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Remembering Roxie: One Year Later

Roxie loved laying outside on the cool concrete. (2005)

Roxie loved lying outside on the cool concrete. (2005)

Roxie the Hunter. (2003)

Roxie the Hunter. (2003)

One year gone.  I can’t even begin to recount the many ways I miss her. She’s been in my head constantly this past week. I celebrate her daily. She was one of the greatest gifts in my life.

Even as a puppy, Roxie had the most expressive eyes. There’s truth in the saying, the eyes are the window to the soul. Her eyes were always full of love, mischief and wonder.

January 11, 2014Michael left for work and I’m sitting here in silence feeling numb but thankful. It’s been three days.

My boys are curled up, Collins in the crook of my arm, eyes half closed– purring. Cash is snuggled against me with his head in my lap. I think he slept like I did last night, tossing and turning. The slightest sound and he’d raise his head– looking for her.

Laying on Cash, Snuggling as usual. (2006)

Roxie on Cash, Snuggling as usual. (2006)

Roxie and Cash were brother and sister from the same litter. Roxie was the runt of the litter which might have contributed to a number of her health issues over the years. She was always much smaller than Cash and never really had the traditional Boxer’s physique.

Roxie was the hunter. If there was a critter in the yard– she’d find it. Roxie would track them down and alert Cash, who would go in for the attack.

This was particularly troublesome with skunks. Roxie usually found them– but Cash always got the worst of the spray.

Roxie was the one who found and rescued Cozette, as a newborn kitten, in our backyard.

I also think she instigated most of the duos adventures, getting them into trouble. She was just better at not getting caught.

Roxie and Cash play-fighting in the snow.

Roxie and Cash play-fighting in the snow. (2004)

Roxie loved the snow. She loved to run and play in it; and of course, eat it.

She loved to eat! She was always hungry– Furniture, toys, books, Christmas ornaments, pillows, sticks…. it was all a buffet to her.

 

September 17, 2014A stuffed monkey head. What’s the big deal? It’s just a chewed up monke– Scratch that. Her monkey head. I found myself going through the toy box cleaning it up, time to throw out some of the old. worn out toys. Another step in letting go.

Roxie, May 2013.

Roxie, May 2013.

As time passes I see her so differently in my head. The image of her spirit and soul take over and blur my memory. I see the younger, more vibrant Roxie. I see her love and affection. My mind has started to erase her frailties. It’s startling to see pictures of her from her last few months. It’s not the way I remember her.

December 18, 2014That moment when you’re decorating and you go to hang an ornament… And it spins around and you see where Roxie chewed it, her last Christmas and the waterfall starts and doesn’t want to stop. ‪#‎loveneverdies‬

No matter what the challenge– even after she was diagnosed with diabetes insipidus, she was always happy and affectionate. Though her body started to age rapidly, she remained a spirited puppy at heart.

Today, in remembrance, I want to put the grief aside and celebrate the pure joy she brought to our lives. I’m remembering her playful mischief. I’m smiling, remembering her crazy excitement, twisting her body– doing her kidney bean dance, whenever we’d come home. I’m thinking about hours of warm snuggles and wet sloppy kisses. My sweet, sweet, angel- baby girl.

Roxie, November 2013.

Roxie, November 2013.

Napping with a much younger Roxie, 2003.

Napping with a much younger Roxie, 2003.

Beautiful Christmas: What It Means To Me

Christmas Eve Today

Christmas Eve Today

It was hot and uncomfortable where we sat, in folding chairs, on a dimly lit stage. We were all turned upstage, facing an old, out-of-tune piano. Our music teacher, Mrs. Blanchard, came in– carrying her usual load of music and instruments. She was followed by the scent of her trademark perfume, Tabu– choking us all, within minutes of her arrival.

She asked one of my classmates to help pass out the freshly mimeographed copies of the Christmas medley she’d put together for us to perform at our Christmas concert, in just a few weeks. Us, sing? In a concert? We were quite a motley crew. While most of us tried to sing, my friend Alex was busy trying to distract everyone. Always the class clown.

Mrs. Blanchard would try to ignore him. Often she’d grab him by the ear or the arm and make him sit on the bench next to her– which usually only made things worse.

She’d give him the evil eye and turn her back to us, facing the piano. Her long, manicured nails would click and clack on the keys of the piano as she would bang out the notes, trying to teach us harmony:

Spinning the dial from station to station,

We hear Christmas songs old,

And some that are new…

Mrs. Blanchard, would stop and look at us, usually grimacing; her painted on eyebrows raised. It was a look that put fear into us. A look, that would sometimes melt into a smile, sending audible sighs of relief around the room. At times, she reminded us of the witch in the Wizard of Oz; but we loved her and wanted to please her.

