Category Archives: eye on the main ball

A Dog’s Tale

A Dog's Tail (DLG)

A Dog’s Tail (DLG)

Fleeing the heat and power outage in Washington DC, we threw our belongings into the car, and headed north to our lake-side cottage in the New Jersey Highlands. Although we arrived late at night, I knew my whereabouts, so familiar were the smells of the forest and the croaking of the frogs. All night long I paced from window to window, anticipating what the morning would bring.

At long last, the sun peeked over Sparta Mountain, slowly encroaching on the dark. I watched as it mounted higher and higher in the sky, casting a delicate glow across the lake. This was my cue. Out the door I raced to meet up with my friends Atticus and Lucy, who live next door, on the far side of the cove in the house on the hill.

But, whoa, what should I encounter there instead–a junior black bear meandering down to the water’s edge in search of a cool drink. Although I am part Plott Hound, bred to hunt bear and wild boar, I grasped the opportunity to retreat upon hearing my Mistress’s entreating call. The bear appeared to welcome the intervention as well, as he sauntered, as if he had no cares in the world, back the way he had come.

Sauntering Bears (courtesy of Wally Wentink)

Sauntering Bears (courtesy of Wally Wentink)

With safe passage assured, I scooted up the hill, there to be greeted by my friends, Atticus and Lucy. Atticus is a handsome dude, with enough character and charm to land him a spot in a Walt Disney movie. Lucy is much more reticent, but her urge to play overcomes her shyness. Rescued from the same part of North Carolina that I was, she is my look-a-like from head to toe.

my look-a-like Lucy (DLG)

my look-a-like Lucy (DLG)

That’s just the beginning of my day.

Atticus a Cool Dude

Atticus a Cool Dude

Life, here, is so full, it seems that the days of summer are flying by. Just imagine my routine.After breakfast, I accompany my Master and Mistress on their daily walk to the end of the road, where I encounter my other friend, the English Retriever Martha (Mudwallow)–so named because she loves to wallow in the mud.

martha and me (DLG)

martha and me (DLG)

Eager to play, Martha brings me a stick, which we snatch from one another as we race together down the road. Then, back home, we play a game of peek-a-boo, each of us trying to surprise the other as we sneak around and around the car. Then, to cool off, we dive into the lake, where we swim and nose around in the shallows.

Blossom's water games

Blossom’s water games

Later in the day I might romp again with Atticus and Lucy, as they take off into the woods in hot pursuit of the local critters of which there are a number– few–bears, coyotes, deer, chipmunk, otter, ground hogs, and a stray cat or two. When the dogs aren’t around, I play with the children. who are most accommodating. Sometimes we pretend we are pirates aboard a ship (a large fallen tree) lodged in the cove. Other times, I swim along as they paddle out to the island, where they play other delightful fantasy games.

Tired Dog (DLG)

Tired Dog (DLG)

By evening time, I am all tuckered out. As a finale, I enjoy the snacks during cocktail hour, and try to make out the grownup conversations, but then, as the the witching hour arrives, and the sky turns pink, I can do no more. As I succumb to the call of the katydids and the trumpeting of the frogs. I close my eyes and happily remind myself that I live the life of a dog.

And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None (moviesinbw.blogspot.com)

And Then There Were None (moviesinbw.blogspot.com)

Seven years my senior, my sister Judy was a role model for me. I loved just hanging around her. When she took up French, I tried to learn too. Her library books became my reading list. And when she starred in high school plays, I was her ardent fan, learning lines as she practiced them.

Most memorable of these was Agatha Cristy‘s play, And Then There Were None. (Known at the time by its politically incorrect title, Ten Little Indians.) Today, as I follow the Republican primaries, I am reminded of this marvelous mystery. For each day’s news events are every bit as suspenseful, dramatic, and unpredictable as those in Christy’s 1939 ‘who done it.’

