Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cannibal Attire

I was posed this online question: 

If you were a cannibal, what would you wear to a dinner party?




I guess, I'd wear this if it were formal:





 
Or this, if it's come-as-you-are:


Mwahh-haa-haaa!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Like A Fairytale


The Princess and the Queen
at the Ohio Renaissance Festival

I woke up and floated dreamlike to England; to Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the entire fairytale kingdom. I watched Kate and the Queen emerge from their cars while the whole world watched and I thought, "I wish that were me."

I was painfully shy as a girl and was never the type that wanted to be in the spotlight. I never wanted fanfare or any type of pomp and circumstance. Even during the big events of my life, I kept things quiet and low-key, simple and down-to-earth. But I've changed. I listened to those bells pealing for hours announcing that this day was different than others. I listened to those bells ring out through the land telling everyone to stop living their ordinary lives for a moment. This day was special.

I want those bells. I want the fairytale. I want a thousand lanterns to float through the sky on my birthday. So, I told my daughter.

I woke her up to come downstairs and watch the wedding. She wasn't especially interested in it until suddenly, she saw Kate's fairytale coming to life. She heard the bells and saw the dress. She watched as Kate and William rode off in their carriage with grand royal horses leading the way, and flags waving in their honor. Riveted, she wanted the fairytale, too.

For the first time, she talked about her dreams for her own wedding someday. No, she probably won't be in a carriage riding toward a palace while the whole world watches, but she has discovered that she wants to feel like that princess; that she wants the pomp and circumstance and the limelight. I can't wait for her fairytale wedding to happen. Bells will peal out across the land. She can be the Princess, and I will be the Queen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Guest Blog: Go Fly A Kite!

By Joann Storck




If you are a Baby-Boomer-Plus-One (year, that is) then I’m sure that at least once or twice in your lifetime you were waved away by someone and told to “go fly a kite”.
     Have you just been dismissed by someone who seems to be annoyed with looking or talking to you?  Or have you just been invited to do something so wonderful you will stand and hold the string tight as your bright, errant kite reaches higher and higher into the endless blue canopy above; and all the while you are smiling like the years fell away and you are a kid again?
      I’m going to focus on the meaning where you get to giggle and run like a child again, even if that arthritic knee gives you some backtalk for not accepting any limits, anywhere, as your riot-colored kite dips and dives and flaps in abandon.  You’re running again, just like when you played “tag” with the neighborhood kids after supper.  Was that about a million years ago?
      The child who was me in 1950 must have been wise enough to take precious mind-pictures of days like this because I can effortlessly go back 60 years see our old box kite that our dad and grandpa made from a roll of butcher paper connected to slim pieces of wood and string.  We kids preferred our blue, red, yellow or purple paper kind, but the boys inside those men grinned from ear to ear as the ungraceful box kite rode the air stream.  In the present day I’m looking at my store-bought variety with big splashes of strong colors and a bright, red, plastic tail.  Again, it strikes me that the kites of old dangled with a strip of a rag torn from an old shirt – if you were lucky enough not to have to keep wearing that old shirt.  No one’s here with me that I can subject to these incredible tales of generational deprivation and compare it to the vulgarity of "playrooms" of toys that kids have today.  That’s okay.  Why ruin this beautiful experience with becoming a crabby grump?     
      Oh!  I can’t let this apparition appear and not let out a squeal of delight as I spy a cloud up there, in that rapturous sky:  that most definitely is a mama duck!  And, look!  Five little babies are following her with their little tails up in the air.   Uh-oh.  My kite is challenging me for control as it pulls and tightens the string in my hand, nearly slicing my skin.  The kite bows out; the wind wants to take it away from me and help it escape to the place where all this brilliant blue begins.   It’s such a strong pull that I can’t do much more than hold it tight and hope that the wind gives out before I do.  I walk along the ridge of the hill and give the kite some of the same independence it has given me today.  I want to bring it back to earth now so I can keep it safe on that shelf in the corner of the basement.  Having done that, I congratulate myself that I can still be as happy as a child and as free as a bird… or a kite. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Royal Wedding

Mine may not have been a royal wedding,
but my Prince made our wedding cake and
I certainly felt like a Princess.


Any time a blurb about Kate Middleton and Prince William comes on TV, my husband yells out, "Who cares?!" and I blink at him and reply, "The whole world. How can you not care?" And he goes into a tirade about the news making a big deal out of nothing. Now, this is a man who will stop to read Civil War monuments stuck in a field of grass. I cannot understand why he doesn't see the historical significance of a royal wedding that will likely produce more heirs to the throne. But he doesn't.

Imagine my astonishment when our lives and daily conversations were then suddenly played out on an episode of "The Middle." We were Frankie and Mike. My husband and I laughed our heads off because they almost said our lines verbatim.

I have not bought a commemorative plate and cup like Frankie did, but that's an oversight on my part. I did buy a souvenir thimble when Charles and Diana got married. It is still displayed on the thimble shelf in my bathroom. I watched Princess Diana's wedding from start to finish and have every intention of getting up in the middle of the night to see Kate and William tie the knot. Luckily, I don't have to work on Friday. The only difference between my house and the Hecks is that I'm not going out to buy a big screen TV for the event.

But there are other similarities between my house and the Hecks. Sometimes it's eerie. I feel like the writers of the show are spying on my life. My brother used to do the weird whispering/repeating thing that Brick does. He eventually outgrew it. Axl reminds me of my teen-aged son who also ran around the house in his underwear and had to be told to put on a shirt for dinner. Sue --well, I don't want to compare myself to Sue, but I probably could.

What can I say? Like the Hecks, I live in the 'Middle.' Not Indiana, but close enough to it. And like Frankie, I will set my alarm for 2:30am this Friday and get up to watch the wedding of the century. Because it is important, Mike. How can anyone not understand that?



