Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Greyt Time to Adopt a Greyhound!

     April is "Adopt a Greyhound Month." And I'm glad to say we have two greyhounds--Ace and Dottie! I had wanted a greyhound for years before we adopted Ace in 2008. So when we lost our 13-year-old, little, mixed-breed, dalmatian on Christmas Eve of 2007, I began to revisit that plan. We found our hounds at Greyhound Pets of America Springfield, Missouri (GPAMO)--online at
     I had been told previously by a "friend," with a so called high IQ, that I should never adopt a greyhound because they were too large, required a lot of activity and needed to be exercised often, and "I just didn't have time for that." Fortunately, that is so far from the truth!!  Greyhounds are known for being 45-mile-per-hour couch potatoes. They are sprinters not long distant runners. Their running endurance lasts for about 30 seconds during races. They are not hyper, snow-mushing dogs who can run indefinitely. Their favorite thing to do, is to curl up in a nice soft doggy bed while snuggling with their comfy blankets and myriad stuffed toys.
Dottie Mae, snuggled in her blanket.
     I like to tell people that greyhounds fold up nicely! I've found greyhounds are remarkable. They are very mannerly, don't often run in the house, they love to be with you and will follow you and lay down beside you. And when they do lay down, often they curl up and don't take up much space. Also, they aren't very vocal and don't shed much and make wonderful companions. They are very obedient. Greyhounds also have a universal blood type and are often used as blood donors for other dogs. They have large physical as well as figurative speaking hearts. Their large hearts help pump all that blood for those 45-mile per-hour sprints. Their large figurative hearts learn by kindness not harsh words and reprimands--they learn best by using positive enforcement. They love treats! 
Ace and Dottie celebrating their birthdays with the Grandkids.

     Ace is the exception to the rule about being vocal.. He loves to sing/howl or as we call it "Roo." This is his signal of ultimate happiness, and he expects us to sing with him too!  Because of their mild dispositions, greyhounds aren't usually thought of as guard dogs, but Ace breaks this rule too.

Ace loves to "Roo."

     Ace will bark and alert us if someone comes to our door or yard. With his loud bass voice, 75-pound frame and dark almost doberman-like stature he makes me feel safe!! 
     Greyhounds like schedules. Ours are fed twice a day, and you'd think that they could tell time. If I'm a little late getting up on the morning or a little late with the evening feeding Ace lets me know.
     Most greyhounds love to go for a walk. And, once you begin the walking on a schedule, they will know exactly when it's time to go. Dottie runs to the laundry room and stands beside the leashes hanging on a hook.
     I've found that Ace loves kids. When we adopted him, I was told by Alane Shultz of Greyhound Pets Of America Springfield, Missouri that males usually consider little children their siblings. Females on the other hand, think of children as their puppies and will try to discipline them. We've found that to be true when we adopted Dottie in December 2011. But, overtime she's warmed up to the grandchildren and considers them now part of our pack. She runs to the door with Ace to greet them when they come to our house.
Ace has a friend with my little granddaughter.
     Greyhounds love stuffed toys and love to collect them. Beside Ace's and Dottie's beds are a collection of stuffed alligators, ducks, footballs, gongs and Ace's most favorite--a de-stuffed (thanks to Dottie) octopus missing most of its legs!
Ace and his de-stuffed octopus--wearing it like a wig!
        Other neat facts about greyhounds are: they are the only dog type mentioned in the Bible, and being a very old breed, their history also traces back to 12,000 B.C. were they are painted on cave walls. To learn more interesting facts, like these, read this imformative book, "Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies," by Lee Livingood. If you'd like to adopt a retired racer, contact your nearest adoption agency--in Missouri that would be GPAMO at or visit them on Facebook at:
Dottie our sleeping "yoga" girl!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Snow Days Introducing Baby Chayce!