The play’s plot centers around the mysterious deaths of 10 unrelated people who find themselves alone together on Soldier Island from which there is no escape. One by one, each is murdered, presumably at the hand of one among them, and in a sequence that mirrors the poem Ten Little Soldier Boys.

ten_little_indians_1965 (movie poster/ sharetv.org)

ten_little_indians_1965 (movie poster/ sharetv.org)

The tension mounts as each suspects the murderer to be among the others. The mystery remains unsolved as the last two visitors to the island suffer the same fate–and then there were none.

This puzzling chain of events is finally unravelled in an epilogue, thanks to the inspector who arrives on the island and pieces the clues together. It is not for me to spoil the story by recounting the elaborate explanation; as in any mystery, readers’ enjoyment comes from sorting it out for themselves. But I will take the opportunity of recalling Agatha Christy’s play to apply the Soldier Boy poem as a means of extrapolating about the totally unprecedented sequence of events and surreal atmosphere associated with the Republican Primary.

Ten Republican Candidates Seeking the Presidency.

republican debate

republican debate

Ten Republic candidates standing in a line. Palin can’t commit, and then there were nine.

Nine presidential candidates starting at the gate. Perry forgets his script, and then there were eight.

Eight presidential candidates called upon by Heaven. Pawlenty is uninspiring, and so there were seven.

Seven presidential candidates performing all their tricks, Bachman failed her civics lesson, then there were six.

Six presidential candidates trying to stay alive, Huntsman was so principled the number dropped to five.

Five presidential candidates seeking an encore, Paul couldn’t get on stage and so there were four.

Four presidential candidates making policy, Cain’s diversionary tactics puts the number at three.

Three presidential candidates set on wooing you, Santorum doesn’t stand out, oops its now just two.

Mitt and Newt battle it out, just as in the play, when they are eliminated, Obama will have his day!

Introducing Blossom

blossom

blossom

We have a new dog! Her name is Blossom. She is as beautiful as a flower, but looks can deceive. It didn’t take long for us to deduce that Blossom is a Hound in Lab’s clothing, perhaps even a Plott–the so called ninja fighter of the dog world. I got my first inkling, when I noticed that the growth of her head was not keeping pace with the fluid folds draping around her neck. Each day, new evidence pointed to the same conclusion. How does that song go: You ain’t nothing but a hound dog, crying all the time.

Not that hounds aren’t wonderful dogs. Like Labs, they are extremely smart, and make loving pets. They are known for their high energy, playfulness, and affectionate natures. Understandably, they are recommended for active, young adults, especially those who live in rural areas. The problem–or should I say challenge–is that they are strong willed and thus difficult to socialize, taking up to two years in some cases. And we have only just begun!.

They are strong willed and difficult to socialize. And we have only just begun!

Born in a shelter, Blossom was rescued and “hand” raised by my daughter-in-law Haley, who brought her to live with us when Blossom was eight weeks old. To prepare for the event, we purchased a number of puppy books, especially those by dog wisperer, Cesar Milan. His approach reminds me of Blumer‘s symbolic interactionism. According to Cesar, dog training is all about appropriate two-way communications. Owners need to understand the dog’s frame of reference, and communicate their expectations based on the dog’s interpretation of its world. At the same time, dogs need to correctly assess their owner’s needs based on the cues they observe. Alas, in the case of Blossom, I think the cards are stacked against me; for she understands me, and can manipulate me, far better than I understand and manipulate her. Thus, for example, when bored, and craving attention, all she needs to do is to scout out my prize possessions and with a self-satisfied swagger parade them directly in front of me. Even as she provokes, she is adorable.

Blossom: The Easy Life

Blossom: The Easy Life

Picking up the stray pieces of my surroundings, I reassure myself, saying that, determined as Blossom is to have her own way, time is on my side. With each interaction, we are constructing and expanding our mutual understanding and, with it, a space where we can share a rich and rewarding future together. I remind myself, two years isn’t so long. Already, its three steps forward, and only one back. Tomorrow it will be four.

