Furry Friends

Lessons from the trail: that dude on the bike

Fotor_144077863385631I’m walking down the trail yesterday with my baby in a stroller and my dog darting about.  My trail is asphalt, but there is a great surrounding riparian area where my dog loves to explore. She chases birds, sniffs for treasures, drinks from puddles. I imagine her trail-time is much like mine: she feels free and at ease with her instincts.

So, at one point this cyclist comes roaring around a curve, and almost runs over my dog. Not really slowing down, the cyclist shouted at me over his shoulder: “Please keep your dog on a leash so she won’t run in front of the bikers.”

What he had no way of knowing is that like the guy suggested and the law commands, I used to keep my dog on the leash.  However, I found that the outstretched leash was a big problem for the cyclists. They would have to come to a complete stop behind oblivious me in my headphones, my wide stroller, the leash of death off to my left, and my dog trying to sniff the other side of the trail.

So, over a period of about three years I’ve learned to just let the dog run, and hope for the best. Whenever there is another dog approaching I quickly apply the leash.  Lately though I’ve been searching for the right solution as there are a lot more cyclists during the earlier time that I’ve been using the trail. Sometimes Olive has obliviously jet out in front of them and I realize that’s a problem.

For the rest of my walk, I was considering this cyclist. I started out angry with the overpowering thought of, “how dare he?” “What makes him think he’s the king of the trail?” I silently deliberated on how aggressive he would have been had my dog been on a leash and he didn’t just have to slow down but stop altogether. I thought about all who share the trail and wondered if in ignorance I hadn’t been being considerate enough. Eventually my heart softened and I allowed the idea that perhaps I was the arrogant one and he was right to reprimand me.

Fast forward 6 hours to my daughter’s high-school soccer game.  The opposing school’s soccer field is less than ideally situated. The sun blares down on it and on one whole sideline there is nowhere for spectators to sit at all.  The school always posts signage telling the opposing team to sit west of the 50 in hot and sunny and the home team to sit east of the 50 where it is partially shaded. However above the sideline up a small hill is an adjacent park almost totally shaded by towering trees. Having hauled four of my children, a picnic dinner, and five camping chairs from the distant parking lot, and worrying over the baby getting too much sun exposure, we situated ourselves in the shade of the park. We expected to be there for two whole games (about four hours) as my daughter is rostered on Varsity but usually only plays on JV. Technically we were over the line in the opposing side’s territory, but we were so far back I hardly thought it mattered.

Fast forward to fifteen minutes into the second half of the varsity game. My friend Jen had showed up just after I did and was sitting next to me with her kids. West of her about 5 feet was an elderly gentleman in his chair. At some point, a gentlemen stood talking to friends directly in front of the elderly man at a coupling of chairs closer to the field at the top of the hill. The elderly man kindly raised his voice, “Down in front, sir.”  The dude turned around and glared at the man and then turned back to the game. The elderly man did not relent. Again, “Down in front, sir.” At this point the man turned around and with the angriest face and beaming eyes said, “I’m having a conversation.” The old man: “I’m trying to watch the game.” The ball-capped late-40 angry dude:  “Well, why can’t you stand?” The old dude:  “Because I am sitting.”  The ball cap man was ticked off and seemed to think that the old guy was being completely unreasonable. He failed to see the “share the trail” mentality.

In defense of the old man, twice I said loud enough for the man to hear, “It’s just soccer etiquette, sir.”  It didn’t take long for him to turn on me. He walked in my direction and screamed, “Why do you think you have anything to say to me?” If you know me, you know I rarely back down. I said, “Because you were just really rude to this man, and I was defending him in the soccer etiquette.” Boy, did that make him even more mad. He still kept coming at me physically and vocally. “You want to talk about soccer etiquette, do you? What team are you from?” I honestly answered the name splattered across my t-shirt. He said, “You aren’t even supposed to be sitting here.” I silently realized four things: 1- This guy liked to deflect his bad behavior on to others 2- he was probably the one who always posted the less-than-inviting signs, 3- he was in a foul mood because our team was spanking his, and 4- there was a reason his team played so physically and aggressive.