     Snow days are here! And right before the snow fell we received a special delivery. Little Chayce, a new grandson. Wrapped snugly in his hospital blanket, with a beanie cap on, he looked so small and fragile. The doc while caressing his blonde hair,called him a peaceful, beautiful baby boy. We all agree!
Baby Chayce

     And we are so glad he came before the whole city was socked in by 12-inches of blowing snow. You made your entrance right on time little Chayce!!
     While you and Mama were safely tucked inside the hospital, snow fell all over the Mid West leaving our backyard looking like a winter wonderland. It's place you will play in some day, along with your cousins. The grandkids and I have special names for some of our trees--someday you will play beside or up in the Magic Tree, or underneath the old and gnarly Grandfather Tree or maybe below the Oak Forest Trees.
The Oak Forest
     While you were sleeping in you hospital bassinet and dreaming sweet baby dreams, some of your cousins were helping to make snow ice cream at Nana and Pop's house.
Aunt Melissa making snow cream.

     And grandson, Magoo, decided to help Nana's flower bush in the front yard so he tried to dust it off with a broom, but he found it was more fun to set the broom up and box with it!! I'm sure someday you'll be doing something like this too.
Magoo broom boxing.
     It was also a special day for Pop to make pancakes and bacon for breakfast. And, Aunt Melissa decided to cut apples crosswise and dip them in pancake batter, so she made wonderful little apple pancakes. Just right for little fingers!! Someday you will get to stay at Nana's house too and you can try them.
     So rest and grow little one and soon you'll meet all the family--Flower, Mae Mae, Magoo, Trey, and brother and sisters JoJo, Boo Boo, Lily Mae and Little Faith. Together you will run and play at Nana's house pretending to be pirates and explorers--riding "horses" or driving race cars or even becoming part of a one act play!
Our one-act play!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Surrounded by the Energy of Creating

     I love being surrounded by books and thoughts of literature during the cold of winter! There is a magic with reading the written word, and a definite magic with writing words down and learning to arrange them, toss them out or recreate them into a totally new piece of writing.  
     So, teaching my first poetry combined with photography class at the local State Fair Community College has been the impetus for additional ideas in furthering my literary prowess. Not only am I teaching and hoping I'm encouraging creativity in the students, but as usual the students always encourage me to reach higher and dream bigger and create more. With this class, I am combining my love for reading and writing poetry with my first love of photography and art.
      For one assignment, I had each student select a 4-x-6-inch photo. The photos were turned upside down so they couldn't see their selection until everyone had one. The stories behind the photos weren't revealed to the students, but they were asked to write a poem using their photo for inspiration. Not an easy task, since the photos were not generic but each unique in their own way, as you can see below.

      For one student the photo above, an abstracted hosta flower I created for an art show in Los Angeles, became a very humorous poem for children about a monster cabbage who came, along with its veggy cohorts, to terrorize a fictitious town. What a wonderful imagination booster!!  
     The photo to the right, was created with two red dog food bowls at each side, a green baby bib in the center and a dryer sheet box on top. I shot it using a slow shutter speed while moving the camera. It was then further manipulated in Photoshop to create the feathering that you see now. The student who received this photo was a surgeon, who saw it as possibly an explosion but also connections in the brain. To me, I see feathery flowers, probably because a major part of my photography has been garden photos for magazines. That makes sense. We each see differently based on our life's experience. 

     This photo of a homeless man holding a soda can  (face not shown here) because of his weary eyes, red bearded face and hard working hands, became to one student, the inspiration for a poem about an archaeologist at a prehistoric dig site! 

     And the photo below of a dying geranium laying in the snow, prompted one student to originally ponder writing a poem about death and shadows. Instead, she did a full circle and wrote a lovely soulful piece about a dancer.
     "She dances...The Spirit flows through her like a a vessel of love." 

          One of the assignments, writing without the sense of sight, left us all pondering the idea of which sense we would be most willing to give up. This assignment inspired me to write a poem also, "Oboe Sonata." The poem began as an exercise and became so much more. As I wrote it, I began to hear an oboe playing in the wind. That's when the poem "turned" and morphed into an audio rendition based on a musical piece I love called "Gabriel's Oboe," from "The Mission " by Ennio Morricone and played by cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

" floats on the wind, the rise and fall like a living creature
breathing, wind chime-like soft sadness,
singing of lives not lived, a melancholy enchanter
with butter smooth measures,
oboe sonata,
Gabriel's Oboe,
like angel voices,
ascending heavenward
   on the breezes of my youth."

