A Tribute to a Furry Friend

This was written by my aunt.  I wanted to share it with you in order to pay tribute to all the creatures that charm their way into our hearts.  They may not be with us for all of our lives, but we are there for all of theirs.

Once upon a time in the tiny town of Almond, in central Wisconsin, a Princess was born. This Princess was unlike any fairy tale Princess ever written about, pictured, or portrayed in movies. This Princess had no crown, no silver slippers, or handsome prince.
This Princess was only about 8 inches tall, smelled funny, and had 6 larger, but equally odoriferous siblings. This Princess was actually a dog; specifically, a collie dog. This tiny, extremely shy animal was the runt of her young mother’s litter. However, her beautiful markings and demeanor tugged at the hearts of her soon-to-be parents…us. This “runt” became the “pick” of that litter.
She was officially crowned “Princess Sadie Rose” in January of 1999, when upon walking into our house for the first time, strutted through the rooms and hallways as if she owned the place. And, of course, she did!
Sadie grew quickly, and through the years, we marveled at her intelligence and athleticism. We swear she could understand English, and often found ourselves having to spell things (like G-R-A-N-D-P-A, G-R-A-N-D-M-A, etc.) in order to avoid undo excitement. With terrific mouth/eye coordination, she could run down and snatch flying discs from the air, hundreds of feet away.
When Sadie was 3, a rescue collie named Casey joined the family. He was about the same age. And although the little Princess was rather unhappy at first about sharing her kingdom with him, they became very close companions over time. Casey passed away when they were both 13 years of age. A young little whippersnapper (8 months of age), Coby–another rescue collie–soon joined the family. Sadie was instrumental in teaching this young lad good manners and obedience. Coby adored his sister.
Throughout her life, Sadie was stricken at various times with illnesses. We feared she would not survive a battle with mites during her first year. But, regular “dips” and a maturing immune system eventually overcame the problem. A lifelong sensitive stomach required a special diet, and occasional medications. Whenever there was a problem, Aunt Kimmy & Uncle Jim (veterinarians) were just a phone call away for consultation. They are wonderful doctors, and Sadie loved them dearly!
Sadie’s health had been on the decline for the last year or so. What appeared to be dementia hung over her like a cloud, causing her to be more withdrawn; sometimes, a little afraid or confused. We had concerns about how she would handle the 1000-mile drive for our vacation to Florida in April. But, we hit the road on a Saturday morning, a smile on her face, and she soon cuddled up with Coby for the long drive ahead. She traveled well. One week into our 2-week vacation, and after one last walk on the beach where she has swam and played for years, she became seriously ill.
She was hospitalized for a couple of days. There were many long-distance calls to Kimmy. We had hoped for a somewhat common (in older dogs) diagnosis of vestibular syndrome, but when her condition did not improve, Kimmy and local vets concurred that a more serious problem existed. She likely was suffering from a brain tumor. It was clear that a decision would need to be made; something that had been in the back of our minds for some time, but something our hearts could not bear. We put our sweet little Princess to rest on May 7th. She was 15 years, 5 months of age. (Yes, truly a blessing to live to that age!)
Roger Caras once said, “Dogs are not are WHOLE life, but they make our lives whole.” Sadie certainly made our life whole. We will probably again get another dog, but there will be no replacing our little Princess. She was one of a kind.
Princess Sadie Rose
11/23/98 – 5/7/14
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Guest Post: My friend’s Eloquent Facebook Rant

Time for a rant.  It’s been a while.

I am continually amazed and frustrated by our common lack of concern and care for other human beings. Everyone has excuses:  “I’m too busy”; “Too involved”; “I don’t want to get involved for fear of recrimination”; “I’ve become bitter and don’t care anymore”; or my favorite, “I don’t have any money, either.”

My question is, what if were you or yours that needed some sort of of assistance? What would your expectations be and what have you put out there? The tables change drastically then. Then, all we hear about is how no one did a thing, no one was willing to help.

Apathy begets apathy. Karma exists.

I’m not saying there aren’t good people out there that do good in the world every day, there are millions of them. They don’t blow their own horns, they don’t do it for the glory or recognition. They do it for the personal satisfaction they feel when they know that they have helped someone survive this messed up process we call life, if only for one more day.

During my “Boot Camps,” one of my standard goals is to find someone that needs a kindness, and offer it. This isn’t something that I only do once in a while – I strive to do this every single day.  It doesn’t always come back in the way we want or in our time frame, but I promise that it does, if you chose to acknowledge it, respect it for what it is.

Yesterday, I encountered a situation where some people required assistance, and so I offered mine. It wasn’t a conscious decision, it was necessity, because I could not have gotten up this morning and faced my reflection in the mirror had I not done all that I possibly could.  This kindness has already come back to me in spades. Not only do I feel great about my accomplishment, someone else has reached out to me in my time of need and is helping me to improve my life.

Is the return always immediate?  Certainly not.  It may be years before your good deeds come full circle.  But that isn’t the point. The point is to try.  We may fail, but that the failure itself teaches us what to avoid if we are wise enough to learn from our mistakes.

The world doesn’t always need grandiose gestures. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “Thank you for the job you do”; “I need you”; “I want you”, “You are valuable”; or even “I see your struggle and although I can’t help in the way you need, I’ll stay by your side and hold your hand when it’s really hard.” Sometimes it’s picking up someone’s coffee for them, or just listening when they have hit the ropes and they really need to rant about how unfair it is.

One of my mom’s favorite quotes was, “No man is an island.”  As a child, I never understood what it meant.  But these days, it resonates with me. You can’t do it alone, shouldn’t do it alone.  But yet we expect those we don’t know or don’t particularity care for to do so.

I don’t necessarily have the solution, I just know that I have a compulsion to try. I struggle daily with being in a position where it would be so easy to say, “I’m just too busy.”  I REFUSE to give in to that. I REFUSE to allow Karma to put me and mine on that list of the uninterested!

What will you choose today?  And tomorrow, for that matter?  I’ve already made my choice.

D is for Dead Reckoning

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Where are we? What does the GPS say?

“DEAD RECKONING – In pioneer flight before radio, beacons, and accurate maps, flying distances much by instinct and guesswork, and referring to whatever landmarks were below, was quite routine. The “dead” part simply meant “straight,” as in the nautical “dead ahead,” and pilots often relied heavily on the IRON COMPASS for cross-country flights over unfamiliar territory.”http://www.aerofiles.com/glossary.html

In my opinion, dead reckoning is a lost art. Pilots have become so dependent on technology, that even when their destination is in sight, they still obsessively consult the aircraft’s GPS to verify their position. Some don’t even glance outside the cockpit anymore, except when forced to for takeoff and landing, content to monitor the flight systems as autopilot does all the work. I honestly believe that this behavior is nothing short of laziness, and that the pilot is voluntarily rejecting of the joy of flight.

As a freight pilot, I was encouraged to fly the aircraft manually. As a charter pilot, I was forbidden to hand fly the aircraft above 10,000 feet. The difference in skill level between my freight colleagues and my charter coworkers was remarkable, and I place the blame firmly on the glittery allure of technology.

One of the most interesting examples of this assertion comes from my days as a flight instructor. Prior to signing off a student to complete their required solo cross-country flights, I would do my best to get them lost and force them to use dead reckoning to make their way home.

My normal tactic involved practicing unusual attitude recovery. The student would close their eyes while I placed the aircraft in either a steeply climbing or rapidly descending turn. They must then safely return the aircraft to straight and level flight after I instruct them to open their eyes. At some point during these maneuvers, I would reset the gyroscopic heading indicator 90 degrees so that when it showed we were going east to return to the field, we were actually southbound. We would fly south until the student figured out that something was wrong, and then I would let them use whatever would be available to them when they were alone to find their way home. We did not have GPS in those old trainers, so they were forced to use dead reckoning.

Only one of my students was not fooled. He was my oldest student – in his 70s, I think – and dead reckoning was nothing new to him. When I tried my little trick on him and asked him to go ahead and take us home, he pointed the aircraft in the right direction without hesitation.

I was astonished.

When I asked him how he knew he was going the right direction, he pointed out the window and said, “That’s Morris to the south of us along the river. The airport is east.”

“But the heading indicator says that we’re going south,” I said, still confused.

“Does it? I never look at that thing. The magnetic compass will never steer you wrong if you give it a chance,” he responded.

That day, I was the one who got schooled, and I have no doubt that I am a better pilot for it.

    – This post is dedicated to Joe Witkowski. Thank you for sharing your love of flying with me. Rest in peace, my friend.

Breathe

I’m drowning.

Not long ago, I was serenely floating upon the gentle surface of a vast sea of information, content to dip my net and capture a shining, squirming bit of knowledge whenever the spirit moved me.  My needs were few and the knowledge hale and plentiful.

Then something changed.  The ocean is no longer tranquil, but rather roiling with a pestilence of advertisements, spam, email, social media, and IM notifications all vying for an opportunity to wriggle in my net.  Many of the edicts are diseased, sightless, oozing with a decaying, black plague of hostility and accusation.  Some are artfully crafted decoys which reel in the unwary with events so filled with heartache that they are nearly impossible to resist.

Resistance is imperative.  Because should you succumb, as I have, to the siren song arising from the ocean, you will surely drown.  As I am drowning.

I have only one hope, one lifeline.  A fleeting opportunity to pull myself free of the freezing waters of hate and lies and to rest, shivering and spent, upon the raft from which I fell.

I have been submerged for so long now, I do not know if I have the fortitude.  With a Herculean effort, I crawl inch by inch from the depths, knowing each moment to be my last, yet nevertheless hoping for just one more chance to break the surface.

Finally, chilly drops trail down from my sodden hair to rejoin the sea and, surprised, I gulp in dazzlingly sweet air.  I can see my salvation floating near enough to grasp, outlined in the crimson glory of the sunset, and I reach out, straining to…

…switch off the computer and breathe.

Guest Post: “Is Mattel Brave Enough To Make An Un-Sexy Doll?”

I’ve been flying below the radar writing-wise for a little while now.  I had surgery to repair a hiatus hernia – which went very well, thank you – but recovery is slower than I would like.  As a sneaky, underhanded way of posting a blog without actually having to do any work, I invite you to visit the blog post of a woman I admire greatly to which I have contributed in my own small way (a photo and a quote, but hey, I’m only a week post-op.  What do you want from me?)

And without further adieu, may I introduce you to the founder of Pigtail Pal and Ballcap Buddies, Melissa Wardy and her post entitled “Is Mattel Brave Enough To Make An Un-Sexy Doll?”

Please click the link to read it.  My technical re-blogging skills are sub-par.

 

The Well of Souls: Another Writing Contest Entry

This week’s writing contest entry is based on this picture: I hope you like it!  🙂

The Well of Souls

The girl sat cross-legged in the dirt at her grandfather’s feet. Only by absently braiding her long, jet-black hair could she manage to not wiggle in anticipation of the story he would share today from his crude, wooden stool. It was her favorite, and even though she could recite it herself, she preferred it when Grandfather told the story.

As she unbound her hair to begin plaiting again, she swept her eyes over the audience. In addition to herself, there were 8 other children, ranging in ages from 4 to 13, gathered in the small thatch hut to hear the tale. Chattering and fidgeting, they settled down swiftly once they heard Grandfather’s deep, smooth voice fill the chamber.

“When the world was not yet born and the heavens lay fallow,” he began, his dulcet tones capturing the undivided attention of even the youngest child, “the Goddess chose to fill her realm with Light to balance the Darkness.”

The girl closed her eyes and sighed in pleasure. Lightly reclining against her grandfather’s leg, she envisioned his words coalescing into a richly woven tapestry displaying scenes of the Goddess and the Well as the story progressed. In her mind, the girl could see the Goddess – beautiful, serene, powerful – kneeling purposefully by the Well of Souls, pouring the very essence of life into the glistening, translucent pool.

With the Pillars of Creation at Her back, the Goddess caused the Well of Souls to overflow its banks, bringing all that is to the barrenness of the Universe. Stars winked into being across the velvet of the heavens, flashing like jewels, and birthing planets, comets, moons. The Goddess then fashioned a planet, the cradle of our ancestors, and tethered it delicately to Her wrist so as to keep it close. The planet, secured like a bracelet, transformed droplets spilled from the Well into lifeforms. These creatures were mortal and eventually returned their spark of life to the Well, causing another soul to spill from the pool. Thus was the Circle of Life perpetuated.

“As the Goddess surveyed Her work,” Grandfather’s voice dropped to a dramatic whisper, causing the children to listen even more intensely, “She smiled. And all of Creation knew Her Love.”

The girl reluctantly opened her eyes, sad to have reached the end of the story, and looked up to find her grandfather watching her. Her heart fluttered for a moment, frightened that she had somehow displeased him by appearing to sleep while he spoke. Alarmed, she searched the faces of the other children – still rooted in place as if waiting for Grandfather to continue – for a hint of her offense. Finding nothing, she twisted to face him once again and beg his forgiveness.

The corners of his gray eyes crinkled in amusement as he silently drew her first to her feet facing him and then warmly into his sinewy arms. He murmured softly into her ear, “Never forget, Granddaughter, that we will all one day return to the Well of Souls from whence we came. But even when my soul has rejoined our ancestors, my love for you will continue to rival that of the Goddess. You bring Light into my heart, child.”

The other children could not have heard the words the old man had whispered to his grandchild, but their joyful whoops clearly made it known that this was the ending to the story they preferred.

The Blogging A to Z Challenge: An Unsanctioned Imitation – Day 3: C is for Chrysalis

Last month, I took my children (a.k.a. “the boy”, age 7 and “the girl”, age 2.5) to a Bubble Show at our library. It was a really cute presentation in which the performer, known as “The Bubble Man,” slyly demonstrated several scientific principles for the children by showcasing his bubble making skills. And despite my daughter’s fierce pride in being (as she puts it) a “Brat Bubble Show,” we all enjoyed it.

One of stories the Bubble Man told us was about hardship and struggle. He said that when he was a child, he came across a butterfly trying to escape it’s chrysalis and decided to help it. To his dismay, the butterfly died shortly after he released it. He later learned that all the effort expended by butterflies as they struggle to free themselves actually condition them to survive once they finally do escape their cocoons. In other words, their hardship makes them stronger.

Sometimes it can be difficult for us to realize that the pain, hardship and setbacks that we endure are a necessary part of our existence. Our choices and experiences make us who we are and serve to highlight all the great things in our lives. How can we know joy if we haven’t experienced suffering? Love without heartache? Success without failure?

Think about the first time you reached a fitness goal. Would it have been half as exciting if it was easy? Capt. James T. Kirk once said “I don’t want my pain taken away! I NEED my pain!” And I wholeheartedly agree. After all, without knowing my pain, how would I know when I am free of it?

So, accept the struggle and know that not only will it make you strong, but like a butterfly, it will eventually allow you to fly!