Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Night Labs - Escape Artist

Abby travels back and forth from home to the little crash pad in the city where I work. It's a cozy little place with some  the furniture from the house I owned when I met my husband and little things that make me smile.

She has a dog walker at both homes, someone to let her in and out, and stay overnight with her if need be or have her stay with them.  She's pretty laid back and minds really well, including having to block her into a specific room  at the crash pad when the landlord sends someone by to change the furnace filter, check the smoke detector or replace a bulb in the high ceiling fixtures.
Barkley would have bounded over the chair.  Even a baby gate was no match for him. Abby just stays behind it with plenty of windows to spot when I come home, and goes to sleep.

Or so I thought.

There were two days in a row she was blocked in the living room with her toys and water bowl as a small repair was being made. When I came home the first day she was in her usual position - on the couch in the blocked living room,  half asleep and looking slightly bored.
If Mom really loved me she'd have one of those baby toys that goes over the crib with music and dangling bacon.

She does occasionally change positions.  Lat night when I went to take her out one last time before bed she was on sprawled out on her back with one leg straight UP in the air towards the ceiling  like John Travolta in Saturday Night ever.  Low light kept me from getting a photo but I cracked up.

On day two, I came home, but it was Friday, so she was reading the tabloids, looking less than happy about the most recent celebrity divorce.

But today, when I got home I talked to the dog walker to set up next weeks schedule.

She said "Abby was so cute, meeting me by the front door".

 I said "huh? No, she was blocked in the living room for the maintenance guy".

 L said " No, she must have jumped over the chair when you left for work."

AND jumped back and pretended to be asleep when I got home.

I'm on to you Abby.

I better go count my beers there's no telling what ELSE she was up to.  :-)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Black and White Sunday

If I stare at it long enough, the bowl will magically refill.

This is a blog hop hosted by Nola and Sugar.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Sepia Saturday - a Wedding

Mom's still doing the weird work hour thing, but I found a post to put up for Sepia Saturday.  It's her wedding picture, as she put Dad's ring on him.  It was taken with a friend's cell phone but it is her favorite picture from the day.This was in October 2 years ago. Mom and Dad were friends for a lot of years, the bestest of friends. Mom said he was so much younger than she (24 years) she knew they'd just be friends. But Dad thought otherwise. Dad's an engineer - he's smart like that.

They wore Victorian garb and told their friends in the wedding party to dress however they wanted. They had a bridesmaid in a kilt, some in Renaissance wear, and all sorts of fun things.The minister who married them is a retired  prison chaplain, married to a female pilot friend of Mom's. They got married at Mom's house and there was toasts and cake, followed by dinner at an English Brew Pub. It was a grand day, one where Barkley ran off with the pillow for the ring and they stayed that night in a haunted bed and breakfast that had a garage full of British Cars while their friends stayed with Barkley. They only honeymooned one night as they didn't want to leave Barkley, who was a senior dog.

I'm sorry I wasn't there, but I'm SO happy they love each other so much and are my Mom and Dad.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Cow Appreciation Day - Don't Say You Weren't Warned

Abby the Lab here while Mom is busy.  This week, on the 14th, was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick Fil a.  Mom LOVES Chick Fil a's food. She gets the grilled chicken sandwich or salad, fruit cup and a diet lemonade 2 or 3 days a week when she's working or the wrap with the flaxseed wrap and the oriental dressing followed by an ice cream cone or their diet soft serve/lemonade slushie thing.  It's on her way to work, no one at the drive up window has dreadlocks and face tackle and the food is pretty tasty.

But don't be fooled by those ever so  cute, friendly Chick Fil a cows.

Regular cows aren't like that.   I read in an article that you have more likelihood in the U.S. of being killed by a cow than struck and killed by lightning.

Yes - Cows.

Here's one disemboweling his latest victim.
Is there anything we can do about this danger?

-Cow locks required on all cows and cow pastures.
-The formation of organizations to keep the media informed of the danger, such as BADD (Bovines are Deadly, Dummy)
-Cow Owner Identification Cards (have it ready to show the law officer).
-N.C.R.A.: National Cow Registration Act requiring the registration and marking of all cows with non-removable serial numbers.