     Our human imaginations are ever fluid and evolving so no matter where inspiration comes from it's essential to a creative person's being. I hope to continue to inspire and be inspired over and over again. Not only during the cold winter months surrounded by books and words and art, but surrounded by people, year around, who love to create, who are filled with the energy of learning!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's the Smallest Gifts that Matter

     On my desk I have saucer with two blue jay feathers, two dried clover flowers, a Jesus card, a rock, dried crab apple berries, some dried leaves and a dried dandelion flower. On my piano sitting on top of a jarred candle are dried sugar maple leaves.

     You might ask what these strange items are doing hanging around? Am I a hoarder, lover of all things nature, someone who can't through things away? Well...I'm a Nana, or Nanny or Nan, a Grandmother or a Granny (a funny name my next to youngest granddaughter called me one day). And, if you've ever had children or grandchildren, you realize quickly it's the smallest gifts that matter through the course of time. Gifts given on the spur of the moment, gifts given from the heart. These very important gifts need a place of honor and a place where they can be seen. These very small gifts have a story and a heartbeat.
     Such as the two blue jay feathers that were given to me by oldest granddaughter Shi, age 11. She brought them to me after an afternoon of exploring the yard and said, "Look Nanny, I found two blue bird feathers! You can have them!" So into my collection they went. Shi loves to explore, and reminds me of myself when I was her age, I was always wanting to explore nature.
     I found the two dried clovers in my purse after my youngest granddaughter, Boo Boo age 3, went home from a visit. We had been out in the front yard looking at and watering the flowers. She apparently decided to pick some flowers for me, and make it a surprise by placing them in my purse. Little Boo Boo is wise beyond her age and is always thoughtful.
     Joe Joe, age 8, gave me the Jesus card after he'd had a particularly difficult day at school. Somehow in his heart, it was Jesus who would see him through. He said, "Here Nana, here's Jesus. Don't you love Jesus? He's good to us." The Jesus card spent many months on the refrigerator door, so we could remember Jesus's goodness, and Joe Joe's gift. This year in school, Joe Joe is excelling! We are proud!
     The rock belongs to Mae Mae, age 4, she is a lover of rocks (like her Nana), and collects them continually. She is fascinated with all the rocks in the driveway, even though to me they all look gray and uneventful, but little Mae sees the beauty in their plainness and finds them all wonderful treasures. She also gave me the crab apple berries and asked to be lift to the tree so she could pick them. Mae says she wishes she could touch the air!  
     Bespectacled Drewy, age 8, looking like a little professor with his glasses gave me the dandelion and maple leaves. With a big and tender heart he loves all things science. His most recent gift to me was a drawing of his Kiwi Bombs. A mother and father and their offspring. After he left my house, I realized he must have been learning about traits in school and this was a creative assignment meant to teach children about why they look like both their parents.

     Although, my oldest grandson Trey, age 11, lives far away I have one of his gifts a candle bought for me one Christmas. It sits, and will always sit, on my bathroom sink. Trey, now looking like a young man, loves sports and Legos, and is always happy to see us when we visit.

     In my office, I also have my closet doors covered with art created by the grandkids. There's a large plump spotted cow, an octopus, a man made from envelopes, a watermelon slice and various paintings. They are there as small gifts given in love, and they are there to remind me that childhood doesn't last forever. These smallest gifts are helping me to remember to make each day a magic day and remind me that's it's always the smallest things that really matter in life. So true, so true....

