Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Calypso got her name

John Denver in 1990Image via Wikipedia
John Denver

            I am often told that I do things a little unorthodox; I have to admit that I do. I chose the name Calypso before I even met my puppy. I always knew the next shepherd I would own would be a large one and I wanted a name befitting its legacy. Had she been a he, his name would have been Zeus. Believe me when I say I would have had fewer objections had she been a he.
            I was exploring Greek Mythology names and the stories behind the names. The one name that continuously caught my attention was Calypso. Her story is captivating. Calypso is the daughter of Titan Atlas; and is remembered most for her role in Homer’s Odyssey. She imprisoned the fabled Greek hero Odysseus on her island for seven years before releasing him to return to his beloved wife. Even the offer of eternal life could not hold him.
Jacques Cousteau
            Jacques-Yves Cousteau named his research ship after Calypso. John Denver wrote a song titled “Calypso” as a tribute to Cousteau and his work. (The song and video are on the IPod to the left of this blog. If you take the time to listen to the words, you will find them quite beautiful and poetic.)
            “Aye, Calypso, the places you’ve been to, the things that you’ve shown us, the stories you tell. Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit, the men who have served you, so long and so well.”
            It defines so well, what animals do for us. They take us to places we never been to. They show us things we have never seen. They give us stories to tell; and they will love us so long and so well if we nurture them.
            I think Calypso is a wonderful, strong name and is the perfect name for her. She is already living up to her name, one adventure at a time, one story at a time.

Calypso, one adventure after another.

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New Dog, Old Habits

Sentry on watch, not on a walk.
            It can only be described as strange, or perhaps common, the way dogs develop the exact same tendencies.
From the front gate looking back.
            I exercise each day by walking the length of our property in what I refer to as “occupied” country; meaning it used to be country for miles, but it’s has gradually built up into one lane family subdivisions with a few pieces of single owned acreage such as ours. From front gate (the highway) to the first cross-fence (our property extends to almost a mile and we have it sectioned off) it is approximately an acre. As the sun reaches its favorite position high in the sky, there are few places with shade to be found; trust that the dog will find them.
            Before Sentry passed away, she would follow me for a couple of laps and then find a shady stretch of grass and watch me as I continued walking (so much for canine company or perhaps it was the singing.) I used to detour every few laps and circle around the house just to make her get up and find me. It served to make her more alert for a while; she figured out I couldn’t be trusted to go from point A to point B the same way every time. Mostly, she just lazed around.
The cross-fence.
Shade is good.
Shade is definitely better.
            Ryka has been with me for a week now and it did not take her very long to realize there is only one way from point A to point B and that is, right under the shady oak tree. She is a little more apt to follow me longer than Sentry did. I think it’s because it is still cool in the mornings. Where she once plopped down in the grass in the sun to watch me walk by, she quickly found a patch of shade at the back fence. Then, I turned around and headed back and she was not about to let me leave her there. The “rat of the worst kind” only found another patch of shade ahead of me to sit down and wait, so much for canine loyalty when it comes to exercising. I guess we humans are going to sweat alone unless we hit the open road and there truly is only one point A and one point B and many miles between the two (with no shade.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Our Journey into Canine Bliss

            For those of you who are already following my blogs, you know that I lost my dog, Sentry, the day before Christmas Eve 2010. I then began the arduous task of trying to fill the missing void left by her death. It is a blessing to have Ryka and Calypso come into my life and my life has taken a topsy-turvy turn since they arrived.

            Ryka and Calypso are West German Shepherds. The West German Shepherds are family dogs, companions, and guard dogs; and I have begun the journey of discovering what makes them tick.

            I think it would be safe to say that the majority of people look at dogs as just animals, and very seldom explore their pet’s history, temperament, or take the time to learn about the breed of dog they just brought into their family compound. Depending upon the breed you have chosen, this oversight could bring chaos into your life.

            My connection with German Shepherds began in childhood when my dad (a retired State Trooper) first brought home a Shepherd. Upon the delivery of her liter, my life—long devotion to the breed began.

            My recent acquisition of two West German Shepherds, three year old Ryka and seven week old Calypso, has served to deepen my interest in the breed and my education of the temperament of these animals. These dogs are very clear-headed, very loyal, and extremely smart. I work with Ryka for five minutes twice a day and her retention is amazing. Her training involves praise and I have never needed to raise my voice to her, a trait that works well with my non-aggressive personality.

            I have only had Ryka for six days as I am writing this story, and her devotion to me is unlike anything I have experienced. When I opened the car door to let her in (while at the breeder’s kennel,) she made an immediate transition from Johnny (the breeder at )to me. She never looked back. To her, I am home.

            While Ryka interacts very well with my husband (Jeffery,) it is clear she considers me her master. He will call her (or attempt to) and she looks to me for guidance. On the other hand, I only have to call her softly and she will come and sit on my left-hand side. I have to admit that I love this devotion.    

            I have been researching the German Shepherd’s temperament and the correct method of training for this type of dog. I learned it is not uncommon for trainers to spend two weeks on the “sit” command. I quickly changed my tactics after reading this bit of information. Ryka already knows the "sit" and "come" commands and I was attempting to teach her to heel. I think I was on the path to scarring both my dog and myself for life on this one. My self-devised method was not at all what I was reading.

            To teach a dog to heel, you can hold a toy or treat in front of the dog’s face as he walks on your left side. The toy or treat will hold the dog’s attention and keep him/her focused on the training. It would just be too much of a “Lucy” moment if I describe what I was doing. Let us just say, I was totally confusing Ryka and myself.

            Following the suggestion of the trainer, I did not try to train Ryka for two days. I then started back with the “come” command and then “sit”. Now, when I call her, she comes and sits on my left-hand side. In about a week, I will begin with the heel command.

            It was interesting to learn that the “Stay” and “Down” commands are negative commands and normally not taught until the dog is older. It is okay, however, to teach them these commands with food so it is not associated with negative training. This particular bit of information was a surprise to me.

            I could go into detail about how to teach a dog to “sit”; but suffice it to say, hold a morsel of food in front of anyone’s face (human or canine) and they seem to sense what “sit” means. Even the seven-week-old munchkin figured out “sit”. And, just to mention it, you should NEVER hit or shout at your dog. It breeds fear and aggression. Would you want someone hitting or shouting at you? I am sure the answer is no. Your FAMILY pet is no different.

            West German Shepherds are sensitive, alert dogs. Case in point: Ryka allowed a neighbor to come to the fence and interact with her on two different occasions; I was standing next to her. That same neighbor, along with another rode their ATVs fast down the driveway adjourning our property. To Ryka, that was a sign of aggression; and, the result of that action is the person she once allowed to pet her is no longer welcome. While trying to hold a conversation, I had to stay far away from the fence for her to feel that I was safe.

            When you have friends with dogs and the dog is reacting in a non-positive manner towards you, you might take a moment and realize that it may not be the dog at fault, it may be your mannerisms. Sometimes, it only takes a small movement that the dog interprets as aggression to lose the dog’s confidence. My stepson glared at Ryka and then intending to play stomped at her with his foot. This tactic, which he considered play, constituted aggression to Ryka, and dogs have very long memories. Ryka’s behavior towards him changed and we have to kennel her while he is at our house.

            I hope you found a little bit of helpful information as you were reading this story. Raising dogs is no less an art form than raising children. It is all about finding the happy medium where we can all co-exist and enrich one another’s lives.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It is Official! I am an addict

