Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dogs Change Lives

 Susquehanna Service Dogs is sponsoring a cool contest called Dogs Change Lives

Susquehanna Service Dogs knows quite a bit about how dogs can change lives.  SSD dogs change the lives of their puppy raisers, of the people they meet during their 2 years of training, and the lives of the people they are matched with.  These are amazing dogs.

But SSD knows that dogs of all types change lives every day.  There are dogs working in security and anti-terrorism----these dogs change our lives every day and we don't even know it. Dogs work with public safety professionals, as screeners in airports, as search and rescue partners, and as conservation specialists--finding endangered plants and animals.  Dogs really are amazing.

I've had three wonderful dogs in my life.  Katrinka, a sweet German Shepherd who loved to play; TarBaby, a gorgeous tricolor collie too senstive for a life as a show dog, but just right for a teenaged girl; and sweet Wyatt Marshall Earp, a retired working dog who remains the most amazing dog I've ever met.  He's changed so many lives, and certainly has changed mine in wonderful ways.

Please celebrate the many wonderful dogs who change our lives every day by writing a story and submitting it on http://www.dogschangelives.org/.  Prizes will be awarded to the two best stories submitted, and I'm looking forward to reading them all.   For many reasons, I'm not elegible to win, but I will certainly be voting for my favorites.

Here's to Dogs!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Champagne, Twitter, and the New Year

A twitterati I follow gave me some very sage advice last week--- advice I plan to follow in the new year. He said that one should never pass a Four Seasons hotel in any city for any reason without stopping in to have a glass of champagne. It reminded me of a line in "The Prisoner of Zenda" that delightful late 19th-century novel of love and pretense, in which the reader is exhorted never to pass through Paris without spending 24 hours there, and drinking champagne.

Since I have never passed through Paris, and have no plans to do so in 2010, I will instead embrace the travel advice from the ether. I hereby resolve to stop in at any Four Seasons hotel I see (or any other swanky hotel that strikes my fancy) and drink a champagne toast to whoever is on my mind.

So if you feel waves of good wishes coming your way, it just might be me, sitting at a hotel and drinking to your health. Happy New Year and best wishes to you and yours.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


"Hey sweet baby" is my standard greeting to my teen-aged son (but not where anyone else can hear.) It looks a little weird written down, but the word "hey" is a substitute for "hello" where I grew up, "sweet" modifies almost everything in Southern vernacular, and in that part of the world one can legitimately be referred to as "baby" by one's parents, aunts, and uncles until death do us all part.

Cute aside: One of my sisters called her son "sweet pea" when he was little. She occasionally called him "sweet potato." He returned the endearment one day by calling her "sweet corn." That still makes me smile.

So . . .last week I was helping my son with homework---an English assignment to write about James Fenimore (10/10/09) Cooper's "The Deerslayer." I remembered a book of Mark Twain essays that I have been carrying around so long that the binding has long since given out. The book includes some of his searingly funny critiques of Cooper. If you haven't read them, I highly recommend it.

Inside the book, in handwriting only vaguely familiar, was the inscription:

Hey Sweet Nina,

I surely did miss you while I was in Washington, and thought you might like this book.


Daddy. October 15, 1974

I had forgotten that was there. Well, I really have liked the book, Daddy. Thanks for leaving me something from you that I can unreservedly share with your grandson.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

rediscovering an old friend

I'm back to my old friend, my blog, after a summer hiatus. It was a summer of working hard, visiting with friends (but not enough) gardening, and, of course, my old hobby, worrying. Many days went by and I considered giving up this guilty pleasure of blogging. After all, I really don't have anything all that interesting to say. I much prefer reading/listening to what other people are saying.

But blogging is a way for me to keep an eye on myself. Its a way to help me stay a little less frantic and a little less panicked by the world around me. So, I'm back.

And I'll be heading off to Mississippi with my son in a few days--to celebrate the 50th birthday of a sister. I can't wait! The last time I was in northern Mississippi I was my son's age, and was traveling across small towns to link back up with friends in Arkansas. And I was with my now-50 year-old sister. I haven't been back since.

This will be a very interesting trip. I'm sure I'll need to write about it a lot to process it, so brace yourself!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My travels

I've been in eastern Europe for several days now, and I've been in this particular city enough to be appreciative of small changes and improvements to the quality of life. Even in a global recession this country has shown growth, because it still has so very very far to go.

The weather here is beautiful, the people have been gracious, and the trip is going well. I didn't sleep at all last night worrying about how my family is getting by without me. Despite some bumps in the road, they seem to be doing fine. Just like when our son was a baby, I have to step back and let my husband parent his own way. It's harder now, since I am the "primary" parent who is home every day---it's hard to let go.

I still have a few more days here, which I will spend with children who are deeply disadvantaged in this world. Abandoned children, children with physical and intellectual disabilties (in a world with few options for them other than institutionalization and marginalization) children of crushing poverty living in an alcohol and drug-saturated world . . . .to say it's heartbreaking is trite, stale, and uninforming. How fortunate my own family is.

I will do what I can, and then I will leave. I leave them my meager offerings---vitamins, hand sanitizer, school supplies, clothes, and frisbees (easy to pack, and fun to play with.) Each time I leave I am afraid for them. Who will be gone the next time I come?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Mine was spent with the baltimore orioles, and they commemorated the occasion by losing to the Yankees. I can't speak with much authority on the quality of the baseball played, but I can tell you that they make a nice margarita---just the right amount of salt.

Slowly, but I think surely, I am learning to like baltimore. I'm looking forward to going to some summer games and enjoying the city.---learning the local haunts and getting comfortable. I'll keep you posted . . .


Thursday, May 7, 2009


So many things happening in my little life-----things that keep me way too busy.

Work on my house continues---onward to my bedroom, which will hopefully have built-in shelving/cabinetry soon. I have many many books, and I like it that way, but I need more shelf space!

While planning this next step with the carpenter who will do the work, we had the usual polite exchange----you know, the "how's work; are you busy" kind of small talk one has. I said I was busy, but that I know that work s a privilege, and that being busy is a good thing. He stopped completely what he was doing and gave me a hard look.

"Parenting" he said sternly "is a privilege. Your job is not a privilege, it's a necessity. Parenting is the greatest privilege you'll ever have. Pay attention to that."
And then he went back to work.


Then later in the week at Chinese class, Ma Lao Shi told me that she and her husband have suspended all travel for the year because they need to be home and available to their children, who are all right around the age of mine. She too looked at me sternly and told me to focus on parenting. Wo hen mang, I told her. She didn't smile.

So, as I plan a week-long business trip to Eastern Europe, I am torn. Perhaps I should put a moratorium on my travel. It is a lot. Perhaps the universe is telling me to focus on what's really important in my life.