Hillbilly Zen – Old Hippie

 

Old Hippie

There is an old hippie who lives on a hill.

She’s been blessed by the heavens with acres to fill.

Stray critters all know they can come to her place

for a kind word, a cuddle, or to just feed their face.

They’re all loved and cared for above and beyond,

Some in the house, some the barn and the pond.

She’s all about critters and that seems to suit her,

but there’s not much room left now, so please….

Spay and Neuter!

 

1play dead

Advertisements

Hillbilly Zen – Blessings, Blogs, Blitzes and Battle Lines

I’ve known for quite some time that there are incredibly talented folks blogging on WordPress, and having to restrict my access to their work has brought that point home in a big way.  The writing, the photography and the art are just outstanding, and I want to thank each and every one of you for sharing your gifts with the world.  You truly make this planet a better place, each in your own unique way.

Ok, I’m done being all mushy.  For now, anyway.

Being unemployed blows, and having to spend limited internet time doing what I don’t like (filling out job applications) vs. what I like a lot (reading great blogs) blows big wind.  My account has finally reset, though, so y’all get ready to see gobs of Likes and comments on your blogs.  It’s going to take awhile to catch up, but as long as the coffee holds out, I’m good.

In between searching for a decent job and enjoying awesome blogs, I’ll be going into battle with a local tourist spot.  Their animals are being poorly cared for, some to the point of death, and it cannot be allowed to continue.  The administration of the facility has been notified and done nothing to correct the situation, so I’m currently in communication with the Board of Trustees and local officials.  If that doesn’t produce action, it’ll be time to take it up a notch and go to the media.  I’m really hoping that won’t be necessary, because other than the problem with the animals it’s a wonderful place.  I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, thank you again for sharing your wonderful work; getting up to date on what I’ve missed is such a pleasure.  Any prayers, good vibes and encouragement will be greatly appreciated!

Hillbilly Zen – An Old Man’s Dream

She waits for him in a copse of trees just beyond the creek, amid shadows of cedars that rise from the decaying tangle of their fallen kin.  Sleek and petite, she moves with a lithe certainty that scarcely disturbs the fragile tendrils of new growth struggling from the forest floor.  She is built for speed but has reached the limit of her endurance, and seeks cover in the dusky coolness of the woods.  She is vulnerable here, but the miles she has covered today have taken their toll; she sinks to the loam with a soft exhale of relief and is still.  A tiny pulse beats a frantic rhythm in the white curve of her throat, belying the ease of her repose.  The tender pink shell of her ear catches a sound in the distance and she stiffens, instantly alert.  An eternity of heartbeats passes as she waits; is he here?  She raises her head to the wind but it carries no scent of him.  Tension drains from her stance and she moves toward the enticing whisper of the creek.  As she drops her head to drink, her own reflection gives her pause.  In the bottomless caramel depths of her eyes swirls the instinctive wisdom of her lineage, flickering with the deep sadness and unremitting terror of the hunted.  Even if she manages to elude him this time, he will never abandon his desire to possess her. He sees subtle movement at the tree line, and it takes every ounce of willpower he possesses not to bolt from concealment.  To reveal himself now would be foolhardy.  She is fast and can easily outrun him, but he has been tracking her for hours and she is tired.  Tall grass and a favorable wind direction should get him close enough to take her.   His lips curl back over gleaming teeth into a ferocious smile, and a soft, satisfied growl escapes.  This time he will have her.  Adrenaline floods his veins like molten madness, consigning domesticated niceties into fiery oblivion.  The primal drumming of his heart pounds in his ears, but he imagines he hears her muted footfalls through the undergrowth.  He watches her through slitted, cunning eyes as she slips from the shelter of the trees.  He readies himself, muscles contracting, forged by bloodlust into rigid bands beneath his skin.  He snarls, leaps and begins to run.  As he closes in, the tantalizing scent of her panic urges him to greater speed.  She is almost his….

I look up from my laptop and watch the old man twitch in his sleep, smiling at the staccato chuffs, rumbles and snores as he dreams.  We’ve been together almost fourteen years now, and even fourteen more still wouldn’t be long enough.  I’ve seen him go from vibrant youth to frail geriatric.  He’s lost most of his teeth, his fur is patchy, his skin is fragile and he’s gotten more than a little cranky, but I love him with all my heart.  The phone rings twice before I can grab it, and he raises his head from his pillow in obvious annoyance.  Grumbling under his breath, he heaves a sigh and sinks back into his bed.  I finish the call, then reach down and gently skritch his chin.  He opens one eye in tacit acknowledgement of my affection, then drifts off to sleep again.

Don't worry, old man.  You'll get her next time.

Don’t worry, old man. You’ll get her next time.
(Google Image Photo)

Hillbilly Zen – Annie in the Fog

 
Annie in the Fog

My old girl Annie on this foggy morning. She’s the one I wrote about in Cold Comfort – The Solace of Solstice.

Hillbilly Zen – Tornadoes, Snow Storms and Ducks on Ice

(Author’s note:  Yesterday there were tornadoes in Kentucky, today we’ve got snow and ice.  Like everyone else, I’m starting to feel the strain of constantly being chilled to the bone and interminable shades of gray. So, I decided to take my own advice and count my blessings.  I wrote this column for the local paper back in 2008.  Hope you enjoy it.)

Tornadoes, Snow Storms and Ducks on Ice

Every now and then, our world turns upside down.  We are yanked out of our personal comfort zone and forced into an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with our own mortality.  We all, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, walk a fine line – the razor’s edge of existence – with every single breath we take.  Perhaps it is some primal survival instinct that keeps us from dwelling on this, some intrinsic coping mechanism that urges us to quickly process traumatic events and then resume our everyday routine as soon as possible.  We spare little, if any, time to ponder the tenuous nature of our time on this earth.  But…every now and then…our Creator reaches down, bips us upside the head and commands our attention.

We all accept that Kentucky weather is predictable in its unpredictability.  When 700 temperatures plummet to 300 within a day’s time we just shake our head, roll our eyes and wonder why we even bothered to put the long underwear back in the dresser drawer.  But to see the wreckage from one week’s tornadoes covered by inch-thick ice the next week must surely give pause to even the most stoic among us.  This is not just “Kentucky weather”.  This is a stark reminder of how capricious the Fates can be, how what we often take for granted can be taken from us in the blink of an eye.

Photo by NOAA

Tornado Damage in Town

It gets a little festive on my beloved hill the Tuesday night the tornadoes hit.  For the last few weeks, we have been in some sort of weird pattern in which every Tuesday brings severe weather.  Although the previous Tuesday’s winds seem to have howled a bit louder, it becomes evident that this Tuesday’s storm means business. Brief, fervent pleas tumble from my lips each time the house shakes, and even the cats deign to join the dogs and me as we huddle in the bathroom.  When it is all over, a few tree limbs are the only damage on my farm.  The house withstands the onslaught, the barn and the horses are fine, so I offer a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving and go to bed.  After seeing the enormous property damage done throughout the county, it really hits me that it’s only by the good Lord’s grace that no one was killed.  More prayer then, and grateful wonder at the mercy shown to all.

That’s what it comes down to really, doesn’t it?  It’s all about finding those grateful moments.  In the dark times a little extra effort might be required, but if you keep at it, focus on finding even one thing to be thankful for, gratitude gets a little easier each day.  The coolest part is, even the smallest benevolence can produce sizeable joy; ducks on ice, for instance.

On the first gray, dreary morning after the ice storm I dread going out, but my critters are first priority so I bundle up and gingerly make my way out onto the porch.  The ducks immediately start clamoring to be let out of their pen, and ice stormthus begins one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life. The minute I open the gate, they stampede out like they usually do.  Instead of slapping across grass, however, their little webbed feet hit a solid sheet of ice.  This is closely followed by their little feathered bottoms hitting the ice.  I can almost hear “The Blue Danube Waltz” playing in the background; Da da da da dum (Splat! Quack! Splat! Quack!), da da da da dum (Splat! Quack! Splat! Quack!).  Gospel truth, I laugh until I literally have tears in my eyes.  The ducks seem to take offense at my helpless laughter, glaring at me as if their lack of traction is my fault.

After that the day seems a little brighter and a bit warmer.  My burdens, whether real or imagined, feel much lighter.  Each remembrance of that moment will bring laughter and thanks to God for a hilarious mercy shown on a dismal winter morning.

It’s ok to feel sorry for yourself sometimes.  Go ahead and have a pity party, but make it a short one.  Then find something, even the tiniest little thing, that makes you smile.  Blessings aren’t that hard to find, and even a little bit of gratitude goes a long way.

