Category Archives: Different kinds of homes

Wild Dog Becomes First Friend

The Desiderata of HappinessIMG_5708

 

Scouts's closeup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite descriptions of dogs is from THE JUNGLE BOOK by Rudyard Kipling: “When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’  And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always.’”

Many writers in addition to Kipling have written about the wonder of dogs.   Here are three examples.  Agatha Christie wrote, “Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more.”   Emily Dickinson said, “Dogs are better than human beings because they know but do not tell.”   And Dean Koontz, who includes dogs in his life and most of his novels, said, “Once  you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one is a life diminished.”

In my July 22 post of Friday Favorites, I included this line from Max Ehrmann’s 1927 book, DESIDERATA: “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” As it turns out, DESIDERATA has a recent edition called DESIDERATA FOR DOG LOVERS: A Guide to Life and Happiness.   If you’re a cat or horse person, there are books for you, too.               The Desiderata for Dog Lovers

Our family has been blessed by rescue dogs. Our beloved Maggie has been gone more than a year, but she continues to touch our minds and hearts, just as she did for 13 years.   Our puppy Scout from the Humane Society has warmed our hearts, made us laugh and sigh, kept us on our toes, and taught us patience.   My parents’ beloved Fritz came from the shelter, and our daughter’s family’s amazing German shepherd was given to them by a soldier who was being deployed and needed a perfect home for Duchess.

August is a special month to help animals in need, and August 26 is National Dog Day.  You can help dogs on this day, but you can also help cats, horses, birds, etc., by donating food, money, supplies or time to your local shelter or Humane Shelter.   When you drop off canned goods to your local mission or food pantry, remember that many homeless and elderly people also have dogs they love and need help to feed and care for them, so include cans of food or supplies for them, too.

The famous advice columnist, Ann Landers, wrote “Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.”   But in my opinion, if you do something that will help an animal in need, you absolutely will be wonderful.

The Desiderata for Cat Lovers

The Desid for Horse Lovers

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, Different kinds of homes, friends, importance of doing good things, lessons about life, making a difference

GET IT IN WRITING

Charlie Brown, of PEANUTS fame.  (book picture from Wikipedia; all other pictures by Marylin Warner)

Charlie Brown, of PEANUTS fame. (book picture from Wikipedia; all other pictures by Marylin Warner)

Stamps make mailed cards and letters extra special and come in an amazing assortment of choices.

Stamps make mailed cards and letters extra special and come in an amazing assortment of choices.

 

 

 

Charlie Brown was the star character of the popular comic strip by Charles Schultz, PEANUTS, which began in 1950. Charlie Brown’s wishful thinking about being noticed by the little red-haired girl began a theme of love disappointments that lasted for more than five decades.   This is one of his most often quoted cartoon lines: “There must be millions of people all over the world who never get any love letters…I could be their leader.”

Charlie Brown didn’t want a phone call, a signature-only Valentine card, an email, a text or a twitter; he wanted a letter. Actor Keanu Reeves said this about a letter’s importance. “Letters are something from you. It’s a different kind of intention than writing an e-mail.”

Letters can be saved, to be read again and again. Greeting cards that arrive in the mail—especially with personal messages written inside—can be displayed on a bedside table or a shelf, reminders that someone, some-where still thinks of you and cares enough to stay in touch. Visit a nursing home, an assisted living, a hospital room or the home of an invalid to see how treasured the cards and letters are by those who receive them.

Valentine’s Day is still more than a week away. Plenty of time to buy a Valentine card, a greeting card of any kind, or even just write, type or print a letter to someone. One of my favorite quotes about happiness (attributed to numerous writers, including Joseph Addison) is this: “The grand essentials of happiness in this life are something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.”

For lonely, ill, or older neighbors, family and friends, or those who are getting forgetful or suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, I would change the last grand essential to this: “…a grand essential of happiness is something that shows I’m remembered.”

To be remembered is a treasured gift.

She wrote this message in chalk to her Grandpa.

Grace wrote this message in chalk to her Grandpa.

 

Greeting cards can be much appreciated, too, if there's a personal message written inside.

Greeting cards are appreciated, too, if there’s a personal message written inside.

Years ago, when Grace was learning to write cursive, she wrote this for my mom.  Mor-Mor-Mor means mother's mother's mother in Swedish.

Years ago, when Grace was learning to write cursive, she wrote this for my mom. Mor-Mor-Mor means mother’s mother’s mother in Swedish.

Before Gannon could write, he "practiced" with chalk on the fence.

Before Gannon could write, he “practiced” with chalk on the fence.

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Filed under art, Different kinds of homes, friends, importance of doing good things, just doing the best we can, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, making a difference, Special days in February, special quotations

ROYGBIV, FYI

ROYGBIV X 2 = a double rainbow.  (picture by Jim Warner)

ROYGBIV x 2 = a double rainbow. (picture by Jim Warner)

M & Ms are acronyms for Mars and Murrie's, the last names of the candy's founders.

M & Ms are acronyms for Mars and Murrie’s, the last names of the candy’s founders.

A golf cart For Sale.  It's a BMW, meaning "Bavarian Motor Works."

A golf cart For Sale. It’s a BMW, the acronym for “Bavarian Motor Works.”

I was in fourth grade when the teacher taught us a tool for remembering the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Thank you, Roy G Biv.

Today we’ve moved beyond teaching tools and abbreviations. Acronyms are used in every industry, in all walks of life. Texting and instant messaging make up a whole new series of acronyms. AFK says we’re away from keyboard; BRB assures we’ll be right back; and if you’re guarding what you’re sharing, POS tells the other person Parents Over Shoulder. BF is Best Friend, BFF is Best Friends Forever; BFFL is Best Friends For Life. It’s touching to know that even the act of identifying and ranking levels of our most important friendships can now be accomplished in acronyms of 2-4 letters.

Some acronyms we know “in general” what they mean. For instance, we know SOS is a call for help, but technically it means “Save Our Souls.” The Latin meanings of the acronyms for i.e. and e.g. are long, complicated, and well…in Latin. The useful meanings are “in other words” for i.e., and “for example” for e.g.   And most of us probably know what a TASER is, but do you know that TASER is the acronym for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”?

If we’re going to use acronyms, we really should know what they mean. LOL means “laugh out loud,” and therefore shouldn’t be used as part of the message on a sympathy card because you think it means “lots of love.” Sometimes it’s better to write out what we feel instead of taking chances that the acronym might be misinterpreted.

While my parents were still living at home—before my father’s Alzheimer’s and long before my mother’s dementia—I was visiting them when a young girl dropped off some writing materials for my mom. As the teen put them on the coffee table, Mom noticed her colorful bracelet and asked what the letters stood for. The girl smiled and held out her arm to show off the WWJD. “It’s a reminder,” she said. “A question to ask myself…’What Would Jesus Do?’”

Ever helpful and pleasant, my mother smiled and patted the girl’s hand. “Oh, sweetheart, you know there’s a book that actually tells you what Jesus did do.”

The world is changing with acronyms providing faster ways of communicating. It is not TEOTWAWKI—“The End of The World As We Know It”—just another new thing we can choose to embrace or not.

To all of you I say BBS (Be Back Soon) and TTYL (Talk To you Later).  To my mom I don’t say HAGN or TYVM, because she wouldn’t know what those mean. So I say “Have a good night” and “Thank you very much” for being a wonderful mom.

One of the most popular acronym message bracelets of the 1990s.

One of the most popular acronym message bracelets of the 1990s.

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Filed under Different kinds of homes, friends, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, writing

THIS NOVEMBER, TASTE LIFE TWICE

Bull in front of Kansas barn (all pictures by Marylin Warner)

Bull in front of Kansas barn (all pictures by Marylin Warner)

 

Consider the possible genres: horror? mystery? romance? true crime? or science fiction?

Consider the possible genres: horror? mystery? romance? true crime? science fiction?

On May 2, I wrote a post about a game Mom and I played during some of my visits when she was still in the early stages of dementia.   As I would drive around town, she’d choose a house and answer the question, “What’s Behind the Door?”    It was intended to encourage her to remember tastes, sounds, smells and feelings. We had a lot of fun with the game, and we usually went for an ice cream cone afterwards.

Several of you have asked if I made up other writing prompts.  Here’s another: “Genre-flecting” (thinking about story ideas based on genre types.)

The purpose with my mother was to use different writing genres to inspire ideas for stories and poems. We talked about various genres–mystery, memoir, western, romance, horror, children’s, fantasy, science fiction, etc.–and also combinations of genres: women’s mainstsream, malice domestic mystery, romantic western, narrative poetry, children’s adventure, etc.

We used buildings as the prompts, and once we chose a place, the next step was to create characters, animals, situations or events that happened there. Since I was driving and she was in the passenger seat, I would cite the genre prompt, she’d think about it, and then she’d create a story or poem idea.   For instance, consider the top picture of the bull in front of the barn. If I asked, “What’s going on here that could make a children’s adventure story?” ~ your answer would be very different than if I asked, “What’s going on here that would make a sci-fi/mystery story?”

For those of us who are not participating in this November’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) or National Memoir Writing Month, we have another option.  November 14 is both “I Love To Write Day” AND “Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day.”  

Combine them.  Shake your shoulders loose, grab a pen and write.  Choose one of these pictures or use one of your own or from a magazine; consider a genre you especially like to read—or don’t like to read at all—and set a timer.  Write about “What’s going on here?” for 20 min. or an hour, or for half a page or a full page. Write, and see what ideas or memories emerge. 

The wonderful novelist, essayist and short story writer Anais Nin reminds us this about the importance of writing: “We write to taste life twice, in the moment, and in retrospection…”  

This November—throughout the month, or on the 14th, or any day—write…and taste life twice.   My mother would be the first to tell you it’s okay to treat yourself with an ice cream cone.

old house at pond      

cabin on open plains

tejon st

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, Different kinds of homes, lessons about life, special quotations, writing, writing exercises

JUST WORDS

Books of words.  Without meaning, they're just "words."  (pictures by Marylin Warner)

Books of words. Without meaning or context, they’re just “words.” (pictures by Marylin Warner)

"Perseverance"

Is perseverance at the top of your list of goals, or nearer the bottom of your list?

 

What does Irish mean to you if you're Italian?

What does Irish mean to you if you’re Italian?

Think about all the words we read, write, see and hear that have general definitions but also a variety of personal meanings and interpretations. Marriage means different things to different people. So does Love, Hate, Innocence, Guilt, etc. Without personal context, words are often just words.

One of my favorite examples is the four-word comment on age by the actor George Burns: “Young. Old. Just words.”  In 1977 Burns starred in the movie OH, GOD! He was 81. For years, he and his wife Gracie Allen did comedy routines and a sit-com together. Gracie died in 1964, 32 years before George died at the age of 100.

My parents had enjoyed the “George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.” When George died in 1996, a tribute to both of them was on television. I remember my parents watching solemnly. Mom said George and Gracie had been apart a long time, and now they’d be together again. My dad said an emotional “Goodnight, Gracie.” Dad’s mother had died of spinal meningitis when he was a very young boy, and her name was Grace. Unfortunately, by the time his great-granddaughter was born in 2003 and Molly named her Grace in honor of Dad’s mother, Alzheimer’s had begun fading his attachment to the word Grace.

Two weeks ago I was with my mother in Kansas, and when we celebrated her early 96th birthday together, I knew the truth of Burns’ quote about young and old being just words.

Because of her dementia, Mom’s concept of now doesn’t mean as much to her as then, especially when the “then” is life as a child growing up on the family farm in Missouri with her brothers and sisters. To her, I am not so much her daughter as I’m “just the nicest girl” who comes to visit. And my brother isn’t her son but usually Sam, who was her brother. And that’s okay. Mom is calm and content with those memories, despite the confusing words that are often used to try to explain things to her.

Satchel Paige was a major league baseball legend in his own lifetime. He asked an important question that we each should answer for ourselves. “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?”

Young. Old. Are they just words for you?

Satchel Paige (1906-1982)  (google sportcard via Rich Klein article)

Satchel Paige (1906-1982) (google sportcard via Rich Klein article)

George Burns in the 1977 movie OH, GOD! (wickipedia)

George Burns in the 1977 movie OH, GOD! (wickipedia)

 

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Filed under Different kinds of homes, lessons for great-grandchildren, life questions, special quotations

FYI ~ JANUARY

Gate in winter. Art by Mary Shepherd for her Stubby Mule story.

Gate in winter. Art by Mary Shepherd for her story, “Stubby The Stubborn Missouri Mule”

Gated doorway to Bent's Fort in Colorado. (This photograph by Jim Warner; all others by Marylin Warner)

Gated doorway to Bent’s Fort in Colorado. (This photograph by Jim Warner; all others in this post by Marylin Warner)

For your information, the original Roman year had 10 months. Somewhere around 700 BC, Januarius and Februirus were added.  January’s Latin name, Janus, was for Roman Mythology’s guardian of gates and doorways. With two faces looking in opposite directions, Janus could see both forward and backward, and was protector in time of war.

So far in 2014, no state’s “first baby born” has been named Janus.

However, here are the names of “first babies born” in several states in America:

~ “Brooklyn” was the name of the first baby born in both Colorado and Maryland.  ~”Prantison” was the first baby born in Hawaii, ~ “Dior” in Connecticut, ~“Nash” in Iowa, ~“Layla Rose” in North Dakota, ~“Zane” in Texas, and ~ “Nathyn” in Oregon.   I wonder if the popular baby names in the UK will include one or more of the names of the baby of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge: George Alexander Louis.

In the coming week, one day offers you three “special day” choices.  Monday, January 13th, is “Make Your Dreams Come True Day,” so if you have special dreams and hopes, this is the day to take steps to make them come true. Monday is also the ever-popular “Blame Someone Else Day” (probably no explanation is necessary), and for the “doubting Thomas” cynics, January 13th is also “International Skeptics Day.”

When I visit my mom, I often read aloud the posts I’ve written for “her” blog, and also some of the comments. They don’t really register through her dementia, but she’ll smile and nod, or ask questions like, “Do we know them?”

This next FYI is one I’m very glad my mother doesn’t–and won’t ever–understand.

Last week a video went viral. A 2-year-old toddler in diapers walks around a tipped over chair (in a kitchen probably), learning to curse, cuss and repeat offensive words, phrases and gestures. As many as three adults off camera coach the little boy by saying the words and having him repeat them.  Omaha, Nebraska Child Protective Services placed the boy and three other children in protective custody, not for what the child was being taught, but for additional concerns they had when they went to the house.

As a devoted mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, teacher and CASA volunteer, my mom would have been heart sick to watch this video.

Writer T.F. Hodge said, “ What you do teaches faster, and has a lasting impression, far beyond what you say.”  For music lovers, read again the lyrics of “You Have To Be Carefully Taught” from SOUTH PACIFIC.

In 2014, and every year, we need to remember the message printed at the base of our vehicles’ exterior rear-view mirrors: “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.”   As we look forward to new years and fresh starts, we need to also remember that what we leave behind us–and the good or the bad it does–remains closer than we realize.

"Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear"

“Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”

 

Building a good gate is as important as building a good fence. Also, children imitate good things their taught...

Building a good gate is as important as building a good fence. Also, children imitate good things they’re taught…

 

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Filed under Different kinds of homes, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, making a difference, special quotations

THE BIRD THAT FEELS THE LIGHT

I painted this indoor Santa Fe birdhouse and added the bear, the eggs and the angel. It's my favorite. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

I painted this indoor Santa Fe birdhouse and added the bear, the eggs and the angel. It’s my favorite. (All photos by Marylin Warner)

I painted this birdhouse for Jim's mother, to match the colors in her house. Her address, plus !/2, for the bird address. My parents had a similar bird house in their colors.

I painted this birdhouse for Jim’s mother, to match the colors in her house. Her address, plus 1/2, for the bird address. My parents had a similar bird house in their colors.

Dear Mom,

You used to hang sturdy little bird houses in the trees around the yard and from the house eaves.  Outside your kitchen window, you kept a feeder stocked with bird seed.

I think it was your outdoor bird houses that later drew me to making decorative indoor bird houses. I knew the myths about birds flying into a house—an omen of bad luck or impending death—and I knew about ravens, not in football but in Poe’s “quoth the raven, never more.” But I also knew the church song, “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the sparrow, and He watches over me.”

The first bird house I painted for you and Dad was in the colors of your house, with brown shutters on the windows and plants on the steps. Across the front door I painted the numbers 1402 ½–your address plus one-half–an address for the birds.  When I moved you and Dad to Presbyterian Village, we left it hanging on your porch, under the eaves, with grass and yarn inside, a cozy home for the family of birds nested there.

As an English and literature teacher, I taught Langston Hughes’ lines: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

Victor Hugo wrote, “The soul has illusions as the bird has wings: it is supported by them.” And Anne Baxter wrote, “It’s best to have failure happen early in life. It wakes up the Phoenix bird in you so you rise from the ashes.”

Now, as you heal from your hip surgery, while you sleep most of the day in your bed or rest in your recliner, you seem to see and dream of other times, and you wait.

And Rabindranath Tagore wrote, “Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.”  I believe you have that kind of faith, Mom. His eye is on the sparrow, and whatever happens, you trust He watches you.

Now THIS bird house would be a bad omen for birds!

Now THIS bird house would be a bad omen for birds!

Enough room for family and friends.

Enough room for family and friends.

Every writer needs a Post Office bird house.

Every writer needs a Post Office bird house.

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Filed under art, art projects, autumn lessons, Dementia/Alzheimer's, Different kinds of homes, lessons about life, Lessons from birds, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations, Spiritual connections

HOME IS…

Cliff Dwellings, Canyonlands, Utah (all pictures by Jim and Marylin Warner)

Cliff Dwellings, Canyonlands, Utah (this picture by Jim Warner; all others by Marylin Warner)

Two-family birdhouse built on pergola.  Colorado Springs, CO

Two-family birdhouse built on pergola. Colorado Springs, CO

Dear Mom,

I was in either fifth or sixth grade when the teacher gave each of us a topic, a word that could have more than one meaning or interpretation. We were to look up the dictionary definition, and then we were to ask at least three people what the word meant to them. I was given the word HOME.

We were supposed to get a variety of answers. I remember asking a younger kid what HOME was to him, and he gave this very basic answer: It’s where they let you have a puppy even when your sister has a cat.  I remember wondering how I could make that work at our house.  I really wanted a kitten, but my brother David was allergic to cats, so I couldn’t have one…Hmm. How did that fit with a definition of HOME?

Dad had a definite philosophy about the importance of homes and hometowns: No matter where people live or how rich or poor they are, there’s something about their home or their town that they’re proud of. The secret to connecting with people is to find out what that something is, encourage them to talk about it…and really listen to what they say.

I remember trying to write that as one of my answers for the assignment, but it wasn’t until I was much older that I understood how important and on-target it really was.

I don’t remember what other answers I got for my assignment, Mom.  I do remember, though, one of the children’s poems you wrote. Of all your poetry, “HOMES” was—and still is—one of my favorites.

________________________________________________

“HOMES” ~ by Mary Elizabeth Shepherd

The milk cow sleeps in the barn;

A house is a home for folks.

The little birds sleep in a nest in a tree,

In the pond the bull-frog croaks.

The milk cow wouldn’t like my bed;

And I couldn’t sleep in a nest.

The bull-frog doesn’t like the barn.

Each one thinks his home is the best.

________________________________________________

You and Dad were actually giving me very similar answers about the importance of HOME.  I thank you both for the answers you provided in my life, and for the home you made for our family.

(P.S. Mom, you were right about the cat thing. You said that when I grew up and had my own home, I could have as many cats as I wanted. Our daughter Molly’s first cat was Abbra. And after Abbra it was Solomon and Calla Lilly. Now, in her own home, Molly’s children have Munchkin.  No cat allergies for us!)

Resting place for "Baby" in Abilene KS cemetery

Resting place, home for “Baby” in Abilene KS cemetery

Old Town log house, Abilene, KS

Old Town log house, Abilene, KS

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Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, Different kinds of homes, lessons about life, memories for great-grandchildren, Things to be thankful for