Occupy Doghouse

Occupy Doghouse

One morning Cletus was missing, so my rooster waited and watched from a sunny spot normally shared with her, his pal and protector. Cletus was a mostly blind and somewhat deaf 13 year-old redbone hound mix. She had the rooster convinced he was safe relaxing anywhere she was close.

The second and third mornings, after signaling the days arrival from his perch in a nearby cedar, he set up post in her doghouse. He came out briefly to eat his portion of her food and drink a bit from her waterbucket. Then he marched right back to the doghouse, sitting in the doorway watching and waiting.

Later in the week when I called for Cletus, knowing that was silly since she couldn’t hear my yells, the rooster circled me in expectation, anticipating the hound’s appearance from the brush she seldom ventured into anymore. But I did venture into the thick woods searching for our beloved hound.

The rooster waited for me, turning his back the moment I appeared without Cletus at my heels. That last week or two, she had strolled at my heels often, nudging my hand to get me to rub her ears or pat her belly if she dropped and rolled over playfully.

The night before she vanished, the rooster and I both visited Cletus a bit longer than usual. She was stretched out on a bed of straw, a comfortable option if she didn’t feel like using the doghouse. As I rubbed the tops of her ears and the soothing spot under her chin, she wagged her tail lazily to let me know she was enjoying the extra attention. The rooster hung around as though he wanted his ears rubbed, too.(I guess roosters have ears, somewhere).

I heard her that night, barking at the edge of the woods as she did sometimes if she caught the scent of a deer. Later, I remembered thinking her barking sounded far away.
She didn’t return. I gave the rooster her name.

Seemed fitting.

This appeared in the Prospect-News, my hometown weekly, on July 15, 2015.

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July Freeze

July Freeze

Mid-summer sun and heat and fun
Have folks smiling and on the run,
Wearing shorts and flip flops and genuine smiles,
Enjoying the Ozarks in a variety of styles.

Current River may be calling your name,
Or you may watch the Cards in their baseball game,
Maybe you’re mowing as you hear the grass growing,
But one thing for sure, it isn’t snowing.

You’re not thinking of holly and stockings,
To Christmas sales you are NOT flocking!
You float and boat and barbecue,
No boots and mittens and snow cream for you.

Did Walmart and Amazon miss the memo
That season is summer, there is no snow?
Their plans for sales tagged Christmas in July
Leave you soothing your sunburn and wondering why.

You’ve caught on to their sneaky tricks
So you’re not making early gift picks.
Till Christmas the days number 153,
There’s plenty of time for a shopping spree.

Holiday sales already crowd Halloween,
Blacks and oranges mix with reds and greens,
Thinking of the cold now is really a bummer.
Let’s not hurry the end of summer.

This first appeared in my hometown weekly, the Prospect-News, in July, 2015.

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Frankologies on $$$

A friend’s philosophy on making money, gleaned from car conversations over 300,000+ miles. Not sure if a financial planner would agree, but works for him.

1.Gotta want it…eat, sleep, breathe, love making money. It has to become your focus. Trick is to balance that so you still have a bit of a life cause it is those you meet in life that provide sources of more money.
2.Carry money in your wallet, not necessarily to spend. Having money draws money.
3.Don’t go into business with anyone you don’t trust with your money. If you trust them with your money then you can trust them with your life.
4.Live within your means.
5.If you can’t pay cash for it, make do until you can.
6.Know what you’re looking for. Wait till you find it. Don’t settle unless it can be turned into a money-maker when the right item comes along.
7.Save a portion of every amount you earn. That way when an opportunity comes along, you are ready. Money is not a means to an end. It is a means to a beginning when opportunity knocks.
8.Credit/debit cards are too easy to abuse. Have ONE that can be used for have-to online orders or when making travel reservations.
9.Don’t carry a balance on that one card.
10.It’s okay to buy 90 days same as cash if you have the cash at moment of purchase. Good way to build credit.
11.Giving someone a good deal helps two make/save money which helps keep it flowing.
12.To protect your identity and privacy, be mindful of paper trails. Limit them as much as possible.
13.Eating meals prepared at home is cheaper than eating fast food all the time.
14.Crockpot meals are healthy and cheap.
15.Don’t get attached to possessions. There is always a market for what you have if you search in the right places.
16.When you have it, don’t flaunt it. What you have is no one’s business.
17.Don’t share all your sources. If you do, there goes your market as well.
18.Don’t keep all your money in the bank. Some deals don’t happen during banking hours.
19.Trade services. That keeps goodwill alive and money in both pockets.
20.Maintaining is cheaper than repairing.
21.New is not always better.
22.Listen and learn when out and about where people are milling and chatting.
23.Be willing to do a few small chores for nothing to be in the running for deals when they arise.
24.Don’t buy on impulse. Study and research prices and workmanship.
25.Providing rental services is a great way to make money.
26.Selling for price you paid beats taking a loss.
27.Don’t be stingy with knowledge. Sharing know-how is a generous gesture.
28.But, that is not the same as telling everything you know. Don’t talk too much.
29.Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
30.Help connect other buyers and sellers. They will both keep you in mind when they see a deal you would like.

