Saturday, December 18, 2010

Posts Moved from Old Blog

March 25, 2008


     I received word yesterday of my older sister's death. Her death wasn't unexpected but I had thought, hoped that I would get to see her one more time before she died. Such was not to be.
     I have found myself reflecting back across the years to the times when I was younger than young and she was my big sister in every sense that is good.
     While I'm sure there were plenty of times that she didn't want me around because I was too young to do whatever she had in mind to do, I don't remember those times. Instead, I remember all the good things she did for a little sister who was surely a pest at times. Things like the sweets she smuggled into to me when I was confined with the measles; the many times she braided my hair before my hands were able to manage that task and years later she gave me my first perm so I could have curls like other girls.
     When I as a preteen and then teenager, I remember she included me in outings with her and her new husband who was more a brother to me than a brother-in-law. They took me to my first college football game and the same trip found me eating for the first time at a cafeteria style Bar-B-Que restaurant and not quite knowing how to act but enjoying it all the same.
     A trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico which included sleeping under the brilliant night sky, the surprise of learning just how cold a mountain stream can be, especially when splashed on your face the first thing of a morning and my first visit to a race track for horses. On the same trip, we visited White Sands, New Mexico . . . what a delight to struggle up a snow white sand dune, scan the whiteness that stretched out on every side, slide down the slippery slope and then do it all over again.
     There are so many other times and things they did either singularly or as a couple that impacted my life. More than I can talk about in a page or two; but I'm finding them unwinding in my memory like a video made up of spliced snapshots of time, spliced together into one continuous tape.
     In short, there are many of the Firsts in my life that can be attributed to my sister and her husband having made them possible for me at the time they did.
     They are both gone now and I'm left to wonder if I ever let each of them know just how much they meant to me and how much I appreciated the things they did for me along the way. I'm sure I told them 'Thanks' along the way, but did I let them know just how much it all mean to me, how much they broadened my small-town outlook on life.
     Hopefully they are looking over my shoulder as I type and will know it now

  It's been much too long since I last posted here. I apologize for that and will try to do better in the future.

I've been down with what the doctor and I at first thought was the flu but which either turned out to be or turned into pneumonia, so I have some excuse. But as much as I cheated, got out of bed and visited the computer, it isn't much of an excuse.

Creative juices having been stinted somewhat by health and not much in the way of news interesting to read; I thought I would share one small piece I wrote as a result of a poetic challenge on My Writer's Circle.

One of our members, a wonderful photographer, occasionally posts one of his pictures and challenges anyone interested to create a poem to go with it.


How could I have failed to see
the beauty in Ginny's scribbles on the wall?
Silly me, all I saw was more cleaning to do.

All I saw was a dress that needed washing.
Why didn't I notice her love of color?

Was I too tired, too stuck in a rut of my own making?
Had the same urges been nagged out of me?

Ginny placed a brush in my hand and said, “Here.”
My first lesson in how to let the colors flow.

She said “Use this color.”  What should I paint? I asked.
“Anything” came the answer, “Everything.”

But first I watched Ginny and marveled
At the work of art I had unknowingly created.

