Monday, December 27, 2010

Bob on Christmas

These holidays are tough! My schedule changes, there is a tree in my house, more people coming and going, my humans are gone more than usual, silly stuffed santas sitting around, odd smells (cinnamon???), strange music (are those bells I hear?).....but worst of all, I don't seem to be the center of attention right now! What sort of season is this if it isn't all about ME?????

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bob at the Door

Bob, waiting patiently at the front door for Santa.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Total Disgust Part Deux

Okay........enough is enough!!!

I just discovered this precision cut fresh deer skin at the edge of my yard. Someone with great skill mutilated this tiny body....obviously the same deranged individual who chopped the head off below.

The most disturbing thing about this is THIS IS SMALLER THAN SIX OF MY SEVEN DOGS!!!!!

I have a call in for the game warden and will do whatever I need to do to follow up on this. There is something very wrong with a person who would slaughter baby animals........and spend so much time dismembering them. I can't help but wonder what else this sort of person does for fun!

All Before 8:00am

For any of you who still believe I am living in the lap of luxury up here, relaxing in my retirement, spending my days shopping, doing lunch with the ladies, or my afternoons reading a book on the porch while listening to the breeze make its way through the pines as I sip chi tea and eat imported chocolates........this may a reality check for you.

Early each morning, I let my dogs out to run for a little while, as they explore the area around the house and do their "business". They never go far and always come when I call for them.

However, this morning I looked out the window and noticed they had returned rather quickly. When I went outside, I realized why.

This very young and very small deer had been recently killed and was still bleeding. This told me two very alarming things:

*First, someone was hunting VERY close to my house either on our property or on protected national forest early this morning.
*Second, some disgusting despicable hunter was so desperate to KILL something, apparently ANYTHING, they took the life of a very young and very small deer. Compare the size of the deer head to the size of my dog's head.

The head was very cleanly dismembered from the body, which could only have been done with a saw. Perhaps to destroy the evidence that they had killed a BABY?

The old "I killed it for the meat" line won't work on this one boys. This little one wouldn't feed a family of four.

I can't even find the words for the disgust I feel for the person who would do this. I have three dogs that could resemble deer in the woods and one that would easily pass for a medium sized bear cub. How do I know this blood thirsty killer wouldn't kill them for the thrill too? There isn't that much difference........

So, as if this wasn't enough to really piss me off, the story gets better. I wanted to wash the fresh deer blood off of my yard. I got the hose and when I reached down to turn the faucet on, there was a small SNAKE coiled up right under it! For obvious reasons, I don't have a photo of that. I ran to get the hoe, but of course, when I got back, it was gone.

So, here I am, it's not even 9:00am, and I am wondering what the rest of the day will bring. But I can assure you it won't involve dressing up or shopping or a nice lunch or any of those other things I dreamed about doing when I got old and no longer worked.............but kudos to those of you who will be doing this!

However, I bet your pictures can't compete with mine!

Love and peace to all.......except the hunters! :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bo's New Jacket

Anyone who knows me very well knows I have a special place in my heart for my old Walker, Bo. There have been times over the years when Bo was the "bad boy" in my life.........times when absolutely no one in the world loved him but me. But I loved him enough to defend him and fight for his life when everyone else had given up on him. And you know why? Because as much as I loved him, he always loved me more.

Bo and I are older now......hopefully a bit wiser, definitely a lot slower. Age and some rough times before he came to live here have taken a toll on Bo. Very cold weather and very hot weather are hard on Bo, so I do what I can to alleviate his pain.

We are expecting our first freeze on the mountain tonight. In preparation for the cold weather, I began a search to buy Bo a jacket. It wasn't so easy to find a XXL..... he is a big boy. So when I found a nice fleece jacket that would actually fit him, I didn't have a choice of color.

But after dressing him for the cold evening, I thought perhaps maybe I should have gone to a few more stores.

Is it just me...........or does Bo look a bit like Harry Potter?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A 4th of July to Remember

The best 4th of July I ever had was in 2000 when Dennis and I, along with my sister Bonny and her husband Dave went to New York City. We got up early that morning, had breakfast, then took the subway to the Bronx for a Yankees game.

We were just barely in the gates of Yankee Stadium when the overwhelming aroma of ballpark hot dogs overtook us all. Although no one was hungry, we felt it disrespectful to be at Yankees Stadium and not have a hot dog. So, even before we went through the turnstile into the park, we bought a hot dog from a vendor and all four took one bite each to officially christen our first 4th of July of the new millennium at Yankee Stadium.

We found our seats and the game began. It was miserably hot............but who cared? We were at a Yankees game!

Later that night, after returning to our hotel, we moved the furniture to the perimeter of Bonny and Dave's room on a high floor overlooking the Hudson river in the Marriott Marquis. Sharing a bottle of wine, we sat in the floor in the dark as we watched the New York firework display, reflecting off the water. A day and night I will never forget.

Fast forward ten years and three months. That stadium is long gone, but the memories of that special day will always make me smile. And the Yankees are still the biggest and most powerful sports franchise in the world, just playing in a new home.

And who would have ever thought on that perfect day, years ago, that it would one day be Dennis' new home too!

Sunday, October 3, 2010


You know, after the events of this past year, I was beginning to wonder if there was anywhere left in this country where large groups of like-minded people could gather for a common cause.....and come in peace.
A place where individuals and families could come and feel safe, and not have to fear the wild eyed man next to them yelling "Keep the government away from my medicare" while carrying a sign with our President defaced as Hitler and carrying an AK47 across his shoulder and a pistol strapped to his hip.
A place where all were welcome and actually appreciated for the diversity they brought to the group.
A place where all religions were respected and no one felt they had an exclusive right to God.
A place where human rights were paramount for all and the words of the constitution guaranteeing "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" really does apply to everyone, not just a few.
A place where people understood that "Fox News" is an entertainment show, and not really a news show at all.
A place where women could laugh at cartoon characters like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bauchman and Christine O'Donnell, while simultaneously worrying that anyone could actually take them seriously or how much collateral damage they were doing to the respect women had worked so hard to earn.
A happy place, not an angry one, where you never met a stranger among the thousands.

And so on a cool crisp Saturday morning in October, under the watchful eye of Abraham Lincoln, and in the exact same spot where Martin Luther King described his dream to the world many years ago, we came here, looking for just such a place............and we found it!

People came by cars, buses, trains, planes, bikes...........any way they could to get here. Early Saturday morning, as far as your eyes could see on the Washington Mall , people walked, pushing wheelchairs, baby strollers, hobbled on crutches or with canes, coming in all colors, all sizes, all dialects, all with something in common; hope in their hearts and a smile on their faces. They had hope for a job, for health care, for education for their children, for an end to discrimination and the hatred that is rampant in our country, they hoped for peace.........everyone came with hope for something.

When we got to the end of the reflecting pool and reached the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we paused to look back at the distance we had traveled. The view of all of these people, overcoming physical, financial and personal obstacles to stand in the sun and hear words of peace, justice and hope for the future was beyond any emotion I can describe.
The event began with devotional messages. All religions were represented. And each prayer and message coincided with the previous and the one that followed........proof that different religions, just as cultures, can coexist because at the core of each was the same premise. Everyone was represented and everyone was respected and all of them stressed the importance of justice and human rights. I was mesmerized.

The faces in the crowd looked just like the perfect America. I want to believe the faces in the crowd looked exactly like our forefather's vision of what they hoped America would someday be.

Some of the signs people carried deeply touched my heart. This Caucasian gentleman in a wheelchair was here the entire rally, quietly holding a sign that read "One Nation Working Together" with the NAACP logo on it.

But this was by far, my favorite sign, and I saw it often. It pretty much summed up the reason for the event.

Ed Schultz, from MSNBC's "The Ed Show" was the keynote opening speaker and the crowd went wild as the unofficial spokesman for the middle class took the stage. His message was a strong one and carried the banner high for more jobs for the working class, health care, quality education, dignity and human rights for all, and encourage us not to be afraid of the loud irrational voices coming from the fringe on the far right.

My friend, Beth Coger and I, with a group of friends from upstate New York.

This lovely man carried this sign throughout the crowd all day, always with a smile.

Completely by happenstance, I came upon Ed Schultz as he walked through the crowd after he spoke. We visited briefly. He was open and friendly to everyone and being the man of the people that he is, seemed to be genuinely interested in what we all had to say.

..................and he had no problem with posing for a picture with his many fans!

Later in the afternoon, Beth and I had gone to get something to eat and happened to be on the same corner as the vehicle that was transporting Ed Schultz. I waved, he waved and I shouted across the sidewalk to ask him if he would consider running for Congress. He rolled down the window and motioned for me to come closer. I did, and told him we really needed him in Congress, playing a larger roll than the one he has on television. I told him since Ted Kennedy died, the progressives and liberals don't have a strong leader who isn't afraid to lend his voice to the middle class and fight for the rights of working people. He smiled at me and said "I would really rather be President". And as he drove away, I thought to myself what a promising possibility this was!

At the end of the day, I couldn't help but feel a sense of peace, knowing the men who died in WWII and are honored at the beautiful memorial below would have been so proud of the people gathered here today. People who gathered in the spirit of "ONE NATION", to find answers and solve problems. This was the country and the way of life they were defending.

And I also want to believe that somewhere out there, Ted Kennedy and all of those brave souls who walked these halls before him, dedicating their lives to the premise that "All Men Are Created Equal" were looking down on the events of the day, knowing their legacy will live on in the hearts of the people they worked so hard to protect.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Aunt Fanny

When I turn 97, I want to dress up in fancy clothes and have someone do my hair and makeup. I want a reporter and cameraman from a statewide television station to come to my house and sit in my living room and interview me for a feature story on the evening news. Then I want to go outside and climb aboard my horse and be the Grand Marshall of a big parade, as people line the street and shout my name as I pass by.

I want to do these things, just as my 97 year-old Aunt Fanny George did them today.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fall is in the Air

A little activity in our yard last night.....

I found this perfectly intact skin this morning. Very grateful I wasn't there to witness the event.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Unusual Friends..........

After my father had his stroke in November of 2008, I worried about what would become of his beloved farm cats. Although shy, they were accustomed to being fed each day so they were not feral. The ones he had when he became incapacitated were about 30th generation descendants from his original two cats, which were gifts from a dear friend many years ago.

Several of my "cat" friends told me dad's little cats might have a difficult time fending for themselves among the larger wild animals that inhabit the vast, extremely rural farm area. So, each weekend, I take 45 pounds of food and place it in various elevated bin areas in the barn.

I know that sometimes, this food is shared with raccoons, opossums, squirrels and other assorted animals of the wild, but I don't mind. As long as the cats have enough to eat, it is okay with me if other hungry animals share their bounty. The cats are always excited to see me and run to greet me, talking their cat language non-stop until I can get the bags open and their bins filled.

I have tried to pet them and interact socially with them, but they do not want this. So I have learned not to bother them........I just stay for a few minutes, knowing my place is that of a delivery person only. But they definitely seem to anticipate my arrival the following week.

However, a few weeks ago, I began to notice that they had accepted a new member into their pack. I don't know where he came from or how they worked out their very peaceful co-existence, but on multiple occasions, I have now seen them all eat from the same bin simultaneously.

I find myself thinking if this very odd paring can get along, maybe the rest of us could take a page from their playbook.

Just saying............

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bo on the Mountain

Sometimes, just when I think my beautiful old walker, Bo, is on his very last leg, a wind will blow through the pines and stir the sleeping memories in his soul. Memories of hunting on the mountain and adventures deep in the woods that were shared only with his pack.

