THE FAMILY ALBUM: Pets of The Haasienda ~ Harrigan

My adult life has been enriched by the love of the pets who have lived with me.

Let me introduce my furry kiddos, past and present.

HARRIGAN

There always seems to be that one child who pushes a parent’s buttons, not so much from misbehavior but usually due to the child being a bit head strong and always believing they can be the parent.

This would be my Harrigan.

Now, before I launch into this, Harrigan is the best dog. She’s highly devoted, obedient, loving, affectionate, and is like the child you know would give you a kidney. However, we clash over her headstrong nature and her always wanting to be the lead dog.

Harrigan was named in honor of Nedda Harrigan Logan, the wonderful wife of my directing mentor, Joshua Logan (look them up!). Mrs. Logan’s father was Edward “Ned” Harrigan, the subject of George M. Cohan’s song, “Harrigan.” I hope Mrs. Logan would appreciate having a dog named in her honor, especially this particular pooch who surpasses the others in intellect, agility, talent, and utter devotion.

The first morning of arrival, I observed The Sisters with Chief in the backyard. Bailey went about her potty business. Harrigan followed Chief around the yard and when he hiked, she hiked. She eventually figured it out but it seemed to be a forecast of her need to lead.

The second morning after their adoption, a student’s mom who was also a veterinarian said she went up to the gate where Chief and the two baby Sisters sat. Ann reached over to pet Chief; he ducked his head and allowed her to pet him. She did the same with Bailey who complied. Ann said that when she went to pet Harrigan, the puppy not only raised her head but used her paw to direct Ann’s hand for petting.

“I have a feeling you’re going to have a very headstrong challenge with Harrigan,” reported Ann.

The third morning, Harrigan came into the kitchen dragging the leash that had extensions so I could walk all three dogs. She sat by the leash, looking up at me with the “Are you going to stop what you are doing so we can go on our morning walk?”

Later that day, while sitting in the front room reading, I heard the gate leading into the kitchen, shaking violently. Tiny Harrigan was shaking the gate and did so until she managed to get it open. Ugh…

Agility was a gift from the very beginning. When she got a little larger she learned how to scale the gates. I bought 48” to 52” tall gates… she should have been named Flyer.

Harrigan is far less energetic than Bailey, but that doesn’t mean she is low key. Her brain is always working and you can follow her thought patterns at times. If attention is not shown her within a reasonable amount of seconds, Harrigan will raise her paw to tap at you.

Here we are, two months and two days shy of Harrigan and Bailey’s 8th birthday. It’s been fascinating to observe The Sisters from 8-weeks old till now, developing their personalities.

Every night, Harrigan sleeps at the foot of my bed, occasionally coming up to my shoulder to snuggle when Bailey is not barring her from getting close to me. The Sisters are still very possessive with me and share snarls and snips when territory is breached.

Harrigan resembles Flyer in appearance, intellect, and devotion. Since her arrival, Harrigan, like her predecessor Flyer, has worn a red collar.

Here’s to Harrigan who challenges my patience but has my heart.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Pets of The Haasienda ~ Bailey & Harrigan’s arrival

My adult life has been enriched by the love of the pets who have lived with me.

Let me introduce my furry kiddos, past and present.

BAILEY & HARRIGAN – their arrival

I will write a separate entry for each girl; however, their adoption night adventure was a bit unique.

The darkness had already settled throughout The Miami Valley that Wednesday night. It was Christmas but I had decided, with Mother’s support, that I should hold off on coming to Indiana as Navi had been killed four days before. Mother said, “As much as I want to see you I don’t think you should leave Chief at this time. We can visit after Christmas.”

Four days of staying almost entirely in bed had taken an emotional and physical toll. I did walk Chief every day, and we even ventured over to Hills & Dales Park for a change of scenery. One of my students, Tristan Bomholt hiked with us and took photos of Chief and me. Whenever there is a change in The Haasienda – a son or pet’s arrival, a son or pet’s departure – the moment is always noted with a family photo of The Haasienda’s new and current occupants. Now, it was just Chief and myself.

Around 9:00 PM, the email notification sounded from my laptop on the hospital bed I’ve used for “working from bed” since 1993.

“Mr. Haas. I understand you are looking for puppies. Please call me at _____ so we can arrange for you to come see them.” The woman included a Craig’s List link.

I sat up in bed. Someone is playing a joke. Yes, I had discussed getting a new companion, mostly for Chief, but that was a private conversation in the middle of Trader Joe’s. I knew she was not messing with me; she knew my heartache.

The phone rang. It was a student’s dad. “Oh, my gosh! I am so sorry that Kevin jumped the gun.”

This family had been with me for a number of years and I had taught all four of their children, Kevin being the youngest and last, now a senior in high school. The older children were all music teachers and Kevin was following their lead, too.

The family had known all my pets since 1998 and they were always so sweet to my furry crews and sons. The family was saddened by Navi’s loss, especially since Navi was Kevin and his mom’s pal on Tuesday nights. While watching television, post Christmas celebrating, a Human Society commercial came on and the dad said the entire room began sniffling.

“Okay. We’re going to divide up a search. What we find, I will take over to Darin on Friday or Saturday to share the info with him.” He assigned all four children, his wife, and himself areas to search for dogs: SICSA, Humane Society, etc.. Kevin was assigned Craig’s List and jumped the gun by contacting the lady with ten puppies!

After speaking with Kevin’s father, I sat up in bed, looked over the link to the puppies that were listed as a mix of beagle and German short-haired pointer. The puppies were adorable.

“Can you come down to look at them tonight? I only have three left and a lady is coming to look at them. Plus, we’re leaving town in the morning.”

I crawled out of bed, dressed, reassured Chief I was coming back, and stepped out into the mild 30 or 40 degree night. I aimed the van southward toward the southeast corner of Taylorsville Road and Lasourdeville Road.

En route, I chatted with Mother on the phone. I explained what I was doing and she got a bit choked up. “Good. You and Chief both need this and a dog needs you.”

She continued to say that my Facebook account was on overload with more than 3,000 comments of sympathy. I had not been on Facebook since the night of Navi’s death. “It reminds me of George Bailey in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.”

I pulled into the drive of the dogs’ owners and went to the back of the house as instructed to visit the puppies in the kennel with their mama, the beagle. The lady before me had already taken one puppy so only two remained. One was black and white and none to shy, while the other was the runt, a bit timid (yes, you read that correctly for those who know her), and possessed the beagle genes.

I had already told the lady I had a $50 gift card, the same amount as a puppy. She said it was great because she was an elementary school teacher and no one had given her a gift card that year.

I couldn’t decide between the two females and hated the thought of leaving one all alone.

“Take them both.”

I looked up at the crazy lady. “You said you were a teacher; I am guessing a used car salesman.”

“Your student said you’ve lost two dogs within five months. Maybe these two will soften that blow.”

After a few minutes of inner debate, which was actually probably not more than two seconds, I asked where I might find the nearest ATM to retrieve $50.

“The gift card alone will be fine for both girls. Merry Christmas.”

I returned to the van with a female puppy tucked under each arm. I placed them in a laundry basket I kept in the van to expedite grocery bag loads into the house. As I turned back onto I-75 North, I called Mother.

“Oh, I can hear the puppy.”

“Puppies.”

Mother laughed, “I see you pulled another Chief and Navi. You went in for one and came out with two. What have you named them?”