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Secret Bunny Club


When my daughter was five years old, she was fascinated with the idea of secret clubs. Maybe it’s a girl thing. Undoubtedly, she got the idea from TV and was eager to have her own club, with its own password, club meetings and rules. So, she invited me in.
“Mommy, do you want to be part of my Girls Rule Club?”
“Sure! What do we have to do?”
“Let’s go in my room and we’ll make up a handshake and I’m going to make a sign for my door that it’s only for girls.”
“I want to be in the club!” my husband said excitedly. He edged himself closer to us, knowing that my daughter was about to push him away.
“No, Daddy. It’s only for girls.”
“I can be a girl,” he begged.
“Daddy! You’re not a girl. This is for girls only.” She grabbed my hand and led me up to her room, oblivious to the fact that her father was walking ten steps behind us, as elusive as a cartoon villain.
We entered my daughter’s room and she pulled out construction paper so that we could make signs. And then she got us each a necklace that we could wear. “Only people in the Girls Rule Club can wear these,” she said importantly.
My husband popped into the room. “I want one!” he begged again.
Exasperated, my daughter got to her feet and began pushing her father back out of her room. “No, Daddy. I told you, it’s girls only.” She shut the door in his face as he protested that he could be a girl. Or he could be our mascot. Or our servant. He knew our secret handshake! She ignored him and returned to sign-making.
A minute later, my husband began opening the door, peeping inside the crack with exaggerated secrecy. Still five-years-old and no more mature than a few minutes earlier, my daughter remained oblivious. My husband tried everything to nonchalantly get her attention, but she was completely absorbed in her work. I was doing my best not to laugh and decided to help him out.
“What was that?” I said suddenly. “I think I heard someone outside your door.”
Confused, she marched over and opened the door. My husband did a comic pratfall and belatedly tried to hide before he was discovered.
“Daddy!” she warned him. “Quit spying! It’s girls only!”
My husband did his best hang-dog look, but she wasn’t having it. She closed the door again and resumed her coloring, completely unaware that he had already opened the door and was again staring in at us. I could not hold back my laughter. My husband had no qualms about making a fool of himself to play with our daughter, so I decided to play it out.
I cupped my hand and whispered into my daughter’s ear, “Don’t look, but I think Daddy is right outside your door spying on us again.” Naturally, she looked. He yelped and ducked out of the way. She was about to get up and push him out of her room again when I stopped her. “Let’s pretend we have a different club and we’ll see if he’s been listening.”
I sat back and said out loud, “Let’s have a Secret Bunny Club. Our password can be ‘What’s up, Doc’ and to be in the club, everyone will have to hop up and down like a bunny when they go outside.”
My daughter’s mouth opened wide. I don’t think she really understood what I was doing. In fact, she wanted to go outside and do the Secret Bunny Club hop right that minute. She ran toward her door and pushed it open, oblivious to my husband’s fake look of innocence as she caught him spying right outside her door again. It didn’t matter. She was a girl on a mission. And I knew, he was a man on a mission.
“Where are you going? Is this secret club stuff?” he asked as he trailed her down the stairs.
“We have secret club stuff to do, Dad,“ I said haughtily as I brushed him aside. “You don’t know the handshake or the password or anything.”
“If I guess, can I be in the club?” he asked.
I shrugged. My daughter took her cue and shrugged, too. “We’re going outside,” I goaded my husband as I breezed past him. He darted out in front of me and bounded through the door. As soon as he got outside he started bouncing up and down, yelling, “What’s up, Doc?”
“You were spying!” I said with mock horror.
“Can I be in the club now? Can I? Can I? I know the Secret Bunny password! And the hop!” He bounced up and down the driveway as my daughter watched. I think she’d forgotten that we were playing a trick on her dad.
“There is no Secret Bunny Club!” I smirked gleefully. “We just made that up to catch you spying!”
“Oh!” he said with exaggerated shame. “I wanted to be a Secret Bunny.”
“Only girls can be in the club, Daddy,” my daughter said again. She turned to me. “Let’s go back in my room and work on the club some more.” She took my hand and started leading me toward the stairs as my husband so-not-furtively followed behind us. “Want to make it the Secret Girls Bunny Club?”
And we started the whole thing again.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Attack of the Giant Crabs


"I put a screenplay on your desk," Judy told her boss. "Attack of the Giant Crabs."

Marty pursed his lips. "Sci-fi or action?"

"A little of both," Judy answered over her shoulder as she stuffed file folders into a crammed cabinet. "The crabs rise up from a secret universe under the sea. The opening shot takes place at the beach as the giant crabs march up out of the water and attack children and innocent sunbathers. Think Jaws."

Marty visualized the scene in his mind. A perfect sunny day. Laughter and the sound of sea gulls. A mother rubbing sunscreen onto her toddler's soft white shoulders. Children and dogs running along, chasing Frisbees and building sandcastles. And then suddenly, gigantic crabs scuttle out of the water. Marty nodded. There was some potential there.

"Maybe, but we need to sexy it up. Two hot lifeguards with personal vendettas. They try to save the beachgoers, but can't. Let's set this in Venice. The crabs take over the boardwalk and then head toward L.A."

Judy jotted some notes on a pad of legal paper. She'd expected these changes and waited for Marty to add a second dramatic storyline. He didn't disappoint.

"The crabs take over L.A. and pretty soon the two lifeguards are the only human beings left. They hear reports of other giant crabs crawling up out of the water around the world. They have to stop them." Marty's eyes began to glaze over as he pictured the scene. "They take over Japan, New York, Australia. The lifeguards figure out the only way to stop them. They need...they need...," he drummed his fingers on his mahogany desk. "Sharks! Sharks are their only hope. But they have to risk their own lives to get the sharks to attack the crabs."

Marty pushed his chair back and poured a drink from the mini-bar set up in the corner of his office. He slugged it back and slammed back into his chair.

"Judy, get me a meeting."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Varsity

The Varsity
World's Largest Drive-In
(but I definitely liked coming inside for the atmosphere)


What'll ya have? What'll ya have? A stop at Atlanta, Georgia's iconic greasy joint. What'll ya have? What'll ya have? A red plastic tray piled with chili dogs, cheeseburgers, onion rings, and a Coke. What'll ya have? What'll ya have? A symphony as boisterous as the din at a baseball game. What'll ya have? What'll ya have? A crowd of tourists, college students, and alumni in red booths that sit four, six, eight, or twenty. What'll ya have? What'll ya have? A Naked Dog, Walk the Dog, Squirt One, Joe-Ree with a Bag of Rags. What'll ya have? What'll ya have?  FUN!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Few Facts About the San Andreas Fault


  • On April 18, 1906, the San Francisco earthquake moved this fenceline along the San Andreas faultline. Three hundred miles of the faultline was affected.

  • The San Andreas fault is 810 miles long.

  • The fault was first discovered by UC Berkeley geology professor Andrew Lawson in 1895.

  • All land west of the Pacific plate is moving northwest, while all the land east of the fault is moving southwest.

