More Than Best Friends – Anthology in aid of Guide Dogs For the Blind


Service dogs are invaluable to their owners in addition to loving family members who thank God for them each and every day. A great post from Sally Cronin to share with the whole of the world, if possible.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

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I am delighted today to showcase an anthology of stories for dog lovers that is also released to support one of the most incredible charities. We all know that dogs are loving, loyal and intelligent but for millions around the world they are also a life-line. The Guide Dogs for the Blind http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/ has made a life changing difference to both those completely blind and those who are partially sighted. Not only do they train companion dogs but they also fund ophthalmic research and campaign for Equal Rights within our community for those who have impaired sight.

‘The Guide Dogs story started in 1931 with two amazing British pioneers, Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond. These remarkable women organised the training of the first four British guide dogs from a humble lock up garage in Wallasey, Merseyside.’

Today this charity, that does not receive any government funding, supports nearly 5,000 blind…

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Unexpected Easter Gifts


Shopping after church this morning, I observed a young child whose head was bare of hair except for strands of dark blonde, here and there.  Wispy, some long while others short.  New growth spouted at her scalp, fuzzy in texture and darker in color.  Her eyes were bright emerald-green, reminding me of St. Patrick’s Day.   Beneath the ‘sparkle’ of her eyes were shadows of gray, lying in pockets like puffy clouds that hinted of rain.

From an isle away, I stopped my cart, not able to look away from this innocent one.  She dangled bony legs in a basket pushed by her loving mother who was obviously celebrating a day alone and away with her daughter.  In their basket, a dress of white ruffles with a yellow satin sash.  Smiling, the little girl lifted thin arms, hugging her mommy around the neck.  Bending down to plant loving kisses I noticed a tear or two fall from the mother’s face of blush pink.  Quickly, she wiped them away with the palm of her hand.

I was in the store shopping for two of my grand-daughters, both of whom are healthy.  I suspected the little one being pushed in the cart was not.  Around the corner was a rack of fancy hats.  All child-sized, some with colored rainbow ribbons falling in back, others with big bows to the side and more with flowers painted in colors of pastels.

At that moment I accidentally pushed my cart into the mother and child’s silver of the same.  The little girl desperately wanted to wear a hat for Easter Sunday, and her mother so wanted to purchase one for her.  Yet they were all too big on her tiny head of no hair.  “Can I ask your opinion,” the mother nearly whispered to me?  “Why sure,” I replied, with a smile to my face.  “Delighted to help.  Let’s see what we can find!”

At first it seemed a fruitless task.  The sweet child’s head seemed to be swallowed in every brim.  At that moment the little girl noticed what was in my cart.  Easter presents for my grand-daughters.  Big baby dolls with hats on their heads!  Beautiful hats with ribbons and lace and yes, flowers to their sides bursting in beautiful blooms!

With an “Ah-Ha” moment I asked the mother to wait right there.  Quickly, I went to the isle where baby dolls sat on shelves.  Choosing another with a beautiful hat atop its head, I ran towards the front of the store.  The hat was white with a pink satin sash around the middle of the wide brim.  To the side was pinned an enormous flower of pink with variegated petals dipped in lime and peach.  I quickly paid for my purchases before returning to the row where my new ‘friends’ could be found.  There I handed the mother a separate bag.  “Please accept this Easter gift on one condition.”  She blushed, not knowing what to say while peeking inside.  “I’d like to see how lovely your precious daughter looks in her new hat before I leave the store.”

With that the mother’s eyes welled with tears again while placing the new baby doll in her daughter’s arms.  The hat from the doll’s head was lifted atop her child’s own, where it fit perfectly.  Together, we wheeled their cart to a shiny mirror in order for the little one to see her new ‘hat’s self’ for the very first time.

Clutching the baby doll in arms of two, a forlorn little girl suddenly smiled with glee. Gently, she fingered flower petals as if seeing them for the very first time in the whole of her life.  “Oh, Mommy, it’s so pretty!  This new hat makes me look and feel like a princess!”

One week from today, I shall think of my new ‘friends’ on Easter Sunday, together with each and every year afterward.

Lessons Learned…..

0689-Easter-bunnies074_SummertownSun

What Are Your Traditions?


Seven days ago on March 19th a few steps were taken back in time down the carpeted stairs of my red brick home.  There, below the main level slept a spare bedroom with a nondescript bathroom.   Together, they waited all cozy and warm for March Madness to begin.

A buzz was in the air, much like you see and feel during holidays minus decorations everywhere.  Our big television was ablaze in all its LCD glory!  Red, white, royal blue and emerald-green uniforms waited for imaginary cheerleaders to jump out of their metal chairs.  To the left, a natural wicker table was set for a boys day of play.  On top, colorful bowls and baskets overflowed with taco chips, salsa dips, chicken wings and candy in case of low blood sugar attacks.

Ding-Ding!  What was that I heard?  ‘Doodle’ dog barking at the leaded glass door up above.  Running to open it, there he stood.  My oldest son, Jay, who took time off from work in order to watch basketball with his brother and father.  It had been a long-standing tradition in our small family for years and years.  Ever since the boys were very young like my husband had once been too.

In bounced my son’s service dog, Nimbus, his jet black tail knocking everything off tables before I had time to get to them.  Nothing mattered.  How glad I was to see them both!  Doodles jumped up and down with kisses of, “Hello.”  The two dogs rolled on the floor then chased each other all over the house.  Soon, the lab’s master firmly commanded, “PLACE!”

Minutes later, my youngest son popped over, jovial with a bear hug for his mama.  Warmth through and through.  A few minutes later my husband arrived home from his trip on the road, delighted to see his two sons already waiting for him.  So thrilled he was at the prospect of tradition.  Basketball together with March Madness plus so much more.

Jay and his dog were spending the night.  Too late to drive home after games played into overtime, he planned to sleep in a room that had once been his own.  How kind of his wife to extend this special gift to her husband.  Bonding time with his father and brother like no other.  Rare in these days of work that included varied shifts of hours never known.  Days and nights of travel, duplicate families, little children and babies of all ages.  Yes, grown-up lives….

And, an enormous “Thank You,” to my youngest son’s wife for holding down the fort all by herself with three babies at home.  Yes, three.  T.H.R.E.E!  Twins girls who are three months old plus a 17 month old daughter scattering every which way!  Such a gift to us all, but especially to my husband who rarely has such special time with both of his sons together.

March Madness.  Yes it’s about basketball, but in our house it’s so much more.  When I hear those two words, “March Madness,” it’s not a brown ball tossed through a hoop of white rope that comes to mind.

No, to me March Madness is all about tradition.  The tradition of family.  Bonding over munchies set on an old table of wicker.  Screaming faces in front of a screen that doesn’t respond.  Brackets, favorites, cheering and choosing.  Stomping feet, tossing heads in disbelief or smiling faces slapping high-fives!  Balancing paper plates on laps of sweat pants while taking notes with pencils of yellow.  Wiping mouths with printed paper napkins or hopping up in the air to yell, “No Fair!”

And, in the end hugging Good Bye to a son and brother in the dark of night.

Tradition….

“. . . listen like saguaros listening to cactus wrens”


Beautiful poem making me long for my father”s desert Arizona home.   I love and miss you, Dad!  🙂

Becoming is Superior to Being

7 Falls (1 of 1) sepia blogSonoran Desert Moonscape — Image by kenne

. . . listen like a mountain

listen like saguaros listening

to cactus wrens, coyotes, night

owl: listen like the owl

listen like the owl’s prey

jittery in rocks beneath bighorn’s

clocking feet: listen to the clock

listen to time, listen

to rattler’s warning maracas

listen, like the culebra, with

your tongues . . .

listen

carnales listen

to the hymn of it, the lie of it, the

prayer of it, the voices

singing our names: listen

it’s our story, it’s our song,

you’ve got to hear it — 

listen.

— from Listen, by Luis Alberto Urrea

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LollyPop Chalk


Like colors of chalk upon peppered cement, words wait for fingers to draw a story of a different kind.

In yellow and pink with blue and turquoise too, colors fill lines with shades of waiting….  

LollyPop colors to catch everyone’s eye.  Squished in the middle between hues of blues is a purple head poking up and out towards the right.  Slowly it sneaks apart waiting for a chance, like horses in a race or dogs soon to take chase.  If an innocent’s hand should move for a minute, sweat with one bead, scratch on the side or open wide a LollyPop head shall loft up, up and away.  Into the sky. Gone for good.  No coming back.  Not a chance.

“NO WAIT….It can’t!  There is a wish inside!  Come back!!”

Through green of trees the LollyPop head of chalk soared above blue bird’s nests of brown made of twigs, feathers, paper and mud.  Onward and upward it flew above chimneys and rooftops. Whee, so free it floated over hillsides of roaming cows and meadows of flowers. B.a.c.k and f.o.r.t.h like children on swings!  Push higher still to soar above woods and valleys with rivers so deep.  Shadows passed by the daily sun and soon the silver moon just so.  Yes, a purple puff of round carrying a single string below….Climbing above until it touched Heaven where golden keys unlocked a gate hidden behind clouds of frothy white.

