Category: Culture

How we love.


This the fourth day since my mother died.

They have been days of a great jumble of emotions.

But the over-riding emotion has been one of feeling very loved and cared for. Not only by Jeannie, of course, and by my son, Alex, and daughter, Maija, but also by so many of you from my Learning from Dogs ‘family’.

A dear friend, Richard, living in England was incredibly supportive. Richard and I go back nearly 40 years to when we first met. We were both selling Commodore computers for our respective companies back in the early 1980’s. (Richard used to be a typewriter salesman for Olivetti UK and I was an ex-IBM Office Products salesman.)

Anyway, Richard pointed me to this beautiful song by Beth Nielsen-Chapman How We Love.

It sums up perfectly what all your ‘Likes’ and responses to my post The End Of An Era meant to me.

Love you all! I will return to daily posts from this Saturday.

I will not forget your kindness when I needed it so much.

Returning the love.

Wonderful reminders of how so many offer so much love to our animals.

p1160586On Saturday Jean and I spent the day at PetSmart’s store in Medford, OR., supporting another of their wonderful pet adoption events.

There were many dogs and cats available and even more wonderful people coming to find a new dog or a new cat for their homes (the final figures not available at the time of writing this post).

Yes, there are a great deal of people who are unloving and uncaring towards our beautiful animals. But never let that cloud the fact that there are countless people who will put their love for animals way ahead of their own needs.

So when Marg emailed me a link to a recent story on ABC News not only did I want to share it with you good people but it was the perfect story to follow Saturday’s adoption event. Here it is:


#WalkWithWalnut: Hundreds tread Cornwall beach to mark final walk for 18yo whippet


Before a trip to doggy heaven, 18-year-old whippet Walnut was joined by hundreds of people and their pups for a walk along an English beach.

Walnut’s owner Mark Woods posted details about the dog’s final walk along the beach on Facebook, inviting dog owners to join him on a beach in Newquay, Cornwall to celebrate his pet’s life.

“He has had an incredible life and having reached the grand age of 18 is ready for his final sleep,” Mr Woods wrote.

“I would love it if dog lovers/owners and friends would join us for a celebration of Walnut on his favourite Porth Beach.”

Hundreds of pooches left paw marks on the sand and supporters used the hashtag #WalkWithWalnut on social media to pay tribute to the animal, who also became a media star in his final days.

“If #walkwithwalnut has done something, it’s restored my faith in the compassion of humanity, in a particularly dreary year,” one tweeted.

“Meanwhile, at Porth Beach Newquay, humans demonstrate proper love and solidarity on their #walkwithwalnut and Mark,” tweeted another supporter.

Mr Woods carried Walnut across the beach as his ill health meant he was no longer able to walk.

He told local media Walnut had provided much comfort over the years, seeing him through two marriages and three engagements.

After Walnut was euthanased the evening after the walk, Mr Woods posted a thank you to all who attended.

Photo: "He went very quickly and in my arms," Mark Woods said in a Facebook post on the day they euthanased Walnut. (Facebook: Mark Woods)
Photo: “He went very quickly and in my arms,” Mark Woods said in a Facebook post on the day they euthanased Walnut. (Facebook: Mark Woods)

“Walnut passed away this morning at 11.56am … he went very quickly and in my arms,” Mr Woods wrote on his Facebook page.

“Thank you to the hundreds of people that attended the walk this morning and to all those that had their own walks with their beloved pets around the world.”

The whippet breed originated in England and have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.


There were many videos taken of the walk lots of them being uploaded to YouTube. I chose the following one to share with you. Be warned, this will bring tears to your eyes!

Finally, let me return to the overall theme of today’s post: how much we return the love our dogs give us.

By including the following photograph of this woman, whose name we missed, chatting to Jean at the PetSmart event. Not only had this loving lady taken in many rescue dogs she also fostered other dogs as they awaited their new home. The terrier mix in her arms is her dog and, of course, was one time a homeless dog that she rescued.

p1160612Don’t our wonderful pets bring out the best in us!