Photo by Marin Winters/Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Marin Winters/Wikimedia Commons

Hillbilly Zen – El Diablo (The Devil’s In The Details)

 

“Goodnight, babies.  Good job today.  See you in the morning!”  With one last swish of her ponytail, the stable manager flipped off the lights and closed the barn door.

For a few seconds, the only sounds were rhythmic munching and the muted rustling of tired horses shifting in their stalls. Then came the distinct sound of a throaty bass chuckle.

“Did you see the look on his face?  ‘I swear that horse tried to kill me!’” Frank’s normally deep voice rose several octaves, mimicking the panic-stricken voice of the rider.  Still snickering, he dipped his muzzle into the feed tub and lipped up another mouthful of oats.

“Priceless, Frank.  Everybody was looking at him like he was nuts, and there you stood looking all innocent, with that ‘one step away from the glue factory’ face you do.  Priceless, dude.”  Hank yawned and stretched his muscular neck into his water pail.  “That woman, though…she knows one end of a horse from the other. No way was I gonna to be able to get anything over on her.”

“The little girls were sweet.  So well behaved and considerate.  Good hands and seats, too.  I think I got more pats and smooches today than I have in the past month.”  Tinkerbell’s gentle voice floated up the stable aisle.  From the stalls on either side of her, George and Gracie nickered in agreement through mouthfuls of rich alfalfa hay.

Frank stretched his massive frame, old spur scars whitening beneath his bay coat. Yawning widely and giving a dog-like shake, he grunted in contentment.  Life was good, and a far cry from his days in the rodeo.  “El Diablo” they’d called him back then, and many a cocky cowboy had lost his seat and his dignity in the arena dust swirling around Frank’s hooves.

“Okay, time for this old gelding to hit the hay.  Night everybody.”  As his stablemate’s responses drifted from the rows of stalls, the old quarter horse shifted his weight one final time and dropped his head.  Almost immediately he began to snore softly, dreaming of cheering crowds and glaring lights.  His slightly swayed back twitched with memories of tightly clamped legs loosening as bronc busters flew off his back in windmilling arcs.

“Gelding, schmelding.”  Hank murmured, lips twitching in a sleepy smile.  “You’ll always be a stud.  Sweet dreams, El Diablo.”

 

bucking horse

Hillbilly Zen – Ponies on the Patio

When I was a kid, I had an imaginary stable of horses in one of my Granny’s flowerbeds.  There were horses of every conceivable color and breed, their names changing each day with the winds that swept the hilltop of our old homeplace.  They were perfect, requiring no food or maintenance of any kind, always ready for any adventure that a solitary child with a vivid imagination could dream up.  All I had to do was pick one from the “stalls” lined up in the beautiful deep purple iris beds that lined the fence in front of the house, saddle up and we were off to the far reaches of the farm, as fast as my pudgy little legs would carry me.  Scraggly scrub cedars became a dark, forbidding forest.  The large pile of moss-covered limestone remnants from an old rock fence was the perfect spot to converse with faeries and elves.  I pretended that the barn was a haunted castle (complete with very real cows that would occasionally emerge from the shadows to scare the peewaddin out of me).

Now I’m on a farm that reminds me of the one I grew up on, and I have three real horses that require real food and maintenance.  Lots and lots of maintenance.  Iris blooms don’t keep them in their stalls these days, and patching the dilapidated fence around their pasture is often an adventure in itself.

One repair mission in particular produced a surprising result.  Luckily, most of my neighbors are truly good people who alert me when there’s been a breakout, and sometimes even help capture the varmints.  A friend’s son was on his way home and noticed a large hole in the fence, my three hay burners investigating the gap with obvious mischief in mind.  He alerted his mom, who in turn sounded the alarm to me.  So it was that at midnight on a 20-degree winter evening I found myself ankle-deep in snow with wire cutters in one numb hand and a stubborn strand of barbed wire in the other, seriously questioning the benefits of horse ownership.

Hooves and Hammers

The three potential miscreants observed attentively, crowding in way too close and completely ignoring my irritated attempts to shoo them away.  Irritated is a gross understatement, and the printable gist of my grumbling was a caveat to my “helpers” that if they got knocked in the nose by a hammer it was their own darn fault.