Unsettled that my husband wasn’t there to gently lay his magic hand of mouth-control on my forearm, I quickly mulled over my options. One of which was him baling me out of jail at a later time. Lucky for my husband, I had small children to tend to and didn’t completely trust myself, so I knew I needed to stop him from coming at me. Loudly I declared, “Listen sir, I am crazy. Certifiably crazy. Papers and medication and everything. You really don’t want to mess with me. I am probably the last person here you want to pick a fight with.” He instantly retreated from me as if I would whip out a gun at any second and subsequently was finally out of the view of the old man. My friend Jen busted a gut. I busted a gut. The old man looked satisfied. Although with a lot less confidence, the mean guy was still mouthing off from a distance, I shut him out by suggesting that maybe he should get some medication too. We never heard any more from him.

Jen said, “What kind of man treats an old man and two mothers like that?” I answer her here, “the kind that thinks he doesn’t have to share the trail.”

The old guy turned to us and said, I’m actually here to watch his team, but I wasn’t about to say it.”

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Lessons from the trail: the dog, the cats, and the leash.

IMG_20141107_104326I couldn’t help but sing aloud, “On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again,” as I drove up the street towards my beloved Murdock Canal Trail. You see, about 10 months ago I found myself really struggling with my running regimen. I felt like my bladder was just going to drop right out of my body. Shortly before I started struggling I found out that I was expecting baby Max and shortly after giving up during that first (and last) gruesome mile and turning back around to limp my sad self home, I ended up in the E.R. I had a prolapsed uterus and my doctor forbade me from running. Even walking long distances would not allowed for the duration of my pregnancy.

As many of you know, my trail-time is one of my most favorite things. I love being out in nature. I love the sunshine. I love the rain. I even love the snow. As I watch closely for all the little details in the world around me, I simultaneously dump all my cares out of my overloaded brain. One by one they are left on the gravel as I trample them under my feet headed for a lighter future. My trail-time not only makes me feel great physically, but without it I start to fall apart a little mentally.

So, earlier this week, when I was finally able to get back on the trail I was beyond ecstatic. Even with taking Max along in the stroller I was finally able to get the therapeutic benefit that I have been missing tremendously. [If you don’t understand what I am talking about, I double-dog dare you to find a quiet trail near you and spend time walking on it every day – make sure you let me know how it changes you because I promise it will.]

Okay, okay, on with the story as part of my series “lessons from the trail”. I feel like Henry David Thoreau in Walden when I write these stories. Nature is a powerful philosopher. So, on Monday, there I was, back on the trail again. I was multi-tasking at its finest, pushing Max in the stroller, supervising the dog on and off of the leash, listening to my tunes, and observing the world around me.

Why do I put the dog on AND off the leash you ask? I’m so glad you did ask, that’s what my story is all about. You see, our dog, Olive, is naughty. I have her partially trained, but she refuses to be fully broken. She reminds me of….well….me. Olive will run after whatever catches her attention and completely ignore my incessant calls. She especially loves birds and cats…probably much like all the other dogs. Another thing about Olive is that she only gets along with about 50% of other dogs that we encounter. If she doesn’t like the other dogs, she will go after them until she has their full submission to her dominance.

This doesn’t work out so well when the other dogs have the same personality. So, given her disobedience (not to mention the leash laws) I should really never let her off the leash, but, you see, she, like me, loves to roam free in the mountains. So, when no one is around I let her run and explore as long as she doesn’t go too far off the trail. As soon as I spot someone off in the distance (and before Olive has a chance to attack their dogs) I hurry and put her back on the leash until the others are safely past us. I also put her on the leash when small children are approaching or if I notice anything else that will cause her to run off like a doggy lunatic.