Perhaps not - but until there are better laws protecting people from cows, here are a few safety tips.

Yes, cows, seen in screen and print as a gentle lowly creature, the cow can easily turn into a grumpy mooing menace. Mom has lived on a farm, she KNOWS.

Think about it, you're doing a bit of pheasant hunting, crossing land you got permission to roam, having a wonderful time. The sky is balmy, the birds singing in the trees. Then up ahead, you head the yell of one of your companions. You run up ahead to find him scrambling up the tree as Mr. Bull tries to give him the "high five" with a horn.  You turn and run, but guess what. He's gaining, and you're next.

You might be surprised to know that few people know how to defend themselves from cow attack. Between 2003 and 2008, 108 people died from cattle-induced injuries across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of cow-related fatalities were caused by blunt force trauma to the head or chest; with over a third of the victims working in enclosed spaces with cattle. Normally, the perpetual battle between man and bovine is one-sided (and involves steak sauce). But people who work around cattle have associated risks, and have to be aware of both the animal and their surroundings at all time. "Like what they say about dogs, they can smell fear," one local rancher said.

But you're thinking? I'm not a farmer, I don't have a ranch. Why should I worry about cow attack? Well I worry about running out of treats, of vacuum cleaner conventions, of having "fresh and minty breath" when I'm out on a date with my favorite wiener dog.  So for those that worry entirely too much about such things - ome cow safety tips.

How to tell a Gentle Cow from a Really Angry Cow.

See the difference?

Now, don’t get mixed up, non angry cows can still be dangerous in certain conditions. But it can be difficult to tell them apart. Color, however, is not a reliable identifying characteristic for either sex and the claws, which can rival that of Wolverine of the X-men, are difficult to see at a distance.

Precautions when camping in cow country. Now that you know to watch for a cow that's in a bad MOOd (pun intended). it’s time to learn what you can do to prevent an attack when camping out. Do not cook or store food in or near your tent, unless your tent is equipped with the latest in anti-cow technology. Do not sleep in the clothing you cook in and properly stow garbage, wash dishes and wipe down any tabletops. Hang food and anything with strong odors (toothpaste, bug repellent, haggus, etc.) out of the reach of cows, if possible. If no trees are available, store your food in airtight or specially designed cow-proof containers. Avoid taking odorous foods and keep food smells off your clothing, lest you be molested or mugged and have your wallet stolen by gangs of cows.

Hiking in Cow Country. You must avoid surprising the cow at close range. If the terrain makes it hard for them to see you as your approach, make lots of noise. Talk loudly, wear a bell, sing the Monty Python Lumberjack song. If spotted by a cow, try to get its attention while it is a good distance away. Help the cow to recognize that you are a human by talking to it in a normal voice, waving your arms. Try not and travel alone. In a group, cows will attack the weakest link. Try and hike with people much slower and fatter than yourself and if the cow rushes you, point at that obnoxious guy with short legs that complained the entire hike.

Watch for signs that cows are in the area. That can include rubs and scrapes, cow patties, unusual explosions and booby traps involving spikes. Identifying these clues may help to prevent an encounter.
If you Encounter a Cow. Remain calm and avoid sudden movements. Give the cow plenty of room, allowing it to continue its activities undisturbed. Every living thing has a zone of danger or personal space -- that is, the distance within which a cow feels threatened. If it changes its natural behavior (feeding, foraging or hay huffing) because of your presence, you are too close. If you push that limit, the cow may react aggressively in the form of a bluff charge, or even an outright attack. Cows are famous for the bluff charge and may run at you and suddenly stop or continue right at you. You never know, which it will be, they have a terrible poker face. If they charge and stop, try and stand still and slowly back away. If they continue, try and get something between you and the cow, trees, outbuildings, a chili cook-off. Then get away from the cow as quickly as you can.

If a confrontation is unavoidable. Kick, punch, yell, the welfare of the animal is not important if your life is at risk (and how much damage do you think you are going to do to a 1300 pound side of beef?)

Do not play dead. Unless you want a fresh steaming cow pile on your head.

Don't get cornered. Like politicians you elect, trust them and get used to how they work, but don't trust them so much that you ever turn your back on them. Avoid getting into a confined space with cows. A lot of farmers are killed when cows smashed them against the sides of gates, fences and barns.

Don't forget the little ones. A calf may be cute but don't forget its "protective and charging at you Mama" is not. When a cow gives birth she becomes another animal, one that a bottle of Midol, a backrub, and a glass of White Wine will NOT help improve the mood of.

Thanks for listening to our cow safety tips - Next week - the barn cat - ignoring you or plotting something involving mice and C4.
Hope you all had a smile and a nice evening - Mom's heading back to work but we'll have a post up Sunday. 

Abby Lab

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Spans of Time - A Covered Bridge Story

For tonight - something Mom wrote that I just found. Since she is working this evening,  I'll go ahead and post. The bridge is right by where she grew up and she used to swim under it when she was a kid. There were many memories at this place, some good and some sad ones.  But when she took Dad to see it for the first time, after a long flight, she said it was all worth it. -  Abby Lab
If your life is one that seldom takes you off the beaten path, you're not likely to see a covered bridge.  For those that take the slow path, the closer look, that notice unseen poetry in a drop of melting snow, the land and soul that thirst, you may see one.  You'll be  on a small, narrow road when it appears suddenly, like an apparition.  You have almost no choice but to stop, to stare, to hold that moment in time.  You do not see the age of the bridge, or its scars, simply the structure that covers and protects it, that has stood for years with that serene and heavenly radiance that are angels in church windows.

To someone else they'd simply appear archaic, a relic from generations past that doesn't fit into our electronic age.  The enclosure was not to make it postcard perfect but to fulfill an inherent need to protect the inner workings of the bridge from nature's elements, from time and rain and wind.  A bridge built completely of wood without the protective coatings we have today, would last one or two decades.  Protecting the underpinnings of the bridge from the elements could add 50 or 60 years to the life of the bridge.

There is one out West where I came of age.
It always takes me a full day to orientate myself after going out West after a couple of flights and a long car drive. That's not unusual. It takes most people a few days to get on schedule after crossing numerous time zones. I've tried staying on the same time zone that I live at home, sleeping on the plane and cloaking my windows with blankets and ear plugs worthy of a Nascar pit crew in my ear, as I try and get some sleep. Sometimes it works.

But sometimes one just can't get to sleep, thoughts tingling like a phantom limb. If that is the case you would be better served with simply opening the drapes and sitting to watch the city awake. So many cities. So many thoughts. What would become of us if anyone could guess our most secret anticipations, those fragments of want and need that form at 34,000 feet, shuttered into a nervous aluminum tube of energy, a long flight into a strange city. Thoughts that trail behind you, contrailing wisps of need that follow you back to your room.

We all have thoughts we wear like clothing, dressing ourselves in bright and flowing scraps of dreams.  Such thoughts are our release and they are our armor, as we hope the strength that flows within  them will seep out onto the surface, a sheen to reflect the daggers of the world.

But what about those inner thoughts, those you don't tell anyone? Think to someone you once loved, or perhaps do now. If you had known then, what you know now, about your desire and theirs, would you have run away from the intensity of their gaze, those eyes possessing a wisdom all their own. Or would you, knowing what you know now, run to them with an ease and a comfort that no random coming together of two people could ever have produced.

Or would you have simply run away?

You will think of many things, there in those hours that sleep doesn't come. Of the sip of warm coffee, a plate of bread and fruit, succulent nourishment there in the early morning hours. And you may dream of another form, far away, the body curled into itself while the cool blue fingers of chill air rising off a cold lake, tracing over eyelids closed to the world.
Innermost dreams. Some call it the "bucket list", things they wish to do before they die. I think of it not as a bucket, but as a body of water, my toes laid bare and flat upon the endless shore, waiting to dive in, the anticipation of something in the air long before I took the first leap.

We hear the words of the preacher telling us of how we should look to glory with no regret but only joy. But we are not ready to quit this earth, still believing that what is within the scope of our passionate want is within the scope of our passionate hope. For there are things you know you have to do, things you have to say, for that future to be opened to you.

The covered bridge had not changed, looking much the day you first saw it as a child, dipping your toes into the frigid water underneath. Not any different than that day so very long ago, when childhood had only recently been discarded and you were driving across it with that first love of reckless youth. Even if you can't remember their voice, you remember their words. They said all the right words, made all the right moves, but love to them was simply matter of fact, like talking about finding the equal distance between two separate points, about the body's scientific response to a natural need, not the souls' response to the need to live.
The car entered the bridge, the click of the tires on the ancient wood muffled, passing beyond the realm of hearing into that sense that is only mute vibration.  Your bare toes curled on the floor boards, staring straight ahead as you talked, perched on the edge of a cliff of a car seat listening to the words that are only escape.

As you leave the bridge,the lines of the road play out like Morse code, quickly tapping out the miles to the end.  The skeleton forms of trees flow past, making the words that came from him, rising and falling without emotion or passion, seem like hollow lectures to empty halls. You could barely speak, not that it mattered, for, like duty and honor, this could only end one way.

Up ahead, under one of many trees is a bench of stone. What kind of stone is it? You open your mouth to ask, but you don't, for he will have a matter of fact answer to that, as he has an answer for everything that should carry emotion but never will, the words a strange counterfeit that makes no mark upon you. Rock hard, the decision to be made, constructed by some force of will, of unquestionable knowing of what you both want and what you won't settle for.
You can only sit there, with a deer in the crosshairs look, caught in that moment of life and motion, where if you do not do something, you will cease to live in that very moment between splendor and speed and the piercing of a heart. "We can still be friends" you think and you know that's a lie that slams shut like the door, the sound muted somehow, the small top of a flip top bottle closing, keeping air out without disturbing what is left inside.

Home, to thoughts of what you both could have chosen, and did not. Thoughts to pack in your suitcase as you leave for another trip that seems to last for years. 

The passage of time. Days become weeks, becoming months and years. Around that covered bridge, trees remain, that live and bear leaves, while others vanish, burned for warmth and need. But you don't go back there.  It is just a sign along the highway that exists only in the corner of your eye, as you try not and look.  Towards.  Always.
More years pass. It's another night in  hotel in a strange city, the window open, your thoughts and body in a button down shirt and panties, neck exposed, head arched back as if for a first kiss, the body's tendons giving away desire without outward thought. But the room is empty, the suitcase on the floor, a cup of coffee cooling on the table, reports and papers on the desk, scattering with your innermost thoughts.

Thoughts. Not of the reports. Not of death and taxes and all that is inevitable.  But rather, thoughts of the places and things you wish to do before you yourself are darkness. Wind and cars that race along a road, your form molded to the seat as if made for it, a strong hand on a warm thigh, laughing. Late nights and deep stars, the blue form of a shirt on the floor in front of dying embers.

You sit and you watch, there so far away. Outside, a taxi comes to the front of the hotel, summoned by a man in a hat, his hand held high in the air, his wristwatch glinting as if it was on fire. You notice him, this dashing man in a tailored suit. You notice the not so young woman, gazing up at him with laughter, the dark, wet fire of her hair laying like an exclamation across her cheek, his hands wet with glistening drops as he helps her from the taxi and pulls her close to take her in to safety and discovery.
You notice things. You notice the way he looks at her, this woman who is no longer a girl, as if he measured everything in his sight by the response it drew from her twinkling eyes. He lights her cigarette, with a look and a touch, the flame burning brightly, a star in miniature, expiring into the darkness with the rush of its need. You smile as they rush on in, never seeing you, traceless in your quiet detachment, the flame now vanished towards the distant moon, stars so far out of reach.

You think of someone else, a voice that paused with emotion when you laid out your hurt and your fear, words that comfort and ears that listened. You wonder if given the choice if you would run away, or if you would stay, and the answer is already there, gathering around you with the wonder of a child.

You look out onto this city in which sleep is a stranger, smelling the curve of a body of water that's seen more than you will ever imagine, the opening light laying supine on the dark cobbled streets, trembling like a lovers first caress. The room is cold, and you wonder if you will ever sleep again as the clock counts those remaining days that hang in the air, like the laughter of innocence, evanescent and hopeful.
The room is as cold as the dark,  the a.c. humming like a hive of angry bees. You open up the window so the darkness can breathe, the room inhales warm air, blood surges, skin grows warmer, as if pressed by the weight of the night.