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Fruit Loops and Birthdays

A simple task – hanging a jacket by that little loop on the inside of the collar – sent my mind down memory lane to a red corduroy loop I once had in a scrapbook. It had special significance in the eighth grade if a girl had one from the back of a shirt of a favored fella. We called them fruit loops.

The Urban Dictionary describes the fruit loop perfectly then adds that the purpose of the loop had never been determined. That meant continued searching. The Original GarnetGlitter, apparently a go-to gal affiliated with Yahoo, affirmed its significance to kids in the 50’s and 60’s and offered several options about its purpose. Most sensible to me was that a guy could hang the tie he wore with that shirt through the loop when he put the shirt on a hanger, thereby resting assured he would have it pronto the next time he wore it. That was back in the day when boys wore ties regularly, and everything ‘matched’ perfectly: headbands matched the color of an outfit; shoes matched belts and/or purses; hats matched coats and ties matched shirts.

Am I ever dating myself here! Then I had an A-HA moment. I read recently that if a female wants to dress to reflect a youthful spirit, she shouldn’t worry so much about the matchy-matchy aspect. That is a dead give-away to the era of one’s raising, I guess. Earrings and necklaces don’t have to come from the same set. Mixing clothing patterns in the same outfit can be okay sometimes, too.(GASP) .

Purses must not have to match with anything, either, based on trends in handbags. What would one wear to complement correctly those original creations of color, design and bling?
That is why my one trendy bag adds color, design and bling to my bedroom decor as it hangs from the reading chair.. Not sure I want to go out in public in an outfit that would ‘go’ with it, even if it isn’t matchy-matchy. Anyway, carrying it wouldn’t camouflage the fact that I am an ABB – that’s my term for ‘aging baby boomer‘ that I so cringe at hearing. I can’t yet mix patterns on purpose and leave the house, either.

Not sure that wearing earrings and necklaces from different sets is the reason for the spring in my step, but it’s a safe rebellion from my early years of conformity to the few fashion facts I knew.
Anyway, a bounce in my step and a smile are all I really need to reflect my gratitude for being an ABB for one more glorious year, and change that to Amazing Baby Boomers!

PS. The favored fella who wore that red corduroy shirt my fruit loop came from? His name was Dan.

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“The only constant is change,” said Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who lived in Turkey about 500 BC. One wonders how he could come to such a revelation in that era. Were we to stroll with him through his existence for a day, we would no doubt think time stood still when measured against our super-sonic pace in this 21st century.

Change is definitely a sure thing in our lives. Need proof? Buy a cell phone. Before one discovers all its features, it is obsolete. Or, teach in a public school. As soon as a curriculum/testing regimen is established, it is whisked away and another is demanded.

Change purely for the sake of change will rev up our engines. Ever move furniture around? Then you know what I mean. Ever shop at Walmart? Supposedly there is research to support the constant rearranging. It’s exhausting searching through the shifting aisles..

“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” (Ellen Glasgow) In matters of the brain, though, maybe change for the sake of change is a good thing, perhaps contributing to growth in the gray matter by creating new connections.. Don’t believe you are stuck in a rut? Next time you reach for your jeans, stick the other leg in first. Bet you will have to sit down, or lean against the wall, or start over. Getting dressed never was so comical. Or brush your teeth with the other hand. How hard can that be? Or site in a different pew in church.

That will stump your usual neighbors for sure. Little will they know you are giving them a push toward brain health, because challenging our minds has short term and long term benefits.

Staying busy with a group of friends or a special pal is a great way to keep those brain cells stirring. Active minds and active bodies seem to help each other out.

That keeps a check on our mental health. Learning to deal with anxiety, and to manage stress in a positive way may not only contribute to the quality of our lives but add to the number of years we live as well.

Sophia Loren said this..“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” Have you seen a recent photo of Sophia? She is 80. I will consider any tips she wants to offer on staying young.

