle with my HOA and I make it a point never to interact with my HOA. Besides which I do not have any extra space where I could add on anything, certainly not an exercise room.

So I guess it’s huffing along the local rural roads outside my subdivision, and enjoying the sun-dappled walks in the nature preserve.

I’ll take that.

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Scattered

My mind has been completely unfocused lately. So this post likely will be some kind of hodgepodge, miscellany, an “olla podrida”. That last descriptor was the title of the yearbook at the prep school where my brother graduated. It has basically 2 definitions: first, some sort of Spanish stew with lots of chick peas and the second is hodgepodge. Which is anything but what those boys (now a coed school) were. They were for the most part very intelligent, well-grounded, highly socialized gentlemen who graduated mostly knowing exactly what rockets they would fly as they soared to change the world.

My life these days is definitely not that. If it ever was.

Maybe it’s the election, or my recent disappointing dentist’s appointment, my recent worst-haircut-ever, or that it’s fall –a season I look forward to but this year thanks to hurricane preoccupation it came before I could prepare for it, savor its coming — or maybe something in my brain that simply has not surfaced yet.

So I take rescue dogs Lily and Lulu every day for their walks, either to the beach or the nature preserve. The recent visit to the beach I waded out farther than Lulu’s calculated retractable leash could reach and thanks to a rogue incoming wave she got a good dunking. It wasn’t until I felt vigorous yanking at the other end that I turned to see her attempting to leap out of her harness and fly over the offending wave. I scrambled back over the water to gently pick her up and carry her to drier sand. I think for her the worst of it was the rinsing of the hose before we got back in the car to go home. She has gotten a little more used to gentle toweling so that went better than usual.

When you adopt a new rescue dog there is really no way of knowing what they have lived through. Sometimes the rescuer can tell you something about their lives, but that is only what they have been told unless they actually saw what they lived with. So each day Lulu shows me something she does not like.

After the storm we were picking up the (very minor) debris in the yard and she shied away to a great distance when I picked up a long stick. Mental note: someone may have threatened her. At least I hope that’s all it was.

Husky-mix rescue Lily loves to be toweled after a bath or getting caught in the rain. It’s like a huge rub-down. Lulu runs frantically evading the whole process until, once she sees it is a gentle patting dry she calms down. Each time it is a little easier to catch her, but still.

She won’t eat her food if Lily is standing behind her, or if there is a storm, or if I in any way indicate that I am in a hurry.  Maybe her rescue, that had many dogs besides Lulu, let each fend for themselves and being kind of small and very polite Lulu got whatever was left. If that.

She is beginning to love to greet people though, something she did not take any interest in at the first but I have noticed on our walks she will go out of her way to see whether a fellow walker will reach down to pet her or say hello.

Some things take time. Like pulling thoughts back into focus.

Maybe by next week the other brain-shoe will drop.

Spring surprises

So I would have pictures but the only camera I had with me when we saw the snakes was my phone. I have a stupid phone, flip phone actually, so I can’t get the pictures from the phone to here.

The first snake we saw I texted to my son and he swears it was a copperhead. Probably 4 feet long. I did not think this was what the snake was. My dogs didn’t even notice it. It had little diagonal boxes on its back with darker spots inside. Of course, it could have actually been the typical cross-hatched markings but my eyes chose to see it differently. Whatever. The snake just lay there. Eyes open, tongue flashing out. Even when I went back to take its picture, didn’t move.

The next snake really could have done damage. We were walking on the trail behind where I live and Lulu (now a part of our “pack” only 2 weeks) leaned over the side of the creek embankment, sniffing something. I saw the grass move quickly and heard a splash. Looked down, sure enough a water moccasin quickly squirming its way across the clear creek bed. That one gave me shivers. Those are deadly. I can remember my mother shrieking at my brother, probably about 10 or 11 when she learned he and his golfing friends were wading around the water hazards on the club golf course looking for lost golf balls. These guys didn’t sell them, they used them. They were the championship foursome in those days.

So the last snake was greenish and yellowish vertical-striped, probably around 5 feet long. Lily, stepping over it actually bumped it with her paw. It flinched but did not go after her. Doing a little research I turned up garter snake. These snakes usually eat fish, tadpoles, frogs, and carrion. This snake was nowhere near any body of water so it must have been either waking up out of its hibernation, lost, or eating something dead.  They also are non-poisonous.

One out of three is good I guess, since the first 2 basically ignored us.

One thing that has really bothered me since I moved here. I should point out this move was something of a dream come true for me. I have loved the wildness of North Carolina’s outer banks for many years. Though only near the lower barrier islands I am still closer to those islands than before and am quite happy to be here. I did not think, though, that there was anyplace on this planet that had no lightning bugs. Maybe you call them fireflies, but they’ve been something of  a harbinger of sultry, hot breeze summer nights for me as much as crickets and cicadas since I was a child and I cannot imagine life without them.

Last year I saw not a single lightning bug.

I canvassed neighbors, newly-made acquaintances. No one could recall seeing them, not in the recent past. No idea why. Salt air? No one knew. I refused to believe it.

So rescue dogs Lily, Lulu and I went for a walk, braving the early dusk since likely snakes were not sunning themselves on creek banks, on the little trail here in my neighborhood. I almost ignored the brilliant yellow flashing dots and mentally dismissed them. No… could it be?? It was!

Lightning bugs. Dozens. So maybe they aren’t in backyards but at least I know where I can find them.

Sans water moccasins, I hope.