Friday, April 22, 2011

barefoot baseball




barefoot
in the backyard
running past anthills, clover, and honeybees
a soft, powdery patch of dirt we call first base
crunchy, sharp blades that we high-step toward second
preparation for gingerly running through hot green stalks
toward third - a squish of moist dandelion
the dewy leaf of a clover patch
finally the cool stretch  
under the maple
as our feet
wear a path
to home

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Joel Sartore Speaks


As you can tell by this slide, Joel lives in Nebraska.
Yesterday, I was fortunate to hear National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore speak. To truly do his presentation justice, I would need the incredible slide show that he used. You can view much of it on his website: joelsartore.com. I encourage everyone to check it out, or to pick up a copy of his book Rare to see his exquisite photos of endangered animals. What I can do is highlight parts of his presentation, minus all the wit and humor. He is an excellent speaker.

Joel has been a National Geographic photographer for 22 years. He says he's frequently asked how he got started and he says he simply took the kinds of pictures that he likes to take. Then he showed us numerous shots of family, friends, and people on the street. Many of the pictures were of his children. He humorously said that the camera is a great disciplinary tool when it comes to his kids; they always act differently when the camera comes out. Except for his son. We saw pictures of his son crying in a multitude of situations and settings, including my favorite: a shot of his son crying and screaming in an art museum. It reminded me of pictures we have of my brother screaming and crying in his Speed Racer car. Who says you have to smile for the camera?

He also shared pictures of American county fairs that he took in a series he did with Garrison Keillor. I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the room who wanted to whip out a camera and start capturing the world on film like he did. The pictures were wonderful.

From there he moved into wildlife pictures and we saw photos he took on assignment for a story on wolves and another on grizzly bears. Again, they were fantastic and can be seen inside and on the cover of National Geographic. But what most of us would never imagine is that he takes 35-50,000 pictures per assignment! Someone in the audience asked whether he prefers digital or film. Joel didn't answer one way or the other but said that digital is harder for him to archive than film. He has to print out the pictures so that they're available for viewing 20, 50 or 100 years from now since technology is ever-changing. Good point.

He also gave us advice on taking our own good pictures. He says the keys are good, soft lighting and a clean background. He considers a shot from the background forward. Then he crafts the shot and consider the bird's eye view, the worm's level view, and the whole 360-degree angle. No wonder he takes so many shots!

Of course, we were curious about his job as a wildlife photographer, too. Photographing bears, wolves and other animals is undoubtedly dangerous. Had he ever come close to being killed on assignment? Not by an animal attack. But over the years he has:
  • been aboard a plane that malfunctioned
  • been inside a van being mauled by a polar bear
  • been chased by animals
  • been bitten profusely by mosquitoes
  • picked up parasites in Bolivia that resulted in him having to have chemo
  • worried that he contracted the Marburg virus while photographing bats in a wet cave
Still, he continues to photograph the world and tell its story. He hopes to capture wildebeest and crocodiles along the Moro River in Africa. He'd like to visit Madagascar. And he's already accomplished one life goal of seeing Antarctica. That's one trip he says everyone should take in his/her lifetime. Sounds good to me! I've got a camera and a coat. I'm ready. If only National Geographic would send me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Failure - I'm Not a Zero

Think Green!


Okay, I'm not the world's greatest environmentalist, but I do try to do my part. I recycle everything I can at home and at work and have even picked up litter and recycled it. I don't use styrofoam; I take reusable bags with me when I shop; I frequent farmer's markets, lazily compost, and conserve energy at home by drying my clothes on a line and turning off water and electricity as much as I can. So when my workplace posted an Earth Week challenge, I thought I was all set. It seemed simple enough: turn your wastepaper baskets upside down and strive for zero waste. In fact, I thought they made it really simple -- they only asked us to do it for two days this week.

I was all set. As always, I packed my lunch in re-usable containers and took my coffee with me in my thermal travel mug. This was going to be a cinch! In fact, I doubted I ever really needed to use my wastepaper basket at work. After all, I only printed double-sided when I had to, then used old paper as scratch paper before finally recycling it. What did I need a garbage can for?

Cocky, cocky, cocky. I failed the Zero Waste project in my first hour at work. I spilled my coffee and wiped it up with napkins, then stood there confounded, staring at the wastepaper basket. I couldn't recycle soiled napkins, could I? Reluctantly, I dropped them in. I'd already made a mess of things. An hour later, I ate a miniature candy bar and couldn't figure out what to do with the wrapper. So I dropped that into the waste basket, too.

I'd failed the test. Boy, it was trickier than I thought! But then I started thinking about it, and what I could have done differently. I could have been zero waste if I'd made two simple changes. First, if I'd been at home, I could have wiped my coffee up with a rag instead of wasting paper products. But rags aren't an option at work. I'll have to work on the solution to that.

But what to do about the candy wrapper(s)? (Okay, I ended up eating more than one.) I couldn't think of a solution unless I could recycle the bits of plastic? paper? that the candy was wrapped in. And then it hit me -  I could just not eat food that comes in packaging that can't be recycled. Duh!

So, lessons learned. I failed my first Zero Waste Day, but feel much more confident about the second. Maybe after a few more baby steps, I will be able to get rid of my wastepaper basket once and for all. Success!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The World Goes By


Whit rocked slowly. He'd never cared much for rocking. That was Bea's thing. She liked to sit out here of an evening and watch the world go by. Those were her words exactly: "We can sit here and watch the world go by." The world never amounted to much more than a car or two. Usually Old Abe from the farm down the road. Or maybe a tractor rolling by, stirring up dust. Nope. Not much of a world at all. But that suited Whit just fine.

He tipped his chair again, trying to appease Bea. She never could sit still. Even while she rocked, she was snapping a bowl full of beans, or sewing another patch on Whit's well-worn pants. But come an evening, she said she liked to sit here with Whit and rest while they watched the world go by. Now her rocker was as still as the view from the porch. Whit rocked slowly, waiting for the world to pass.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Smell of Nicaragua


Volunteers in Mission Clinic

I don’t know whether words can really describe the smell of burning garbage. It’s a strangely intoxicating mixture of wood, ash, burning rubber, dirt, and chemicals. It’s the smell I most associate with Nicaragua, and one that immediately transports me there on the now rare occasions when my nostrils are assaulted with that scent.
The smell of burning rubbish permeated the air everywhere I went in Nicaragua. As we barreled down the roads in a dilapidated bus, I let the balmy breeze of the tropical setting carry that distinctive smell through our open windows. The chemical complexity of the smell made sense as we drove through the littered streets of Managua, but it didn’t dissipate as we traveled into the countryside. Even with the overgrown greenery of tropical rainforest, I could smell garbage burning. It was everywhere.
I grew to like it. My nose surveyed the air as we rode into the country where our mission group was building a clinic. I watched mothers and children poke small roadside fires with a stick, turning over the small bits of refuse that they couldn’t re-use. There was little waste in Nicaragua; objects were used again and again until they were worn out entirely. Then they were burned. There were no mountainous dumps full of discards, just small odorous piles in juxtaposition to the fragrant vegetation.
But the pervasive garbage burning had its price. The burn ward at the hospital was full of children who’d played too closely to fire. It was the only air-conditioned area of the hospital in Managua. And one of the few where patients weren’t discharged the same day they entered.
We spent a day in the hospital, delivering medical supplies, visiting sick children, and learning firsthand why building a clinic in a remote countryside hours away was so critical. We didn’t really need the lesson, and certainly didn’t need the heartache. How horrible to need burn treatment in a country ill-equipped to help. I tried not to imagine the smell of flesh mixed in with the fiery vapors along the road. I didn’t want to think about the damage the fires could do just as I was growing addicted to the scent.
My nose rarely encounters the aroma of smoldering refuse anymore. But every now and then I travel to a part of the world where people still burn their garbage. Then the malodorous scent attacks my synapses and I wonder whether it isn’t actually a perfume that carries me back to the fragrant landscape that was Nicaragua.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cops Crushing Cancer

I had this picture in my files and wondered what would come up if I typed the words 'walk across Texas' into Google. What I found were variations of this current event being covered by different Texas newspapers every day.




Two former Tyler, Texas police officers are “Cops Crushing Cancer.”  They have embarked on a 857-mile, 42-day walk across Texas to raise money for cancer patients.
Allan Crosby and his sister Audrey Crosby Spies are walking in memory of their sister, Jacqueline Crosby Mazzola, a retired Dallas police officer, who died in 2010 of colon cancer. They asked people to sponsor them a penny a mile because Jacqueline told them she would drop pennies from heaven.
They began their journey on April 1st at the Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas state line near Atlanta, Texas and will walk to El Paso. At a pace of 25-miles per day, they should reach their destination on May 12, 2011. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Perfect Victim



Jenny adjusted her sunglasses and studied her fellow passengers. Who would make a good victim? The chubby 10-year-old boy who chased his sister around, knocking into occupied deck chairs, spilling his sticky soda onto the backs of sunbathers' legs? Or what about the man in the Speed-o? Honestly, what are these grown, pot-bellied men thinking, wearing suits that pinch off their back fat and bloated stomachs and do nothing to hide their skinny chicken legs below the patch of fabric encasing their genitals? Jenny couldn't bear to study him. His obnoxious attire saved him.

She turned her attention to two young women who were already bronzed. They looked as if they spent every weekend aboard a Caribbean cruise, soaking up the sun with coconut-scented oil, and then dancing the night away in strapless mini-dresses that showed off their tans. Jenny might like to kill both of them off, if only to mess up the perfectly lazy lives she imagined they enjoyed.

Then her eyes alighted on a middle-aged woman with bouffant hair, diamonds dripping from her fingers, and skin so leathery from years of tanning that Jenny knew she'd never worked a day in her life. This was the perfect victim; someone that had undoubtedly pissed off gardeners and fellow socialites. Her husband was probably equally as obnoxious as she was, or maybe he was a cuckold whom the police would suspect first.

Jenny watched the woman sip her fruity cocktail and lay back against the cushioned (where'd she get a cushion?) lounge chair. A young couple walked by her and stopped for a moment to scout the rest of the ship. Jenny watched the woman frown, then tip her sunglasses up as she informed the couple that they were blocking her sun. The young couple looked startled, then burst into laughter as they collided into each other conspiratorially and wandered off, imitating the sourpuss of the woman as they made their way to the pool.

Yes, she was the perfect victim, Jenny decided. She took out her notebook and began to write.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ketcher - K9 Officer


There he is. He’s circling the room just like a puppy. He’s pretty. I expected a different dog. I don’t know what. Oh, he’s circling the room following Cresap. I wonder how often they do this? I wonder if he gets a treat for doing this circling? Oh my God, what if someone in this room has drugs on them or smells like drugs? Wouldn’t that be funny? Did anyone leave? But surely they would have known not to come. Okay, he’s still circling and I thought he would have found the drugs by now. Is Officer Cresap messing with his head? I want to get a picture. I shouldn’t stand up and move; I might get in his way, but I’m going to. I want a picture. What if he takes that as an act of aggression? But he seems like such a puppy. I miss Chipsy. I wonder what he'd do if he was here? Try to play? No, he'd be too afraid and Ketcher probably wouldn't even pay any attention to him. Okay, he found the drugs. He’s sitting down just like Cresap said he would! I’m taking a picture. Now he gets his rubber tube toy. He loves it! He’s running around like Chipsy. He’s just a puppy! It’s so funny that criminals are afraid of him. He’s no different than other dogs. Wait, yes is he.

Oh my God. He has his name painted on the cruiser! That is so cool! I want my name painted on a car. Cresap called this his office. I can’t see him. I know he’s up against the window. Do people bug him? Does he want out? Is it making him nervous that we’re all standing around the car like this? What if someone smoking pot walked by right now? Would he go crazy shut in a car not being able to do anything about it? I wonder if he’s ever started barking when they drive down a street where people have been smoking pot or something. Or by a house that’s a meth lab. If they drive by and Ketcher starts barking, could they go in and search? How far is his sense of smell?



That lady threw her keys. Okay, Cresap opened the door. There goes Ketcher! He’s running like a crazy dog. I miss Chipsy. He found the keys! Is he just going to lay there until Cresap comes and gets them? Oh, yep. Here he comes back. He gets his toy again. Ah, that’s cute. Oh, he’s getting back in the car. I thought he’d want to stay out here in the fresh air where it’s nice. We’re joking that he had to go back to his office. He’s still on the clock. Oh, good. We’re allowed to take pictures. I hope Ketcher doesn’t mind. He probably doesn’t care what we do now that he has his toy. Unless we all start carrying drugs. Is anyone stepping away?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fresh Spring Paint



I jubilantly clutch my beauty kit to my chest
and remove the lid.

Inside, beauty shines glossy:
Pink Opal, Iced Carnation, Raspberry Crème
All the luminescence of a pastel palette rainbow
to color my toes.

Spring is here!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Blog: Find Your Creek

by Joann Storck

Indian Creek

Where is that one place you can go, or that one thing you can do that whisks you away from ringing phones, dirty windows and floors, a nagging spouse, the responsibility of an aging parent, a work assignment, an empty wallet … you get the picture. 

We all have that one place where we lose aching bodies and weary minds, which we can switch to OFF, and become oblivious to the world around us.  For some it's golf.  Or it might be charity work, a good book or magazine, dancing, writing, a walk in the woods, creating art, or being encircled by children.  Whatever you choose, there’s only one rule about “finding your creek”: no other thoughts can get into your blissful mind.  Remember, you’re shut off!  You’re almost in a vaporous state and no one can see you or talk to you.  For me, finding my creek is literally where I go to achieve all the above.  Because at my creek, I find the most exhilarating, puzzling, positively incredible ROCKS! 

What enchanting things are rocks!  Come on, they’re ages old, and why do some sparkle like they do?  Is there GOLD in them thar’ rocks?  Ooooooh, this one could be an Indian artifact!  Yikes!  I just picked up a piece of amethyst right here in my creek bed.  Wow, I love the blue slate pieces that I use to decorate around my flower garden.   Not to sound obsessive over this, but I have spent as much as 7 hours at a time in my personal teleportation “creek.”  Don’t laugh!  All these things I have experienced at my creek.  Well, the jury is still out on the gold, but that’s beside the point. 

My late husband’s “creek” was also our creek, but for a different reason.  He told me that he could hear the voices of long ago Indians whispering about how the Englais’ had ruined beautiful spots like this with their never-ending expansions.  He would lose himself, thanks to his love for Indian lore, and forget all about his crushing illness as he explored the creek with walking stick in hand and his faithful dog at his side – or swimming like any Golden Retriever will do.
Oddly enough, I recently met a man who is consumed by the same obsession that I am.  It definitely is his “creek,” but he’s lucky enough to pursue Oblivion for six months at a time.  That made my own 7-hr. distraction pitiful by comparison.  I thought we would make a perfect match:
      “Honey, what do you want me to fix for dinner?”
      “Don’t worry about cooking.  Let’s go to the creek for hours on end and then order in, Honey!”   
 
It didn’t happen.  But the great thing is that going to your “creek” all by yourself really is the best medicine.  

Go find your creek! 


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SB5: Interview With An Ohio Teacher



Ohio Governor John Kasich recently signed into law Senate Bill 5 which makes public employee strikes illegal, restricts collective bargaining, and eliminates step raises (based on years of experience and training) for public employees. This issue has struck a chord with teachers and public employees in Ohio and other states where Governors have signed the same bill.

In this article, I interview one Ohio teacher on how he thinks SB5 will affect teachers and education.


JW:         Why is SB5 so important to teachers?

Teacher:              It is not that it is important to just teachers. This is not just an attack against teachers. It is against all unionized public employees, firefighters, police officers, etc. In education, it is more a worry of how it will affect the students in the long run. The bill is hundreds of pages long. There is no telling what kind of an effect it will ultimately have.

It takes away the right to bargain, the right to strike, the right to get paid for further training and experience. We could not bargain class sizes. Taking away pay from people will cause them to find other jobs. Many teachers are worried that they will not be able to afford to stay in education. That is a scary concept. To think that you cannot do the job you love because certain members of the legislature do not value you.


JW:         Why do you think this is happening so broadly right now?

Teacher:              I honestly believe that it is part of a wider agenda. It is taking away union members’ rights and it is a political tool.  If you take away unions and the right to collective bargaining, you also take away the money that goes into those unions. This is money that can go to support candidates who are more union friendly. I think this is a way to stop money from going into the next presidential election. The unions and their members and money helped to elect Obama president. If they cannot contribute as much, that leaves private businesses as the main contributors for the next election. Who do businesses tend to favor? Republicans.

JW:       How do you think the media has influenced this issue?
Teacher:              The media has not done much to influence the issue either way. They have downplayed it and not commented upon it. There was one small article that spoke of the passage of the bill in Ohio.
The media (newspapers) started slamming teachers a few months ago in the papers. It has almost occurred on a weekly basis. There was one headline in particular, during the week leading up to a vote on SB5 that grabbed my attention. It read- Union Leader Arrested for Embezzlement. This immediately grabbed my attention and upset me. I read on.  It was an article about a township leader that had been accused of embezzlement. Not an actual union leader. But, with all of the hoopla and bad mouthing that had been going on, the headline had done what I believe it was intended to do.
There have also been articles concerning bad teachers, cheating, double dipping, etc. While these are valid concerns, it takes focus off of the positives that are occurring in education. The fact that teachers have taken pay freezes, increased benefits contributions, are constantly looking for ways to improve the education of students, and volunteering their time to help students. It does not show the teachers who arrive at 6:00AM and leave at 5:00 PM.
JW:       How will the passing of SB5 affect education?
Teacher:              It is hard to tell. As of right now, many teachers are feeling threatened and degraded. They feel that there is no support for the important role that we play in the lives of children. I believe that we will see more educators turning away from teaching and focusing on other aspects of education. We are going to lose many teachers who honestly want to teach and help students but cannot. The stress of teaching and the way that teachers are being vilified is already causing many to second guess their chosen career.
Merit pay is something that many educators agree with and support. However, merit must be defined. We cannot simply state that in order to get a raise, a certain amount of students must improve. That takes the individual focus off of students and turns them into a number; a number to be achieved and improved upon.  Remedial classes and special education must also be looked at as well. Will teachers, knowing that they must achieve a certain percentage each year, want to teach these students who are often misunderstood and achieving in different ways? Is it fair to ask these teachers to accept less pay because they do not teach the high achieving students? 

JW:       Is it too late to reverse the effects this issue has had on education?
Teacher:             As far as future teachers who are deciding against this awesome career-- we have probably lost those people now. It will just become harder with each passing day. There are changes we can make to the educational system, but it needs to be done in a positive way.
SB5 is not about positive change. It is a political tool, which can set back everything in education by years, even decades. I can only say how I believe it will affect educators. I cannot begin to understand how it will have an effect on other public servants, but it will. Time will tell.
We need to have this voted on by the people of Ohio. When a friend or neighbor asks you, sign the referendum petition to get it placed on the ballot.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gossipmongers?