I wanted to name one Harrigan in honor of Nedda Harrigan Logan, the wife of my directing mentor, Joshua Logan. Mrs. Logan was the daughter of Edward “Ned” Harrigan, the subject of George M. Cohen’s bouncy song, “Harrigan.” (“H-A-double R – I, GAN spells Harrigan!”)

“What about the other one?” Mother inquired.

“Well…” Then it hit me. “You mentioned George Bailey, earlier. I guess I call the other one, Bailey.”

Thus, The Sisters, Bailey and Harrigan were christened with their new names around the Springboro exit of I-75 North.

I realized The Sisters had been silent for a spell and turned to look over my shoulder. The laundry basket was empty. I panicked, a little, pulled over to the side of the road, turned on my flashers, and flipped on the lights to search for the girls.

Ahhh… a lump caught in my throat. They had crawled out of the laundry basket in the back of the van and were snuggled together right beside my driver’s seat. Already, they knew we were family.

But, there was more family to acknowledge: Chief! How would he handle these two?

After introducing the girls to my neighbor, Mama Kay, I braved myself upon entering The Haasienda.

I stepped inside the house and Chief looked at me from behind the gate. I set The Sisters down so he could sniff them through the gate. They were trying to get through the gate to meet Chief.

Finally, I brought Chief into the front room, The Sisters dancing about him. He observed them for a few seconds before dropping to the floor, wiggling on his back as tiny sisters crawled excitedly over him. 

After some “getting to know you” time, I carried The Sisters upstairs, tossing them into the king sized bed which was actually two twin beds fastened together. Before climbing into bed, Chief went over to one of the high backed chairs and nibbed around for something. He came to the bed, bringing each girl a puppy blanket. I had forgotten I washed Flyer’s blankets following her death in July and set them behind the chair, out of sight. But Chief remembered and returned the blankets to use for his new sisters. If either, or both of the puppies got too close to the side of the bed, Chief would grunt; apparently, they got his message and returned to the center of the bed.

The next several days The Haasienda was brimming with visitors who came to meet The Sisters.

My friend, Kate Harrigan, the granddaughter of Joshua Logan and Nedda Harrigan Logan, saw my posted photo introducing Bailey and Harrigan.

“What a clever connection with the two names! I love it.”

Connection? I had made no intended connection in naming them. Perhaps not intended, but there was a remarkable connection.

When Mr. Logan was a student at Princeton University, he was directing a show on campus and was in need of an additional actor. He asked one of his friends, an architect major, to consider doing the role, which he did. The architect major was so taken with performing that he turned his major to acting. That former architect major went on to star as George Bailey in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE… Jimmy Stewart.

Thus was the arrival of The Sisters, Bailey and Harrigan, easing deep sorrow, building new energy and excitement, and offering me so much joy with their wiggly affection and continued youthful energy.

The Sisters certainly have helped to make it a wonderful life.

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MY DAY: Monday morning

The 92% humidity is fine with the 70-degree weather and nice breeze whipping from the back corners of the house onto the deck. The expected high for today is 88.

I accidentally Zoomed my son fifteen minutes early for our chat time, catching him just as he entered his flat (apartment) from a run. I was impressed that he could even talk and not be winded. Our discussion today was about the 9th Amendment to The Constitution, to be continued tomorrow, and perhaps, Wednesday, as well. I love these topics and conversations where I learn so much.

The afternoon teaching schedule kicks in at 2:00 PM and I finish up at 11:15 PM. Yesterday, Sunday, was the start of the academic school year’s lesson schedule. I agreed to Rita plotting a 30-minute break at 6:00 PM each evening. Until last night, I didn’t realize just how much I appreciated that spare time to eat, attend to a few things, and recharge before the later lessons for the next five hours.

More of my recent grads leave for college this week. I am so excited for them and wish them well. Several recent post-grads are remaining with me for an extended time, most due to Covid situations at their schools, and as with last year’s former students entering their freshman year of college, I really did love having them a bit longer.

My Instacart delivery arrives between 9 AM – 10 AM; however, I’ve always had much success with them arriving at the beginning of their proposed delivery frame.

For me, Instacart is brilliant, economical, and satisfying. I loathe shopping, even without a pandemic. Shopping is a brutal sport for me and I have little patience when doing it. When I do shop in a store, which has been months ago, I tend to drop more into the cart than I truly need. I am guessing I save an additional $15-20 by not shopping for myself as the employees simply use my list. The monthly fee is $10, waiving the delivery fee, $6, per delivery. I am saving $14 with four weekly deliveries. There’s the driver’s tip which, even if more for larger deliveries, is still saving me a few dollars in the end.

The four pooches are already relaxed on the deck. Chief seems less energetic this morning. Instead of his sphinx-like pose, he is napping on his side, seemingly uninterested in guarding his domain. Erma, in 45 minutes, has only paid me one visit which is unusual for her.

On with the day… Oh, and this notification just arrived.

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O, FOR HISTORy: Photos of the 1904 World’s Fair

If I could return in time to any one Abe the, it would probably be the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.

I could go on and on about this event but instead, refer those interested to two particular sites.

Lee Gaskin has a marvelous website that anyone interested in this particular world’s fair would find hours of delight.

http://atthefair.homestead.com/1904Fair.html?fbclid=IwAR0TQrqIjYNvKYph5BzV08oGXwyAcFCQPQOMh3GPqVCUpeYkm492aAII3UQ

On Facebook there is the 1904 World’s Fair Appreciation Society.

Another fascinating site is http://1904worldsfairsociety.org/site/

Here are some photos of the fair, also know as The Louisiana Purchase Exposition. I especially love the ones with people in the photos so you can get a grasp of just how large these palaces were.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Pets of The Haasienda ~ Bailey

My adult life has been enriched by the love of the pets who have lived with me.

Let me introduce my furry kiddos, past and present.

BAILEY

For seven and one half years, Bailey has been my “Miss Wigglesbottom.” The wiggle begins at her nose and moves to her tail where her hips shake with an hilarious ferocity.

At nearly eight years old, Bailey still hops just as she did the night I brought her home. However, there are times when she’s subdued, snuggly, and greatly affectionate.

Her first night, after we settled into the great bed on the second floor, Bailey galloped over the blankets and pillows to shower me with puppy kisses. She laid her head on my pillow. Nearly eight years later, she often joins me for bedtime, resting her head on my pillow, pressed against my chest.

There are times that I wonder if Bailey’s Friskies go to the top of her bowl. Her petite cuteness often shines as an innocent puppy but also the aged former cheerleader that has not stopped waving her pom pons. But, there’s none so adorable as Bailey.

Despite a needy nature, she can also be quite independent and many times I’ve found her in another room, or out in the yard, napping away from the others. She’s okay with being apart from The Pack, now and then.

From the first morning following her arrival, I discovered that when she curled up to sleep on one side, her black patch came together to form a heart. My piano student, Brianna, who’d been quite fond of Navi, nicknamed the spot, “Navi’s heart.” I still call it Navi’s heart. Ironically, Bailey is quite similar to Navi in personality and energy.

Bailey’s thin, high sounding yap with which she arrived developed into a husky low bark. She and Harrigan are both very vocal, especially Bailey. Between Bailey, Harrigan, and Erma, it’s a strong battle to out-bark the other. Bailey’s lower timbre is often overshadowed by the other two but she will go for the endurance record.

From the moment she met Chief upon her arrival at The Haasienda, Bailey has been Chief’s biggest fan and snuggle buddy. Several times each day she showers him with kisses and often snuggles right next to him during naps.

The Sisters have aged a bit in the face but still retain their youthful look and consistent energy. ENERGY!

I love Bailey’s personality. All of them, actually; she’s a buffet of personality and I love it.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Pets of The Haasienda ~ Chief

My adult life has been enriched by the love of the pets who have lived with me.

Let me introduce my furry kiddos, past and present.

CHIEF

This is really a tough one to write as this boy has aged and doesn’t move around as easily as he once did. I know this happens and is part of that blessed circle, but this pooch has my entire heart.

In Navi’s story, I described how we came about adopting Chief and Navi in February 2011. I’d rather just launch into my life with Chief.

First of all, I told the boys, Jose and Quintin, that they could name the dogs. Jose wanted to call Navi, “Baby Girl.” Ugh. No way. Cool, different names only.

The boys gave me the names they had selected for the puppies. I took their photos and posted the pictures and names on Facebook.

Within a few minutes, I was getting emails, comments on Facebook, a few text messages, asking, “Is that really the boy’s name?” A former student, then a freshman at The Ohio State University, left a message on my answering machine, “Darin, I have a feeling you did not name the dogs. Or, at least the boy. You might want to look it up.”

Then, Mother called. “Who came up with the boy’s name?”

The Boys.

“That’s what I figured. Do you know what it means?”

No.

My mother explained to her 46 year old son what Choad meant.

I hung up the phone. “Boys! Get down here!”

The footsteps bounded down the stairs and when in the kitchen I heard one son ask the other, “Do you think he figured it out?”

I changed his name to Chief. It was to be a temporary name as Chief was a bit ordinary. That ship sailed.

As a puppy, Chief was the essence of orneriness, mischief, fun, adorable, pissing me off, but displaying such a huge heart.

Chief and Navi arrived shortly after ten year old Flyer lost her sight after a near deadly bout of pancreatitis. While she managed remarkably well, there were occasions when she was in the backyard and would become a bit disoriented. Chief would use his shoulder to nudge her in the right direction, hurry to the top of the deck to bark so Flyer could follow his lead.

Chief was my climber. I have almost too many stories to list but I am attaching a video of his climbing the stove! I could hear when he was on the stove lifting pan lids to see what was cooking!

One day, I set out three hogs hooves for the three dogs. I watched Chief hop up on the cabinet and grab one. “That little shit!” However, he hopped down, carried the hoof into Flyer, and laid it down in front of her. He returned to the kitchen to hand Navi her hoof, and then grabbed the last for himself.

When returning to The Haasienda from walks, Chief was, is the last one to re-enter; he sits and waits for the others to go inside first. He does the same thing when we come in at night from the deck. Chief also allows The Girls to head into the kitchen for meals, first, before he goes to his dish.

Chief was incredibly mischievous and he could push me to my limit.

One day, he was being a sweetheart of defiance and not executing his commands. Since both Navi and Flyer had completed their commands, I broke his treat in half and gave it to The Girls. Without breaking our staredown, Chief backed up, hiked his leg, and urinated on a row of musical theatre binders on the bottom row of a bookcase. I was too busy laughing to reprimand him.

One night at dinner in the kitchen, I was seated in a roller secretary chair from my study. Chief got very upset with me for something, backed up, and head butted my chair. The head butt hit the release bar on the chair; the seat went crashing down with my full weight. My backside rammed directly onto the metal support bar, breaking my tailbone.

In July 2013, Flyer began her final descent. Chief, not yet three years old, was extraordinarily attentive to her and was often right next to her during naps or waking moments. I often laid on the floor next to her pallet, holding her, and listening to music. When it was time to teach a lesson, I would rise and Chief snuggle next to Flyer, wrapping his paws around her.

When the sad morning arrived and Flyer departed for Rainbow Bridge, Chief was inconsolable. I lifted Flyer’s earthly form into a plastic storage crate and placed it in the living room before I drove her down to The Pines for cremation. I prepped Chief and Navi for our regular 7:00 AM walk. Chief approached the storage crate, sniffed around it, and then began head butting the container, crying and howling. During our morning walk, Chief cried.

Five months later, four days before Christmas, we had to bid farewell to Navi who had been hit by a car in front of our house. Chief never left my side and was grieving as much as I was.

Christmas night, after a whirlwind of situational comedy, I returned from the Mason, Ohio area with two 8-week old sisters. I stepped inside the house and Chief looked at me from behind the gate. I set The Sisters down so he could sniff them through the gate. They were trying to get through the gate to meet Chief.

Finally, I brought Chief into the front room, The Sisters dancing about him. He observed them for a few seconds before dropping to the floor, wiggling on his back as tiny sisters crawled excitedly over him.

After some “getting to know you: time, I carried The Sisters upstairs, tossing them into the king sized bed which was actually two twin beds fastened together. Before climbing into bed, Chief went over to one of the high backed chairs and nibbed around for something. He came to the bed, bringing each girl a puppy blanket. I had forgotten I washed Flyer’s blankets and set them behind the chair, out of sight. But Chief remembered and returned the blankets to use for his new sisters. If either, or both of the puppies got too close to the side of the bed, Chief would grunt; apparently, they got his message and returned to the center of the bed.

Training two rambunctious puppies while trying to teach was a challenge. With Chief and Navi, I had sons to assist with their needs while I taught or was in rehearsal. These two girls, Bailey and Harrigan, were all on me! If they became too distributive during a lesson, Chief would step up to them, or between them and growl. They’d leave the study and he would follow them.

Now, Chief and Navi are Staffordshire bull terriers and black lab. Staffordshires were reported to have been the nanny dogs for British babies. I think that lore has been put to rest. However, Chief was the perfect example of a good old fashioned Nanny.

Several years ago I posted a photo of Chief and Dee Friesenberg, a neighbor friend, commented, “Look at his white face.”

I scrolled back up to his photo. All of a sudden, and without my noticing, Chief had begun looking aged, but in a very paternal, wise-looking way. It cut to the core. He’s at that age where his breed lives to be 10 or 12 years old. He turns 11 in November.

Mother and Chief were always pals. When she came to visit, which we now realize was for the last time, she had crawled into one of the twin beds in the guest bedroom. I told the dogs to head upstairs to bed; The Sisters bolted upstairs. Chief stood in the guest bedroom looking anxious as he looked back and forth between Mother and myself.

“Do you want to sleep down here with Grandma?” Mother asked.

Chief did not wait for my permission and snuggled next to Mother. She got a little teary-eyed. His devotion meant so much to her and she said he kept his paw on her arm all night. I believe he senses Mother has passed but still livens up when I say, “Grandma!”

I hug on my old boy every day, reminding him how much he is loved. His puppy-side emerges more frequently and he loves his time on the deck, especially at night. I think he’d spend the night on the deck if he could.

Chief has seen three sons pass through the house, bid farewell to two members of his pack, even two cats, Neko and Clyde, who were also members of his loving pack, tons of students and their parents, and has been a staunch figure at my side through so many life changes.

Oh, how I do love my Chief. He’s the best boy in the entire world.

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Glass Festival & Paula Simmons

Paula Simmons has been a music educator in Elwood, Indiana since 1975 following her graduation from Ball State University.

She actually began with the music program in 1966 when, as a freshman, she began playing flute with The Mighty Marching Panther Band under the direction of Clifford Brugger and Rex Jenkins.

