The Value of Friendship

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About five years ago I noticed that my beautiful Sheltie mix Jessie was missing the company of her sister, my daughter’s dog Aidenne. My daughter brought Aidenne with her when she moved away from home, leaving Jessie to mope.  I searched the rescues that were within driving distance and found the purebred Sheltie she is watching over in the above photo, St. Bob who was rescued from a puppy mill. The two became friends, and it wasn’t long before I was taking them to events and parades together. St. Bob was somewhat crippled from his years in a cage, so he rode in a wagon on longer walks.

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I was told by the rescue that St. Bob was six years old. Probably they truly didn’t know he was closer to nine, as the puppy mill owners likely lied to them. What was more important than that though was the fact that he had a congenital health problem aside from his skeletal deformities. He always coughed, and from my experience as a dog groomer I assumed it may have been due to the occasional ingestion of his own hair, and/or possibly a pulmonary problem. He was a sweet dog though, and the bond between him and Jessie was obvious in the five years he was with us. In the past month I noticed he was aging quickly, and could no longer jump onto his favorite loveseat and sleep with his Teddy bear. Two weeks ago though, Jessie’s friend began to have seizures, a precursor to his imminent demise. It was determined that at the age of fourteen, St. Bob had to be euthanized due to kidney failure. Jessie went back into her depressive state.

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As fate would have it, My daughter and her husband moved into a house where pets were not allowed. Aidenne returned to live with us, but Jessie still mourned the loss of St. Bob. A week ago I remembered the coupler and how I trained them to walk together a few years earlier on a gang line. Right at first the pair seemed to be working against each other. Aidenne on the left in the above picture was moving a lot faster than her depressed sister was, and it took them a least a mile to walk more in synchronization. Just yesterday there was a Canine Carnival at the boarding and grooming facility I used to work at in Pocatello, so I loaded them into my car with the gang line. My daughter-in-law came with me with my grandson and their chihuahua mix and fun was had all around. Jessie and Aidenne won a round of musical hula hoops and scored a box of homemade dog treats. Afterward we walked at Sacajawea Park on the Portneuf River, and the girls settled into a more comfortable pace.

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I don’t know how long Aidenne will be with us, but so far her presence has begun to help Jessie with her depression. Dogs, like people, are capable of very strong emotions and my sweet lady friend is no exception. Jessie and Aidenne will turn nine this summer though, so part of me hopes she will live out her life here. A friend is an asset with unmeasurable value, even if she is your sister.

Sunken Treasure

I have to love my female Sheltie, Jessie. She is so full of unbridled enthusiasm for life, and her energy seems boundless. The only thing that will stop her once she gets started running is food.

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I rose early one morning a couple of weeks ago because I was scheduled to fly out of Salt Lake City for a writer’s conference in Indiana. I was finishing my packing when I heard a strange sound coming from the opposite end of the long counter in my kitchen. It seems my lovely Jessie, with the help of a counter-walking cat, thought she had struck pure gold. The cat, in trying to raid a bag of dog treats had toppled it over into the water dish.

Jessie was busy trying to fish the treats out from around the plastic bag, and thought she was in dog heaven. However, I was not as amused as she was. I pulled the bag of soggy treats out and dumped the wet contents of the dish into the trash. Jessie looked a bit abashed as I proceeded to wash the bowl and refill it with plain water.

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I tried to explain to my lady love that eating too many treats would likely upset her tummy. I had to leave soon after to make it to the Park and Jet in plenty of time to meet my flight. I wouldn’t arrive at my friend’s house until late that night so I bid her farewell. It was probably the next day that I learned that her tummy was indeed upset, and she ate little supper that night. Aww Jess, you just can’t have your cake and eat it too.

I can honestly say that I’m glad I went to that conference at Taylor University in Indiana. Not only did I learn a lot and have a pleasant conversation with a publisher, but I got to meet a critique partner I’d previously only spoken with over the internet, Mr. John Cunningham Jr. I also spent a week with my good friend and editor Tisha Martin, and a few days with Crystal Caudill, friends I met through the ACFW. It may be that you can’t always get what you want, and in Jessie’s case that was true. However, time spent with true friends is treasure indeed.

Incident at Namquit Point

You may have read something about one of the pivotal points leading to America’s revolution in school having taken place at what is now known as Gaspee Point, a small blurb in the history books. It was to the people of Newport, Rhode Island no small thing. Harassed by Lt. William Dudlington, commander of the Gaspee, sent by King George III to enforce his laws against maritime smuggling, tempers were rising to a fevered pitch. Ships were being delayed by the HMS Gaspee even after having passed inspection in the Newport harbor.

Lt. Dudlington was little expecting trouble when he gave chase to the packet sloop Hannah on June 9th, 1772. Capt. Lindsey of the Hannah, however, had ideas of his own. He gave his sailors orders to lure the Gaspee across the Namquit Point shallows, running the larger ship hard aground on a sandbar. Knowing the Gaspee would be foundered until the following day’s high tide, Capt. Lindsey made port in Providence. Seeking out John Brown, the town’s most beloved and prominent merchant, he told him the tale of his stranding the British ship. John Brown sent out a town cryer to gather the patriots of the city to meet at Sabin’s Tavern.

One patriot took the effort to pen his account of the night’s events: “About nine o’clock I took my father’s gun and powder horn and bullets and went to Mr. Sabin’s. I found the southeast room full of people where I loaded my gun and all remained there until about ten o’clock. Some casting bullets in the kitchen, others making arrangements for departure, when orders were given to cross the street to Fenner’s Wharf and embark.”

Under the command of Capt. Abraham Whipple, the group set off in eight longboats provided by John Brown. They rowed with muffled oars out to the crippled ship. Capturing Lt. Dudlington and his crew, the frenzied patriots escorted them to Pawtuxet Village. Fire was then set to the unfortunate Gaspee, burning her to the waterline. As the sun began to rise on the morning of June 10th, the wide-eyed participants watched as her magazine exploded and sent her hull to oblivion.

Efforts were made by the crown to learn the names of the ruffians who commited this act of violence against the HMS Gaspee, to no avail. The bold act solidified the sentiment of rebellion to the neighboring colonies, and even a large sum of money offered as a reward did not unstop the mouths of the patriots. The British government set up the Commitees of Correspondence to try and quell further acts of rebellion, but instead Rhode Island’s act of protest served to help the colonies take a step toward the formation of the First Continental Congress, and later to the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Why I Love Dogs so Much

Dogs are by nature kindhearted and loving creatures. When I was a dog groomer. I rarely encountered a dog I didn’t get along with, and when I did it was usually one from special circumstances. My Sheltie St. Bob has quite a kingly attitude, having started life as breeding stock at a puppy mill. He’s a lover though, and not so much a fighter. I couldn’t love him more, and it makes me melancholy to see him growing old.

One of my favorite hobbies is trail riding my horses. Although both of my Shelties have bonded as friends, they don’t feel the same way about the horses. They are dedicated to me though, and will sit on the lawn together while I ride, and still be there waiting for me when I get back.

Then there is Toby, a dog my daughter wanted when she was in junior high and I still have. Toby is half Labrador retriever, and half German Shorthaired pointer. He has always been very nervous and high strung, and prefers to stay in my service porch where he has warmth, shelter, and free access to the great outdoors. Toby is also an old man, and I don’t see him changing any time soon. He is still loving, and always glad when I fuss over him, like here in the dog salon.

I really think dogs are God’s way of saying “You made a mess of My creation, but here is a beautiful animal who will keep you company and help you realize I love you.” Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but it’s hard to look at a dog and not see it’s beauty. Whenever I get the opportunity to hug my Jessie, I think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and how she felt about the Scarecrow. Jessie, I think I love you most of all.

John Wesley’s Horse

Here is the heart warming story of John Wesley and the horse he relied on to carry him where the Lord called him to be. God cares for His creation, and always will

John M. Cunningham Jr., Author and Historian

John Wesley in Bristol John Wesley on Horseback, statue in the courtyard of The New Room chapel, Bristol. Credit: Jongleur100

Is it all right to pray for our pets and other animals? Sure! God cares for all His creation. Read Matthew 6:36, where Jesus spoke about God’s provision for birds. Birds and other animals are all part of His creation.
One of my favorite stories about God’s care for animals comes from John Wesley’s Journal. It reads as follows:
1746. Monday. March 17.I took my leave of Newcastle and set out with Mr. Downes and Mr. Shepherd. But when we came to Smeton, Mr. Downes was so ill that he could go no further. When Mr. Shepherd and I left Smeton, my horse was so exceedingly lame that I was afraid I must have lain by too. We could not discern what it was that was amiss; and yet he would scarcely set…

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A Little Christmas

It’s a harried and hurried world we live in. As we rush from store to store, we find ourselves frustrated by the traffic, the crowds, inability to find what we came after, and the whole idea of needing Christmas to be what we see on the Hallmark channel. Maybe we expect too much. Was life always this complicated?


I remember one Christmas years ago that happened in spite of my inability to make it magic. I was the new tenant in the old house on the hill. We came to Charleston, Maine with the clothes on our backs, a small son starting the first grade, and a baby girl just turned one. The housing market in San Francisco was a buyer’s market, but White House budget cuts thought nothing of that. My Naval Senior Chief husband was reduced to filling out job applications and waiting by the phone. We were left with an empty house on the peninsula, and we were renting to buy a lovely New Englander in the Maine woods from a sweet old couple who took a liking to us. Christmas was meager that year, homemade and thrown together with popcorn and things I made on my sewing machine. I trust our dinner was more than deer meat, but I do recall many suppers on an unfortunate doe my husband hit with our old Dodge pickup. I doubt my children even remember that. They were just happy it was Christmas. 

As the Grinch learned, elaborate gifts and expensive decorations mean little in the grand scheme. Maybe slow down a bit, look around, and smile at your children or grandchildren. They’re only young once, and you have only to blink and that’s gone. Have a Merry Christmas, enjoy it. I’ll be at my keyboard. Be blessed.

Going Back to Work

It’s been a year since my job in a dog grooming salon came to an end. For years I tried unsuccessfully to work in common jobs, like cashiering, waiting tables, being a store clerk. The small town I live in is just very closed off, and employers mostly hire young people and those whose names they recognize. I trained to groom dogs to break out of that cycle, but here I am again.

Recently my injury was authenticated by Voc Rehab. For the past week I have been doing on-the-job training at our public library, and enjoying the bookish atmosphere. My dear Sheltie/Collie mix Jessie has been very confused by it though. She’s usually a typical female, and not overly affectionate,  but this week she’s been making sure I notice her. I love it when she’s affectionate. She’s my best fur-friend in the world.


I don’t know if this job will end up being what I do on an ongoing basis, but if all I get from it is some quality time from my beautiful girl, it’s worth it. She’s my friend, my alert dog when my health is off, and my constant companion. Just to see the love in those eyes is worth being away for a few hours of the day. She makes me smile.

A Sober American Household

If we believe everything we read on the internet or watch on TV, our ancestors would never have been sober enough to father this country. While it’s true that people tended not to trust plain water, alcoholic beverages were not the only way they dealt with possible water-born bacteria. If it were the case that they only drank alcohol, children and devout Christians would have been very thirsty people in the 18th century. They were smart enough to know that water was safer if it was boiled, and drinks such as tea and lemonade were started with boiling water. It was also believed that citric acid was something that made water healthier, and in some respects that was true. Lemons were a favorite way of adding that ingredient to drinks.

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When lemonade was made, one would begin by boiling a quart of spring water. I have to surmise that water from a spring was considered safer because it is a moving source. The water was then allowed to stand until it was termed milk warm, that would be the temperature milk is when it’s first drawn from the cow, just around ninety-eight degrees. To this was added five clear (unblemished) lemons, sliced thin. This mixture was left to steep overnight. Cooks in those days went through some elaborate straining steps which are listed in the old recipe. I would just put the sliced lemons through a food mill, or a sieve and press the juice from them using the bottom of a canning jar or a pestle. The juice was mixed into the water, and to that was added eleven ounces of sugar and a spoonful of orange flower water. This isn’t an easy item to find these days, and it’s often sold as a cosmetic item. If you want an authentic product, it’s possible to buy it food grade at some natural food sources, and at Indian grocery stores, something not found in my neck of the woods. It good without the orange flower water, too.

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Another non-alcoholic drink was one made for supplying the working folk with electrolytes in the fields. It was called Switchel, or Haying Water. One recipe for this mixture uses one cup of brown sugar, one cup of vinegar, one half cup of molasses, a tablespoon of ground ginger and a quart of cold water. As you can imagine, this drink would charge a person up for working harder. That is, if the taste didn’t knock him off his feet. Down in the southern states, people enjoyed more refined recipes, including tea mixed with lemon, orange, clove and sugar. As for me, I think this drink sounds a lot more appealing. There have always been people who, directed by their consciences, would make punch minus the alcohol. This was something my own mother used to do, particularly for family Christmas parties.

People in the 18th century also enjoyed something we still drink a lot of today, and that’s hot chocolate. Instead of mixing a ready made powder into a mug of hot water or milk like we do now though, it was made in a pot on the wood burning stove. In those days a chunk of chocolate would be grated into the hot water, along with sugar and a pinch of salt, and then the paste would be beaten into scalded milk. Lacking the fancy mixing equipment we have these days, beating was done with a straw whisk, similar to this one that I have in my kitchen.

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The more research I do on the 18th century, the more I’m struck with the idea that we have it made in this day and age. Not only do we have things ready-made for us available in grocery stores, but even when we do our own cooking our lives are considerably easier. These straw whisks were used for everything from mixing chocolate into milk for a treat, to beating eggs into foam to make cakes lighter and easier on the palate. That takes a lot of whisking, and our fore-mothers no doubt had the arm muscles to prove it. My hat is tipped to the women who helped found America. They were strong, brave, and patient people indeed.