What a Moon!

This is a night to be outside! (And that includes you, Susan L.)

It has been receiving quite a lot of publicity in recent days. I’m speaking of the “Supermoon”.

Or in the opening words of a recent Smithsonian Magazine article:

The Biggest Supermoon in 68 Years Will Leave You “Moonstruck”

It hasn’t been this close since 1948 and won’t be again for the next 18 years

(Adrian Scottow via Flickr)
(Adrian Scottow via Flickr)

In terms of when this is happening then I will draw on Mother Nature Network:

According to NASA, the full moon that rises on Nov. 13 will be the closest one to Earth since 1948. If viewing conditions are clear, the moon will not only appear 30 percent brighter, but also 14 percent larger. While the nighttime viewing is supposed to be spectacular, the true closest approach of the supermoon will take place on the morning of Nov. 14 at 8:52 a.m. EST.

Just how special is this super supermoon? Humanity won’t get another show like this one until Nov. 25, 2034.

Or as the EarthSky blogsite puts it:

The moon turns precisely full on November 14, 2016 at 1352 UTC. This full moon instant will happen in the morning hours before sunrise November 14 in western North America and on many Pacific islands, east of the International Date Line.

For those of us on Pacific time that equates to 0852 PST.

So the balance of today’s post will comprise the republication, with permission, of a recent essay on The Conversation blogsite.


Supermoons are big and bright, but not as rare as the hype would suggest.

November 8, 2016


Senior Lecturer and Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Programs in Astronomy & Astrophysics, Pennsylvania State University.

As an observational astronomer who teaches students about the behavior of the moon, I’m thankful for anything that inspires people to go out and look at the sky. For me it’s second nature to pay attention to the moon; when my son was born, I would take him out at night to observe with me, and one of his very first words was “moon.”

But I have mixed feelings about what’s being billed as the upcoming “super-supermoon.” Many astronomers do not like using the term because reports overhype the factors that make certain full moons unusual. Most of what you’ve likely read has probably misled you about what you can expect to see on Nov. 14 and just how rare this event is. Beautiful, yes. Worth looking up for, definitely. Once in a lifetime… that’s a bit overblown.

he moon’s phases as it revolves around the Earth. Orion 8, CC BY-SA
The moon’s phases as it revolves around the Earth. Orion 8, CC BY-SA

The moon’s cyclical phases

Just about everyone is familiar with the moon’s changing appearance as it goes through its phases from crescent, to half-illuminated (first quarter), to gibbous, to full, and then back through gibbous, to half-illuminated (third quarter), to crescent, to new.

This pattern occurs because the moon orbits the Earth. When the moon is between the Earth and sun, it’s a new moon, and you don’t see it that day. When the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun we get a full moon as the sun’s light illuminates almost its entire face. The complete sequence of phases takes about the same amount of time as it does for the moon to orbit the Earth once – just about a month.

As the moon makes its monthly trip around our planet, it travels on an elliptical, not circular, path. Every object in the solar system orbits like this, including the Earth around the sun; over the course of the year, the Earth is sometimes closer to the sun and sometimes more distant. Same for the moon – sometimes it’s closer to us and sometimes farther away.

The changes are proportionally not large; at “perigee” (the closest it gets to the Earth) the moon’s approximately 10 percent closer to the Earth than at “apogee” (most distant point on its orbit). Over the year, the moon’s distance from Earth varies from around 222,000 to 253,000 miles.

 The moon’s orbit is elliptical and changes over time. Rfassbind
The moon’s orbit is elliptical and changes over time. Rfassbind

The time it takes the moon to go from perigee to perigee (about 27.3 days) is shorter than the time it takes to go through a complete set of phases (about 29.5 days). Because these timescales are different, the phase at which perigee occurs varies. Sometimes perigee occurs when the moon is full, but it is just as likely for perigee to occur when the moon is in the first quarter phase, or any other. Whichever phase the moon is in when it’s at perigee will be the one that looks largest to us here on Earth for that month.

wo full moons as seen from Earth: at perigee on the left, at apogee on the right. Catalin Paduraru
Two full moons as seen from Earth: at perigee on the left, at apogee on the right. Catalin Paduraru

At perigee, the moon can appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than an apogee full moon. But this is complicated by the fact that our eyes play tricks on us and convince us the moon looks larger when it is near the horizon than when it is higher in the sky. Every full moon will look big and bright whether it happens at perigee or apogee.

So what’s a supermoon?

The first time I heard the phrase “supermoon” was in 2011, and someone had to explain the suddenly in vogue term to me. People were using it to describe the full moon that happened to occur within an hour of perigee in March of that year. The moon’s perigee distance also varies a bit, and March 2011 was the moon’s closest perigee of that year.

 A 2013 supermoon as seen from Ireland. John Finn, CC BY-NC-ND
A 2013 supermoon as seen from Ireland. John Finn, CC BY-NC-ND

This was a somewhat rare event – a full moon occurring not just at perigee, but at the closest perigee of the year. But many people got the impression that this was an exceedingly unusual event, and rushed to see and capture images of this supposedly ultra-rare moon. Depending on how closely you require the full moon to occur to perigee in order to call it a supermoon, though, these events happen at least roughly once a year, and often more frequently.

Which brings us to this month’s much ballyhooed “super-supermoon.” News stories are hyping the upcoming full moon as a once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity. It’s true that the Nov. 14 full moon is the closest since 1948, and the next time the full moon will be closer is in 2034.

But this month’s full moon is only 0.02 percent closer – a mere 41 miles! – than the March 2011 supermoon. These tiny distances make no noticeable difference in the moon’s appearance.

 Get out there and enjoy this supermoon! AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Get out there and enjoy this supermoon! AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Please do go out and observe the November full moon. If you are good with photography, try to document that the moon does appear larger than the other months this year. Just be aware you’ll have other virtually equivalent opportunities to do so pretty much every year for the rest of your life. So don’t worry if you miss it. You can catch the supermoon next time around.


Fingers crossed our local weather will enable Jean and me to view this moon and I will try and photograph it.

If any readers also get to see this moon do let us know your thoughts and feelings.

Dogs and holidays

What are the options for taking a vacation with your pet dog.

Regular visitors to this place will recall that exactly one month ago I published a guest post from Paige Johnson. It was called Divorcing One’s Vet and was well-received. I am delighted, therefore, to present the second guest post from Paige.


Rover-Friendly Vacations: What are Your Options?

The love Westerners have for their pets is known across the globe. We dress them, take them everywhere, feed them special foods, and refer to them as our kids. When considering a vacation, it can be difficult to contemplate leaving your fur baby at home or, even worse, trapped in a boarding kennel. The stress of worrying about your pet easily can cut into the relaxation a vacation will offer. Fortunately, there are several options for the doting pet parent. Here are a few ways you can handle vacationing and being a good parent to your pets.

Take Them Along

man-1181873_1280Pet-friendly vacations may be a little more restrictive than vacationing without your furry family member. However, if you are a pet owner who cannot bear the thought of being separated from your pet while on vacation, it may be worth the extra effort to plan a trip to a pet-friendly city like Austin. Traveling within the U.S. is easiest and cheapest for pet parents, particularly if the destination is within driving distance. Although, if you want to travel abroad, it is possible to take your pets with you.

To travel internationally with a pet, you must thoroughly check the country’s guidelines for bringing domesticated animals across the borders. Typically, you will need recent proof of vaccinations along with a pet passport. While certifiably healthy animals can sometimes pass borders unimpeded, many countries will require a quarantine period of 24 hours to several months. It is important to plan well and far in advance for international pet travel. Keep in mind that this option is bound to be more expensive than leaving your pet behind while you vacation.

Find a Pet Boarder or Sitter

A freelance pet walker, sitter, or boarder is far more preferable than boarding your pet in a kennel. Dog sitters give you the option of leaving your pet in the comfort of your own home with personalized attention, or dog boarders give you the option of leaving your pet in their home and ensuring they receive 24-hour care.

