Friday, December 29, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Stillness of the Heart

Some days it just doesn't pay to chew through the leather restraints.

As vacations go, my last one sucked.  It began with a very busy day selling and cutting Christmas trees, and ended with a visit from the city police.  I'm sitting here in my family room filled with boxes of holiday decor needing my attention; problem is I'm lacking the spirit and cheer to enjoy the task.  I'm just too angry and sad.  My heart is broken and my head is reeling.

Yesterday Sam faced the very difficult task of taking Allie to the vet to put her down.  She was neither ill nor injured but we had to do it having been served a second vicious dog citation after our neighbor filed a complaint stating that Allie attacked him.  It happened while Sam and I were in Spokane last Monday and being a hundred miles away complicated the situation, but fortunately friends and family stepped up to assist us until we could return home.

Side by side, 2 x 2
Rumbeau (top) and Allie (bottom), April 2001

Allie came to us in the spring of 2001 as a four month old puppy and in the five years since she never jumped the fence of our back yard.  But a couple of weeks ago she started and why is anyone's guess; I suspect it was because a new dog in the neighborhood is allowed to run loose and when it came on our property Allie's pack mentality kicked in and she went into territorial mode.  On a couple of afternoons this month Sam came home to be greeted by Allie on the wrong side of the fence. 

The events that took place last week are complicated, all we know is what the police and several friends told us.  Allie was loose, our asshole next door neighbor claimed she attacked him on his porch, the police were summoned and they pepper sprayed her, at which point she jumped back over the fence and returned to the back yard.  Lucky for us she did, we later learned the responding officer was preparing to shoot her.  As all this took place another city officer we personally know called Sam's cell phone after hearing our address over the dispatch radio.  He wanted to let us know about the situation but didn't know we were out of town; he later told Sam the responding officer had shot a dog the week before and our friend was concerned Allie's fate was sealed.  In the end it was.


Allie Waits
Allie waits while Rumbeau swims, Clearwater River, July 2006

Sunday when the police served Sam, I found it quite interesting how the responding officer kept referring to Allie as 'he.'  He cornered the neighbor.  He jumped the fence.  Sam and I expressed our confusion and politely pointed out that Allie is a female and the officer's reply was, "I couldn't tell."  He couldn't tell the difference between a male dog from a female dog?  Right.  When Sam and I pointed out there is another male black lab who is never penned up the officer brushed our comments aside, and squarely stated after he sprayed the dog with pepper spray he watched the dog jump over our fence to the back yard.  Allie is a labrador and yeah, everyone knows how vicious that breed is!  I'm so angry right now I just don't know if anything I write from this point on will make sense.  A friend who was also summoned to our home told us both dogs were in the back yard when he arrived and neither showed any signs of being maced or sprayed in the face with pepper spray.

In a river of gold...
Allie (left) and Rumbeau (right) swim in a river of gold, Clearwater River, July 2004

This whole thing just reeks and makes me sick.  I can't understand how a timid dog can suddenly turn aggressive, without provocation.  Provocation being the operative word.  My gut tells there's more to what happened that we may never know, but there is a lot we do know.  The neighbor in question is pissed at us over a petty matter and we suspect this is his way of getting even.  The difference being that our problem with him involved a broken down vehicle he parked on our property without first asking us.  Since the day Sam finally called the city to complain after repeated requests to the neighbor to move the car failed to produce action the neighbor and his wife have given us the cold shoulder.  All the neighbor lost was a parking space that was never his to begin with, but I have lost a beloved companion.

At the office yesterday I struggled to keep my emotions in check, without success.  My stomach felt like a battlefield of swinging swords and knives.  I worked through lunch, the time Sam had set to take Allie to the vet, and I left at 4, an hour early.  Coming home from work and seeing Rumbeau alone just tore me apart.  He sensed something was wrong and wouldn't leave my side.  I sat here on the couch waiting for Sam, sobbing and Rum just leaned against me and kept nuzzling my hand, softly moaning as I slowly stroked his head and scratched his chest.  When Sam arrived home he sat with me and minutes passed by in silence.  I cried for so long my sinuses hurt.  All this over a dog, a stupid zuccinni bread stealing, cat food eating, hole digging, bed hogging, fur ball shadow I was always tripping over; how could I let myself get so attached to her I said to Sam.  He softly replied we humans are stupid that way.

Allie after an early morning dig, April 2005.

I can't help but notice Allie's behavior lately showed signs of stress, two years ago she started digging.  Ironically that was about the time our neighbor retired.  Rumbeau and Allie stay in the back yard while Sam and I work during the day.  Our yard is large with four terraced levels on just under 3/4 of an acre of land surrounded by a five foot chain link fence.  We have a dog run with an eight foot fence located on the side of our house, but its the same side as the neighbor and we can't keep the dogs there because they bark everytime they see him.  The city called us on that awhile ago, and suggested we not keep the dogs there during the day.   With the colder temps we kept both inside on the days we worked and at lunch I drove all the way home to let them out for potty breaks. Allie slept with us every night but last night I couldn't sleep.  I tried to express what I was feeling in my journal but everything came out jumbled up and I cancelled the entry.  I ought to go to work but I'm a mess.  In my mind I hear the words of the Christmas song I've embedded in my journal...Hallelujah, noel, be it heaven or hell, at Christmas we get what we deserve.

