Who Am I?

Sunrise over Surprise AZ

When I look up, O Lord,

at Your macro-skies,

dark and enormous…

Then at my micro-self…

I wonder, “Why do You bother with me?

Why even give me a second look?”

“Because, I have always loved you

with an Everlasting love,” He replied.


Tribute To A Twelve Year-old Friend and Companion R.I.P. Jolie Jan.1, 2003 – Sept. 9, 2017


My favorite photo is of Jolie trying to hide from me behind a log.

Jolie began her life with us when she was barely 5 weeks old. We were informed of her existence when one of the bus drivers for Evelyn’s Special Needs Preschool classroom came into the room one Friday, to tell her about this batch of puppies that were being given away at one of her stops. She had already selected one, just to rescue it from the filth.
It seems that there were more than a dozen puppies living in an outside pen about six feet in diameter with a too-small igloo-type doghouse. It had been raining for for several days, as is typical in Southwest Washington. She wanted to know if we were interested in getting one. In order to keep the babies up out of the mud and feces, the owners had been sprinkling straw in the pen. They had been doing this for 5 weeks without cleaning the pen.
So, we went over to take a look that afternoon. By the time of our visit to select a pup it was a 3-4 inch wet, matted, soggy, stinky carpet. The puppies were a hyper, happy mass, begging for our attention.

We took turns holding her and decided that she was “the one.”Jolie_Baby01-2003






“We and Thee make
a family of three”










After watching the group with our daughter and granddaughter for several minutes they made their selection quickly. They decided they needed to rescue two of them.
We however, had to be more careful, because of our advanced age, we thought that we would have to get one that wasn’t quite so active as the mass. There was one little quiet girl pup that was hanging back from the others that captured our attention.





We set her down and she responded with an unusual vocalization that we had never hearJolie_PuppySignatureSpeech-2003d from a dog before.







Sort of “Awwh-lo-w-oh.” Sort of like our “Hello-o-o.” Little did we know that this would become her lifetime, trademark greeting with human friends, both old and new.

I had my phone handy at this first meeting and captured her vocalizing, for she was very insistent with it, repeating it whenever we got close to her. I think that this greeting was what really captured our hearts.
We told the owners that we would take her when she would be ready to leave her mamma at 9 weeks. After we got back home, we started having second thoughts. Not about keeping her, but about leaving her there in that squalor for another 4 weeks.
On Sunday, all we went back to plead for our puppies release sooner, fearing that they might die an early death. They relented and we took the three puppies home to a long bath, for they all smelled like poop! It took a bath every day for three days to get her smelling good.






Bath time was a fun time from the very beginning. She loved water.














Jolie’s birth mother was purebred Black Lab, from a long line of Seeing Eye dogs.














They told us that the father was a Great Pyrenees-Old English Sheepdog mix.








But, to me he looked like a fine, Old English Sheepdog, but the spawn of their cavorting covered a wide range of looks. Two were rather shorthaired, white Pynrees, One had the wirehair of a Russian Elkhound, and one looked like a black and white St. Bernard weighing more than 160 lbs. Jolie’s long white hair was in long ringlets when we let it grow out.
Jolie did not have the fine undercoat of her known brothers, so she did not go through the typical seasonal shedding. Occasionally we would find some white hairs around the house or in the cars. But, upon closer examination they usually turned out to be those of Evelyn.
Although we never found ANY black hair on Jolie, she did have large patches of black skin on her back and belly that could be easily seen through her thin hair when she was dripping wet. And in her last couple of years she developed freckles on her pink patches of skin.

Throughout her lifetime she was so often mistaken for a Goldendoodle, that Evelyn wanted to hang a sign around her neck reading, “I am NOT one of those Designer Dogs.”

On Monday we picked up some worming medication, which she ate with no problem. The next 3 stools were solid packs of dead worms. The following week we witnessed a transformation of character. She went from being docile and languid, to exuberance.