Research a Quality Kennel

Basic kennels will sequester your pet in their own small space with little interaction from caretakers or other pets. On the other hand, a quality kennel will be well-staffed, friendly, and ensure that your pet spends more time playing with other dogs than alone in a kennel. While a sitter is preferable, a good kennel certainly is an option, especially if they are centered around social interaction and quality care. Online reviews can be a helpful way to research a suitable boarding facility. It’s important to note that good boarders often will charge a little more than a sitter.

When your child is a dog or a cat, vacationing can become a more difficult and stressful activity than you originally thought. The guilt of leaving a pet at home can impede your ability to enjoy your vacation, particularly if you have to leave him in a kennel. Fortunately, there are better options to put your mind at ease. Whether you decide to plan a pet-friendly vacation or get a freelance pet sitter, you can rest assured that a relaxing, guilt-free vacation is in your future.

Image via Pixabay by msandersmusic


An informative guest post from Paige. Mind you, when one has nine dogs at home I’m not sure realistically just what the options are!

Marbles, Part Three

Concluding the wonderful story written by Anne Schroeder.

Part One of MY SEASON FOR MARBLES was posted last Monday.

Part Two was yesterday and finished, thus:

Buck’s tendency to work the neighborhood was his ultimate undoing. Eventually the druggie roommate of a neighbor poisoned him for repeated raids on his dog’s feeding dish. By then he was scarred, limping from a difference of opinion with a moving car, had his ear chewed from a fight. He was a seasoned scrapper with a heart of gold. Of all the dogs we owned, he lived life on his own terms.



Part Three

One day my son and his dad brought home a new pup–a nine-week old, female Boxer that we named Marbles for her brindle coloring.  She had a perfect circle of white around one eye and an ear that perked up when she was surprised.  Steve wanted to name her Stymie.

Something I never expected happened. I experienced a resurgence of mother love. I found myself sitting in the sunshine, playing toss-the-stick. I held Marbles while I watched TV.  I loved the feel of her sleek hair, the way she formed a question in her eyes. I was patient with her, like I am with a child. I gave her credit for her embarrassment when she piddled on the kitchen tile when we were gone too many hours. I watched her dig in the creek bank and was sure she would never try digging in the yard.  She never did. She was surprisingly mellow for a Boxer. She never barked, never whined, never jumped on furniture or tore up pillows when we were gone.

Marbles accompanied us to the mailbox, to the creek, to the canyons. The flurry of a quail made her stop and listen, one ear cocked. Everything was a first for her, and our walks took the meandering pace of a walk with an eighteen-month-old. She was curious about dandelions. On our walks I rejoiced for the way she refocused my appreciation of life.

Marbles was only with us for six years before she died of a malignant tumor that Boxers are infamous for having. I helped Steve bury her on a ridge above our house, in the canyon she loved to walk.


I ask myself what changed with Marbles? Was it me, or something broader? I think it’s a question of timing. For some reason, men bring home puppies while women are busy with babies. Maybe it’s an attempt to capture the bond that mother and baby share. Maybe the man feels left out.  Whatever the reason, a puppy has to be raised, trained, groomed and cleaned up after.  So does a child.  For most women, a puppy is like having twins, or another pregnancy too soon after the first.

Getting labeled as a dog hater is a double-edged sword. Life becomes an “oops, don’t let Mom find out” thing that undermines everyone. When something happens, warnings about pet responsibility come out sounding like a “gottcha.” I grew up with unquestioned values that a dog was a farm animal with responsibilities. A dog earned its keep in the same way a child did. No one questioned that a child could gather eggs, but, suddenly I’m a meany for suggesting that a dog be useful? I’m too old and too stubborn to make the change, and I find myself filled with resentment that society requires it of me.