Somehow, we did managed to put on a Christmas concert that year. I played the drum for The Little Drummer Boy. And it was magical.

This picture says it all. (And I used to be cute.)

This picture says it all. (And I used to be cute.)

One year– I think it was kindergarten, I was a toy soldier. Years later, I played Joseph in the nativity. Christmas concerts, church cantatas and pageants were a big part of my growing up.

I can still remember believing in Santa and the anticipation of gifts on Christmas morning. I remember my sister and I sneaking into my parents’ closet— trying to steal a peak at our hidden gifts.

But, what I remember most about Christmas— was the lights. I still have vivid memories of seeing the amazing Christmas lights and giant Christmas cards that surrounded the Indiana War Memorial Plaza, in the heart of Indianapolis, with my parents.

I remember riding in the car, either coming home from Christmas shopping or visiting relatives– trying to look out the window and see all the Christmas lights along the way.

I remember pulling out boxes of old Christmas decorations with my Dad and spending hours— trying to untangle lights and replace burned out bulbs.

As a child, snow and Christmas lights were magic to me.

So there should be little wonder as to why I decorate as much as I do today.

Christmas is magical.

It’s the one time of year that it’s okay for us all to be kids again.

My wonderful Grandma.

My wonderful Grandma.

Every Christmas I feel especially close to my Grandmother, who passed away when I was a senior in college. She taught me so many things without really intending to, I imagine. She brought out a lot of my creativity through the many hours we spent baking and crafting together when I was young. My grandparents weren’t rich— but the Christmases we shared with them were always magical.

My parents were always careful to balance all the different aspects of the holidays, careful to keep the emphasis on the real reason for the season. We didn’t have a lot growing up– but we had everything.

To me, more than anything, Christmas is a feeling. Sometimes I feel it in my heart and sometimes in my gut. Sometimes it’s magical and sometimes it’s bittersweet. It’s a time to look ahead– and a time of remembrance.

My sister and I re-enacting the Nativity.

My sister and I re-enacting the Nativity.

Christmas is a time of wonder and awe– that the birth of an innocent child so many centuries ago, could ignite generation after generation with promise– and lead the world on a journey towards the eternal search for light and truth. The miracle of birth and rebirth.

Christmas is the time for us all to take a step back and view the world through the eyes and heart of a child. The eyes of innocence. The heart that can still believe. Where a world can still be guided by love and peace. A world where there is still hope. A world full of magic. A world where dreams and miracle can come true.

Christmas really is for children.

May this Christmas reawaken the child in all of us.

Beautiful Christmas: 321 Division Street – A Peek Inside

As promised, here are a few Christmas pictures inside our house. We’re currently celebrating the house’s 125th Anniversary.

I finally finished my Department 56 Christmas in the City village yesterday even though it was the first thing I started back in November. There are approximately 80 houses and 200 accessories.

I tried to include a variety of pictures featuring some of our 12 indoor trees.

A view of the man cave.

A view of the basement man cave.

A corner of our kitchen.

A corner of our kitchen.

The Foyer from the front door.

The Foyer from the front door.

The Department 56, Christmas in the City village.

The Department 56, Christmas in the City village.

Looking up at the Foyer Christmas Tree.

Looking up at the Foyer Christmas Tree.

The Foyer Christmas tree from the second floor.

The Foyer Christmas tree from the second floor.

The dining room, originally the second or family parlor.

The dining room, originally the second or family parlor.

The front parlor.

The front parlor.

The front parlor during the day.

The front parlor during the day.

Front Parlor- Night view.

Front Parlor- Night view.

Smaller Foyer tree by the front door.

Smaller Foyer tree by the front door.

Mercury Glass Ornaments in the front Parlor.

Mercury Glass Ornaments in the front Parlor.

Cherubs on the Foyer tree.

Cherubs on the Foyer tree.

Mantle decor.

Mantle decor.

 

Savory Sweets for the Season

My first day of holiday baking. I wanted to share my new versions of a couple of favorites. Both are super easy to make.

Cranberry-Cashew Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry-Cashew Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry-Cashew Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen medium-sized cookies.

Here’s a recipe I adapted that is quite easy and decadent. It has a rich, refined taste that isn’t overly sweet. It makes a perfect dough for cookie cutters too.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut parchment paper to fit two large cookie sheets.