Tell me what did we do to deserve this?  I believe in karma, I believe what goes around comes around.  I believe what you put out comes back to you ten fold.  I suppose I should find peace in my beliefs, but at this moment I don't.  Last night Sam said someday Spencer will stand in judgement for his actions.  The guy used to gather cats in the neighborhood to use as bait for training his hunting dogs.  Yeah, he's a real nice guy, an upstanding model citizen.  I want justice and I want it now.  We obeyed the rules, fenced in our yard to keep our pets contained, while two other dogs, one a male black lab, the other a male Chow-Sharpei mix are allowed to run loose every day in the neighborhood.  The chow mix is always in our yard and bothering customers at our tree farm.  Sunday a family was at the lot with a toddler who saw the dog and began to cry.  The grandmother told me the child had been bitten by a dog and is afraid of them.  I've thought about calling the city and complaining about the two dogs, but given what our last complaints to the city produced, who can say what that will lead to.  No point having two more neighbors pissed at us.  We are surrounded by losers. 

My soul tells me justice will be served, but my heart wants someone to explain why.  If dogs at large is against the law then why are two other dogs allowed to roam the neighborhood everyday without complaint, and the minute one of our labs slips over our fence she immediately becomes a threat to one neighbor and the police are summoned.  Next month Sam will appear in court before the judge for the second time this year.  The first time Sam forgot to lock the gate and Spence claimed he had to beat Allie off with a stick, so based on his word the police issued Sam a vicious dog citation.  Rumbeau won't leave the yard unless we are with him, even if the gate is open.  But Allie had two strikes against her, so we did what we knew the court would order us to do, while two other dogs are allowed to run loose in the neighborhood.

I want to understand, but I can't.

  Yes Allie, you may.  Yes Allie, you did.

Allie's been featured as the subject of several journal entries which can be found by clicking on the links below:

Little Allie Mac

Someone's been very naughty

Someone's in the house

It's 3 a.m.--Do you know where your zucinni bread is?

Adventure Idaho

Friday, December 15, 2006

Do you hear what I hear?

A song, a song, playing in the night, it will bring me goodness and smiles.


I can hear it.  Thank you Jimmy & Joe.  Turns out Internet Explorer 7 is the reason I couldn't hear the music playing.  And apparently I wasn't the only journaler frustrated with the situation.  I followed editor Joe's directions and viola!  Click >here< for Joe's solution.

I'm so happy!!!


Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Of dreams realized and silent songs

This is me making good on a promise I made last week to my sister.  I wanted to share her fantastic news but got waylaid in another direction (something about a chainsaw Christmas).  So without furter ado....I have exciting news to share about my sister Chris in Georgia.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris
To: Dad; Dona; Lyn
Sent: Tue, 28 Nov 2006 9:43 AM
Subject: class update

I passed the class!  I passed the [real estate license] class!  I got an 82% on my final last night and I passed the first time!  When he handed me my exam results and I saw the "wrong answers 28, score 82%", I had to look at the name to see if it was my name.  It was my name!  I about fell over and had to keep looking at it.  That test was so hard!  About half way thru I told myself I could come back next week and take it again.  But, the whole weekend I kept positive about it all and studied studied studied.  I didn't touch my books Monday at all, I just let it all absorb and it worked!  After the shock of passing subsided enough for me to walk, I ran out to my car and called Vic.  He was so happy!  I had to sit there and talk to him for a few minutes while I calmed down enough to drive.  I was so happy and so shocked that I just broke down and cried.  It was such a weight lifted off my shoulders.  Now, I take the state exam in Atlanta.  That should be within the next week.  This afternoon, I'll register for that online.  I have to give Beth (the lady who puts all the info into the computer) enough time to get it all recorded to AMP.  Out of 29 people who took the test last night, only 8 people passed and I was one of them!   Vic will be coming with me for that.  I don't want to stay in Atlanta by myself.  We'll drive up the night before since the test is in the morning. 
Take care.  I just wanted to share my excitement with you.
Love ya,
Yeah, she was just a wee bit excited.  :)   I should mention she's been a SAHM/military wife for the last fifteen years and is just returning to the workforce.  And yes, she passed the State Exam, too!!!  ^5 Chris, that's a major accomplishment and I am so very proud of you.  You my dear sister, can do anything you set your mind to...and yeah, in many ways you are just like me ;).   Here's to all your future successful closings.  I think I'm going to like having a licensed real estate agent in the family!!!!
Now, a bit of a favor to ask.  Jimmy (StupidSheetGuy) was kind and generous enough to host and upload a Christmas song for me so I have music playing in the background of my journal.  Problem is, I can't hear it.  He can, I can't.  I've gone to seven different computers, three with AOL and four without, opened my journal and waited up to five the sounds of silence.  From every angle I've approached this, wanting so badly to hear the opening chords eminating from the speakers.  I'm so bummed.  :(  Can anyone hear 'I Believe in Father Christmas' by Emerson, Lake and Palmer playing when they open my journal?  It will take a minute or two for the song to load.  Someone...anyone?

All I want for Christmas is my favorite Christmas song to play in my journal.

Life on the farm...

If last week at the Christmas tree farm is any indication of what we can expect for the rest of the month, we are in for a wild ride! It started out on a warm fuzzy note, then went in a totally different direction. Last year being our first year we kicked it off with a give-away. For every tree we sold we entered the name and phone # of the customer into a drawing for a free tree this year. Friday after Thanksgiving we drew the name from about 90 people, then I made the call to inform the winner. I felt oddly like Bob Barker. I dialed the number, a child answered, I asked for his mother or father, the mother took the call and the second I told her who I was she immediately knew why I was calling and began screaming (with much joyful enthusiasm) into the phone. I wasn't giving her a million dollars, just a free Christmas tree but she carried on for several minutes, unable to contain her excitement. I think I can safely say we made that family's day...maybe even more. It was great fun doing so, and then to see their faces the next day when they came to pick a tree just capped it off. The winners are a young family with two boys (about 4 and 6) and a girl (maybe 1 y/o). Something tells me this will be a Christmas they'll long remember. :) Sunday just before dark, the father came by to pick up the tree. He could barely contain his excitement and wore an ear to ear grin on his face the entire time. Have I mentioned we have a custom cut farm...meaning we don't cut the trees in advance, they remain in the ground until selected by a customer. I know there is a huge...okay...big debate between live versus artificial trees and I've had both; somewhere in my past is a photo of me circa 1966 standing next to an aluminum tree. And we thought we were cool then. Ha ha!!!

Tuesday night after work we got a call from a prospective customer who wanted to look for a tree. It was dark, but she was undeterred, so we met her outside. With her were two boys, about six or seven y/o; one with Harry Potter style glasses complete with a polite, mild mannered demeanor to go with it and the other was the total opposite. By the time they found a tree I concluded the opposite boy was a walking talking Damien. Let me tell you about this child. He hated every tree the woman picked. Not so bad really, coz there are some very questionable trees on the lot. Finally, she found one and asked both boys if they liked it. Harry Potter said yes with a nod, but Damien ('ll see what I mean) says no with animated gusto and then he picks up handfuls of snow and begins throwing snow at the tree. Okay, boys will be boys. Harry Potter stands quietly in front of me, the woman can't decide if she likes the tree, and a few seconds later I heard her tell Damien to 'Stop that!' So I turn and see Damien has a strangle hold on one of our Charlie Brown trees (if you've ever seen the tv special It's a Charlie Brown Christmas, you'll know what I mean), and is shaking it quite vigorously while screaming 'Kill the trees! Kill all the trees!' Unaffected Mom turns her attention back to the other tree. Damien doesn't stop so I ask him to stop too. 'Honey, please don't do that to our trees.' I'm being way too nice. Damien steps away from the tree, I turn my attention back to the mother.  Next thing Harry Potter asks me if we own all these trees, which is interrupted by the sound of the woman saying, '(Insert Damien's first, middle and last name here), put down that chain saw!!!' What?!?! I turn in time to see the child wildly swinging Sam's chain saw (it's off) around right behind me, chanting his 'Kill the trees,' song. That does it!!! I take a step toward him, he puts the saw down, and I position myself over the top of the saw while he runs back over to the selected family tree and picks up his thow the snow at the tree act while repeating the words, 'I hate this tree,' over and over. Note to self: Do not, under any circumstances, let the chain saw out of your sight. It's dark, it's cold, my patience is running out and I can't help but notice the woman still isn't even affected by his behavior. Is this normal? She continues like nothing happened!!!! Does young Damien always help himself to other people's property, especially chain saws? About the time I'm wondering what other tricks Damien has up his sleeve the mother decides she wants the tree, and Sam cuts it for her, at which point Damien wants to know if the tree will hit anyone on the head when it falls. What a charming young boy. Is he her son, or a family member, maybe Harry's friend?  Poor Harry, he seems totally desensitized to the behavior as well.  Damien's animated antics continued the entire time (Iwon't share all my thoughts, just use your imagination), and the woman carried on completely oblivious in contrast to the wide-eye reactions and repeated exchange of looks between Sam and I. We couldn't get the tree and the family loaded fast enough for me. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown before they finally left. OMG!!!!!!!

Two nights later on Thursday Sam and I foiled a couple of late night Christmas tree thieves. There's nothing like running around a tree farm in your jammies chasing would be thieves under the cover of darkness to put you in the holiday spirit.

That was last week. We're on vacation next week and so far this week things have been 'normal'...but the week ain't over yet. We'll see.

On another note Sam got offered a job in Alabama; seems his former boss is in head hunting mode and looking to recruit some of his former employees. Will he take it? Not likely, he's less than four years away from retiring and moving across the country right now is not part of the plan.

The background on this entry is from Pat's Web Graphics.