In 1977, I began 7th grade band with Miss Simmons. She and Mother were to become dear friends and that eventually extended to Paula’s parents, Mollie and Paul, and her younger sister, Melanie. The Simmons family was wonderful to Mother and us kids and I am still so grateful to them.

Paula’s teaching and encouragement kept me on the path to teaching. In fact, my last two years of high school, for three hours every morning, I assisted Paula in teaching the 6th grade band program. I cannot express how much I learned from her, and the students, in how to teach beginning instrumental or music students.

I am guessing this is the start of Paula’s 46th year of teaching and it is due to her that the music program has continued with some of the economic hardships that have often drenched our community and the school corporation.

Here are some photos taken of Paula Simmons as she escorted The Panther Band in the annual Glass Festival Parade, sponsored by The Rice Family and The Tin Plate, one of the finest eateries in central Indiana.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Pets of The Haasienda ~ Navi

My adult life has been enriched by the love of the pets who have lived with me.

Let me introduce my furry kiddos, past and present.

NAVI

February 20, 2011, my fourth son, Quintin, and I, along with Flyer, who’d recently lost her sight due to a ferocious, near deadly bout of pancreatitis, were winding our way through the eastern central countryside of Indiana after spending the weekend with Mother and attending my third son’s indoor percussion competition in Indianapolis.

We turned the corner, somewhere near Monroe Central High School and there it was… a huge plywood board with a very sloppily painted, “Free Puppies.”

I slowed down but then sped up to move on. Less than 100 yards I stopped the car. Quintin asked, “You gonna do it?”

I knocked on the door and an interesting gentleman in a white tank top, pants, eating a stuffed sandwich with various ingredients sliding out and onto the floor. I mentioned I was there to check out the puppies. With a full mouth of food, he yelled for his daughter who escorted us to the large barn.

We carefully, near dangerously made our way back to the stall where a beautiful black lad female was surrounded by seven or eight 10-week old puppies. They were mostly black with a bit of white, here and there. Two puppies were completely white.

Quintin asked, “Are we getting one?”

“Pick out which one you want for the family.”

Quintin selected a male dog that was adorable. He would later be known as Chief. I looked down at all the puppies who were clamoring over one another to get closer to us. I saw this very tiny runt being trampled.

“Can you please hand her to me,” I ordered the young teenager. The girl handed me this tiny little girl and I cuddled her.

I never set her back down. We left with both puppies.

Back in the car, a blind Flyer was a bit startled when she discovered there were two lively creatures wanting to play with her. Flyer immediately barged to the front seat and settled on the floor beside Quintin’s legs.

The girl puppy was timid and sweet and preferred to rest in Quintin’s lap during the ride home.

The girl puppy was named Navi, in honor of Quintin’s Navajo heritage. Navi was fairly petite but animated, making great strides to keep up with her brother, Chief.

Her tiny frame bounced as she moved about the house. While Chief could barely manage the steps, Navi was to be carried. Eventually, I had to point out to my very attentive teenage sons that Navi could manage steps; she was simply basking in being a princess.

Navi was the comedienne to a rather stoic Chief. Navi would scoot beneath a blanket, rise, and walk around like a ghost, often chasing Chief with the blanket draped over her head.

Navi and Chief were the best of pals, often snuggling with one another and very attentive to Flyer. When they took naps, they were either divided up on either side of Flyer, or snuggled around her in what almost seemed to be a protective circle.

July 2013, Flyer’s health took a huge dive. Navi and Chief were constantly at her side, their bodies pressed against Flyer for comfort and reassurance. After Flyer died, the siblings wore a sad pall for a few weeks and often sniffed Flyer’s collar which was draped over a door knob.

Five months later, while my son, Josh, and I were unloading items from the van, Navi and Chief both escaped the front porch and took off to the high school next door. I began the chase while Joshua went to retrieve leashes.

I saw one of the dogs run across Shroyer Road. In the northbound lane, I saw a black figure run in front of a van and heard two thumps. Until I got to the figure, I had no idea which dog had been hit.

It was Navi.

Joshua safely retrieved Chief and I carried Navi’s limp body back across the street. One guy saw what happened and stopped to assist. Once on the front porch, Navi revived and was somewhat animated. The three of us examined her and couldn’t locate any cuts, gashes, or signs of being injured except for a skin burn under her one arm.

A veterinarian friend suggested I take her to the emergency vet in nearby Moraine. Navi was checked in and seemed to be doing very well, walking on her own, wiggling, and licking both Joshua and myself.

“I’m sorry, but the X-rays are not good. She has a perforated lung and her stomach is practically shredded. Even with surgery there’s no assurance she will survive.”

It was quickly decided that we needed to prep Navi for Rainbow Bridge. I returned home to bring Chief back so he could say “goodbye.”

The door opened and Navi walked in, very excited to see us. I immediately slammed against the wall of denial: she looked fine! How could I do this?

I laid on the floor and held her. Chief laid beside her. About fifteen minutes later, her breathing became labored. It was obvious she was suffering. Joshua opened the door to alert the vet that we were ready.

I held Navi.

The vet administered the solution.

Navi kept kissing my cheek, showing her devotion and love to the very end.

The kisses slowed down, weakened, until they came no more. Navi laid her head on my shoulder and went into her eternal rest.

When we left the room, those gathered in the waiting room saw there was an empty color and gasped. One lady came up to me, smiled, and patted my arm.

We stepped outside in the unseasonably warm December 21st night. A thunderstorm began. I sat down on the walkway’s curb and sobbed, holding Chief close to me. Josh went for the van as the heavy rain poured down on Chief and me.

The rain stopped. I looked up to find one of the men from the waiting room, standing above me, holding his umbrella over me while he accepted the downpour in my place.

Thank you.

For the next four days, Chief and I remained upstairs in bed. He was miserable. I was miserable. Christmas night, our world changed when I returned from Lasourdesville Road carrying two sister-puppies.

Navi was only three years old and I had only two years and ten months with her. She was cute and humorous, a different dog. She loved to snuggle with me and I often found her sleeping on my pillow, breathing right in my face.

I miss her breath.

Ironically, the two sisters I brought home Christmas night were junior mirrors of the two beautiful females that preceded them. Navi and Bailey are my wigglers and runts, my snuggle buddies, my “lots of kissers,” and the babies.

I still miss and love my Navi.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Pets of The Haasienda ~ Flyer

My adult life has been enriched by the love of the pets who have lived with me.

Let me introduce my furry kiddos, past and present.

FLYER

One Sunday morning in early November 2001, I scanned through the Dayton Dayton News and clipped out an address. Within 20 minutes I was in the car, heading to a farm just a bit south of Xenia. I arrived at the farm and spent some time. I left the farm with a blue-eyed, black and white ten week old puppy.

She was a mix of her springer spaniel dad and her mom, a solid statuesque black lab with blue eyes, compliments of her husky mother.

I had been working on a musical about the Wright Brothers of Dayton and often hiked through Woodland Cemetery where they are buried in a plot with other family members. Woodland was our first stop. I opened the door and the little puppy hopped out the car and scampered right over to the Wright family’s plot! She laid down in front of Wilbur Wright’s tombstone.

Flyer. Her named would be Flyer and how it fit the sweet, talented pooch who possessed a lot of personality and intellect. Later, I was to discover that Wilbur Wright, while doing test flights in France, adopted his own pooch which he named Flyer.

For twelve years, I had all the favorite television and movie dogs all wrapped into Flyer. She quickly learned commands from a very impatient Logan who would smack Flyer-puppy, sparking command memory. The treats were not distributed until both Flyer and Logan had performed each command in a routine of commands.

Flyer won the hearts of everyone and seemed to create a huge fan base. She rode everywhere with me, often perched in the back window of the blue-silver Chevy Lumina.

I will always be grateful for the love and affection Flyer freely offered each newly adopted son and foster son. She was a true therapy dog and shared her love and maternal soothing with each son as needed.

August 2010, Flyer collapsed and per the veterinarian could not be saved as pancreatitis was killing her. We opted to return to the office the following morning to help her over Rainbow Bridge. That night, 52 people, mostly students and parents, came to bid farewell to Flyer. Two former students, both unknown to one another at Bowling Green State University, drove down together for one last farewell with Flyer. Those two young men became best friends due to that drive down to Kettering and back to campus.

For some reason, I could not buy into the fact Flyer’s time was up. It was more than wishful, hopeful thinking – it was my gut. I spent the night researching and with the aide of some friends, put together a diet, learned how to manage her diabetes with insulin shots, and became determined she was to wait a bit longer for her departure.

Three years later, Flyer was still going strong. She lost her sight but had no issues getting around the yard or house.

Flyer was uncertain when we brought ten week old puppies, Chief and Navi, into the mix but they both became her new eyes and guardians, especially Chief. Those rare times Flyer became disoriented in the backyard, Chief would shoulder her to the stone paths and then hurry to the deck to bark so she could follow his sound.

July 2013, Flyer’s health deteriorated rapidly. Mother came to spend several days with us and a parade of loving friends passed by to spend time with Flyer. I would lay on the floor of my study to hold her; as I rose to teach a lesson, Chief, not yet three years old, would scoot in and wrap his paws around Flyer.

The last Monday morning of July, Flyer slipped away. I was holding her and Chief was resting his head on her hip. While Navi whimpered, Chief bellowed and howled with grief.

Flyer’s cremains were shared in several different places in Ohio and Indiana. Her collar, like the collars of beloved pets no longer with us, hangs on the tree each Christmas in lieu of a star. My pets are the real stars of The Haasienda.

It’s been eight years since she passed and I still very much miss Flyer. She was just the best girl. In some ways, Erma seems to be an extension of Flyer, always attentive, playful, intelligent, and loving.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Pets of The Haasienda ~ Logan

My adult life has been enriched by the love of the pets who have lived with me.

Let me introduce my fury kiddos, past and present.

LOGAN (1994-2011)

The first title was Mister Logan, named in honor of my directing mentor, Joshua Logan, until the veterinarian finally and professionally convinced me “he” was a “she.” The home from whom I’d acquired Logan said it was a boy. Several friends, upon a closer examination, insisted I had a female kitten. “Naw, ‘they’ just haven’t dropped yet.” Hmmm… very well. She’ll just be called Logan.

Logan was a combination of human and canine, knowing and executing commands better than most dogs, loved walking on a leash or straddling my shoulders when I roller bladed, and possessing more personality than many humans. She communicated and did so quite often. An open sound, such as a ‘yaw’ meant a positive response while a closed sound, ‘mee,’ was the negative.

Logan frequently pawed the speaker button on my telephone so she could answer. And, friends sometimes asked to have themselves removed from speed-dial because Logan would call and fill their answering machine tape with dramatic, chatty meows.

After moving to Shroyer Road in 2003, Logan, always an indoor cat, developed a fascination with the backyard, Bob’s yard, and the easement beside our home. It wasn’t long until she discovered The Fraze Pavilion down the street where she could join performers on stage or meander about the audience to accept snacks or laps from which she could watch the entertainment.

I could write a book on Logan. In fact, Mother always wanted me to do so. She loved and adored Logan, and loved witnessing or following her antics.

For 17.5 years, the ever wonderful girl was a part of my life. In fact, she was my first kid. From my writing spot on the deck, I can see her grave set with pavers, a bird bath pedestal topped with a mirrored ball.

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MY DAY: Friday morning on the deck

The morning would be perfect except the humidity is 98% and is fine as long as I don’t move or breathe.

The prospected high is 87-degrees so I shall probably remove myself from the deck around 1:00 PM for the air-conditioning in my study.

It’s a quiet morning except for passing pooches who bring out the anxiety in Chief who deems himself the only supervisor of the block.

This morning was the first in three days that I’ve not battled gut discomfort. But, I hopefully have a few days respite from the aching.

It’s Friday and I am still deciding whether to leave The Haasienda for an adventure. I am feeling a bit on the weaker side so I may just remain home bound, today. And that’s fine as I’ve plenty to keep me busy and four dogs who love having me close by.

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MY DAY: Thursday’s kick off

“Kick off” sounds as though something exciting is in the works for this day, but I only used it to ward off the humid gloominess of the morning, anticipating a more upbeat day.

My Dark Sky weather app alerted me at 7:00 AM, and several times thereafter that we were to receive rain. The radar indicated a large band of showers surrounding The Miami Valley. However, Kettering seems to have avoided the rain, so far.

12:30 PM is my standing lunch with friends and colleagues. I do look forward to this time each week.

It’s been a very quiet, uneventful eleven day break. In fact, it’s just what I preferred. My text icon was moved to the back page of my phone alongside the phone icon which remains there. I am sure that when I return the text icon to the front page and open it, there will be an explosion of messages.

I struggle to maintain two lines of communication: email and texting. I insist on not using the private message sources for social media as it complicates my life a tad more than I desire. One stream of communication is perfectly doable in my life, and I do not need a plethora of communication sources. I shall not, and will not spread myself thin and busy myself with searching for communication via multiple sources.

In fact, I don’t comprehend needing to be so attached to the rest of the world as though I shall miss something. I know today’s culture must have these multiple sources but I am from the era where we had the telephone, letter writing, postcards when abroad, and sitting face-to-face for a chat. Of course, there was also Mother standing on the back patio to yell my name when she needed me to assist with something or to come home for dinner while playing.

Folks seem a bit taken aback when they ask for my text-number and I give them my email. I never use the phone unless it’s an emergency or a very last minute item that needs to be communicated. Texting is for my immediate need to communicate; I consider it to be a luxury in most cases. I do have friends and family with whom I text, and for most it’s simply due to the fact I know they seldom check their email. On their lesson days, students are encouraged to text only for an immediate need. That’s fine.

I know I am sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, as we use to say back in my youth, but it is merely my desire to be more productive and organized. For many of my friends and colleagues, having multiple communication sources works for them. For me, they do not. But, that’s my choice and what works best for me. I do not mind being so 1980s or 1990s!

It’s 10:00 AM and I am now an hour behind in writing because I was reading up on various topics of current news. An interesting world and time, indeed, but we’ve always had interesting episodes throughout history. Some prefer to say this is the end of times. Well, that has been a common battle cry throughout most of the world’s history, too, and it’s not just a Christian mantra when things get tough. It’s life. It’s a cycle, in many ways.

On with my day!

Happy birthday to Orville Wright and his younger sister, Katharine Wright Haskell, who were both born this date in 1871 and 1874 at 7 Hawthorn Street, Dayton, Ohio.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY (Part 1): Gotcha Day for Erma = Trust the gut!

I accidentally got on the wrong bus that Saturday afternoon three years ago, mistaking RTA No. 16 for No. 17, and as RTA No. 16 pulled away I decided to simply enjoy the ride.

My iPhone bus app was not working while in full motion so I had no idea where it was taking me as it meandered south on Wayne Avenue, then Smithville Road, then Wilmington Pike, and into the northern neighborhoods of Kettering. I would figure something out.

As the bus passed through the intersection of Forrer Blvd and Wilmington Pike, I began getting a “nudge” to get off the bus, which I did.

I don’t even remember why I felt compelled to cross to the east side of the street when I would soon take a turn westward toward my home 1.5 miles away.

I do remember seeing a folks moving through the parking lot of SICSA and for some reason, I joined the crowd. It was a rather warm day and once inside the A|C was refreshing.

“Welcome to SICSA!” a warm voice volunteer greeted. I was asked several other questions and before I knew it I was in a larger room filling out an application.

But, for what? Why? I had Chief, Bailey, and Harrigan at home. Three was plenty and quite manageable.

“We’ll let you go back in smaller groups,” another SICSA volunteer directed some of us into the first dog room by the lobby while the other half of our group moved through the door to the kennels.

I stood in the middle of the large tile-floor room still wondering why I was there. I finally moved by some of the cages, not engaging with any of the dogs who seemed subdued and not interested in greeting their guests.

I walked to the back kennels. Suddenly, the world came to life with dogs barking and clamoring for attention. I was hooked.

I spent at least thirty minutes, perhaps longer, stopping to chat with each dog, taking time to read their profile sheets.

One particular pooch, “Precious,” seemed loud, ferocious, and far too demanding than my taste permitted. I tried to spend time with her but she exasperated me with her constant barking.

I was accustomed to a well trained, orderly, but still energetic team back at The Haasienda. They executed commands in English, German, and adapted sign language, and firmly knew procedure for my in-home studio teaching schedule.

This “Precious” pooch was aggravating.

“Is there one or several that we can assist you with more information?” the sweet SICSA employee asked.

HUH???? I wasn’t there to get a dog! I was just…

I handed her a card where I had listed six dogs.

We went back into the main lobby and into the first cubicle by the check out station. The SICSA agent began pulling up the profiles, none of which seemed to be a fit for The Haasienda. I was becoming distressed.

But, wait! I wasn’t even wanting another dog.

After pulling up several more pooch-files, she turned and asked, “Now, did you happen to see No. 7?” I shook my head that I didn’t believe so. She pulled up the profile that belonged to Precious!

I pulled back a bit and reported that all Precious did was bark at me and didn’t seem to like me.

“Precious?” asked the employee? “Really? She’s everyone’s favorite, here. We’re really surprised no one has adopted her. I would but I’ve already got two and my husband said I was to bring home no more dogs.”

Precious? Really?

We read through her profile and she seemed like “the dream dog,” “the perfect pooch,” or (I’m almost done) “the caring canine.” But, she was obnoxious and agitating.

Per my comments, the SICSA lady rose and said, “Let me bring Precious in so you can meet her away from the other dogs.”

A few minutes later, this bold, energetic dog burst into the cubicle. She seemed to ignore me and was busy exploring the small space and smelling the floor and walls. I was accustomed to dogs coming right to me but this little lady seemed to care less I was a potential adoptive dad.

(Or, did she already know? Hmmm…)

Another SICSA personnel leaned over the cubicle wall and asked my assistant something who turned to ask if I was interested in Precious.

Yes. (I have no idea where that came from but it seemed decided.)

My SICSA gal turned back to her colleague and before she could say anything I asked if something was wrong.

“Oh, no. Someone else inquired about Precious and she is very interested.”

Without reconsideration, I said, “Please let her meet Precious. If she ends up taking her, that’s fine. I have three at home.”

They wanted to be sure that I wasn’t feeling pressured. Nope. Not at all. “If the lady doesn’t want her, I’ll take her.”

With Precious out of the cubicle I felt some relief.

Why was I there?

What I’m the hell was I thinking?

How would I bring a new dog into The Trio?

It still did not feel “right” but I didn’t budge. Ironically, I didn’t pull out my bus app to see when the next RTA would be approaching. I wanted to leave SICSA but my gut glued me to the cushioned bench in the cubicle.

The SICSA associate returned with Precious. “The lady’s not interested. She thinks Precious is too old.”

“How old is she?”

“She just turned nine last month.”

Gulp! Chief was a year younger than Precious. Ugh. An older dog? A much older dog. All my others had been between 8-10 weeks old when I brought them home. And, what’s that phrase about teaching an old dog new tricks?”

Even at this juncture, I was not feeling a connection to Precious. Oh, and the name made me want to hurl. When we got Chief and Navi, Jose wanted to name Navi something like “Pretty Girl.” Barf. We don’t do cute or insignificant names with our pets. Even though I couldn’t change the names of the sons when I adopted them, I could change the names of an adopted pet. In fact, I didn’t even inquire at SICSA for fear she’d turn into a typical soft voiced concerned welfare worker, “Well, we don’t recommend changing their name because it make affect their bonding…”

I would take care of that later.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY (Part 3): Gotcha Day for Erma = “My precious Erma!”

I hooked the leash on a door knob and approached my three eager babies. I looked back at Precious and she simply sat there, heir head cocked, and her ears pointed straight up.

I knelt at the gate and chatted with Chief, Bailey, and Harrigan who were keenly aware of dog smells through the gate, their noses pressed firmly against the gate to sniff the remains of SICSA.

Finally, I knew it was time to make they introduction. My dogs are really people in fur who walk on all fours. They’re not fond of other dogs, at all.

I brought Precious to the closed gate. Barking. Sniffing. Barking. Sniffing. And, repeat.

A few minutes passed and there was no growling from either side of the gate. I eased it open and allowed Precious to pass through. Immediately, there was a blurred swirl of circled anxious sniffing.

SniffFest 2018 subsided and Precious (ugh, the name!) began exploring the kitchen, bathroom, guest bedroom, and study with the others in close pursuit.

I opened the door to the deck and they all moved out to the yard. So far, it was going better than I had anticipated.

I sat on the deck watching this newly bound quartet move in all directions, but always the original three returning to sniff around Precious.

Back on the deck, Precious stopped and sat at the top of the steps. I had jotted down thirty names that I considered for new name. I called out each name and paused as I awaited some kind of response – I honestly had no idea what the response would be.

“Abigail?” (Abigail Adams). “Katharine?” (Katharine Wright). “Nedda?” (Nedda Logan). And, on it went.

At about the seventeenth name on the list, my preferred name, actually, I called out, “Erma?” for the Dayton born, internationally popular columnist and humorist, Erma Bombeck.

Precious’ ears pointed straight up, her head tilted, her tongue emerged. She rose and walked to me. Erma it was! And, as the first week moved along, she seemed to fit her name, more and more.

Asa former Centerville Cushwa Drive neighbor of the Bombecks said, “I think Erma [Bombeck] would have been thrilled with her beautiful namesake.”

That was the christening moment for me.

“My precious Erma” is my affectionate phrase-name that I call her, acknowledging her original name and her unbelievable sweetness. Erma’s love and gratitude are shared with me dozens of times throughout the day and I feel enormously blessed.

Happy 3rd Year Gotcha Day, my precious Erma! You’ve made such a difference in my world and the world of The Haasienda!