Ingredients

2 cups flour, sifted

2 sticks salted butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries

1/4 cup finely chopped cashews

Using a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, then add vanilla. Add the sifted flour a little at a time until completely blended. Last, add the finely chopped cranberries and cashews. Remove from mixer and form into a ball and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. This helps to firm the dough for rolling and cutting into shapes.

Note: It’s important that your dried cranberries and cashews are chopped up fine so that the pieces don’t hinder your ability to cut cookies into shapes.

Take the chilled dough and place on a large sheet of parchment paper and flatten a bit with the palm of your hand. Place another sheet of parchment on top on the dough and roll out until about a quarter-inch thick.

Note: Using parchment paper is an easy mess-free alternative to rolling on a lightly floured surface. It also keeps the cookie dough from becoming too dry.

Use a flour-coated cookie cutter to cut shapes, placing them on the prepared cookie sheet.  After first shapes are cut, re-form the excess dough in a ball, flatten, roll and cut more shapes, repeat until dough is used up.

Note: You can also make the dough ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes before you’re ready to shape and bake.

Bake about ten minutes. Or only until the edges show slight signs of browning.

Let cool and enjoy!

 

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Makes approximately 100 cluster pieces.

This recipe is a variation of the crock pot candy recipe that has been circulating. It’s really easy to make and highly addictive! The perfect treat for all those chocolate-peanut butter fanatics.

Set up your crock pot and set on low heat. Roll out parchment paper on your counter or on cookie sheets.

Ingredients

2 pounds white almond bark or Vanilla CandiQuik

1 package of milk chocolate chips (approx. 12 ounces)

1 package of semisweet chocolate chips (approx. 12 ounces)

32 ounces of dry roasted peanuts

1 package of peanut butter chips (like Reeses’ Baking Chips) added last

Dump all the ingredients except the peanut butter chips into the crock pot and let cook (melt) for about an hour without stirring. After an hour, stir briefly, to combine– every 10-15 minutes  for about another hour. Turn off the crock pot and just before you are ready to spoon out the clusters, add the bag of peanut butter chips and stir just enough to combine without completely melting the peanut butter chips. Don’t over stir at this point.

Drop spoonfuls on to the parchment, smaller or larger depending on the size you prefer. Let cool completely (to prevent sticking) before storing in a closed container.

I Was Framed! – Creating a Memory Wall

You’ve made some great memories over the years and would love to share them with others. Vacations, family events, great times with friends… and you even managed to get some great pictures of the occasions. Sure, it’s easy to store and look at them on your computer… share them on Facebook… maybe you even have an actual photo album. (Old school!) How often do you look at them though?

When we bought our house, there was a cinder block stairway going from the first floor to the basement– required when the house was briefly used as a restaurant. On of the first things we did was cover the walls with oak paneling and stain them. An improvement– but we still had these big empty walls.

So I started a memory wall.

IMG_8400

Looking down the stairway at our memory walls.

Our memory wall has old and new photos alike. Friends, family, vacations, our pets– are all featured on those walls now. We have a mass of photos– large and small- posed and candid snapshots intermingled.

It’s a giant collage of beautiful memories.

If you have the space, this could be the perfect way to relive happy memories– daily; every time you pass by.

Most people only display a few pictures in their home that aren’t art. If they are pictures of the kids or a family photo– then the tendency is to try and keep them updated with current photos, which isn’t always easy to do. Posed photos can be nice but don’t really represent you the way you really are. So why not create a wall you can add to– instead of taking down old photos and framing new ones?

This obviously isn’t a new idea. One of the reasons I did it, was because this type of collage was something commonly done in Victorian houses over a hundred years ago. So I thought– in keeping with the period of the house– we could build a fun, wall of memories over time.

Whether you have an old house or new; and whether you have a large space or perhaps just an empty wall at the end of a hallway– this might work for you.

Here are some ideas:

There are unlimited styles of frames to choose from.

There are unlimited styles of frames to choose from.

Frames. From the beginning, I planned to use all different sizes and types of frames. This makes it easy to shop for, and you only have to buy what you need at the time. If you want a more modern, contemporary or symmetrical look; you’re better off buying all the frames at once. Even if this means many of them will sit empty in a closet until they are ready to use. Stores change the frames they carry, frequently. You won’t likely be able to purchase more of the same exact frame in, say, five years.

I watch for sales and clearance throughout the year and have picked up some great deals– many 70-90% off. After the first of the year, I’ve noticed many stores will clearance frames– sometimes whole product lines. This holds true for both contemporary and classic-style frames.

Matted Photographs or Not? This is a matter of taste. I have a combination of matted photos and those that are not. Matted photographs can definitely create a richer or more uniform look, if that’s what you are going for. If you shop with this in mind, you can find some really nice frames with the mattes already included. You can also buy mattes in a variety of colors or have them custom made to your size and color specifications at a frame or hobby store.

Getting Your Prints and Enlargements. There are so many available options for printing and enlarging photographs today. The quality definitely varies from store to store. Many local stores let you order online but sometimes you can’t view what the cropped or enlarged photo will look like ahead of time. You can end up with an important part of the picture being cut out that you really wanted to keep. Different sizes will have a different amount of the original frame (not the entire original image)– few are full frame.

Many of the local drug and department stores don’t have people running the equipment that will know how to fix any problems that might come up. Many are completely automated. I ordered a print enlargement where they cut off half the subjects face. Another time, the quality of the black tones were blue; and the clerk wasn’t able to fix the problem and reprint it. Local places may be inexpensive but the quality can be hit or miss.

I prefer to use Shutterfly.com or Snapfish.com for the majority of my photo reproductions and enlargements. Both have frequent sales, sometimes free shipping, you can preview the photo ‘crop’; and the quality, in my experience, is always reliable. Service is usually quick too. (Within a week.)

If you have prints done locally, don’t be afraid to ask for help– or refuse them, if they are unacceptable. If it’s not what you expected, you don’t have to pay for them.

Framed photos ready to hang.

Framed photos ready to hang.

Framing Your Pictures. When you frame your pictures, make sure you clean both sides of the glass.

I open the frame, take out the backing and matte, if there is one. Clean the inside of the the glass, making sure there are no streaks and it’s wiped dry. Then, put the matte in (if you’re using one) followed by the picture. If you use a matte, make sure to line it up and tape it in place with an archive-safe tape so it won’t damage the photo over time. (Many of the transparent (magic) tapes qualify. Never use masking tape!) Put any filler (sometimes there’s cardboard) and the backing back on the photo, making sure the hanger is in the right direction, the picture fits snug; and seal the back. Flip the frame over and clean the glass. Many times there are stickers that leave adhesive on the surface that comes up easily with a little glass cleaner. If you have trouble, try Goof Off— but then you’ll still need to clean with glass cleaner because it leaves a film.

Arranging Your Wall. There’s no wrong or right way to display your photographs on your wall. Keep in mind, if you place them in rows, it’s probably a good idea to make sure your wall and picture line are straight. That is, unless you want a crooked row of pictures.

I hung pictures in groups leaving space to add more over time.

I hung pictures in groups leaving space to add more over time.

If you aren’t doing rows and want a more collage-style like I used, there are a couple things to consider. Laying out your photos this way is easier than placing them in rows. If you are starting a collection that you’ll want to add to over time– Try groupings of photos. Take into account the open spaces; leaving room for a framed photo between groups that you can fill in, when you are ready, at a later date. Translation: Don’t leave a space for a 5×7 frame if you think you’ll want to put an 8×10 there later. Don’t forget that the frame is larger than the print! You may need a 13×20 space for an 11×17 photo, or a framed and matted 8×10. Frames come in all different sizes, there is no real standard thickness to the frame itself. Because of this, I leave varying sized spaces between pictures as well.

I should also mention that if you want to tell a story with you framed photos– chronological order, for example; you need to plan this in your layout.

At the bottom of the stairs, I have a section dedicated to theatre.

At the bottom of the stairs, I have a section dedicated to theatre.

In my hall, I have groupings on three walls that have grown over time– but still have plenty of room to add more. I started with smaller grouping and just add one here and there when I’m ready. My collection is random so it’s easy to do. If I add pictures to the walls a couple times a year– I may add one to this wall and three to that wall. Seldom placed together (the new ones) to keep the randomness.

I hope that makes sense.

My hallway is one on my favorite places because it is filled with wonderful memories.

Guests always like to stop, even briefly, to glance at the photographs. It’s always fun to see if they can find themselves, if they are framed there too.

 

Christmas Gift Idea: Things Every House Should Have

mystery giftHoliday gift buying gets more and more difficult each year. I HATE gift cards. Even though some people may love getting them– they just seem so impersonal. I don’t like to spend a lot on potentially unwanted tchotchkes either.

What is the point of exchanging gift cards? I give you a $20 gift card and you give me one back. Okay. What was accomplished? Why not just pass the $20 bill back and forth and call it a day? Giving a gift card to someone is not the same as exchanging gift cards. Understand?

Gift cards or E-certificates are great to send to people miles away; or a last minute gift. I’m just not a fan of them when their are other alternatives.

mystery-giftSo what do you get the person that is impossible to buy for?

While I was decorating this weekend, it struck me– how many little things I kept needing that you normally might not think about. It’s great if you already have them and extremely annoying if you don’t.

That gave me the idea for a perfect, inexpensive Christmas gift that everyone can use: Things That Every House Should Have. This is a gift you could put together for any occasion! It’s a gift that will last throughout the year.

Now this isn’t an emergency kit (which could also be a possible gift solution) and it’s also not a crafter’s kit (another good one). How about a collection of simple items that everyone needs and you could use everyday?

If you make up several of these gifts, you can buy multi-packs of items and break them up.

Here are some suggestions you might want to include:

  • Transparent tape ( I prefer invisible archive- safe tape)tape
  • Electrical tape (available in many colors)
  • Wire (I like Ook 18mm gauge- there’s a wire cutter on the package!)
  • Twist ties
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife,ook
  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Sharpie or permanent marker
  • Small screwdriver
  • Thumb tacks and/or nails
  • Plastic cable ties (come in many colors)Scotchbrite
  • Safety pins,
  • Sponge (I like Scotch Brite)
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Thick rubber bands…

14inch50LBCableTiesYou might also add:

  • Batteries (AA are the most common and I’d recommend including four, if any)
  • Hammer
  • Spool of ribbon or string
  • Duct or masking tape (both do leave a residue)
  • Chalk
  • Felt pads (for the bottoms of furniture or bottoms of deco items that can scratch surfaces)
  • Velcrogoofoff
  • Needle and thread
  • Goof Off: Heavy Duty Spot Remover and Degreaser (can clean most anything)
  • Dawn Dish-Washing Liquid (best eco-safe, grease remover)
  • Wet Wipes
  • Lens wipes (good for any glass, computer & phone screen, etc.)
  • Aspirin… the list could go on and on.

I don’t recommend those little picture hanging kits– they are usually cheaply made and hard to work with; nails are too tiny and bend, usually not enough wire to be useful.

I’m also not a fan of those adhesive “easy release” hooks and hangers. I’ve tried them and they don’t usually hold the claimed weight (if they stick at all), can be affected by temperature, and do often leave marks.

Use your imagination.

Whether you fill a stocking, a gift bag, a box or a tool kit– this is a gift that: shows some thought, gives you some room for a little creativity; and is something that everyone can use for months to come.

You might want to include a poem or a “thinking of you every day”- type note to personalize it.

This little kit could also make a great birthday, anniversary, graduation, open house, or friendship gift.

AND — you can always add that gift card. If you really must.

Happy Gifting!

Beautiful Christmas: Twenty One Trees- Decorating Outside

Some of the 21 trees I put up, waiting to be fluffed and lit.

Some of the 21 trees I put up, waiting to be fluffed and lit.

Twenty-one trees. No big deal. (Ha-ha!)

We had a bit of a warm up two weekends ago, so I took advantage of it and got my trees and stakes in the ground.  Then we froze again. I’m glad I started early so I wasn’t forced to work on them in the low teens.

This past weekend I was able to finish fluffing the branches, running the power and lighting the trees. The temperature was in the 40s so it wasn’t too painful. Now we’re back in the low 20s again.

Depending where you live, the weather can play a huge factor in your plans to decorate outside.

Fluffed and lit. Here are some of my 21 trees at dawn.

Fluffed and lit. Here are some of my 21 trees at dawn.

I had told myself I was going to keep it simple (like that EVER happens) and decorate the same as last year, but—- I never seem to be able to do that.

First off, I got some new lights on clearance, last year after Christmas, that I wanted to use. (I got some of those expensive synchronizing lights at 80% off!) The next thing I knew, I was making additional changes here and there. Most of those new lights are on the front porch but one thing affects another.

I decided to spread out the trees instead of the big circle I did last year. I have three groups, two of six and one of nine trees. They are all set away from the house, creating more depth in the yard and making it more fun to walk around.

You might wonder why I put out artificial trees instead of decorating the landscape itself– simple answer: squirrels! Anytime I’ve tried decorating my live trees, the squirrels chew the cords. It’s not only annoying– it’s expensive. (I’m using all LED lights.) Aside from hiding their scavenged treats in them once in a while, the squirrels tend to leave the fake trees alone.

Some of the trees I use are more than 15 years old, dropping needles pretty bad and no longer suitable to use inside. A dozen of them I got at Home Depot after Christmas for $4 each one year. It might look expensive, but it was a whole lot cheaper than what a lot of people spend for a much smaller display.

I’m not quite done with my windows yet and they play a big part in the exterior display. My house is too tall and the porches create another obstacle (as well as visual highlight) to decorating; making it difficult to decorate the upper extremes. The icicle lights and snowflakes in the windows, not to mention the trees; contribute to the overall finished exterior look.

Front porch entrance, almost complete.

Front porch entrance, almost complete.

The windows also create the challenge of coordinating the exterior look with the interior look. This is mostly affected by color. One thing I realized this year: I’m probably never going to have an exterior display that looks expertly designed. Simple looks better from a distance, but all the extras are so much more fun and atmospheric to walk around and through.

Last year I used blue and white lights on the porch and windows, with only a couple color accents on visible trees in featured windows. This year, I’m using a little more color, though my base colors are still blue and white.

I finally found inexpensive bows for my fence. I’m used to getting them for $1 each and this year my previous sources have all gone up to $1.50. Not a big deal– except I need close to 100 bows and they don’t last more than a season due to fading. I finally found a two for $1 sale at a local store chain but none of the retail stores had the quantity I need in stock. So, they are being shipped, due to arrive any day now.

I’ll share more pictures when the windows are complete. It’s been a bit more challenging this year with the weather and our two puppies requiring more time and attention. I still have three weeks, right?

Twenty-One trees done.

Oh, I guess I didn’t mention the eleven full size trees indoors, plus four tabletop trees I need to finish.

I better get on the ball!

 

Liberty And Justice For All: An American Fallacy, Pt.1

Justice is a fallacy. A fallacy is a flaw in reasoning.

Justice is an ideal. Ideals are models for imitation. An Ideal is the conception of something in its absolute perfection.

Absolute perfection does not exist.

Perfect Justice does not exist.

10403056_10152842025119780_8786610817675958005_nLast night, the grand jury decision to not press charges in the case of Michael Brown – the black 18-year-old who was shot and killed in Ferguson on Aug. 9th by white police officer Darren Wilson, was announced live on national television.

My social media network immediately began to blow up after the announcement, with mostly– expressions of anger and distrust; and only a few in support of the decision. For most of my friends (and the people I follow), it was about the seeming lack of justice and ongoing racism in this country.

At 1:30 a.m., Police Chief Jon Belmar announced at a briefing that at least 12 buildings were set on fire, two police cruisers burned and reports of bottle throwing, broken windows and gunshots were widespread. The police responded with smoke, pepper spray and tear gas aimed to disperse potentially unruly crowds.

 

It was reported that the jury of nine whites and three blacks met on 25 separate days and heard more than 70 hours of testimony from approximately 60 witnesses, three medical examiners and other experts on blood, toxicology and firearms.

frederick-douglass-justice-deniedFerguson is just a match re-igniting the fire that is racism in America. This is not the beginning of something new– it is only another episode in the long, ongoing battle of inequality and racism, sparked by distrust and a long history of violence.

As long as there is the perception of racism…

Then racism is real.

Tyrants-Opposition-10513500_1508536292711859_522097056596663394_nI do not condone the outright unlawful, destructive behavior of the violent protestors. They have become terrorists. They are no different than ISIS or Al Qaeda.

They are destroying their very own community. They are hurting their neighbors and themselves. Unfortunately, for many of them, this is the only way they know how to be heard.

 

Treat people like animals and they’ll eventually behave like animals.

The American Justice System is not perfect. It’s certainly not absolute perfection. But, it is the system we have. It works in theory. But theory in itself is a test. A test that at times, America seems to be failing.

I think it’s important to draw a line between the justice system and the the issues it is forced to try and reconcile.

Any unlawful act creates a situation in which there will never be complete justice for all. Not to mention all the legal acts that unjust.

A friend of mine on Facebook shared this:

The West Wing Season 7, Episode 8- Undecideds Written by Debora Cahn

Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits)
SANTOS
You know, I find myself on days like this casting around for someone to blame. I blame the kid, he stole a car. I blame the parents, why couldn’t they teach him better. I blame the cop, did he need to fire. I blame everyone I can think of and I am filled with rage. And then I try and find compassion. Compassion for the people I blame, compassion for the people I do not understand, compassion. It doesn’t always work so well.

I remember as a young man listening on the radio to Dr. King in 1968. He asked of us compassion and we responded, not necessarily because we felt it but because he convinced us that if we could find compassion, if we could express compassion, that if we could just pretend compassion it would heal us so much more than vengeance could. And he was right: it did but not enough. What we’ve learned this week is that more compassion is required of us and an even greater effort is required of us. And we are all, I think everyone of us, are tired.

