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Our Lives Go On #MFRWAuthor

It snowed overnight a couple days ago, and when I went out for the first morning steps white covered the ground. Not a lot, just a couple inches, already decorated with brown from the dogs’ play. Fuego was already in the yard, everyone else back in the house. Good grief, it was 18 now and I was out almost an hour before so heck it was cold. Dry though, and the snow creaked under my fleecy Crocs.

Squeak squeak squeak, I’m trudging around the yard, watching out for known holes especially that ledge they built running in sweeping arcs on the south side. Fuego watches me just a little suspicious. Am I going to try to grab him? Am I going to play with him? I offer treats, a bit of tiny dog cookies, some dried beef lung. So he settles into the companion mind set.

Fuego, watching

He comes dashing over, sees the treat, and whips himself around to my left side, plunking his cute striped butt into the snow. I treat but don’t pet. Silly me, missing out on that opportunity. Fortunately he offers the same behavior next time he sees the treat in my hand and this time I hug and praise. He likes that.

Navad, waiting

There are tracks in the snow. Fast dog feet, digging up the dry dirt. Slow dog feet tottering around the pen where wild birds come in for treats. The old boys are up and moving, their steps punctuated with wet spots. No blood in the wet, good to know. They’ll be fifteen tomorrow and they’re looking old. But still eating, still taking themselves out. Sleeping a lot. They’ve earned that sleep.

Ulfric, showing off

Have to take a quick break and put the red kettle on to boil water for the birds. There’s going to be ice under the snow that needs to be broken up so the very hot water quickly becomes just warm. Then refill the suet holders and give the birds a boost of fat energy. Later the crows will get chicken trimmings from last night’s dog food, and cat food. Fill the bird feeders out front then duck back inside to the warmth. Life here goes on in peace, hope it can remain that way.

The old dudes are fifteen today. It’s been iffy the last month or so if they would make it this far. They’re eating well, getting themselves outside, but their years are showing. They wobble sometimes if they get up too fast. They need to go out more often, and when they get out they sometimes stand around wondering why they’re outside. But their tails still wag, they still grab treats when offered.

I found pictures to share from a few years ago, to remind me of when they were younger. I don’t think they’d want me to show them now, thinner and more tired. They deserve their pride.


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One Man’s Hands #MFRWAuthor

I’ve been waiting to share this reminder from my younger years.

Pete Seeger’s amazing song:

One Man’s Hands

One man’s hands can’t tear a prison down
Two men’s hands can’t tear a prison down
But if two and two and fifty make a million
We’ll see that day come round
We’ll see that day come round.

One man’s eyes can’t see the future clear…

One man’s voice can’t shout to make them hear…

One man’s strength can’t ban the atom bomb…

One man’s strength can’t roll the union on…


We will see that day come around. Thank you Georgia, and thank you to everyone who got up, stood in line, and voted.

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As I Sit Here #MFRWAuthor

Hi, it looks like I’m back! Sharing some pictures and a few concerns.

We retired to a sort of remote area in a low population state. Although I know a pandemic rages throughout IMG_0944the world (who couldn’t know, whether they choose to believe or not?) it’s ‘out there’ and so far doesn’t directly affect me. I wear the mask, I isolate, and I take every precaution. Because New Mexico has a governor who believes in science, we were shut down early and hard. This hasn’t made everyone happy and some of the push back can be extreme but we were managing to hold the line. Until recently when the need to be ‘free’ overtook the need for caution and we had a wave of positive cases plus more deaths than were acceptable. And still we have those who refuse to admit they could be harming their friends and neighbors.

You can’t fix stupid and you can’t help those who won’t help themselves. But wouldn’t it be nice if they could take themselves and their ideas and stay AWAY from the rest of us?

Not a chance. I was on a ZOOM call with family in California. My nephew chooses to run with a mask on and he has been accosted by people ‘sharing’ data on why he should not be wearing a mask. I’ve had to listen to something similar while in the line for the grocery.  I certainly see the irony in people who want the ‘right’ not to mask telling others why they should not mask!

We dog people in New Mexico have missed so much that our friends in other states are experiencing. All activities in state owned facilities, with more than a limited number of people, have been cancelled. No dog shows, no Agility trials, no nothing. Same for private locations. So we wait. Some people travel out of state to compete and quarantine when they return. Such is our life right now, but we know better times are ahead!


Israfel and Fuego talking about what they’re going to do when we can go out again!

Stay well everyone, virtual high desert hugs.


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Couch to 5 WHAT? #MFRWAuthor

When the Pandemic rolled across our world, keeping us from our usual activities, some of us decided we’d do just fine. We’d keep up our dog

Biddy waiting for me to get my stuff together

training, exercise regularly, maybe even add a few more routines. Yes sirree Bob, we were not going to let anything stop us.

If you’re like me (and many of you are. Yes, you are) this worked for a week or so. Then we took a short break. A couple more short breaks. Until we could count the days we worked on one hand. Oops. But we could catch up quick enough. Right? For me, dog classes were my major reasons to exercise, and setting goals without class wasn’t easy.

Then our governor eased up restrictions enough to allow for limited Agility classes. We were back in business! Well, mentally anyway. Physically my legs and my lungs were letting me know it was NOT a good idea to kick back and wear out my Kindle. When you get to my age and condition getting back in shape can be a problem.

Eeep. I had a solution, since some of my reading was Zoe York’s Canadian small town romances. Those people were always working out, what a great inspiration. In fact in one of them I learned about Couch to 5K,, which promised to get me up and going in nine short weeks. There is even an app for my Android (you ever notice how many of the cool apps are Apple?) I was ready to go.

Mind you some of my friends are in to hiking, and I could not admire them more. I have this ingrained fear of loose dogs and nasty owners….so I’d rather walk in my own field. Mornings are nearly always cool here in New Mexico and the monsoons hadn’t yet gifted us with humidity. I had my running shoes on, phone in hand, and the company of my Salukis. Yup, ready to go.

The program start with a warm up of five minutes brisk walking. Easy peasy since I’ve been doing the FitBit 250 steps every hour. Well, most hours. But I have walked, honest. Off I go, striding out, arms swinging. After a couple rounds of the field I check, sure that the five minutes are up. Nope still three to go. Hmmm this might be a bit more challenge than I thought.

AH, the chime, and an ever so cultured voice informs me that warm up is over it’s time to RUN for one minute. I set out briskly then scaled back to a jog, managing to make it almost all the way to the next chime. Gasping, stumbling into a 90 second walk, after which I will launch into another 60 second run. Eight times.

I manage to make it to the third cycle but by now my ‘run’ is more of a shuffle and I stumble to a halt, bracing my legs to stand upright. On a whim I check the FitBit…that was surely good for at least a fat burning heart rate. No heart rate shows, I think I scared my FitBit. I punch out of the program, missing the suggestion to just delay, and stagger into the house for some water.

Next day I’m at it again, but this time when I stopped, I used the ‘delay’ option. Maybe I could do one day’s worth in two or three days? Alas, that didn’t work. At the rate I’m going I’ll never make the first day much less nine weeks.

You’re probably wondering, so what? If doing this program was such an effort, why did I keep trying? Funny thing about that, later in the day and the next day I felt…lighter. My step had more spring to it and it was much easier to draw a deep breath. Something was working. I did some more research, that told me the Couch to 5K might be extreme for some people.

Ya think?

I found something called None 2 Run, which was way easier with only 30 seconds of jogging and two minutes walking. Sadly, that is an Apple app so I have to make it up as I go along. I also went from RUN to jog, to a sort of shuffle stride that’s way easier on my knees. It’s similar to the ‘run’ we use showing dogs since that freaking concrete is NOT nice to our legs!

I haven’t talked much about this, just showed up at Agility class and pushed a little harder each week. Being able to breathe even after a difficult course is huge for me. And I can. Biddy is even looking at me with a bit more respect.

The main lesson to share here? Just. Keep. Moving.

Biddy doing what makes us happy


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The Best Time is NOW #MFRWAuthor

My father died in June. He was coming up to 97 years, lived in an excellent assisted living


Dad as a cadet, long long ago!

facility. He’d been fading over the last few months so it didn’t come as a great surprise. A fall, a head injury,  breathing complications. With the Covid restrictions he had little contact outside the staff. He’d led a full life, career military, city zoning, large family. After Mom died he spent time with my oldest brother, playing on a train set in Tennessee.



