Archives for category: Pets

Here’s a Halloween treat for you.  I was driving on a rural Oklahoma road today and turned around on a dead end where there were three or four trailers that looked a little shady.  I don’t want to be judgmental here, but they could be people who are just down on their luck, meth dealers, independent souls, or whatever you can imagine.  While turning around, the last trailer had a large dog chained in the yard, jumping towards us, although not barking.  Just watching us.  As we went by the trailer, something caught my eye and I jerked my camera up to catch it, not even knowing if it was real or not.

Here’s what I saw.  DSC_0019I hope you can see the pink bow and the red nail polish on the fanciest living thing in the neighborhood.

Let me know what you think the story is…

Happy Halloween!

 

Nine years ago, I looked at my aging dog and thought I might want to get another one. On a whim, I called an ad in the newspaper and drove to look at a Labradoodle puppy, four months old. When I got there, she was sitting in the lap of the owner. I sat down on the lawn and she came over to me, I talked to her for a few minutes, and then she walked over to my car and stood there. Let’s go. I don’t think I’ve ever been picked by a dog before. I didn’t have much choice, did I?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Good Golly Miss Molly is 9 years old today, my faithful, adoring friend. She is bigger than they told me she would be, sheds more than I thought, and is too smart for words. I have no idea the depth of her understanding of what is going on with me at any time, but it’s way more than people give her credit for.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

She’s the head of my menagerie, all who came after her. She has a little Westie for a sidekick, Annabel, an older friend, Wanda, who really belongs to my daughter-in-law, and two cats, Mickey and Guy. They all love her and follow her everywhere. Except Guy, who is a little more aloof.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today, I wish Molly a Happy 9th Birthday. I’m not sure I deserve such unconditional adoration. Does anybody? That’s why we love our furry families.

DSC_0273

IMG_4474

Today’s the first real snow we’ve had in Tulsa in a year or so, a treat to cozy up inside and enjoy the calm it brings. Snowfall quiets everything down, mutes the sounds, takes the traffic off the street, forces us to stop rushing and sit back and reflect. I know there are the days when it freezes and we lose power and can’t move around the city, even when working people have to, but there is that time when it’s just softly falling and there’s no reason to do anything but enjoy it.

The fireplace is lit, hot chocolate in the mug, soup on the stove, and nothing but quiet outside.

Except my dog, Molly, short for Good Golly Miss Molly, who wonders why I’m not out running with her in the 20 degree weather.

DSC_0273

Now the cats and dogs are curled up, and my mind is racing back to all the snowy days of my life. My childhood when we sledded and made snow angels and snowmen and had snowball fights and drank hot chocolate and ate snow ice cream. How idyllic it was in the 1950s. It’s fun to fast forward to my own children, doing the same things, bundled up in mittens and snow suits…

Scan 21

Scan 3

Scan 39

and still playing as teens…

Scan 45

and then on to my grandchildren enjoying their first snowfalls…

Scan 17

Scan 2

Sledding at Mimi's

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I can’t believe I have to look back to see them as babies. They grow up so fast. Sigh.

Later, I’m going to bundle up and go play outside, even for a short time. Because it’s still magic and I still can…

Fall used to mean hunting season in my family. My grandfather started hunting as a boy in Kentucky and must have hunted for 60 or 70 years. After being in Kentucky, I picture him with his brother, bringing home a mess of birds for the family dinner. He taught my father to hunt and my father taught my brother and then my husband who taught my son.

Not everyone in the family loved it, but those who did loved it with a passion. It was the whole experience that they loved, I think. They were bird hunters, quail mostly. My grandfather hunted pheasant, too, and my husband and father went on a couple of prairie chicken hunts. My husband hunted duck about once before he gave that up as not the same experience. And dove hunts came later.

First, there were the dogs, pointers and setters, smart and loyal to the end. I remember a long line of hunting dogs through my life with short names to call them easily in the fields. Buddy, Guy, Tim, and our favorite name of all, Grandpa. My daddy got Grandpa from a man who had named him that because he thought he acted like an old grandpa. We always delighted in calling “Grandpa” to bring him home. When my husband died, he left me with Tim, the ever loyal and loving English Setter who was his last hunting pal. When I finally felt he needed to be where he could hunt and run, I gave him to one of the men who had hunted with them often. Tim looked at me once before he left that day and then jumped up with his paws on my shoulders to look me in the eye as if to tell me Thank You. It was a moving moment with a sweet dog.

You couldn’t hunt quail very well without the dogs, so they worked with them all the time. Before hunting season even began, there were the days when they just went to run the dogs and get them ready. I think the men just liked to watch them work, running the fields with such abandon, spanning out for a mile and returning quickly at the sound of the whistle. It was all part of the experience.

Here’s one that must have belonged to my grandfather, maybe to my father, way back when.

Scan 192

Finding a field to hunt was another ritual. My husband spent a lot of time looking for fields that were likely places and checking with the owners to see if it was allowed. For a long time, he and my father had private use of a property about an hour away where they hunted and our family fished the pond. Later, when my father had quit, he hunted with buddies in rural areas in northern Oklahoma. They knew all the hunters in the county and found lots of good places.

