Words to Live By (Part 4)

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”― Josh Billings

Dogs make things better, as do cats I suppose, if I had a cat in my life I’m sure I would think so.  I don’t.  I have dogs.  There’s so much joy there, in their eyes and the wag of their tails.  In the leaping and barking when they stand on the greeting couch after we’ve been gone for a minute or 10 hours.  In their constant need for us, to be near us.  I love them so, and that love is pure, like their love for us is pure.  Having them is a responsibility, and a pain in the ass sometimes if I must admit, but mostly it is beautiful and their eyes speak only love.  They are pure, and remind me every day about innocence and beauty and love for loves sake.

“Sometimes life is very mean: a person can spend days, weeks, months and years without feeling new. Then, when a door opens – a positive avalanche pours in. One moment, you have nothing, the next, you have more than you can cope with.” ― Paulo CoelhoEleven Minutes

Positivity leads to more positivity.  It also leads to hope and inspiration and joy.  It’s an old saying, think positively, but it does work.  That’s why it’s an old saying and why it’s stuck around so long.  Looking to the bright side, the up side, looking with hope, lightens your soul, your mood, your day.  Thinking that all good things are possible, and the next thing that’s going to happen can be better than the last thing, lifts spirits and hearts.  Being positive, trying to keep it positive, holds us up, negativity drags us down.  It’s as simple as that.

“Is it possible, in the final analysis, for one human being to achieve perfect understanding of another?We can invest enormous time and energy in serious efforts to know another person, but in the end, how close can we come to that person’s essence? We convince ourselves that we know the other person well, but do we really know anything important about anyone?”

Knowing someone takes time, and effort.  It’s worth it, totally, for good or bad, and it never happens overnight.  Initially we put on faces for people, faces of the person we want them to know, the person we want them to believe we are, faces of the person we wish we were.  Those are good faces, but false ones.  To know someone we have to spend time.  We have to see each other with our faults on display, or mistakes out in the open.  We have to put in the time.  If we do, it can be a transcendent thing.  It can bring two souls close together.  To know and be known for who we are, there’s nothing more valuable.

“But luxury has never appealed to me, I like simple things, books, being alone, or with somebody who understands.” ― Daphne du Maurier
Alone time, enjoying your own company, isn’t loneliness.  Far from it.  Being able to spend time with yourself, and enjoy it, is vital to knowing yourself, your limits, your heart.  It’s in those times when we’re alone that we find out who we really are.  How do we spend our time, what do we think of, do we enjoy our own company.  Liking yourself is key.  Being able to be alone without much discomfort says you like spending time with you.  If you enjoy spending time with you, others will as well.  It’s as simple as that.
“To hold our tongues when everyone is gossiping, to smile without hostility at people and institutions, to compensate for the shortage of love in the world with more love in small, private matters; to be more faithful in our work, to show greater patience, to forgo the cheap revenge obtainable from mockery and criticism: all these are things we can do. ” ― Hermann Hesse

Patience is a virtue.  Yes, another Mom saying.  You get older, you realize those things your parents told you, those fundamental things, are true.  Patience with our family with our friends and with ourselves leads to less discord, a higher acceptance, better listening, deeper love.  We are not perfect, no one is.  People make mistakes, misspeak,  get into moods.  Life happens.  It’s sometimes messy and fast and crazy.  Patience helps us to slow all of it down, to take a breath, to get a moment to look more deeply into things.  Having it reminds us the little things don’t matter as much, patience helps us to narrow our focus to what does matter.  It’s the breath of life.

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ” 

― Maya Angelou

Music articulates life in a way nothing else can.  Emotion, feeling, grace, anger, desperation, agreement, honesty, truth, beauty, joy, hope, distress, and on and on and on.  Feelings too numerous to list.  There is music everywhere, a rhythm to the world, underneath the noise of everyday life.  There’s even music in that noise, if you quiet your heart enough to hear it.  We are a part of it, our souls singing their own songs.  Artists articulate it for us, but we have our own as well.  I can feel the essence of things in a beat or a phrase of music.  Our hearts beat, our heads sometimes pound, our feet tap to the sounds of windshield wipers.  Hearing that ever-present music connects us.  Music lets us know we aren’t alone.  It helps us to know we are connected to the whole of the world.

“Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering – because you can’t take it in all at once.” ― Audrey Hepburn

Soaking up moments, trying to absorb details as they happen, connects us with what’s happening now.  Not just seeing, but feeling what’s going on right where we are, deepens our connection to the moments we have, and helps us to have a greater experience.  Skimming over the details, failing to absorb what’s going on right where we are, lessens our connection, distances us from the moment.