And there it was…something that would make Olive crazy…about 100 feet ahead of us, a cat was sunning right in the middle of the path. I hurried and grabbed Olive (who does well to get on the leash if she doesn’t detect anything of extra interest – lucky for me, my eyes seem to be better than hers) and walked on. I held her at a close distance and we marched right on by that cat without incident. Olive noticed the cat but didn’t yank my arm off to go after her. She just barked a few times and focused ahead.

And there was my lesson for the day. If I place myself on the end of that leash, I think that sometimes I also pass the test, as did Olive. I think if I am aware of the big picture and know that just shortly up the path there may be something else of better interest to me I don’t get all crazy. If I behave I will be let off the leash to get a close-up of what is best for me, which is probably not what I think is best for me. Because of the leash I allow myself to be tethered to (which for me is my faith and beliefs) I am freed from so many unnecessary distractions. The key though is that I have to be willing to be leashed so that I don’t run off before I have a chance to think things through. I also have to trust my maker and know that He will unleash me when I am ready and/or safe. It was a profound observation for me as I resist being controlled in any manner.

Then, just as I finished processing all of the leash metaphors in my own life, I noticed another cat. I hurried and put Olive on the leash again, hoping for the same success to support my observation. This time, however, I was disappointed. I braced myself as Olive took off, as usual, only to be thwarted by the yank of her collar on the leash. I never understand why dogs don’t learn!

I’ll leave you walking along with me on the trail trying to make sense of the second cat encounter. You can surely come up with your own comparisons, as did I, but I will give you this: I was instantly filled with gratitude for my maker who always stands with the leash, waiting for me to heed his calls instead of taking off after who knows what. He has a grand journey prepared for me and no matter how many times I allow myself to be distracted with my own ridiculous notions, He never lets go. And someday, in the very distant future, I am sure that I will be strong enough to not need a leash, until then, though, I will gladly tether myself to it.

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Home on the Range

My third grade teacher died at 91-years-old a few months back. His name was Mr. Panman, a WWII Nazi camp survivor from Holland, and one of the best teachers I ever had. I’ll never forget the emotions I felt the day he told us about running from the Nazis and tearing to shreds his back by crawling under a barbed wired fence. I cried in class while I heard his living history. I loved him so much. He always played the piano in class and he often sang us the song Home on the Range.  The class quickly learned the lyrics and always sang along while thoroughly enjoying the musical break to our daily studies. Oh the good old days. I swear if I am ever a teacher, I would employ this simple form of educational entertainment.

Oh give me  home, where the buffalo roam,
where the deer and the antelope play.
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day.
Home, home on the range.

I’m sure Mr. Panman is roaming free on a very vast range that includes a piano. Love you Mr. Panman. I can’t go to a place with buffalo and not think of Mr. Panman.

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On Saturday, while at Antelope Island, I had to break the law and get out of the car to take the photo above (of the buffalo – and the family, actually) The law-abiding family was in the rental van freaking out. I just laughed while I shot away. I was pretty sure I could outrun the buffalo just 20 feet away. The kids were begging LG to make me get back in the car saying I was going to get arrested. He assured them, “I’m staying in here with you, so one adult doesn’t get arrested.” Bella put two and two together really quick. (We were in the rental van that only I am allowed/insured to drive.) “But Dad, if mom gets arrested, who is going to drive us home?”

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On the way home we met up with Amy and Tyler and went to our favorite family restaurant. It was such an enjoyable dining experience with the cozy atmosphere, big fire, good food, and kids all getting along.

We love you Cracker Barrel. Our waiter, Kyler, was the best waiter I’ve ever had in my entire life.
I just got off the phone with the store manager to let him know to keep that kid around. I wish I would have got his photo. I guess we’ll just have to go back.

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Have a great Monday wherever you roam the range.

Feel free to sing along with your munchkins. Mr. Panman would very much approve.

