The Companions

You came to me at four months old, all full of puppy shenanigans. Sweet, kind, and loyal from the start, I couldn’t believe my luck. You were beautiful with the one blue eye and one brown eye. It’s been 20 years ago and I remember what you looked like as a puppy precisely.

You and I were together through some hard times. My mother lived with us and when you were two years old, she passed away. You comforted me more effectively than anyone else could. We lived alone together,  you and I, for seven years, until you were nine years old. I wouldn’t have survived the loneliness without you.

We saved each other’s lives, you and I. You got a chew bone caught in your throat one night and you were choking to death. Somehow, I pried it out before you died. Innumerable times, you woke me up when my blood sugar was low and saved my life. I literally owed you my life.

When you were ten years old, I remarried. I still had to see you the last thing before I closed my eyes at night and the first thing when I opened them in the morning. You were starting to get old. You had fought chronic pancreatitis all your life.

When you were fourteen, you had a tooth abscess. There was no choice but to have your veterinarian pull it. When you came home, you collapsed for two days and the vet came to the house. I begged you to wake up. Finally, you did. You were never the same again. The vet diagnosed you with canine dementia brought on my the anesthesia.

Within six months, I couldn’t bear to watch you go to the closet door to go outside instead of the outside door. You didn’t feel well. When you looked at me, you were begging me with your eyes. I sent you over the Rainbow Bridge and it barely took any medication at all. It broke my heart.

For five years, I couldn’t bear to look at a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. They were all you. Finally, I started to miss having a Cardi in my home and a kind friend was able to find a puppy for me. He is of your bloodline, a great-nephew several times removed. Sometimes, he reminds me of you, but he’s his own little man. I love having a Cardi again.

I don’t expect him to replace you. I can already see signs of him becoming a great companion dog like you were, even though he’s only three and one-half months old. He’s so smart and I see the loyalty building. I wonder what you’d think of him?

He’s the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night, just like you were. I love you, Eliza, and now I love Tucker too.

https://rosemarycarlson.com

Safe House

069B9211-BBF7-4A26-BF64-3FF7F7BF10BD

They couldn’t keep the homeless out of the old house. They weren’t really the homeless, but the hobos. Those who were homeless on purpose. They seemed to like to congregate in the old house for a night, a few days, a year. No one seemed to know why the hobos were determined to squat in the old house, but they knew they weren’t inclined to leave.

Her husband was selling the house and property. She wasn’t in favor of the sale. It was all she had of her family’s legacy to her. They argued about it, but he wanted to sell it to a buyer who would renovate it. She wanted to renovate it herself, but that seemed out of the question. He wasn’t having much luck.

The hobos wondered who left the food every morning. It was there when they awakened. A veritable feast. Why would they leave the old house when they had manna from heaven? A man kept bringing people to see the house and they had to scatter. They left the house in poor condition, hoping no one would buy it.

That was why she did it and it was working.

Photo Credit C.E. Ayr

 

Conflagration – #writephoto

9CB501F1-3399-4D0A-B3B7-D99A3364C38B

They had been looking forward to their camping trip to the national park. The two of them hadn’t taken a vacation together in a long time. This time together was long-awaited. They both enjoyed the forest, the outdoors, the wildlife, the hiking, all the things they would get to do in the wilderness area of the park. They set up their camp with excitement that afternoon while planning their activities for the evening and the next day.

He went fishing in the river that ran nearby and actually caught fish for their dinner. They were both thrilled. They had brought vegetables from home to complete their meal. They were grilling their food over the campfire when they first noticed the smoke. At first they thought it was just smoke from the campfires of other people. Then they saw a herd of deer and even a black bear and her cubs run past them. He became concerned. There was a low cacophony rumbling in the forest.

Quite suddenly, there were people running by them, screaming at them to leave, to run, that a conflagration was heading toward them. They picked up a few necessities and got in their car.

When they got out on the road, they quickly saw they couldn’t escape by driving. The  cars were backed up for miles. They could see the glow of blaze behind them and could tell it was getting closer. It was time to abandon the car.

They felt like they had run, along with everyone else in the same tourist town, for miles. She fell to her knees over a lump in the terrain. When he stooped to pull her up, they both heard a grunt and they thought she had fallen over a person. They started frantically searching the ground and found the body….of a large pot-bellied pig. He was digging himself as deep into the ground as he could. They knew they couldn’t help him and jumped up and ran on. The fire was practically licking at their heels.

When it was all over, they had reached safety, but not everyone had and not every animal in the beautiful park had escaped. Later, they found that the pig was a family pet that knew to burrow into the ground. He’d been rescued and was recovering at the nearest veterinary hospital. It would take longer, much longer, for the national park to recover from the fire that the young boys let get out of control. Some families would never recover from the loss of their loved ones at all.

Dedicated to the victims of the fire in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2016

Appalachia: Pearl Harbor – #100WW

AF471DD1-DE6E-449C-9623-45C06FEB99F8

The news ran up and down Burning Fork and Birch Branch roads in Magoffin County, Kentucky faster than the water in the creeks. The family ran into the house to turn on the radio, their only means of communication with the outside world. The address by the President of the United States was playing. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and the U.S. had entered World War II.

The young man from Michigan enlisted in the Navy. He was to be sent to Kentucky where his fate would intertwine with that Appalachian family because of this Great War.

100 words

Picture credit to @Bikurgurl

Turrets – #writephoto

B5E87B45-0F5D-47CA-BC89-5954A23EC6B9

How did he ever convince her to visit this God forsaken castle in Turkey, of all places, Rebecca wondered to herself as she and Patrick stumbled down the crumbling, stone steps in the portion of the medieval castle that was still standing.

This trip to Europe had been filled with difficulties. Patrick was determined to make this one last stop in Turkey and she saw no reason, cultural or otherwise, for it. The ruins weren’t particularly noteworthy. The tour group was small. The surrounding area contained little of historical significance. It was also completely off their tour route. She didn’t understand why they were there and Patrick seemed unable and unwilling to explain. He’d hardly even spoken to her as they toured the ruins.

He was walking far ahead of her down the steps when she felt herself stumble. There was nothing to grab onto. She started to tumble down the stairs and landed at the bottom. The remaining two people behind her rushed to her, but she assured them she was fine. They wandered off.

She wasn’t fine. She’d turned her ankle and as she tried to get up, she found she couldn’t put her weight on it. By then, the two other tour group members were gone and she was alone. She called out for Patrick, but after waiting a few minutes, it was clear he didn’t know yet that she’d been left behind.

Rebecca suddenly heard a woman laugh, an evil-sounding laugh. She looked up and on the stair rail stood a creature. A female-looking creature with piercing blue eyes and a long black robe. Rebecca started scooting across the floor away from it.

The creature spoke and said, “My name is Ramona and I am the Dark Fairy.” Then it just tapped its toe on the stair rail.

”I’d make you my pet, but it would be more fun to make that man you’re with my pet.”

Rebecca finally found her voice and said, “What are you talking about?”

”Don’t you know anything? Dark fairies make humans their pets and the humans do our biding.”

Rebecca felt herself jerked up, her ankle painless, and the Dark Fairy fluttered beside her.

”Now get up. We’re going after that gentleman friend of yours. He’s been trying to do you harm.”

#Avenue – #writephoto

12388FC1-63EB-429B-84F6-2AC6DA3A79B4

Against her own will, she takes a different route than usual for her morning walk. It is bright and sunny outside. One of the first sunny days after a brutal winter. It seems that the weather has jumped from the dead of winter right into summer. It even seems hot. She vows to cut her morning walk a little short.

Then she sees a tree-lined avenue to her right. Its beauty astounds her. Her feet take her toward the avenue and she spots park benches all along the way. She craves the shade-lined portion of the avenue. She sits on one of the benches. Recently, she hasn’t enjoyed the sun. She feels the sun reveals too much about her. The tired face, the slumped posture, the aging. Those are private things. She doesn’t want anyone to look too closely. They might figure her out.

Beyond the shade is the wondrous sunny part of the avenue. It’s lined with cherry-blossoms. The scent wafts toward her and is sweet. People are meandering along the sunny avenue admiring the cherry trees. She doesn’t feel she has a right to the cherry blossoms, to the sunny portion of the avenue. That is for the young, the people with life ahead of them. Those who still have hopes and dreams. Not someone like her. Someone whose hopes and dreams have been stolen away.

She sits and enjoys the shade for a while. She pulls herself up and starts for home. That’s where she belongs. Behind the draperies. Where the sun doesn’t shine.

Thanks to Sue Vincent

Stories of Appalachia: Birch Branch

6B427DE9-B136-43A7-B481-82F479262612.jpeg

There is a little creek that runs up a hollow (pronounced “holler” in eastern Kentucky) called Birch Branch. Now in case you don’t know what a holler is, I’ll tell you. It is the very narrow valley between two mountains. I’m not sure if that term is specific to Appalachia, but that’s the only place I’ve ever heard it used. Birch Branch is the creek that was beside the farms and houses where my family, for many generations back, lived and thrived. The name came from the Native Americans. I assume it was named because of the slight river birch trees that grow by the creek.

I didn’t live there. I grew up in northeastern Kentucky which is still Appalachia, but it isn’t the heart of the region. Birch Branch and the area around it, which is in Magoffin County, Kentucky, is in the heart of Appalachia.

When I was growing up, we used to visit my grandparents and other relatives in and around Birch Branch very frequently. That area was originally where my maternal grandmother’s people lived and, when I was a girl, most of them still lived there. My mother, dad, and I were often there every weekend. I developed an understanding of Appalachia and its people because I am one of its people. My mother grew up there. I have deep Appalachian roots through her that extend back to the Revolutionary War.

Back to Birch Branch. It was a beautiful place back in those days. Heavily wooded. Mountainous. A few homes miles apart. The road was dirt and gravel. My grandfather and grandmother married and bought a house on that road in 1901 along with a beautiful farm. They raised eight children in that farmhouse, including my mother.

By the time I came along, they had moved to another farm house on what they called the main road, an intersecting road with Birch Branch. All of my childhood, my cousins and I would play up and down the Birch Branch road and in that creek. We heard stories of what had happened there in the past. One story was that one of my great-grandfather’s wives had gotten angry with him and thrown herself into the creek. I’ll have to tell you that it would be very hard to drown yourself in that creek since the water level is usually low. That story is part of the family legend.

One particularly poignant memory for me is a trip I took up Birch Branch with my grandfather in his cart pulled by his mules. We went to his family’s homeplace, which was farther on from Birch Branch. I remember that, even as a child, the beauty of that place struck me. Green, lush, pure, clean. Not like it is today. The remains of the log cabin in which my grandfather had grown up were in the wonderous meadow to which he took me. I’ll never forget that special day. Circa 1960s.

Birch Branch is part of my heritage. Stay tuned for Part 2. Birch Branch today.

#Core – #MothersDay

5764BA1A-7FF5-42E5-B21D-149C6BCB66FC

On this Mother’s Day, I find myself thinking about my mother and what her passing meant to me. She’s been gone for eighteen years now. My dad died when I was comparatively young – only 30. I had my mother for many years after he passed away. After she died, I felt a keen since of mortality at my core. There was no one left older than me. That meant I would, at some point, be next. You really feel that when both parents are gone as they were in my case after my mother died.

When your mother dies, you feel quite alone. Even though I was closer to my father than to my mother, I felt more alone after she died. You never quite get over losing your parents and I think I can safely say, your mother. I think that may be because your mother nurtured you before you were born and immediately thereafter.

Mother’s Day also revers the maternal bonds as well as being a celebration of Mothers. I don’t know a lot about maternal bonds. My mother did her best, even though she was plagued by serious illness all of her life or the portion of her life in which I knew her. We didn’t have the strong bonds many daughter’s and mother’s have.

I hope every Mother out there has a wonderful Mother’s Day today and that you get to spend it with your children!

#Fallen – #writephoto

891E3843-7298-4EB1-B27D-5BFB4FEBADE2

As she sat and looked out her window, at 50 years of age, she thought of that 19-year old girl she used to be. She didn’t have many regrets about the things she had done. Perhaps this was one of them. She imagined a conversation between herself now and then and how the years had given her wisdom.

”You were only nineteen. You’d had one relationship in your life. How did you get involved with a married man?”

”Don’t judge me, old woman. I had fallen into such a deep depression after the way my previous relationship ended that I just needed some attention. He wasn’t that much older than me. I thought he was serious about our relationship.”

”A married man is never serious, young lady. That mistake on your part affected you for the rest of your life. Can’t you see that?”

”Yes, I see that. It made it easy to step over that line, but what am I supposed to do about it now, old woman? You don’t understand.”

”Nothing. There is nothing you can do but vow to do better. You can also try to learn to live with the regret. It’s difficult.”

The older woman thought about her mental conversation and smiled. There were things in her life that she certainly regretted but not many. Young people didn’t realize that older people were still young on the inside. Mostly, what she regretted were the things she had not yet done. If her body would hold out for her, she intended to remedy that.

Thank you, Sue Vincent, #writephoto

#Laughter – #dailypost

B2142DCB-84EC-4D78-AD1B-784519C24A7D

Laughter is the best medicine. That’s what I’ve always heard, haven’t you? It’s certainly true. The more you laugh, the better your outlook on the world and your own situation within it. When I’m around laughter, my own spirits soar.

I’ve had a hard year without much laughter, so I decided to do something about that. I’ve always been a dog person and have seldom been without a dog in my life. Usually more than one. My last dog passed away in July of 2017. Since then, I have tried to adopt a couple of dogs, but neither worked out. Those experiences lasted a very short period of time. They were sad experiences for me, but they taught me a lesson. Adopt a puppy that can bond with just me. Since I miss having a dog more than I can say, I decided to take some action.

There is nothing, you know, that can make you laugh like a new puppy in the house. A new roly-poly puppy bounding around through the house performing its antics is the funniest thing in the world. It requires a lot of training, but even that is fun. You’re developing a companion that will be with you for years to come and giving a puppy a forever home.

My new puppy arrives in two days. I’m very excited and can’t wait to hear all the laughter that will ring out in my house. Puppy will be very good for us.