Monday, March 30, 2020

The Dogs Of My Life ~ Post No. 4 ~ Red

I still haven't called my computer guy to see if he can help figure out how to upload pictures to this computer. The month is coming to an end and I want to post about a dog once a month so I'm going ahead without pictures. Red was a gorgeous dog and deserves pictures to accompany the narrative of his life.

Red was a very large Doberman pinscher, the alpha dog of Gypsy's litter. He was a beautiful, deep red colored dog, tall and powerful. Had his ears and tail been docked, he would have looked both majestic and dangerous. Neither Errol nor I ever thought of doing that to him. 

I have many wonderful memories of Red from our trip to Washington state. In my mind, I can see him running down a long narrow field in Oregon, crossing a creek on a log with Errol in the redwood forest of California, exploring the ocean from the rocks along the Monterrey shore. What a gorgeous looking dog he was. I have pictures of all this to help me remember better. 

Gypsy and Red were our first dogs together. They were there when we got married, they went on trips with us, they sailed with us, they hung out in the marina with us. We had some very happy years together with them. 

Thinking back, Red was probably the most pack oriented dog of all the dogs that lived with us. And very protective of us. I know that many people are weary of Dobermans, scared even. After all, the breed was created specifically by Herr Doberman in Germany to be protective and scare away robbers. But responsible owners can through love and care make these beautiful dogs shine. 

Some of them can be a bit much though, as our last Doberman, a rescue and my fifth dog proved to be.

But Red was not rescued, he was born with Errol right there. 

However, because he was so protective of his pack, he didn't tolerate any intruders in our yard. If burglars had ever contemplated breaking into our house, one look at Red would for sure have changed their minds.

Animals would not be so careful. One day, Errol heard a commotion and was able to rescue, out of the mouths of both Red and Gypsy, a small gray kitten that later became our much loved cat, Sindbad, who lived with us for 18 years. Other critters were not so lucky, except for the opossums that always managed to play dead and fool him. 

Gypsy was fine with our two cats once she knew they were part of her pack. Errol had to work with Red for a while, but once he understood and accepted we were all a pack, he was wonderful with them.

Red was basically Errol's dog while Gypsy was mine. It just worked out that way. Red would stay with Errol at the LA house if Errol was working on it and Gypsy would stay with me and the cats in Pasadena.

After Gypsy died, I was worried about Red. She had been with him all of his life, after all. 

And it didn't go well for him. About a year after she passed, he developed an awful cancer. Somewhere in his anal area, so painful. Errol felt about Red as I did about Gypsy, and he had a very difficult time letting him go. We were both crying when we took him, for the last time, to our vet in Altadena, a small town in the hills above Pasadena. 

We had been with that vet for years and he let us take Red's body back to Los Angeles so Errol could bury him in our yard. I'm pretty sure you are not supposed to bury dogs in your Los Angeles back yard, but somehow our vet understood, so we took Red with us home and buried him there.

Red was only ten years old when he died. Errol was devastated, Red was his special dog the same way Gypsy had been mine. I remember that we were both very, very sad for a long time and it would be a while before we got another dog.


Of course, each post about 10 of my 12 dogs will end with their passing. It's such a sad fact of nature that our dogs will die before we do. Then when you get to be my age and alone with two of them, will I die before them becomes your greatest and most constant worry. 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Thoughts Adrift On A Saturday Morning

Albertsons parking lot in our town is in full bloom. These are old photos that I've posted several times already. But I wanted to share joy here and few things bring more joy than pretty flowers, so here they are again.

Then a song came to mind, Joy to the world a Christmas carol, I know, but I had in mind a rock song. I couldn't remember the band, so I googled it. The rockers were Three Dog Night, and this is the song with the famous opening line: "Jeremiah was a bull frog."

Since Google had more information right there, I decided to read up on the Christmas carol as well.

This is the short version: The hymn was written in 1719, by Isaac Watts, an English writer who based it on Psalm 98 and Genesis 3:17-18. Wikipedia had a lot about the music, much of it attributed to Handel, perhaps taken from his music.

It's a beautiful, glorious hymn, so if the music came from Handel or was inspired by him, it would make sense. I didn't read all of it, but it's there, in Wikipedia.

This just shows how our thoughts begin in one place then stray away to other, totally unrelated, places. Anyhow, in this post I just wanted to focus on joy. Here are some more joyful moment to share:

Photobomber Samson, does it again on a beautiful winter's day.

And always thoughtful Faith poses again. I have never known a dog with as many thoughtful poses and you can't help wondering what she's thinking about. Balls probably, nothing is for her more fun than chasing balls.

I hope this brought a little bit of joy to you........

Thursday, March 26, 2020

My Isolation Meltdown

As I watch TV news and get the latest updates on the covid-19 virus, I see pictures from Italy and Spain that paint a horrific picture of what they are going through.

Then: A commercial appears, many commercials in a row and they are jarring now, showing us how life used to be just a few weeks ago. People dance, hug, eat in restaurants, kids are out playing, cars are being sold, Viking cruses promoted, airplanes taking off, normal life is going on.

I love to stay home alone and did so for months last fall. Nothing weird happened, no fits of tears, no strange thoughts. I grieved for Errol in a way I hadn't done earlier, but I lived through it and thought it to be normal and much needed.

This is what happened the other day: 

With nothing better to do, one morning while still in bed, I thought about Wasa crisp bread, found in every Swedish home. Oh, I thought, it's dry, it will last and is healthy to boost, perfect should I need to stay at home for a long time. 

So I went to Amazon to see if they had it, of course they did. 

Then I moved on to another Swedish mainstay, herring. Most of you probably will not understand my love of this marvelous, fatty, fish. In olden days in Sweden, it was said a young woman was not ready to marry until she knew how to prepare, pickle and preserve this wondrous fish in at least 32 different ways. 

Swedes are serious about their herring.

There were lots of herrings on Amazon. I was getting more and more excited as I scrolled down the herring column and viewed herring in glass jars and cans.

Then I remembered a fish roe that came in a tube. But I couldn't remember the name. So I scrolled down among all the cans of herrings and then I found it: Kalles Kaviar!

I saw a tube of Kalles Kaviar and I started to cry!

I was suddenly hit by such a nostalgic longing for a time long ago, for Sweden, its lakes, forests, and the archipelago where I spent every summer. I became more and more sentimental as I thought of Stockholm, my home town, with its many islands, ferries, and old steam boats. I thought of medieval churches and cobblestone streets. I missed my family, or more accurately, not having a family of my own. How I longed for that feeling of normalcy and safety. 

Did my breakdown of nostalgic longing have something to do with being classified, in corona virus risk terms, as a vulnerable, older individual with two underlying conditions?  I'm sure it did. 

When I've refused various hard to tolerate medicines, I've  often bravely quoted the author and activist Barbara Ehrenreich: "I'm old enough to die." When she said this on the PBS News Hour, she was actually three years younger than I am now.

So I'm thinking, OK, I may be old enough to die, but not like they are dying in Italy and Spain. Not ready for that kind of departure.

I'm usually pretty upbeat, tears may come to my eyes when bad things happens to animals, sad dog eyes in an animal shelter, but I rarely cry, and certainly not over a tub of fish roe. 

My meltdown was all about my longing for a safe place. For not being classified as vulnerable, for being a child again with no worries.

Soon after this episode, I was back to normal, happy again here on my little mountain, among my juniper trees, ravens, rabbits and coyotes.  

I wanted to share this - you are my friends and that's what happened to me. I wonder - have you noticed strange new behaviors or thoughts creeping into your lives during this time of isolation?



I read Lady Chatterley's Lover and as far as I can remember, I was not impressed. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Tales From The Vicarage ~ Lady Chatterley's Lover, The Book, The Trial, And The Bishop

lady chatterley's lover trial on BBC

Once upon a time in England there was a big commotion concerning the publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover, a book written by D. H. Lawrence and published by Penguin Books. 

