Guest Blog Post: Tips for Sleuthing the Past by Margaret Lossi

Who'll your search turn up? Photo thanks to Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com
Who will your search turn up? Photo thanks to Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

Writers and readers alike, for times we’d like to look into our histories, author Margaret Lossi offers tips for how to get started. My two novels are works-in-progresses! Lossi says that when it comes to looking up one’s family background, be prepared for surprises…

M.A. Lossl

The Family Tree

Warning: family history can lead to emotional discoveries.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but you begin at the end! That is, you begin with you.

Check your birth certificate, verify your parents. It may seem like a given, but just sometimes people find they are adopted, or their mum is really their grandma. It pays to check.

Check your parents birth certificates, to verify your grandparents. Then work your way back through the generations, verifying birth certificates.

These first steps build the strong foundation of your family tree, so worth doing well.

It is not a case of how far back you can go, but the quality of your data

You may wish to answer a family question. I knew my parents were second cousins, so wanted to find out about this link. Set yourself a goal to work towards. Whatever your motivation, make sure you verify each…

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Now We Are 2 (only): Sweet Lola is Sorely Missed by da-AL

Lola our black Labrador mix dog at the beach.
Lola our black Labrador mix dog at the beach.

Our home is too quiet, too empty without our dear Lola. Last Wednesday, she joined her twin brother, Pierre.

Lola our black Labrador mix dog when she was only a few months old.
Lola our black Labrador mix dog when she was only a few months old.

We were privileged to have her. Like Pierre, she was loyal in every way to the end. The two were trusting, kind, obedient, and fun loving.

Lola our black Labrador mix dog, to the right of her brother, Pierre.
Lola our black Labrador mix dog, to the right of her brother, Pierre.

Second in her heart only to her human family was her adored brother who passed away a few months ago. Hopefully, now they’re together, forever safe and happy.

Lola, our black Labrador mix dog, is sorely missed.
Lola, our black Labrador mix dog, is sorely missed.

A kind fellow blogger said that losing a dear pet never gets easier. Indeed it doesn’t…

Guest Blog Post: Ignorance by Chuy

Photo of Chuy dog

It took me a long time to learn this. Paz’ dog Chuy taught it to him…

Chow Dog Zen

Road to The Wonder Woods

Just because you 

Don’t Know

You are 

Beautiful,

Perfect,

And Precious to this

Great Cosmos

Doesn’t mean

It isn’t So.

  • Chuy

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Now We Are 3 (only) by da-AL

Pierre, da-AL, Lola, K-D
Pierre a few months ago, at about 14 years old.

This morning I stayed in bed till late. I was awake, but I didn’t want to get up to a house without Pierre in it.

Yesterday I had to put my dog down. Such a gentle euphemism for murder. To put one to sleep. My dear, dear dog-man trusted me, yet I tricked him. First by lulling him into thinking it was a normal day by asking my husband to roast a chicken at home that delighted his nose and soothed his belly. But afterward a vet arrived. She knotted a tourniquet at his rear thigh, shaved an area below it, and injected a sedative. His fitful gasping evened, his pain-blinded stare softened. Amid caresses and loving murmurs, the vet administered a second shot to finish him off.

My dear Pierre at 9 months old.

But Pierre lingered within his peaceful half-sleep. So another shave. Then a third shot to a different leg. That one finally killed him.

Nicer ways exist to frame this, but my heart won’t listen to the many fine arguments for how, whether, and when.

No, I don’t know of a better way to have done it. When his kidneys began to fail, and arthritis increasingly ravaged his days and nights, I promised us two things; he’d never take another trembling ride to a vet, and he’d never be wet again (he was a Labrador mix one-of-a-kind who hated water).

Fortunately, we could afford to have a vet to visit our home for those final injections. Fortunately, I could be with Pierre, my sweetest, most uncomplicated of friendships and loves. Fortunately, he’d lived a good long life, as dog lives go.

Pierre at 8 weeks old.

All the same, this was the awfullest decision I hope ever to make.

Life is beautiful, merciless, humbling.

Pierre (right) with his twin sister.