It wasn’t until my grumpy muttering finally subsided that I began to notice the frigid tranquility of the night.  In the ensuing silence hooves and boots squeaked in the snow, interspersed by the crack of hammer against fence post that echoed like gunshots across the frozen field.  As anger’s heat dissipated, I began to feel the warmth of their bodies as they surrounded me, and appreciate their steamy puffs of breath as they peered over my shoulders.  Squinted grouchy eyes widened to see the brilliance of a full moon sprinkling diamonds across the snowdrifts, rivaled only by the crystalline clarity of the stars.  I was entranced, lingering even after the last strand of barbed wire was in place, just being present in that moment, trying to absorb such wondrous surroundings.  After planting frosty goodnight kisses on three soft muzzles, I drove back up to the house, musing on what I’d have missed if I’d have continued to feed my initial anger.  It’s extraordinary what our Creator sends us when we open our hearts and minds, and shut our mouths.

Equine Therapy

As I write this, my three red-legged devils are roaming loose in the yard, having escaped their pasture yet again to take up temporary residence with the dogs and cats.  Between working full time in town and more pressing chores on the farm, there just hasn’t been time to remedy the situation.  Truth be told, I’m dragging my heels a bit because I’ve grown to like having them so close.  There’s just something about having a conversation with a horse through the back door that makes me smile.

Some of their antics are not so endearing, true, but I love them just the same.  I love the way they smell when they’ve been warming themselves in the sun, and the calmness that envelops me while combing burrs from their manes and tails.  They listen patiently without judging as I recount the day’s events, commenting only with soft nickers and gentle nudges.  They don’t understand a word I’m saying, of course, but that doesn’t matter in the least.  They respond simply to the love they feel in my touch and the tone of my voice.  They also respond to the peppermints they get as treats when they hold still while being groomed, but mostly to the love thing.  Really.  It’s the love.

Even the mounds of “horse apples” that dot the yard (and the driveway – and the patio – and on one unforgettable occasion one of the cats, but that’s another story) are somehow comforting. They remind me of where I came from and where I am now, of childhood dreams that have come true.  If I don’t watch where I step they’re also a fragrant, squishy reminder to fix that fence.

 

Horse

Hillbilly Zen – The Way Of The Turtle

There’s a small suncatcher hanging in my kitchen window that reads “You’ll Always Be My Friend – You Know TooTwin Turtles Much!”  It is a gift from Vicki, who has been one of the best friends I’ve had for over 25 years.  Although she would deny it, she’s one of the most resilient individuals in existence. She’s survived breast cancer twice, a brain tumor, and has dealt with a host of family issues that would make most of us curl up in a fetal position on the couch and stay there.

I love her like a sister.  She’s a kindred spirit who can grieve for what is lost, then show a sense of gallows humor that sends sorrow on down the road with her footprint on its hind end.  She’s one of a kind, a blessing in my life and the lives of everyone who knows her.  She’s our rock – that one friend that can be called on for any reason, any time, who will always be there for us.

We met on her wedding day, which happened to be the same day I rented the other side of the duplex she and her new husband owned.  The reception was being held in the backyard as I moved in, and was without a doubt the most fun I’ve ever had relocating.  The wedding guests, many of whom I’d never met, pitched in to help lug boxes and furniture, then we all pitched in to help empty a keg of beer.  After a few days of a tentative, landlord/tenant relationship something just clicked between us, and so began one of my most treasured friendships.  Since then she’s been one of the most loyal, trusted friends anyone could possibly hope to have.

Fargo, felons and felines

One of the first things we discovered about each other was a mutual love for critters.  Vicki’s dog Fargo was a massive Doberman, whose muscular frame and formidable, shark-like smile combined to create a completely intimidating first impression.  Once I got to know him, however, it was apparent that beneath all that fur and behind all those teeth was the gentle soul of a lamb and the timing of a comic genius.

Once of his favorite stunts was to drink from his water bowl in the kitchen, then saunter nonchalantly back into the living room.  There he would present his very best “I’m such a good boy, don’t you want to skritch me behind the ears?” demeanor to a seated guest.  When the unsuspecting visitor complied, Fargo would rest his huge head in seemingly blissful repose on their knee, then release the water he had stored in his mouth all over his victim’s lap.  Sitting back on his haunches, he would survey the ensuing reaction with the smug expression of a successful jester.  With very few exceptions, anyone allowed into Vicki’s home was an animal lover so Fargo’s prank usually resulted in laughter, especially from those of us who still had dry laps.