But I learned to keep my head low and duck the bullets. I don’t offer my opinion around friends, every one of whom seems to have at least one dog. One friend has fourteen dogs and cats. We meet at cafes or on the porch. They try to forgive me my stance on buying a purebred puppy as opposed to adopting from the shelter. We have agreed to disagree, like conflicting religious views.  But I know I’m in the minority. In my defense I should mention that cats crawl onto my lap. I like to pet them. They like me. But that doesn’t get me any dog points.

So now it’s time to look for a new puppy. Steve’s getting antsy, I can read the signs. He’s happier with a dog at his side and I like him to be happy. I try not to think about the stress I feel every time we check out a new puppy litter—three in the past two months. I try not to feel relief when we leave without making a selection. He’s not in a hurry; he wants a love connection, and he’ll know her when he sees her.

At long last I am trying to discard my self-image of a dog meany. I even question the term “pet owner.” Who can own another creature’s heart? This time around I am going to earn a dog’s devotion. Like a first-time mother, self-conscious and unskilled, I secretly practiced with Marbles, and she seemed to think I did all right. This time we will all share in the job of puppy parenthood. It’s not fair for me to have to clean dog snot off the French doors while someone else is tossing the Frisbee. But I’ll still take my walks alone. I tried it both ways, and I realized that my quiet time was not negotiable—mornings belonged to me. In the evenings, I share my walk with the family—and that includes the dog.


What a fabulous ending to a really charming story!

unnamedI have no doubt that many of you would like more information about Anne.

So do drop into Anne Schroeder’s Author Blog or visit her website here.

Marbles, Part Two

Continuing the wonderful story written by Anne Schroeder.

Part One of MY SEASON FOR MARBLES was posted last Monday.

It ended, “Eventually, dogs and fear became synonymous.”



Part Two

My husband’s experiences were quite the opposite. He sees dogs as best friends, deserving of carpet privileges and store-bought dog food. He communicates on a level that I can’t begin to fathom. He is a petter of strays while I hunker behind him, phobic and repelled.

The first time he introduced me to his beloved Pug, Rastus, it greeted me with a doleful glare, lifted its leg and sent a yellow stream down my bare leg and into my new penny loafers. I was holding Steve’s hand that day and Rastus knew he was about to be replaced. I’m afraid I took it personally. Rastus was never my best friend—although I barely had a chance to know him. He died of a heart attack three months after we married—victim of an innocuous medical term that I am convinced meant a broken heart. For years I carried a secret suspicion that I had killed Rastus by diverting his master’s attention. For every morning and evening of Rastus’s life, Steve had walked him, tossed balls, showered him with attention and love.

Then we married and moved into a student duplex that didn’t allow pets, and Rastus stayed behind. Newlywed bliss was too great a temptation; like Puff the Magic Dragon, Jackie Paper came no more.

Steve’s inconsolable grief didn’t ease my conscience. We lived dog-less for the next five years. Coincidentally or not, this period was filled with more travel, adventure and spontaneity than the sum of the years that followed. Finally, we bought our first home and Steve began planning for another dog. Soon after I became pregnant we drove to a kennel to pick out a light-colored, female Golden Retriever puppy.

Saree arrived at the onset of my morning sickness. Through the winter she slept in a little wooden kennel box in the kitchen. Because Steve was working a nighttime shift that put him in bed at 3:00 a.m., it became my job to clean the dog mess, to feed and water and exercise her in the mornings before I got myself and my daughter off to school and work. The memory of those months remains: bracing myself for assorted puppy odors in the closed kitchen while munching on a saltine cracker. Some mornings the cracker wasn’t enough.

I will forever associate the smell of dog with nausea; aversion therapy gone haywire. Some women never eat bananas again after morning sickness. Some never touch liver or bacon—but I could live without these. For some reason, with me it’s not puppy smell, it’s grownup doggie body odor. Go figure!

It’s not like I’m a Dog Nazi. I babysit my kids’ dogs when they take vacations. I’m not an ogre—I try not to make dogs my “issue.” I even smile and buy dog toys to have on hand for visitors.