For more information on how to adopt an older dog, please visit the SICSA website.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY (Part 2): Gotcha Day for Erma = Here we go!

The SICSA associate began making copies and pulling out the remainder of the adoption paperwork. I looked down at Precious who seemed completely oblivious to me being right beside her. I was already beginning to feel more doubts about her fitting in with me and the three she would soon be meeting despite the fact that two SICSA employees entered the cubicle to give Precious a farewell hug.

“You are just going to love her.”

(Really?) I nodded and smiled.

With the paperwork completed, I was handed a large bag of dog food which I promptly asked them to keep. There was plenty at home. She put a temporary leash around Precious’ neck and opened the cubicle’s door.

A group of senior volunteers were gathered in a double line to say “goodbye” to Precious. They seemed to genuinely adore her and while happy to know she was adopted, they did seem rather sad she was leaving.

Precious basked in the attention, fiercely wagging her tail, and greeting each volunteer in the line.

“Oh, I just love this girl. She is what her name says – Precious.”

Outside on the curb, I stopped, looked down, and thought, “What have I gotten myself in to?”

“That’s such a beautiful dog. Did you just adopt him… or her?”

I nodded to the lady and her husband who were just entering SICSA.

We crossed the street and just behind Frisch’s Restaurant, three boys were riding their bicycles in circles as they tried to burst open a full plastic water bottle one lad had pulled from his backpack. The one boy stopped.

“You got a beautiful dog, Mister.”

Thank you.

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

A girl.

“She’s so pretty.”

Precious nosed her way to the boy and basked in his immediate affection. I was overly cautious as she was still very new to me.

“I don’t think you have to worry about her attacking anyone. She’s a sweetheart.”

How could he know? I didn’t even know.

The boys rode off, leaving the water bottle in the middle of the parking lot. I retrieved the bottle to throw away but glad I did not as halfway home she needed a drink.

At the stoplight along Dorothy Lane crossing Ackerman Blvd, a lady shouted out her car window as she rounded the corner before us, “That’s such a gorgeous dog.”

By this time I was feeling a bit proud of my choice. People thought she was beautiful.

What was it others were seeing that I could not?

As we continued south on Shroyer Road, I felt very peculiar. I now realize it was anxiety as we neared The Haasienda where I would have the pleasant or disastrous responsibility of introducing Precious to The Trio.

Again, at Dorothy Lane and Shroyer Road, I received two more compliments on Precious’ beauty – one from a guy filling up with gas at Speedway and another from a lady behind her guy on a motorcycle as they waited on the light to change.

As Precious and I continued the next few blocks south on Shroyer Road, I began feeling a gnawing anxiety. I was certain I had done a foolish, spontaneous, sophomoric act of bringing home a fourth dog.

I stopped outside The Haasienda waiting for some kind of divine acknowledgment or interference.

Nothing.

I unlocked the door and we stepped inside Precious’ new home.

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Bob, Janie, Sammy – a Hoosier kid’s lineup

Growing up in Central Indiana as a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, I must say, was pretty doggone cool.

WTTV-Channel 4, which was Indianapolis’ own television coverage area, offered a lot of community focus and children and teens were drawn to three Hoosier celebrities, Cowboy Bob Glaze, Janie Hodge, and Bob Carter creepily known as Sammy Terry.

This trifecta was more than local celebrities. Whether it was at a local shopping mall, county fairs, skate rinks, or other major or minor community events, they were leaders and volunteers, giving much of their time to charity or fundraising events.

COWBOY BOB

For nearly two decades, Cowboy Bob hosted the afternoon cartoon session of “Chuck Wagon Theatre” which was later renamed “Cowboy Bob’s Corral.” Every week day, this gentle homespun giant led viewers in songs and stories, life lessons, and other ideal activities, segueing into cartoons.

About Cowboy Bob: https://youtu.be/G8uMUhWsHGM

JANIE

Janie & Popeye was the after-school hostess who offered a similar format but with her own delightful, feminine touch. Janie, also a musician and music educator, included a good deal of singing during her program and featured many performing artists and organizations from throughout The Hoosier State. Janie and Cowboy Bob were often teamed up for events both on and off television which led many to believe they were married to one another. They were not.

About Janie: https://youtu.be/4KklQcCiiOQ

I don’t recall Cowboy Bob visiting my home town, Elwood, Indiana, but Janie, and later, her successor, Debbie, visited the skating rink during my Washington Elementary School years when Carole & Bruce Boston owned the facility. It was pretty cool to be in fourth grade, holding Janie’s hand as we skated around the rink.

SAMMY TERRY

And, then, Friday nights, the eery introduction to Nightmare Theater with its ghoulish host, Sammy Terry, came on around midnight. The chill floated throughout many living rooms as Sammy Terry and his floating rubber spider, George, introduced the program’s featured horror movie.

About Sammy Terry: https://youtu.be/lTGmQ3G6A9Y

I consider myself lucky to have had these three personalities around throughout my childhood. Janie, Cowboy Bob, and Sammy Terry have each passed on, but what a legacy they left to countless viewers and fans during their heyday.

About Cowboy Bob and Janie shows…. https://youtu.be/HjDYBjdnCpM

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Reactions to Life Events

This is not my writing but from DailyOM.

Our past experiences, can and do, influence our emotional reactions and responses to present events.

Our experiences color everything. The events of the past can have a profound effect on how we see our lives now and what we choose to believe about our world. Our past experiences can also influence our emotional reactions and responses to present events. Each of us reacts to stimulus based on what we have learned in life. There is no right or wrong to it; it is simply the result of past experience. Later, when our strong feelings have passed, we may be surprised at our reactions. Yet when we face a similar situation, again our reactions may be the same. When we understand those experiences, we can come that much closer to understanding our reactions and consciously change them.

Between stimulus and reaction exists a fleeting moment of thought. Often, that thought is based on something that has happened to you in the past. When presented with a similar situation later on, your natural impulse is to unconsciously regard it in a similar light. For example, if you survived a traumatic automobile accident as a youngster, the first thing you might feel upon witnessing even a minor collision between vehicles may be intense panic. If you harbor unpleasant associations with death from a past experience, you may find yourself unable to think about death as a gentle release or the next step toward a new kind of existence. You can, however, minimize the intensity of your reactions by identifying the momentary thought that inspires your reaction. Then, next time, replace that thought with a more positive one. 

Modifying your reaction by modifying your thoughts is difficult, but it can help you to see and experience formerly unpleasant situations in a whole new light. It allows you to stop reacting unconsciously. Learning the reason of your reactions may also help you put aside a negative reaction long enough to respond in more positive and empowered ways. Your reactions and responses then become about what’s happening in the present moment rather than about the past. As time passes, your negative thoughts may lose strength, leaving only your positive thoughts to inform your healthy reactions.

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FROM THE FAMILY ALBUM: Leo Clary

This poem was from the family Bible of my great-great grandmother, Mary Francis nee. Noble Clary, the mother of Charles, Austin, Garrett (John William Garrett), and Leo. Grandma Clary was married to John William Clary of Elwood.

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MY DAY: Tuesday with some drips

Right now, at the 9 o’clock hour, it’s a comfortable 71-degrees with a touch of balminess, waiting for some rain to begin in the next 90 minutes.

There’s absolutely nothing on my schedule except writing. Lots of writing. I am sure my writing space shall move around a bit as it adjusts to rainy conditions.