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Father's Boots, Connected Me to My Roots

     How often when growing up do we believe we know more than our parents, or for some reason they are an embarrassment to us? For me, it took a trip to Nashville, Tn., at the age of 50, 25 years after my dad passed away, for me to come full circle with the feelings I had about his cowboy boots and the person he was.
     In late September, last year, I went to a workshop with spoken word artist Minton Sparks. She told us that the ground we were born over, comes up through us and out of us as writers. I guess that's the first time I really appreciated where I came from. Before that time, I felt it was not consequential to who I became as an adult.
     Although my family was very dysfunctional, we loved each other in our own way. One of my earliest memories is of wanting to be a cowgirl. Mom and Dad bought me a cowgirl outfit and boots to go alone with it. There was also a cowgirl hat that I kept attached to my bouncing head with a drawstring. At the age of three, I thought I was in style and very proud to have my picture made in this western getup.
     But soon, when I was four, mom began to go to church and I went along. Dad didn't attend very often. So, I began to see that other men wore dress shoes, not cowboy boots. This became an embarrassment to me that my Dad never wore dress shoes.
     It was much later in my life that I realized, he came from Colorado and the West--it was who he was. Many years later I fell in love with the West, the mountains, the canyons, the rocks and the deserts, many years later I would wear cowboy boots. Many years later I would understand where he came from, his roots and the reasons he was who he was.
     Recently I was privileged to read a poem I'd written at the Minton Sparks workshop at our local Spofest--a public presentation and performance of poets, writers and musicians. Below is my poem "Daddy's Boots," and some thoughts on my mom and dad:
     Daddy's Boots
Now, daddy loved his boots,
leather cowboy boots,
he shined them with Kiwi polish and a soft cloth,
and a special horsehair brush 
with a wooden handle,
buffing them to a proper shine,
bringing to the room the sent of polish, 
coffee and Prince Albert tobacco.
(I still have his brush,
used by my son to shine his boots.)
But, for all of his love for his boots, I was ashamed of them,
not of their shine, nor the smell of their polished leather,
nor the way the heels
smacked the concrete sidewalk when he came home at night,
but that they were... well, boots...
cowboy boots.
No one in my "World" wore cowboy boots.
I went to church with mama, 
and the men all wore proper leather loafers 
and dress-up laced shoes.

 But daddy came from Colorado,
he'd owned a Palomino,

and a cowboy hat--he loved the West,
he loved the wind and the mountains,

he loved Louis L'amour and John Wayne,
He loved sad country music the kind 
with a nasal twang.
(But all those memories of his past,
were lost to me in the prideful waters of my swirling youth,
because I knew how he was supposed to look,
I knew how he was supposed to act.) 
The day came when he would walk me down the aisle,
I was embarrassed,
because he insisted on wearing cowboy boots--
not proper leather loafers like a church going man would wear!
I was married in the fall and daddy wore his boots--
to my chagrin.
With his tux, 
with his bow-tie
with his cowboy boots he gave me away--much to his chagrin,

and his to sadness at lost opportunities
 and my loss of youth and my leap into adulthood.
And now, so many years later, many years after he's passed on,
I'm traveling, wearing cowboy boots with a skirt and a scarf,
and bangles, driving to Nashville to learn about where I came from,
and the people who made me who I am...

Western snap shut shirts
Cowboy boots and Khaki pants,
Rolled up jeans,
Black hair, combed backed with a proper duck-bill,

Roll-your-own cigarettes and black coffee,
Prince Albert in a can,
Cans of beer clustered close by,
Country music,
 Home made omelets and fried potatoes,
a welder by trade,
flash burned eyes soothed 
by mama and potato poultices,
Army cook and survivor of WWII,

with mental scars produced by 
walking through Dachau,
Loved to take photographs.

