The corner of the heart

Back in 1998, country singer Collin Raye released a song called “Corner of the Heart,” which you can watch here. It has a good solid core idea, although the lyrics overall are weak, I think. Nevertheless, the chorus points to the fact that in most relationships there comes a time when one must choose to turn the corner—to recommit at an ever-deeper level to the other person, or to walk away.

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to test this theory with another person in my own life. I have seen for myself, though, how it works.

From the day I got my girl dog, Reggie, she was, to put it mildly, a problem. She peed and pooped in the house, she ate her own and Rudy’s poo, she was an incorrigible mule on the leash, she tore up my stuff, and she chewed up and ate things that blocked her bowels. For the first two years of her life, I was in a nearly constant state of rage, frustration, and anxiety. I actually talked to my doctor at one point about getting some pharmaceutical help to deal with it (although ultimately decided not to go that route).

I admit, I did not love Reggie much for most of those first two years. Everyone who knows me got to hear all about my problem dog, and how miserable she made me, and how she was ruining my sleep and my carpets and my peace of mind, and how much I wished I could rehome her but how I just couldn’t because I’d feel too guilty letting her go to anyone else. There is no end to the variety of bad homes and bad owners for dogs, and neither I nor my home is perfect but we’re better than most. Besides, she could be so cute, and so charming, from time to time. I fell in love with her the first day I met her and was so excited to bring her home. But when she peed in the middle of my bed within minutes of arriving, I couldn’t help but think I’d made a terrible mistake.

After I stripped the blankets off the bed Reggie peed on, she promptly made herself comfortable in the laundry room.

After I stripped the blankets off the bed Reggie peed on, she promptly made herself comfortable in the laundry room.

When Reggie was about 18 months old, she developed a series of what appeared to be urinary tract infections. This led to the complete loss of her house training and pee everywhere—on the couch, on the bed, in the car, and on the carpets in every room of my house. It was a pee-a-palooza. It took several months and hundreds of dollars’ worth of tests to determine what was actually wrong with her, which turned out to be a congenital defect called a hepatic portosystemic shunt. She has an extra blood vessel on her liver that was shunting blood around her liver rather than through her liver to be filtered. Although she was very fortunate not to have suffered any long-term damage from her inadequately filtered blood those first two years, her life would have been significantly shortened if the shunt were not fixed.

Feeling guilty and hard-pressed but also hopeful that this could resolve her urinary problems, I opted to have the shunt repaired in 2011. It was a major operation, and Reggie struggled in her recovery.

In her crate immediately after surgery, her leg still wrapped where she had an IV and her eyes still shiny from the goop they put on them to keep her eyeballs from drying out during the surgery.

Reggie in her crate immediately after the shunt-repair surgery, her leg still wrapped where she had an IV and her eyes still shiny from the goop they put on them to keep her eyeballs from drying out during the surgery.

The largest struggle was with bacterial overgrowth in her gut, which gave her diarrhea. I had to keep her in a crate during the day when I was at work to keep her quiet, and it was bare empty because she would eat any fabric I put in there with her. She would poop all over her crate, then eat it, then poop it again. Every day. This pushed me to my lowest point of anger and disgust with her horrible habits.

Fortunately—by grace, evidently, because I can’t say it was by my conscious choice—this is when I turned the corner in my heart with Reggie. I finally realized that she was not “misbehaving” just to spite me and that her behavior was nothing she could choose to control. I stopped seeing her as a vexing burden I shouldered out of guilt, but rather as a small creature in my care who needed my help. In short, I stopped allowing her to make me suffer because I stopped seeing her behavior as any reflection whatsoever on me.

From that point forward, I willingly made arrangements to get Reggie out of the crate when she needed to go, even when I was at work, to break her coprophagia cycle and to help her heal. I administered her medications punctiliously, I kept her clean and dry, and I cuddled her close when she seemed to be feeling bad. I stopped seeing her accidents as affronts to me and damage to my home and started seeing them simply as a symptom that she was struggling. I did all I could to help her get better, but at the same time I accepted her for exactly the dog that she was instead of always pushing her to be the dog I wanted her to be and punishing her for not being that dog.

I’m happy to say that the surgery was 100% successful and that Reggie was once again fully house trained after all her medical issues cleared. She is in the very pink of health now and I expect her to live out her full normal life span.

She has not, however, become the dog I wanted her to be when I got her.

She’s become so much more than that.


My best girl dog.

There was a time when I would have gladly handed Reggie over to the first person who came along and asked for her, but now I would not trade her for anything in the world. She is in my heart for life.


Still golden

In honor of my parents’ 51st wedding anniversary today, here is an encore presentation of last year’s post about their golden anniversary. I’ve added a new photo of them and a couple of links to the original version.

For better or for worse,
for richer or for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
for as long as we both shall live ….

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

The older the violins, the sweeter the music.

The older the violins, the sweeter the music.

The Golden Ring

They met at a party circa 1960, she a shy country girl in her first year of nursing school in the big city, he a college boy who had lived nearly all his life in that city. Her nervous giggle that was immediately followed by an apologetic “oh shoot” captured his attention. He was charming and handsome. She was sweet and pretty. Neither of them had ever seriously dated anyone else and once they met, they never would.

The first picture of them together.

The first picture taken of them together, summer of 1960.

Continue reading …

What is meant to be

I love this little boy-meets-girl story from The New York Times, with all its serendipity and romance. Girl decides to take a well-earned vacation, travels to St. Thomas on a whim, meets boy with boat there. Ultimately, they sail off into the sunset together.

To love another person is to see the face of God.

My favorite boy-meets-girl story of all time, though, happened in my own family. My mother’s older brother got a job as a ranch hand one summer when he was still in his teens. It was on a big ranch, “out in the middle of nowhere,” my mother always said, and he worked mostly by himself. The place next door to this ranch boarded horses, and one of those horses belonged to a dark-eyed Italian girl who caught his eye across the fence, apparently, and fell hard for my uncle’s fresh-scrubbed good looks. They are still married, more than 50 years later, the proud parents of two handsome, dark-eyed boys who grew up to be wonderful men, and grandparents to a whole swarm of kids upon whom they dote.

Your task is not to seek love, but to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

I’ve always taken comfort from that story, and the hope it holds out that what’s meant to be will always find a way, no matter how far you try to run away from it or hide from it. If love is meant to find you, it will find you wherever you are.

“All it takes is some time and some destiny …”

To love at all is to be vulnerable

Immediately post-Valentine’s Day, this graphic is just too perfect. Click the image to see the full-size version at Zen Pencils.


Our love, or our lack of it … will in the end be an expression of ourselves: of who we think we are, of what we want to be, of what we think we are here for. ~ Thomas Merton

We accept the love we think we deserve. ~ Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

You get what you settle for. ~ Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise

Every single Valentine’s Day

Here it is, my favorite holiday: Valentine’s Day.

I’ve had a few relationships in my time, but not one of them ever happened to span February 14, so I have never been taken out to a fancy Valentine’s dinner, brought roses or chocolates, any of that stuff. I haven’t had a sweetheart for quite some time, in fact.

But I still love this holiday, and I get impatient with people who crap all over it because they’re single and lonely or they’re coupled but feel “obligated” to observe it. Those who rail against Hallmark and the chocolate makers for manufacturing this phony holiday when lovers are expected to spend a lot of money buying all that junk just to prove their love are perhaps even more unpleasantly bitter than those who refuse even to acknowledge the day because they don’t have a lover and everyone who does can go to hell.

I may be a perennially single person, but I have family, friends and neighbors whom I love and who love me, so that’s who I focus on. As I reminded one of my bitterly single friends today, “There are so many different kinds of love in the world, so many different ways to love, and so many different people to love that if you find Valentine’s day to be a bummer just because you don’t have a sweetheart, you’re missing out, BIG-time, by overlooking all the other people in your life whom you love and who love you. Celebrate them all today!”

If I had a sweetie, I would make a big fuss today, of course, because that’s fun for me and I’d want to do it. But I’d also recognize that a little bit of love, consideration, kindness and, yes, romance every day is better than casual disregard most days and hugely ostentatious displays only on special occasions. I’ve always wanted a partner who would be nice to me every day, and maybe make a fuss over me occasionally … but I could totally live without the fuss, too, if I had my daily fix. I don’t require a lot of affection or attention, I don’t think, but I do require a steady supply.

If you have a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, lover, sweetheart or significant other, I’m happy for you. Today’s your day to show that person how special he or she is to you. Make a fuss. But don’t forget about that steady supply thing, too, which I suspect is something that most people need more than they would ever admit.

If you don’t have any of the above, but you do have a father, mother, brother, sister, child, grandchild, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandmother, grandfather, niece, nephew, dear friend or cherished neighbor, the same goes for you. Make a fuss. Show you care. The entire industrial candy and greeting card complex has been gearing up for months to bring you a million different ways to say “I love you,” “I appreciate you,” “I care about you,” “you’re special to me,” “you matter.” So go ahead, say it.

I want to share with you some Valentine’s images I made this week. The thumbnails below are linked to the full-sized files, so if you want to download and print them, feel free (just remember that I do retain the copyright, so please don’t sell them or represent them as your own). Consider them a gift from me to you, all my wonderful readers.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.

Three Hearts

Iridescent Heart

Rainbow Hearts

Three Glass Hearts

I am grateful that love exists: familial love (love between relatives), romantic love (a passion between lovers), agape love (divine love between God and friends), love of nature (the majesty of mountains, the lasting love of oceans) and the joy of laughter. We are stronger, kinder and more generous because we live in an atmosphere where love exists. I am grateful for that. ~ Maya Angelou

Happy feet

I realize I am risking alienating or possibly even losing some of my readers with this revelation, but the time has come to declare it to the world: I love Crocs.

I don’t care how other people think they look. I think they’re actually kinda cute. And they are super-comfortable, so easy to slip on and wade in the river or wash the car or schlep around the house.

I have a pink pair for when I’m feeling sassy, a black pair for when I’m feeling more subdued, and now a fuzzy faux-shearling-lined navy blue pair, which I found at a deep discount today at the local super store.

My feet, my Crocs.

My feet, my Crocs. Haters gonna hate.

I can wear these all winter, they’re so cozy. Just around the house, though … I have to have something on my feet at all times because my dogs trail water all over the kitchen floor from their beards after they hit the water bowl, and I hate stepping in water while wearing socks. Also, I have the world’s most delicate piddies and the world’s lowest tolerance for pain, so protecting my toes from being stubbed or even stepped on by a 20-lb dog is essentially a matter of life and death. As you might suppose, I do not run around barefoot, ever, even on carpet. Even when the dogs aren’t home.

As for taking my Croc-clad tootsies out on the town, well … what with camera phones and the internet nowadays, I’m just not sure that’s really in my best interests. People can be so cruel.*


* No, this is NOT me, or my Crocs.