Rick in front Dad on the caboose








Rick sure loved his trains. I remember finding a pottery train set at a thrift store, thinking it would look so cute in their house with little succulents. It sat in a bag in my house for…well, years.

We had a family ZOOM to celebrate Dad’s life and share some stories. Rick looked good sitting in his den with his wife. Really good. I almost mentioned that train set then thought it would be better as a surprise.

Last month I had an early morning phone call from my Texas brother. Rick had fallen, hit his head. It didn’t look good. Several hours later he was gone. Too young. Too freaking young. He had a granddaughter being born, a busy family he was so proud of. His health was on an upswing. But…gone.

That train set is out on the kitchen counter. Maybe I’ll get some succulents, maybe I’ll find someone else who is fond of trains. Time is moving faster every day. The best time is NOW to tell people you care. And to send them the silly gift you bought years ago.

IMG_20200812_235718097 (2)


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Give Me Liberty, Or…


Patrick Henry’s inspiring words, spoken March 1775 at the Second Virginia Convention, helped inspire Colonial Virginia to take up arms against Great Britain, the acknowledged super power of that era. “Give me liberty…” finalized a strong last paragraph:

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me give me liberty or give me death.

The paragraph was at the end of a powerful speech I don’t think everyone has read. It might not be a bad idea to take a few minutes away from the barbecue and fireworks to peruse his words. Maybe later to check out some of the other speeches from the bold, impetuous, imperfect people who helped set our country on the path toward freedom.

At the time Thomas Jefferson penned “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” as “unalienable rights” his stirring words addressed only a portion of the population. As did so many of our forefathers, he owned slaves. We have progressed beyond that era.  It took another horrific war to start to resolve that issue although the repercussions continue to shadow our lives.

Between the brats and the beer we might think about the men who dared stand up and demand independence, the men who fought to extend those inalienable rights for all men, the women later who stood up against society to demand those rights for their gender. And let’s plan to continue to build on these efforts to leave a better society for our children.

In more eloquent words: “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…” Let’s do it.


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We Can Do Better #MFRWAuthor

This was first published in Perspectives, the newsletter for AKC Delegates

It’s been a roller coaster ride since March, with most of the track spiraling down. A 2015-05-02 agility 0448few slow upgrades then another wrench and everything feels out of control again, hurtling around one corner, then another, trusting in the science of the engineering of wheel to track. These times are trying our souls, challenging us to do better, to be better. Challenging us to help ourselves and each other.

To help each other our major task was…do nothing. Stay home. Lucky us having dogs to keep us company. Lucky dogs having their people full time. What a time to sit still, to contemplate who we are, where we’re going, what really matters. When we asked what you were missing most during this time of isolation, no one worried about cumulative points or high scores. No one lamented that they could be out competing. The major concern was the loss of camaraderie. No shows and trials meant not seeing fellow competitors. No classes meant missing the people with whom we have built connections. No one watching our dogs and each other improve from week to week. No one commiserating over a clumsy effort with encouragement to do better.

Dogs for the most part are social beings. They like to be together, they crave touch and feel comfort in their family groupings. Yes, there is the occasional curmudgeonly dog thatIMG_7578 prefers their own corner with their own bowl and their own toys thank you very much. But by and large dogs are happier in a pack.

We aren’t that much different. Many of us say we prefer isolation but still we are drawn to each other, to gather into groups, and organize ourselves. Now our groups are disbanded and we’re not sure when and how and if we can come together again. We know we weren’t perfect. We know the drive to compete, to be better than, has permeated every activity. We miss what we had, but do we miss every aspect of it? How many times did we allow the competitive drive within us detract from what could have been a pleasant experience?

We have a unique opportunity to try to make things better. To examine what we were doing and find ways to improve. Ways to reach out and help each other instead of trampling over each other in a quest for more. We can do better.

We will do better. 002

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What Makes Us Happy #MFRWAuthor

Smiles not only show the world how happy we are, they also contribute to our good health. Seriously, scientists have studied smiles extensively, and will tell us smiles can trigger the release of neural communication boosting neuropeptides as well as mood-boosting neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Whew lots of big words! Here is some backup from Very Well Mind.

We smile when we are happy, and we can help ourselves feel happy by smiling…that’s kinda neat when you think about it! What makes us happy? Some people think they would be happy ‘if only’…if only they lived in a better house, drove a newer car, got a promotion at work. In my world of dogs, some think gaining titles or extreme wins will make them happy.

As wonderful as those sound, are these realistic goals? If you don’t title your dog in three events or you can’t upgrade your car, what can you do to put smiles on your face?

Years ago, my husband was in home hospice. When he died I called family and friends, letting them know, and told them I was doing fine. One of them called back, telling me she was coming and to deal with it. When she arrived, she asked what I wanted to do. We could clean out the garage, try to catch up on the gardens, or just go walking with the dogs. What would make ME happy.

I stopped to take a deep breath. After months of hospital visits, acute care visits, then home nursing responsibilities, I had forgotten how to be happy. What I wanted was a day away from responsibilities, from duties. We went to Madrid, a funky artist’s community with eclectic shops. We went to my favorite libations store in Albuquerque. Nothing fancy, we just hung out together, and she left the next day.

Over the next months…years…I kept her suggestion in mind. What would make me happy? Often it was little things, like new garden plants, washing dishes before the sink overflowed. Taking the constant pile of cardboard to recycle can often  soothe me for days. Little things but they helped keep me smiling. Whenever possible I share the question. Sometimes the wish is surprisingly easy to help fulfill.

So…what makes you happy?



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Jack London’s Scarlet Plague #MFRWAuthor #BOB

Remember Jack London? Call of the Wild? White Fang? Sea Wolf? To Build A Fire? A In 1910, Jack London Saw COVID Coming in “The Scarlet Plague”man’s man, who lived the adventures he wrote about? I’ve learned recently he was also a social activist, a muckraker, a believer in unions. Far more layers to him than I’d ever known…now I need to read some biographies.

I recently discovered he also wrote a bit of Science Fiction, which is what I’m sharing now. In 1912, he wrote a dystopian story about about an event in 2013, narrated decades years later by one of the few survivors of a dreadful pandemic. Dreadful, as in possibly one person out of thousands survive. Some of his predictions are off…We advanced past dirigibles, democracy is holding on, and who could have foretold the advances in communication?

Beyond the grim nature the writing is elegant, his word choice anticipates an educated reader. Or perhaps this language choice has to do with the era in which he wrote. It’s a short read but it left me with a lot to think about.

The Scarlet Plague is available as an e-book through the Gutenberg Project. You can also find the physical book on Amazon and probably other used book resources.



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Don’t Forget the Dog #MFRWAuthor #BOB

This post is mostly for the writers among us.

We love our pets. Dog, cat, bird, fish, we dote on them. We are far more likely to buy a book when we see a dog on the cover. Writers know animals appeal to many readers, with a special attraction for characters who rescue animals. Used as a character feature this can increase connection to the reader.

All well and good, and a tool for writers to employ. Until they forget the dog.1936538_97029219860_1238899_n

We meet the female or male (usually female) protagonist through their interactions with others and learn about their empathy and depth of character. Sometimes the information is shoved at us sometimes we encounter it gradually as we read. That’s a subject for another time. We learn about how much these animals mean to them. Special thoughts if the animals are old or disabled. The writer wants us to know these animals are VERY IMPORTANT.

Then the first meet and with some books instant attraction. The new mate will meet the animals so they can be impressed with how loving and caring this special person is. Then on with the story and we don’t hear much about the dogs until they’re needed again to emphasize how wonderful this person is.

In real life, it doesn’t work that way. Dogs need exercise, food, attention. They’re not meant to be locked in the house for hours nor is it safe for them to be unsupervised 003outside, fenced yard or not. Too much bad can happen. Cats, being more independent, don’t need us as much but woe to the owner who gets on the wrong side of their feline. Litter boxes need regular cleaning, yard poop patrol is necessary.

Those glamorous coats we see floating in the wind don’t come without hours of effort. If your character is busy busy busy please don’t gift them with an Old English Sheepdog, or an Afghan Hound, or some other abundantly haired dog or cat. Unless you want to make regular grooming a major factor in the character’s life. If you want to know more about caring for more exotic pets, most fanciers would be thrilled to help you, just give them a call.

Pets add depth to our characters and can enrich our stories. As long as they’re not just a 032line in a character chart. BICHOK, my friends.



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