The five service pups I've raised...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

And the Director yelled, "Action!"

High School graduation. A milestone. It's that time of year - proms, grad nights, graduations.
Today I went to Brian's HS graduation party.

Now I don't know this young man super well however I know him enough to know I like him immensely. Brian has wonderful parents, fun, down to earth, good folks. He is close with his younger brother, Danny; he is polite and takes the time to acknowledge and greet you with a smile. I know this family from my neighborhood dog park - they have wonderful goldens, "Brody and Emma".

Brian was ecstatic to be accepted into LMU (Loyola Marymount University)'s Film Production program. He is creative by nature and we were all treated to a neat film short he did as a school project this year in his multi-media class. I was impressed by the editing and background music; it seemed so polished for a student film.
Brian's dog park friends all went in together to get him a giftcard to the local mall and Linda made him a superb custom card to hold it. I used a photo that was in his graduation announcement, to "manually" photoshop it into him accepting an Oscar award. Here are some photos from today's party. A fun gathering for all.

Here's Brian's graduation announcement.

And I used this photo here below

to this, the finished product:

Here's Brian opening one of his other cards (many were dog cards)

Brian's proud Mom, Pam (a great photographer in her own right)

Brian (center) with Alec one of his stars/friend on far left, star/brother Danny; friend Lisa, Mom Pam and dog park friend Linda who made the card we all signed.

Ah to be young again with the adventure ahead of campus, college classes, new friends, independence - living away from home for the first time...

We all joked that we want to be in Brian's future films and for him to remember us when he's famous!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sissy's Song by Alan Jackson

Lately I keep coming across this newly released single on country radio stations by Alan Jackson. And every time, it stops me in my tracks. Now in my book, Alan is one of the best all time lyricists. One has only to listen to the words of "Where Were You?" about Sept. 11, 2001 and it's undeniable that this man can pen a song to touch anyone's heart.

Well "Sissy's Song" touches mine. It feels as though each time I hear it, Alan is singing specifically about my big sister Lorrie who was taken too young at age 40 from breast cancer in 2000. And this song so captures the pain, the anger, the wondering "why?" You can hear it here.

Here I am with my big sis, Lorrie in 1963

Sissy's Sony
words and music by Alan Jackson
Why did she have to go
So young I just don't know why
Things happen half the time
Without reason without rhyme
Lovely, sweet young woman
Daughter, wife and mother
Makes no sense to me
I just have to believe

She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying
Don't worry 'bout me

Loved ones she left behind
Just trying to survive
And understand the why
Feeling so lost inside
Anger shot straight at God
Then asking for His love
Empty with disbelief
Just hoping that maybe

She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with Jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying
Don't worry 'bout me

It's hard to say goodbye
Her picture in my mind
They'll always be of times I'll cherish
And I won't cry 'cause
She flew up to Heaven on the wings of angels
By the clouds and stars and passed where no one sees
And she walks with jesus and her loved ones waiting
And I know she's smiling saying

Don't worry 'bout me

Don't worry 'bout me

Don't worry 'bout me

Judging from YouTube, this song struck a chord with many, as I found quite a few tributes there to loved ones lost.
Here's to you Lorrie; I miss you every single day.
Until we meet again.

Sage Advice from Regina

Today I'll post the advice from 90 year old Regina Brett, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

She says: "To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August 2008, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ''In five years, will this matter?"
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come. 43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pixar gets Supersized

I saw a link recently on the silly upcoming Pixar animated film "Up!" in which the old man's home is suspended by tons of balloons and an unwelcome boyscout comes along for the ride.
I'm sure you've seen the trailer, they've been showing it in theaters since December!
Here's the link:

Well, I love the voice of the dog and this is what this link above, primarily highlights. And the movie actually looks pretty cute as are most of Pixar's efforts. What struck me about this flick though is how unfortunate to have the featured child "star" fat.

Not only is the animated Dug, the golden retriever fat in this cartoon, but the little boy, Russel is also obese. What a commentary this is, that a cartoon child/hero is illustrated to mimic (woefully) so many obese children in America.

I wonder, was this intentional? So that more kids could identify with the hero in this film? Now I'm not suggesting to boycott the film; I just found it a sad reflection on today's overweight youth. Maybe it's marketing...a fat golden retriever is easier to identify and turn into a Disney plush toy to sell, after all.
But still . . .
I read recently an article in a magazine about advocate MeMe Roth who is singularly building a movement (NAAO) to work toward ending obesity. I wonder what she will have to say about this new film.
About NAAO:
Through education, legislation, and most importantly -- parental action -- National Action Against Obesity works independently and as a consultancy to reverse the obesity epidemic by eliminating 'fake foods' from the food supply, barring junk food from schools and eradicating 2nd-Hand Obesity, while encouraging exercise across all ages. MeMe Roth, president and founder of NAAO, is host and organizer of the Wedding Gown Challenge, where women enter into marriage at a healthy weight and maintain it for a lifetime. Ms. Roth has been featured on FOXNews' The O'Reilly Factor w/ Bill O'Reilly, Your World with Neil Cavuto, CBS's The Early Show, The New York Times, The LA Times, New York Magazine, The New York Post, The Associated Press and Health Magazine among others. Ms. Roth's agenda: "Let's finally recognize obesity as abuse -- abuse of our children, abuse of ourselves -- and together take action against it."
Food for thought. (Pun intended)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I love COLOR!

...back in March my mom gave me some lovely bright yellow snap dragons and I took them home from AZ "smuggling" them across the state line into California like a fugitive. I hoped the agriculture inspectors were too busy admiring my yellow lab's head out the window and my dazzling smile to ask "are you bringing any plants, fruit or vegetables into the state?" It worked and I planted them in a pot outside my front door when I returned home.

Well they have filled in nicely just as my purple flowers were also re blooming from last year. And then my wonderful lush red Mediterranean rose bush bloomed and wa-la!
I have color! ! ! I just love this combo. Take a look here:

Thanks Mom!

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I attended a friend's celebration dinner at the Beach House in Cardiff by the Sea tonight; she graduated today from Cal State San Marcos with a degree in Accounting. Now, she started taking college classes when her daughter was 13. Her lovely daughter is now a college student herself. Yet perseverence is a quality she knows first hand. Many a time she had to turn down social plans since she had to study. And today it paid off as she received her Bachelors degree with honors! Josh Billings said, "Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there." And from Henry Ward Beecher, "The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't." Well I believe my friend has this very spirit deep inside her. I admire those who work full time, and go to college too. My little sister did this, as did my father, while married with tiny children to provide for. It takes a resourceful person to set their mind to a goal and achieve it.

Tenaciousness. What a great quality. Staying with something until you see it through. Now I'm sure my friend was derailed a time or two, but for as long as I have known her, she has been "in school". When she puts her mind to something, she keeps at it until she has her success. Such fun this celebration; where her husband gathered her closest friends who always supported her, to treat us to a night out beach side, for a scrumptious dinner and wine.

For the toast to his wife of 5 years, her husband said "many people say they are going to do something and then never do it; I have learned when my wife says she wants something, not to doubt her." Her next goal, studying and sitting for her CPA exams which need to be completed within 18 months...I have no doubt she will diligently work toward this goal as well.

Speaking of was May's graduation for Canine Companions for Independence. And 5 teams graduated in Oceanside.
Jim turned-in his boy, 3rd puppy Napal for Advanced Training. Friend Nancy turned-in her first pup Columba...many tears as these fur kids leave their puppy raiser families of 14-16 months, to go on to doggie college for their advanced training in preparation for their potential life as a service dog.

I took little Miss Francie. She was a squirmy muffin and seemed to think every applause was her fans. Finally she settled in, teething on a bone from my "bag of tricks".
In this photo Francie is in her training CCI cape and big boy Napal is wearing his matriculation blue cape and yellow halti (CCI colors). She seems to be saying, someday this will be me. (yes it will little August 2010 - that's her matriculation date).

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Best Made Plans

So no matter how much you plan, sometimes things just don't go your way. Tonight's Bunco replacement was to be a water aerobics class at the Plunge in Mission Beach.
So as the 10 of us showed up carrying our towels and beach bags, poor LeAnn had just been told by the front desk that the pool was being closed due to an accident. Ah, disappointment!