For the next 4-5 years it was like she was living on crack… and always on the run.








Good, dirty dogs….. SIT!


















In going to school with me for the first few months of her life, she readily made friends with just about everyone she met.











Her favorite brother, Chucky, grew up to be the largest.







At two years of age we started taking her to obedience school to get some of her impulsiveness irradiated. She was a good listener and obedient… until she would see a cat, rabbit or strange dog. The first two she would immediately chase without warning. Other dogs she evidently checked at a distance to determined whether they would would submit to her being “Top Bitch,” If not, she would attempt to subdue them.

It wasn’t until the last 3 years or so of her life that I learned, pretty well, how to anticipate her reactions to other dogs by her demeanor on the leash and could avert a dogfight. But sometimes she would surprise me and take on a dog that seemed to me to be friendly.

Living next door to two of her brothers, she never lacked for playmates anytime we were in Yacolt. In their ruff and tumble play, she ALWAYS came out the dirtiest





Typical Dirty Puppy Look with a bathing hose on standby.






The Stick Bit Team charging down the hill in Yacolt.

She was about one year old, and close to 80 lbs, when Evelyn retired and we hit the road, working around the country doing camp hosting and other small jobs.
One of the places we stopped at was Butterfield Ranch and RV Park. We loved the place and spent two winters hosting there, and spent a lot of time exploring the area. It was there that she developed the life-long routine of a morning, noon and evening potty walk. She would NEVER urinate or poop in her own space, whether it be on a rope or in her fenced yard.

She was very clean in her personal habits… except for her penchant for finding rotting roadkill or fresh manure to roll in, but more on that later.

Also, her memory for places she had visited was a constant source of amazement to us. More on that later, also.


Sadness in Heaven and Earth

This week I attended a pathos-filled event at our school. Hardly anyone was aware of its unfolding. In fact, I only had about a 2 hour notice to get ready for it. Only a few of our faculty attended, because it took place during school hours.

The 15 year-old grand daughter of one of our part-time maintenance personnel gave birth at 7 months to a stillborn baby earlier this week and its internment was in the little half-acre cemetery on the school property.

The death of anyone brings tears to my old eyes, but the death of a little one whose smiles have not graced the light of day is especially gut-wrenching. This little one will not, in this lifetime, be able to take its first steps, or bring laughter to its parents. He will not be able to make his parents proud with his progression into adulthood. The world will be lacking the God-given skills and talent that this man-in-the-making would have been contributing.

I mourned as his parents knelt at the open grave and grieved, I could do no other. May God bring peace to the parents and extended family as they continue to mourn this great loss. By seeking God’s salvation they have the promise of seeing this child alive again. God Bless!


Blast From The Past – part 2

Aug 12, 2017


One of the items that Made its way down to AZ after our Summer trip was a 1963 Edition of a Reader published by Houghton Mifflin. It was first published in 1949. Reading it again brought back so many memories from my early years in school.
Back in the day, our little three room school used the Dick and Jane readers by Scott Foresman. It is also true that I was not always the compliant, model student. Because of that wayward gene in my DNA, I was often banished to the janitor’s room in an effort to gain my complacency.

These episodes sometimes lasted for an hour or so. But fear not, my teacher was never cruel… he just wanted me out of his sight until he could regain self control. To me it was a blessing, for in that 6’ x 8’ room with shelves to the ceiling, I discovered all the Teacher’s Editions. Of course my favorites were the reading books. Not just for the readers currently in use, but those that were not used.

One of the things that irked me in the upper grades was the fact that about one fourth of our reading books had been physically cut out. No one seemed to know what was taken out…. but after so many hours in that storeroom, I, little scrawny, Donnybud, knew what was missing! It was a world of make believe. Fairy Tales, Myths and all sorts of forbidden knowledge was missing. I lapped up these stories like a kitten who is all over a saucer of warm milk.

