Tag Archives: Rosa Parks

Walking With Dogs



Rosa Parks has not been interested in walking with me lately.

She and Clover were good walking companions, both up for chasing chipmunks and exploring all manner of smells. I once saw Clover come upon a large paw print in the snow. Coyote! She placed her nose down near it, and gave a knowing look in the direction of the little dog. Rosa Parks ran over to investigate. She also put her nose down to the indentation, and she and Clover gazed at each other. Not a word was exchanged, but an entire dialogue went on, from one dog to the other, as they each smelled the danger, and looked knowingly into each others eyes.

Ever since Clover died, Rosa has been nervous about getting out for a walk. She just doesn’t quite trust me to keep her safe (this, though I have gone over in my mind a thousand times – so I would be prepared should the need arise –  exactly how I would respond if a coyote would try to grab my little dog, throwing myself onto the offender while yelling, “Run, Rosa Parks, run!”). I thought Darla might make her feel safe again, but that hasn’t worked out quite as I’d planned. Darla doesn’t take much of an interest in the little dog, and goes about her business of chasing birds and rolling in smelly stuff without ever considering that Rosa might like to join in.

Most often, Rosa Parks stays home. She has a bum knee that makes a walking unpleasant. Still, the only way to help her knee is to have her lose some weight. That is difficult when she hardly moves from the couch. I have tried carrying her out to the road to encourage her to walk with me. Usually she turns and comes home as soon as I put her down. She stubbornly sits in the driveway, deaf to my calls, until I give up.

Yesterday, when I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk, she thought I said “ride.” She leaped right up, wagging tail and grinning. When Darla and I continued down the driveway past the car, Rosa sat down. Having loved her enthusiasm, I was not willing to let it go so easily. “Okay, Rosa Parks, we’ll go for the ride,” I told her. With Darla in the passenger seat and Rosa on my lap, we rode…one mile south, all the way to Hannigan Road. I parked on the side of the road and we all got out. If she wanted to go home from here, Rosa Parks had a long walk ahead of her. She decided to stick with me.

Hannigan Road is narrow, and lined with a mix of soft and hard woods. Darla ran ahead to explore; Rosa stayed closer to me. When I offered, after a half-mile, to turn back toward the car, Rosa kept going. “Good for you!” I told her, and we continued down the road. When we’d gone a mile, we turned. That’s when Rosa Parks sat down. I continued walking, thinking she’d catch up. She made no effort to move. Now and then, when I looked back, she was licking her sore leg. Other times, she just watched, and waited. Eventually, I went back to get her, and carried her back to the car.

Yesterday, all three of us got a walk in. As for me, after carrying my twenty pound dog down the road, I got a strength workout, too!

Kids and Dogs…and Horses


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Once, it seems like a hundred years ago (at those times when it doesn’t seem like just yesterday…), I was in the esteemed position of raising two precious little girls. They were not quite three years apart in age. Jenny, being the oldest, was usually the first to discover and act on little divergences from our normal acceptable behavior.

Jenny was a good girl, and they were minor infractions. Still, whether it was blowing bubbles in her milk at dinnertime, bouncing on the furniture or arguing about bedtime, there were times when I would remind her of the rules, and suggest the responsibility of being a big sister. She should try to be a good influence for Katey, I would tell her, and show by example the way we should behave.

That’s when Katey, who up to that point had been innocent, would get involved. I could always see it coming. First the slight raised eyebrow, then an expression that showed both thoughtfulness and determination. She’d give me that sideways eye, then proceed to do exactly what I had just scolded her sister for doing!

The message was clear: she would rather be in Jenny’s camp, no matter what the consequences.

I am now in the fortunate position of sharing my life and my home with two nice dogs. I make no excuses for talking to them as we go through the day. Not constantly – we’re a fairly quiet bunch – but enough. Sometimes it’s just random chatter; other times it’s flattery, scolding or reassurance. “Good girls, going outside together,” I’ll encourage them, or, “I think we’re fine, girls,” as they madly bark at the road truck passing by.

Yesterday, we were out in the front yard together. I was gathering sticks and branches that had fallen during the storm, checking the blackberry bushes and taking clothes down from the line. Darla and Rosa Parks were chasing scents: wild turkeys had been in the yard. They each found smelly patches to roll in, so that they could carry that odor through the day. Darla took off, then, through the thick brush beyond the maple trees, with Rosa Parks on her heels. The partridge they were interested in took flight, and Darla came right back into the yard.

“Where’s your sister?” I asked her, “Where did you leave Rosa Parks?”

Rosa Parks is still nursing a dislocated kneecap. Though any exercise she will take is good for her, she can’t always manage to get over, around and up onto things the way she used to. In her enthusiasm to be on a hunt with the big dog, she had managed to get over logs and through brambles. The way back was a different story. “You can’t just leave Rosa Parks behind,” I told Darla as I scrambled through the underbrush to retrieve my little dog, “You have to watch out for her.”

Just as we were all safely back in the front yard, two riders on horseback came down the road. The big dog, barking, bounded down the driveway. “Darla, NO,” I shouted with enough authority to give her pause. That’s when I noticed Rosa Parks. First a slight, raised eyebrow. Next, a look of both thoughtfulness and determination. That old, telling sideways eye. Then, she went tearing down the driveway to chase after the horses!

The message, once again, is crystal clear.


One Productive Day


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Oh, my gosh, that title deserves an exclamation point!

The countdown is on, with just a few days until my birthday. This will be my sixty-fourth. That seems as momentous as any of the thirty, forty, fifty, sixty milestone birthdays, and even more meaningful than the sixty-fifth. Why? Well, sixty-five no longer means retirement. Even if I were not on the “work until death” track, sixty-six would be the minimum desired age for retirement considering social security benefits. “Sixty-five” is still more than a year away, while “sixty-four” is right here. Finally and most importantly, because the Beatles sang about age sixty-four. It’s been in my head for weeks…”Will ya still need me, will ya still feed me…when I’m sixty-four?”

So, with a momentous birthday coming up, I’ve been making self-improvement plans. My birthday is second only to January first when it comes to recharging and renovating my entire life. So far, I have started reading The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, 59 Seconds (Think a little, Change a lot) by Professor Richard Wiseman, and 52 Small Changes (One year to a happier, healthier you) by Brett Blumenthal. I’m also working through a book of inspirational quotes that my sister Brenda gave me. I scheduled a mammogram. I started a new journal. As a gift to myself, I met with a psychic/ Tai Chi instructor/ reiki healer for an insightful session. I have plans to get a new haircut, improve my diet and solidify an exercise habit. I am going to do better about making this house a pleasant place to be. This is just the beginning!

Yesterday was a good start. I accomplished a great deal in nine hours at work. I restocked shelves, then went down the housewares, paint, caulk and cleaning aisles to add items to this week’s order. I tidied areas of the basement and brought up all the corrugated cardboard for recycle. I organized the overhead storage of buckets, cleaning products and drywall corner bead. Finally, near the end of the day and with Kathleen’s help, I brought the Libman display upstairs and started putting it together.

After work, I filled the car up with gas, came home, picked up the dogs and took them to Fox Lake. I did not carry the little dog to the car when I wanted to leave, but waited until the dogs were ready to go. It was a humid day, and they were loving the water. Rosa Parks went in swimming six times! Darla waded the shoreline, investigating prints left by horses in the sand. We didn’t get home until after eight o’clock. By then, they were wondering why I was so late with their dinner!

While the dogs were eating, I put what was left of a roast chicken in a big pot of water with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms, to make soup. I hooked up my new dryer vent, and did a load of wash. I washed a sink full of accumulated bowls, cups and silverware, took the compost out to the bin, swept the kitchen, then sat down to supper…at eleven o’clock at night. It was a really productive day. I don’t know how many more of them I can stand!

Walking with Darla


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I’ve been on the run lately. With company here, even my days off were spent out of the house, off and running. I was able to include the dogs, sometimes. They came along in our trip around the island to explore all the different beaches. They did not come with us the day we took in all the gift and novelty shops. Or the day we went to the museums. I’ve been feeling justifiably guilty.

Rushed to get out of the house in the morning and exhausted when I got home, their exercise was often limited to following me to and from the clothesline. Then dinner. Then bedtime. A great big canine sigh should go right here. What a life for a dog! Now, Rosa Parks is still nursing a bum leg (which, it turns out, is not the ACL tendon that I had diagnosed before taking her to the vet…her little kneecap had popped out of place! We are hoping it will stay put, without surgery, but she has to be careful), so is enjoying a lazier version of normal life. A little extra attention and a couple extra treats will allay most guilt where she is concerned. Darla is another story.

Darla likes a good walk, and usually gets one at least on Sundays (which is a shorter workday for me) and on my days off. To make up to her, I got up early this morning. I set the coffee pot to brew, and we headed out the door. It took her a moment to catch on. First, she stopped to pee, and looked to me for approval. Next, she headed for the clothesline (a good guess, considering…). When she finally realized that I was headed for the road, and that this was going to be a genuine good walk, she bounded out ahead, with a big grin.

Clover used to wear her ears like a gangster’s fedora: her mood was evident by the way she arranged them. Alert, curious, happy or threatened, the ears told the story. Darla seems to have no such control over that part of her body. Her ears flop on either side of her head in a manner that shows her calm and friendly disposition. As she walks, they flap up and down, like the wings of a little bird. Her tail, with its white tip, is held aloft like a flag for the entire distance. I’ve had dogs that would give up the walk for the chance to chase a chipmunk, or to roll in something disgusting. Not Darla. She shows mild curiosity to movement and smells, but nothing deters her from her path. When Darla is out for a walk, that’s exactly what she’s doing!

Riding in Cars with Dogs


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On the way home from work on Sunday afternoon, faced with the balance of the day plus two days off, my mind runs through the possibilities.

I considered bringing some plants home, the sorry, leftover specimens that have been too long in their starter pots: tomatoes, peppers, cabbages and eggplant. Could I dig up a patch of garden yet? What about that sweet peach tree, with tiny fuzzy fruits already on its branches? How nice it would be to spend the day in the garden! I sensibly – though with remorse – talked myself out of it. Too much to do, to allow myself to go off in another direction.

The entire lawn needs mowing, but the back yard – that didn’t get done last week – is desperately in need of it. I brought home 50 feet of rope, with intention of restringing my clothesline.  It was a nice warm day with a slight breeze: a good day to wash sheets and dry them outside! A good day, too,  to shake out the rugs and open all the windows, give the floors a good sweeping and get the cobwebs out of the corners.

I have several hours (days??) of writing and computer work to do. I have stacks of notes from meetings and interviews to turn into stories. I have others to edit and organize. There are letters to write and phone calls to answer. The subscriber database always needs updating as the checks or changes of address come in the mail. I need to set up a filing system for advertisers, and bill out the classified ads. If I were to get all of that done in a timely fashion, my taxes are still waiting to be filed.

The studio, yes, a dozen things to do there, and the back closet where I started sorting seasonal clothes, and the kitchen cupboards to get ready for the new counter top, and weeding, dead-heading and watering the flower beds…by the time I got home, I was exhausted just from thinking about it!

The dogs greeted me when I got home. I made a sandwich, and wandered the yard while I ate it. It really was a beautiful day. Chance of rain or thunderstorms for Monday.

“Do you want to take a ride?” I asked.

Darla jumped up from where she was laying in the grass. Rosa Parks gave a series of yips as she ran for the car. I grabbed the can of mosquito repellent, my camera, a book, and one bottle of beer.

“Let’s go!”

Darla jumps in first, and takes the passenger seat in front. Her posture is impeccable as she sits tall watching out the windows. I pick up Rosa Parks and take the driver’s seat. Rosa scrambles across to position herself on my lap, with her nose out the window, her chin resting on my left arm. Darla smiles benignly across at me, to let me know that she believes that spot on my lap should be hers, but that she’ll make the sacrifice.

It’s one and a half miles to Fox Lake, down a barely traveled, narrow gravel road. The breeze is nice. Every now and then, I point out a bird or squirrel or chipmunk. If they were on foot, they’d be very interested. Riding in the car, they pay no attention to the wildlife. They know when I come to the drive that leads down to the lake. They murmur and shake in anticipation. If I accidentally drive past it, they turn to look back. Still, they each politely hold their places until the car is parked, and I open the door to let them out.

The lake is an adventure unto itself, with water for wading and new smells to investigate. For me, it’s an hour of blissful relaxation. The ride home is a repeat of the trip there, only in reverse…and more damp. No matter what’s on the to-do list, riding in cars with dogs is an excellent way to spend an afternoon!




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One week ago, I brought Darla home to Beaver Island. I didn’t want a second dog for my own sake, but rather to enrich the life of my little dog, Rosa Parks. I knew she could use more exercise; I felt she’d be happier with a dog that – being of the same species – would understand her better than a human could. One veterinarian explained to me that only another dog would have the same acute senses of smell and hearing, and so would be able to share their experience. It all seemed very sensible at the time.

Well, we are all getting used to each other. No matter about shared experience, it seems that both Darla and Rosa Parks think they’d prefer to be an only dog. They relate to me – the human – better than to the other dog; they both love me…but are still deciding whether they even like each other. They vie for attention whenever I’m around.

They do relate to one another, though. When one hears a sound, they both erupt into fits of mad barking. When one pees, the other one runs right over to pee on the same spot. Sometimes that goes on so long, I wonder where they continue to come up with the pee! When one finds an interesting smell, the other one rushes right over to investigate. When one needs to go outside, the other one follows.

Darla is obsessive about food. She is mild-mannered most of the time, but takes issue when edibles are in the picture. Rosa Parks is an instigator. She’ll bark to announce the invasion of a bird, snake or chipmunk, then sit back while Darla does the chasing. Together, when they are getting along, they seem intent on mischief. It’s as if they are a couple of teen-aged hoodlums, forming a gang.

At Miller’s Marsh they sat together on the shore, barking at a flock of geese in the water. At Iron Ore Bay, where the smell of fish is in the air, and the beach is covered with seaweed, they both developed acute deafness. Neither one could hear me call, when it was time to go. Yesterday, with Darla for back-up, Rosa ran right toward the road, intent on chasing a car. Rosa has never been a car-chaser!

Just like with children, a second one is not twice as difficult; it’s more like ten or twenty times harder. The whole dynamic changes. I think we’re going to be fine…eventually…but right now, we’re all still adjusting.

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Wednesday is the middle of the work week, for those who work Monday through Friday. For me, it’s back-to-work day. It feels just like Monday, only with more letters. After a long weekend away, it’s especially hard to get back into a work schedule.

I still have mounds of laundry to do. I have packages across the kitchen counter to find space for in my cupboards and on my shelves. I had a pile of mail waiting for me at the Post Office, that is now staring at me from the desktop. I have banking and other paperwork to catch up on.

This is the first day that the dogs will be alone together all day. I practiced a little last evening, while I ran to get the mail, pick up groceries for Aunt Katie and a couple packages at the airport. I gave them each a treat, a scratch behind the ears, and the instructions, “Take good care of things!” Rosa Parks is used to the routine; it’s brand new to Darla. They were both happy to see me come home, but both seemed fine. No panic, no damage…though it turns out my new dog tears into the garbage, when the opportunity presents itself. We had our first major altercation over dinner last night, and that makes me especially nervous. I hope it was just a food issue.

The newest issue of the Beacon came out. There are visible errors that make me cringe, but it’s too late to fix them. I’ll be distributing copies to the stores after work, or during my lunch hour.

My friend Sue is back on the island, getting ready to open her gallery for the summer. I haven’t had a chance to see her yet, but I’ll have to make time.

We’ve had a good share of cold weather this month, and it snowed here on Sunday. It seems to have leveled out though. The last couple days have been beautiful, and today is starting out nicely, too.

Happy Wednesday!



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These dogs were good buddies. Clover and Rosa Parks entertained each other. Whether out on a chipmunk-chasing walk through the woods, a sniffing and swimming adventure at Fox Lake, or just sitting around watching me work, they kept each other company.

Ever since Clover died – just a little over a year ago – Rosa Parks has been a little down. She knows I’m her “pack” and she loves me…but I’m just not very much fun. I have no interest in finding the garter snakes that hide in the flower beds. I don’t chase chipmunks, or squirrels, or birds. Even walks have been less fun, without Clover. “What good is it to find smelly stuff,” Rosa Parks thinks, “without anyone here who wants to smell it?” Sometimes, when I am working at the computer, Rosa Parks lets out an audible sigh, and drops her chin onto her paws. I feel like she’s been bored, a little depressed and even sad without her friend.

I’ve been thinking about adopting another dog. I’ve gone back and forth about it. There is the expense: sometimes it’s a struggle to cover the vet bills for one dog. I work long hours. Rosa Parks gets lonely, and I feel guilty. Would I be just doubling my guilt? Putting a second dog into the same boring rut? I’ve been advised that’s not the case. Two veterinarians, plus the dog boarder and several animal lovers have assured me that – even though they may not interact much when I’m not at home – it would be reassuring to have another dog around.

Last weekend, my friend Linda and I visited the humane society near her home. We were introduced to several sweet dogs, learned their stories and observed their dispositions. In all, we visited three days. Darla is a mix of Boxer and Pit Terrier, just as Clover was. She is good with other dogs, and good with cats. She – due to household situations, not her own behavior – had already had four homes, and had three times been brought to the humane society kennel. Before I left for home yesterday morning, I stopped and got her, to bring her back to Beaver Island with me.

Darla is a big, gentle dog who was anxious for a home. Every time I stopped along the trip to walk her, she’d look around, find the nearest house and, wagging tail, start to walk toward it. Every time I guided her back into the vehicle, she seemed disappointed. Finally, we made it to Charlevoix and, after a scary (for her) plane ride, we were home. She seemed happy with her new yard and house. She rolled in the grass, and got quite excited about the big basket full of hardly-used dog toys. She wandered through every flower bed.

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After getting Darla settled in, I went to pick up Rosa Parks from the kennel. We were happy to see each other. I was nervous, hoping that my little dog would like Darla as much as I do. There was a little grumbling on first meeting, and there has been some growling coming from each of them since then. I’ve been able to intercede, though, before it escalates. Rosa Parks spent some time letting us know her nose was a bit out of joint about the new addition.

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Eventually, though, after wandering around the yard and garden together, they seem to have reached a level of acceptance. Rosa Parks practiced her manipulation techniques all evening. She’d look out the window and give a sharp bark (“Bird!”). Darla would rush to the door; I’d open it and they’d both run out. Darla would run after the bird; Rosa Parks would go sit under the cherry tree, and look back toward me with a little grin that said, “She fell for it again! Silly dog – you can’t catch a bird!” Then they’d both come back in for a treat. I think we’re going to be fine!

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Have I become too predictable?

Me, the most inconsistent person on the planet?

My friend, Kathy, is cultivating the unexpected in her life. If she thinks to herself, “I can’t go for a run, it’s pouring down rain,” she will gear up and head outside for a run, just to surprise herself. Whether an experience she never imagined she’d like or an activity she isn’t drawn to, she’ll try it because it’s unexpected. She’s an inspiration! Doing things that our psyches are not prepared for gets the nerves tingling, the heart racing and – in the fairly safe and predictable world we live in – that’s a rare and good feeling.

Inconsistent is a little different. It means that even though I know I do better if I avoid coffee in the afternoon, I may drink it anyway, just for sport. It means that I can’t be counted on to be at my job at the same time each day: sometimes I’m there on time; most days I’m late. Sometimes I skip lunch to make up for it; sometimes not. I’m supposed to go to Aunt Katie’s to clean on a particular day and time. I play fast and loose with that, too. Sometimes I respond to letters and phone calls; sometimes I don’t. Inconsistent, in my case, means unreliable.

Yet, amazing to me, I have been very consistent in my writing. This year, I’ve been posting a blog every day, usually first thing in the morning. Even the subject matter has become predictable, with “the 52 lists project” on Sundays, “timeout for art” on Thursdays, and moving from one past address to another on the days in between.

Today, my day off, I had a ten o’clock meeting in town. I had bookkeeping to do before I left the house, so that I could go to the bank. It was my day to clean at Aunt Katie’s, so I scheduled that in, too.

The breakfast meeting was thoroughly enjoyable as my friend and I caught up on business and other things. Other friends joined us and the conversation broadened to many topics of interest. I stayed longer than I’d planned. Still, I made it to the bank before they closed, to the post office and then the hardware store, to take care of a couple matters. Next, my aunt’s house, for my duties there. She has five newly hatched baby chicks in the back room off the kitchen, and I took time to snap a few pictures. Home, I had to make a couple calls, and do a few household chores. Before settling in for the evening, Rosa Parks and I took a drive down to Fox Lake.

It was after I returned from that outing that I noticed the light on the answering machine blinking. Two messages, from two different individuals, making sure I was okay…as they hadn’t yet seen my blog today! Maybe I need to shake things up a bit, so folks don’t worry if I’m not on schedule. “Unexpected” may be the order of the day!

Lost Days


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A few days at home can really throw off the calendar. I got up yesterday morning early to do some bookkeeping so that I could go to the bank at lunchtime. Turns out, it wasn’t even bank day. Through the slow months of winter, we only have a bank on Tuesdays and Fridays, 9AM to 2PM. Yesterday was  only Thursday. Once I realized that, I realized it was “Timeout for Art Day” in blog land, and I wasn’t prepared for that either. Good thing I got up early!

Having gotten out of bed (that is – still – the mattress on the living room floor) at 4AM, I did manage to make it to my job at the hardware shockingly early: 8:10! That’s only ten minutes after we open! Which, I have to say, made it a very long day for me. I built shelves and rearranged drop cloths, shelf liner and contact paper, finished fine-tuning a large paint order, put away the last few boxes and totes of freight, filed the claims and defective goods paperwork, updated the discontinued products in the computer, started a new order, made a couple vet appointments, mixed paint, made keys, answered phones, took care of customers, and broke down the cardboard boxes. One customer called at 5:30 (closing time) and asked me to wait for him; I did. Another showed up just as I was pulling my car out of the parking place. I reopened for her, too. It was a beautiful day – customers kept telling me so – and I spent nine and a half hours of it inside.

Home, I greeted Rosa Parks, and we went for an exploratory walk. Three days ago, my garden was under a blanket of snow.

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Yesterday, it was bare! Impossible not to drop to my knees, to pull the dead stalks away from the new growth (Deep red globes that will be stalks and leaves of rhubarb! Bright green grass-like fronds that are the first showing of this year’s peonies!), to dig out the grasses, already taking hold. The ground is still cold and holding tightly to the roots; by the time I was ready to call it done for the day, my fingers were black, and sore from the effort. Nearby, Rosa Parks had also been digging and I noticed she was favoring one paw. I examined her for injury, and we continued at a slower pace around the yard. Daffodils are in bud, tulips are showing their leaves and the little Siberian scillia are in full bloom.

Inside, I had phone calls to make, then dinner for myself and my little dog. I had done enough! I was going to relax. “Shall we watch a movie?” I asked Rosa Parks. “Shall we go to bed early?” Before I settled in, though, to do nothing else for the night, I picked up my day book, to jot down my work hours and other accomplishments. That’s when I noticed the date: April 14th.

Here in the United States of America, income taxes have to be filed by April 15th to avoid penalty. I hadn’t even started that paperwork. Why had I not realized sooner?? How could I be so unprepared?? Unimportant, in comparison, are all my successes of the day. Out the window went all my plans for a relaxing evening and an early bedtime. It’s tax time!