Tuesday, December 27, 2005


Christmas was delightful... full of family dynamics... intriguing, sometimes exasperating, but very very special. I've discovered that I need more sleep and less caffeine. My body yearns for better nutrition. All the food we've eaten over the last several days has been very very rich and incredibly yummy. Yet, I want and need a salad. And I don't even like salads. Is that funny, or what?

I've also discovered that I need to accept some things. That my Mother is the way she is, she's not going to change. She actually did very well this weekend. She's crotchety at times, and can really zing you with a nasty comment. She doesn't mean them. I know that.. but it still can hurt. I'm very good at defending myself. However, I think I need a thicker skin. It is what it is. I've wanted her to accept me for "who" I am... and I now realize that I've been rather hypocritcal.... I need to accept her for "who" she is!

WOW!!! Who'd have thunk?


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas Pawty for the dogs

Ok... I admit it... I've gone over the edge, or around the bend..... I've definitely gone to the dogs, that's for sure! Last night, we participated in a Christmas "paw-tee" for the dogs. I actually orgazinized the event.

Members of an online discussion forum about Newfoundland Dogs exchanged names with each other and sent gifts. Then, last night, we had a online party in a chat room. I had my dogs open their gifts before the party started, but took pictures to share with the group.

Here are my pictures.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sunday Evening Ponderings....

Obviously, from the title of this post, it's Sunday evening. Dinner is finished, the dishes are soaking, and we're watching "Nature" on PBS. Or rather, Russell is. I'm online... here, composing my thoughts about this weekend. And the dogs, well they're all about. Yelda is nearest, messing with a bone. Kira is snoozing, Ben is patrolling, and dear Cora is lying quietly, be the good girl she is.

It's astonishing that the weekend is about over. Time continues to fly by at a pace that makes my head spin. And, of course, instead of feeling rested and relaxed, I'm wiped out! That seems to be the norm for me, and while it may seem like I'm complaining, I really do thrive on a full and hectic schedule. But that's a secret, and if "you" tell anyone I said so, I'll deny it. *VBG*

The weekend started as they always do. Heading home from the office. However, this past Friday was a bit different, because Russell had to work late- some sort of upgrade of the Library's database. So, I came home and dealt with our hairy herd... this included walks, feeding and fresh water, as well as lots of hugs and slurps. We watched tv for awhile, until Russell called to let me know that he was ready to come home. I then left to pick him up and go get some dinner. After missing not one, but two exits, we ended up at a barbecue restaurant instead of our favorite Thai restaurant. Oh well... the barbecue was good enough... just not Pad Thai which seems to be my latest obsession! After that, we headed home and began preparations for Saturday...

After eating breakfast together, I headed to Columbus to attend a Christmas party given by some fellow rescue buddies. Russell went to visit his good friend Dave, who I've mentioned in earlier posts. Dave is dying from cancer, and we want to see him as much as possible. Russell's visit enabled Dave's wife to get out and get some shopping done.

I made it to Columbus in good time. The drive from Dayton to Columbus is usually frustrating, due to never-ending construction and traffic. So I was pleasantly surprised when I didn't have either one of those to deal with. The party was lovely. My friends live in an old farmhouse that they've completely renovated. I'm so envious everytime I visit. Spirits were high, and the food was scrumptious. My friend Lynn was there from the Cleveland area, and she had brought along a newf named "Freddie". Freddie is a rescue dog, and I had agreed earlier in the week to help transport "Freddie" to his new family. So, after a lovely lunch, Lynn's husband and I loaded "Freddie" into my car, along with his medical records, medications, a crate and dog bed.

"Freddie" was such a good boy on our journey. We were meeting his new family in Richmond, Indiana. I called Russell and he was home, and I was ahead of schedule. He agreed to go with me, so I stopped at home to pick him up. We got to Richmond right on time, and "Freddie's" new family was there waiting. We had dinner together at The Cracker Barrel. Russell and Bill, "Freddie's" new owner, took him for a quick walk. We then put "Freddie" into his new family's car, and said good bye. "Freddie" has been through hell in the last year, and he is going to a wonderful home. I'm thrilled for him.

After we got home and took care of our dogs, we settled in for a nice quiet evening. And today was spent at my Mother's. I baked all afternoon, while watching Christmas movies on tv!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Last night's dream....

I had a dream last night. It was a bad one. I dreamed that all 4 dogs somehow got out of the house, and got lost. I’m not sure how this happened, but I do know that when we discovered it, they had been gone for some time.

The panic, fear and despair were strong. Even though I’m now awake, I can still feel the remnants of the anguish I felt in the dream. I do recall that it was dark when the dogs were lost. Then, as with all dreams, things become murky… and there was no real sense of time. The next thing I remember is that it was daytime. The sun was shining, but my heart was still heavy. I think we had been out looking and looking for them, but had had no luck. Suddenly, my instincts told me to go to the door and call out to them.

I was then standing on the porch. And that’s when I saw them- Kira and Yelda, followed by Ben and Cora. Kira came running into my arms kissing my face. I cried and cried with relief and joy. And then I realized there was a fifth dog. It was Sailor. He stood back from the rest of us, quietly wagging his tail, panting a wee bit. He looked happy, healthy and strong.
My heart filled with joy as I gazed at him…
And then, my dream floated away.

When I woke up, I remembered everything very clearly. As I moved around my room, getting dressed to take the dogs out, it came to me in a brilliant dazzling flash! Sailor had brought the dogs’ home to us. He came from the other side of the bridge to help them find their way safely home.
And that is why he didn’t come closer. He couldn’t. He was as close as he could be.
And then I began to weep. Tears of immense longing and sorrow and tears of joy mixed together. I wanted to be able to hold his head in my hands, to look into those eyes…. to kiss that spotty nose and to tell him that I love him. He hadn’t come to me before… in sleep or in consciousness. I had been waiting… yearning for him to come to us once again. Stories from others, sharing that they had been visited by a beloved pet now at the bridge made me wonder why Sailor hadn’t come.
And, I worried about it.

I can put that worry away because Sailor has finally come to us. He brought my babies home to me. He took care of them, and us, as he always did. He’s still there, watching over us. He’s still close.
He still loves us, as we love him.

I had a dream last night. It was a bad one. Yet it ended a happy one.
Merry Christmas sweet Sailor-man. We love you!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Winter Wonderland

Well, as predicted, we've had more snow. It was first mixed freezing rain, which made things "0h so fun" for our morning commute. Before leaving the house, I took a couple of pictures that I would like to share. The picture to the left is of a snowy branch near our front door. Today's snowfall is incredibly wet and heavy....

The picture on the right is of a tree stump in our back yard. As you can see, our back yard is densely wooded, and is at it's prettiest when covered with a fresh blanket of snow!

And last, but not least, is a picture of a tree on campus, which is ripe with berries, which will hopefully feed the birds on this cold wintry day. The tree is located outside the building where my office is located near the building I work in. I pass by this tree almost every single day and it is incredibly beautiful. Unfortunately, this picture doesn't do it justice!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The hustle and bustle...

... of the holidays does tend to wear on one's soul. Things at the university are winding down. We're in the midst of final's week, and everyone is tired.... weary. A first year student brought me a Christmas card today. I've been worried about this young man all semester.

He came to the University full of expectations... and ready to conquer the world. He's not the kind of person who will be in the "in crowd", and while he wants to be, it's probably a blessing that he's not. At the start of the semester, he dove right in to everything he could get his hands on. He's not shy... and having been a shy, nerdy freshman once, I do have to admrie that.

Yet his veneer of bravado was so fragile. And I pick up on an incredible sense of angst from this young man. For the first time, I found myself almost fretting over him. I used to see him every morning, having breakfast in the student union. But then that stopped. And I wondered about him. He'd pop in occasionally... always bright and cheerful... but there was always something beneath that wasn't right.

Perhaps I'm being paranoid... there was a suicide on campus last year, by someone who "had it all together". He was dynamic and appeared to be on top of the world. So it wasn't surprising that the entire unversity community was stunned and heartbroken when he took his life.

I can't shake that memory. And I think that's why I worry about the first year student. I want to protect him... watch out for him. I fear for him... and what is underneath that bright and cheerful veneer. I even mentioned it to my boss.... who seemed surprised. Of course, I didn't go as far as to tell him what I really fear.

And now, after a really nice visit, I am a bit reassured. He really seems ok. He dropped a couple activities. They were taking too much time and his grades were suffering. We chatted for quite a while. The note in his Christmas card thanked me for being there for him.... for being helpful. I will hang on to this card. And I will continue to do what I can to help this brave young fledgling. And I will pray for him, that he continues to grow strong and that he finds happiness, and that he will someday soar!

Monday, December 12, 2005

December Moon

I took this last night, or rather, very early this morning. It was shortly after midnight, and I was outside with Ben. It's a wee bit out of focus, but considering that my camera battery was dying, and my previous moon-shots have left alot to be desired, I'm very pleased with the results! I am now looking forward to future attempts. Winter provides such wonderful photographic opportunities! Hopefully, I will soon have others to share on this blog!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The annual Xmas card photo...

