Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Another report of a "neglected" dog :-)

Lorelei:  "It's shameful how I am mistreated.  Someone
call the authorities."  (I would but I'm in the sunny spot).

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

My New Book Has Just Launched - Amazon #1 New Release

The latest writing has been published - through a Chicago publishing house, my short story picked up last year and now part of this anthology.  It made it to #1 in Amazon new releases the day it was released and will be available in bookstores (paperback and hardcover). The authors include award-winning professional writers, producers, actors, and playwrights and I was honored to be selected to be part of it.  All royalties on my part will go to the animal rescue groups, as always. 

The book is a collection of stories that capture love in its many forms, not just that of romantic partners, but of children, parents, animals, friends, and passionate interests.  The theme spoke to me, as it did to the authors within this work, as we recall first loves, lost loves, pets, family members, and that crazy time we ignored all reason and did the impossible

Praise on my story "Letting Go", so far (from authors and professional book critics)

""L. B. Johnson’s prose is glorious. Her words put you right there—in the place and in the head of the narrator—as well as any author I’ve read."

"A beautiful, heartfelt, masterful story."

"What a rich, rich voice. Johnson’s writing is lush and lancing at the same time, a feast of metaphors and aches. It leaves you completed, but it doesn’t leave you."  

"Gorgeous. An absolute heartache."

I think it would make a great Valentine's Gift, (that's a clue by four, as my husband would say).

Friday, January 13, 2023

Thoughts on Books

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.
 Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.”
- Groucho Marx
Lorelei Lab here.  I was just hoping for something simple like

Treats.   Bacon.   Stuffie.

But Mom decided to write about books.   

She didn't know what she would do without her books. Remember the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury?  It was set in a dystopian future in which firemen intentionally burn any house in which a book is located because it's against the law to possess them.  In the end, a fireman who had grown to love books escapes the city of quick, mindless but big-screen, reality-based entertainment, to find a small group of book-loving refugees banded together.  Each person is assigned the memorization of one complete book -- Aristotle, Dickens, James Joyce, and more -- so the books will survive until society is ready to embrace them again
She didn't read a lot of popular novels, though she had a rather large collection of classic Sci-Fi.  When her grade school classmates were reading The BoxCar Children and Pippi Longstocking, She was reading the works of Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein, and a whole world beyond her quiet, hushed one at home, opened up to me.

Reading for her was not just intellectual but embracive. She loved the way the spine of a book feels in the crook of her fingers. The smooth, hard end boards snug on either side of the pages are sewn together, their edges flush and perfect. The smell of ink, the texture of a page as her fingers gently turn it.
She tended to read a lot of non-fiction and books that teach you how to create and maintain things. She likes to read history. She loves reading about long ago. know more about her own life when she knew more about the past. It's a sense of perspective; of days full of people that killed, tortured, struggled, and suffered, agonizing for things that were of the utmost importance to them; working and living for reasons that may be well the same as ours. Now they've been gone some 500 years and all that is left to us is the essence and quintessence of their lives so she can remember all that they never forgot.
To her, history was more than a story, more than a book, it's the life, heart and soul of ages long ago.  It's the ultimate myth and inevitably ambiguous, but she did believe, as Lord Bolingbroke stated, "History is philosophy teaching by example and also by a warning." History not read is like ammo not used, someone once said, and without reading, for herself at least, the past is silence and the future is haze.
Quantum Physicists have stated that time, as most of us think of it, is an illusion. They have postulated that the past, the present, and the future are here, now, captured in a touch, the blink of an eye, or perhaps, simply between two pages.

Between two pages here is a photo of her Mother in her garden. Outside the window here now, a plant opens up, spilling forth its seed onto the soil. She remembered days of working in the flowerbeds that her Mom so lovingly maintained. After her death, She kept it going as long as she could for her Dad until adulthood called me away. As she toiled in the garden, the sun kissed the top of her head, the touch a benediction, a blessing.
She had not yet learned of other kisses, the ones in the crook of the neck where the head joins the body and the body knows not its limitations. The one that dances on the skin like light that falls upon it, outstretched hands gathering fistfuls of flowers imprinted upon starched cotton. She had not yet learned that love is not just as wild as the flowers; it’s as fragile and elusive as glass; that in nature, the most delicate of things are often trod underfoot as they go unnoticed. So much contained in those pages never read.
At the bookstore recently, an engineering manual, two generations old, was opened to browse. In it was an ancient leaf, carefully pressed within the pages, the person who had done so likely long gone. She has many books like that old book, purchased from stores that contain more light than dust, yet containing within them things old and forgotten, things that in the wrong hands would only grow older. Finding the right one is like finding treasure, fingers tracing the spine, fingers that are gentle and forgiving, not wishing any further scar upon that which binds.
Such books find their way to her home, where they lay looking out from under leaded glass, pulled out to be read on late nights, the mind marveling that other minds marveled, the mysteries, the mistakes, playing out across the pages as if they were penned today. They tell their tales like the lonely, animated elderly, to anyone who is willing to listen, lessons are given without rancor or heat, so many words that need to be said while they can still be heard.
Nothing for her is worse than being in the back of an airplane or at a hotel with nothing to read. When in one mountainous far off place, she had to downsize a bag as the little airplane being piloted by what she believed was a Yeti, was weight restricted and her books were left behind for materials she had to have for the missionary work. She almost would have given up her tools, her poncho, and her hiking boots than her little collection of paperbacks, of Earth Abides and Stranger in a Strange Land, and a small leather-bound book of Shakespeare sonnets.