The book was first published privately in Italy in 1928 and in France in 1929. However, it wasn't until 1960 that it was first openly published by Penguin Books in the UK.  

The publication of the book, which is about a working class man and an aristocratic woman having an affair, caused quite a stir. An affair between the upper and lower classes alone was offensive to many in England. Then, in addition, the book includes several four-letter words considered obscene at the time. 

Eventually a trial was held in London's Old Bailey charging Penguin Books with obscenity. The charge was supported by the conservative Archbishops of Canterbury and York. 

Reading some of my letters home from when I lived in the vicarage, I was reminded that I knew John Robinson, the  Bishop of Woolwich, whose testimony for the defense against censorship of the book helped to secure a jury verdict in favor of Penguin Books. 

The trial was a huge event in London at the time - reporters from newspapers and TV were packed outside the court. The commotion over this trial was sort of obscene in its own way and, somehow, I got a little bit involved at the end of it. 

The Bishop of Woolwich was a liberal New Testament scholar, who was a very good friend of the vicar. He visited the vicarage frequently and I got to know him and his family. I wrote home that I was supposed to address him as, "my lord," but had a hard time doing this, instead I managed to throw in a "sir" here and there I told my parents. Sitting here reading it, I had to smile at my younger self.

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York were not pleased with the outcome of the trial and particularly not with the bishop. As a result of the liberal verdict and the upset Archbishops, the story continued to grow and the media descended on the bishop's house. 

His children were scared and upset about the noisy crowds outside their home; they couldn't go out and play, they couldn't get to school and no one knew when it all would end. So the vicar and I decided we were going to bring the children to the vicarage and look after them there. That way, the bishop and Mrs. Robinson could sneak out of their house and go into hiding until all the excitement died down.

I don't remember much about this. It's truly a gift that my mom saved the letters I wrote home and a good thing too that I loved to write to them about all my adventures. 

Looking back, I remember the the huge crowd. I believe I remember it because it was indeed scary. I had never seen anything like it, such a huge crowd, photographers, TV cameras, reporters relentlessly in pursuit of a glimpse of the bishop and his family. I have no idea how the vicar and I managed to get the kids in the car and drive out of there

What I do remember though is this: Soon everyone in the UK, including the vicar, bought the book, wrapped it in brown paper to hide what they were reading, and hopefully enjoyed it immensely!


"No other jury verdict has had such a profound social impact as the acquittal of Penguin Books in the Lady Chatterley trial." - The Guardian, October 22, 2010 (The 50th anniversary of the trial.)

Friday, March 20, 2020

Here's A Rollicking Puppy Post By Faith

I hope it will take your minds off these troubling times for a few minutes and cheer you up.


In the summer of 2014, Samson was five and Faith, born in April, just a few months old. That was the summer Errol first became ill and we spent a lot of time at UCLA, both in the hospital and also to get both of us qualified for a liver transplant for Errol. I had to be approved too because I would have to care for him. 

So it was left to Samson to bring Faith up and for Faith to cheer all of us up with her puppy antics and her already blossoming me, me, me/first, first, first personality.

Puppy Faith Growing Up ~ August 2014

Get me out of here! August 4, 2014

Evening playtime, August 10, 2014

I sneak up on mommy!

Then Samson gets me!

Ouch! My whole head's in his mouth!

Now he's got me by the scruff of my neck! 

I better take cover and bite him right back!

After playing hard, a puppy needs a break


On August 25, almost four months old, I'm running fast. 

I just love to pick up stuff and run with it in my mouth.

Taking a break.


We end this month's pictures on August 30, 2014, with me giving my bestest big bro a big lickety kiss.

In case you wondered: Yes, I eat white fur, I have white fur hanging out of my mouth, in my ears, over my eyes, everywhere........

Samson's getting mad now, cause he's not even in this picture, except for his big paw. 

