Posted by: trees143 | January 30, 2009

The Art of Ice – Wood and Wire

An ice storm can cause great damage and also leave behind fleeting moments of exquisite beauty.

Mundane objects such as wire on a fence line and a charcoal grill are made magical by the tranformative power of water frozen in time.

Posted by: trees143 | January 13, 2009

My Little Visitor

When we moved into this house, we decided to turn the front room into an office as it has wonderful windows that let in lots of light. There are two tall and narrow windows, one on each side of the center ones. I did not want to cover the entire area with curtains so we put up a vinyl window covering that looks like old fashioned stained glass.

I’ve noticed that for some reason we are being visited frequently by a female cardinal who lands on a branch outside one of the tall windows. She sits for a minute and then starts to act aggressively towards the glass. We’ve decided that she is trying to intimidate her reflection.

It is quite entertaining to watch her, and if there happens to be a cat close by, that adds to the moment tremendously as they will immediately go into pre-pounce pose with muscles tense and tail swishing. The smudges you see in these shots are dog nose prints because they also have to get in on the act if they’re around. Yep, it sure can be a circus here in our quiet little corner of Arkansas.

Posted by: trees143 | January 4, 2009

Celebrating the Season Of Lights

One thing that has always delighted me about this season is the abundance of lights. In Arkansas, I was pleased to discover that there is an annual tradition of decorating town squares and have made it a point each year to visit the square in Fayetteville. This year was no exception. Come stroll through the magical dispay.

There were pony rides for the children though it was a bit cold to attract an abundance of young ones.

There was even a live reindeer hanging out close to where kids could have their picture taken with Santa. It seemed decidedly unimpressed with the occasion (yes, he’s sleeping).

I think that no matter one’s thoughts about this season, bright lights on a cold winter’s night always seem to bring a little magic into the world.

Wishing you all joy, and peace.

Posted by: trees143 | May 1, 2008

The Beauty of Iris

There are Iris in bloom outside my front door. These were shipped all the way to Arkansas from my parent’s garden in Queens, NY. I planted them in the fall of 2006 and last year (2007) we had a total of 3 blooms. This was fine, surprising in fact that there were any at all after the upheaval of being transplanted half way across the country. This spring looks as if it will be a prolific season as there are at least 40 buds waiting to burst into ruffled finery. I probably planted the rhizomes too close together as it was a kind of lottery – “What will survive, what will not?” Seems we are on the winning end of that question and so I will need to spread them out later in the growing season.

The past few days have brought much excitement as we’ve watched the tight buds slowly unfurl. Today they exploded.

Iris exploding

Posted by: trees143 | April 24, 2008

Meditation on a flower

Posted by: trees143 | April 24, 2008

Choosing Joy

It’s all about choice.

There will always be stairs we need to climb that we know not where they lead.

The roads we must travel are the same whether seen through a filter of gray or the bright sunlight.

What really matters is that we take time to stop along the way to admire the details

and enjoy the company of all living creatures.

For it is in doing so that we find ourselves in awe of the gift that is life

and bursting with a joy that only comes in those moments

of being fully, truly and blissfully alive.

Posted by: trees143 | January 23, 2008

The Puppy Diaries – Installment Two

Just moving these over from another place so that the more recent ones will make sense.

It has been 7 days since I put up the first installment and Bogart seems to have grown tremendously since then. He is now 8 weeks and a few days old. At the moment he is looking a bit skinny which we are hoping is just the result of this growth spurt. He goes to the vet tomorrow for his well puppy visit and will get wormed again as well as receiving his second set of shots. He certainly has a voracious appetite and is eating more than is recommended for his age and size. Also he is very alert and playful so we are not too worried about the state of his health.

Life has been pretty hectic around here. This weekend we had visitors which included a 5 year old and a 2 year old. Of course they adored the puppy but we had to limit the interaction to short bouts of play. He is still so young and needs his regular naps. One dog that really had the opportunity to shine was Sadie, our recent shelter rescue. We had no idea how she would respond to children and were pleasantly surprised to find that she is quite calm and forgiving, even if a toddler is pulling too hard on her fur.

Sadie has shown us that she is not only good with kids but is also great with puppies. Bogart is getting supervised time with the other dogs now. Sadie wrestles with him and understands that he is smaller and younger so she often rolls on her back and lets him jump all over. It is so heartwarming to watch this dog who had been foresaken by her previous owner show that she is a really special girl.

Of course, there are some photos but unfortunately I haven’t had the time to take them daily as I’d hoped. On Saturday we did a photo shoot in the yard which resulted in the two photos I most recently posted as well as the ones I will include here.

We fashioned a toy for him from an old tie down and twisted rope toy. He loves it and hunts it fiercely when outside.

Bogie has learned to make it up the two stairs leading to the deck, especially when he is on the prowl after his toy.

He does make some funny faces.

And he loves to explore.

Occasionally he plays a game of “chase my tail” though there isn’t much there to catch.

His favorite game though is tug-of-war.

We think he is imagining that he is big fierce dog taking down his prey.

Ultimately though he is still a little guy who needs help if he wants to get up on the couch on the back porch when he’s ready to rest.

I wish this photo had come out better. I took it tonight and it shows so well how wonderfully Sadie plays with Bogie. We are so proud of that girl.

Right now everybody is sleeping and most likely they will be quiet for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow will bring more opportunities for play and hopefully I will be close by with the camera.

Posted by: trees143 | January 22, 2008

The Puppy Diaries – Installment One

Just moving a few previously published things over here so that as I add more they will make sense.

It was Saturday 12/22 when Deb came home with an exactly 6 week old Boxer puppy as a Christmas present for me. He was so incredibly small and young.

I wasn’t sure how to react at first as this was completely unexpected. We’d lost our 3 year old Boxer in August and it was absolutely devastating. Buddy was one of the most special creatures I’ve ever known and a huge hole had been left inside me. I wasn’t sure that I was ready to open my heart to another Boxer but Deb felt it was time. And she was right.

Of course, our lives have been turned upside down since that day. Raising a puppy is a lot of work and should not be something that is undertaken lightly. Too many dogs end up in shelters because they are an impulsive buy as a Christmas puppy.

The first thing we did was buy a small crate. The other dogs have crates as well and so little Spike will inherit this one when the pup grows enough to need a larger space (Spike currently uses one that is twice the size that he needs). Crate training a dog is a hugely beneficial thing to do for both the dog and its human companions. They consider it to be like a den and if it has only positive experiences when learning to accept it (never use a crate for punishment) then it will be a safe place for them throughout their lives.

The image

As the pup settled in we started the great quest of finding a name. I felt Gaucho was a good one but it didn’t quite seem to fit. Then we tossed around some botanical names for trees (Acer, Salix, etc) but those didn’t quite work either. As I got to see the personality of the little guy emerge the name Bogart slipped in and stuck.

The first day or so he just slept. As it turned out, the breeder had wormed and vaccinated him just before he came home and so he was processing all of that. We discovered, in the middle of a long night, that he had a pretty bad case of worms. The poor thing spent hours ridding himself of them and as a result we were up with him throughout the night.

Once the worms were gone he suddenly became too skinny. He had been weaned quite young and since he came from a litter of 11, there was a whole lot of competition for food. He felt quite miserable the day after the great purging and so took solace through snuggling with Pal.

The image

He did start to pick up though and had moments of great energetic outbursts. Boxers are very toy oriented dogs and so we knew that it was important to give Bogart plenty of opportunities to play with them. I’ve learned that the trick is to rotate them so he won’t get bored.

Bogie started eating voraciously. We were offering both wet and dry. His tummy wasn’t very happy and so he started to experience quite a bit diarrhea. The cure has been to feed small amounts of the wet mixed with rice. It’s taken a couple of days but his system has settled down and he is much more comfortable.

He has quite the personality. I can attest that a seven week old puppy is perfectly capable of throwing one humdinger of a tantrum. Bogart is still becoming accustomed to the limitations of his world. We had been keeping him seperated from the other dogs as much as possible. Since I work from home the natural thing had been to close him in here with me. That allowed for lots of unfettered play time.

He loves a good game of tug of war, and likes to roam around exploring. This was a problem though as there are wires all around the office and so I had to watch him very closely at any point when he was not sleeping. Also, the other dogs were not very appreciative of being kept away from the leaders of their pack (Deb and myself). It was time to create a solution.

The image

Buddy was raised with the help of a dog pen so I dug this one out of the shed and set it up in the office. Bogie wasn’t too pleased with the change in circumstances but being contained is going to give him the opportunity to do things right rather than being scolded for the things that a puppy naturally wants to do – chew on wires, chase cats, and generally wreak havoc wherever his puppy curiosity leads him.

Also, the pen is a very good way for him to interact with the other dogs in a safe way. He is still too small to be loose with them. Spike is mostly very curious but he does have moments of showing a bit of aggression. Spike doesn’t take too well to changes and so he needs a little time to get used to the newcomer. Sadie is still unsure. At times she seems just curious but then she has moments where she seems like she could become a little aggressive toward him. They are small dogs and Bogart will soon (well, in a couple of months) be large enough to interact with them freely. He has spent time loose with Rusty as Rusty is an absolute gentleman who understands puppies and gives them lots of cues as to the proper behavior to exhibit towards their elders.

We have expanded the pen so that Bogart has a little more room to romp and a place far from his bed in which to deposit waste. He is still too young to housebreak, and often it is too cold outside for us to consistently take him out so we’ll use puppy pads for the moment. He does use them frequently but still has times where he goes in the spot where he finds himself as he is too young to have much control.

He is doing very well. When the weather is warm he gets lots of time to romp outside and when it is too cold for him we put the other dogs out so that he can have supervised play time in the house. He is starting to put on weight and settle into the routine of life in our home. Below is a photo of him that was taken today.

I am going to try to do periodic installments of this as I know Bogart will be growing rapdily and of course, it will all be well documented as I can’t resist having the camera close at hand all the time. You just never know what’s going to happen next.

Posted by: trees143 | January 12, 2008

Fortuitous Accident.

Sometimes a photo finds the camera. This was one of those moments.


Posted by: trees143 | November 29, 2007

Netflix Night – “Jesus Camp”

This is a documentary that generated a lot of buzz when it was first released. It follows a group of children at prayer meetings and a summer camp run by Becky Fischer, an Evangelical children’s pastor. I was intrigued by the idea of looking inside a world that is quite foreign to me and so I added it to my Netflix queue. It arrived today and we watched it this evening. As it turned out, this was one of the scariest movies I’ve seen in a very long time.

Children hold the future in their hands, a fact that Becky Fischer hopes to exploit by indoctrinating young minds. As she points out, Muslim children in Palestine go to camps where they are taught to use weapons and strap bombs to themselves so that they will grow up willing to kill, and to die, for their beliefs. Since Christianity is the “right” religion, why should she use different tactics in order to prepare these children to do battle in the name of their Savior, Jesus Christ?

Now, she does not advocate violence, necessarily. Rather she leads them in speaking in tongues, letting the spirit seize them, and instructing them in all that is wrong with the world in which they live. The pastor fervently believes that religion does have a place in government and at various times during the documentary those beliefs come front and center. A cardboard cut-out of George Bush is brought in to be prayed over, and in another segment, the kids all smash cups as a symbol of smashing the evils of government (legalized abortion being one of the greatest sins).

As I watched these kids spout much of the rhetoric that had been fed to them through their church and their parents, I wondered what would become of them when they reach adulthood and have to navigate in a world that is fraught with grey areas? All of the doctrine emphasized black and white, right and wrong. There was no room for diversity of opinion, no room for all the many nuances that make up life in the real world. Most of all though, I wondered where was the loving, compassionate Jesus who preached tolerance and forgiveness. His absence in all of this was palpable.

If you are a person who does not vote, watch this movie. It shows just how high the stakes are and makes frighteningly clear the fact that complacency will only lead this country further down the road of ignorance and intolerance.

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