And it is on these days that he will beg with his soulful brown eyes, and plead with me in his failing voice to leave the sanctuary of his controlled environment on the enclosed porch and go run one more time.

And even though I know it is not in his best interest and the exertion will put an even greater strain on his weak heart and his bent and frail arthritic bones, I can not deny him this wish. Because to deny him this brief outing would be to deny him his happiest memories. Memories of when he was the biggest strongest dog on the mountain, and my most vigilant protector..........just as I hope I am his these days.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


This is a story about three very busy professional men whose combined random acts of kindness culminated in the rescue and survival of a beautiful juvenile male hawk.

First, I want to tell you a little about my friend, Hot Springs Village veterinarian Dr. Bob Zepecki, or "Saint Bob" as I like to think of him. I believe with all of my heart he is a modern day Saint Francis of Assisi.

Dr. Bob is one of the most compassionate people I know and he believes strongly that all creatures here on earth, both two and four legged ones, deserve a second chance. Based on this premise, Dr. Bob also believes it is up to the rest of us able bodied inhabitants to facilitate this "second chance" by whatever means we have available to us.

Dr. Bob contributes to the human population through his DAV K9 Assistance Dog Association, a program he founded and oversees that provides assistance dogs to wounded and disabled veterans. He takes care of our furry and feathered friends through his work at his Village Pet Center and Boarding Facility in Hot Springs and through his charitable work with the Animal Rehab Foundation he co-founded.

He is one of those guys who just CARES. He is always looking for a way to make things better. I guess if there ever was one person doing "God's Work", this would probably be the guy.

Now, back to my story.........

Yesterday, in the beautiful retirement community of Hot springs Village, a fireman came upon an injured, young male hawk. He could have done what most people would have probably have done........had a moment of pity for the creature, then went on about his way. But perhaps because he was a fireman and rescuing is what he does, he stopped, retrieved the bird and took him to Dr. Bob. And Dr. Bob, because of who he is and what he does, welcomed them both.

Dr. Bob examined the young hawk and felt his injuries did not appear fatal. However, he wanted a second opinion from someone who was more specialized in the area of raptors. And he knew the veterinarian he needed was Dr. John Davis in Dardanelle. After a phone conversation, Dr. Davis agreed to take the bird and assist in his rehabilitation.

When Dr. Bob called to tell me the story and ask if there was any way I could assist in getting the bird from Hot springs to Dardanelle, I couldn't say "yes" quickly enough.
Dr. Bob Zepecki and the injured young male hawk.

The young hawk was eerily calm, and seemed as curious about us as we were of him.

He seemed to e wondering what he was doing in a cage, among all of the assorted k9s, but he didn't seem at all fearful.

When the hawk and I arrived at Dr. Davis' clinic in Dardanelle, he and his staff were expecting us and took us to a room immediately. He allowed me to watch as he carefully examined the young bird. I was impressed by his extensive knowledge of the species and the gentle and respectful way he handled though he understood this was a rare and privileged experience.

Dr. Davis answered questions for me and gave me a mini-tutorial on the background of the species.
As I was leaving, he gave me this photograph of what the young male hawk will look like, once he is rehabilitated and can be released back into his natural habitat.

On my way home, I felt so very grateful that we will have one more of these beautiful creatures among us.........and all because three very busy men took the time to care.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Trying to Keep Cool on a Hot Summer Day

A Sign of Spring

Last spring, I noticed this Italian planter we have hanging on our upper deck had some debris in it. When I climbed up to get a closer look, I found it wasn't debris at all but a very intricate little bird's nest, delicately woven from pine straw . I left it alone because there were tiny little speckled bird's eggs inside. The little ones eventually hatched and left the nest.

These photos were taken this morning when I noticed the nest looked a bit larger than it did a year ago.

A little while ago, after getting the ladder and taking a peek inside, this is what I found. I hope St. Francis will watch over these new ones and they will be safe and prosper, just as their predecessors did last year.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Our Mountain Vineyard

Occasionally, someone will ask about the progress in our vineyard.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this project, it has been a dream of Dennis' for several years. However, it began to materialize about four years ago, when he charted the sun patterns, studied the plot drainage, did a lot of research and took classes, visited other vineyards, and began regularly having the soil tested.

Three years ago, he began to work the soil and blueprint the actual layout. Two years ago, he planted the infant vines, which resembled small, frail sticks. It was hard to imagine these unattractive little twigs would produce anything close to the knotted and weathered beautiful vines we had seen covering the hillsides of Napa Valley and Senoma, Italy and France. But Dennis never lost sight of his vision.

Over the next two years, all of the work was painstakingly done organically by hand. Weeds were pulled, cordons were hung, and massive rocks were drug down from deep in the woods to make the hand-stacked wall that will eventually surround the rows.

We have had our ups and downs. Last summer, we had a long dry spell, so much so that I had to string 300 feet of hose from the pump house to the vineyard and water the dry cracked earth manually. Then, this past January, we became concerned when we had three separate snowfalls, and the frail little vines were covered with snow and ice more days than not.

But somehow, these vines, whose heritage dates back to ancient times, had the strength to persevere. What we thought were harsh mountain conditions have turned out to be no match for this vegetation that has existed as long as modern man.

During this second year of growth, we will continue to prune the vines back, hopefully resulting in a more hardy grape in the third year, and allow the primary arms of the vines a chance to mature.

The few clusters of grapes you see below will be allowed to grow, just for samples. The others will be clipped away. But next year, baring any unforeseen circumstances, we hope for something like this on every vine.

The wonders of nature are astounding!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

American Idol

This will be one of those stories that you might cause you to question its authenticity, but it is all wonderfully and unexpectedly true!

A year ago, almost to the date, my niece Janae (who is often my traveling companion) wanted to go see fellow Arkansan and UCA student, Kris Allen, in the finals of American Idol. We applied for tickets in both of our names, thinking it would increase our chances of receiving them. Very naive of us!

We both received notices indicating there were so many requests, we would be placed on a "wait list". The show came and went, we heard nothing more, so basically, we both forgot all about it.

That is, until the night of May 20th last week when an email showed up in my niece's inbox, indicating the tickets she had requested for the finale (ONE YEAR AGO!) had been awarded and she needed to respond immediately if she still wanted them. She called and asked if I still wanted to go.......of course I did! One small detail: the voucher we received didn't guarantee us a ticket. It guaranteed us a place in line with 7000 other people in hopes of actually GETTING a ticket. So it was a gamble, but we were ready to take it.

We had three days to put a trip to Los Angeles together, so I called the best travel agent I know, my sweet hubby Dennis, who was about to board a plane for his next pre-draft scouting destination. This is the busiest, most hectic month of his job and probably the worst possible time to add to his "to do" list, but he understood we wanted to give this a shot and he was able to get us plane tickets, a hotel, and a car and driver within the hour before he boarded his plane.

So Monday, we headed to California for a whirlwind, very-little-sleep and a lot of standing-in-line trip.

Janae on the plane.

Our driver and longtime acquaintance of Dennis, "Super Steve", picking us up at the Burbank Airport.

A bowl of homemade strawberry ice cream and chilled white wine awaited us when we arrived in our room.

Dennis put us in the beautiful brand new J W Marriott in the exciting ,newly revitalized "LA LIVE" area of Los Angeles. 50 feet from our door was the Nokia Theater and across the street was the Staples Center, with countless bars and restaurants packed in between. We were able to walk to everything we wanted to do. This is the view from our 20th floor window.

Drinks and appitiezers in the lobby of the hotel before going out to dinner Monday night. The entire cast and crew of American Idol stayed at this same hotel, so we saw a lot of people from the show as we sat on this sofa.

The American Idol Tent set up outside the Nokia where they did the interviews, etc.

Janae and I had dinner Monday night just down the street from the hotel, on the patio of Wolfgang Puck's Bar and Grill. While sitting here, a camera crew from the Sacramento Fox affiliate stopped by to talk to us and thought our story about receiving the ticket voucher ONE YEAR LATER after we had requested it was pretty crazy so they interviewed us about it for the late news that evening. Shortly after that, the news crew from the Fox affiliate from Las Vegas stopped by and interviewed us again.
We explained that we had to go stand in line the following morning with the voucher in hopes of actually getting a "real" ticket and they asked if they could accompany us and film while we were in line. The following morning (Tuesday) the Las Vegas Fox people called and we agreed to meet at the line that was forming at the LA Convention Center. When we arrived (4 hours before actual ticket time) the line was already two blocks long. The first people in line told us they had been there since 5:00am, in addition to driving 6 hours to get there! For the record, we saw on the news that people who wanted tickets for the Wednesday performances slept on the sidewalk all night to make sure they got a place in line.....interesting shots of people dressed in evening clothes, sleeping on blankets and chairs along the sidewalk.
The 3-page list of bluntly written instructions we had received was very specific (in all caps!) that we could be denied entry if we brought a camera or cell phone, so unfortunately, I have no photos from this day. A few brave souls brought their phones in.....but they lived in the area and didn't have as much at risk as we did if they got kicked out.
Somehow, out of the 7000 or so people in the blocks-long line, they picked 53 people to be the live audience for the TV Guild Channel's pre-Idol red Carpet Show. Once again, we got very lucky to be picked for this group! They hand placed us where they wanted us to be and Janae and I were put next to the interview platform.
Lady luck seemed to be in our corner Tuesday.
We met three lovely women who were from California that we were fortunate enough to stand next to in line, we placed next to at the TV Guide taping, and got to sit next to in the Nokia Theater. You meet the nicest people in the most unusual circumstances!
The producer picked one person out of the 53 to do a live interview segment of the show, and that person turned out to be JANAE! We didn't get to see the broadcast, but from the calls and text messages she received from friends and family who did see it, it sounded like she did a really good job.
After standing on our feet continually for about six hours in the hot sun (we both got sunburned!), we ended up on the 23rd row, center section, of the Nokia Theater, so we had excellent seats for the performances of Lee and Crystal Tuesday night.

As they often do in life, our "ah-ha" moments came when we least expected them. Monday night, we took a walk in the LA Live area just outside of our hotel. You just never know who you are going to run in to in Los Angeles.......
Janae and #3 Idol finalist Casey James

"Big Mike" was getting out of a cab, by himself, as we walked by. We stopped and talked to him about his wife and baby (who he told us was teething and not feeling so good). Very sweet guy who was willing to talk as long as we wanted to.

Siobhan Magness was probably one of the most beautiful and captivating people I have ever met. She was out taking a walk with her adorable little sisters (in the background of this photo), the ones she talked about a lot on the show. When she speaks to you, she looks deep into your eyes, listens to every work you say, then responds sincerely. When you are with her, you have 100% of her attention, which can be a little disarming. She is so naturally beautiful it is difficult not to stare! What an extremely sweet and genuine person.

The look on Janae's face pretty much sums up the whole experience.
We got home late Wednesday night, and as fate would have it, we completely missed the results show while we were flying. But we both predicted (on camera) three different times that Lee would win, in spite of the fact Crystal blew the doors off of her performances on Tuesday night. Of the thousands of people gathered there, with tickets and without, the support for Lee was probably 3-1 over Crystal. Lots of older women with "COUGARS LOVE LEE" signs and lots of pre-teens screaming their undying love for him. Kind of hard for a hippie-chick single mom to get that kind of following, despite her unbelievable reincarnation of Janis Joplin.
As my niece very eloquently put it to me last year before the finals of Idol when I told her there was no way sweet little Kris Allen could compete with the singing, acting, and stylistic performance of Adam Lambert:
Probably the best assessment of American Idol I have heard.
Back to reality for to you all!