- The End -

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

My Mother-In-Law

While looking for archive favorites, I found this picture of my mother-in-law and felt I wanted to honor her with a post. Her name was Noella, yes, she was a Christmas child. And lived all her life with Jesus in her heart, a heart full of love and kindness.

 The picture is from a restaurant on a day we took her for lunch. I forget what the dessert was, but I remember how much she loved it and how happy she was being out with us and Errol's sister and her husband, with whom she lived.

She was a lovely woman. She was born in New Orleans,  in a Creole family, in the 1920s.  Her life was not easy, but she always felt blessed. She raised nine children, had 23 grandchildren, and by now she would have had many great grandchildren. She suffered a stroke that left her unable to speak for about the last ten years of her life. She never complained. 

She knew how to love, to love deeply. Ironically, she suffered from heart failure in the medical sense, but her heart was huge and full of love in the most important sense. You hardly ever found her without a baby on her lap. If there was a baby around, as there always seemed to be, she would hold it and love on it.

And, as the babies grew up, they would remember and love her back, visit her, help her, and so on. 

She was a fabulous singer and very beautiful. A recruiter for Duke Ellington's band heard her sing in church and was very interested. She was only 14, so her dad said no way. Of course he did. Instead we got to hear her sing those beautiful old songs from her era. 

I met her around the time I lost my own mother. Noella loved me and I loved her back. She's been gone for over ten years now and I miss her so very much. Some people become the glue of a family, as she was, and nothing has been quite the same since she passed. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

Life And Shopping In A Time Of Crisis

Last fall I took time out from everything and stayed at home most of the time. I wrote about this in an earlier post. Now that I'm so ready and eager to get out and begin life anew, the corona virus arrives. 

And plans have to change.

I'm approaching 80, I have type 1 diabetes, and compromised lung function (though I have not been diagnosed with COPD), so all of a sudden I find myself in a vulnerable group of people. 

I have never in my life felt vulnerable. 

Saturday, I received a text from Joyce, my neighbor and friend. It said something to this effect: I'm going shopping, do you need anything? I suggest you stay home from now on, unless you have to go to the doctor.

I was deeply touched by her kindness and thoughtfulness.  

I had come to the same staying at home conclusion, but when I got the text I was getting ready to go and do some shopping of my own. Earlier in the week, I had been to Walmart and bought everything I needed, except fruit and veggies. 

As my Saturday progressed, my trip to Walmart turned out to be a good thing.

I first went to Albertsons because my pharmacy is in the store and I had some medicine to pick up. Then I did some shopping for non-perishable food, something I had read that other people, more into cooking than I, had focused on. This seemed like a good idea and I bought some.

Of course, it was Saturday and and crowded as most people who work had the day off. Then, in addition to the virus, we are also supposed to get a snowstorm, and that alone makes for a crowd at the grocery stores. But I was a little surprised by the number of shoppers and the empty shelves. So I was happy I had most things I needed from my trip to Walmart. 

My next stop was at Save Mart, a store local to the area, where I prefer to get my fruits, veggies, berries and greens for my smoothies. They also had gallon bottles of water, so I bought some more. But there were empty shelves there too -- no toilet paper and only one box of tissues, which I got, because I figured one more wouldn't hurt. Not sure if that kind of reasoning qualifies as panic buying. 

Looking back on my shopping, I definitely bought more stuff than I needed. I can probably stay home for a more than a month, just supplementing as needed and hoping my old refrigerator doesn't conk out.

That's my latest worry. My old fridge.

Another interesting thing -- to me, maybe not to anyone else, but here it is:

With the half-empty shelves, I discovered new things, things that I had never seen, bought or eaten before. And I picked them up, justifying this to myself with: I have to have some fun sitting there alone in my house. Not only did I buy cookies and chocolates in excess. Things that I with my diabetes should not eat and in normal times don't. I also bought tuna with jalapenos and peppered salmon in those little bags, a hazelnut spread, similar to Nutella, a guacamole dip, different nuts that I had never tried before, nuts that promised to be salty, another thing I'm not supposed to eat too much of. And you know how it goes with nuts, you have one and then so many are eaten before you are able to contain yourself.

