A Squirrel’s Journey

Once upon a week in June
A squirrel thought he’d try
To test his acrobatic skills
Across a cable high.

“I think I can.”

Peering at the ground below
He saw something furry.
Something reddish, something loud,
Something in a hurry.

Squirrel swallowed hard and flicked his tail
Deciding to follow through
On plans to conquer tightrope fear
By walking in plain view.

“I think I can.”

The Sheltie barked, the Human clicked,
The little squirrel pressed on
And midway ‘cross the wire so high
The squirrel thought he was gone.

“Uh-oh, easy does it!”

Gathering courage, the acrobat
Continued to make his way;
Step by step he journeyed forth
Despite the annoying fray.

“So near, yet so far.”

And oh, at last, the little squirrel
Found safety in his quest
Another power pole in sight
To offer needed rest.

“YES!! Happy Dance!”

A squirrel’s life is brief, they say,
Two years, or maybe three.
So wouldn’t they be better off
Staying in tall trees?

Possible End of an Era

It nearly breaks my heart what’s happening to my former profession of journalism.

Once upon a time, newspapers were a training ground for wanna-be writers. Often-crusty editors whipped into line whole generations of young reporters, fresh from J-school with stars in their eyes and hopes of uncovering corruption. Another Watergate, perhaps.

And maybe even winning a Pulitzer in the bargain.

When I recall how naive we all were, how patient our editors were in teaching us the things we didn’t know, I have to smile.

My first “real” job out of college was as a reporter for an evening daily newspaper in Texas, covering what was deemed the “dinner circuit.” Every day, I’d be treated to lunch or dinner with one or another service club (Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.), and I’d gather information about their members for inclusion in a twice-weekly column I wrote. Birthdays, anniversaries, funny stories, all were fodder for my columns. Evenings, I attended meetings — area city councils, transportation boards, etc. — then wrote up a news story for publication in the next day’s paper.

My bosses lived on Maalox and cigarettes, chugging the former like water and puffing until clouds of smoke hung overhead (some even lit a new one before finishing the old).

The tapping of keyboards, the rushing around of reporters, the clanging of telephones — a newsroom wasn’t a quiet oasis! But the sharing of ideas and stories and humor, the excitement of hearing something new before anybody else heard it, the camaraderie, made it a fascinating and fabulous place to work.

Every once in a while, we’d hear of a colleague who was penning “the great American novel” in his or her free time. Or one who had aspirations of swapping newspaper reporting for magazines. Or public relations. Or for some politician’s press corps.

Our digital age has changed lots of that.

Maybe the saddest change is an announcement by The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. They plan to cut back publication this fall to just three days a week. After 175 years of service.

If that happens, NOLA will be the largest city in the U.S. without a daily paper.

Sure, printing revenues are down. But cutting the newsroom staff by a whopping 50 percent in favor of an online version? In a city where many residents don’t even have Internet connections?

The marketing department will be slashed to one person. Special section employees, library, and human resources — all cut. Pressroom severed by nearly 40 percent.

I never worked for the T-P, but having worked on other newspapers for about two decades, I can easily put faces to these statistics. They could have been my friends, my colleagues. We could have laughed together and shared successes.

Now I’m crying for them, their families, New Orleans, and my old profession.

Something special is dying.

The Neighborly Thing to Do

Several years ago, an older lady and her husband moved into my neighborhood.

They kept pretty much to themselves and soon earned the description “unfriendly.”

‘They won’t speak,’ one neighbor told me.

‘They’re not very neighborly,’ said another.

I’m ashamed to admit we were judging prematurely. For the husband was ill — terminally ill, to be exact — and the wife was his only caregiver.

She didn’t have time for over-the-fence gossip sessions. Or chatting on the phone. Or inviting other ladies in for coffee.

About the only time she left the house was to get groceries or transport her husband to a doctor’s appointment.

I know first hand what that’s like, how stressful full-time care giving can be. Especially for someone untrained in that area, someone who doesn’t choose to be a caregiver. Someone like my mom, who was Daddy’s only caregiver because he refused to have strangers in the house.

Life takes on a different appearance when you’re faced with a loved one’s grave illness. Besides the ever-present cloud of death, there are medical specialists to deal with. And procedures. And pain. And fear and worry.

The upside is you have a chance to bond, to spend quality time reminiscing, to selflessly give to another in imitation of the way God has given to us.