….a dog addict that is. My house is a mess. The clothes are not folded (they are clean.) The sink is full of dirty dishes. The tub needs scrubbing. My husband needs to be fed. My hair needs washing, (and, are these the same clothes I had on yesterday?) and the floor needs mopping. But, who cares? I am having a ball.
            Taking care of a three year old shepherd and a six week old puppy is all consuming, at least if you are me. I go into the garage about 6:30 a.m. where they each have a kennel and the minute I quietly open the door, they sense and see my presence. The little monkey (Calypso) starts hopping around and yelping and Ryka sits up in her kennel. I grab their respective bowls and starting dishing out breakfast.
            I let Ryka out of her kennel, at which point I am greeted with lots of wet kisses (I love being loved), and we head out to the little pen/yard. I give her breakfast, then close the gate behind me and go back in to get Calypso (who at six weeks is patiently, well not that patiently, waiting to potty.) I grab her bowl of food and she hops along (literally, she has learned to hop/run) and follows me out of the door. She heads out to the grass and does her business (with lots of praise.)
            She eats a few bites and then heads over to the little yard to find Ryka. Ryka is more important than eating to her. After only three days, she has learned her way from the back door to the little yard, truly amazing! You can see in the pictures what transpires once she gets there. They play and nip through the fence. The little monkey then runs around and teases Ryka through the fence and they run around playing. It is just the cutest game to watch.
            The two girls played together on Saturday, but by Sunday Calypso was getting very frisky and Ryka, a little too comfortable and less careful so for the present time, they can only play through the kennel bars or the fence. They seem quite content with that arrangement so far.
Calypso teasing Ryka
            After about thirty minutes of this play, Jeffery comes out and gets Calypso and brings her in the garage to play and eat (he loves this but he’ll never admit it) and Ryka gets her turn to run around. She has become accustomed to a large yard; and she loves playing with the horses next door. Even with all the activity around us (chickens, cows, horses) she winds up on the front porch with me.
            Ryka is already very attached to me (and I to her) and she follows me around, never straying more than a few feet. I have been leaving her outside for stretches of time on her own and she always ends up at the front door as Sentry did. I have developed a horrible habit of clomping through the house so she knows where I am (I am so afraid I will find myself clomping somewhere away from home.) If I do not, she runs from front door to back door looking for me. I have even taken to leaving the front window open so I can talk to her.
            As I said, I am having the time of my life (and I think my husband, Jeffery, is too) but, the housework needs to be done and the clothes folded. The “children” are napping for the moment so I had better get busy. The next round of potty and playing will be here soon enough!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

The New Additions to our Family

       We have two new additions to our family; Ryka and Calypso. Ryka is three years old and Calypso is six weeks old. You'll be seeing a lot more of them as time goes on. They are already providing material for stories. There are additional pictures on my picture page.

I am Ryka Vom Nobleheim. My mom calls me Ryka.

Hi! I'm Calypso. My mom calls me Monkey.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Life after divorce – the bar scene -Take 1

              I have a friend who is going through a divorce, and she was thinking about going out to a bar with her cousin. She was quite young when she married and expressed curiosity about the whole “going out” bar scene.
            Just talking to her brought back some funny memories of when I went through my own divorce. I was not interested in the bar scene (was not interested in the man scene), but my sister managed to convince me I needed to quit moping around and go out with her. She had a friend who was going through a rough time and needed company. So, after much cajoling, I gave in (against my better judgment but sitting around crying every day wasn’t good either.)
Unfolded turtleneckImage via Wikipedia
            I remember meeting her and her friend at a bar. When I walked in, they were horrified to see my attire (NOT what you are thinking), I had on my work clothes; navy plaid shorts (long) paired with navy stockings, navy loafers, and a yellow turtleneck (if I was going to be uncomfortable and out of my element, then I was at least going to wear my favorite outfit.) And, if they did not already think that was bad enough, they nearly broke a blood vessel laughing at the little angel pinned to my turtleneck. I definitely was not giving off the vibe of “trolling.” Not only was I sorely out of place at their table, according to the two of them, I looked like a nun in the middle of a bar.
            They ordered drinks; so did I. Once again, their mortification was complete when I ordered water with lemon. I do not know what they expected; they knew I did not drink, and I thought a glass of water (on the rocks) with a slice of lemon at least looked like a drink. According to the “trolling bible,” I wasn’t fooling anyone but myself.
            As time went on and I grew increasingly uncomfortable, I dared not even people watch. The music started and they were excited when a good-looking guy came over to the table. I was sitting there trying to guess which one of them he would choose to ask to dance. After all, that is what her friend was there for, not me, not my sister. Have you guessed where this story is going yet? Imagine their gaping mosquito traps when the guy asked me to dance. Then, imagine me trying to foist him off on them because I had no desire to dance with anyone, much less a stranger. Remember, I was there under duress. Men need to learn that no really means NO.
            I at least provided entertainment for the two of them that night (and that was the point of this excursion.) Neither of them could get over the fact that anyone approached me, especially the way I was dressed. Apparently, some men like the harlot nun look. I remembered something else as well; they keep the lights turned down for a reason. People are much better looking in the dark.
            My sister had an interesting encounter of the family kind. She accompanied her friend to a bar another evening and struck up a conversation with a good-looking guy while waiting for her drink. They started talking, and one question led to another; he was from out of state and in town calling on clients, etc. Then, things got crazy. It turned out this guy, whom my sister’s friend was salivating over, was a cousin of ours that we had never met. Bar life can be quite interesting sometimes.
            Thank goodness, I did not have to endure too many episodes of bar life; I only had so many turtlenecks and angel pins (and my sister was on the brink of hysteria). I was definitely not going to be responsible for sending my sister to the loony bin!
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

What’s on your IPod? Track 4

            Next up on my IPod is “Beer for my horses”, a duet by Toby Keith and Willie Nelson.
Toby KeithCover of Toby Keith
            With the country in crisis, is it any wonder that we don’t all wish for the justice of days gone by? The sheriff (long arm of the law) would gather up a posse’ and head off to round up all the bad guys (“and hang ‘em high in the street, for all the people to see.”) There would then be a quick trial and consequences dealt. Today, we are lucky if there is a trial within five years. And justice, in most cases, can sometimes be difficult to find.
            These days, things are much different. The corruption and crime still run rampant (“…..A man come on the 6 o’clock news saying somebody’s been shot, somebody’s been abused. Somebody blew up a building; somebody stole a car. Somebody got away; somebody didn’t get too far…”) but we don’t find the sheriff out rounding up a posse’. And, too many times, the long arm of the law is part of the corruption (police, judges, bail bondsmen, politicians, etc.)
            “Grandpappy told my pappy back in my day son, a man had to answer for the way that he’d done….”
            I know that I’ll catch a little flack for this, but personally, I find it ironic that Willie Nelson is singing about holding people accountable (but that’s just me,) since he’s been on the wrong side of the law a few times himself. But, I guess it’s whatever floats your boat as the saying goes.
            And, the song does put a clear prospective on justice that is hard to beat. The accompanying music is not half bad either.
            “Ya know justice is the one thing we should all find. You gotta saddle up your boys; you gotta draw a hard line. When the gun smoke settles, we’ll sing a victory tune, and we’ll all meet back at the local saloon. We’ll raise up our glasses against evil forces saying whiskey for my men, beer for my horses.”
            Well folks, I’m off to the paddock; there’s a black stallion waiting to be saddled (this is my blog – remember?)
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The morning time stood still - 6/17/2010

Adapted from Wikipedia's LA county maps by Catbar.Image via Wikipedia
            As I was walking this morning, as I do most mornings, my thoughts began to wander as they so often do. We’ve all had these moments; a time when our brain is searching for something to think about. Before my mind had time to settle on a topic, a police cruiser zoomed by, racing south on the highway; its sirens jolting me back to the here and now, thus causing me to cringe until I remember that my friend is no longer teaching down the bayou. But, for that moment before the present sinks in, the piercing sound almost brings me to my knees as I fight the urge to cower and cover my ears. As they tend to do, the painful memories that have been suppressed come screaming back to the present.  The memories of that day, one year ago this month, never fail to make me catch my breath when I think of how close I came to losing my closest and dearest friend.
            I realize these two words are synonymous, but I must use both in describing the special relationship I have with this young woman.  She is my best friend, my confidant, my mentor, my daughter, and without her, the void that would exist in my life and my heart is too vast to put into words.
            That fateful morning in late May of 2009, which started off as any other morning, turned into one of the most horrific days of my life, and I know, hers as well. It was the 9/11 day in our lives just as the people in New York that fateful day had their world shattered by terrorists; our world was shattered by a lone gunman.

Map of Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, United Sta...Image via Wikipedia

            I woke up, made the bed, fed the dog, and began my walk. Sirens blaring as police cruisers speed up and down the highway are a normal part of the day, and this particular sunny day seemed to hold nothing unusual in its midst. A cruiser went by with lights and siren on; then, a second unit, followed by a third. I only thought that whatever was going on must involve a fellow police officer. I didn’t give it much more thought than that. Only a couple of minutes had passed before more sirens could be heard in the distance, and, as chills ran up my spine, I turned in my tracks to watch as Louisiana State Trooper units went racing by with lights and sirens blaring at speeds I had not witnessed before on our narrow two lane highway. A special force tactical unit soon followed then additional Lafourche Parish Sheriff Police cruisers as well as other unmarked units and ambulances. The air took on the eerie atmosphere of a haunted swamp.
            Still, I only thought that whatever was happening surely involved a Lafourche Parish Deputy or a Louisiana State Trooper, more the former than the latter; history just repeating itself.  You see, true excitement rarely happens in our community and they are all known for loving a good chase.  I also remember being grateful that my husband had retired from the state police two years earlier, and just to put my mind at ease I phoned him to make sure he was okay. I also wanted to give him a heads up that something ominous was happening. At this point, neither of us had any inkling how this day would unfold.
            As time has passed and as one would expect, some of the details have been forgotten, much like the scrawling in the sand as the water washes up and splashes onto shore to fill the crevices; and I cannot recall exactly how I found out about the shooting at one of the schools down the highway from our house. I remember making phone calls, calling first my brother, who worked with an ambulance service, and then a close friend on the police force. Both began their own inquiries, and eventually I received word that it was the middle school. I then heard from a neighbor that shots had been fired at a teacher but the teacher’s identity was yet unknown. One source reported a gym teacher had been the target, and I remember breathing a sigh of relief because the gym was located at the opposite end of the hall from my friend Jessica’s classroom.
            There are events in our lives that we are destined to remember. We are able to recall down to the last detail where we were, what we were doing, how sound around us ceased to exist, how the world stood still. This is one of those times that will be forever ingrained in the recesses of my mind. I remember exactly where I was standing on the driveway when I found out that the classroom the gunman had entered was indeed Jessica’s. Then, the realization penetrated my denial that Jessica had been the gunman’s target.  We have all felt this way at one time or another. Everything around us goes still, our body folding unto itself, blackness surrounding our perimeter vision, things happening in slow motion, the deafening silence. This was one of those moments; the moment that marks someone else’s life, not our own.
            Full-blown panic set in. My first thought was to call my husband. I remember thinking that he can fix anything. He can find out about her for me. I thought, “I need to get to school” but because I am not a blood relative, I knew that my chances of getting anywhere near enough to see or speak to Jessica were less than zero, and I was positive there would be utter and complete chaos. All my thoughts were jumbled together. I remember thinking I’ve lost so much in my life; I can’t lose another person so dear to me. I thought that after all Jessica had been through in her short life and survived, that it wasn’t fair for her to be taken from us; not by a gunman, not like this. I thought of her young children. All I could think was no, No, NO! God you can’t take her; she’s too special. No!
            As additional information became available, I was able to find out that Jessica was unharmed, at least physically.  It was a relief, but I knew that I would be filled with anxiety until I could look at her and touch her and speak to her.
            I had so many things on my to do list that day, but all I accomplished was turning around in circles. My mind could not focus. The minutes turned into hours, going by one by one. I remember thinking I have to go to the market to get bread and cold cuts for my husband’s work crew but I couldn’t concentrate enough to gather my things and go. My thoughts were consumed with Jessica. Was she alright? How was she coping? Did she need me?
            During the afternoon I was able to speak with her husband. Only then could I feel my breathing begin to stabilize. Minimal focusing became possible. I made the decision to go to the market so I could focus on something where I felt some semblance of control. I do not remember getting into the car and backing out of the garage, but as I rounded the drive, I saw Jessica’s car coming down her driveway, which runs parallel to mine. I vaguely remember stopping the car and getting out and going through the gate. But I do remember the look she gave me when she exited her car and turned towards me, it was the same look mirrored on my own face. Neither one of us is an outwardly huggy type person other than with our children, but we walked toward each other with our arms outstretched and then just held on to each other as though the other were an anchor keeping us grounded to the earth. I had no words to describe what I was feeling at that moment.
            I sometimes think of my own mortality, but before that day, I never thought of Jessica’s. The memories of that day will always be in the back of my mind; and they tend to surface at inopportune times. It was months before I could think of that day without breaking down and crying, and still longer before I could do anything other than listen to Jessica speak about it. I am still overwhelmed with emotion at times. I eventually worked up the courage to ask, but not without fighting my tears and emotions, if my fear about that day was true. And, it may sound strange to some, but before I could put the nightmare to rest, I needed to know the truth.
            The statement issued by the sheriff’s office led one to believe that the shot had been fired randomly above Jessica’s head. Having had experience with shooting a gun, I knew that a person, especially a young person, would be caught off guard when the gun was fired and the aim would not be accurate. What I believed to be the truth was the student had intended to kill her but due to his lack of experience with a gun, was unprepared for the kickback that in the end spared her life. This was indeed what happened.
            My days are peaceful now, but I still worry about Jessica.  She has her good days and she has her bad days. She is still caught off guard at times and is overwhelmed with memories and the bad dreams still invade her sleep. I am hopeful as new days dawn and her children fill her life with laughter, her good memories will always far outnumber the bad. As for me, I receive such joy from watching the three of them together that sometimes it’s easy to forget that day. And, as Jessica has told me on different occassions, you want to forget but if you do, then chances are, nothing will be learned from this horrible experience. 
         The following is the link to my friend's site. She was the teacher in this story. Her life was affected that day; just as mine, and so many others were. 
A Story Unraveled: Thirty Eight Seconds

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Monday, February 14, 2011

A Love Letter to my Husband

            Today is Valentine’s Day and of course, my first thought was of my husband (it could be the snoring alerted me to his presence and that is why he was my first thought.) He truly is my Prince Charming. He literally rode in on a white horse fifteen years ago (his police cruiser was white) in the darkest moment of my life and swept me off my feet. He brushed the tears from my cheeks and made me smile.
            I met this wonderful man six months after I separated from my first husband. I had been devastated by the divorce and by the events that had transpired over the course of six months. I was in a deep dark place and falling rapidly. I was definitely in need of a savior and God sent one. I guess it was not my time, and God had other plans for me.
            This wonderful man that I am so very fortunate to call husband, has loved me through some of my worst times; and I hope he would tell you, some of my best times. He is the light of my life and I often tease him that God gave him just enough faults to prevent my worshiping the ground he walks on.
            He has been there to hold me as I have sobbed my heart out. He has been there late in the night when I have gotten the giggles in bed. We have even made the dog howl (Sentry slept under the house) when the laughter got uncontrollable. My husband puts up with my incessant talking and rapidly changing topics, and my extreme quietness. He rarely complains. That may be because I have loved him unconditionally and have spoiled him rotten in return.
            It is a blessing for me to have this wonderful man in my life and I love him with all my heart. This is my love letter to him on Valentine’s Day, a day of love, and a day of reflection. Happy Valentine’s Day to my husband, Jeffery.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What’s on your IPod? Track 3

Carrie Underwood performs in concert at Nokia ...Image via Wikipedia
          What's next on my IPod? How Great Thou Art, performed by Carrie Underwood. I thought it was appropriate to write about this song since today is Sunday, our Lord’s Day.
          I first heard Carrie Underwood sing this song on the Opry. Her rendition brought tears to my eyes. There is no way you can listen to this song and not have your soul ripped wide open. The audience was so spellbound that you could have heard a pin drop. As the camera scanned the faces of those in attendance, young and old, there was not a dry eye in the building. When you listen to and watch it on my IPod, you will understand why.
          I remember first hearing this song when as a child; I attended the Baptist church with my grandmother. Listening to them rock the room with their music and these words left a lasting impression on my heart. Oh, how much I wanted to be Baptist just to hear this song every Sunday. When the choir sung, it was praise and prayer, as I had never heard before.
          I have had so many prayers answered in my own life as well as prayers I have prayed for others. How can you not believe?
          Take a moment to listen to it on my IPod (to the left of this post) then look around you. ......Then sings my soul, my Savior, God to Thee, How Great Thou Art........ 

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Friday, February 11, 2011

What’s on your IPod? Track 2

Inside Out (Trisha Yearwood album)Image via Wikipedia
             What’s next on my IPod? She’s in love with the boy by Trisha Yearwood. This is a song about being young and in love and having the world at your feet. We’ve all been there, done that as we say.
            I have a daughter named Katie and she loved this song; we both did. It was a fun song, and she and I used to spend the drive to school singing with our make-believe microphones and at the top of our lungs. The first thing Katie would do when we hopped in the car was open up the moon-roof. It didn’t matter how hot or how cold it was outside; the moon-roof was open. When it was cold, we’d bundle up in our coats, scarves, and hats and enjoy the cold air. In the summer heat, we would crank up the a/c and cruise along.
            This song conjures up wonderful, packed away memories on many levels. It makes me happy to hear it. The song brings back a host of memories from a simpler time, when life was not so complicated.
            Take a moment to listen to it on my IPod (to the left of this post.) What other songs are on your IPod? Why are they there?
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What’s on your IPod? Track 1

Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Isl...Image via Wikipedia
            This title begins a new series for me. While the question may seem like an easy one, I am going to explore it a little deeper than “hey-what are you listening to?”
            Music is very personal to me. While some people are content to listen to whatever is on the radio at the time, I find that if something does not resonate with me, I am quick to change the station. As I was making the choice of what I wanted on my IPod for listening, I didn’t give it much thought. I just put some of my all-time favorites on the device (and, that is another story - me, learning to download music.) Then, as I started listening to what I had chosen while walking one day, I realized that not one or two, but all of the songs, had been chosen subconsciously. That realization got me to thinking about “what’s on my IPod” and why it is there.
            This particular road has the potential to get a little bumpy as it unfolds. I may even hit a few potholes along the way. With that being said, these are the songs on my IPod. The first song on my IPod is by Toby Keith. It is Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (you can listen to it as you read this on the IPod  located right here on my blog.)
            This song is a no brainer. He wrote and recorded it after what America now refers to as 9/11. I think most of Americans are patriotic, and this song struck a chord with all of us. Had all of us been songwriters, this is what we would have written and this is exactly how we would have sung it, at the top of our lungs (that may be the volume I listen to it rather than his actual voice) and with the vigor in which he sang the song. The following is a part of that song.
            …..A mighty sucker punch came flying in from somewhere in the back……..Hey Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list and the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist and the eagle will fly…. You’ll be sorry you messed with the US of A, we’ll put a boot up your ass …. It’s the American way…..Brought to you courtesy of my red, white, and blue!
            We all wanted to march waving our flags because who did anyone think they were, daring to attack our country. After visiting the Statue of Liberty and standing at her base gazing toward the skyline where the Twin Towers no longer stand, I am confident that her fist shook to have that atrocity happen in her view. I am also confident that every eagle took flight in respect for our citizens slaughtered that fateful day. It was a sad day in the history of our proud country, one that our compatriots will not forget.

             I chose this song for my IPod because it expresses the strong feelings I have for my country, The United States of America, and I think we should all have a song that reminds us of our patriotism.
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Oh Lonesome Me

A photograph of a German Shepherd DogImage via Wikipedia
            It has been very lonely around my home since my dog, Sentry, passed away. As each day turns into the next, I realize more and more just how intertwined our two lives were. I felt her presence whether she was curled up on the back step or on the front porch. It was comforting to know she was out traversing the yard, and her alerting bark was a signal that she was guarding me.
            I sometimes find myself wandering through the house, opening the front door half expecting to see her there. Our house is a raised cottage, and she could tell the direction I was walking to and more times than not, she would be waiting with her tail wagging. My heart is heavy these days with missing her. With her here, I was never alone.
            I have been on a mission lately. I am not trying to find a replacement for Sentry, for in my heart she can never be replaced. I am trying to find a dog that will pick up where she completed her journey. The quest that I am on has proved to be an educational one.
            I met with a German Shepherd breeder located not far from my home. He has a wonderful compound and loves his dogs. He taught me about the eating habits, grooming habits, and gave me pointers on training the dog. By the time I left, I wanted to put every dog he showed me in the back of my suburban. I would have taken them all home with me. I would wear my badge "The Dog Lady" proudly. 
            Continuing with my hunt for the perfect dog for me, I learned about German Shepherd rescue centers. I found out that I would have to apply to adopt if I wanted one of their dogs. There is an application process that includes home visits (they want to see the environment where the dog would live;) and one to two visits on-site with the dog at the facility to observe our interaction. At that point, I might be able to adopt the dog.
            I have fallen in love with so many dogs via their pictures. I found one puppy that resembled Sentry so much that it could have been her pup. My biggest obstacle so far has been my husband. He is not one to make quick decisions, and true to form, he is hesitating with this decision. He has seen me grieve for two dogs and isn’t quite sure he is ready to watch me go through the pain again. I guess my next big hurdle is to convince him that the loneliness is a worse pain.
            I suspect my journey to find a dog is going to take longer than I anticipated.
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Just paying it forward

             Have you ever heard the phrase "pay it forward?" It seems I've heard it quite a few times as of late. It really can be a wonderful thing. 
            Today I was at Ochsner for a doctor's appointment. Since I have been taking a fluid pill, the bathroom is normally my first stop upon reaching any destination. Today was no exception. Imagine my elation when I opened the door and the most wonderful fresh smell emitted into the air. 
            Upon entering the restroom, I immediately noticed a young woman in the process of scouring the restroom from top to bottom. It was so pleasant to use a sparkling restroom that I could not help myself. Thank you for doing such a wonderful job popped right out of my mouth. 
            Needless to say, her surprise mirrored my own but she also realized my sincerity and graciously accepted my thank you. I think I felt as good as she did. Exiting the restroom, I collected my patient husband and headed toward the escalator telling him about my experience. (I think he sometimes tunes my chatter out.) 
           I have always tried to show appreciation to the workers that are usually forgotten, but very important in our daily lives. I am thankful that they are willing to clean the bathrooms, or to collect the garbage because someone has to do it. I do not want to do these particular tasks. I am fairly certain our sanitation workers wonder what asylum I escaped from because when I am out walking and they stop to collect my garbage, I always say thank you. By the surprised look on their faces, I may be the only person to say thank you.
            I continued to the doctor’s waiting room and took my place in line to check in for my appointment. The receptionist greeted me with a warm smile and hello as I stepped up. After checking in, I asked her how to go about finding out to whom I would send a letter of gratitude in a particular department commending someone for their help. She instantly thought I was speaking about the office I was currently in and made a phone call to find out the person’s name. She was so kind and helpful that I asked her name and thanked her for her assistance.
            Upon hearing my name called for my appointment, I headed off. Naturally I bypassed the scale (wouldn't you?) and was immediately called back (I tried.) At first, it registered straight dashes across (how wonderful to weigh nothing!) Then, the dreaded numbers appeared. Oh well, had to happen I guess.
            A short time later, my doctor entered the exam room with the most wonderful news! Not only had I lost six pounds but my blood pressure was normal (first time in a year.) Upon hearing the news, I immediately sat up straighter and I swear to you that my clothes felt like they fit better. I left her office with a light step.
            Next, I headed down to the billing department (an experience I blogged about a few days back.) I asked for the young woman who was so helpful before. I was not disappointed; today she was once again most helpful. She looked over the paperwork I had with me and helped sort out the errors and my account is as good as new (for the present.) I also asked her for the name and address of her supervisor. I told her that she had been so helpful that I wanted to write a letter showing my appreciation; and similarly, wanted to write a letter expressing my discontent with the bully I had to deal with.
            She was smiling ear to ear as she gave me the information I asked for. After a pleasant chat with this young woman, my husband and I left and headed for home quite content.
            Getting back to the “pay it forward,” by simply giving someone a compliment from the heart, my heart, I was repaid ten times over today. Because of a small phrase that can end up being so enormous, “thank you,” I had a wonderful day as well as others. That is a good feeling. No, that is a great feeling. Now, I am off to write not one or two, but three letters.
            Remember; if you ever have the chance (and there are many) pay it forward. It will come back to you repeatedly.