Friday, June 21, 2013

Pure Love

There within me resides a love
greater than any other
not a love that I can give
even as I try
but a love, that is unmatched
and given freely
yet the cost was much
a cost, paid again and again
as I stumble in my walk
there are many who do not understand
seeing it as this, or that but not for what it is
love, pure love
there are many who have heard the falsehoods
and took them as truth
there are many who have taken the truth
and twisted its meaning
taking love's beauty
and marring it with a stain of ugly intent
creating a dislike among those yet lost
in misunderstanding
within me, is a love
filling this heart, changing this life
giving to me the way, to better understanding
as I listen, when I hear.
Bought with a price
paid by the life of the Son
who came in love
washed clean by spilled blood
sin's price paid
within me resides a love
even as I stumble
grace, sweet unearned grace surrounds me
teaching, and guiding my life
the Spirit that fills me
all gifts, given at a cost I could not pay
all a part, of that pure love

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thank you Dad.. for everything..

    How does one say thank you?

   To someone who has been such an important part of who I am? A lot of memories have faded, making room for the more recent happenings. Still, there are those that have not been relegated to the shadows. The memories, like an old time family movie that plays in my heart and mind. The kind that brings a smile and a tear. Not of sadness, but of a type joy that can only be found in family.

  My very earliest memory is  walking on the foundation of this house as it was built. I remember the fishing trips to that small cow pond in the back of that field. It seemed as if we would walk forever to get there. Cattails and high weeds lined the banks in places, others were muddy from where the cows went into the pond. You taught us how to dig our own worms and how to bait a hook. You taught us how to be quiet while fishing and to watch that bobber as it floated on  the water. I'm not sure how well we did at that young age, but you tried. I remember the time coming face to face with the cows and you laughing and telling me they wouldn't hurt me, not to be afraid. You were right as you have been so many times through my life. I remember years later you and mom bought us our own small tackle boxes and took us to a small lake down at the far side of a cemetery not far from town. Some one forgot some thing and mom got in the car to go after it. Not remembering that the tackle boxes were on the back of the car. One was found, the other only a few items were but the most part was gone. I was broken hearted, but I learned, to take care of your things and remember where you put them. All of the lessons learned from those fishing trips have served me well through out life.

 I remember a time when you showed us how to take a blade of grass and 'fish' a worm out of its hole in the ground in front of Grandma and Grandpa's house. That and finding the doodle bugs in their inverted diamond shaped home built in the sand. Small moments.

You taught us responsibility when you were breeding Pointers. You were working out of town and someone had to take care of them. While the most of the work fell on mom, we were given small parts to take care of. I remember that horse of a dog named Mike. Sweet Bo-Peep and the others. There always seemed to be a dog of some sort here. We learned how to care for a living creature and how that being loved us in return.

 You gifted us with a wild, weird, and often misunderstood sense of humor. Each of us have a slightly different way of using it but its still the same. We get odd looks, we get the intended results, we get crazy when we're all together. How blessed we are that we have this gift that come from you.

 You played a large part in my imagination. I am the daughter of a fisherman, what better person to develop the art of story telling?
  I remember all of those times  I felt inconvenienced when you would be sitting in the living room watching a race on television, listening to a ball game on one radio and some other sporting event on another and you'd ask me to make you a sandwich. Of course what ever it was that I was doing at the time was more important to me at the time. Or at least I thought so. Now, I'm glad for the memories and cherish them all.

You took an empty field that was overgrown and almost useless (save the imaginary adventures) and turned it into a small softball field. That line from the movie, "If you build it, they will come" could have started with that field. We had neighbors coming out to play often. We chased balls down the hill, we dug through poison oak, we laughed, we visited, we had a grand time.

Vacations were always an adventure. Alligators in the water in Florida. Severe storms taking out the power in Georgia- as well as roller coasters bringing terror to the youngest among us. That million mile high suspension bridge that most could cross in minutes that took me a life time (thanks mom for staying patient with me).

 Living those times in Florida and finding adventures in the things there. Giant trees, ant hills, possibly rabid possum. Sand so hot you couldn't walk barefoot, but so much sand shoes quickly weighed a ton.  Watching from under a mobile- out of the hot sun- as a rocket was fired off from the space center and watching that silver vehicle head for the sky.

We've had those growing up moments of teen angst, minor rebellions. Wrecked cars, broken windows and bull bats attacking. We've cried, we've laughed, and we've fought. But through it all, through every single moment those remembered and those faded by time and distance- we've loved. And from now and through eternity.. we will always love.

Thank you Pop, I love you.

Friday, June 14, 2013

surviving the storm and black out the old fashioned way

I got to put a new camera lens to work yesterday--I knew when I got off from work that bad weather was headed our way so I hurried home and got online to try and check my husband's pay. He needs to know as soon as possible what it shows so that he can call work and let them know about anything incorrect or missing. Internet was on and off as the storm intensified but I managed to get just what my husband needed before it gave up.  By then the rain was coming down so hard you could not see through it. I was so glad to be home and that my son, James was home.
 As the rain pounded down I went out onto the front porch to watch it fall and to keep an eye on the drain to make sure that nothing blocked it preventing the water from flowing freely. I went out, picked up the shovel and pushed a few sticks out of the way.  Nano-seconds later James called out to me that the power had gone out. There was however a slight bit of sunshine in this.  James purchased an inverter probably a little over a year ago and he had already brought the battery inside so he calmly hooked everything up and he had tv to watch. I sat out on the porch and watched it rain. When it finally quit I grabbed the camera and headed up the dirt road. I met my sister-in-law coming in who was telling me that a tree was down at the top of the dirt road and that there was a tree down with power lines over an suv down the road. I walked on up the Dirt  Road and took a few shots of the tree that had been shredded and then headed back toward the house. I met a neighbor who I had grown up with, who was coming up the road to see what she could find out. We talked for a few moments and then I watched as James pulled my suv around and down across the yard. Confused as to what he was doing I said my good-byes and headed for the house. Turns out that my suv had become his back up power. I reminded him that there was only so much gas in that thing so be careful.
  After my conversation with my neighbor  I was curious to the amount of damage done down the dirt road. I picked up my cameras and headed on down the drive. I found there were some branches down but nothing major. I got to where the big power lines cross the dirt road and I could see blue lights up on the main road. Yeah, you guessed it- boredom, no power, new lens and over powering curiosity got me. I took a few photos from the dirt road and then began walking. I ended up walking the just over half mile through near waist high--and very wet- weeds to the main road, stopping ever so often to snap off a shot. I finally ended up on the main road that was barricaded by patrol cars and spoke with the county police. Nice people.. I asked about walking past where the clean up was going on but was told that there was a live power line down across the road. You could see where the tree had taken the lines down. Someone at some point-- I missed this--had thought they could drive their suv across and over the downed tree. They not only got stuck they became trapped in their vehicle when the power line ended up draped across their vehicle. I made a Duke's of Hazard reference which the young officer either didn't get or didn't hear, either way he didn't comment of give me that confused expression that the young often give their elders when they don't catch something. I ended up walking back the way I had came, back through the high weeds and swampy areas. This time was easier as I knew pretty much where I could walk.  I was however very thoroughly soaked. When I made it back to the dirt road I stopped and told several people that we would be in the dark for a while if not all night. I walked up the dirt road but took a left to go back up to the main road to hike down from the other direction and see what I could see. I met some people that I knew and then made some new friends as well. I ended up walking with a Relay for Life friend down to a safe distance from the downed lines and watching for a few moments as they worked. I also spoke with her dad, there was a big tree that had partially fallen, that if it goes the rest of the way down he is not getting out of his driveway. As we started back we saw a truck that had passed us stop and speak with the county officer that was keeping vehicles from driving around the barricades. when we reached the officer he told us that the power guy had told him that it would be at least two and a half hours as the tree clearing people had just arrived. Pam offered to bring him something to eat but he said that the nearby town's city police were supposed to be bringing them out something.
 I went home soaked through, somewhat tired from all that hiking and frustrated that I couldn't upload my photos to see what I got.. I'll see soon though. (photos actually posted now)
 Our power came back on some time around midnight. Don't try to set your clock when you're awakened in the middle of the night after a power outage.. I set it wrong..thankfully I have a battery back up as well that was right ;) Of course our pup Bella is also a very good alarm clock as she starts wanting out right at four in the morning every morning. At work everyone had storm stories. Some people had power and then  some didn't. A few were getting messages that it may be as long as two days before their power is back on.

