Purple Trees and Rescue Newfies

When Dave was in pre-school and kindergarten he used to get fussed at a lot. It seemed he wasn’t making his trees right.

The shape was fine, but the tops of the trees were invariably purple instead of green.

We had lots of conversations about this.

I assured my budding artist that his trees were fabulous just the way they were and that he could make trees any color he wanted to, at home.

Academic that I’ve been for years, I tried to explain that his teacher was, oddly enough, more into following directions than she was into the trees themselves.

Therefore, I proposed, we’d make trees any way we liked them at home but, at school, we’d humor the teacher and make green trees.

This was not as effective a strategy as I had hoped. My normally agreeable son continued to make purple trees.

I continued to joust with the teachers.

A couple of years later, in a follow-up eye exam, it was determined that Dave was colorblind in a lot of mid-range tones. He couldn’t tell green from purple.

I felt terrible!

It’s kind of been a day like that around here.

You see, today was Luther’s ophthalmology appointment.

He’s been with us for about 18 months now and it’s been clear from the beginning that he didn’t see too well. Lately I noticed that either his sight was decreasing or I just knew him well enough to realize he didn’t see as well as I thought.

In the beginning, he was terribly anxious and afraid of, well, everything.

We’ve worked hard. He’s now a friendly guy who radiates good will in the world unless his security sisters are far away. He’s a really great dog.

We practiced for this appointment. Holding his head. Saline eye drops just to get used to the idea. Lots and lots of treats.

Getting in the car was our first challenge as he needed a good bit of a boost. Then we got lost. Eventually, we triumphed and arrived at the specialty vet.

He was very brave, all things considered. Blessedly, we were able to get a good exam without him having a come-apart.

As the old story goes, we don’t know whether it was good news or bad news.

According to the vet, “we suspect that he is completely blind.”

I both was and wasn’t ready for that.

We’ll set aside for the moment the fact this this is almost assuredly the result of bad breeding and criminally negligent puppy mill owners.

Mostly, I’m blown away by this big guy who is finding his way in the world with his nose and ears and muscle memory!

And, it seems that I have been promoted from transitional object to seeing eye person.

Frankly, I’m a bit overwhelmed.

Here’s what I do know:

  • He’s making it so far.
  • I absolutely do not want to limit him by assuming what he can or can’t do.
  • There’s more learning for us all to do.

Tomorrow, he and the girls are off to their happy place at Camp for I am on the way to Italy with paintbrushes and a drum.

My usual 10 pound batch of directions for the counselors will need a bit of editing but I’ve been working on that most of the day.

He’s going to be great. So are Sarah and Phoebe.

I may be a bit of a mess, but I’m blessed with a world-class batch of dog aunties even when I’m out of cell phone range. And the Legendary Husband in town to deliver extra food!

As the prophet, Steve Glenn, would remind us, if I want him to be capable and happy, I’ve got to suck it up and let him.

Luther doesn’t draw trees so much as he pees on them but however he does it is just fine with me!






What’s In Front?

There’s a writer named Natalie Goldberg who does marvelous books to help other writers along the road.

One of her most straightforward bits of advice is to write what’s in front of your face.

Here’s a glimpse of what that looked like in my world, today.

Amongst the mountains of frozen dog food to be sorted and stashed, along with about three days worth to be packed for a brief trip to Camp, there were boxes of the stuff that prevents heart worms to wrangle out of an online source, the usual door opening and water bowl filling routine, and, of course, treats, hugs, and brushing. Lots of brushing!

And, there are still dog directions to write for Camp, which I suspect is not quite what Natalie had in mind, but on the list nonetheless.

I’ve done the Don Quixote thing, tilting at windmills with UPS over a package that, shall we say, disappeared somewhere into the big brown kingdom, apparently never to be heard from again.

And was grateful to the folks who shipped it in the first place for shipping another, today. Fingers crossed.

My Muse painting, who appears first, below, and now hangs in our bedroom where she is in charge of dreams, did her job with enthusiasm last night, sending me a dream that involved standing in front of a room full of people I went to high school with (Blessedly NOT naked!) and telling them why I keep showing up here, and at the canvas, doing what I do.

It’s the one of those five people thing we’ve talked about before. (Click here, if you’d like a reminder.)

My alchemical consciousness has been high-fiving me most of the day!

Then there are blessed friends who’ve listened to me think out loud while I sort through .jpg after .jpg of images, all hoping for jobs in the changing landscape which is about to happen around here, on Facebook, and in my pocket where the new business cards from moo.com will live.

Here are a couple of sneak peeks:



There’s crab shell broth warming on the stove.

And paintings-in-progress figuratively leaping up and down, wanting play time, while brushes wait to be washed, eyeing me with one brow raised as I pass by their Mason jars of water.

Perhaps most of all, though, there are the two notes I re-discovered today, scratched in purple ink in my dog-eared copy of Ms. Goldberg’s The True Secret Of Writing.

The first appears on page 106 of the edition I have. It’s beside a list of entry line options provided to get folks from stuck to — you know — writing. My addition to the list:

The first thing I want my grandchild(ren) to know about me is…

You’re welcome to play with it! Grandkids you already know and love. The kind that are on the way, even now. The ones you long for someday. Or the honorary ones in border detention camps or trapped in caves or hungry pretty much anywhere.

And then another one, almost un-noticed, on the very last page of the book, under the note about the author:

Imagine you are seated in the lap of a Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother. Yours, the one you needed, the archetypal one, or even the one you are on the way to being. She asks, “What are you becoming?” and listens with love and attention to your most true answer. Then she whispers, “I will help you.”

I’d love to hear what comes to mind.

The most important thing, though, is that you know!

(To leave a response here, just click on the big picture of what the crab broth became, at the top of this post, then scroll way down, pausing a moment at the blog subscription box if you’d like, until you find the place for comments.)




Somehow, it’s Wednesday again. This really shouldn’t be a surprise to me, though Monday holidays, like Memorial Day, tend to confuse things.

It feels a bit hectic around here!

There are goose necks roasting in the oven for a pot of broth.

I think every UPS truck in Georgia is going to show up here today.

The dogs are headed to Camp Jabula in a couple of hours. Tomorrow my contractor friend, Greg, is adding lights to my new studio space and to the hallway.

People on ladders playing with electricity and three enormous dogs have the potential for disaster.

Sadly, my beasties are just too smart. The Camp taxi is due about 3:00. I try really hard to keep them from realizing that they’re off to their favorite place because they get all bouncy and excited and our house is pretty small.

They also race to the window and bark at every car door in a three-mile radius.

(This is not usual behavior!)

They figured it out about 10:30 this morning.

I was trying to get a jump on the packing while Sarah and Luther were on their walk.

Phoebe ratted me out.

All I did was write their names on a zippee bag and put their pills inside it at a time of day that we don’t usually rattle the pills.

Game over!

Am hoping to sneak in the ice chest part of the prep while they’re outside about 1:30, though it probably won’t work.

These guys remind me every day about the power of pattern learning.

Something — whatever — happens, which “absolutely means” that something else will happen next.

Mom put pills in a bag which means we’re going to Camp.

(It usually does!)

Mom stood up from her chair which means it’s happening now.

(Not usually!)

People, of course, have been known to process things the same way.

Every time I try to paint eyes, I mess them up.

Well, not quite.

Often, I mess them up and do them again. And again.

Eventually, though, I get happy with them, which is kind of the opposite of messing them up.

And I’m pretty sure that, when I pick up a brush to start eyes, it might work better if I was thinking that I’ve learned to paint eyes I really like — which is something of a miracle right there — than if I was thinking that every time I do this, I mess it up.

Now, Newfoundlands are smart dogs and they tend to have pretty large working vocabularies.

In fact, there are lots of words we have to spell to avoid enthusiasm riots. R-i-d-e is a good example.

C-a-m-p is the biggest one.

D-i-n-n-e-r is also a major deal.

Naming things is hugely powerful.

So is the perception of cause and effect.

Even better, though, is the notion of possible outcomes.

Whatever happened before. Then something else happened. Yes.

But, today, something else might happen. There might be new opportunities!

Today, the dogs are right.

I put pills in a plastic bag and, in a couple of hours, they’re going to C-a-m-p. 

Hopefully, the wiring will get safely done tomorrow and on Friday they will come home.

(Bill and I are going crazy and having date night Thursday evening!)

It’s helpful though, at least to me, to remember that we not only have more options than what’s been true in the past, we can create more options just by remembering that we have them.

I’m not sure the dogs will buy it, but I appreciate all their reminders that it’s true.

At least I don’t have to sew their names in their underwear before they leave!


Things That Are Better!

Hi! It’s me, again. Luther. I asked Mom if I could tell you some new things I’m learning and she said I could, so here goes!

I’m not too sure I like bicycles. One snuck up on me while I was out walking the other day and I wanted to leave. Fast.

Of course, I couldn’t. It has something to do with the thing called a lead. There’s always somebody who loves me holding on to the other end, telling me they think it’s all ok.

Just between us, there are a lot of things in the world that I think are pretty scary.

And some that don’t feel quite so scary anymore.

The other day, a new Auntie I’d heard lots about, but hadn’t met before, came to visit. Her name is Kate. She and Mom talked about me a lot. Not in a bad way.

They talked about Sarah and Phoebe, too, but I didn’t pay so much attention to that! I guess we’re all connected.

What I think they said was that there are some more things I need to learn. There was something about balance-whatever that is-and not wanting to push me beyond what I’m ready for and not wanting to hold me back from all the great stuff in life.

Apparently it’s a lot like those cool people puppies everybody gets so excited about! Mom seems to know lots about them! (The tall ones, too.)

I could tell by their voices that they both love me. And they made a long list of things that are better for me than they were before.

I can ride in the car now.

The other day, I survived when the top, noisy part of the thing called a salad spinner leaped out of the dish drainer and crashed on the floor about four feet from me.

Mom said it was ok and brought it to me to sniff.

I know it was ok because I’m still here!

Mom told me how brave I was and then went back to washing dishes. I went back to sleep.

I actually like being brushed now. I used to think a brush was just another thing to use for hitting dogs.

Nobody here hits and the brush feels really good, especially when I’m itchy.

Mom and Auntie Kate needed some of that fluffy stuff called Kleenex (which I’m not supposed to eat) when they were talking about my old life. Then they decided that the best thing for me is to help me stretch a little bit at a time and cheer me on.

My Auntie Alli says things like that, too.

They also said some stuff about insisting that Sarah sits, which I don’t think she’ll like so much, so she doesn’t think she’s in charge.

And they said Phoebe is not as sweet and innocent as she looks, but I’m not sure what that means.

Auntie Kate says she feels a lot like Mom does, with the people puppies at her house. I guess everybody needs what they need and a lot of that seems to be about things called comfort and confidence.

IMG_1187I’m glad I don’t have to figure all of that out. I’m still trying to learn to sit!

And I’m still not sure about bicycles. I do know that it helps to have somebody close by who believes you can do the new stuff. I have even more Aunties who help with that!

Mom says maybe I can help people by believing for them. Apparently that’s an important job!

Right now, I think it’s nap time. Blogging is hard, but I like telling my stories. Who knew?

Love, Luther




Life is for learning!

At least that’s what Mom says. If she’s right, I must be doing a good job!

Oh, sorry!  You don’t know me, yet. I’m Phoebe. Sarah is my sister. She says I’ll be good at blogging like she is. I’m supposed to start by telling you my story.

I’ve been here about eight weeks. Here is really good. I was in a couple of places for just a little while on my way here and they helped me, too. I guess I needed a lot of help.

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Sarah has a sister!

Dave says, “Inevitable, Mom!” He’s right, of course.

It was time. When Sarah returned from her last couple of trips to Camp, I realized that she missed all her doggie camper buddies. All the coming and going. Extra people to love her. And swim time!

I couldn’t quite figure out how we would manage a pool right now.

Then, I heard a story. A five-year old Newfie just arrived in foster care. Badly neglected. Itchy. Tiny. And very, very hungry.

Among the countless things in the world I can’t fix (You go ahead and fill in the blanks!) here was one I could.

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Life is for learning!

Hi, again, It’s me, Sarah!

I was so excited when Mom said I could do the blog post this week. I’ve been having lots of fun. You probably heard that I’ve been to Camp. I love Camp! There are all kinds of dogs to play with and people who love me and help me learn new things. I’m working on retrieving. (Not birds or squirrels or anything. Just ropes and things like that.)

There’s also swimming. Swimming is my favorite thing. That’s why I look so happy in my picture! Part of why I like swimming is that I’m a Newfie. We were developed as a breed to help rescue sailors off the east coast of Canada, on an island called Newfoundland. (How cool is it to have a whole island named after you?) Mom says Newfies and swimming are just the way God planned it. She’s probably right.

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Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach