Bella Rose

She wasn’t even my dog, so I’m not sure why I feel so sad whenever I think about her.  She wasn’t even particularly likable – in fact, she liked less than a handful of people, though I’m oddly grateful and touched to be counted among them. She especially despised children and often looked like she was waiting for just the right moment to take a chunk out of their little ankles. She wasn’t too fond of dogs either.

Bella was a miniature Schnauzer, though she didn’t exactly conform to the breed’s standards.  Her fur was too fluffy, her coloring too light, and her legs a little too short. She was a good watch dog, ever vigilant in case we weren’t aware that there are killers lurking inside the garbage and recycle trucks, the mail truck, the UPS truck, the FedEx truck, and random cars, trucks, and tractors driving down our country road.  She was frightened by storms and spent many nights tucked under the toilet in the bathroom, waiting for it to pass.  She also enjoyed letting herself into the bathroom whenever you were there, just in case you needed some company or wanted to scratch her around the ears. She appreciated belly rubs and would claw you with her front paw if you stopped prematurely.

Yes, I’m sitting on your bed, so?

Bella did not appreciate my efforts to dress her up for the holidays.

Hannah was always optimistic that one day Bella would like her – she tried to play with her almost every day, but was nearly always rebuffed, especially if I or anyone else was watching.  Despite the size difference, Hannah was scared of her and I think it’s safe to say that Bella was the alpha dog. 

Hannah optimistically checking to see if Bella wants to play.  The answer – no.

I snapped this picture in the dark – actual proof that they were sleeping on the same bed.

Despite expensive medication and diligent hospice care, Bella lost her battle with heart disease. It still feels weird not to hear her little nails tapping across the floor, or the scratching sound she made when she was ruffling up all the rugs in the house. The living room seems strangely empty without her bed and it’s so quiet now without her barking.

It seems somewhat foolish to have pets, knowing that they are noisy, messy, hairy, smelly, sometimes downright annoying, and perhaps, worst of all, that we will likely outlive them and deeply grieve the loss.  On the other hand, they love us when we’re unlovable, do silly, ridiculous things to make us laugh, snuggle us when we’re sad, and give us a reason to get up each morning. Rest in peace, Bella – you are missed!

Please take a moment to tell about a special pet in your life – I’d love to hear your stories!

Eating Elephants

An eight day vacation to Arizona resulted in a nine week hiatus from new blog posts.  Despite enjoying a completely different climate and relishing a break from Michigan winter, I didn’t return home refreshed and rested. It didn’t help that we landed in the middle of a snowstorm!

Sahuaro Ranch, Glendale, AZ

Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, AZ

Breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon, South Rim

March and early April were busy with birthday and other family celebrations and visits, all of which were filled with joy and a certain amount of madness, a direct result of life with little kids.

March Birthday Celebrants

April is also the month that the renewal for the blog happens. First I needed to decide if I was still finding value in writing and sharing my thoughts on random topics, especially in light of what it costs for a three year renewal.  After much thought, I decided to move forward at least for the next three years!  Secondly, the site hadn’t updated since I initially set it up in 2015 and I knew I wanted to give it a facelift.  Back then I had a friend who is a programmer add my logo and change the colors on the site.  Since he wouldn’t let me pay him, I didn’t want to go to the favor bank again and decided to just go all Naked on the Tundra and figure out how to do it myself.  Soooo, turns out it’s really not that hard.  Sure, it took me a couple of hours compared to the ten minutes it would have taken someone who knew what they were doing, but that’s not the point.  The point is that I figured it out! There are still things to tweak and information to update, but I did it!

Often I put things off because they seem too hard, too complicated, too overwhelming. Even though I know you can only eat an elephant one bite at a time, it sometimes requires a lot of self talk for me to take that first bite.  There’s also the fear that once I’ve got that first bite in my mouth, it’s going to taste really bad and I’m going to want to spit it out but then I’d be a quitter, which causes additional feelings of trepidation and guilt.

Do you ever put things off because you’re too afraid or overwhelmed to get started?  How do you make yourself take that first bite?  Please share your experience in the comments or on Facebook.  Oh, and let me know what you think about the new site design.

Heroes

For reasons I can’t explain, I thought it would be a good idea to watch all the Star Wars movies in succession and then go to see the new one when it came out in December of 2017.  It seems easy enough, doesn’t it?  Except that there is some controversy regarding the order in which to view the movies. 

After reading various opinions online, I went with the recommendation of my cousins and watched Star Wars IV A New Hope, followed by The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack Of The Clones, Revenge Of The Sith, The Force Awakens, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

You might think that all of this was just to be able to go to the Clinton Theater to watch The Last Jedi and snack on the delicious organic popcorn with real butter.  And of course, you’d be right. But that’s not the point I want to make today. 

Even though I saw the first three Star Wars movies back in the day when I was but a youth and I’ve seen bits and pieces of the following three, I couldn’t help but feel really disappointed in the heroes of the first six movies.  My crush on Luke Skywalker didn’t stand the passage of time and I found him to be a whiny baby who felt he was getting the shaft.  There’s nothing wrong with having ambition and a desire to see the world outside of your hometown but make a plan and do it. And Anakin Skywalker? It seemed like he was crying every five minutes, at least when he wasn’t breaking the Jedi rules and doing the wrong thing.  It’s not wrong for a man to cry, but sometimes you’ve got to suck it up and do the right thing, even though there will be pain and life might not turn out the way you’d like it to.

It’s not just Star Wars, though. It seems that some of today’s ‘heroes,’ both on screen and off just aren’t.  Once I made that statement, I felt it was pretty presumptuous of me unless I could actually define what it means to be a hero.  According to the dictionary, it’s a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities.  Hmm, not that helpful.  What achievements are outstanding, what is courage, and who determines what qualities are noble? 

Instead of drilling down further on definitions, I decided to take an informal poll of people of varying ages, sexes, and backgrounds.  The youngest kids – threes and fours named a Superhero, which didn’t surprise me.  That’s their experience – heroes are Captain American, Wonder Woman, Batman.  The kids that were a little older had a slightly broader definition – someone who defeats the bad guys using their strength or super power. 

Among the adults (with a couple of exceptions – like the smart alecks that said a sandwich), the answers were surprisingly similar.  A hero is someone who is self-sacrificing, willing to give up whatever they have – even their life – for someone else or for the greater good.  It didn’t matter if the someone else was a stranger or a loved one.  The other thing that came up over and over was that a hero wouldn’t expect any recognition, publicity, fame, or even a pat on the back – the hero would do the right thing because it is the right thing without expecting anything in return.  A couple of people also mentioned that that a hero stands up for something when no one else does, something they feel is wrong or right but that no one else is doing anything about so they decide to be the one that does something.

Most touching was the response of a woman who felt that anyone could be a hero – and in her life, it was her two grandmothers – one who was a widow that raised three children and the other who married, ran a farm and household, and raised six children having only one arm.

Here’s the best thing I learned about heros from these wise people. Any of us can be a hero.  There are many things that are terribly wrong in the world right now and there are millions of people that need rescuing – not necessarily from the clutches of an evil villain, but from the struggling and suffering in their day to day.  You and I – and even better – you and I together, can make a difference and be the hero in someone else’s life.  Not for the fame, not for the glory, but just because it’s the right thing to do.  We don’t need a movie to show us a hero, we just need to be one.

If you’re feeling like you don’t have what it takes, here’s a song by Matthew West that I think will help to put things into perspective. 

What’s stopping you from being a hero today?