Funniest Fish Funeral Ever

We had pet fish once.
They were named Dorothy and Goldie.
One for our last name and the color of the fish
and one for my grandma and Elmo’s fish.

I think they lasted in their bowl in my kitchen window for three days.
Abigail still recalls with great emotion the day she found them both laying belly-up.
“Their eyes, mom. They were just staring at me.”

Daddy was gone, so Papa took care of the situation.
Fortunately, somewhere in the book of life law is the rule
“Dads take care of  pet burial.”

With papa’s love and care the fish took the next huge step in their circle of life:
they became garden fertilizer.
Our girls know how much papa loves their garden,
therefore they knew that the fish got a royal ending.

fishing with papa

To this day, they beg me for more fish.
I always tell them no.
“You begged me for a cat.
You promised me you would take care of it.
I’ll sleep with it, feed it.
And you don’t.
Then you begged me for a dog.
Mom, we’ll walk it, we’ll feed it, we’ll play with it, we’ll give it a bath.
And I do it way more than you ever do.”

The first fish experience combined with the dog and cat makes three strikes.
I will never be guilt-ed into another fish experience.
Not unless it’s the fish that will end up on my plate to eat.
And we all know that salmon or tilapia aren’t going to fit in a tank.

We now settle for fish window shopping at Walmart every time we visit.
I think that makes me a “good enough” mom and that’s as high as I aim nowadays.

The other day on facebook, a friend asked a serious question.
Should she replace her son’s fish for the 5th time without telling him,
or just go ahead and tell him that it’s dead?

All I could think about was the master himself Bill Cosby.
How I love Bill Cosby.
I wish I could find other masterful and clean comedians to follow.

Better yet, if you have Netflix, go and watch the whole second episode so you can have all the laughs.

I love you Bill Cosby. I really do.

KB

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KittyBear has been consuming my energy.
She’s been missing for five days.
She is our beloved cat of seven years.
I’ve blogged about her before
I had to go to the pound yesterday 
to see if she was there.
Don’t go to the pound.
Ever.
It’s not all fun and happy like
Hotel for Dogs
or 
Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
It’s sad and depressing
and will make an animal hoarder
out of the most sane of people.
Last night I sincerely had to hand
KB over to God.
I could feel myself
getting more and more depressed.
If I let my thinking fester
I may end up in bed for months.
So, I just said,
“God, I am giving KB to you now.”
You would be amazed at how fast
doing that works in any given situation.
I know you are all gonna think
I am totally whacky.
Who gets that upset over a cat?
Well, I do.
That’s who.
I won’t even go into my
conspiracy theories
of my serial killing neighbor.
However,
God has a way of putting things into perspective.
I got a facebook message10 minutues ago
and someone’s teenage daughter
has been missing from my city
for the same exact amount of time
that our KittyBear has been gone?
Do you think they
could have run off together?
Don’t tell me otherwise, please.
That is my happy place.
A lonely teenage girl and KB 
snuggled together in a boxcar somewhere.
Don’t forget that tomorrow is your last day to win a free half-tee!

Crazy Caroline

We have been having challenges with Caroline.
Since the day she was born.
What a crazy kid.
We have nicknamed her Crazy Caroline.
We have Adorable Abigail.
Sweet Sophia.
Beautiful Bella.
and
Crazy Caroline.
Maybe we should say
Crazy Cute Caroline
so that she won’t grow up with 
black sheep syndrome.
Anyway,
our most recent challenge
has been that Caroline
learned how to open doors.
She is always trying to make an escape.
Can’t say that I blame her.
Well, as you all know
at our new rental home
one of the conditions of the lease
is that our pets are outdoor pets.
It has been nice not having the dog
under foot.
She loves her cozy house in the garage
where she can go outside
as she pleases.
Imagine my surprise when
I got out of the shower the other day
and found this.
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At least she wasn’t out in the street
barefoot.
Not the dog, silly.
Caroline.
She sure does make for some great blog material.