We’re tired of understanding, we’re tired of waiting, we’re tired of trying to figure out why our children are not safe and why our efforts to try to make them safe seem to fail. We’re tired. But we must know that we have made some progress and blame will only destroy it. Blame will breed more violence and we have had enough of that.

Blame will not rid our streets of crime and drugs and fear and we have had enough of that. Blame will not strengthen our schools or our families or our workforce. Blame will rob us of those things and we have had enough of that. And so I ask you today to dig down deep with me and find that compassion in your hearts because it will keep us on the road. And we will walk together and work together. And slowly, slowly, too slowly, things will get better.

God bless you. God bless you and God bless your children.

The West Wing episode 7.08 “Undecideds”, original air date 4 December, 2005 – See more at: http://westwingwiki.com/2014/04/season-7-episode-8-undecideds/#sthash.z0J1gg11.dpuf
liberty-and-justice
Dialogue, discussion, education, truth and understanding are what is needed here.
Not violence.
America is still young. The American ideals of freedom: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; liberty and justice for all; all men are created equal—  didn’t even exist in reality when this country was founded. Slavery and the inequitable treatment of women the most blatant at that time.
Today, we are dealing with racism, equality, gay rights, women’s rights, immigration… the list goes on.
Lip service in this country must end.
Eyes must be opened.
The blind faith of justice revealed.
Positive action needs to occur.
Otherwise, the violence will never stop.

A Boy and His Dog

Last night as Cash climbed up on the bed, he did something he hasn’t done in a while.

He snuggled.

I don’t mean he laid against me– he does that every night, or, for at least part of the night. After he did his little spin around in circles, deciding where to land, he sat against my side and then inched his way down between Michael and I, until he was laying and his head was nuzzled against mine.

At first he lays with his shoulder on my arm and buries his face in my pillow. I wrap my other arm around him, snuggling until he eventually signals (shifting around) that I need to pull my arm out from under him so he can be truly comfortable. Then he takes a deep breath and sighs and falls asleep. I love that so much. He slept by me all night like that. Snoring softly next to my ear.

Cash was never a snuggler. Not much of a licker (kisser) either. That was always his sister Roxie’s job. Roxie would spend five minutes every night licking my face before digging in the blankets, flopping down and snuggling. Cash would just climb up on the bed and lay at my feet. It was the same thing every night.

And then Roxie died.

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Cash, October 2014

I’m not sure if it was out of his own grief and feeling of loss or maybe a need for a greater connection– but all of a sudden Cash was snuggling. For the first six weeks after Roxie died, he snuggled every single night.

Then little by little, he did it less often. Or, not for the whole night at least.

I miss it. Every night I hope he’ll snuggle– but now when he does, it’s even more special. It warms my heart and fills me to the brim with contentment.

Just a boy and his dog.

I never really knew Cash before Roxie died. He was always aloof, letting Roxie take all the attention. She never asked for it– she took it. Like Cash does now.

After Roxie was gone, we had a lot of time alone together– Cash and I. He followed me everywhere, never wanting to leave my side. That’s when I started trying to go to the gym or grocery shopping, only early morning, while he and Michael were still sleeping. I couldn’t bear the thought of him being in this house alone.

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Cash and I, May 2014

Whatever room I’m in– Cash is there. He helps me with whatever I’m doing. If I go outside, he wants to go outside. If it’s wet or cold– things he never particularly cared for before; he’d rather be outside with me, than inside by himself.

We bonded.

There’s something about the look in a dogs eyes when you really get to know them. I can tell when he’s happy, sleepy or distressed. He has good days and bad days, as do I; and we seem to be able to comfort each other.

Sometimes Cash will just sit and stare back– talking without words. Other times, he’s laying next to me, head in my lap.

We connected in a way I never expected we would. I couldn’t be more grateful for this time we’ve had to just– be. Co-exist. A boy and his dog.

It took a lot of thought and consideration before we were sure we wanted to try to bring home a furry companion for Cash. We weren’t sure he’d be able to handle the energy of a puppy; and were even less sure he’s be tolerant of a rescue dog’s baggage.

We took the risk with Belle and Dudley– and it’s worked. Cash get his exercise, playing with toys like he hasn’t done in years. He let’s Belle snuggle up against him while he sits as proud protector.

With the puppies, he seems to be pretty content to let them have the bulk of the attention; knowing he’ll have his time.

They have their crates– he gets the bed.

And we always find our moments throughout the day that it’s just he and I. I make sure of it. If for some reason I wait too long, he reminds me.

Maybe because it took so long to get here is what makes our bond so special.

I enjoy it. Love it. Treasure it.

A boy and his dog.

The Gratitude Challenge

gratitudeAs Thanksgiving approaches, I thought I’d post my Gratitude Challenge posts from Facebook that I participated in at the end of September. There are various versions of challenge circulating and I think its a great way to share the important things we are thankful for in our lives. It’s also a great way to share more about yourself; and reading others can help you get to know them better. I did a seven day challenge. There are also 5 day, 21 day, 30 day, etc. When you complete the challenge, you are supposed to nominate others to participate.

Gratitude Challenge Day 1:

Carol Lange challenged me yesterday but I’m in a computer transition so I’m having to do this from my phone…

Today’s 3 are:

Michael. My rock, my support, my everything. He keeps this dreamer grounded, challenges me and believes in me when I stop believing in myself.

I’m grateful for my furry children. They fill me with joy and love and teach me something new every day.

Finally, humility. I am not the best or better than… Perfection is an unattainable goal that I strive towards daily but know I will never achieve. I am humbled each day by the brilliance I see in nature and the unheralded good I see in other people.

Gratitude_optGratitude Challenge -Day 2:

I’m grateful for family. Particularly, my parents, always leading by example; continuing to challenge and teach me throughout my life…some of the most important lessons, probably unintentionally. 😉

I’m grateful for the bad days that have taught so much and make me appreciate the good days.

And third, I’m grateful for hope and faith. There’s always something better and more exciting around the corner. The good things in life sometimes come from the most surprising places!

Gratitude Challenge – Day 3:

I’m extremely grateful for my friends- old and new, young and old- for all the color they bring to my life.

I’m grateful for all the amazing advances in technology that have occurred in my lifetime, making it so much easier to connect and stay connected around the world.

And third, I don’t know what I’d do without that moment of silence during the day; when everything is peaceful and all the thoughts that rush in and boggle my brain are able to unwind and give me a simple moment of clarity.

piglet_gratitude_winnie_the_poohGratitude Challenge -Day 4

I’m grateful for ART in all it’s many forms particularly theatre which incorporates so many disciplines.

My TALENTS whatever level they may be – that have been an important part of my entire life.

I’m so incredibly grateful for all the wonderful people I’ve had the opportunity to work with in theatrical endeavors. You’ve all helped shape me into who I am today. And I am so proud to watch so many careers grow and goals achieved. So much thanks to Christine Sherrill, Dave Hahn, Rachel Boller, Amy Marik and so many others for allowing me to be an avid spectator and humble fan! Dreams can come true!

Gratitude Challenge – Day 5:

I’m grateful for DETAILS. Seeing the big picture is one thing but it’s the little details and nuances that truly make something that’s good- great.

EDUCATION. Not the BS public education but really learning how to THINK. I refuse to ‘drink the kool-aid’. There’s always two sides and the truth is usually somewhere in between. I learn something new every single day. Learning is life-long and makes us better, stronger people.

Third, there are two guys that I’m grateful for that have been a big inspiration to me over the past year: Billy Surges and Josh Conrad constantly remind me of my own goals and dreams and what it is the fight, conquer and succeed.

Gratitude-is-the-hearts-memory-a-French-proverbGratitude Challenge -Day 6

I’m grateful for the seasons, especially fall. Having spent most of my childhood and teen years in Florida, I appreciate them even more.

I’m grateful for the past year and opportunities I’ve had: I got to co-direct one of my bucket list shows with one of my favorite people, got a tremendous amount of work done on the house; and though as heart breaking as it was- I was able to be at home when Roxie took her last breath and then to see Cash through the difficult transition.

Finally, I’m grateful for my life. This crazy life, with all it’s unexpected twists and turns. I’ve already had more opportunities, been more places and experienced so much more than many people get in their entire lifetime- and there’s still so much more on the horizon!

Gratitude Challenge – Day 7
(Last one!)

I’m grateful for low carb cheat days– I mean, I can’t live entirely without pizza!

I’m extremely grateful for three women with whom I spent more than a quarter of my life; bringing the joy and passion of musical theatre to more than 1,000 participating students. Kathy Boller, Gay Rupert & Marsha Vanek, I learned so much from you about so many things. It was truly an honor.

medium_4786965539-624x468And finally, I’m grateful for all my ‘cheerleaders’ who have inspired me throughout my life to always be better. I hope you all know who you are. There’s not enough space to list all of you and I’m afraid I might forget to tag someone. Just know your support means the world to me and a kind word can make all the difference in someone’s life.

The End.

I’m always invited to these challenges late in the game so as opposed to challenging specific people, I challenge everyone that reads this to do the Gratitude Challenge. Five days or seven. Share with the rest of us what makes your life better. It will do your heart good!