Well OK, plan B. We headed downstairs and had a fantastic mini session with Julie the Physical Therapist and would-be water aerobics instructor. She instructed us on floor mat work for strengthening our core...that's right sucking in those abdominal muscles and tightening up our bellies as we learned the truly correct way to do a sit up. Wow! What a difference; doing these exercises while isolating our lonely smaller muscles that rarely get used, since we too often lazily let our large muscle groups take over.

Picture us all laying on the floor passing a large yoga ball from our legs to our hands, passing it back over our heads and then back to our legs; all the time keeping our legs elevated.
You're going to feel that trust me! Julie showed us several great moves for our cores and most importantly the proper form to execute them.
After my pilates class this morning, I'm wondering if I will be able to walk at all tomorrow when I get up!?

Afterward, leaving with our neat toning bands Julie made for us to take and use at home, we departed to do what Bunco Babes do best- drink and talk....except when we got there the WaveHouse Restaurant was taking last call early; really early like 7:30. I guess it's more of a summer place and since school is not yet out, they were dead and thus closing early. Closing?! OK so plan C.

We ended up on the top level of the Sandbar grill right across from Belmont Park roller coaster. But wa-la! it was $3 draught night AND buy a burger get one free - so A I G, baby (it's all good).

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Parents

OK I admit it, Linda and I are as shameless as any new parents with their newborn. We are having a ball with little Francie, as she is just so precious.

I'm posting today videos of Francie with the hiccups and one of me teaching her to sit, while we were at the greenbelt this week.
Also I'll add the footage of Ronie and Francie playing tug when Lyn came over for dinner and watching Dancing with the Stars on Tuesday.

And lastly, here are the still photos of Francie's first bath last Sunday - in the kitchen sink no less. A bit tricky taking a photo with a wet, moving puppy that just wants to climb out! She was pretty good but kept lapping at the bath water.
We've had her for 2 weeks yesterday and my how she has grown. She is eating about 5 pounds of puppy chow a week and I need to weigh her, but I bet she has gone from 9 pounds to about 16. Be sure to watch until the end of the hiccup video, as she does her signature trademark, and crossed her paws. (do I hear an "ahhhhh"?) Yes, I believe I do.

Above, Francie has the hiccups - so funny. Listen closely!

Francie learning to sit:

...and here are Ronie and Francie's tugging contest with a pair of rolled up socks that come apart

"Anne of Green Gables"

Dad, Linda and I went to the debut opening of my church's play, "Anne of Green Gables". I never read the book but Linda said she adored the series as a young girl and they were every bit as popular then as the Harry Potter books are today. Imagine.
I enjoyed the innocence of the story of a young, precocious orphan, desperate for a home and family of her own.

I worked with the play's producer to create the stage set and did painting and props. So it was fun to see the finished product tonight since much of the play took place in the parlour of an 1800 century farm house in Prince Edward Island. Here is the stage set:

It was a nice Friday evening. The performers did well and the production was a success. Having myself been in the Christmas production at church and a nervous wreck trying to commit my lines to memory for a 5 minute piece, I marvel at the actors that can remember their lines for a 90 minute show. Bravo!

Almost Over April

As April winds to a close and May is on the doorstep, in no time it will be Memorial Day Weekend and the official kick-off of Summer 2009. Really? So soon?

Why is it that the older we get, the faster time seems to fly? Someone once told me it was due to perspective...that is, as a young person for example a summer seems to last forever becasue you hadn't really been alive all that long. But the more we age the more we realize that a summer will flash by us before we can grasp that the vacation we'd waited so long for, has come and gone -just like that!

Mom phoned me today and we had a nice chat. She said it's storming in the midwest and Ohio expects rain for the next four days. Ugh, I remember those spring storms . When everything gets so soggy you just want the sun to come out. One thing I regularly give thanks for is the weather here in lovely Encinitas, CA. We are so truly blessed and I seldom take it for granted. For instance this Sunday is the nation's largest street fair in Carlsbad. They have it twice a year - in May and November and in something like 35 years it's only ever been rained on twice (I hear.) This is the link.

I won't be able to make it as I will instead be taking wee Francie to the puppy pool party and play date with her other service puppy friends.
But just think of all the money I will save by not attending....ha!