Jack and Janet _cover.JPG


You see, in our little church related school, if it wasn’t “true,” then we had no business reading it, no matter how moral the stories were. Which didn’t make a lot of sense to me… then or now. After all, were the stories of Dick and Jane, or as with the Primer in my hands, Jack and Janet, any more “true” than the Fairy Tales that we couldn’t read in the upper grades?

Anyway, putting that aside, it strikes me now rather oddly why none of the books were titled Janet and Jack or Jane and Dick. Why were the boys listed first in BOTH book titles?

Another observation. It seems that air-headed blonds are portrayed that way from a very young age, as in the little sister of Jack and Janet. The book opens with Mother looking for Janet to send to the store for some milk. She sees Penny first and asks her to find Janet and give her the short grocery list of milk.

Penny can’t find her sister, so she decides to go to the store on her own. Handing the list to the store clerk in a store the likes of which you’ve never seen, he gets the milk for her. The family must have an account at the store for there is no exchange of money.

On the way home she gets distracted, typical blonde, lays down the milk and her doll to console her kitten named Mitten. They set off for home with Penny forgetting to pick up her doll and the milk. Then on page 17 we find Mother, dressed with her petticoat on the outside of her dress, meeting Penny at the door and asking, Where is the milk?”

Jack and Janet - 17 1.jpeg


At this point, Penny, who is wondering where on earth the milk could have left her possession, looks around and spots Janet, her raven-haired smart sister coming up the sidewalk carrying her doll and the missing milk.

On page 79 begins a strange story of make-believe wherein Penny tries to convince the rest of her family that she is a rabbit. She manages to get out of doing some simple chores. She even refuses to help Daddy bring the groceries in out of the car.

Jack and Janet - 79 1.jpeg


So, Daddy gets a big wooden box to make her a bed outside on the porch while Mother brings her a carrot for supper. On page 95 we learn the truth. It’s not really much fun to be a pretend rabbit.

Jack and Janet - 95 1.jpeg

One day Mother makes a batch off cookies, but they start disappearing before Penny gets hers. They argue in that stilted, limited, Primer vocabulary about who might be taking the cookies. So, without using the actual words, they set a trap to find out if it was Tip or Mitten the kitten who is the thief. On page 112 we find that it was NOT Tip!

Jack and Janet - 112 1.jpeg


When it is time for Jack’s birthday celebration, we find the sexual stereotypes of the 1940’s and 50’s. We learned that there are toys that are just for boys and toys just for girls. Twenty-eight pages are devoted to finding just the right gift… one that is for a boy, not one that the girls would like. Then Jack and his male friends end up loosing the box kite that Janet has purchased for him. It was found by Janet and her friend, Dot. They succeed in launching the kite with just the short broken string that is attached… without using those words.

Daddy, who is WALKING home from work, catches them with the kite. The girls explain that the kite string is broken, but they would like to try flying it. Daddy, being the good guy that he is, despite the fact that he is wearing a fedora, gets some string for the girls.

Daddy, on page 162, removes his fedora in shame, wondering just what kind of girls he is raising when they insist on showing the boys how to successfully fly a boys kite.

Jack and Janet - 162 1.jpeg


The girls explain to the guys that, since the box kite got away from them and the girls got it flying, it is now theirs to keep.

Come on girls!

Come on authors!

It’s REALLY OK to take back a gift that you’ve given someone just because they lost it? And why is it OK to be playing with a boy’s toy when just a few pages before you were teaching us that there are toys just for boys and toys just for girls?

When my grand children were small there were books like Ted Has Two Mommies, and people complained that the schools were changing the mores of the next generation. They most certainly were and are, but was instilling the myth that mothers stayed at home cleaning, baking and wearing an apron, while father walked to and from work carrying a newspaper and wearing a suit and fedora any better?

The play and toys of boys and girls were so well defined back then! It wasn’t that many years later that women were astronauts, scientists, doctors and mathematicians. Hardly any mothers today do only housework. Most work outside the home and still find time to bear children and pay someone else to raise them.