Now you have 3 more suggestions from the Alzheimer’s Association on maintaining brain health.
Stump yourself. Buddy up. Take care of mental health. The other 7 – break a sweat – exercise; butt out – quit smoking; heads up– use helmets/seat beltss; hit the books – keep learning; follow your heart – cardio health; fuel up – eat healthy foods; zzz’s – get enough sleep – complete their focus of brain awareness in the month of June. Don’t let your fun stop with the end of the month. “Shake it up” from here on out to keep that brain changing and growing for the better.

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Life’s Garden

For optimal mental and physical health we are encouraged to practice mindfulness – that state of being in the moment, focused, not letting the mind wander through the what-if’s and if-only’s of life. Tending flowers makes it easier for me to practice this challenging task in a chaotic world.

Recently, sitting on a porch step comically musing how a grownup could get so muddy, I was struck by the parallels between flowers and friendships. (My mind was wandering a bit at that point).

F – Friends and flowers offer anticipated companionship, sharing fun and surprises, comfort
and encouragement, all wrapped up in a variety of colorful packages, no bows necessary.

L – Love is evident and enduring in both. Their presence alone is proof, no words needed.

O – Obstacles abound to destroy both. Too much time between tendings can take a toll but
can’t eliminate the desire to survive.

W – Wildflowers and weeds abound. It is not always a bad thing to be wild and difficult to
tame. spontaneity is exciting. Some weeds can be a negative influence, toxic to growth
and beauty. It takes a keen eye to tell the difference between flowers and weeds in
some cases.

E – Embracing the moment is encouraging, taking full advantage of the sun and rain as it comes, enjoying the ephemeral parade of friends and flowers through the seasons of life

R – Roots run deep, feeding the ties that bind.

S – Springtime offers hope that cold, dreary times are fleeting, celebrating tranquil joy in the cycles of life.

May the gardens of your life be full of both flowers and friendships.

This was written for a May issue of the Prospect-News, the weekly paper in Doniphan, MO.

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In the Eye of the Beholder

Fun is defined as a playful, amusing activity. What do you consider fun? There is an endless checklist of variables. What you call fun might be a source of frustration or boredom or fear for me, like golf or sudoku, hunting for snakes or gigging. What I call fun might not be fun all the time, or with some people, or when I am losing.

Once I tried golf. If I am going to walk all day and pick up stray balls, I might as well walk the track. So far I have yet to complete a sudoku puzzle. Do I care? Nope. It involves numbers. Words are my game. We have some locals who seek out slithering serpents. Makes me cringe just thinking of the latest photo of a snake circulating on facebook. Gigging is still an unknown. Maybe it’s fun to trust a companion to guide a boat on Current River when it’s dark, and cold, enveloped by sounds from unseen beasts. It’s on my bucket list to judge the fun factor afterward.

I said all that to introduce you to some poetry. It is a parallel poem, which means the poet composes it to be be read in three different ways that all make some sense.This wouldn’t be fun for me today, but it was on the rainy spring morning I was sitting on the porch marveling at the fluorescent colors in my yard.

First read down the left-hand column, then read down the right. For the second reading, read the right-hand column first, then the left. For the third reading, read each line all the way across as you read down. Yeah, this can be fun, sometimes, for some of us.

On this blog site, I have not been able to get the stanzas to post side by side, so to get the effect of the parallel poem, you will need to read the first, then the second. For the second reading, read the second one, then the first. For the third reading, I have just typed it again, meshing the lines together so you don’t have to hop back and forth.

Mother Nature is getting dressed
We are the ones who are blessed
Tired of the shades of gray
She’s chasing the blues away
Tired of winter’s buff,
She’s really struttin’ her stuff.

With varied colors and hues
In Missouri, a site to view.
Make time to go see
The Ozarks in spring glory
Now puittin’ on a show
These foothills are all aglow.

Now here it is the third way it can be read, the first line of the first stanza, followed by the first line of the second stanza, etc.

Mother Nature is getting dressed,
With varied colors and hues,
We are the ones who are blessed
In Missouri, a site to view,
Tired of the shades of gray?
Make time to go see
She’s chasing the blues away,
The Ozarks in spring glory
Tired of winter’s buff,
Now puttin’ on a show,
She’s really struttin’ her stuff,
These foothills are all aglow.

There are issues, but revision is part of the fun for me. Maybe I will pull out that sudoku book again.

This was written for my Close to Home column in a May issue of our local weekly, The Prospect-News.

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