Earlier this month, my neighbor’s husband finally succumbed to his illness. True to form, he didn’t want any notice to appear in the daily newspaper, didn’t want to bother anybody. Most of us found out by word of mouth.

But did we convene on this poor woman’s porch, casseroles in hand, to mourn with her? No, we opted to “respect her privacy,” to give her time to grieve.

Taking the easy way out.

Was it the right thing to do?

Probably not. People need each other, and I for one felt great comfort by the kind, sympathetic things people did for us after Daddy passed on. We should have done the same for this woman.

I saw her the other day, and she’d gotten a little dog. Someone to take for walks, keep her company, and amuse her with its antics.

We chatted a bit, and she didn’t seem at all “unfriendly.”

Just lonely. And still grieving.

She’ll be that way for a while, but at least she’s trying. Can her neighbors afford not to try, too?

It’s Called Coprophagia, and It’s Just Plain Gross!

“What’s for snack-time, Mom?”

Does this look like the face of a dog who’d eat his own waste??

The fancy medical term for dogs eating poop is Coprophagia. The most common reaction from humans is, “Yuck!”

Experts theorize there are numerous reasons why a dog might eat poop (his own, or that of other animals):

  • Boredom, loneliness, anxiety, or stress
  • Interesting taste (yeah, I know — Yuck!)
  • Insufficient nutrients in its own food
  • Filthy yard, or tiny space to run in
  • Internal parasites
  • Natural tendency of mother dog to “hide the evidence” and protect her young from predators
  • Submission to dominant others in the canine household

One study also found that Fido is “trained” to eat poop by the very humans who find the habit so disgusting! It works like this: Fido takes a sample, Human shrieks and shoos him away; Human scoops up the waste and hides it in a bag. Fido becomes more curious about the hidden goodies. The next time he spots waste, he plays the old snatch-and-grab game, only faster to beat the Human from getting to the waste first. And a bad habit is formed.

I’ve had several dogs in my lifetime, but never have I had one that eats waste — until now.

‘Shelties are clean animals,’ his breeder swears. ‘Mine don’t do that.’

I’ve called my dog’s vet several times about this disgusting habit. The docs and their staff don’t seem concerned.

Probably because they’re not the ones seeing him do it, nor are they the ones the dog wants to kiss later on!

They suggested I purchase packets of For-Bid, to sprinkle on his food and keep him from sampling his waste. But that would only work on his waste, right?

And I’m already slipping bits of pineapple into his food, to little avail (pineapple is supposed to come out with a bad taste and scent to dogs).

Some suggest adding hot sauce to the waste once it’s out. Wouldn’t it just be easier to pick the stuff up, away from the dog’s line of vision?

I’ve done everything I can think of — keep him exercised, feed him a good-quality dog food, and regularly pick up the yard.

But he’s still sampling.

I’m open to suggestions. Fire away, and I’ll be ever grateful if we can break this bad habit.

Cell Phones in Church??

We’ve all done it, whether we admit it or not — found our mind wandering when it should have been focused.

Perhaps we were stuck in a boring meeting at work when we’d have rather been outside playing golf. Perhaps we were subjected treated to yet another dissertation from a friend bewailing her significant other’s lack of sensitivity, while our thoughts pondered recipes for dinner. Perhaps our children were giving us a blow-by-blow discussion of everything that happened at school that day, while we were trying to navigate traffic.

Wandering minds seems to be a casualty of our busy society. But it’s one thing to have your mind wander. It’s another to be actively distracted.

Take this weekend, for instance.

I was at church when a father, mother, and their teenaged daughter entered the pew right in front of me.

Now, whose mind hasn’t on occasion wandered at church? There’s something familiar and soothing about the recitation of the prayers. And Saturday evening Mass is sandwiched between the busyness of the day and the calm of the evening.

Too, most priests aren’t “fire-and-brimstone” preachers. They read their homilies from a stationary position, droning on until suddenly, you realize they’re done and you have no idea what they said! Teachers must encounter the same blank stares from an audience that’s primed on excitement and drama, on 15- and 30-second TV slots (or worse, instant surfing on the Internet!)

I digress.

The teen in front of me spent most of the Mass checking her smart phone, texting friends and the like.

Oh, she tried to hide it. She kept it in her palm or tucked it in the waistband of her jeans. But she was texting. No doubt.

Domer, seated to my left, recognized it right away. To my right, Mom was oblivious.

