If You Don’t Have One, Be One

We have a pretty tight neighborhood. A lot of things have gone into that sweet mixture. None of us are exactly alike, but yet there is the common grounds that matters the most. I’d say some of it comes from community that just plain values the personhood of everyone on the hill. Well that, and we do love a hearty Fourth of July celebration, tracking the latest coyote prowlings, duck crossings or Bald eagles nesting- we love the network of neighbors who offer their latest cooking nummy, or watch our house when we’re gone… or our kids, or our seniors…. or share the latest home brew. We’ll link arms in a heartbeat when something threatens that.

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Maybe one of the more significant strong threads that holds us together,  is a Harvey.

Harvey has lived here longer than a lot of us, and most of us have been here for a while (who wants to leave  this neighborhood?).

If you bump into Harvey, he always has an observation about something. Something you didn’t know about your hill before. The kind of thing that after you say good-bye and head off back to home, you realize you’re just a little more connected to the things that matter for your hill. And I don’t mean gossip.

He’ll let you know the reason why if there’s a neighbor who’s been quiet for a while. Like cancer. Or have you stop to appreciate an exceptional tree in someone’s yard- then point out where there are others. Or, in my case- and how I appreciated him during those years- the stink eye when one of my lead-footed sons didn’t think he was roaring down the street around the corner “that fast.”

Harvey loves a lot of things- his family, salmon fishing, a freshly mown lawn, a pile of firewood for the winter and his dog. Dogs, “they’re just good friends.” Lily is a no-nonsense girl. Friendly and smart- which means her job is to walk the good walk. And bark, but only on occasion.

facebook_1467917630801Neighbors scramble to join them on some of the daily walkabouts. I love a coffee house and good friends, but this trumps that. Our neighbors aren’t an “out of sight out of mind” (thanks Faye for this shot!). Community is our extended family. How sad it is when people don’t make that effort to invest in that connection.


So if you don’t have a Harvey, be one.                                                                                                                                                                             _DSC3200 WEB

One that’s not compromising but not looking for a fight.

One that just knows the things that makes us stronger.

The one who is trustworthy and will look you in the eye over the things that matter.

Be one.






The Flying Wounded

We all know, and ought to be thoughtful of the walking wounded. The people who have been kicked in the chops by life. We may have been one ourselves, or still are. Life is just plain bumpy. Sometimes we recover; other times we find a new normal; but what a pity it is when we get stuck.

Nature is one of those God-givens that helps you find a different approach to thinking about life.  A couple of summers ago, it looked like a life would be claimed by adversity. It seems like no matter your size there is always something that could eat you alive.

You may understand the love of wild birds and finding ways to help them thrive. We had one of our birds show up at the feeder badly damaged. The Spotted Towhee was dragging his right foot- with it stretched out far behind him. He could barely balance. He’d find a way to lean up against the edge of the feeder and make a tripod with his tail and one remaining unsteady standing leg. The feathers on his wings were pointed all directions and flight was quite labored.

Over the summer his standing leg got stronger with his tail getting stubbier and scrubbier as he used it to prop himself up. New feathers came in before fall hit, though his foot still dragged uselessly behind him- like he was doing a poorly executed arabesque- he was stronger.

We worried about him last winter. Whatever tried to chew him up that summer left him quite damaged to make it through the winter. But you know, as cold wet winter pressed on, the little feathered trooper hung in there. He learned to pull his foot under himself. And though his foot rarely ever took a normal bird foot posture, it did act like a stump with his toes pointed back.


He made it through last winter, and the seasons that followed.


He went from waiting until the feeder was clear to eat and taking off when new parents brought their fledglings in, to being more bold and brave. He and the other birds have come to an understanding and now they allow him to finish eating. We are in his second winter here; he’s alive, confident and holding his own! He’s got a new normal but he’s still a bird who can take wing._DSC8480

And as a parent, when it’s you? You put on your game face for your kids so they don’t bear much worry as you make sense of those bumps. When it’s your kid getting bounced around? It’s much harder.  Life can get mean, and when you’re wounded, it’s a given that a few more hardships will be piled on just to ramp up the strugglings. No one wants that for their beloveds.

