Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dixie. Grrrrrrr

Dixie has the sweetest deep brown eyes and, when she frets, above them are a fold of red wrinkles that fall from her brow in stacks of perfect pancake shapes. Dixie is tall and lean, curious and excited. She is at oftentimes sweet, generous with kisses and an occasional gentle paw gesture.

Dixie is also aggressive and struggling to find her place in this household. Cheyenne has a scab on her ear and I have a bruise on my finger, both from an episode of Dixie exploding with anger because I dropped a green bean on the kitchen floor when I was heating leftovers on Sunday and both dogs naturally went for it.

It was not the first such event. The truth is that when she wants something that Cheyenne has or is moving towards, be it food, a stick or a toy, Dixie attacks and Dixie bites. She absolutely loses her mind and I have to use force to get her to stop, to calm her down.

The truth is that this behavior is severe and has had me struggling with what to do with Dixie.  I didn't choose her lightly and, although there are no vows between human and dog, when I got her my heart did promise to take care of her for all of her life.

Dixie is a happy dog but I'm not at all sure that she's living the best life she can. What I didn't consider is the absolute depth of struggle between elder dog and puppy, between Cheyenne's set patterns and our relationship and another living element thrown into the mix and what that life might need and deserve or how that life would struggle to find its place.  I thought it would be, if not easier, smoother.  

While the two dogs have interacted in wonderful play together at times, the past two weeks have been incredibly stressful for me and for Cheyenne, and Dixie too I suppose. If I could undo my decision to get Dixie, to drive past that moment, I honestly would do so.  But I did stop, I did choose Dixie and I will not unchoose her. I struggle because the responsibility is my own, not hers. She's young, just seven months, and it's clear to me that the aggression is a symptom of a larger struggle. What Dixie needs from me is love, understanding, patience. 

What she also needs is intensive training. While I've trained her on the leash and we've been working on the sit command, what she needs is beyond my ability.  Tomorrow morning, Dixie and I have a meeting at an organization that provides such training, over a two-week period while she's boarded at their location.  It's not an inexpensive exercise.  Over the phone, I was told that she has possession aggression.  Yeah, one could say that.  I was also told that my armchair diagnosis was likely correct, that's she's 1) young, 2) struggling to figure out her place in the order of things, and 3) in need of training beyond my ability. 

The goal is that once she receives that training, and I learn how to work with her on her lessons, that she will become a happier dog with her newfound understanding of the order in things. She deserves that happiness.  Wish us luck, won't you?


Saturday, November 26, 2011

The happy joy

My Thanksgiving day began quietly, just me and Cheyenne. Dixie too, but she was not participating in the quiet. The day's tradition changes a bit each year for me but a few things are constant:  a long walk in the morning, family, and friends who are family. 

This year, I had Thanksgiving lunch with my dear friend, Jessie. We feasted at a table she set for two, and then we watched some trashy television and laughed out loud at the silliness of some people when they're being serious. Jessie's laughter is music to my ears.

Then I went to my friends' house where I was given a leaf on which to write the things I am thankful for. What a great idea that was, to take the time to write that gratitude down and then hang it on a branch.

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My nephew and his girlfriend joined us and they brought their daughter, Faith, who will not sit still long enough for me to get a focused photo. But that's beside the point, isn't it?  Because we were all there, together, friends and family, and the day was one of love, smiles and appreciation.

Monday, November 21, 2011


These paws of Cheyenne's, I love them. They have carried her beside me down many roads and through many parks. As she has aged, the hair between her toes has grown longer and gray. It's very soft but she hates for me to touch her feet so, of course, I like to mess with that hair when she's not paying attention. It tickles her. Then she kicks me.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Chasing the blues away

This week has not been the best collection of days I've experienced in my life. Each morning, I've awoken with the same heavy heart that I carried into my sleep. Each day, I've not done much towards lifting my spirits. Instead, I wanted to allow myself to feel the grief and the sadness and, yes, some anger. I didn't want to drape any emotion over my shoulders that wasn't really there.

This morning though, I let the sunshine in. The morning was so blue sky, cool air crisp that it creeped into me and lifted my spirits. I decided to take my camera on my morning walk with the dogs, and see if I could spot some more things to help me feel better.

This burst of gold leaves was the first thing I spotted.


Then I noticed the pretty simplicity of this front porch.


Watching Cheyenne enjoy a good roll in the grass never fails to put a smile on my face.


Then I passed these two beauties and inhaled their sweet scent because that's what we're supposed to do, stop and smell the roses.

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My girl and her shadow.