The night before the hunt was spent on the phone making the arrangements, oiling the gun and boots, packing the vehicle, a pickup in later years, laying out the clothes, the jackets with pockets for shells and game. It was a ritual, part of the deal.

I could hear him leave in the morning with his thermos of coffee, the only time he liked to get up early being for a hunt. I could hear him say “Kennel” and the dog would jump into the back of the truck or car, ready to go, tail wagging. Time to drive through the dark to reach the fields at dawn.

Dove hunts started September 1 in Oklahoma and you need as many hunters as you could to work a field. No dogs on this one. Quail hunts were smaller with as many dogs as you trusted to do the job. Walking those fields on cold fall mornings breathed life into the hunters I knew. They loved bringing home the game, but they loved being outdoors walking, working the dogs, watching the birds fly just as much. On the days when they came home almost empty handed, there was the same excitement because of the day they’d had.

Another ritual was the hunters’ breakfast in small rural towns, filled with hunters coming in after the first run of the morning, telling the stories, eating the huge breakfasts provided at bargain rates in those great little cafes. It was another part of the deal.

Then there was the homecoming, cleaning the birds, cleaning the gun for the next time, cleaning the mud off the boots, packing away the jackets and gear. My husband even liked to cook the game, using his Hasty-Bake in its finest way. He got a great dove recipe from someone he met in a field and we couldn’t wait. I can’t tell you how I miss having game to eat these days.

Some people don’t like hunting in any form, but it was such a part of my family that I understood. They were actually some of the greatest conservationists I knew since the last thing they wanted was for a species to be over hunted.

This fall, as I drive through the countryside, I study those fields and imagine the men I loved walking through them with the dogs running ahead. I understand their love of the land, of the rituals, of the season, of the hunt. I miss all of it. I miss them.

Scan 46

My office opens onto a deck through glass doors and windows. In the deck, about two feet from the door sits a large Sycamore tree, one that I hope to keep there for a long time although it’s leaning towards me more and more. I had the deck built around it because I love the shade of its big leaves.

There’s usually not much going on in the office, so the dogs are asleep and the cats are asleep either inside or out. But, sometimes, in all this tranquility, the dogs will leap to their feet in a frenzy, jumping in the air with excitement. If I’m there, I turn and see the cause…

DSC_0016

…a frisky squirrel, who flicks his tail and chatters to torment them in every which way. He even peeks at me with an impish look, knowing the glass protects him…

DSC_0015

He turns to watch the cat…

DSC_0011

who is watching him, although not inclined to make a move. That will wait until he can stalk..

DSC_0009

With the dogs at frenzy state, I open the doors for them to rush out, barking madly, jumping at the tree in excitement. The squirrel jumps on the roof and runs away, my big dog gives a sigh, and they all go back to what they were doing.

Such is excitement on a hot day…

I don’t remember being afraid of too much until I became a parent.  Maybe I was and those fears were minor compared to the ones that come with parenthood.  Or, maybe, they come with seeing the real world for all its dangers.  I’m talking about those moments when your brain goes berserk with all the possibilities that are out of your control, those times when your imagination takes over reason and you are actually experiencing real symptoms of fear.  Pacing.  Sweating.  Heart racing. Nerves on edge.  Sleeplessness.  That feeling in the pit of your stomach.  Out of control.

There are times when you should be afraid, should know that there may be danger out there.  I’m talking about the fear that comes when you really have no specific reason to think the worst, to imagine the worst case scenario.  This was all brought home to me when one of my cats disappeared, not even for a very long time.  He had an infection and had a shot of antibiotics.  He went outside, which he does every night, and didn’t come back first thing in the morning.  Did a fox get him?  Did he get hit by a car?  Did he get catnapped?  Totally irrational, because he has done this before, but very real on my part.

It’s like the times your child comes home later than expected or you can’t reach a child at college (this was before cell phones and internet).  All the possible horrible things you can imagine come to mind.  The human mind is a tricky thing.  So is the human heart.  The worst things that have happened to me weren’t preceded by this sudden feeling of being out of control.  They were shocks, but they weren’t sudden.  They had been coming for awhile.  Sometimes you feel something isn’t right, but you don’t get these crazy thoughts.  These are different.

The good thing about these times when you have let your imagination fly into the worst places is that the object of the fear returns or call, usually with no knowledge of your fear, and the sense of relief is as physical as the fear was.  Sometimes followed by embarrassment that you let your mind go so crazy.  In my latest case, the cat came sauntering down the street, came when I called and looked at me like “What?!”  Probably rolled his eyes, at least to himself.  Just like kids.

Our brains are interesting organs, crammed with knowledge, capable of incredible imagination, storage place for all sorts of emotions.  These crazy fears are like bad dreams…maybe not as bad.  At least an incident triggered this bout.  I don’t know if this kind of thing is from love, guilt that you weren’t doing your job, or somewhat of a mixture.  I’m not going to go any crazier about it than I already have!  Everybody is in the right place for now.

photo