The years spent living next door to Vicki produced a wealth of cherished memories.  While relaxing in the back yard, she and I had ringside seats as a gun-toting felon fled from police through our backyard.  In our defense, we didn’t find out until later about the gun-toting or the felony thing, or we’d have hauled our butts out of those lawn chairs right quick.  We once found tiny kittens clinging to our front porch lights, one on each side of the duplex.  To this day we haven’t figured out how the little critters managed to climb up there.

Laughter through tears

One of our all-time favorite incidents is losing our breath and our dignity with our dear friend Eileen.  Having indulged in some…umm…herbal enhancement earlier in the day, the three of us piled into Eileen’s tiny car and headed to Parkette Drive-In for po’ boys.  Eileen’s a natural comedian, so when she spilled her Coke in her lap, her subsequent gymnastics and commentary sent us all over the edge. We were literally howling with laughter, tears streaming down our faces as we struggled to catch our breath.  This so amused the folks in a neighboring van that they brought us Kleenex and smiled knowingly, stating simply “Been there.”  Of course that set us off again.  If laughter truly is the best medicine, we released enough endorphins that day to ensure immortality.

The tears we wept were of an entirely different nature as we witnessed the birth of Vicki’s granddaughter, overwhelmed by the sheer miracle of new life and the incredible courage of her daughter.  There were tears shed for sorrowful reasons too, but somehow they seemed easier to bear when shared with Vicki.

Turtle Tracks

Some of the best times we’ve had have been on our road trips.  Several of them have been day trips and a few were overnight, but they have all, without exception, been adventures.  We refer to these expeditions as “going The Way of the Turtle” because invariably, at some point in the journey, there is a turtle involved.  Sometimes this entails risking life and limb to rescue a confused box turtle from the middle of the road, irritating other motorists and most likely confusing the poor turtle even further.  At other times the turtles just seem to find us somehow.  Impromptu excursions to obscure little festivals in tiny, out-of-the-way towns, taking off for a weekend to the lake, even mundane shopping trips are all likely to include the slow moving reptiles in one form or another.

So we’ve been through a lot together, Vicki and I.  There are a multitude of other memories I could share, but I’m not sure the statute of limitations has expired on some of them, and some are just too personal.  You get the idea, though.

We don’t get to see each other as much these days – she’s still in Lexington and I’m down here on my hill.  But even though we’re distanced geographically, our hearts still live right next door to each other and always will.  We are Lucy and Ethel, Mary and Rhoda, Thelma and Louise.  Okay, so we’re not likely to drive off a cliff, but don’t tailgate us – we are women who journey The Way of the Turtle and we will not hesitate to slam on the brakes if there’s a terrapin in jeopardy.

We are sisters, therapists, confidants and partners in crime.  We are friends who know too much.

Post Script

When Vicki read this, she reminded me of another bout of helpless laughter.  When we coined the phrase “The Way of the Turtle” we discussed getting matching tattoos.  Failing to find a design we liked, just getting the initials of the phrase was an option….until we realized it would read TWOTT.  Say it out loud, and you’re in on the joke, too 😉

Hillbilly Zen – Cold Comfort: The Solace of Solstice

solstice-sun-580x336The sun disappears much too early these days, as if chased over the horizon by the icy claws of winter.  The “bold, laughing light” (https://hillbillyzen.com/tao-happens/) that so entranced me in the summer is less boisterous, its warmth weak and fleeting, snatched away by frigid wind and carried to other environs.  There is a nameless dread that clutches me every evening as the daylight wanes, as chores are done earlier and more quickly to exploit the last bits of twilight.  Simply walking out the door is not an option, now there are strata of garb involved; long underwear, fleece, coveralls, a hat, a scarf, gloves.  Melancholy seems woven into the very fabric of each piece of clothing swaddled against my skin, binding body and soul.  With one final, despondent sigh, “Another winter” (followed by the quickly repressed “Another year older”) I step outside, head down, breaths shallow to avoid a lungful of frost.

And yet…

Today the sun will shine a bit longer.  Not much, just a few seconds, but longer, a promise made by the sunbeam that slants across the room this morning.  Sophie and Puh (dog and cat, respectively) jockey for position within the boundaries of its warmth, draped on the recliner in languorous appreciation.  I situate myself between them, ignoring the glare on the laptop screen (and the ones they give me for disturbing their nap) in order to share the balmy caress.  Outside, my mare Annie stretches out in the sunlight, extending arthritic old legs to soak up the radiant comfort.  To be sure, winter is far from over, in fact has barely begun.  There will be snow and ice and much more dismal donning of winter attire.  This day after solstice, however, I will nap in a sunbeam between a snoring dog and a purring cat.  I will bundle up without complaint and go outside to stroke the neck of a feisty old quarter horse, sharing her contentment as the sun warms our bones.  I will luxuriate in the primal knowledge that there is more sunlight yet to come, a little more each day.