I don’t know, maybe the Primers back-in-the-day, were more a snippet of how it was, rather than teaching what life should be like. Has life changed so dramatically because of what we read as a child? Or did we change, so our reading evolved with us?

Were we really not that good at learning the things that were so subtlety taught while we were learning to navigate the printed word?

I will soon publish a link to the entire book so that you can review 151 new words of your very own Primer vocabulary and enjoy the trip down Memory Lane in its entirety.

What do you think? Comment below.

Home At Last!

29 July 2017


Aw-w-w-w! Nothing beats stretching out in your own crib!
That is NOT to say that we didn’t have a good time this Summer, but it still involved living in the home of someone else.

Upon our arrival in Flagstaff Wednesday, we found a camping place in the Coconino National Forest about 4 miles from the Orthopedic surgery Center to park the RV. We were no more than barely set up when it began to sprinkle, then shower, then a full-blown thunderstorm. Jolie got her “Merry Meds” to calm her anxiety and promptly went to sleep.

Thursday, mid-morning, Evelyn met with the doctor for the pre-surgical interview for removing some hardware bracing that was left in her leg during an ankle replacement about a year ago. Friday morning the deed was done.

My Honey’s Hardware

Honey Hardware



While in WA I attempted to interest some of my grand kids in Geocaching, but they never really got into it even though we made several successful finds.

Stops along the way yielded three Geocaching finds to add to the ones that I located while in Washington.


One was a “virtual cache,”

Geocache 1





Geocache 2

one was in a stump










Geocache 3

and one was dangling from a tree.







At our camp near Flagstaff I tried to befriend a family of chipmunks, but they mostly just took my proffered crackers and ran.




In one of my previous blogs I showed several examples of Nursery Logs, those rotting logs that provide nutrients for other plant life.

NurseryTree 1Here is one example from Oakridge, Oregon.


At our camp in Flagstaff I found a rather unique example of a Nursery Log, and I couldn’t resist showing it.

Someone had dumped several pounds of dry Pinto beans onto a rotting log where the Monsoon rains soaked them to life and they are growing and taking root.

Our 100 lb. baby (Jolie) had a good time with her brothers, but even she was happy to be home. As we approached the city limits of Holbrook, Jolie began to take serious notice of her surroundings. When we got to the place where she takes her daily run, she REALLY got excited and we could hardly keep her in the truck. As soon as we got tho the house she was ready to make her rounds of the yard checking, it seems, to see if everything in her kingdom was still there.

Tomorrow is unpacking day. Wish me luck and sustained strength.

Loaded Truck





Almost Home

July 26, 2017

After spending a relaxing evening in Las Vegas yesterday, we awoke this morning to the curious taste of a new granola. This one contains no grains! …. mostly just nuts and honey.

However for a guy that is hooked on HoneyNut Cheerios and Honey Bunches of Oats, I didn’t think that the makers of this granola were standing close enough to the honey pot! One half of a peach sliced over it helped with the flavor. Be warned, it takes a lot of chewing to get it down.


Check it out at your own risk.AlmostHome 1a.jpeg




AlmostHome 2b.jpeg








Finding a nice place to set up camp in the Coconino National Forest, about 4 miles out of Flagstaff, we got ready to kiss this Wednesday goodbye.





AlmostHome 3b.jpeg



We discovered a little trail and set off to see what we could see. Both Jolie and Evelyn were eager the stretch their limbs after nearly 6 hours on the road.







AlmostHome 4b.jpeg





Found these two hikers tagging along in the sunbeams keeping us company.






AlmostHome 5b.jpeg




Couldn’t resist bringing home this towering thunderhead in a blue sky.







Tomorrow a doctor’s appointment followed on Friday by a minor surgery on Evelyn’s ankle. Saturday, a day of rest so she can recuperate and the final 90 miles will get us home to Holbrook and a “normal” life at hissda.org