Gone Fishing

Tom Sawyer (courtesy of kidsblogs.nationalgeographic.com)

Tom Sawyer (courtesy of kidsblogs.nationalgeographic.com)

My blog has been so dormant over the summer, one might wonder where I have been. To borrow a term from Tom Sawyer, I would simply say that, this summer, “I went fishing.”

The place was our family’s summer cottage on Hawthorne Lake, a community in the New Jersey Highlands established by my great grandfather, H.P Dillistin, together with his friends and relatives. Dating back, in fact, to Mark Twain’s days, it shares much in common with St. Petersburg, Mississippi, the town along the river where Tom Sawyer had his adventures.

Grandaddy Dillistin

Grandaddy Dillistin

Like the people in St. Petersburg, Mississippi, we have lived together in close proximity for over five generations, experiencing good and bad times, intermarrying, sharing common lore, befriending and sometimes feuding with one another, as in one big, extended family.

My own recollections of Hawthorne Lake are very vivid, dating back to the Second World War, when we spent the summers together with the wives and children of my parents’ male friends who were off at the front. So sparsely populated was the Lake at the time, we shared the waterfront with deer, beavers, muskrats and otters. And we children were much like Tom Sawyer and his friends, preoccupied with the adventures of exploring, frog hunting, cooking mud pies, turtle trapping, and looking for hidden treasures, totally oblivious to the raging events around us.

As in Tom’s case, one special past time was fishing; for the lake is home to many good fish–bass, pickerel, perch, and the sunnies that nip at you as you dip your toes in the water. As a young girl, I often accompanied my father fishing, rowing the boat as he wound reel and cast his line. It was a way of sharing with him, drawing him out, and perhaps getting hints about what was really going on in the world beyond the Lake. But my father was reserved with his children, and said little, as he waited for the fish to bite. I sat there patiently, watching the ripples wrap around the oars of the boat. But–not liking to eat fish, much less to skin them–I secretly hoped the fish would not take the bait.

No wonder I have come to believe that fishing is not so much about catching fish, as it is about capturing our thoughts and our daydreams as they float on by. So this summer, even though I was not sitting on the river banks, as Tom was inclined to do, I was fishing for ideas as I sat with my husband, in our wicker chairs, on our screened in porch, observing the world around me. Energized by LIFE, I am–as we used to say–now ready to roll.

My Husband, The River Hero

Brock Evans-River Hero

Brock Evans-River Hero

TOM’S OF MAINE AND RIVER NETWORK ANNOUNCE 2010 RIVER HEROES AWARDS
KENNEBUNK, MAINE – (June 11, 2010) – Protecting and restoring rivers and other waters is vital to the health of our country and communities. At River Network’s recent annual National River Rally conference, a pioneering group of clean water heroes came together to collaborate on innovative new ways to protect the nation’s water. In addition, this year’s River Heroes Awards ceremony, sponsored by Tom’s of Maine, celebrated six remarkable water protectors and the victories of their campaigns.

Included among this year’s River Heroes is Brock Evans, president of Endangered Species Coalition, Washington, D.C.

For more than forty years, Brock Evans, a former Marine, lawyer, former director of the Sierra Club’s Washington office and National Audubon Society’s Vice-President for National Issue, has worked tirelessly to protect and lobby for the environment. Brock’s efforts have helped gain wilderness protection for the Pacific Northwest’s North Cascade Region, defeat the damming of Hell’s Canyon, and found the Green Wave Movement for environmental justice. He currently serves as the President of the Endangered Species Coalition, an association of 450 environmental, scientific, and religious groups dedicated to protecting and strengthening the Endangered Species Act.

“It’s a tremendous honor. I spent 45 years working in environmental organizations and the River Network is one of the most vibrant, exciting groups,” said Brock Evans, honoree of the James R. Compton Lifetime Achievement Award and president of the Endangered Species Coalition. “To receive an award from a group who is doing so much themselves, is humbling. Each one of them is a hero.”