We took our annual Christmas card pictures today. I wanted to have all 4 newfs in one picture, but Russell pointed out that there was no way that that was going to happen. And, I knew that he was right. So, we divided the dogs into pairs. After breakfast this morning, I gathered together the requisite decorative bows, and camera. Russell gathered the leashes. I tied the bows on to Cora & Ben; both of which were incredibly dubious. And finally, out we went! We started out in the back yard. However, after a few "shots" I realized that the lighting was all wrong. Photographing black dogs is always a challenge. And the fact that it was horribly overcast this morning didn't make things any easier. The house was actually blocking the good light, so I insisted that we move to the front yard.

Of course, Russell pointed out that this was asking for trouble. He felt that the dogs would be more interested in who and what were walking down the road. And, if the kids across the street happened to be sledding, then we were doomed. I understood that, but was on a mission and nothing was going to thwart me. We got the dogs "in place" and I frantically snapped away. When I thought we had a keeper, we took Ben and Cora back inside. At this point, both Kira & Yelda were going crazy. They were convinced that there was going to be some sort of "super cool" expedition, and that they were being left out! When I approached each one with their "bow" they seemed to be less than thrilled. After finally putting a bow on both Kira & Yelda, we took them outside for their "session". If we had been worried about neighborhood activity before, we were even more so with these two. Both Kira & Yelda are highly excitable. Happily, however, there was nothing going on, and we were able to get both girls "in place" fairly easily. Also, surprisingly, they were much more cooperative then Cora & Ben had been. Amazing!!!

I started snapping away, and was actually much more successful with these two. There were more pictures to choose from, and only one or two of them were of closed eyes, or moving body parts! Knowing that I had a "keeper" for both pairs, we went back inside. Russell & I were both freezingt. I gave treats to all the dogs for being "good" and hurried to the comptuer so that I could download the pictures. Seeing larger versions of each one helped to eliminate all but two of each group. I then started designing the card, and printed out a rough draft. Russell is going to print them at work. However, in order to do this, I needed to go to the office supply store and pick up cardstock and enevelopes. I did this before going over to my mother's for a visit. I was thrilled to find the cardstock and envelopes rather quickly. I had had no concerns about finding the cardstock, but I had been worried about finding the right kind of envelopes. After paying for my purchases, I hurried to my Mother's and we had a great visit. She was really upbeat today, and instead of being in bed, she was sitting up in the family room watching tv and enjoying her Christmas tree. That is a definite improvement!

Back at home, we walked the dogs and I gave them their dinners. I then came in and worked on copying the pictures and then cropping them so that I could get good pictures of each dog. And it's those "cropped pictures" that I've posted in this post. In order from top to bottom are Cora, Ben, Kira and Yelda. I then made a Christmas Webpage with each one of the pictures and then emailed the link to friends, families, and dog related forums that I participate on. Russell will print out our cards tomorrow. I will work on mailing labels and if all goes according to plan, they should be in the mail by Tuesday. WOO-HOO!!!

Friday, December 09, 2005

A Day Off....

I had the day off yesterday. So did Russell. I should mention, at this point, that we work at a Catholic university, and yesterday was a holy day- The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Roman Catholic Holy Day of Obligation, and so the University was closed.

It's rather wonderful to find yourself with a day off smack dab in the middle of the week, when everyone else is at work. Our day started out much the same... feeding and walking the dogs. We then headed out with a list of "to-do's". I had left my camera at the office, and because I wanted to take our Christmas Card picture yesterday, we headed towards the office. We first stopped of at a little eatery near campus. The food is good, and the atmosphere warm and cozy.

Once at my office, I checked email. We then review our list of what we wanted to do. The first thing on the list was to visit a very good "scouting" friend of Russell's who we've learned is dying from cancer. We've known for sometime that he's been ill, but just last week, the Dr's told him there was nothing more they could do, except to keep him comfortable. I called and spoke with his wife, and she was delighted to have us come over. The timing was good because she needed to run out to the pharmacy and could do so while we sat with Dave.

So with heavy hearts filled with trepidation, we headed to their home. I never know what to say or how to act. And I never know what to expect, when visiting someone that has just found out they are dying. When we arrived, it was comforting to see that things were much the same as they always are. The funny thing is that when my own father was dying 20+ years ago, I never understood why people were so uncomfortable when they came to visit.

We had a great visit with Dave. He was so glad to see Russell. He said that he could "be himself with Russell" and he was. Dave is a loveable guy. He can be feisty from time to time, but he's truly a good soul. He's the kind of person who'd give anyone the shirt off his back in a moment's notice. Our visit lasted 2 hours. He'd drift off to sleep from time to time, and that was fine. During one of these moments, I found myself dozing a bit, and when Dave woke up, he apologized. I started laughing and said "Hey, that's ok... we took a nap together". Dave got a kick out of that.