Hillbilly Zen – Nipper Belly

Nip was a good dog, except when he wasn’t.  He was one of those critters that we humans feel blessed to have in our lives, even when they’re not being exactly obedient.  His face could convey his emotions better than some people I know, and I swear that dog could smile.  He used that smile to his advantage, whether it was when he wanted me to be goofy and playful with him or when he’d been bad and knew I couldn’t scold him because I was laughing.  His favorite ploy was to flop down right in front of me on his back, wriggle like an excited child and present his belly to be scratched.  It always worked – I was powerless to resist.  “Ooooh, gimme me some of that Nipper belly!” was always my response, accompanied by vigorous skritches and pats.

Certain other maneuvers were not nearly so entertaining for me.  Nip, his brother Tuck and sometimes Jack (my one-eyed, bobtailed bird dog), would blow through the fence and take off over the hill, usually after spotting deer or some other critter on the far side.  I always worried myself nearly sick when they’d do that, because there are some sadistic wingnuts down here who get some sort of twisted thrill from killing dogs.  But I digress.

When they finally returned home, the escapees were invariably muddy, hungry, covered in ticks, sometimes reeking of skunk and trying really, really hard to look contrite.  While they didn’t think twice about stampeding through the electric fence in hot pursuit, when they reappeared they’d sit outside the perimeter and whine for me to come let them back through it into the yard.  While I covered the distance from porch to gate, they all got an earful about the dangers of coyotes, cars and rednecks with weapons.  The culprits would slink apologetically through the gate with heads down and tails between their legs – well, except for Jack, who could somehow tuck in his entire rear end to compensate for his abbreviated tail.

Once safely in the yard, it was usually Nip who took it upon himself to get me back in a good mood.  All he had to do was give me that smile, accompanied by a nudge with a wet nose and a quick slurp on my hand as if to say “Aww, c’mon Mom, lighten up!”  My anger dissolved to relief that they were all back safely.  Reprimands trailed off, replaced by loving admonishments not to scare me like that again.  All was well, at least until the next time they made a break for it.

As you may have guessed, I’m one of “those” people who talk to and treat their critters as if they were human children.  Despite the eye rolls and derision from the woefully unenlightened, I am sublimely unrepentant for such behavior.  Those who treasure their pets as family members will understand, and those who don’t understand don’t know what they’re missing.  People exhibit both good and bad human nature, but I think it takes animals to teach us how to be a good-natured human.

Until the last couple of weeks of his life, Nip was one of God’s creatures who was just plain happy to be alive.  His exuberance lifted my sagging spirit more times than I can count.  I’d often look outside to see him flat on his back, legs akimbo, modesty gleefully abandoned simply because the breeze felt good on his body.  What a blessing it would be to take such effortless joy in scratching an itchy spot on your back against the warm grass, with complete and total disregard for the opinion of anyone who might be watching.  Whether motivated by sirens, coyotes yipping on a distant hill or just to hear their heads rattle, my dogs will sometimes burst into baying “song”.  What they lack in talent is more than compensated by their volume, and Nip put heart and soul into each and every chorus.

While I haven’t yet reached that state of careless bliss, I’m a little closer to it because of Nip.  He showed me the pleasure of simplicity, that it’s often the most uncomplicated acts that bring the purest form of happiness.

I don’t know exactly why Nip died.  He was a little under nine years old, still relatively young and healthy.  He got a bad ear infection but seemed to improve a little after a course of antibiotics and eardrops.  He really hated those eardrops but bore the twice-daily regimen without too much complaint.

Then, one sunny Friday afternoon I found him collapsed in the front yard, seizing and unable to rise.  There was nothing further that could be done except to make that final escape as comfortable as possible for him.  We spent those last hours together, lying on his favorite blanket in the sun-dappled shade of our back yard.  Some of the other animals (his “brothers and sisters”) seemed to know what was happening and would often join us, keeping vigil, saying goodbye.  Nip died in my arms early Saturday morning during those black, lonesome pre-dawn hours when time seems to stop and grief waits in the shadows.