Alice K. 2-25-07

The credit for the photo goes to

December 31, 2006
Goodbye to 2006

If you expect to find words of wisdom to see the old year out, you've obviously mistaken me or this space for someone else.  What is to be found here is just my thoughts as I look back at the times passed.  But you are welcome to read and search for pearls of wisdom if you wish.  I just hope you aren't too disappointed when they fail to appear.
In a matter of hours 2006 will become a piece of history.  My little place in the overall view of 2006 wouldn't even amount to a ripple in a pond, but it is mine and therefore, important to me.
At the beginning of 2006 I was absorbed with job hunting.  Luckily that effort was rewarded about the middle of January with a job I like, at least, most of the time.  As wotj most any job, it has it's ups and downs.  But over all its one I enjoy and it pays the bills.
June 24, 2006 proved to be one of the most memorable days of my life, not just this year.  That was the day Paige made her entrance into this world, crying loud enough to make sure we all knew she had arrived.
I was on hand when her mother, Ashley arrived in a like manner almost twenty-one years ago and I wouldn't have missed Paige's debut for anything.  After all, it's not every day you're privileged to greet your great granddaughter for the first time. 
A third thing that stands out for me this year is the discovery of My Writer's Circle.  This site is one filled with people who write or want to write.  We have members all along the scale from wannabes to those who are published authors.  There are people who have been published in nonfiction who have the desire to write fiction.  But one of the best things about many who frequent the board is their willingness to help others along the way. 
I have made many acquaintances on the board and a few precious friendships.  I have given and received critiques.  I know I've been helped by the critiques received and have been told that I have helped as well. 
Mixed among the highlights are the times spent with family on various occasions, too often taken for granted at the time and only realized their true worth when looking back.  I treasure my sons and their families and the time spent with each of them.  But a few times stand out due to their rarity.
Such as the time my youngest son after much work gained his status as Warrant Officer.  He received his Bars after graduating the final classes.  Thankfully an additional pinning ceremony was held locally for those unable to attend the distant one.  I was honored to attach a bar to the right shoulder while his wife attached one to the left. 
Two other days that stand out are both Thanksgiving and Christmas because most of the family was able to gather and spend some time together.  It seems with the passing years, people's jobs and outside obligations, these times are more precious due to their infrequency.
This day, the last one of the year, also brings older memories with it.  Memories of family that are no longer here physically but often seem to hover just out of sight, lifting me up when I feel down or cheering me on when the path becomes rough. 
Mother, Grandma, Aunt Golda, Aunt Margie and Aunt Audrey in particular pop into my mind from time to time.  Reminding me that they have traveled roads much like the ones I find my feet on and that even if there are some differences, there are also similarities.  They each had their own strengths and weakness.  Each a woman to emulate in one way or another. 
I don't remember ever hearing Mother utter a word against another person.  I can't say the same for myself sadly.  But she has left me a goal to shot for anyway.  Mother expected a lot from me and the rest of her children.  But she also gave a lot of herself to us. 
It was thanks to her reading to me and my younger brother and sister that I developed such a love of reading which seemed at some point to morph into a desire to write.
But she also taught me so much more; how to sew and do it well; how to rely on myself to do what needed doing; to speak my mind about things important to me.  Well, the list could go on, but you get the idea. 
Grandma was the embodiment of kindness and understanding in my childhood and filled my ears with stories of family and bygone days, bringing relatives I never knew to life for me, even if just for a little while.
Aunt Golda had an infectious sense of humor and was never too busy to take time to listen to a child's tale of woe or glee.  She was trained and worked as an RN.  Even after the time most would have retired, she still donated her time to attend camps for children as the resident nurse.  I know, just because I knew her, that it wasn't just the physical aches and pains she tended and bandaged.  She had the gift of applying a soothing balm to troubled souls as well.
Aunt Margie was devoted to her family.  Of the three, Mother, Aunt Golda and Aunt Margie, Aunt Margie was probably the hardest for me to feel I really knew her, at least in the early years.  But the three of them were often referred to as "The Sisters" because they were so often together even though they lived in different areas.  So if nothing else, I came to know her better because of the interaction of the three and learned to value her for her difference in time.
For years Aunt Audrey was enigmatic to me.  I heard many stories about her from The Sisters.  Stories about the years they were growing up and stories about her life in Washington state.  She left home at a young age, traveling with distance relatives to the Northwest.  Aunt Audrey met and married the man she loved while there and remained.  They would travel to Texas every few years, but it wasn't until after her husband's death that she returned to Texas to stay.
One of the first things noticeable about Aunt Audrey was her height, or more accurately, the lack there of.  She missed the five foot mark by a few inches.  But there was so much love and generosity of spirit packed into that small package it just had to spill out to all those around her.
There are others who intrude on my memories from time to time.  But it seems the females of my family vie for a front seat most of the time.  Maybe they feel they still have things to teach or tell me.  Whatever the reason, I welcome them.  After all, where would any of us be without our memories?  Good, bad or somewhere in between, I believe we can learn from the past if we pay heed.
December 25, 2006
Christmas Day
It's Christmas Day and a busy one as usual.  But I wanted to take a moment to wish each and every one who happens this way a . . .
Wonderful Day filled with family and friends celebrating in whatever way you choose.
For me and mine, and anyone who believes as I do, I wish a Very Merry Christmas filled with love and peace.


A Friend: Gone But Not Forgotten.

