Category Archives: dogs

My name is Baxter …

and I’m in trouble.

First off, let me say that it wasn’t my fault; not entirely, anyway.

I am eight months old and am pretty big for my age.  I came to live with these great people on this big farm with lots of space to run, other dogs to play with, or sometimes run from, depending on their mood, and a bunch of other people coming in and out at all hours.

Oh, and goats.

And a pond.

It’s a really great place to live and I’m learning things like how to sit when I’m told and to stay when I’m told. I bark at leaves and wind and really get excited when that big brown truck full of boxes comes around.

I really like it here.

Apparently this time of year is special because lots of people have come by with very loud sticks that they take into the woods and them come back out, sometimes with only the loud stick, but sometimes with a thing I’ve heard them call a “deer” or a “buck”.  They talk about “bagging one” but so far, I haven’t seen any bags, although I don’t know what a bag is or what it looks like.

The things that came out of whatever they bagged are what got me in trouble, but I reiterate that it wasn’t entirely my fault.

I distinctly heard one of my favorites of my new people tell the ones who appear to be the Alphas of the place that I was a thinker and problem solver.  I don’t think they believed her.

As it happens, I am both of those things and because of it, I found myself in a unique situation.

There is a lot of work that goes into doing whatever they do to the things that are bagged without bags and it seems that some parts are more important than others.

I, along with my new dog pals Moe, Molly and Blue (he’s the one that scares me a bit, but he doesn’t know how big I’ll grow, hehehe), sometimes get to take part in the ritual that follows the bagging by being thrown pieces of what they take out of it.

It’s pretty good stuff, I’ll have to say.  I have not been disappointed, though I did get some red stuff on me and my favorite person fussed over me like I was hurt or something.  I don’t know what all that was about, but I loved the attention and the delicious cookies she gave me after.

I’ve gotten a little off point of talking about my trouble, but here is the thing … those reddish looking pieces of something were just hanging there in what the baggers with the loud sticks called the shed and they smelled really good.

I have a keen nose and was, naturally, quite interested.

They were pretty high up, too high for me to reach even standing on my hind legs and stretching; and I can stretch a long way.  I noticed a contraption of some kind under them and as I looked at it and looked at the hanging things, I began to formulate a plan.

Since some stuff the humans took in the house and other stuff they threw to me and my pals, I figured that whatever was hanging out of our reach must be pretty darn good.

I paced a bit, back and forth around the shed and kept coming back to the contraption that I’d seen them ride in.

After a bit of consideration, I realized that I was big enough and strong enough to climb into the back of that contraption which would make me much taller than my already fairly tall self.

So I went for it.  After getting in the back of the contraption, I was able to rare up and get my powerful jaws around one of those things hanging in the shed.

It was like nothing I’d ever tasted.  I was so excited that I went back and ate them all.

As it turned out, I learned a bit later, they were “deer hams” and something the humans prize very highly when they bag one of those critters with their noisy sticks.

They were pretty angry.  I learned that word that day.  I also learned “unhappy”, “bad dog”, “for the love of God”, and some others I can’t pronounce and judging from the faces that the words came from, I probably shouldn’t repeat them anyway.

I can’t promise that I won’t do it again because they were

SO.

VERY.

GOOD.

I’m hoping they will hang more of them, but my fear is that they have learned a valuable lesson about my prowess, intelligence and problem solving super powers.

See, as it turns out, it wasn’t even remotely my fault because number one, I can’t drive and didn’t park that contraption under the prized parts and number two, at the time I didn’t know any better.

I know better now, but boy howdy, those things were delicious and hope springs eternal.

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A moment of clarity …

is priceless.

Like fine wine from a stellar year.  A bottle unopened and virginal in it’s uniqueness.

A moment of clarity when all of the world is in color, without shades of gray, without confusion that masks the wonders as the snow on an old TV.  Clarity without aluminum foil to make the picture clear.

I love these moments.  They are like photographs that have been taken simply to remind me that this moment isn’t all there is.

There is more.

There is much more.

I am feeling hyper these days and that makes me anxious.  It is such a small step from hyper to manic and I work dilligently to not be manic.

It comes when it comes and I have no say about it.

But it hurts those I care about.

I don’t care so much about myself.  This is my life and I live it, but when it touches others, it hurts me on a level that is far beyond what I feel capable of handling.

I am me.

I don’t know how to be anyone else.

I don’t, however, want to be a burden to my friends.

Yes, I am hyper, but am not yet manic.

It is only a matter of time.

I try to close myself off from everyone when this happens, but there are a few that I lean on and hope that, when all is said and done, they will forgive me yet again.

They are the people who bring me back to reality when I stray and they know who they are.

I only hope they know I don’t take them for granted.

Just a day in the life.

It isn’t always pretty, but more often than not, it is.  I live for the “it is” moments.

I am a survivor and this impending event will not break me.

It may bend me, but it will not break me.

I get by with  a little help from my friends.

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Beemer, a sweet Great Pyrenees, shows his Hollywood

Taking it easy, literally …

As a photographer …

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days like today are off the charts on the  list of experiences that I don’t want to miss.  It was simply my good fortune that the company I work for decided to open on a delayed schedule, giving me two extra hours.  Two extra hours on a bright, sunny, blue-skied morning that followed on the heels of a big, heavy snow.  As I look out my windows, I see that overnight, the entire world has been turned into a painting and I, being mortal, have it in my mind that I’m going to try to capture it; freeze it as it looks to me.  Hoping to do it justice.

I know when I’ve nailed a shot.  I don’t know a photographer who doesn’t.  Ansel Adams was quoted as saying “Sometimes I get there just at the moment God wants someone to click the shutter”.  He knew. That moment the shutter snaps, I am without doubt that even if nothing else I have shot the entire day satisfies me, this one shot will make every minute worth it.

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There isn’t always “that shot”, though.  Some days, there is a handful of mediocre photographs and nothing that stands out.  There isn’t that one; the image that is full of words and in the words within the image, beauty.  That’s what I strive for, what I aspire to do; at times, it is all I can think about.   If only there was more time.

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This day, the epitome of a winter morning, the kind of day I fantasize about; today, pure and simply, leaves me speechless.  Let the images speak for themselves.

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On the Eve of New Year’s Eve …

I have found myself looking back over memories of the past year.  While some of the looking has been within the vast memories of my mind and heart, most of the thoughts have been invoked from the photographs that depict the life I have lived.  While I appear in but a few of the photographs (part of being the photographer), they depict what I have found to be inspiring, beautiful, profound, enlightening and without doubt, some of the most exceptional moments I could ask for.

I have learned that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you know (or think you know), there is more to learn.   People are complex and, at the same time, simple and beautiful  My niece Gracie has Down’s Syndrome, but I’ve learned from her that the things that make people different aren’t an anomaly or defect, but something to be praised and honored.  She reminds me that, if I get lonely, I only have to look into myself to find company.  She only sees the beauty, the positive and she never fails to offer a smile.  She reminds me to smile, even when I don’t feel like smiling.

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I have learned that I don’t have be alone when I want to go to the hard places; that there are people willing to go with me, not because they want to go, but because they know I want to.  A long and arduous trek to the White Rocks this Autumn brought this thought process to fruition.  My sister knew how much I wanted to go and because she didn’t want me to go alone, she, along with my niece, Sophie and cousin, Emily, made the journey.  It was exhausting and breathtaking and full of fellowship and fun.  It reminded me that there are people in my life who care about the things that are important to me and want to help me succeed in finding them.  These are memories that, as long as my mind lasts, will stay with me, for they are precious beyond words that can describe them.

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I learned, through my niece Sophie, what it means to be courageous and not to balk when an obstacle presents itself in my path.  She is fearless and has a sense of adventure that makes me proud.  I’d like to think that, somewhere in her heart, she has a tiny bit of me and that between the two of us, we can see and experience everything.  She, while sometimes a challenge, is an inspiration to me and a constant comfort.  She is beautiful and strong and reminds me that life, even when it seems to be mediocre, is an incredible journey that should be loved, for the moment, at the moment; the rest will fall into place when it should.

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I have been reminded that music has no boundaries when it comes to what moves the soul.  I have been introduced to new music that has touched my heart in such a way, that it will never, ever be the same.  Friends come into my life and then fade away, but the mark they leave is everlasting and causes a chain reaction of the thirst for knowledge of music in its purest form  and the peace that it brings to my mind.  For those who have influenced me, I am thankful, for there is much I would have gone my whole life without knowing had there not been special ones to show me that there was more than what I thought possible.  Music always has and will continue to be a balm to my spirit.  I am grateful for the musicians that have graced my life and made it, because of their presence in it, richer and more beautiful than I could imagine.

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I have been reminded just how wonderful it is to have the love of a beloved pet.  One who will let  me hold them way too tightly as I cry into their soft fur.  One who knew all of my secrets and then took them to heaven with them, for I cannot imagine that these sweet animals that stole my heart could be anywhere other than in Heaven.  They were my friends, my confidants and my loved ones.  As I think of them now, tears run down my face, for I miss them terribly.   They were the best of me.  The purest of me.  And the most loyal of any friend I have ever known.  They were an extension of myself and brought me great joy, teaching me even as they lived, what it meant to be a friend.  I have learned so much from them and thankful to have had them, for but a moment, it seems, in my life.