Let the weather play God with her itinerary, let the tanker bringing in supplies break down somewhere, let the post sell the last bottle of whiskey, but if she'd laid up alone in the middle of nowhere after she busts a move down the Himalayas and breaks her leg, she wants a book. Curled up in strange places among a couple artifacts of family that get toted around in her suitcase, she may be lonely, but she will be content. 
For she has a book.

It's a big old paper dead tree book because she wants to hold something in her hand that feels alive, to me even if a living thing died to create its pages. It's words that form pictures, laid out upon a living thing that never slept, never dreamed of the soft perch of birds or the sharp blade of the ax, never mourned the tender leaves that it nourished and abandoned. It’s a piece of wood, that can be warmth, support, and shelter, or the perfect, pristine bed of memory laid down bare.
Such is it tonight as she is alone tonight.  But in her head is history, the cries of warriors, rushing forth immortal beneath disported sabers and brandished flags, men rushing forward into time, propelled by gunpowder and righteousness, underneath a sky of thunder. She has a book.  She is caught up in battles, in loves, both forbidden and forgotten, coursing like blood as long as the words will, that immortal, fresh, abiding blood which bears respect above regret and commitment above the ease of dishonor.

Her housework is put aside for at least an hour or two before bed and she'll pick up that book. She'll let it transport her to somewhere far away until a chime will toll for warriors, for battles won and those so easily lost. As her hand turns the pages, she will move among people who lived and died, or perhaps never existed at all, their shadows not of flesh or blood but of imagination, shadows as strong as finely honed steel and shadows as quiet as murmuring breath, forgotten until they were put upon paper.
Then, on the sound of that chime, perhaps a clock, perhaps something that just travels within her, the note cutting the air, as sharp, clear, and quiet as a blade, she will fall off into sleep, there in that lonely bed. The book lies prone on the nightstand next to her, two forms, creating one shadow, the stories in both of them, never ceasing, even at rest. Outside the world continues in that illusion of change, the sky letting go of its tears, washing a parched landscape anew.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Have I Told You about the Health Benefits of Dairy - Dad?

 Someone heard the sandwich-makings come out.

Lorelei assumes the ready position

When no cheese shows up the Elvis Lip Curl does.

Look it's CHEESE! (sorry, no peanut butter and banana sandwiches here Miss Elvis Face).

Dad delivers!

Lorelei has Left the Building.

Friday, December 30, 2022

Canine S.A.D.

S.A.D, (Seasonal Affective Dog) is very unhappy it's cloudy out AND there are no sun puddles anywhere. 

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Christmas 2022 - Best Wishes to All

We hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas day, however you celebrate it.

Just some of our gifts to one another to bring a smile.

We miss Abby Lab - but my husband got some Lab suncatchers for our window, where she used to love to watch the squirrels.  
When you open your stocking to find a personal message from Elon Musk.

You can only laugh at your husband's sense of humor.

Two can play at that game!

But you'll need some matches for that candle.

A handmade Lab blanket (and some reading material for a "Dog Dad"

For teleworking - for automated "document approval process".

And when it's time to drive the dog nuts - squirrel finger puppets.
Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night

Saturday, December 24, 2022

From our household to yours - wishing you only blessings this holiday season and in the coming year.

Brigid, E.J., and Lorelei Lab

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Where Did Dad's Pillow Go

Me: "Where did EJ's pillow from our bed go? 

Lorelei Lab: "I know NOTHING".

Sunday, December 18, 2022

A Tale of Two Trolls

There was a lot of stuff packed away in boxes when I sold the sprawling home that I had prior to meeting my husband, as well as things I'd shipped back from Dad's after my brother passed away. Sitting here this morning looking at an old photo on an even older refrigerator I remember the day I finally had a chance to go through it before moving here, where space is limited and only things most precious are on display. 

There was a storm brewing that night, the wind fierce off of the Great Lake, stirring things in the trees, stirring things in me. In the bottom of one trunk, I found something among things gleaned from my brother's belongings that I had not had much time to go through. And it brought me to tears - because of this photo which is always on display. Look carefully to the left and right of my brother to the two little creatures, dressed for the winter. My Mom was 1/2 Swede and 1/2 Norwegian, so although I think they are actually Danish in origin, we always had trolls around. In the picture, we're playing out in the snow, and Mom had actually made little coats for the trolls to protect their felt clothing. How little we knew that one day that well-worn photo would be held by a magnet on an ancient refrigerator, there as the snow fell down like the gift of grace on the frozen ground, there in the days of honor and play, before we knew anything of selfishness, greed and the uncaring faces of forgetful men.

There were just our toys of childhood, the toy soldiers, our trains, our collection of matchbook cars, and hot wheels. And the trolls. We played with them in quiet solitude, not because we thought others would make fun of us for "playing with dolls" but because they were an outlet for imagination. They weren't "dolls" - they were Vikings, bigger than all of our other toys, even G.I. Joe standing down in their presence. Their hair was tangled with the imagined salt of the sea, their countenance a grin in the face of any adversity. They were born, not of a woman or the earth, but by magic and myth. Others might not have understood, so they were our solitude, which was also our saving as Mom grew sicker and the waters grew colder.

I wondered what had happened to them, more than once. They were our companions on bike rides deep into the trails that formed as more subdivisions were built, they were the silent watch on deck as we drifted off to sleep at night, the moon outside bending low into our window as if to look onto our face as we dream of fast ships and high seas. My brother and I were perhaps unusual compared to many siblings as he was genuinely my best friend and not just my older brother. We'd play in the yard, in the woods, and even better, at the coast where we had a small cabin, running out by the waves until the sun sank round and blazing into the crest of waves as if they eroded that luminous circle with their power until only darkness and the sound of the ocean remained

He and I rarely squabbled. He held me on those rare occasions I cried and he protected me from any neighborhood bully, who knew better than to invoke the wrath of a tall redhead who would grow up to be a giant of a man, a gentle giant who handled those things he loved as if made of glass. We played hard and well, even if in adulthood it was sometimes just a game of pool and a beer, laughing as much as we did as children, throwing fates to the wind, and taking no prisoners, even if we had a designated driver. On, or in, my dresser is the matchbox cars and rocks. shells, and other things of childhood. But I had forgotten what became of those two trolls, there in that photo. Not long after those days, as we left childhood, I never saw them again. Like many things of childhood, they just disappeared. The earth takes some - toy soldiers buried in the yard with full honors. Others are simply cast off as young adults, not yet realizing how precious those little things are until we reach an age where the earth calls its account for all things we hold dear, taking them away before we are ready.

I lift them out of the box, plucking a strand of dust from the hair of the female troll, blinking in the hazy light. With them is a smaller troll - one my brother gave me when he went off to sea as a submariner. They rest on a piece of wood cut more than a hundred years ago, the same shade as that gate that Dad built some 60 years ago, in the house that my brother and I grew up in. They were not Vikings or adventurers, they were simply toys from which our adventures sprung forth, daring days of glory in the heat and the cold. But rather than be tossed out with the rest of the toys, my brother had carefully put them away for me to find someday among his things that were left to me on his passage.

As I gathered the box to place them back into safe keeping in the home I'd made with my husband, I blink in the diffused light, as shadows ebbed and flow outside the window. I look out to the East, to the lake and in my mind's eye see a shadowed vessel manned by a redheaded shade, there beyond the horizon, who sends me a wave of greeting as he disappears into a soundless gale. Someday I will join him, when the splash of the ocean bites into the Sun, when the end of all things earthly comes without furor or a whisper, that moment we release ourselves to the water and our hearts cease to beat as if an engine stilled. At that moment, in that perfect moment of immobility, there will be a new adventure awaiting in glory. But not for now, now is for living and remembering.

The trolls almost seemed to stir there in the play of light, as if remembering all of those days of joy and freedom. So many memories there - the laughter of a young girl, and the brave shout of a boy, running his plastic warrior up to the top of the hill, where we are stronger than the oceans, Vikings rule, and imagination never dies.  That old photo placed where it would be safe, I carefully put the trolls away, as I raise my hand into the gales of the east and wave goodbye. - Brigid

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Morning in the Johnson Household

I can't help it, every time I look at this I see "In the morning when I rise, give me coffee, Jesus".

Sourdough Barley Swedish Waffles with Strawberry/Cranberry Jam
Someone found their peanut.
It's a lot prettier when I don't have to shovel it.

Mr, Turtle has survived 7 moves and 3 Labradors over the years.  Lorelei just ignores him.

The buffet is open!

Did you forget my walkies?
Post-walk naps are the best!