Saree was Steve’s dog, a replacement for Rastus, a buddy to keep him company during a hectic period of our lives when we worked crossover schedules and didn’t see much of each other. I raised our daughters, Steve raised Saree. Sometimes I wanted to scream at him for his priorities. If memory serves, sometimes I did.

Saree lived for fourteen years and accompanied us on three moves. As she became older she became prone to diabetic seizures. In the era before serious pet pharmaceuticals, doggie chiropractic and plastic surgery, the vet’s best advice was to add a bit of sugar in her drinking water. Our four-year-old son used to follow his daddy around and try to copy everything Daddy did. One evening, while his dad was at work he noticed Saree trembling. Half an hour later I found the empty sugar bag and Saree limp and trembling on the patio.

An emergency call to the vet, a bottle of Ipecac, frantic calls to Steve at work—all in vain. In the end, Saree waited for Steve to return from work to die with her head in his lap.

Steve mourned while I carried Saree’s body to the SPCA for cremation, provided comfort, assuaged our son’s guilt, cleaned remnants of an aging, house-bound dog from my home—and felt a secret elation at Steve’s decision not to replace Saree right away.

Buck came to us three months later, the victim of a friend’s divorce. The friend was moving from a ranch into an apartment and Buck would be miserable. Steve and he had become great friends because Steve drove by the ranch everyday and would stop and pet him. He claimed he was invested in Buck, but the truth was, he was head over heels in love—enough even to excuse Buck for being a male, after he had vowed never to have anything that peed on a tire. But fate had chosen them for each other.

Buck was a ten-month-old, a chewer of Olympic talent with a rare eye for beauty. My prized, white-wool throw rug was his first trophy. What he didn’t manage to chew up he destroyed with his thick, wagging tail. (To say he was a happy dog was to underestimate his enthusiasm.) My personality was not as playful. He was thrust on me while our house was listed for sale and I found myself picking up after a four-year-old and his canine equivalent. Every time the phone rang and a realtor wanted to bring clients by, I would go into meltdown.

I remember going to the movies about this time and glaring at the screen while my husband screamed with laughter. I sat through “Turner and Hootch” with arms folded, while my blood pressure threatened to blow out my eardrums. I didn’t know it was a comedy until I saw it on TV last year. Bad period in my life.

In Buck’s defense, either his chewing subsided as he matured or he had already destroyed everything I loved. But it was hard not to view him as a spoiler. I argued that he needed to be neutered, but Steve valued his spirit. He reminded me that it was his dog. He lived with us for ten years, uncomplaining, unfailingly happy to see us, matured by an unrequited love for the Golden Retriever who came into heat every six months in an unassailable enclosure up the road.

Buck’s tendency to work the neighborhood was his ultimate undoing. Eventually the druggie roommate of a neighbor poisoned him for repeated raids on his dog’s feeding dish. By then he was scarred, limping from a difference of opinion with a moving car, had his ear chewed from a fight. He was a seasoned scrapper with a heart of gold. Of all the dogs we owned, he lived life on his own terms.


The third and final installment will be tomorrow.

I vote for peace!

My contribution to this day.

(I saw this posted over on Val Boyko’s blogsite the other day and thought how apt it was. It is republished with Val’s kind permission.)


World Peace is Within You

To all you dear Americans.

Please listen up to the following important announcement.

union-jack-dog-136388133021803901-140304120346To the citizens of the United States of America


Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for
President of the USA, and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give
notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical
duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North
Dakota, which she does not fancy).

Our new Prime Minister, Theresa May, will appoint a Governor for
America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be
circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following
rules are introduced with immediate effect:
1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’
‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’

Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the
letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’

Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable
levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).
2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises
such as ‘like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form
of communication.

There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on
your behalf.

The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the
reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’
3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns,
lawyers, or therapists.

The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that
you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for
shooting grouse.

If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a
therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.

5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything
more dangerous than a vegetable peeler.

(Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable
peeler in public.)
6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will
start driving on the left side with immediate effect.

At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without
the benefit of conversion tables.

Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British
sense of humour.
7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been
calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon.

Get used to it.
8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French
fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling
potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut,
fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.


9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not
actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be
referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted
provenance will be referred to as Lager.

South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the
greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer.
They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for
American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so
that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as
good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to
play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English
dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to
having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater. (This is incorrect
however, as she played an American)
11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind
of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough
will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities
to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every
twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of
12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to
host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played
outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world
beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn
cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the
sting out of their deliveries.
13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.
14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s
Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all
monies due (backdated to 1776).
15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with
saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and
cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen!

Marbles, by Anne Schroeder

Introducing Anne Schroeder – a local Oregon author.

This week presents a number of interesting challenges.

The first is that while I am getting along reasonably well with the draft of my second book, Four Dogs On My Bed, I am still about 3,000 words (as of yesterday) behind where I wanted to be on November 7th. (There’s NaNoWriMo pressing in against me!)

The second challenge is that tomorrow is a special day. No, I’m not referring to the circus that has come to town, to everybody’s towns, but to my birthday. It is my birthday on the 8th and I’m trying hard to stay away from my computer.

The third and final challenge is that there are too many things going on for the balance of the week, even without me needing to keep my writing nose to the grindstone, for me to properly put together the blog posts otherwise required.

anne-croppedBut then along comes Anne Schroeder. I met Anne when I joined our local authors group, AIM, and, like all the other members of AIM, Anne was supportive and helpful towards me.

A week ago, Anne emailed me a short story that was perfect for all you dear readers.

That story is in three parts and I shall be continuing with Part Two and Part Three on Wednesday and Thursday. (I have something else for the 8th!)

Before the story, here is an introduction to Anne.

mariainesfrontAnne Schroeder writes memoir and historical fiction set in the West. She has won awards for her short stories published in print and on-line markets. She was 2015 President of Women Writing the West and lives with her husband and new Lab puppy in Southern Oregon where they explore old ruins and out-of-the-way places. Her new release, Maria Ines, is a novel about an Indian girl who grows up under Padre Junipero’s cross and endures life under the Spanish, Mexican and Yanqui conquest of California.

Here, then, is Part One of Anne’s tale.



I have a confession: Dogs and I have never gotten along. Well, okay, there was Happy, our black, floppy-eared Cocker Spaniel who died in front of me, under the wheel of my father’s truck when I was seven. After that, it seemed easier not to get attached.

On our sheep farm, dogs ate table scraps and slept under the tank house. We had a pair of Australian Shepherds, trained by Basque herders in their native language that guarded the flock at night against coyotes and neighbors pets. We weren’t allowed to distract the Aussies from their work.

My attitude regarding dogs could be described as cautious regard. I carry memories of being chased onto a John Deere tractor by a snarling stray. I have vivid memories of my uncle’s Doberman sinking its fangs into my calf because I was swinging hands with my cousin, a six-year-old like myself, as we walked up her driveway after school. I can still see that dog, loping toward us in slow-motion, slobber spraying off his jowls, his eyes keenly fixed on the enemy—which was me. All I could do was drop my little cousin’s hand, stand still, and hope that the dog would be merciful. No such luck.

I learned later that he was a watchdog, trained to protect his family. My aunt and uncle worked at a mental hospital and had received death threats from patients who escaped on a fairly regular basis.

Even when it was not my fault, I managed to annoy dogs. When I was seven my grandmother’s hound nipped me in the fleshy part of my palm as I dumped dinner into his bowl. My scream of pain was mostly indignant fury, but the memory scarred my soul. Another time a cousin’s cattle dog crawled out from under the porch where her new litter was sleeping. No bite this time; she just snarled with bared teeth until I hopped back on my bicycle and rode home. It was probably a bluff on her part, but I didn’t wait around to find out.

Eventually, dogs and fear became synonymous.


Whoa! Where does it go from here? I do hope that you will return on Wednesday to find out! (That’s assuming that we all survive tomorrow’s circus!)