All these things, which really were not necessary for my sustenance, ended up costing a pretty penny.

Now, I wonder why I did it. I never shop impulsively, and certainly not for food. 

Other than shopping:

I still have to go to the lab twice, to three different doctors between now and the first week in April. Samson needs the groomer and also a rabies shot later in April. Faith needs the snake vaccine and both need the kennel cough vaccine.

I will see how it goes with this virus in the coming weeks before I decide which appointments to keep. There are still no  confirmed cases in Kern county where I live, but according to the latest I saw on TV, 10 people are being monitored for the virus. Whatever that means. With all the people that may have the virus, the people we don't know about for lack of tests, I still didn't feel all that safe in the stores. 

I believe they will be able to test soon. Very late in coming, these tests, but that's another story.

I'm glad I have insulin to last for a while. I think it's made in the U.S. My insulin pump supplies are made in Denmark and I can reorder them soon, so I should be OK for now. For later, who knows. It's a bit scary when your life depends on outside things, but I'm not at the point of being scared just yet.

I'm sure all of you have had the same experiences going to the grocery store, finding empty shelves and no toilet paper, worrying about family members, loved ones, about medications, and all the rest. I hope I didn't bore you with my trips. 

I find my own, as well as other people's reactions to be both confusing and making a lot of sense. Paradoxical -- is that the correct word?

In a time of crisis.

Take care and stay well my friends.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Tales From The Vicarage ~ Mr. Jones

This is a revised post, first posted in 2012 when I called it:

How I Sent The Vicar Down The Straight And Narrow

I spent about two and a half years in London in the late 1950s - early 1960s. At first, I went to school and lived with a Polish count and his family. They were poor, refugees, lived in Ealing a London suburb. They rented rooms to add some income. They were intellectuals, he worked for a literary magazine, and all sorts of interesting writers and musicians visited their home. 

After I left the Polish family and spent a summer in Sweden, I looked for a job as an au pair, someone who helps out with children and does some light housekeeping. 

I don't remember how this came about, but I got a job in a  British vicarage, located in Lee Green, Kent. I was to look after a four-year old boy, named Stephen. The other members of the family were Mr. and Mrs. Smith, their daughter Janet and eldest son Robert. I believe they were around 12 and 10 years old at the time. 

Other family members were an orange cat, named Ginger, a rabbit named Biscuit, and a guinea pig that the kids gave to me. There was also a stout woman, named Mrs. Plummer, who came in and did the heavy housekeeping for the family. Mrs. Smith worked outside of the home and Mr. Smith, the vicar, worked at home. They were a wonderful, warm and caring family. The children welcomed me with open arms and I felt at home from the moment I arrived. 

The kids and their pets.

I only worked about half a day, around lunch and early afternoons. Janet and I often went to her riding school and rode horses. My favorite was called Everest, a huge, but friendly horse. We would go on field trips with the horses, riding through the beautiful English countryside. After all the studying of the previous year, it was an easy and peaceful life. 

Everest and I after a muddy ride.

I often went to church with the family and learned about the Church of England. I didn't have to go as part of my job, but the vicar was a charming man, a wise man, and his services were really great. The vicar was also compassionate and kind to the many people who would come to the vicarage for a variety of reasons. Many of them came because there was a need; a need for a talk with the vicar; a need for some direction, some advice, or some assistance.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

One day, the door bell rang and when I answered it, I found Mr. Jones outside. Mr. Jones was bit a socially inept, a little off and difficult to be around. On this particular day, he was clearly agitated and insisted he had to see the vicar at once. I knew the vicar was home, so I invited Mr. Jones to step into the hallway. I looked for the vicar, but couldn't find him anywhere. The vicarage was a huge old house with all sorts of nooks and crannies. I opened a couple of doors, just to check, including one to the room where the coal that heated the house was kept. And there I found him! Imagine that, the vicar, a man of God, was hiding in the coal bin ~ well, almost! 

Me and my Guinea pig.

He told me to tell Mr. Jones I couldn't find him. I told him that this man is in some sort of trouble and he really needs to talk to you, so you better go and see him. The vicar said,"no, he just talks and talks and I'm busy." I said, "you're supposed to see these people and help them. And I will not lie for you." This went on for a while, then the vicar relented and met with Mr. Jones.

The next morning, the call came. Mr. Jones had died, unexpectedly, the evening before. The vicar was in shock when he told me. He thanked me for insisting  he talk to Mr. Jones, who had gone home afterwards and then had a fatal heart attack.

Much to his credit, the vicar owned up to this in church the following Sunday. Not to hiding in the coal bin, but to his own reluctance and my insistence on the day that Mr. Jones died. 

I'm know the vicar never forgot me and the lesson he learned that day. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Notes From The Canyon

My first note is a thank you for your comments on my storytelling. The only way to get better is to keep at it and I'm glad you are OK with the process. 

I've loved the English language from the moment I began to study it when I was eleven. But still, Swedish is my first language, my emotional language, my favorite poetry language, even Shakespeare translated to Swedish sounds better to me. Yes, I know, I probably shouldn't have confessed to that one

This is what I have been up to since my last notes:

My washing machine broke a while ago. I've now had both Mark and Glenn declare the machine dead so I will buy a new one soon. Meanwhile, my friend Carol who lives exactly 113 miles from here in Strathmore, a small town in the Central Valley of California, suggested I pack up as much dirty stuff as I could and come to visit and do laundry. 

Sierra Nevada Mountains 

Due to my advanced age (I always wanted to say that) I felt a round-trip would be a bit much, so I stayed the night. Joyce fed the dogs and all went very well; the laundry got done, Carol and I visited and talked; the dogs were OK. 

The Central Valley is the bread basket of America, they say. It's certainly the fruit and nut basket and Carol has the absolutely best Naval oranges in her backyard. I came home with two big bags.

Glenn came by on Friday to help with some electric stuff. As it turned out, I didn't have a problem, I just forgot that even before checking the fuses, I'm supposed to push on that little red button on the outlet. Oh, well, we had a nice visit and he got to diagnose my washing machine and concur with Mark that I need a new one. 

The G6 version of my continuous glucose monitoring system arrived. This is the latest version and the one that eliminates pricking fingers to use a drop of blood to monitor blood sugar levels. It's much easier to insert than the G5 system and I find that I trust it to be correct. I didn't trust the G5 at all, which sort of defeated its purpose. 

The 30th anniversary of my Adult Onset Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis, came and went without fanfare in early February. I have managed it well, I have no complications, but there has never been a single day that I have felt SPONTANEOUS and FREE. Being very sensitive to insulin, I have always had to be on the alert, worried about night time low sugars, checking up to 10 times a day, remembering to bring glucose tablets to fix low sugars and on and on. 

With the G6 system, I'm beginning to feel free again. I don't worry before I go to sleep. I trust that it will beep me and wake me up in time. Trusting the system is for me what's most important. The convenience, and it is very convenient,  is of much less importance. 

One morning last week, I heard a familiar twitter outside my window. I went to look at the old nest and found that my house finches are back and busy cleaning it up. 

Since then the weather has turned cold and the winds have picked up. We may be getting some rain this week, much needed since our normally rainy month of February came and went without a drop. 

But the weather isn't bad here, considering what's going on in so many other places. Thinking of those who live where floods and tornadoes create such devastation. 

Samson will soon look like this again. Right now he's one dirty dog. I tell him that white dogs are not allowed to dig. To no avail, of course.

Faith will be six in April. I look for gray fur, but so far - nothing.

The pictures here are old. I need to get with the computer guy soon. I miss taking pictures and then posting them here.


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