There is a beautiful quote by Irving Townsend – “We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached.  Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way.  We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.”  So I don’t want to remember Nip’s death.  Instead I will try to remember the lessons he taught me about living, remember his part in my necessary plan.  My inner child and I will continue to believe that there is a Heaven for dogs where the kibble is made from prime rib, and the water is cool and sweet.  Belly rubs are plentiful and there are lots of hills to roam, free of danger and filled with exciting scents.  There are no fleas, ticks or scary bumblebees and the ravages of disease hold no sway.

If you are one of “those” people who believe that too, please put your arms around your critters and say a little prayer with them that my Nipper is there, among all the other beloved pets that have found their final home.  That he is waiting for me; liquid golden-brown eyes sparkling with mischief, tongue lolling, big old hound dog ears flapping gently in the breeze, smiling that smile I miss so very much.

Even after all these years, I still strain to hear his comic contralto when the dogs sing; still half expect, half hope to see him loping across the grass to greet me.  His grave is under a young maple tree at the edge of the yard, overlooking the hills that he loved to ramble.  It is the exact spot that he and his brothers would slip through the fence in their quests for adventure.  It is a fanciful notion, perhaps, born of a broken heart, but I buried him on the other side of that fence.  In life, such a mundane assembly of wood and nails and wire could not contain Nip, as he had proved so many times over the years.  Accordingly, it seemed only fitting and proper that his spirit be unimpeded as he began his final journey.

So if you happen to be in my neck of the woods and see a round, middle-aged woman flat on her back in the warm grass, singing loudly and off-key, don’t be alarmed.  It’s only me, practicing the lessons learned from an unforgettable friend.

Nip Shelton

8/99 – 4/08

Good dog.

Go home.

Contizental

500 words or less

the_tovarysh_connection

Gentle Reminders

On The Heath

where would-be writer works with words

Jnana's Red Barn

Come view the world from my loft

smilecalm

Life through mindful media

Just A Crazy Dreamer

Simply sharing my craziness & hoping its infectious enough to spread

All Romance Reads

Get Your Swoon On

Tipsy Lit

the publishing imprint of author ericka clay

Ginger's Grocery

Come on in and browse. The biscuits were made fresh this morning, the Slush Puppie machine was just refilled with a new bottle of red syrup, and we have the biggest selection of bait this close to town.

Waggin' The Tale

Love Stories About Dogs

The Good, Bad and Ludicrous

Examining the Ordinary and Extraordinary

THE COASTAL CRONE

Tales, Trails & Connections to Almost Anything

Zen Doe

down to earth spirituality, down to earth mediumship

Simple Pleasures

Visual Poetry, Photography and Quotes

Apple Pie and Napalm

music lover, truth teller, homey philosophy

jhubner73

Midwestern groaning since 2011

Me and the Boss 2013

Motivation and life......lived and loved one day at a time.

Sufey

Inhale Joy, Exhale Gratitude

Automattic

Making the web a better place

All These Horrors and more

NOTES ON A DISINTEGRATING WORLD

William Ricci

A Student of Nature & Zen

1pointperspective

NOT just another WordPress.com site

Geo Sans

“right answer, wrong question”

Shoeful of Drool

Adventures of Louie and his friends

Likeitiz

Do come and chat with me about life's twists and turns. We will laugh, cry, question, commiserate, disagree, but in the end, we will become friends.

seapunk2

MUSINGS & AMUSINGS

rachelmankowitz

The Cricket Pages

dlightblog

non potete fare affidamento sui vostri occhi se la vostra immaginazione è fuori fuoco (mark twain)

Radical Totality

an experimental creative laboratory by Mark Snyder

mlewisredford

almost indefatigable and quietly militant naïveté ...

Chris Martin Writes

Sowing seeds for the Kingdom

Humbled Pie

Southern Livin' and Travelin', mostly photographed with some Home Cookin' and only slightly embellished Storytellin'

Wandering through Time and Place

Exploring the world with Curtis and Peggy Mekemson

Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Masako and Spam Musubi

Short Stories about World War II. One war. Two Countries. One Family

Army Of Awesome People

Named by Google as one of the sites on the internet

The Real Janna Hill

Just living out loud and flinging cake against the wall...

Mythic Bios

Writing weird stories, strange articles, creative reviews, and learning along the way. Expect updates every Monday or Thursday.

lovinchelle

LIVING LIFE AND TAKING PICS ALONG THE WAY.

undeaddad

explorations of mindful fatherhood

%d bloggers like this: