April A to Z Challenge: Glancing out the Window

Welcome to the April A to Z Blogging Challenge! This year my contribution is the story of my great grandmother Alzina. She lived in the style of “Little House on the Prairie”and kept a record of her life through letters to family and her own journals. I find her story fascinating and intriguing. Each post will start (sometimes strangely) with a consecutive letter of the alphabet, just because they have to. My hope is that we can “catch” some of her courage to help us face challenges in our present times.

The Mad Dog Story, Part 4`

By Sarah (Sadie) Pomeroy Postlewait

There were no rabies vaccines in those days so when a rabid animal showed up in the area, the after shocks went on for a long time affecting farm animals and pets – and scaring children.

Around 1889

Glancing out the window of the schoolhouse, one day the next spring, I saw our neighbor’s dog out by the hedge fence. The teacher had already dismissed the two lower grades and let them start walking for home. Just then I remembered hearing my parents talking at the supper table the evening before. They said Merdicks had tied their dog up because it was acting strangely. They thought a lot of that dog.

When I saw Merdick’s dog out there I wondered if he was all right and had been turned loose, or had he broken loose and was he a dangerous dog! The dog went up the road and I was almost frantic for I knew my little brother Wilbur, had not had time to get home. I held up my hand to attract the teacher’s attention but for some reason she paid no attention to my hand. I felt almost desperate for I could think of only the worst. My feelings were a bit calmed as I saw a man in a wagon driving past the school house, going in that same direction. I hoped he would overtake the children if there was really any danger.

As soon as school was out, I hurriedly gathered up my books and dinner pail and started for home. I had told some of the others about the dog. When we got into the road we could see that the man in the wagon was driving very slowly and was crowding over near the fence. Then before he had gone very far, the man drove on, going very fast.

As we neared our home we saw my mother and Mrs. Merdick motioning us to come quickly. We all came running. They told us the dog had been having a fit and broken loose so Mrs. Merdick had followed at a distance to give warning to anyone she might meet. The man in the wagon told them he had seen the dog at the edge of the road in a real fit and had to drive near the fence to get around it. He said the dog jumped up and went through the fence on the other side of the road.

I asked about Wilbur and Mother said he got home ahead of that wagon. They had sent the children into the house. I went in with tears of joy. I clasped Wilbur in my arms and told him how frightened I had been. He said, “I guess Jesus was just taking care of me.”

Of course kind neighbors were ready to assist in taking care of the mad dog since the Merdick men folks were away from home.

And where was Alzina when all this was happening? Wilbur in this story was born in 1884 so by the time he was old enough to be in school, probably age 5 or 6, Alzie would have been 18 or 19 and was most likely at her teaching job in a neighboring school. We’ll be getting back to her in the next post.

Real Conversations, Real People

December continues with the dual (and totally compatible) goals of writing and walking, although not at the same time.

The weekend is always refreshing because I have the opportunity to interact with the world and reassure myself that there are still real people out there. Breaking news! We are not just talking heads on computer screens, figments of our imaginations and the internet. I was able to identify several people by their eyes and hair (or no hair, whatever…). Today I had three or four socially distanced, but meaningful, conversations with friends. Today, I went to “in-person” church.

Yep, hair and eyes, people.  That’s all we’ve got. Frightening.

The husband also looks forward to going. We’ve been talking this week about the value of face to face, eye to eye, contact and how good it is for the brain to be stimulated that way. Evidently, imaging studies have shown heightened brain activity with this kind of contact. I think we knew it was important for babies to have eye contact with their caretakers for bonding purposes, but this goes farther.

Supposedly, the only other animals, other than humans, that show this response is dogs. The person I heard this from was very apologetic to cat owners, but perhaps they need to do more studies. My cat looks me right in the eye and I know she’s thinking. I am also trying to think what she might be thinking, which means we both have heightened brain activity. I really like dogs too and am in awe of the uncanny knowledge they have of their owners. Dogs have the eye thing down, perfectly, I might say.

My cat wants to bond with me every time I sit down, but her whiskers tickle too much.

So we went to church and were reminded that this is a natural time of the year to be nurturing our sense of hope. Not just hope that pandemics end, but hopes that there is a real God and that he came once, and he has plans to come again and make all bad things good.

Following that I spent another afternoon packing boxes and bags, helping my friends who are selling their northern house. And then, of course, the 10,000 steps on the treadmill, while listening to two hour-long podcasts. I’m listening to writers, authors and editors talk about various aspects of writing. Even online, this kind of connecting gives me ideas (and makes the time on the torture machine go much faster). Maybe you’ve noticed on the sidebar of this blog that I’m a Hope*Writer. It’s a valuable group for all kinds of hopefilled reasons.

Last but not least in any way, my accountability pic of the day!

Dog Therapy

Five days to go, then the adventure starts. I’m worried.

It’s another rest day, with only about 4,000 steps. My legs are feeling tired very quickly and there’s a hint of shin splints. I’m worried that this will continue, or that I’ll do something unwise like switch my shoes out, or forget something important, or get sick.

For some reason this is also the week when we have meetings with a lawyer to get our wills settled (a two hour trip to the city), and the week when paperwork for our house sale closing is being mailed back and forth, a physical exam for a new life insurance policy, and the week when youngest daughter is flying here to be with her dad while I’m gone. There is a lot going on. A lot to get ready for.

Yes, right around that ear, and don’t stop.

That is why I took time yesterday to run away to the empty sun porch over at my brother’s house. It was a time to just sit, do some journaling and thinking. It was a time for “dog therapy”. Scruffy came and sat on my lap.

Scruffy and I have gradually gotten used to each other over the last few months. I sometimes take him for a walk, and I’m usually along when his mom and dad take him for a walk. I always pet him and try to make him feel special. He didn’t always come up and want to sit on my lap, but we seem to have bonded now.  I pet him, and since he can’t really pet me back (but I think he would if he could) he licks my hand. I think that’s dog language for “pet me more”.

Scruffy and I have things in common. For one, we have hair the same color. We both love to go for walks and are easily distracted when we are outside. We’re both a bit aged. I could think of more, but that will do. All this to say that when we sit somewhere together and just chill, it is relaxing, for both of us, but especially for me. I think I worry about more things than Scruffy does. Dog therapy is quite effective since I take my cues from him and don’t worry about anything except whether my lap is comfortable for him to lay on. He is most definitely a lap dog.

Cricket, Ellie? Hope you’re having a good dog day!

Scruffy says hi to Cricket and Ellie and wants them to know he enjoys their astute comments. Dogs really have it together. Just sayin’…

Making Sense of Life

Sometimes it is just too hard to figure out what is happening in life.  It is hard to think of something to write, something that is a finished thought, when you get nowhere with thinking.  I have been on a very simple track of just doing what seems necessary and not a lot of questioning for weeks now.  And I still don’t feel anything worthwhile on the verge of appearing.  What I do know is that even in times like this, especially in times like this, a cute dog or cat is still undeniably cute.  That is why dog and cat videos abound in cyberspace.  We run to their cuteness like we run to comfort food.  Even better is having your own cute dog or cat in your house.

I have been thinking a lot about cute dogs since I am with two of them.  They belong to my daughter but they’ll settle for me when she’s not around.  How can a dog appear so content just lying in one place or another, most of the day, waiting for it’s person to move so it can follow? How can that be enough?

Appearances deceive… this is not a headless dog.

As I said, any person, even myself, can be adopted by a dog if they can be closely associated with food and petting. I have been here only a week and already this dog knows my patterns of sleeping, waking and taking walks, all of which he accompanies.  His name is Charlie and he “dogs” me all day except when my daughter takes him for a walk without me.  I get to observe a lot of his cuteness.

On a walk. He's trying to read my mind (and I his).
On a walk. He’s trying to read my mind (and I his).

Charlie looked like this when I first came.  He seemed to have a lot of fluffy hair. That changed when I got to take him for a session at the doggie spa.  He had “the works” and although he probably didn’t lose much weight, he looks a lot thinner now.  He was so hyped up when I came to get him, I could hardly make him sit still for a picture.  All the grooming girls said he was very cute – they noticed, and how could they not?

Thinner looking but still cute after his buzz cut.
Thinner looking but still cute after his buzz cut.

Like most dogs,he likes taking walks.  The first one we took together was a little ambitious for us both.  There was a lot of hill climbing and I had to lift him over some fallen trees.  But perhaps it bonded us that I was able to get us back home in one piece. He slept very well that night and so did I.  Over the 4th of July there were fireworks being set off all over the neighborhood.  Dogs, as a rule, do not like these loud noises but Charlie didn’t pay much attention to them.  I think he may have had a little anti-anxiety medicine to help him, still he went to bed and didn’t whine or be restless, and I would have expected some of that. His night cuteness is that he curls up in his bed on the floor and sleeps pretty much until I get up. He’s there a lot during the day too, just being cute.

Busy being cute...
Busy being cute…

And being cute some more....
And being cute some more….

Being cute in t he house,
Being cute in the house,

And being cute outside with the other family dog (he just can't help it)
And being cute outside with the other family dog (he just can’t help it)

I’m just sayin’ that this reliable cuteness seems like a gift from God when the rest of life is not making a lot of sense and is not being very reliable. I’m thankful for Charlie (and for cat videos – I watch them all).

A to Z Family Stories: F for Fred and Friend

They just showed up one day and started hanging around our back porch for the shelter, I guess.  Fred and Skippy, two dogs probably out having fun, but of course we thought they were homeless, starving, needing love. So we named the big, fuzzy brown one Fred and the short legged black and tan one Skippy, and adopted them as our new farm dogs.  My brothers were always happy to have a dog or two around to play with and this curious looking pair was friendly and seemed to have adopted the boys too.  Then Fred had puppies.

Obviously, the naming came before anyone cared what gender they were, and looking at them it was much easier to imagine the big one being the boy and the little one being the girl. But, no. We don’t talk about Fred very much past this point and I think it’s because he she ran out on us – too much family responsibility I’m guessing.  My brothers decided to raise two of the puppies, again picking noble doggie names for them – Steve and Andy.

Everyone’s memory is kind of fuzzy about what became of Steve and Andy as well.  One of the problems with farm dogs was that they often craved the excitement of chasing cars. That was a problem with this rambunctious pair and likely the cause of their demise. Which brings me back to Skippy, the one we remember most fondly.

It became apparent that Skippy had at one point been someone’s house dog.  He was very comfortable coming in and generally well behaved.  Even mom liked him.  He was always willing to eat leftovers that no one else wanted and that was his main diet.  No one ever thought of buying food specifically for the dog, not on the farm.  There were always other “things” for them to eat.  And here comes the part of the story that we always laugh at when talking about Skippy.

When we milked cows, the milk was poured into a funnel like strainer with a heavy paper filter at the bottom, and into large metal cans.  Washing up the equipment, we always took the filter out and tossed it – into Skippy’s mouth.  He loved the wet, milky circles and pretty much swallowed them whole.  Evidence of this would come in the spring as the snow melted and exposed the little white piles all over the lawn.  They were composed of milk filter material and tin foil, swallowed with his leftovers.

Skippy was an adventurer though.  He considered us his home but the world was his playground and he would be seen at neighboring farms and sometimes out in the woods. He often came back with wounds and bite marks, looking as if he had been fighting with other dogs.  For a small dog, he had an amazing amount of hormonal motivation leading him to wanderlust.  He may have just disappeared, like he came.  No one remembers exactly.  We’ll just say that maybe he and Fred found each other again and lived happily ever after…