Simple cotton dresses, with simple buttons,
 made by a friend,

canvass tennis shoes,
a large purse full of everything anyone could need,

including her full-sized Bible,

Hair grayed much too soon,
pulled back in a bun,
Breakfast rolls and donuts,
Three Musketeers Bars,
Polk greens and watercress,
fried chicken and mashed potatoes,
Instant coffee, diet soda,
a cook in restaurants and maker of giant cream pies,
lover of dogs and children,

believer in God and the "Church,"
never learned to drive,
rider of cabs and the church bus,
A Writer of poems and songs.
     For a video presentation of "Daddy's Boots," please use this link:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bucket Lists and Such

     I've arrived at that certain age, when I've begun to see friends and peers pass away due to various causes, and now I've suddenly become aware of having begun a "Bucket List." Of course it wasn't called a bucket list per se, at that point in my life, but a "List of Things I Want to Do Sometime."
     A List of Things I Want to Do Sometime, sounds so much more full of life and hope, but alas Bucket List is much shorter in the vernacular. So, bucket list it is.
     Number one on my list is to travel to Nepal and hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp with the elevation of 17,600-feet. Originally it was, please don't laugh, to climb Mt. Everest. Yes that was my dream vacation, traveling to Kathmandu in May, hiking to base camp and then ascending to camps 1, 2, 3 and 4 at the South Col at 26,000-feet and then the final push to the Hillary Step and on to the summit rising at 29,028-feet. 
     I would daydream of climbing over and through the Khumbu icefall with my crampons strapped to my boots, swinging my ice ax. Ascending aluminum extension ladders across bottomless crevasses. Then ascending through the Western Cmw (a Welsh word pronounced koom, meaning valley), and finally with many hardships, freezing cold and danger, with my oxygen tank providing needed air, I would snap my photo at the top of the world.
As close as I'll probably get to the Everest experience--The Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

     Well, I'm not sure if my number-1 bucket list item will ever be crossed off, but it's an adventure to dream about. Other entries on my list is to visit Tuscany, Italy and Paris, France, fly in a hot air balloon in some exotic place, go to Bora Bora, to photograph wildlife in Africa's Maasai Mara and most recently to hike the Pacific Crest Trail or PCT, roughing it with my back pack and gear.
     The most recent bucket list idea came from reading Cheryl Strayed's New York Times Best Seller, "Wild--From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail." An excellent book about one woman's journey, by herself to find herself. Through the course of life we all need to find our self--to find what anchors us in this vast ocean of humanity. Maybe bucket lists provide that inward look into ourselves at a time when we realize  life is short and there is still so much to do, and see and people to connect with.
     Some of my bucket list ideas have been achieved--such as hiking and photographing the Wave in the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Area in Arizona, flying in a small plane and taking aerial photos, travelling the Western U.S., hiking in a slot canyon, having a greyhound for a pet, photographing the stars...and reconnecting with friends that I haven't visited with for a long time. So much to do in one lifetime--and not enough time. I guess I need to continue to work on my, can I say, "List of Things I Want to Do Sometime..." my Bucket List. I need to make every minute count!
Night sky and star trails near Louisville, Ky.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Visit To L.A. and Hollywood, 2009

     It all began at 30,000-feet with the description of a Knob Noster, Mo., tomato.
     My seating arrangement for our flight to Los Angels, three years ago, was next to 75-year-old David Smith, a frail, bearded man in faded jeans, sneakers and a long sleeved, plaid, flannel shirt. Smith a retired physical science and mathematics teacher traveling back to Lompoc, Calf., informed me that he couldn’t hear very well or see very well so he carried a pair of small binoculars on his belt.
    He talked to my husband Roy and I about the universe, global warming, the law of gravity, how we are all forces of energy, God, the sad state of California’s highway system and the passing of his wife of 46 years.
     Smith also informed us that he grew up in Warrensburg and that his grandmother used to live on a farm in Knob Noster. As a child he would visit and help is uncle pick tomatoes.
     “Years later I can still taste the sweetness of that tomato,” he said. “It’s something you don’t forget.”
     When we arrived at LAX, he apologized for talking so much, and was whisked away in a wheel chair for a connecting flight to Santa Maria. Actually, we enjoyed letting him talk to us, and wished him well.
     Our trip Los Angeles was won by surprise when our daughter, Melissa Bedwell, signed us up through the Radio Lia show last summer. Finally able to make the trip, we decided to stay near Malibu. Our initial plans were to visit the famous Pink’s Hot Dog stand in Hollywood--but things never go as planned.
Roy and I along the shops on Rodeo Drive, in 2009.
C. 2009 Bemiss Photography

     Although a friend who lives in Sherman Oaks, Calf., gave us several ideas about places to eat near Malibu. Gladstone’s 4 Fish, Moonshadows and Saddle Peak Lodge, we choose Gladstone’s, a California causal kind of place with a weathered wood ceiling, vintage black and white photos of Pacific Coast Highway 1 and a beach side patio.
    I chose fresh stuffed prawns served with creamed spinach, fresh vegetables and bread. My husband chose the seafood sampler featuring grilled shrimp, salmon and scallops served on a bed of rice with a baked potato and corn. Both plates cost around $25. With drinks or salad and a tip, the total bill could hover around $90.
     Gladstone’s produces excellent meals; vegetables are fresh, the fish fresh and the flavor perfect. They offer breakfast and lunch and a variety of sandwiches.
     Moonshadows, also located along the beach, offers upscale gourmet food with excellent and artful presentation. Dinner prices range from $17 for wild boar and cranberry sausage with stone ground grits, to $27 for tiger shrimp with stone ground grits. Meals are prepared by executive chef, Joachim Weritz.
     Saddle Peak advises guests to wear business casual attire. Their dinner prices range from $36 for striped sea bass to $60 wood grilled cote de boeuf, or rib of beef.
     If you want to see Hollywood or places of interest in Los Angels, due to traffic congestion, I’d advise you to book a tour.
C. 2009 Bemiss Photography
     There are several to choose from. Our tour group Starline, explored the walk of fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Kodak Theater home of the Academy Awards and designer shops along Rodeo Drive. We also stopped for lunch at the Farmer’s Market located at Third and Fairfax.
Grauman's Chinese Theater. C. 2009 Bemiss Photography

     The Farmer’s Market not only has stands of fresh fruit and vegetables, but also stands where fresh cuts of meat are sold and a multitude of outdoor places to eat. You can watch bakers and butchers work and find donut and ice cream stands, as well and eat at stands featuring foods from Brazil, Asia and France. There are pizza stands and Mexican cuisine, barbecue and gumbo, sushi and Starbucks. An eaters paradise.
     After leaving the market we traveled to downtown Los Angeles and took in the sights like the artfully constructed Walt Disney Concert Hall.  The Hall was built by Frank Gehry to resemble the sails of a ship; it is home to the L.A Philharmonic.
Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Calif. C. 2009 Bemiss Photography 

     We also drove by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits. One last stop was to historic Olvera Street, the birthplace of L.A. Visitors to Olvera Street can stroll along listening to musicians, visit outdoor shops and sample Mexican cuisine. One can also take a self-guided tour the Avila Adobe, the oldest building in L.A. The adobe was the home of Don Francisco Avila, mayor of Los Angeles in 1810.
     On our last day in Los Angeles we decided to drive ourselves around the city--big mistake. We did make it to the Beverly Hills 2009 Affaire in the Gardens art show. The show under tents on the lawn displayed a wide variety of two and three dimensional art. We were privileged to talk with glass blowers Marcus Thesing of Long Beach and Mariusz Rynkiewicz of Everett, Washington, metal artist, Andy Byrne of Pine Grove, Calif., and photographer Robert Kawika Sheer originally from Hawaii.
     After leaving the art show we were finally on our way to Hollywood and Pink’s Hot Dog stand. But it never happened. Due to police and emergency vehicles circling several blocks in yellow crime tape, and the ensuing traffic snarl, along with the premier opening of the movie “Up,” at the El Capitan Theater, traveling became almost impossible.
      Although the majority of the trip was enjoyable, after all the hustle and bustle of big city life, we were happy to be home, where it was quiet, where the roads are drivable and where we decided to plant a tomato vine in honor of former Missourian, David Smith. Life couldn’t be “sweeter.”