The girl’s parents, perhaps fearing her anger, didn’t bother reminding her that cell phones don’t belong in church. Nor did they insist she put it away or turn it off.

Tacit acceptance.

Maybe she had a legitimate excuse for texting in church, but I can’t think what would be so important that it couldn’t wait 45 minutes.

Maybe her parents were just relieved she was there, perhaps assuming that meant she wouldn’t “fall away.”

Sorry, but attendance in body and not in mind isn’t really attendance.

Is it?

Walking with the Sheltie on an early June day

My friend Bella over at One Sister’s Rant recently posted about the beauty in her neck of the woods and suggested her fellow readers share photos of their world as well.

(I know, I know. This is the second time in a row that I’ve written posts based on others’ suggestions. I assure you, I really do have ideas brimming in my head, but sometimes a lady’s just got to roll with the punches! Besides, both of these ideas are too good to pass up, so here goes:)

Don’t you love this rustic gate?

Nothing like being under a maple tree, looking up through its branches on a sunny afternoon!

This little squirrel tight-roped his way to safety, pausing midway along the line to watch me and the Sheltie below him. I live in fear of what the Sheltie would do, should one ever drop off the line!

This poor robin didn’t make it. I couldn’t tell whether a cat got it or what. At any rate, the Sheltie strained at his leash to investigate, but no way do I want my boy sniffing dead stuff!

Around here, they say corn should be “knee-high by the Fourth of July.” Obviously, this is going to be a good season, for these corn plants are easily thigh-high and it’s still early June!

Do you love wind chimes as much as I do? There’s something mystical and quite relaxing about the sound they make when a gentle breeze blows through them.

An open red rose just begs for you to smell it!

Let’s wrap up our journey with a nice visit on this lovely bench. Can’t you see us sitting here, coffee (or tea) mugs in hand, chatting about everything? Or nothing?

Six Easy Pieces

Recently, my friend Monica posted about the importance of art in her life.

When I commented that I do good to draw stick people, she reminded me that I bead jewelry and that, too, is art. She suggested I write a post about my jewelry creations, along with some photos and thoughts about them.

So, thanks, Monica, for the idea, and here goes:

Blue Shell Earrings by Debbie

1) I made these earrings on a whim. I wanted something flashy — more flashy than I’d normally wear! — so I fashioned them to dangle fairly long, almost to my shoulders. They feature a turquoise shell-like material and produce the most pleasant clinking sound when you move your head.

Shell Necklace by Debbie

2) This necklace is made from tiny shells. I like the way it says “beach vacation” and the fact that it goes with anything!

Black Earrings by Debbie

3) The two black crystal beads at the bottom of these earrings were leftovers. Three and a half years ago, I made my Dad a Rosary from these ebony beads for Christmas. He was in the hospital over the holiday, so we carried his presents to him and tried to make his day special. He died less than a week later, the last day of 2008. I keep the earrings in honor of him, but I find I can’t wear them. It still hurts too much.

Chakra Bracelet by Debbie

4) This bracelet is one I made several years ago, when I learned about Chakras. According to Eastern philosophy, we need to balance our mind and body based on seven energy centers that work together and independently. The seven Chakra colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. I don’t know if this philosophy is against my Christian beliefs, but I can’t see how balancing one’s emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual energies is counter intuitive to good living. Besides, it’s pretty!

Domer’s Rosary, now mine by Debbie

5) I made this Rosary for Domer’s birthday last year. Notice it’s in Notre Dame’s traditional colors of navy blue, emerald green, and gold. Apparently he thought it looked too feminine or delicate or something, for he suggested I keep it. (He wasn’t quite that blunt, but he’s never been known not to speak his mind!). I was glad to take him up on it, since I wouldn’t have made something that time-consuming for me, and the sapphire color is my birthstone. An added plus? The emeralds remind me of “the motherland”!

Chandelier Earrings by Debbie

6) This is a pair of chandelier earrings with a leverback ear wire. They’re in hematite (the greyish color, said to be a good grounding stone) and faux white pearls. I love the look of chandeliers. They’re girly, without being over-the-top. But they take a long time to make, since they have so many tiny parts, and if you don’t get them just right, they can be heavy on your ears.

There you have it. Six easy pieces, all different, all significant. And to think I have BOXES full of this kind of stuff, just waiting to find the right people to love them!

Maybe I should post one special piece every week until the whole lot is out there??