“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” 
― Bruce Lee

simple life, living with less, craving less, adds so much richness to our lives.  Not being concerned with having stuff, things, collecting, lessens the burdens of life and frees us up to concentrate on the things that really matter… family, friends, being right where we are.  Things weigh us down, more than we think they do.  When we begin to let some of those things go, we feel lighter, unchained somehow.  It opens space in our lives.

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” ― Virginia WoolfThe Waves

Coffee is essential to good living.  For me anyway.  I think everyone has that thing, small, but decadent.  Mine is coffee.  I look forward to it in the morning.  I’ve spent many an hour over a cup of coffee hashing out the ups and downs of life.  The smell of it brewing, the taste of a good cup.  Nectar of the gods for me.  We should all find simple pleasure is simple things.  One of those things for me is enjoying a great cup of coffee.

“It’s so large”
“It’s the world dear, did you think it’d be small?”

― C.S. LewisThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

We are small in a larger world.  It helps to remember this when our problems seem insurmountable, our sadness overwhelming.  Going out in nature, climbing up a hill and looking out over an endless vista, putting your feet in the sand and watching the crashing of wave after wave, gazing up to the clouds to see them moving.  These things remind us how small we are.  Even sitting in a traffic jam and noticing all the other people also sitting there, wondering where they’re going, what their day is like, where they all might be trying to get to.  We are so many times overburdened by our own thoughts, our own perspective, our own small lives.  The world is a vast place, enormous, and if we can keep some thought of that in mind, we can see how whatever is plaguing us at the moment is pliable, changeable, and in the grander scheme, small.


Today is our little mister’s 8th birthday.  Currently he’s curled up in the chair in the corner of our living room sleeping.  He’s as cute as he’s ever been.  I love him so.

Our boy has brought so much joy, love, happiness, and adventure into our lives.  He is very affectionate, mischievous, hellaciously smart, loving, loyal, protective, playful, and insistent.  I say insistent because he pretty much demands attention when he wants it.  Pet me, play with me, feed me, pet me, give me love, I love you, I love you, I love you, love me, pet me now.  He has his annoying habits, of course, like stealing things.  We have to be pretty vigilant about kleenex and food and items on our metro shelf he thinks he might want to eat.  He steals from the shred bin in K’s office, off of tables, from inside backpacks he’s managed to unzip (an incident that led to a call to doggie poison control and a force feeding of hydrogen peroxide, which worked by the way).  He’s ingenious, and that ingenuity can be frustrating, but it’s also admirable.  He doesn’t give up.  I think he does it sometimes just to see if he can.  He’s tenacious.

Our little man can also be testy and nippy and down right semi-ferocious if the right opportunity presents itself.  Like when he steals something really good then hunkers down, dens, to protect it.  It’s not a time to reach in and try to get whatever it is from him.  We’ve all been gnashed at and nipped, we’ve all been trained to know he means business.  He can’t help it, he’s been this way since we brought him home all those years ago.  We think it’s because we got him so young, and that he didn’t have as much training from his mama as he should have, which may or may not be the reason.  It doesn’t really matter, it’s his way, his personality, and we know it.  We’ve always said he’s Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.  Most of the time he’s the most loving, affectionate, cuddly dog you’ve ever met.  He’s happiest getting pets and giving kisses.  He wants to be touched all the time.  This can also be annoying, but how can you resist that face?  We can’t.  We love him.  And I love that about him.  When Mr. Hyde comes out, well… we know that guy too.  The one you don’t want to challenge.  When he has something he’s protecting, or he doesn’t want to be picked up in a certain way, it’s best to leave him be.  He lets you know that.  You always know where you stand with him, and what he wants.  He’s a passionate guy.

He’s been with us all but the first six weeks of his eight years.  During that time he’s traveled with us on many of our adventures: enjoying romps in the sand and sun; games of fetch in creeks and streams; walks in so many different places on so many different paths; travels in the car; sleeps in tents and trailers and hotel rooms; playing chuck-it in fields and parks; and playing ball inside of hotel rooms and the houses of family and friends.  He’s an excellent travel companion, a great little traveler.  We say this about he and Riley every time we hit the road.

What can I say, we love him.  I love him.  I can’t believe, and I say this all the time about him, about both of our pups actually, how much I do love him.  Life is so much richer with him in our lives.  So much more joyous.  There’s so much more laughter, love, fun, and cuddling because of him.  I am constantly amazed by how much I do love him.  What’s great is that he loves me, he loves us, right back.

Happy birthday to our beautiful, wonderful, fascinating, little mister.  Life with him is truly sweet.

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Weston And Hedgie

Weston And Hedgie (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Our boy turns seven today.  Seven years of love and snuggles and play and joy and laughter and smiles and exasperation and sweetness and tail wagging and pawing and cuddle-time and barks and bullies and deep soulful looks.  Happy birthday little man, we love you so.

Weston at Saturday Market

Weston and Hedgehog

Weston and Hedgehog (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Sir Weston

Sir Weston (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)


Weston (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

Weston in the creeper

Weston in the creeper (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)


Weston (Photo credit: Tj Parker Photography)

24796_404765740801_7018631_n 1174170454_4840230606_o 20111208-150746.jpg Standing on the Desk



Sleeping Boy Riding IMG_2096 IMG_0259 p_2048_1536_77867677-DF06-4E2F-80E3-842E3B7CF562.jpeg

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7:24 AM

7:24 AM

I wake up, suddenly.  I feel like someone is staring at me.  I turn over slowly and there he is, a small furry little fella with big brown eyes sitting over me looking down.  His eyes say everything he can’t speak.  I’m half awake and tell him no.  Gently at first… no buddy, lay down, lay down now.  He doesn’t take no for an answer and leans down and gives me a kiss on the cheek.  Again I say, no buddy, lay down.  He’s relentless.  I try to go a bit more firm with him, NO, Weston, lay down.  He ignores me.  We’re having a battle of wills.

I tell him I didn’t get to sleep until really late last night and in fact have only slept for about four or five hours.  He doesn’t seem to care.  I change tactics.  I ask if he needs to go outside.  Maybe that’s it.  I get up, he follows, and I think, OK, this is it.  I open the doggie door and he sticks his head out, then pulls it back in.  He sticks it out one more time, looks around, and again pulls it back in.  I don’t have time for these shenanigans.  I open the door, telling him it’s OK and that a little rain/freezing rain won’t hurt him and that I’ll stand right there in the door, in t-shirt and shorts, waiting for him.  It’s freezing cold outside and I’m cold waiting in the doorway.  He ventures out tentatively, makes it to the bottom of the steps, and immediately turns around and comes back in.  I shake my head and pad back toward the bedroom.  I need more sleep.

Of course, he follows me.  I get back in bed and look down.  He’s sitting on the floor next to the bed looking up at me, those big eyes doing their magic trick on me again.  Practically programmed I scoot back, making room for him.  I open up the covers and he jumps up effortlessly, laying down up against me with his head on my arm.  He demands to be petted for a while, continually nudging me with his nose until I get just the right spot on his tummy.  It’s nearly 8:00 AM now.  I still want to go back to sleep.

We stay in that place for what seems like a long while, me petting his tummy, him enjoying what we have come to call his morning cuddle time.  This is not the first time this scenario has happened.  He’s trained me well.

Finally, finally, I hear him snore.  This little sign tells me I can stop petting him and try to go to sleep.  I do.

9:15 AM

We both wake up.  Him still up against me, head on my arm.  I just spent over an hour spooning our boy.  I vow, as I get up, and he gets up reluctantly, that this won’t happen again.  It’s a vow I’ve made many times.  His soul filled eyes melt my heart, even when I’m irritated by him.  I remind myself he’s just a dog, but I love him so.

4:50 PM

He jumps up on the sofa next to me, stares at me with those eyes, and paws my hand.


Oregon Odyssey – Day Two

Today was a long day on the road.  By choice we went an extra bit today so we could have a short day tomorrow.  More time in Santa Fe when we get there.  Because today was so long we didn’t do much stopping.  Gas, food, rest stops, and just two extra little stops.  One at the World’s Largest Fork in Springfield, MO and the other to photograph the Coleman Theater in Miami, OK where Don Hale used to go as a young gent.



Impressions from the day:

Great coffee this morning from Mudhouse Coffee in Springfield, MO.  I regret not buying a t-shirt.  There was great art on the walls… many black and white photographs of people in white who had mud on them.  Loved it.  Also a great dinner tonight from Tyler’s Barbeque in Amarillo, TX.  The barbecue was Texas sized.  Sadly I think we threw away nearly as much as we ate.  Our room still smells of barbecue.  I think it was the best barbecue I’ve ever had.  All in all a very successful food and beverage day.

Image 1

Today was a scorcher … the thermostat in the rig topped out at 106.  It was so hot that when we stopped for our second cup of coffee in Oklahoma City the little girlie started hyperventilating and had to be carried back to the car.  She is a tad bit of a drama queen, but it was also hot hot hot.  A dry heat.

We are now fugitives in Oklahoma.  A tip for anyone driving on the Oklahoma Turnpike… there are not always attendants at the toll plazas meaning you have to have exact change.  We made it all the way to our last booth and then only had a $20.  There was a change machine, but it only took $1 and $5.  We looked at each other, saw the cars behind us lining up, looked at the red light which told us we couldn’t go unless we threw in the change we didn’t have, and we went on through anyway.  As we did the alarms went off at the booth.  I’m sure, if they took our photo as this happened, the people reviewing it will be cracking up.  Our facial expressions were a combo of amusement, consternation, shock, horror, and guilt.  Very funny.  I think we were both gesturing…. arms up in the air as if to say… what are we supposed to do in this situation?

In two days we’ve seen two enormous crosses.  One in Effingham, Illinois, and the other in some un-named little Texas town we passed.  They were pretty much equal in size.


It rained on us today for awhile.  It was nice and decently cool while it was raining.  Then it got hot (see above).

We waved at Mangum, OK and Pryor, OK as we passed the exits with those names and then chatted about K’s childhood a bit.  She spent a lot of time in Oklahoma as a kid and it’s always fun talking about that.   Someday we need to do more than just drive through.  I’d love to see where she was born and some of the places she’s told me stories about.

We started this morning at 10:00… after getting coffee and photographing the fork, which I know sounds late, and got to Amarillo at 7:30.  Nine and a half hours on the road.  Tomorrow we have a short day, only four hours of driving.  Who knows what adventure we’ll find.  I love road trips.


We Love Them

Weston is a guy of deep thoughts and feelings.  He has soul.

I looked up a moment ago and there he was sitting on the chair in the corner looking out the window.  He looked like a person, deep in thought, contemplating all of life’s ups and downs.  He looked introspective and philosophical.  He looked like Weston usually looks.

Six years ago we decided we wanted to get a dog and we decided on a Schnoodle because Karen’s daughter, Mary, had one and we loved him.  So cute, great personality, small, and to top it off they don’t shed and they have hair akin to human hair so they don’t have dander and don’t smell like a dog.  Ever.  In fact they sort of have a smell all their own, each in their own way, like humans do.  But I digress.

We went and looked at some dogs in East/Central Oregon and when one of the little guys came over and licked my toe it was all over.  He was the one.  Six weeks later, in April of 2007, we went and picked him up in Portland where we met with the woman who raised him.  We’d had a name picked out for him already, but when we saw him, looked in his eyes, we knew instantly the name didn’t work.  He looked too smart for the name.  Too studious.  Too deep.  So on the drive back home, with the little guy sitting on Karen’s lap in the brand new bed we’d gotten for him, we threw names around.  None fit until somehow one of us, I think it was Karen, mentioned the town of his birth, Weston.  Yes, he was born in Weston, Oregon in the Blue Mountains.  We looked at each other and that was it.  Somehow, some way, Weston seemed right.  It suited him.  The him of major thought and intense looks.


Now, nearly six years later, he still has that same look.  That deep look.  He looks at you and into you at the same time.  He is a guy of passionate feelings and sincere real love.  He is incredibly smart, cunning, and curious.  He is our little man.

Riley is girl of deep feelings, but of a different sort.  She’s a little spitfire.

A year after we were lucky enough to get Weston we decided he needed a companion for those times we had to leave him at home.  We didn’t want him to be alone.  We wanted him to have a little pal, a buddy.  He got a sister, not a natural born sister, but a sister none the less, and they have a love hate relationship.  We had a name picked out for her too, and that one ended up sticking.  Somehow Riley fits her.  She’s full of energy, very vocal, and loves to put her head up against our heads and have a little pet.  She gets so excited she can hardly contain herself, and is a tad quirky, but we adore her.


This morning when I looked over at Weston looking out the window a wave of love came over me, as it does so often with both of our little furry babes.  Karen and/or I say, at least once a day I think, “I love them”.  One of us always says it and the other one then always says, “I do too”.  And we do.  We love them.  We love how they love us.  How Weston always welcomes us home with a whole body wiggle and Riley always wants to lay in a lap.  We love Weston’s kisses and the little girlie’s insistent pawing for a pet.  We even love their more annoying habits, as you do with little beings you cherish.  We love the schnoods.  Like I loved how he was looking out the window this morning like a little person.  Just as I love how, right now, he’s laying in my lap snuggling, looking back at me with those eyes with those deep deep feelings, and Riley is all curled up in Karen’s lap snuggling in close to her.  We love them.

We love them.