As we left, we promised that we'd be back soon. And we will. Time is so precious, and it's important to be there for friends, during good times and bad. And, in truth, we haven't been there enough. A true eye-opener.

Back in the car, we reviewed our list. We were due for a rather large snow-storm, so we headed to the grocery to stock up. We picked up something for dinner, and some snacks. I got the requiste couple of cheap paperback romance novels and plenty of diet pepsi. LOL! We then had a very late lunch at Taco Bell. As we were heading home, it had started to snow lightly.

We got home, unloaded the car, and proceeded to take the dogs out. It was really snowing hard at this point, and we all snuggled inside. The dogs had their dinner, I put the groceries away and started another load of laundry. I then did quite a bit of Christmas shopping online! I really like that!

The rest of the evening was quiet and peaceful. The dogs were so content to have us home.... it was lovely. The phone rang around 9 and it was my Mother. She wanted to make sure we had gotten home ok from work. The roads were a mess.... there was about 5 inches of snow on the ground. I told her that we had had the day off. It occurred to me was that the best part of the day was just being together... free from everything.

Russell made grilled cheese sandwiches around 10. We ate them in the kitchen, watching the snow fall out the kitchen window... so warm and cozy!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ho Ho Ho....

Just got back from the post office mailing out gifts to newfs in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri and Indiana. These gifts are being sent out from each of our dogs as part of a world wide Secret Santa exchange I started on an online discussion forum! Unbelievable. And I know that the people at the post office think I'm absolutely nuts... but I don't care. It's fun!

Ho Ho Ho!!!!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Talk about chillin!

Lordy Lordy, it was cold and icy today. We decided that it would be safe to head to Indiana for the tree pull, and were on the road by 9 am. We arrived just after 12, and before long, Russell had Kira hitched up to the sled and they were off pulling trees.

It was a great day, despite the cold. I helped with serving cookes and hot chocolate, and making sure that Russell & Kira had everything we needed. There was a brisk breeze that added to the frigid temperatures! It was good to get back in warmth of our van and head home.

Bless Kira, she did an amazing job.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Saturday - The 18+hour day!

Well, I'm totally wiped out and longing to be in bed. However, we got stuck away from home, in freezing rain, so I'm once again sitting up with the dogs, letting them have some much needed play time.

I had to work today, despite the fact that it's Saturday. My office sponsored a function today, and everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, including the fire alarm going off and having to evacuate the building. Of course, it was only about 25 degrees F outside. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I left home this morning at around 6:30 to set up. After grocery shopping and other essential errands, we spent a couple of quiet hours at home before leaving for our friends birthday dinner.

We were enjoying a nice dinner, relaxing when we realized that the flurries had changed to freezing rain. It's an ice-rink out there, and it took forever to get home. Yet we made it. It was tricky getting the dogs in and out, not to mention worrisome. They could so easily fall and hurt themselves. But we're all inside now... safely tucked in.

It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings. We're supposed to go to our Newf Club's annual Xmas tree pull. This event is at a Christmas Tree farm in Indiana. The dogs are hitched to sleds, and escort families out to find their Xmas tree. Once the family cuts the tree down, it's put onto the sled and the dogs pull it back to the barn. It's great fun, and patron's are very generous with their tips. All tips go into our club's rescue program. Highlights from last year's Christmas tree pull can be found:

Friday, December 02, 2005

Thursday Night

While setting up this blog yesterday, and posting my first post, it occured to me that I needed to get off my ass and actually do something at home. Of course, "The Apprentice", of which I'm unashamedly addicted to, was on at 9. So, I had to really kick butt!

After walking and feeding the dogs, I went downstairst to finally start some laundry. Of course, Russell's tools were all over the place due to his recent plumbing/electrical project. He realized that I was going to put them away, and came to help. This is because I'm a little scatterbrained when it comes to putting things away. So, we worked together and got everything ship shape.

During this interlude, I found what I thought was a muddy rock in his camping gear. I almost threw it away, and he said WAIT! I brought that for you. Hmmmmm... interesting present, I thought... a muddy rock. Well, it turned out to be a piece of 18th Century "Slag". Russell found it while on a troop campout near Lake Vesuvius in Southern Ohio earlier this fall. Of course, initally, I didn't really understand what slag was, so as he cleaned and cleaned and cleaned it off, he explained it to me. There used to be Iron blast furnaces in Southern Ohio well over 100 years ago. During that time, surrounding forest was clear cut in order to fuel the furnaces. Slag is the by-product from the production of iron and steel.

After we finished learning about slag, I started a load of laundry and then went up to get the kitchen ready to cook dinner. This meant clearing away more tools and parts from Russell's recent installation of a new garbage disposer and new pipes under the kitchen sink. I washed up a few dishes that had been lingering and then began preparing our dinner of pork chops, brussel sprouts ala Chef Lisa and cornbread! I'm not a very efficient or imaginative cook, but it was a good meal if I do say so myself.

At this point, I'm going to insert my "daily whine"! Just as dinner was about ready, there was a knock on the door. No biggie, right? Our "caller" was one of the parents from the scout troop coming to pick up the rest of the Christmas Greenery that the troop is selling. He had been over night before last, and knew that we have 4 large dogs. Last night, he didn't bother to call first, and he came onto our side porch which was dark, and knocked on the door. The dogs went out of their minds. We managed to get them calmed down enough so that Russell could get out of the door. I heard the man say... "sorry, I guess I should have called first...." and I thought... yeah, you should... ! What an idiot. Grrrrr....

After that, we actually sat down just in time to watch "The Apprentice". Later, I put the laundry in the dryer, we walked the dogs one more time, and then settled in to watch the evening news. I was content and pleased... it had been a very productive evening! How astonishing! LOL!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Our Newfs

Newfs are wonderful dogs. We have 4 living in our home.... 2 of which we're fostering for Newf Rescue. We lost one ours in September. Sailor was the greatest boy! Here is a picture of me with them. If you can see more of them by visiting my website! There's a link in my profile!

An Example of our frantic schedule

In a nutshell, here is a description of this past weekend:

Thursday was spent visiting my Mom, who fell on Tuesday. She didn't feel well enough to go to Aunt Samantha's. She told us to go ahead and go, so after spending several hours with her during the day, Russell & I and the Lingles went to Aunt Samantha's for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a late night as usual, so we stayed up with the dogs for a couple of hours so they could get some much needed attention! Happily, I had the great idea to buy some of their favorite bones for then, and gave them to each dog when we got home. They happily chewed and gnawed for a couple of hours, and then I put them to bed. It was 2AM.

Friday began with breakfast at a funky eatery that I'll never go back to! It's called Christopher's. I was very disappointed. Russell claims it's just another example of my "bad restaurant karma"! We then picked up Russell's tux and headed over to the Fletcher's to help them move. Scott had rented a truck and borrowed a flat bed trailer from one of Mary's neighbors! We got almost everything that was left in the house. Pauline's car was filled to the gills, Scott's new truck and the trailer were filled and the U-Haul was filled. Russell drove the U-Haul over to Scotts, and we all drove our cars. Audrey rode with me cause there was no room in Pauline's car for her to sit! Once at the new house, they unloaded the U-Haul and trailer. I'm soooooo excited for them. They've been waiting for this for years, and I just love their new house. We got home around 7:30 and after walking and feeding the dogs, I worked on updating my website for Christmas! Went to bed around 12:30!

I dragged Russell to Bob Evans first thing Saturday! After we finished eating, I dropped Russell off at home and headed to Target for some last minute essentials for the big to-do (my Aunt & Uncle's 50th anniversary celebration, which was "black-tie") and then over to my Mom's to finish helping her decorate her house for Christmas. I then flew home to shower and get ready. The dogs were confused cause they got their walks early! Once they were fed and in their crates, we got dressed. Russell looked great in his tux and we headed out for the party, which was absolutely lovely. It was a great reunion of sorts with lots of cousins and family friends. There were about 75 people there. Russell & I were seated at my cousin Howard's table. Also seated at our table was Allison Janney (CJ on "The West Wing") and her fiance. It was fun seeing Allison again... I hadn't seen her in years. She's a lovely person. After dinner, there were all sorts of toasts, most of which were quite alot of fun! We headed home around 12:30, and stayed up with the dogs until about 2:30.

As for Sunday, well, we returned the tux, did errands, including a trip to Lowes for some plumbing supplies. Russell is working on putting in a new garbage disposer. I really needed to do laundry, but he had his tools spread out all over the washing machine, so lucky me, I just sat on my butt and watched tv. Russell then asked for my help, so I sat in a chair and handed him tools, etc. Finally, at 10PM I made him stop. I wanted to watch Grey's anatomy, and he need to take a break.

Welcome to my Whacky World!

My life is always busy.... sometimes frantically so! Now that the holiday season is here, I am certain that the pace will only increase! I hope that this place will be somewhere I can come and relax, reflect and restore!

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