With the beat of the clock you say that name, breathing it in and out, the noise of a city's awaking, rising like steam, warming you. You say it once and forever so that it would be gone, though not forever, laid somewhere dark and safe where you know you can go, but are not sure you dare.

You picture yourself calling them on your return, ever so late, even though you know you will not. The sound of that voice a gift, waiting. Would you believe that you can delve deep into your innermost thoughts, to expose those rough wanting edges no one else may ever see, and you can do so with complete trust.
Come over. I've been waiting.

You would be as vulnerable as you will ever be as you take that step, as you let yourself be led into shelter, covered by that which shields those scars that fate marked on you, those lines etched by salty rain. The look on their face is your future, your gift, the wanting there,as they lay you back across a bed in the shadows where you finally sleep.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Warning Signs Are Said to Defeat the Purpose of Natural Selection

But if your house has a particularly low entryway into the basement, they can be rather useful.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hair of the dog

Mom - there was a lot of dancing and root beer at the square dance, and more dancing and MORE root beer.  I had a GREAT time but this morning I'm not feeling so good.
I hear bacon is good for a root beer hangover. In a breakfast burrito  - even better.
Or maybe just that ice pack.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Live From the Blogville Rodeo

Howdy! It's "Abby Oakley" Cowgirl extradonaire and crack cowboy poopy pellet gun markswoman.
This is my target. (OK, it's Mom's from the LEO range).  But I managed to knock over a glass of iced tea with my tail!

There's the events and the sponsors listed on the poster if they are not linked  here.  I'm busy at the dance and Mom has to go back on duty, so we may not have everyone.  But I know, we will all, at some time tonight, take off our hats and say a little thank you with a toast to lovely Sasha at the Bridge.  We miss her dearly, and not simply for her wonderful catering at these events, but for her lovely heart and generous spirit.

We miss you Sasha.

For now, there's so much going on.  First over the Cattle Stampede:

Squirrel Roping!

Here's our brand.  Pie R Squared.  What other kind of brand could the geek cow have?

In addition to the cattle stampede, squirrel roping, pork chopping (wait - that's dinner) there's  all kind of things going on which I'll add here as they happen.

There's some wonderful cowboy poetry at:

There's Bull Riding happening at:

There's barrel racing going on over at:

But first my handsome date for the square dance - Frankie Furter (when asked for the best date for a cowboy square dance I was told to "Get a long little doggie").
Doesn't he look handsome in his Western gear with his mighty horse "Trusty Steve".

Dori's Backyard is hosting the Square Dance.  It's starting right now!  Stop in at:

Thank you Dory and family  for the wonderful photos!

All the bronco busting is posted  on Frankie and Ernie's blog so click here to see the great riding skills of my square dance partner and all of our friends here in Blogville.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - When There Are So Many Words

One morning this Spring on Facebook - the proclamation "Blogging is Dead"

And I look back on a year of  blog posts. Hundreds of blog posts.

One year.  Such much happens in a year

One new grave, surrounded by flags.  One wooden box, bearing in cold air a warmth that can't be replaced.

On each are short simple words that do not begin to carry the weight or the sharpness of their past.

But as a new author, everyone said "you need to do all of the social media"
I did my first twitter.  It had all the literary  grace of Rodan. #Ineedmoreroomforwords

I started Facebook.  It's like the school yard with free ice cream and magic. I am having some fun with it.

But it also leaves me wanting for somethin---for it does not feel like writing. It's fun, but simply that---fun. To me, it's not flight or mode of combat, words that take on shape and form, Even as I shared in the laughter and offered short comforting thoughts, I missed those long tales that are born from a soul that's an irrepressible retailer of words, a shopkeeper of phrase, an enabler of intent. Facebook is like hanging out with your best friends with beer.  Blogging can be like that as well.  But it can also be like sipping single malt scotch in front of a typewriter, which is where many of my stories started.

Still, where else can you post a cat with a gun, riding a fire snorting unicorn.
So I'll have my fun on Facebook even as I quietly say into the silent night - Blogging is not dead.

Book #2 was born, out of a blog post that became a chapter, than another, and another. Because I am a writer and my world has too many words.

I sit here now, no music playing, no noise---just the soft breathing of a dog and my thoughts, words almost imperceptible to the senses, hanging on the air to be plucked by my fingers and laid upon this white table.  This computer is my accomplice, guarding me with its quiet accord, bearing with me the seclusion, the mystery. I should probably get up and do some housework, but while the words are still within reach, I am imprisoned by the very freedom of my hands.

I think of the classic writers - would Jane Austin been a hit on Pinterest? Would Hemingway have been popular on Instagram? How many Twitters to win a Pulitzer prize?

Creativity can be short bursts of color and forms and words.

But not in the world that I like to live in.
I am a writer and I have too many words.

I am the run on sentence. I am the "too many commas".  I can't take a morning standing out among broken trees, red and blue lights flashing as words pass over the forest floor like the sound of big guns and make it a quip.  I can't look out upon the hills, the top of one wreathed in billowing smoke, as around me there are shouts and hollers, ringing out like war cries, yet spoken in hushed tones so as not to disturb the dead, and express it with a hashtag.

For words are my truth immense and they are my voice.

Blogging is dead.

It is not dead, it's strings of thoughts that you would have to travel far ahead not to hear, before you outrun the reach of a voice.  You can turn off your modem, but the words still exist.  For they are my words, and though confined to a virtual reality, they are words that exist, in my head and my heart, their tone from the stillness and gloom of a life with a past where my words were my one truth in each passing day.
You can chose to turn away, or turn off and not read.  It does not mean that the words are dead.  For I am a writer, and that is what we do, sharing the nature of that internal silence that follows us down into the depths of our soul, and brings up a bucket from a well---one brimming with words that spill over, to quench the thirsty hearts of whispering men.

I will still enjoy my Facebook, it's like waving at a neighbor you like as you pass each other coming out of your drive.

I'll still fail at Twitter and most other forms of social media. I'm just not interested in being connected to the whole world 24 and 7 and I'm perfectly happy being friends with only a few dozen people who realize that  friendship is not a button, it is a gift.

I've realized that those that truly care for us don't require constant validation, and if I don't send someone a Facebook "Like" on some un-posted socially acceptable schedule, my true friends will just chuckle and move on. For I am a writer---that solitary person that stood in the corner of the school yard and just looked on at the popular kids. But I always had the words, even when I was too solitary to say them.

I can go weeks and weeks and not talk to those I love. I will continue to be bad at responding to emails. I will love a few of my friends more than I can ever say. There are many of them I would take a bullet for. So, I say it on here, this is the place where I go to tell you the words that I meant to say, to offer a kind touch, or wake you up from some slumbering place where shadows may soon pounce.

It is what it is, a way to capture in words on a screen instead of a page, pages that can be held close in, or telegraphed to the world. It can be whimsy, it can be fun, it can be as disturbed as the mind behind it, or as calm someone one can stare at in wonder, words that reach out like a consoling whisper. It can be as intimate as a kiss or as impersonal as the wind.

It can simply be a piece of bacon and a smile.

Blogging is not dead.

It is alive, when the muse fails and the hands stay still in the air with an honest idiocy of objective which made their fruitlessness both profound and poignant. It is alive, when the fingers dance over the keyboard in a frenzy, grappling with ghosts in one final act of common courage.

It is alive, when the keyboard is silent and the house stills, and the one you treasure more than anything on earth looks up from the smart phone that you will never own and says "I love what you just wrote".
It is alive, because it is here my voice has no word count, it can be black and white or filled with color.  It will be stories of battles fought and won, of great mysteries, and simple pleasures. It will be warnings that the younger self will not grasp until the older self breathes its last. It will be joys and sad caresses, tender words laid out upon the tongue like a wafer, a benediction, a blessing, a self communion of one formed of two hands. If you do not read, I will still write as I do not write so you can claim some part of me. But if you come out from beneath that place---that conception of existence we hide under like a tortoise in his shell, and listen---the words will draw breath, even after I am gone.

Blogging is not dead.

It breathes as long as I do.  Because I'm a writer and there are so many words.
 - LBJ

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sunday Black and White

Who says a dog can't play leap frog?

This is a Blog HOP (hehehe) hosted by our friends Nola and Sugar.