Wolverine through and through

For you readers who aren’t familiar
with Utah,
last week was The Holy War.
That means that the holier than thou team BYU
got spanked by the rebellious Utah Utes.

I have a few suggestions for the team’s improvement,
inspired by photos of my kids and their cousins.

Maybe before their next football game,
the BYU Cougars
should go to The Bean Museum
for some inspiration
on their animal instincts?

They could learn to stare down and intimidate their opponents.

Charge like an ostrich.

If all else fails they could just be silly
and hope some laughs could get them some yardage.
Blending in may get them better results.

Or even crouching beneath the other team.

Maybe they just need some glasses?

Or maybe they won’t play any fair opponents at all
because they are just like helpless little mice.

How about this great idea?
We should just lock all the players in the elevator with our kids.
That might give them some better training then they’ve been getting.
Our future BYU cheerleader still looks good
even though she just experienced 
two great defeats in the same week:

BYU’s  54-10 loss,
and a broken arm.

Poor Sophia.

Maybe the Cougars could change their mascot
to something a little more fierce
that can actually beat a Ute?

Did I mention that we aren’t really BYU fans?
Go Utah Valley University.
Everyone knows that Wolverines
are better than Cougars,
and usually a little more humble.

If you agree with me that UVU
is the best higher education
in Utah,
or you just loathe BYU,
how about you like my blog on facebook?
Look to your right sidebar.
You’re one click away from being my newest fan.
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Life

Enjoy a humorous explanation of your life.

A friend e-mailed me this story and I thought it would be a good share.
 Especially after such a non-funny week.

On the first day, God created the dog and said, “Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years. 

“The dog said, “That’s a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I’ll give you back the other ten?” 

So God saw it was good. 

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, “Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I’ll give you a twenty-year life span.” 

The monkey said, “Monkey tricks for twenty years? That’s a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?” 

And God, again saw it was good. 

On the third day, God created the cow and said, “You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer’s family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.” 

The cow said, “That’s kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I’ll give back the other forty?” 

And God agreed it was good. 

On the fourth day, God created humans and said, “Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I’ll give you twenty years.” 

But the human said, “Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?” 

“Okay,” said God, “You asked for it.” 

So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone. 

Life has now been explained to you. 

There is no need to thank me for this valuable information. I’m doing it as a public service. If you need me I’ll be on the front porch.

Guest Post – Lynnae

Lynnae Boyer Weller is a close family friend.
She writes eloquently at Life’s Little Parables.
And she wrote up this guest post in a day.
Did I tell you she is awesome?
More like family really.
She, like all of her other family members, 
are always good for a laugh or 100.
I blogged about her mother’s laugh here.
I sure do miss it still.
But, Nancy’s laugh most definitely lives on in her children.
As evidenced by this awesome guest post.

My little family has a long history with wolves. We have a very small zoo where we live, but It’s biggest exhibit is the wolves. When my daughter was 3, we visited the zoo and watched the wolves from an observation deck. The deck is open air and keeps you about 8 feet above the ground level. One wolf apparently thought my daughter would be a tasty treat. He trotted right over, sat down in front of her, and started licking his lips. He kept staring at her and licking his lips until we left! Needless to say, I kept a very tight hand on her that visit!

Since then, the zoo built a nice building you can go in to observe the wolves on ground level through a large, thick window. The first time we went there, one of the wolves apparently took a disliking to my son. The wolf saw him through the window and tried to urinate on him! Seriously disgusting, wolf!

Speaking of disgusting things that wolves do, my daughter, who is now 7, had the opportunity to see a presentation on wolves with one of her friends. She learned when a wolf makes a large kill, and is unable to take it back to the den, the wolf will urinate on the meat to “mark” it as his own. All the kids in the crowd were completely disgusted. However, my daughter thought about it for a minute and said, “Well, actually, it’s just like he’s putting his own sauce on it!”

I guess that disgusting wolf was just trying to put some sauce on my son!