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I’ve been reminded that sometimes, something as simple as a ride on a tire swing can bring joy unspeakable.  Through time and space, I was transported to my childhood and immersed in the beauty of the memories that bring me happiness.  There is nothing like being reminded of happier times to bring a smile and moment of happiness to my heart.  I am thankful that the little ones that I am blessed to be a part of their lives, who remind me what it was like to be a child, to be carefree and to have no worries other than when I get to swing again.  My blessings continue to mount as I reminisce over the past year.

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My parents, whom I am blessed to still have in my life, have been a profound influence on me. The took me to church when I was but a babe and, while there were times I didn’t want to be there, it all came full circle when I came to the point when I wanted to give my life to Christ.  They encouraged me when I was down, supported me when I was an embarrassment to them and loved me when I was, as I know there were times when I was, unlovable.  I owe so much to them.  My parents.  My biggest fans.  My rocks.

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I am reminded of those who have gone to be with God, who will grace this life I live no longer, other than in memory, and am not ashamed at the falling of the tears at there absence.  I am richer for those I have known, more blessed for the ones that have graced my life and more fulfilled because some of the most wonderful people I have ever known have passed through my life.  It has, while moments of sadness would say otherwise, been an incredible year of learning and discovery.  I am blessed beyond what I deserve and am thankful for every experience.  Not all of them have been good, but through each one, I have grown a bit, both spiritually and in the human factor.  I have no regrets.  I have no wishes for do-overs.  While there are those that have left a lasting impression on my life, be they alive or dead, I am grateful.  Each experience has brought me closer to that which is written that I should accomplish.  I am thankful.  I am grateful.  I am in awe of my Awesome God.

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Through it all, there is joy unspeakable in the beauty that my Heavenly Father reveals to me, through His astounding beauty and wonderful works.  I am thankful for all that I have learned this year and anxiously await what He has in store for the next.  God Bless my friends, followers, family and everyone who feels that their life has, for one reason or another, been in vain.  Know that you are important to so many and that without your influence, things, at least for me, would have much less wonderful.

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For each moment, each experience, each happiness, each sorrow, each disappointment, each joy, each heartbreak, each smile, each tear, each lesson … I am grateful.  I can  only hope that the next year will bring as much knowledge, love and friendship as this one.  I am grateful.  More than words can say, even through the hard times, which have been many, I am, thankful and optimistic.  That is my nature.  I am a Christian and a Sagittarius … What choice do I have, after all?

Dogs are man’s best friend …

up until the point when they start barking all night, every night,  just outside the window; then friend becomes past tense and nuisance takes its place.  What is it that makes dogs want to bark at air?  When I was a kid, I often heard my dad say to me and my sister that he wasn’t talking just to hear his head roar, but I have to wonder if the same is true when it comes to dogs.  Do they do it simply to ensure to themselves that they are still able to make the sound?  Or perhaps they perceive, in the black and darkened nothingness of the middle of the night, some kind of being that is unperceptible to the human eye.  Unperceptible is not, as Merriam-Webster will tell you, a real word, but in my life, at this moment, and every moment for the past few nights, it is real; I am coining it even as I write this post.

Living on a farm in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, is supposed to be a peaceful, wonderful, life-altering experience; one that allows you to get closer to nature, closer to God and just feel good about being alive.  It used to be that way for me, up until the moment when the dogs all went crazy.  I had the spotlight out last night trying to see what they were barking at, thinking that the enemy had finally infiltrated the camp and we were all destined for death.  I didn’t see anything but rocks.  So I yelled at the dogs and they stopped barking; for about five minutes.  As I tried to drift back off to sleep, the sound started up again.  This time, when I yelled at them, or mayhaps, more aptly, squalled at them, it wasn’t quite so nicely.  Again, they stopped barking for about five minutes.  I remember praying that they would not bark anymore that night, but I suppose that God had more pressing things to attend to at the moment than barking dogs.

When they started up again, I began to think of all the ways that I could murder them.  But it was dark, cold and I was still half-asleep, so the choices were limited.  I don’t own, now have I ever fired a gun, so that was out.  The cast iron skillet would have made a dent, but as I said, it was dark and cold and I was in my sleep attire, which is not suitable for dark, cold nights in the back yard chasing dogs with a cast-iron skillet.

When three AM came along and the sound of their barking woke me once again, I became desperate.  I searched my house for an adequate weapon to use upon the creatures that I had loved dearly, at least up until this moment.  I found the lids to a couple of pots and took them to the back door.  I yelled loudly words that I dare not print and banged the lids together.  The dogs, all three of them who were causing the ruckus, tucked their tail between their legs and went into the warm, hay-filled shelter that my dad makes for them each winter.  I didn’t hear another peep all night.  Needless to say, I have my pot lids close by and am ready if they start their nightly bark-fest.  I am starting to realize that while I still love dogs, it is only during daylight hours.

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