Chamber English Dictionary definition:

gossip - 1. one who goes about telling and hearing news or idle scandal. 2. idle talk about others -- v.i. to listen to and repeat such talk.


I thought this was such an odd and somewhat inappropriate sign. My interpretation of the word "gossip" is much like that in the Chamber's dictionary. But then I looked up the word in Webster's dictionary. If we use that meaning, this is a very insightful and clever sign.


Webster's II New Riverside Dictionary definition:

gossip - 1. Rumor or talk of a personal or sensational nature.  2. Someone who habitually spreads sensational or intimate facts. 3. To engage in or spread gossip.
word historyGossip was originally a compound of god and sib, meaning "godparent." At first denoting only the relationship of godparent  to godchild, gossip was later used to indicate the relationship of godparent to parent and the relationship between the godparents of the same child. Gossip thus designated a relationship among peers as much as one between generations, and from the extended senses the meaning "friend" evolved. The derogatory use of gossip to mean a person who engages in idle chatter and rumor-spreading appeared in the 16th century, but the use of gossip to mean the conversation of gossip is not recorded until the early 18th century.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Where All Your Dreams Come True


Ellie stood before her new castle with eyes wide and mouth open. There'd been many times when she'd ballooned her cheeks like a chipmunk and held her breath while her brother counted off the seconds, but she'd never been as breathless as she was now.

"Is it really mine?" she whispered.

Ellie's father placed his hands on her shoulders and stared up at the playhouse castle with her. He squeezed her shoulders lightly and leaned down to speak softly into her ear. "All yours."

He released his grip and expected her to scamper up the rocks into her new world of make-believe. Instead, she stood still a moment longer and then ran the other way, back into the house. Ellie's father waited, then shrugged. His daughter was never predictable.

Ellie raced out of the house ten minutes later. She was dressed in the blue dance recital tutu she'd worn the year before. The straps were too tight and cut into her plump shoulders, but Ellie's father knew that the satiny blue fabric always made Ellie feel beautiful. She'd nearly worn the costume out. Ellie hadn't stopped there. She'd added all the plastic, baubled necklaces from her ballerina jewelry box, and the paper crown she'd decorated heavily with glitter last week. Around her neck she'd wrapped a winter scarf that Ellie's aunt Carolyn had knitted. Ellie's father wasn't sure where she'd gotten the idea that a scarf or boa was glamorous, but perhaps the shiny thread of silver running through it was enough to make Ellie think the scarf was befitting a princess.

Fully decked out in her regal attire, Ellie slowly marched up to the castle. She stopped at the entrance and stood in her wobbly plastic dress-up heels and clapped her hands before she finally opened the door to her castle and walked inside.

Satisfied, Ellie's father watched his little princess assume residence in her castle. This was a birthday she'd never forget.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Murder & Mayhem

Since the conference took place on a college campus,
this sign was a good idea. The SWAT truck and K-9 patrol cars
might have scared students off.


Since I don't usually write crime fiction, I was hesitant to go to the Mad Anthony Writer's Conference day of "Murder & Mayhem," but am so glad I did. Within the first 10 minutes I wanted to call my husband and tell him that the conference was fantastic. By noon, I wanted to go home and work on the mystery I started and abandoned last November. Suddenly, I was re-inspired and ready to write.

We started the day with an introduction to the Newport, Kentucky Gangster Tours.  I scribbled notes as though I was cramming for a final exam; I wanted to capture every word and every bit of history. It was absolutely fascinating and I can't wait until tours start in May so that I can hear it and see it all again. (americanlegacytours.com)

Then we moved into writing mode. Hallie Ephron, author of Writing the Killer Mystery, hosted a workshop with valuable exercises that will make our mysteries pop. It was during this session that I had my epiphany and suddenly knew the solution to my mystery and what I needed to do. I almost ran out of the conference to start working on it, but thankfully stayed in my seat. There were more good things to come.

Officer Cresap and his K-9 patrol dog Ketcher gave us not only demonstrations of how Ketcher tracks and finds narcotics, but also gave us invaluable information we could use in our writing. Officer Cresap knew who his audience was. We were full of questions and he happily gave us answers. Anyone using a K-9 dog in his story would be set. I thought about adding one to mine.

After lunch, screenwriter Sally Nemeth dispelled the idea of Law & Order's "ripped from the headlines" reputation. She talked about the differences between 'based on a true story' versus 'inspired by a true story', then handed out newspaper clippings and had us try our hands at fabricating stories loosely based on the facts we were reading.

Next we were introduced to SWAT Teams: what they do, what equipment they use, and the training they receive. Our speaker relayed one case in particular, giving us insights that he probably shouldn't have since he was talking to a group of writers. But don't worry -- we'll never tell. 

The day ended with Chief Deputy Dwyer taking us through  a homicide case. He was charismatic and obviously loves his work. The graphic slide show reminded me of criminal justice courses I took in college, but again, Chief Dwyer talked to his audience and described the homicide investigations in such detail that we were all reminded that those little details (smells, atmosphere, settings) are crucial to telling a good story. We were so enraptured by his tales that we didn't leave when the session was over. Finally, we were kicked out.

I still don't consider myself a crime writer, though I am going to rework my mystery. Murder & Mayhem was a fabulous conference; well worth attending. I can't wait until next year's!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Mother-in-Law by Any Other Name...