I know, that when you look at storms and tornadoes that others have gone through, ours was not much. While we have trees down and power out yet in places, it was nothing compared to OK or the mid west regions. While the winds and rain was terrible, none of my trees fell, so I thank you Lord for that. Tornadoes wiped out entire cities. Our storms inconvenienced us. But we got out, we visited, we met old friends and made new. More importantly- we survived, and we were once again reminded that we are strong and can still survive the old fashioned way.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bella's Day Outside

                                                  Bella playing in the Dandelions the other day

Today Bella spent a large part of her day outside. I'm glad that I didn't know about it in advance as I'd have worried all day. As it was, when I got home from work, she met me at the gate happy as could be. I'm sure being outside was a lot more fun than being cooped up in the house. I'm sure the cats liked it better as well.

 Our front yard is fenced, so there was no fear of her running off. Thankfully now she has grown too big to fit through that small gap in the gate. The yard is still beg enough and she is still small enough that there is plenty to investigate without needing to seek bigger, better or more on the outside. The yard is also plenty of shade trees as well as the front porch with its cool cement floor to rest on and stay somewhat cool in this summer heat. Sad thing is she did kill a flower. I'm not upset with long as she stays away from my tomato plants. There is a large bucket of fresh water near Buddy's dog house (in the shade) and a couple of other containers of water that are left for them.

I kept peeking out the door through-out the afternoon, just to be sure. She was fine out there, her and Buddy. She alternated between playing either by herself or with him, or stretched out under the chair on the porch. At the rate she's growing she won't be able to do that for long.

I went out late in the afternoon to try out a new camera lens and of course that led to my being totally attacked. She has this thing about feet, ankles and blue jeans. So far she's put holes in two pair of my jeans, but I guess that just puts me more in style. I'm trying to break her from that because even as I know its just puppy stuff, I don't want that particular habit to carry over. I did get a few photos taken in spite of Bella.

I didn't go into the garden as I know she would have managed to follow me and she is a destructive creature. I know it isn't malicious, but its still deadly to plants and I don't want my garden harvested and ripped before it has a chance to produce.

Bella will be coming in soon. Her room (the bathroom) will be ready for her. I know that she will be good and tired and ready for a good night's sleep. So that at 4 in the morning she can start once again demanding to be let out, whether I'm up yet or not.

I love this pup- life with her is one grand adventure after another.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Adventure of Training Bella: Sit and other random commands


 There are two things that Bella is going to have to learn if she is going hiking with me. That is 'sit' and 'stay'. Teaching her these would be a lot easier if I wasn't the proud pet parent of an Attention Deficit dog.  Of course she is still a puppy, one must make allowances for that and I do, usually.

  I mentioned earlier that I had purchased those dog training treats, and she does love those things so that helps. Thanks to her short attention span our training sessions are short, but usually successful. Getting her to 'sit' didn't take long at all. Though my memory may be faulty, she seemed to pick up on it quicker than any dog we have had before her. I've seen other people train their dogs to sit by giving the command as they push down on the dog's hind quarters. All I had to do with Bella was give the command, over......and over......and over....mainly because I didn't have her attention to start with. Once she realized I was holding a treat, she became very focused on what was going on.

I concentrated on the one command for several days. I wanted her to understand 'sit' before we added anything to her training. Well, other than adjusting to that leash that she appears to literally despise with a passion. I've never been deep sea fishing where I actually fished, but I've seen it on television and walking her on a leash here in the beginning looks like they do when they have caught one of those really big marlins..but she'll adjust, I have all faith in her.

Our first attempt at 'shake' was humorous as she kept falling over. She would try, she really would, only her balance was not there yet and every time she ended up on her side. She wasn't hurt, I'd imagine she might have suffered a mild case of doggy embarrassment, but it wasn't bad enough to stop her from trying.

Once I knew that she had the command to 'sit' understood and would sit (for a treat) on command I decided it was finally time to step it up a notch and add the command to 'stay'. Which of course to begin with was a complete failure. I jumped the gun a bit by thinking she would stay when I backed away. No, if I backed up she took that as a signal to move forward. This game had her so excited that the session ended prematurely because her paying attention at this point was not going to happen. Tomorrow was another day.

When I began our session the next day we began with the usual, 'sit' and 'shake' which she is actually getting better at. Then I went to the next which was 'sit' and 'stay'. But, instead of moving back, I stayed where I was and kept softly repeating the word 'stay' while I held my empty hand in front of her. I kept it short though and it worked. The next time I held my hand there for a bit longer. Increasing the time every time. I didn't do it for long though, I know her by now and no matter how much she likes those treats, even that can only keep her focused for so long. That puppy energy has to come out eventually.

Which means the cats are her usual target. She isn't being mean, (though the cats may beg to differ) she wants to play. The cats however are all adults and long past the kitten- playing stage. The thing is, no matter how often they hiss, or slap at her, even at times slapping her, she doesn't back down or back away. Stubborn little girl. I know one of our next lessons.

 I've taken her on a couple hikes through the woods. Each one has been different. The first time she listened very well. If I stopped, she stopped. When I began walking again, she did. The second walk, she wasn't as nervous and therefore did not listen as well. If I stopped, she wanted to keep going. When we walked around the pond, she wanted in the pond. She also wants to pull on that leash. I have to break her from that now when she's a puppy so that I don't end up with a full grown eighty-something pound baby dragging me down the dirt road. The last hike we went on she did well. She stopped better, but she really does enjoy playing in the high grass that we pass through. That and every, single smell along the way has her stopping to investigate. Once we get past those she stays fairly close by my side, right up until she realizes that we are on the way back home. That is when the worst of the pulling begins. I know it sounds as if I'm choking her, but she's the one pulling the leash tight, the only way to prevent that would be to run, and I'm not running. Instead I'm trying to teach her to listen to the word 'stop'. But being on the way home, that never enters her head. We'll work on that.

She's going to adjust to spending more time outside. While I do plan on her being an inside outside dog, outside is better during the day. There is always plenty going on to keep her entertained, what with the squirrel and birds playing about, not to mention the neighbors. Our front yard is fenced, there are plenty of shade trees and we keep a big bucket of fresh water in the shade. She would be able to get on the front porch should it begin to rain. There is also Buddy, who is our outside dog. He's not real sure what's up at the moment and is not the friendliest I've ever seen him, but I know that he will adjust to her and accept her presence. All of this beats being confined inside all day alone.

The one thing that I will be very glad of, is when she stops all that puppy biting due to teething. I've given her all manner of puppy toys to chew on, but her favorite chew toys so far seems to be me and my son James. One thing about it, all of my jeans are going to end up looking very fashionably ripped thanks to those sharp daggers called puppy teeth.

Raising a puppy, always an adventure.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Adventure of Training Bella


 The ongoing training of Bella is making for a grand adventure. Especially as I have called her my Attention Deficit pup.

  I have noticed in the past how people use treats as rewards to train their four-legged friends. Fearing treats from the wrong places I carefully checked the packages to see where they came from. I didn't want anything too big or anything that was not suitable for a puppy. While the pet treat aisle was long and loaded it was easy to reject the wrong products. Then, there it was. An orange and yellow bag with a window showing small treats. A bag with the words "Training Treats" emblazoned across the package. Better yet- they were made in the good ole USA. I purchased a bag and best yet- Bella loves them.

One of the first things that Bella had to learn was how to accept and walk on a leash. There is a leash law and I plan on being a strict follower of that law. Its safer for Bella.

 I didn't want to purchase a leash since I had a really good one already, it is just too heavy for Bella right now. So instead I found a tightly woven strip of fabric and rigged up a leash with that and a clasp hook. Bella did not like this and was not about to take being controlled lightly. Walking with her on a leash was like fighting with a Marlon. She slid, she bit the leash, she flipped and flopped and just in general was not co-operative. I would stop and let her fight and when she slowed down I would start walking again. When she started fighting it, I stopped and waited her out. Not too different than watching a toddler throw a tantrum. Finally it seemed to sink in that no matter what she tried, the leash was staying. Before long she was walking around and around the yard, not meekly, but obediently. Those walks also wore her down to a less frantic level where she would come in and stretch out on the floor and not try to chew up everything in the house and my feet and fingers.

When we walk she wants to pull me, I'm trying to break her from this now not later. She gets excited, especially on the way back home and wants to pull. She is still a puppy so she hasn't pulled me off my feet yet, but if I don't break her and get her to walk close by my side now I'm in for a problem when she gets bigger and German shepherd that she is- she will be big. As it is, when she starts pulling now I tug back on the leash with a sharp "no". It takes repeating over and over but she eventually gets it and walks beside me, at least until she forgets and starts pulling again. That means we start the process all over again. Of course there are those times when having her pull- like trying to go uphill- might not be such a bad thing.

I am currently trying to teach her to stop and sit when I stop. I want her to walk with me when I go for hikes, especially those hikes away from the Dirt Road. Here I'm not too terribly worried as its private property and there isn't supposed to be anyone out there. I am not so naive to think that people won't trespass just because its private property so I listen closely to the sounds of the woods around me. It gets so quiet out there I can hear a beetle walking among the leaves so hopefully I will hear anyone else wandering around out there..Bella is my insurance. Especially out in other areas that I really want desperately to hike and photograph. Currently when I take Bella with me its an interesting time. She starts out fine, even minding better than usual as we start down the path and into the woods. Once we reach the pond however is a different story. It seems that the minute she sees the water she loses all restraint. Supposedly she has Lab in her ancestry. I can only suppose that the water brings that out and she wants if not in, at least close to the water. I will allow her to go tot he edge, but not in it, not yet she's still too young. There are wildflowers and wildlife that I want to photograph so I'll stop. Bella might stop, but usually she's pulling on the leash trying to get to the water, under a shrub or in the high grass. The commands of stop and sit do not register in this pup's hearing as she investigates her surroundings. Tightening and or shortening the leash helps,but she seemingly has this inability to sit and be still. So while my photographs on these sessions will not be prize winning quality Bella is learning and I along with Bella am getting outside, some exercise and lessons in patience. One thing's for sure, after those walks, Bella is one tired puppy, but you can tell she's also happy.

Training Bella is not the easiest thing I've ever attempted to do, but it is satisfying and fun. Bella is a very intelligent pup and learns fairly quickly. We just have to get past that attention problem. Until then, let the adventures continue.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Bella: Let the Training Begin

This is Bella. She is our newest family member, a 12 week old German Shepherd mix. She joined our family after we lost a big baby of a Border Collie mix by the name of Rambo. My husband asked if I wanted a big or small dog. I chose big for a couple of reasons. One I prefer big dogs and two I wanted a dog that I could take on my hikes and not worry about being bothered by anyone. I found Bella online and had her home within a couple of hours. Then it was.. let the training begin.

The first, most important lesson was housebreaking.

Only a portion of my house is carpeted, but that wasn't the important thing. Preventing odor was a major and its simply better for all involved if she knows that the great outdoors is her potty.

Since she is still too young to be spending great amounts of time outdoors alone- and she will not be put on a chain if I have any say and I do-she has to be confined when no one is home. So the bathroom, is her room. There is a soft light, a radio playing, her bed, food and water and toys. It isn't the same as having family around and being allowed to run the house, but it keeps her safe and the cats free of puppy harassment. I purchased some of those puppy training pads and she actually uses them. That is a plus right there.

She isn't really fond of the room confinement, but she has adjusted and accepts that is how it works for now. Come night time she goes into the room, climbs into her bed and curls up for sleep. When I can trust her not to have an accident and not to bother the cats I'll let her sleep at the foot of my bed. Until then, its the bathroom.

We've been working over time the last few weeks so I have to get up at 4 in the morning. She has gotten accustomed to this and moments before my alarm clock goes off my puppy alarm starts. I get up, pull on a house coat and release her from the bathroom and get her straight to the door. I step out onto the porch and watch as she goes out into the yard. Oh yes, my front yard is completely fenced in so she's relatively safe. After a short time we both go back into the house, me to prepare for work, her to find and chase the cats.

Before I leave for work I will take her out one more time. Our outside dog has finally adjusted to her presence and will actually play with her instead of snapping. That helps in getting her more used to being outside and not terrified of every little sound. As she has grown though those puppy fears have dissipated and she is showing signs of being fairly fearless. I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing. We'll see I guess.

As she grows she is getting better about waiting until she can get outside. She's not there yet..but she understands what I want from her and she's trying. And that is all I ask for.

We are going a couple times a week for long walks. Getting her to walk on a leash.. not that is another ongoing I'll save for the next blog.