“I’m sad to see you go, to say good-by, to let you go,”  said the little girl who clenched her fist so tight.  She wiped a tear, sorry that her purple balloon of chalk was gone.

Just then an angel appeared, dangling a broken string beneath her feathered wing.  A printed wish was tied to one end.  The angel told the child that all LollyPop’s chalk passing through the gates of Heaven magically turned into poofs of fairy dust.

Eyes of wide gazed at the angel in awe.  “Does this mean that my wish might still come true,” she asked, with hopefulness?

“It already has,” replied the angel,” looking back knowingly, as she flew toward Heaven.

chalk

Hearts of Dolls


Bittersweet.  A taste inside my mouth trickling down the back of my throat.  All the way down, down, down to the pink of my heart.

Today would have been my mother’s 79th birthday, yet she’s been gone for over four years.  She left this world far too soon.  Thankfully, my belief in God is comforting.  I believe she is at peace.

This morning, I spent time in my grand-children’s nursery playing with dolls.  Yes, you read my words correctly.  I played with dolls.  Baby dolls, Barbie dolls and Madame Alexander dolls plus every other brand in-between.

A very special cabinet once owned by my mother protects these treasures which were all part of her collection.  Together they were given to me by my father after she passed away. Shortly after he emptied his home, I wrote of this in a post entitled Cabinet Full of Heart http://wp.me/p41md8-14b .

Today this grand piece of glass with little wood is the center of my grand-children’s nursery.  It’s the first thing eyes of wide see upon entering their room.  Every visit, we sit and stare until a girl of little picks her chosen one for the day.  She holds it gently, combs hair of long or short and sleeps beside limbs of four during an hour of nap.

So yes, this morning on my mother’s birthday, the day after my own and my husband’s too, I played with dolls.  The very best present I could have given to her, all wrapped up in an imaginary pink bow of satin sent with love.   Later, when toddlers with curls and babies too, come to visit, she’ll be looking down upon us wearing feathered wings with dreams come true.

Never too old to lose the child within one’s heart. 

Riverwalk


The whole of the day was spectacular.  Sun sparkled high in the blue of everywhere while a warm breeze lofted through the air, even blowing through my hair.  A splendid sort of day, one where convertibles peeked out of garages for the very first time.  And yet, only a few short moons before a picture postcard of another sort grabbed me by the hand, luring me out to play.

I remember fingers of ten pushing down keys, naturally lifting them up while I sat behind a keyboard of basic black.  Earlier, I woke with a horrible migraine headache, my own Chronic Condition.  I visit a neurologist regularly, keep a ‘headache diary’ and know that prescription medication must be swallowed at the earliest onset in order to keep the pain at bay.  Hoping it will go away.

Hours before, rain had drizzled from the sky of night, dazzling the pavers of our driveway.  Glancing out long narrow windows of the turret in my office library, they glistened and looked brand new.  Mist hovered in the air surrounding them like tiny beads of steam bubbling on a glass door of clear during a hot shower.

As the morning went on, I continued to work while glaring at my computer screen.  Simple sounds of soft keys clicking up and down began to SCREAM at me.  Temples on each side of my head pulsated in unison.  What to do?  My headache was going to be endured regardless.  Literally, I threw caution to the wind.  Tossing on a raincoat, I drove to the nearest walking park near a lovely winding river.  I wanted to take deep breaths, to breathe cool damp air deep into my lungs, hoping my head would not be worse for wear.

The cool squishy ground together with puddles here and there were a gift to me.  The park was mine alone.  It was hushed quiet except for birds hiding in overgrown woods surrounding the grounds.  Grasses were golden damp while trunks of trees were painted green with stripes of lime colored moss.  Venturing toward the nearby river, toes of boots nudged piles of musty leaves, soaked from the rain while squirrels played tag a few steps away.

Around the bend I discovered a dead-end.  Erosion from the river had eaten a two lane road totally away together with most of the trail, making it unsafe for any passers-by. There was nothing to do but turn around.

Upon reaching my car, I shook my head in disbelief.  No more headache.  I  thanked God for this relief from pain.  Taking in one last look around the park, I noticed a Robin strutting close by.  Bright red in breast, he tossed a pink worm.  Up…up…up into the air, fresh from a cocoa colored puddle that lay atop the grass of golden brown.

Never thankful for a migraine headache, everything truly happens for a reason.  Sometimes hidden until later, waiting for the curtain to be parted or a season of newness to begin.

Yes, always a Lesson for me.