(Warning, possible tear jerker.  I wrote this late last night while my defenses were down and I was missing the friend this post is about.) 
Rusty was a Dobie.  He had the protective personality of his breed.  But he was also one of the sweeties companions a person could ask for.
Rusty came to me in a round about way.  A former daughter-in-law called asking if I wanted a dog.  I really didn't at that time, but when she went on to say that if I didn't take him she was turning him over to the dog pound.  From past experience with her I feared what she would really do is carry him away from her home and dump him on the street to fend for himself.  So I reluctantly agreed to give him a home.  In the back of my mind I also thought of finding him a different home.  I had a dog die not too long previous to that time and wasn't sure I was ready for another just yet.
My son, her former husband, was taking their daughter back home that day and he agreed to bring the dog back with him.  I was told his name was Diablo. I refused to have a dog called by the Spanish work for devil, so that name was discarded and the search for a new moniker began.
Dismay is the best word to describe my first sight of this, now no-name dog.  He was so obviously uncared for and was being eaten alive with fleas.  So the first order of business was a bath with flea shampoo.  A second and third bath followed the first.  Finally he was allowed back in the house.
Still, he needed a name.  He was well formed even if more than a little on the skinny side from lack of proper feeding.  But that didn't suggest a name.  Even though his tail had been bobbed, his ears had not been clipped.  I was happy about that.  I think a dog has full rights to have the ears, and tail actually, they are born with.  He also had a tiny spot of gray on his neck just behind his left jaw bone.  Alas, none of this suggested a name.
After looking him over from head to tail several time, talking to him and trying out several different names, we both (the dog and I) settled on the name of Rusty.  I chose the name because his muzzle and other markings had the reddish brown color suggesting rust.  He may have simply like the sound of the word when I called him.
From the first day it seemed Rusty realized he had found a home and was greatly appreciative of the fact.  I doubt he had ever been housebroken, but he was so eager to please, it didn't take long for him to catch on and accidents were few and far between.
That first week we made a visit to the vet where he received all his shots, tests, and eventually after treatments for an early case of heartworms, a clean bill of health.
Rusty appointed himself my protector and personal companion early on.  If I was in the living room, so was he.  If I sat at the computer doing my home office work, he was curled up on the floor next to me.  When I went to bed, he was there, on his own bed near the foot of mine, but to the side between the bed and the door.  He decided on this placement, not me.  All thoughts of finding him a different home were quickly forgotten.
Early on I found there were two things Rusty was afraid of.  Boxes of any shape or size and thunder.  If someone carried a box through the room he was in, he would move as far away as possible while still keeping an eye on the box.  When a storm brewed up loud claps of thunder, he became a nervous wreck.  Pacing around and around the room, picking up speed, his eyes would take on the frightened look of someone or something that had suffered torture in the past and feared more of the same in the here and now.
Time took care of his fear of the boxes eventually.  But the thunder was more difficult.  After talking to the vet about it, I was given some tranquilizer for him.  They took a little bit of time to take effect, but after a while he would calm down.  He still wanted to stay as close to me as possible, but at least he was calm.  We went through several bottles of tranquilizers, one pill at a time, before I decided to try baby aspirin instead.  My idea was that he had become accustom to taking a pill and then feeling calm.  Thankfully, whether I was right in my thinking or not, it seemed to work well.  By this time he was also showing small signs of his back hips bothering him at times and I felt the aspirin might help with that also.
For years we went for walks together.  Rising earlier than usual for me, I would dress, depending on the weather, in sweats or shorts.  Rusty would check every few minutes to see how I was progressing.  When I got to the tennis shoes he would become esthetic, racing between me and the bedroom door as if to say, "Hurry, hurry."
In the evening, after my day's work was done, we repeated the process of me changing clothes and him urging me to put some speed on.  He really enjoyed our walks even though most of the time we covered the same route. 
We would head for the park near by, make a loop around the back side, around and back across the front of the park and then back home again.  He could have kept going without complaint, but I had to work up to it since I hadn't been doing a lot of walking before he came into my life. Eventually we built our distance up and ventured up and down various side street.  But the park was always our favorite place.  Rusty enjoyed checking out and obliterate all the marks other dogs had left behind since our last visit. 
On the other hand, I enjoyed catching sight of the occasional hawk or other unusual visiting birds.  And rocks.  I like rocks and would often come home with one or two that had an unusual color or shape to add to my growing collection.
We also made new friends during our walks.  Generally I didn't talk to that many people because many seemed to shy away from the large, muscular dog Rusty had become over time.  But there were exceptions and they were a nice addition to our walks as we saw many of our new friends from time to time in the park.
There was one young man who often walked his Boxer at the same time we were out.  The boxer was one of the few dogs Rusty allowed to approach within the limits he generally insisted on maintaining.  So with Rusty's approval, the young man and I struck up a friendly, dog people kind of friendship.
One day, after a long absence, I spotted the young man and his Boxer as we entered the park.  But something was different.  Their steps were slower, more measured.  When we were close enough and had exchanged pleasantries, I asked if everything was okay.
His eyes looked down at his dog, he was silent for a moment before answering.
"He's been sick" he said.  "They found he has a heart problem.  So I can't allow him to run or even walk as fast as he would like."  It seemed the sadness in his voice was so thick, it made the words difficult to get out. 
We only saw them occasionally after that.  We still spoke but there were so many words I left unsaid because I couldn't find the right way to say them without causing him more pain.  As time pasted and the young man and his Boxer didn't show up, I realized the unspeakable had happened and he had lost his reason to walk in the park.  I still feel bad thinking of him.  Not knowing his full name or address, I couldn't even pay a visit or drop a line.
Years passed with Rusty and I continuing our twice daily walks.  But one day I tripped, apparently over thin air since I couldn't see anything on the path that could have stubbed my toe.  Thin air or a bolder, it made no difference.  I came down hard on my left knee and hand.  It was summer time, so the dress for the day was shorts.  No thick sweats to cushion the blow or stanch the flow of blood escaping from rendered flesh.
Rusty normally tried to pull me along "Faster, faster" he wished I would go.  But when I fell he was at my side immediately, allowing me to use his strong front shoulders to once again gain my footing.  Well, what was left of my footing anyway.
Nothing was broken, no bones I mean.  But my knee hurt like the dickens and blood flowed down my leg.  With Rusty's help, I limped up the path towards the front of the park nearest the way home.  This part of the path led us past the basketball court where several young men were involved in a game.  Some of them stopped what they were doing long enough to get a good look at the strange sight Rusty and I must have provided.  I'm sorry to report that not one of them offered a helping hand.  But Rusty did.
For some time after that I had to get others to take Rusty for his walks.  But on his return he would run to me for a good ear rubbing, some petting and to share his joy of the great outdoors it would seem.
When my knee healed enough we did resume our walks.  But once again we had to settle for the shorter versions, working our way back every so slowly, a block or two at a time, until we were almost walking our five miles a day.
Sadly as the years passed, Rusty and my knee couldn't seem to handle as much walking as we had grown accustom to.  So once again our walks slowed down.  Rusty chose to use some of the extra time in the back yard.  I'm ashamed to say that I soon found it more convenient to let him into the back to tend to his business than to walk our usual path on a daily basis.
Occasionally when he spotted me with tennis shoes on he assumed we were going for a walk again and would be disappointed when he found I was only going to work in the yard.  But he always forgave me. 
I failed to keep track of all the years Rusty and I spent together until the time he begin to have trouble getting up from the floor after he had been laying there awhile.  Thinking something bigger and softer might help, I got him a couple of very plush, large size, dog beds.  One for the living room and one for the bedroom.  He was a little hesitant at first step, feeling it give way beneath his weight, but soon decided he liked it and settled down gratefully.
A few more years rolled by and a soft bed no longer afforded him the comfort needed.  I was in denial.  I didn't want to admit that he was growing old and that somewhere in the near future I would loose my best friend and constant companion.  But seeing such pain can cut through the strongest barriers of denial.  The day came when I could no longer stand to see him in such pain.  Those beloved eyes looking up at me as if pleading for release were heart breaking.
So the two of us made our last trip to the vet.  Everyone in the office as well as the vet herself, made things as easy for the two of us as possible.  But some things are never easy no matter who tried to ease the burden. 
I sat there with his head cradled in my lap as he drifted toward his last long nap.  I stayed there, tears flooding my eyes until he was gone.  Then I stayed there a little longer before I could bring myself to leave his remains in the hands of the staff.  I had his remains cremated and scattered among a wooded area.  I think he would have liked all those trees.
I returned home carrying his empty collar and leash.  There was also a huge empty spot inside me.  A spot a 75 pound black and tan Dobie had filled perfectly.
I still, a year and a half later, find Rusty running through my thoughts.  He was a happy dog for most of his life, for that I'm thankful.  Goodness knows he made me happy with his smiling face and joyful energy.  But I'm not ashamed to say that sitting here, telling Rusty and my tale, tears have again been spilled on his behalf.

No comments:

Post a Comment