My neighbor's landscaping along the fence. I love the glossy green leaves and the tall ornamental grass.


Rounding the corner back home, I noticed how tall and lovely this River Birch is in my front yard. I planted it late last year. Every time I notice its sturdy progress, I smile.


I'm glad I took my camera with me this mornig as holding it in my hand reminded me to seek out the little things that I enjoy, and to let them go to work on my healing heart.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I got the news today

This man, he of the wide grin and sparkling eyes, he's my uncle.  He is my mother's brother.  For me, to me, he was laughter and tickles, intelligence and a quick wit I tried to keep up with, and compassion.  He loved his sister, my mother, and he loved me as well.  I'm sure he loved my sister and brother as they too were his niece and nephew, but he was charmed by me and I held on to that, formed my own relationship with him. Our focus was always on us, our banter, our time. I can hear myself now, remembering him, giggling with the delight of a child.  So happy I was to see him, always. My Uncle Carl.

I am positive that my Uncle Carl made hard decisions in his life, struggled, cried, fought. He lived through the tragedy of losing the love of his life in a horrible accident, and several years later the good Lord blessed him with another woman with whom he could share his life and heart.  He raised three sons who my mother whole-heartedly adored.  But I didn't see or really know that part of his life, save for a few foggy family trips. He and I, we started talking, really talking, about 20 years ago. He egged me on for years, to be an adult, to be honest, stand up for myself, laugh at myself.  This life, not as serious as I was making it. When I finally was able to laugh, he loved it.

When mother began to unravel, I called him. My father called him. He came here. Of course he came here, she was his sister.  He was shocked, sad. He was also direct and firm with her. To no avail. The last time I saw him, his heart was sad. My heart was sad. too. He knew he wouldn't see his sister again and I held on tight to our goodbye because I wondered if I would see him again.

It's okay, kiddo, you're doing a good job. Just keep loving her, that's all you can do. Be strong.

I called him when she passed. I think we cried together over the phone but he was trying to be strong.  He couldn't make it here for her service, his legs and hips would not allow the travel.  Months later when I went to New York City to scatter her ashes, and told him that I was doing so, he excitedly shared stories from their childhood. Central Park, their skating, the museums, the security guards, and the out-witting. I learned that those two were quite a mischievous team.

He said to me, you're a good kid, Alison, a good kid. She'd like what you're doing.

I called him from Central Park that day and he let me cry over the phone, he shouldered my tears, understood them.  He encouraged my journey. 

My Uncle left this life in March of this year. Seven months ago. I found out today.  It's a cruel way, how I found out, a cruel and unnecessary way. 
Carl Oxholm, Jr., age 87, died on March 8, 2011, at his home in Dunwoody Village in Newtown Square, Pa. He was born March 21, 1923, in New York City to the late Carl and Dorothy Oxholm. He lived in Staten Island, N.Y., until enlisting in the Army in 1942. He returned to the New York City area upon his honorable discharge in 1946 and graduated from Brown University in 1949. After several years in retail he joined the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company of Philadelphia in 1952. He married Eleanor (Ellie) Councilman of New York City in 1952, and moved to the Philadelphia area where he has lived ever since. He enjoyed a 24-year career with Penn Mutual as a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and long-time General Agent, eventually retiring from the position of Vice President of Marketing. During his career he made hundreds of friends in the life insurance business and served as President of the General Agents and Managers Conference in 1968. After retirement he enjoyed his main passion, golf, primarily at St. Davids Golf Club in Wayne, Pa., and The Meadows Country Club in Sarasota, Fla., including scoring four holes-in-one. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Elizabeth Groth, and his first wife Ellie who died tragically in an auto accident in 1982. He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Frances (nee Hopkins). In addition, he is survived by his three sons; Carl (Tobey) and his wife Kim, of Sacramento, Calif.; Tom and his wife Becky, of Raleigh, N.C.; and Paul and his wife Karen, of Wyomissing, Pa.; and eight grandchildren. He will be interred in Quogue, N.Y. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to the J. Wood Platt Caddie Scholarship Program, Golf Association of Philadelphia, P.O. Box 808, Southeastern, Pa. 19399. Stuard F.H., Ardmore, Family owned since 1822.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I never met Carmon, never had opportunity to hear her laughter. We never said, bless you, to each other's sneezes or clinked our glasses in toast to our successes.  She was, however, my friend for several years.

We met through each other's websites. She was a tremendous support during the time I was caring for my mother, and when Mom passed away.  I will always remember and appreciate Carmon's words and her kindness during that time. We further connected through horses and compassion. The above photo is of her magnificient dabbled grey horse, Griton, one of many BLM Mustangs that she and her husband, Mike, saved. 

Carmon's compassion was enormous and she put so much energy into following through on her beliefs. I enjoyed reading about the work she did towards adopting and acclimating rescue horses into her care, or finding the right home for those she was unable to take in. She adopted rescue Greyhounds as well.  Carmon's heart was a big one, her respect for and knowledge of animals tremendous. She was incredibly kind and patient with the animals in her life, and so skilled at helping abused animals trust humans again. For years I enjoyed reading about her process and progress with her animals.

We had hoped to meet, but on two occasions the snow and ice kept us from doing so. Next time, we saidThere won't be a next time. Carmon passed away on Friday. Melonoma stole her from this life. The last time she posted on her website, Life at Star's Rest, she did so under the heading, I'm doing alright!  She closed that post with these words just after Mike left the hospital to care for the horses and dogs:  I still smell of woodsmoke from where he hugged me and I'll wrap the scent warm and close around me through the night.

Today, I find tremendous comfort in her words as I know the scent of loved ones is a powerfully comforting blanket and I'm glad my friend had that.

There is so much more that I can write, that I can share with you about Carmon, but I find that I'm at a loss for words as I absorb the news of Carmon's death. Sometimes, silence is what is the most soothing.

On the sidebar of Carmon's website, are these words by Stanley Harrison:

Somewhere in time's own space,
there must be some sweet pastured place.
Where creeks sing on and tall trees grow,
some paradise where the horses go;
for by the love that guides my pen,
I know great horses live again.

I believe that somewhere in time's own space in a sweet pastured place, Carmon is with the great horses who live again, with her beloved Star again.

Neither of the photos in this post are my own, I think obviously. Still, I want to say that because copyrights were important to Carmon. The first photo is one she took; the second one is credited to her husband, Mike. I copied these from her website without permission but I do give full credit. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sole dreams

I think I've been up front on this little site about my love of shoes. I think I even mentioned that when I once referred to myself as a shoe whore, my friend told me that she preferred I say shoe enthusiast. She had a point. Back in the old days -- which are only referred to as the old days because I went and broke my ankle in 2010 and had to have surgery which resulted in my no longer being able to wear my favorite platform or wedge heel shoes -- I would eagerly look forward to changing out my shoes for the change in season, assessing what new shoes would be needed and heading out to shop. Yeah, that activity came to a halt last year.  Still, I do enjoy window shopping.  These shoes are some that would be in my closet this Fall.  You know, if only.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


On the first day of November, I'm going to write about the last day of October.  Halloween! Once I grew out of trick-or-treating as a child, the night has never held much interest to me. I don't like dressing up in costumes and don't particularly enjoy costume parties. I'm just not one of the many, many adults who have embraced the date as opportunity for cosumed revelry.

I do enjoy giving out candy to trick-or-treaters though. When I lived with my parents, I used to thrill at being the one to answer the door and give out the candy. When I moved out and lived on my own, I still thrilled in spending the evening with them.  When I moved back in with them to raise my niece and nephew, I was the one who had the energy to take them to the streets in pursuit of treats.  My parents would stay behind and dole out candy to their visitors.  Always when the kids and I returned, we would ring the doorbell and my parents would go over the top pretending that they could not figure out who it was in those costumes.

Halloween was wholesome in my memories. When I wore costumes, I was Casper or a princess or Snow White. It was family and children and neighbors.  Then at some point, it became dangerous for children and when that happened, adults embraced it and it became sleezy. Costumes reeked of sex or were highly inappropriate either through the news or dressing as an another ethnicity.  Not many children were out trick-or-treating.  It seemed that the holiday was taken over by adults.  I wondered if it would ever return.

Last night it returned.  Last night I spent the evening at my friends' house.  They decorated their porch with lit pumpkins and witches hats and a big owl.  They did not give out candy but instead tiny Play-Dohs in a variety of colors. There we so many children that walked up that sidewalk last night!  And the costumes?  Back to the old days of wholesome. There were princesses, a Snow White, a Raggedy Ann, a Whoopie Cushion, lots of cartoon characters, a builder, a Houston Oilers football player, twin wearwolves and some ghosts.  Without fail, there were Thank yous and even one, I love you from a young boy who apparently loves Play-Doh. There were neighbors introducing themselves and parents waiting by the street asking, Did you say thank you? And we would holler, yes they did! 

Last night, Halloween was fun again.  It was for children again.  And it brought out that childish delight in each of us as we oohed and aahed over the costumes and the cuteness. Definitely, the night was a treat.