This morning, Harrigan was in a snit about getting her photo taken. Actually, all of them were uncooperative. Erma kept her back to me for a good fifteen minutes before giving in.

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MY DAY: Another (almost) rainy days and Mondays…

Just because it rained earlier and it’s Monday, I am not down.

It’s shortly half past 9:00 AM and I will soon have my Instacart delivery to put away.

In the meantime, I am at my regular position on the deck, beneath the table umbrella that kept my rocker dry during early morning rains. The sky is a dull steel grey, widely peppered with both white and dark clouds. Two cardinals keep the atmosphere lively with their twin banter and a few other breeds pipe in from time to time.

My first morning cup of coffee accompanied a Zoom chat with my son in London. Twenty minutes into the conversation, David arrived from the airport having been in Virginia Beach for his great-grandmother’s memorial service and cremains commitment to the sea. Not surprisingly, David did take time to Zoom and FaceTime with me while stateside just as he does when he’s in London. I appreciate and am blessed his attentiveness.

I’ve struggled with sleep the past two nights and find myself holding the mug of a stagnate mood; not grumpy, just flat and uninspiring. I’ve not worked on banishing the blahness but will let it reside for a bit.

Sunday was typical except our Zoom frames were adjusted with David and his parents chatting together from Virginia Beach, Josh in London, and me here in Kettering. It was nice to see David with his parents. The rest of the day was spent in tidying up the kitchen, some writing accomplished, plenty of rest, and documentaries. It may sound like a dull life to some, perhaps, many, but for me it is a nice, even blend of doing what I love and taking care of myself.

The pooches are in the accustomed spots around the deck with Bailey and Harrigan perched atop the deck steps to scout the backyard, Chief on his mat, and Erma stretched out beside me, coming to my knee for her periodic reminders for me to rest a minute so she can receive attention. I do look forward to those reminders. Wednesday will be Erma’s third Gotcha Day which feels odd as it seems as though she’s been with me forever.

I’ve just received a notification that my groceries should be here by 10 AM. Perfect timing in wrapping up this post.

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MY DAY: Starting off Saturday morning

For me, this is the perfect morning of an overcast sky, 70-degrees, a gentle breeze, very low humidity, Erma laying by my chair, Chief noisily licking himself, and The Sisters valiantly running alongside the fence as they chase a squirrel scampering along the utility wires overhead.

The wind chimes stir about once every minute as the breeze revisits the deck area. Occasionally, some birds speak up to remind us of there continued presence. There is no rain in the forecast yet the sky looks as though it could dump water on us at any minute.

Chief roused himself to chase some phantom visitor. The Old Boy has this cry of excitement before settling into a full fledged bark. It’s rather cute. He slowly limps along throughout most of his day until there’s something to entice the return of feigned youthfulness. Suddenly, he’s a vibrant dog, again, ready to battle for his territory.

I’m deciding if I truly feel like investing time in crowds at the German fair in St. Anne’s Hill or the potato festival at Court House Square. I am not terribly fond of crowds but I was looking forward to something to do since the weather is much calmer than Heat Miser’s bitch has been for several days. The original forecast was a high of 77 but it has been altered to 81 which I find still doable. German food does tempt me to move out into the world, today.

It’s moving in on 9:30 AM and I should probably busy myself with writing. Chief has stopped licking himself; the squirrel is no longer tormenting The Sisters; Erma is now grumping away at some unseen disturbance in her world; the heavy clouds suddenly moved out leaving bright blue skies; a crow has taken up residence and is cawing loudly; and a neighbor several houses over is working on their car with lovely revs blasting away the peacefulness.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: “You’re going to get wet!”

During the summer of 1977, Mother, my younger two siblings and I traveled down to West Palm Beach, Florida to spend time with my Aunt Joyce and her daughters, Kim and Debbie.

We spent the first night in Knoxville, Tennessee, moving on to Plains, Georgia, the home of our then-current First Family, The Carters. We made it as far as Valdosta, Georgia that second day before pulling into Aunt Joyce’s driveway where Cousin Debbie was riding her bicycle and awaiting our arrival.

We spent several days at the nearby beach and one day we traveled to either Lake Worth or Lantana beach. It was a beautiful beach area that connected to a park where we had lunch. For some reason, my brain is recalling a zoo or some area with some animals. But, the best part was the causeway where we watched boats and barges.

Returned to the beach, we had a blast with Aunt Joyce and the cousins. With little warning, a mighty storm approached with terrifying clouds I’d only seen at the beach.

Mother and all us kids began packing up while Aunt Joyce was still shoulder deep in the ocean water.

Dena, only four years old, ran to the edge of the water and shouted, “Aunt Joyce, you’d better get out of the water or you’re going to get wet!”

Forty-four years later, I still get a belly laugh from that moment!

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MY DAY: Friday checks in hot and humid

Right now, as 1:00 PM approaches, it’s still fairly comfortable on the deck at 82-degrees and the humidity in the mid-70s while a breeze, the deck umbrella’s and a table fan keep me cool.

Erma and Bailey, with mouths hanging open and tongues dripping, are lounging and panting while Harrigan and Chief are napping in the bedroom off the deck. The voice of author David McCullough fills the air in a You Tube interview.

The breeze has picked up. The wind chimes are clanging together. I love this…

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Chief White Eagle of the Hopi Nation

I found this item on social media and it was listed as being published this past week; however, I remembered seeing it a while back.

The first publication I could find was March 2020, not August 5, 2021.

This is the message.

VISION QUEST

“This moment humanity is going through can now be seen as a portal and as a hole.

The decision to fall into the hole or go through the portal is up to you.

If you repent of the problem and consume the news 24 hours a day, with little energy, nervous all the time, with pessimism, you will fall into the hole. But if you take this opportunity to look at yourself, rethink life and death, take care of yourself and others, you will cross the portal.

Take care of your homes, take care of your body. Connect with your spiritual House.

When you are taking care of yourselves, you are taking care of everything else. Do not lose the spiritual dimension of this crisis, have the eagle aspect, that from above, and see the whole; see more broadly.

There is a social demand in this crisis, but there is also a spiritual demand. The two go hand in hand. Without the social dimension, we fall into fanaticism. But without the spiritual dimension, we fall into pessimism and lack of meaning.

You were prepared to go through this crisis. Take your toolbox and use all the tools available to you.

Learn about resistance of the indigenous and African peoples: we have always been and continue to be exterminated. But we still haven’t stopped singing, dancing, lighting a fire and having fun. Don’t feel guilty about being happy during this difficult time.

You do not help at all being sad and without energy. You help if good things emanate from the Universe now. It is through joy that one resists. Also, when the storm passes, each of you will be very important in the reconstruction of this new world.

You need to be well and strong. And, for that, there is no other way than to maintain a beautiful, happy and bright vibration. This has nothing to do with alienation.

This is a resistance strategy. In shamanism, there is a rite of passage called the quest for vision. You spend a few days alone in the forest, without water, without food, without protection. When you cross this portal, you get a new vision of the world, because you have faced your fears, your difficulties …

This is what is asked of you:

Allow yourself to take advantage of this time to perform your vision seeking rituals. What world do you want to build for you? For now, this is what you can do: serenity in the storm. Calm down, pray every day. Establish a routine to meet the sacred every day.

Good things emanate; what you emanate now is the most important thing. And sing, dance, resist through art, joy, faith and love. ”


ResistBe reborn

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Logan family and SOUTH PACIFIC

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