As much as our recent time together — these months of arranging throw rugs, moving furniture, closing doors so he wouldn’t get tangled among legs or be locked into rooms or slip and not be able to get back up, all which upset him to no end — these months of his hobbled struggle to follow me everywhere and to share walks with his sisters even though he’d fall within a few steps from home — this stoic period when, despite his waning appetite, he’d eat all that my family hand fed him while I experimented with healing remedies and weight gaining foods — this era when we set ramps and nudged him up and I learned the trick to gathering his 55 pounds into my arms to navigate down — these weeks of carrying him outside to pee in the middle of the night because the shame of soiling his diapers showed naked in his eyes (debilitated kidneys need volumes more water to compensate)…

Pierre (right) in better times.

and even though yesterday was the worst, today not a whole lot better…

I am thankful for every moment we shared. Hopefully, he knew he was loved…

Snuggle Dogs by da-AL

Our best friends are those who cheer us through our ups and cheer us up through our downs.

Mr. Gentleman Dog is aging. Growing older is a gift, but it extracts a price. For some of us, the cost is higher than for others.

In Mr. Gentleman Dog’s case, arthritis is wearing away his hips. And his kidneys don’t work as well. Rather than soil stuff, several times a night he rouses himself to ask to go out into the cold and pee.

But every day, he still has plenty of moments that he enjoys. He still loves treats, short walks, and cuddles.

And he loves the warmth of friendship…

Guest Blog Post: “Open Me First,” in Sharon Lynne Bonin-Pratt’s exact words

Drawing of a wrapped present6 tips for heartfelt giving by writer and fellow blogger Sharon Lynne Bonin-Pratt

Sharon Bonin-Pratt's Ink Flare

The holiday dilemma: what do you get for the person who has everything?

Perhaps something goofy like slippers that sing Rock Around the Clock, or something extravagant like a set of diamond encrusted napkins rings, the kind of thing that becomes an expensive party joke. Maybe a bauble like a garden statue of lighted snowmen or a set of holiday themed coffee mugs, useless most of the year because, well, they’re holiday themed and who wants to drink coffee in July with Rudolph’s red nose stenciled on it? We can get truly original: a dozen bottles of wine with personalized labels, Humphrey Malarkey Family Reserve Chardonnay, so it looks like Uncle Humph became a boutique vintner on Christmas Eve.  Another possibility is the very exclusive Himalayan Cilantro Sea Salt Spa Scrub with Acai Crystals – imagine how much fun Great Aunt Agnes will have trying to figure out…

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Brushing, Fish Oil, Turmeric, Digestive Enzymes for Young and Geriatric Cats and Dogs by da-AL

Striped cat with great fur
Cats are better sleek than scrawny.

What do dogs have to do with cats?

It all began with a brush, some fish oil, and some turmeric. For good measure, some digestive enzymes too.

About a month ago, I cat-sat a 15ish-year-old cat for a week. She was bony, flaky skinned, clumpy-furred, and lethargic. It as just as well that her ‘usual people’ didn’t tell me they expected her to die of old age while they were away.

Kitty ate, drank, and partook of her litter box normally. After a couple days of checking in on her twice daily, her snow drifts of dandruff, her languor, and her scrawniness nagged at me.

Day three, I took action. With each morning and evening visit, I began three things:

  1. Vigorous brushing with a slicker brush, the kind with the bent wires.
  2. A capsule of fish oil squirted into her mouth twice a day too.
  3. A capsule of turmeric sprinkled over her kibble.

Each day, she looked significantly better; livelier, not nearly as angular, and her dandruff had dwindled to snowflakes. Now that her ‘regular people’ continue the protocol, she’s prettier than ever!

Beautiful face of my black Labrador mix dog
Wise and gray make sweet and black all the lovelier.

The following week, I took one of my dogs for a rabies vaccination. After the vet administered the shot, he started slicker brushing my dog. He said, “All dogs and cats need a thorough brushing daily.”

“Doesn’t it hurt short-hairs and geriatrics?”

He answered, “Once they get used to it, they love it. It helps their skin and circulation.”

What a difference! With each brushing, my dogs shed less hair and skin flakes. Today, their coats practically glow with shine and good health.

Digestive enzymes came into play when my dogs’ halitosis and flatulence were becoming chronic. After meals, one of them would pace and pant for hours, her stomach gurgling. When I saw digestive enzymes on sale at the pet store, I decided to try dosing them with my own. Each meal, I split a tablet between the dogs. Now their breath smells much better and they settle quickly after meals!

Like with anything I give my dogs, I started small when testing the try fish oil, turmeric, and digestive enzymes. Then I looked for loose stools, which would indicate that I should cut back. Cats and dogs alike took to vigorous brushing right away, the proof in how they try to elbow each other out of the way once I get started.