Martha banged her file drawer shut and turned to her co-worker. Susan continued to type but Martha’s sharp voice smacked her between the shoulders and skewed her fingers on the keyboard.
“They’d better call me before they call anyone else!”
Susan started to hit backspace, but curiosity got the best of her. She turned her head, her fingers still poised to type. Martha noticed Susan’s glimmer of interest and pounced.
“Mark’s wife may be the center of his life now, but I’m going to be the first one they call.”
Susan dropped her hands into her lap and swiveled in her chair to face Martha. “Aren’t you going to go to the hospital?”
Martha stood and slammed a stack of file folders down onto her desk.  “Nope. Karen didn’t want me in the delivery room. Just her own mother.”  She stabbed pencils into her ever-dry World’s Best Grandma coffee mug and straightened the stack of file folders again. “I don’t care. That’s fine. But they have to call me first.”
Martha bent under her desk and pulled out one of the boxes piled there. They’d been there for as long as Susan could remember, but now Martha attacked them with fervor .
Susan bit her lip and chose her next words carefully. “My mother-in-law came to the hospital when Emma was born. She wasn’t in the delivery room with me, but I liked knowing she was there and would see the baby when she was born.”
Martha flicked through the stacks of paper in the box, cramming them into the small wastepaper basket by her desk. She shook her head and grabbed another stack of papers. “I’m not going.”
“I think David liked having her there,” Susan nearly whispered.
“Karen’s mother can be there. That’s her gift. I was there when my daughter had her baby, and that’s what it was—a gift. So I’m not going to be there, but they have to call me first and tell me what the baby is and what its name is.”
Martha jammed the lid back on the paper box and crammed it back beneath her desk. She looked around for more clutter, but finding none, sat back in her office chair and rapidly clicked her mouse. Karen thought to say something soothing, but could think of nothing. She turned back to her monitor screen just as Martha’s cell phone rang.
Martha grabbed up the phone and let it ring again. She looked at the caller ID display and then flipped the phone open. “Did she have the baby?”
Martha’s hand involuntarily clapped her cheek, then dropped to her mouth. Susan saw tears well in Martha’s eyes, though Martha fought quickly to control them. She tilted the mouthpiece of the phone away from her and made an announcement to anyone within earshot of her cubicle, “It’s a girl!”
A few co-workers ambled over to Martha’s desk to share in her excitement. They stood nearby as Martha continued to speak to her son on the phone. “What’s her name?”
Martha frowned. “Oh. No wonder you didn’t tell anyone before. Row-ry. Rur-ee. R-o-r-y,” she said more slowly. “Why’d you have to pick a name I can’t pronounce? Rorly. Rolry. You’re killing me. R-o-r-y. How about I call her Rosie?” Martha laughed. ” I can say that.”
The looks of astonishment on her co-worker’s faces must have alerted Martha to her rudeness. “No, I’m just kidding,” she said into the phone. “R-o-ry. I like it. It’s cute. Are Karen and the baby okay?”
Martha listened to her son’s response as the crowd around her desk started to disperse. She quickly wrapped up the call. “Okay then, Mark. Go back and enjoy your baby. I’ll come and see Rosie in about an hour.” She laughed. Susan heard Mark correct her on the other end of the phone. “I know. Rory. I’m just kidding.”
Susan planted a smile on her face as Martha hung up. “Congratulations! A little girl.”
“Rory," she pronounced easily as she shook her head.  "No wonder they wouldn’t tell anyone the name. They wanted to keep it a secret. I could have told them I can’t say that name.” She slapped her palms against her thighs. “Oh well.”
Karen watched as Martha turned back to her computer. Unable to concentrate and let the phone call go, Martha called her daughter.
“Did Mark call you?” Pause. “Yeah. He called me first. It’s a girl. Rorly. Rawhry. Oh, damn. R-o-r-y,” she said slowly. “They’re going to call her Rosie. That’s better. I don’t know why they didn’t just name her Rosie. It’s a lot easier. But they didn’t ask me.”
Karen turned back to her desk. She wondered what Martha’s daughter-in-law called Martha when given her choice of names? She knew what she’d call her.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Well-Trained


A trainer brought his service dog-in-training to a conference I attended today. He thought this would be a good experience for the dog. He'd be introduced to different crowds, moving from room to room for breakout sessions with high-volume settings.

Not surprisingly, the dog behaved fine. Better than the humans, actually.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Do Not Admit


I worked part-time in domestic violence shelters for eleven years. Over those years, I learned that most shelters operate in much the same way. They have rules set up to keep the women and children safe. First and foremost, the location of the shelter is to remain confidential. Women who stay there cannot tell anyone where the shelter is located. That includes their families, co-workers, and friends.

There are other rules, too, such as a curfew each night when all residents have to be back in the shelter. The rule is for their safety. There are also rules such as no physical fighting, no spanking or physical punishment of children, no alcohol or drugs, and women must keep an eye on their children at all times. Pretty straightforward rules, but rules that are often broken and cause for a woman to be departed from the shelter.

Shelters keep records of those women who have been asked to leave. Sometimes they are allowed back, depending on the seriousness and circumstances of their departure. What most people don't know is that there is also a "Do Not Admit" file, and women in that file are not allowed back to that particular shelter. She may have been physically abusive to the other residents, or have a serious drug problem that she could not control while in the shelter. If a woman in the "Do Not Admit" file calls for readmittance, the shelter manager needs to consider that request on a case-by-case basis. But there is one offense that cannot be overlooked: telling the abuser the location of the shelter. It happens more often than you'd think.

One day when I was in Florida at a trailer park, I met a young woman doing her laundry. She and I made small talk and she asked me where I worked. I told her I worked at a shelter. As it happened, she'd stayed there before. We continued to talk. Then, about 20 minutes later, her boyfriend came by to pick her up. She introduced me and told him that I worked at a shelter. He said, "Oh, the one you stayed at on ___ Street?"

I was floored. He knew exactly where the shelter was. She'd told him. She laughed and smiled at me and said, "He's not like that anymore."

I hoped not. Because now she couldn't stay there anymore. I had to go into work that night and mark her down in the "Do Not Admit" file. I hoped he wouldn't hurt her again, because now she didn't have a safe place to turn without travelling to another part of the state.

Domestic violence is such a complicated issue. It's unfortunate to think that any woman would not be able to get the help she needs in a time of crisis. But the rules are there for their safety and the one line a woman absolutely cannot cross is revealing the location of the shelter. That mistake can close what would otherwise be an open door.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Guest Blog: She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah



She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
by Joann Storck

They had come on stage, but I couldn’t open my eyes!  Each time I tried to look I was blinded by tens of thousands of flash bulbs!  I put my hand up to my brow and tried to shield the effects of strobe lighting from all the cameras in the auditorium.  One long, piercing scream drowned their voices and instruments as they began their sold-out concert at Cincinnati Gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Finally, I adjusted to the flashes and glimpsed them on stage:  The Fab Four.  John, Paul, George and Ringo.  The Beatles!
It wasn’t until they began their second song, “Love Me Do” that anyone could hear their voices over the din in the concert hall.  I looked at my friend Sue sitting next to me and tears were rolling down her agonized face as she mouthed “Paul, I love you!” with the other 13,000+ fans.  Overcome, she sat down for a moment, but if you stayed seated you would have missed seeing any of their performance.  
It’s funny how I assessed everything going on around me as if the spectacle of the fans was what I had paid to come and see.  Then, like all the other girls in the audience, the overwhelming idea that I was really in a room, breathing the same air as Ringo Starr, turned me into a tearful teenager carried away in a rapturous, dizzying epoch.  Sue and I clutched hands and wept about nothing other than the Beatles were too esteemed to be mere mortals like the rest of us. 
Seven lucky girls had been chosen to meet the Fab Four after their press conference.  Later we would learn that the meeting took place in less than 10 seconds.  The girls were speechless, crying hysterically with intermittent squeals while the objects of their affection stood unmoved before them. 
As the concert continued and the Beatles attempt to talk to their audience was completely futile, I watched as several girls swooned and were carried out of the auditorium.  Many of the enraptured fans threw jelly beans on the stage because it had been revealed that was one of their favorite American candies.  We saw a girl make a dash for the stage but she was cut short by a guard and ushered back to her seat.  The Beatles began “She Loves You” and shook their shaggy manes to a renewed fervor from the seats.  Before any of us had seen enough, breathed enough, or adored them enough they ended the concert and exited behind the curtained stage. 
The exodus from the auditorium was slow as fans tried to pull themselves together and sobbed their last declaration of love to their favorite Beatle.  It was August 27, 1964, and to this day I can still close my eyes and experience what it was like to be a teenager in a love so sublime, and so excruciating I can recall it to this day, forty-four years and many loves later.    



Monday, April 4, 2011

Here's A Tip


The line for Vicky's caricatures was 12 people deep and growing. No one knew exactly why her caricature sketches took so long. She drew quickly, but seemed to be a perfectionist. She did two sketches of everyone in line, claiming that the first one was "wrong." No one could see any flaws, but they waited patiently just the same because her sketches were so good.

Vicky's dirty little secret was simple. She always did two sketches of each person -- one for them and one for her. If a customer passed by her tip jar without adding a gift, she turned in her sketch to the police. She called these her artist composites and labeled each "Thief!"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

In Memory of My Grandfather


Leonard Ralph Wetz
1917 - 2011

My grandfather passed away on Friday. We consider it something of a blessing. He'd suffered ill health for years and now is at rest. At 93 years old, he lived a good, long life.

Miles and circumstances separated us from a close relationship. I probably only saw him once every year or so. But he was my grandfather, and I admired him from afar. He was an extremely intelligent man; a Mensa member and engineer with a great logical mind. That mechanical aptitude inspired him to learn to fly, and in turn, lead to my fondest memory of him: flying aboard his plane.

I was young, maybe five years old, when Gramps took me up in his prop plane. It was a heady experience. There I was, a young, powerless girl in the world, suddenly kneeling in the backseat of a plane so that I could look out the window at the miniaturized landscape below. Suddenly I wasn't so small; I was on top of the world! The flight was noisy and exhilarating. I loved seeing the world from this vantage point and didn't experience one bit of fear. Why would I have? My grandfather was flying the plane and in my mind, he was a genius. He knew what he was doing.

I've loved flying ever since. Apparently, so did he. In his last days of waning lucidity, he rambled on about flight towers in front of him. His hands made the motions of clutching gear shifts and checking equipment. He'd soared back in time to his days in the cockpit. It had been a long time since he'd flown. I'm glad his mind took him on one more whirl through the air before he was gone.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Doing the Horse Story



It was a cold, January day in Ohio. I walked through the snow-covered mud toward the barn, in pursuit of my newspaper story. It was days like these that I felt lucky to be a writer; getting the chance to experience a world that I wasn’t familiar with. At the same time, I begrudged my working conditions and hoped that the snow, slush and mud wouldn’t keep everyone else at home since I had a deadline to meet.
I was there to meet Pat, a 17-year-old Founder horse who was about to receive her second round of acupuncture. The idea fascinated me. I’d never been a “horse person” and rarely came in contact with horses, so I was surprised to learn that they could benefit from medical/holistic treatments much like we could.
            Or so we hoped.
            The previous summer, Pat’s owner noticed her limping in the field. She had the farrier look Pat over, and he quickly summoned the vet. Pat suffered from laminitis; a swelling in the hoof that made it difficult for her to walk. I learned later that morning that Pat could barely even stand. If the acupuncture didn’t relieve her symptoms and help alleviate the pain, there was little they could do for the horse.
             Dr. Leick first checked Pat’s major pain spots. The horse was gentle and cooperative; much more so than many patients would be. Her pain was evident, and the veterinarian showed me the tension in Pat’s hind quarters from overcompensating for her bad foot.
            He ran his hands over her and noted tight knots that he felt on her rear hind quarter. Pat periodically raised her hurt foot as the doctor pressed and massaged her aching muscles. Then Pat started a chewing motion, which Pat’s owner told me means she’s comfortable. I swear if Pat could have articulated her reaction she would have said, “Ah, that hits the spot!”
            After Dr. Leick made some chiropractic adjustments, he checked Pat’s range of motion. He held a carrot to the right side of her head, and she followed it, bending her neck. Then he moved it to the left, and she followed it again. Finally, he baited her with the carrot by moving it down between her front legs. She bent her neck gracefully down toward him, and he finally let her have the carrot.
             “Good girl,” I cooed to her. I stroked Pat’s silky brown coat. I was quickly becoming attached to her.
            The doctor then opened his acupuncture bag and removed a series of needles -  some dry, other filled with vials of liquid like a syringe. He began inserting the needles along Pat’s legs at certain pressure points. Some went in along her hurt hoof, and some just below the knee. He stuck other needles into her rump and pulled out a box to stand on to begin work on her back.
            One by one, Dr. Leick began inserting syringes administering “aquapuncture.” These needles were inserted into deeper muscle in Pat’s stifles. She didn’t even flinch. The needles were filled with a B12 vitamin solution, and would remain in Pat’s back for about 10 minutes. Hopefully these treatments would help increase the circulation in the front legs which would, in turn, make the back legs more comfortable, too. The results would be gradual.
            As the veterinarian looked Pat over, I stroked her nose and looked into her soulful brown eyes. She seemed more relaxed already. I felt privileged to have witnessed the events of the morning, but my job here was done. The vet and I finally packed up our things and left the cold, drafty barn. I knew I would look for Pat whenever I drove by that farm. I hoped the treatment worked. Only time would tell.