I watched my daughter recover from a surgery this summer. It was a hard surgery, hard recovery and a game changer.  Summer days shouldn’t be dark days, but it was a very dark summer for her. She’d tell you it was just her and God. I didn’t have a bandage for this hurt. You want your children to grow up and be adults who can thrive in a dog-eat-dog world- thrive in a way that they are still people with integrity, heart and perseverance…. So sometimes we’re not walking wounded- we have learned to fly instead….wounded. Yet, we fly.




Fly Like the Wind

So here we are. A die hard German Shepherd family. And we have a goofy-looking mixed low rider. I don’t want to offend everyone by saying that those bumper stickers about “who rescued whom” bumper stickers are ridiculously silly, but they are. Loving working breeds as we do, dogs are not about rescue, unless you’re in the woods lost- dogs are about the companionship that is deeply felt between man and poochie.

Dad called GSD’s “Germanshedders” and it’s really the only flaw I can find 20151109-_DSC6697in the breed. So while we still grieve our Sojourner, I still needed a walking buddy, that maybe didn’t shed as much… And as a dear friend has pointed out, had smaller poopies. She was found in Texas as a hurricane survivor. There is a wonderful organization there called God’s Dogs (http://www.godsdogsrescue.org/) which saves promising adoptable dogs on death row and then coordinates with shelters to give them a second chance. This little darling got hauled all the way up to Washington State and found her way to Wenatchee Humane Society (http://www.wenatcheehumane.org/).


They identified her as part corgi and part basset. Corgi had our attention because we have found that GSD people like the smarts of corgi. Less shedding…. smart, smaller doo-doo. Could be a good fit. We met, she liked chasing balls. Sold! A companion to making it unfriendly for those loathsome bird seed stealing, native squirrel tormenting, northern grey squirrels- this could be great.


But look at those legs, and bosom… we’re thinking, dooggoneit, terrier. Someone snuck terrier in. She does not have a lovely trot like a German Shepherd- she bounds like something crazy out of Looney Tunes. And she does it fast. And she loves it. And tries to convince  us it’s a game we’d love.

She’s as smart as she is sassy. She’s picked up very fast on the German commands. It’s what her big brother GSD knows, and what our next black and red GSD will know. Her impish side is good at smelling an opportunity to escape and run. Because it’s less frequent we think she’s learning that we don’t play that.




We’ve had a couple of early winter storms and she’s invigorated by the strong winds. That part of the hurricane must not have been as traumatic. She seems okay with PNW flora- blackberries don’t trouble her princess toes now. It’s only been a couple of months that she’s had this PNW rain, so she’s still tolerating that.

Tulla (too-lah) is at home. We see a settled attitude in her now. This dog hugs. Who knew dogs hugged? You’re sitting at the computer and she’ll wrap her head, front paw around your foot and hug- just leans right in for a long hug. She’s eager to know what her family is doing. Evidently she needed to understand what the Christmas tree angel was for.20151212-_DSC6803

Well, it’s time for that walk, and it will be sans the “offense” of Christmas ruffles. My son won’t let her out the door with it. It’s good for a dog to have someone who has their back, even when it’s a long well traveled one.20151212-_DSC6785


Blaming It All on Bob

Bob, how did this happen to him? He’s sitting on the shelf, contentedly gathering a bit of dust and suddenly he’s off to some new outing. He’s a bacon saver. There’s a school of thought that when you go somewhere, don’t just take a picture of “it”, put one of your people in it.

So what do you do, when every last one of your people is stinkin’ tired of getting in the shot? You get Bob.

What about Bob? Bob happened on a trip to LA a few years back. Mom was on a geocaching mission. We’re talking m-i-s-s-i-o-n and the fam was … well, extending good sportsmanship, when out of the corner of my eye, Bob. Sure we were looking for a geocache at one of the original Bob’s Big Boy restaurants- but there was Bob. Good natured, go along-to-get-along Bob. And he’s been a good side-kick on occasion. Especially when there are friends and family involved.

Bob and Marv hanging at a Henry. (They're Henry Heads)

Bob and Marv hanging at a Henry. (they’re Henry Heads)

Bob and beloved JP Patches

Bob and beloved JP Patches