I walked outside with the Corgi boys first thing this morning -
in an oversized Volleyball T-Shirt that I’ve used as a nightshirt for years and my knee-high rubber boots. (I just wanted you to enjoy my glamorous moment with me.) Beau spotted me immediately and managed to make me feel absolutely beautiful – he tossed his head at Sugar (my biggest competition for his attention) and did his cute Tennessee Walker jog over to where I stood. I stroked his huge face and stood on my tiptoes to give him a hug. This is how we start most of our days.
Beau followed me in the corral and made his way into the nearest stall. There he started his ritual of pushing his nose back and forth across the stall door, making the metal rails clang, just in case I had forgotten my part of the bargain. Beau is what is known as an “Easy Keeper” – a polite way to say he gains weight if he looks at food. In horses, being tubby can lead to serious hoof problems (among other things) so we have a routine with Beau to help monitor his intake.
He comes in during the day and we let him back out in the evening so he can graze when the grass sugars are not as high. His reward for being so cooperative is a cup of his favorite feed. (No, the irony of a huge horse being thrilled with one cup of feed is not lost on me.) In addition, he gets the comfort of a cushioned floor, a breeze from the fans, and enough hay to keep him busy. He usually takes a nap in the shavings, checks out all the stalls, plays with Gibbs the cat, and tosses his Kong toy around the corral.
Inevitably at some point during the day, at least one of the girls will come to the gate and ask to join him. Our old mares, Sugar and Bobbie, are always welcome but we let Beau decide if he wants to be bothered with the younger mares. They have such crushes on him! You could say he’s the Justin Bieber of the C4 Ranch. We truly believe that’s a big part of why he so willingly trades 50 acres of pasture for the solitude of the corral every day. It’s his personal man cave.
Beau remains calm and patient all day. If I walk through the barn, he meets me at a stall window and talks in his soft, deep voice. He closes his eyes when I rub his face and he leans his ears towards me so I’ll scratch them. But as soon as dusk hits, he starts pacing the fence. The mares show up at the corral gate like clockwork to join him. The neighing“chatter” is non-stop until we open the gate – and of course if we take too long, Derby gets busy on the latch. Once he’s free, he usually kicks up his heels and acts like the girls are annoying him as he trots into the back pasture. However, if you watch closely, you’ll see him looking back to make sure they are following…..and they ALWAYS are.
I delight in the fact that Beau knows that he can count on us to do what’s best for him. He never seems to question our intentions. Just now when I went out to check on him, I was inspired to say “thank you” to him which is what got me blogging today. I may be taking care of him by making sure that he eats right and gets the best care for his feet, but he’s the gentle giant showing me patience and kindness and trust. He makes the job of caretaker easy. Now if he’d just have a chat with his groupies.....
I wake up every morning to a view of the herd in the pasture. I wear perfectly worn-in jeans and dusty cowboy boots. Mucking a barn full of stalls and emptying full wheelbarrows into the compost is the best medicine I know for what ails you. I clean hooves, brush the dirt off of eight good size horses and tend to any wounds. Scrubbing and filling two 100 gallon water troughs is an everyday chore in the summer. Walking the pasture to meet up with Beau and bring him in the barn is part of our morning routine to protect him from his sensitivity to grass sugars. We finish off that routine by grabbing a bale of hay or alfafa and throwing a couple leaves into his stall.
If you just peeked in on me in the midst of my chores, you’d think I was a real cowgirl. But if you stood there a little longer and looked a little closer, you’d see me kiss every nose in the herd. You’d see me lay my face on that beautiful flat spot between their eyes and talk to them. You’d probably hear me sing “My Girl(s)” at the top of my lungs with my arms around Beau’s neck watching his harem with him – or worse yet, “Candy Girl” (Sugar, ahhhh honey, honey) while laying on Sugar’s back enjoying the warmth of the sun. If it was a hot Texas day, you’d most likely catch me pulling out the hose to cool off my water lovers (even though they have two large ponds to dip in). I have, quite accidentally, taught my originals (Sugar,Beau and Belle) to come to the back door and knock for a carrot. When we sit out back in the evening, Derby and Kit come on the patio and try to join us at the table. Kit wants a sip of wine. Derby wants to sit in your lap.
In other words, I violate the personal space rule by allowing them to invade mine constantly. This is against all Cowboy codes. The reasoning is simple:(1) safety is not possible when you’re laying your face on the head of a 1200 pound animal that may decide to look up (2) boundaries are essential when you are establishing who is in charge, which leads to (3) it's imperative that you are the alpha horse if you want to avoid broken bones and unnecessary bruises. Horses, however sweet, are bigger and heavier than, well, YOU. Compare horsing around with a horse to see-sawing with a sumo wrestler - unless you convince him to put you down gently, you're in trouble.
I have basically turned our herd of horses into big dogs. Now that it’s time for our youngest ones to go into training, I am worried about how they will do with a real cowboy - someone that expects them to act like horses. This is especially a concern with Rey. She is all cow horse – born and bred to work with cattle – no doubt she’s going to excel and LOVE her job….but she’s sensitive and sweet so I’m worried about her "f e e l i n g s”. (I can hear the cowboy population howling with laughter.) Even as I'm typing this, I'm hoping my horse friends don't read this far.
I’m professing this whimpiness to you because it’s time for me to COWGIRL UP! Putting it in writing makes me somewhat accountable. Our herd is well-bred and bright. They are healthy, completely socialized with humans and horses alike, and move beautifully. They amaze me every day with their communication and problem solving skills. The only thing holding them back is ME - a proud mom having a hard time letting her kids grow up. It's time for me to stop protecting them and allow them to shine. I’m taking back my personal space and throwing them out into the real world!………....tomorrow.
Living in the country sometimes stinks...especially with a dog that wakes up every day like Drew Barrymore on 50 First Dates, with no memory of the past. Jag has not met a horse he doesn't TRY to herd, a cat he doesn't chase, or a skunk he doesn't irritate. Apparently his failed attempts are not stored in his memory banks.
Belle has warned him many times, by lifting her front hooves and planting them right by his ear, not to try and pick her grazing spot. (Trust me, this is a warning, not a miss. My girl has aim.) Poor Gibbs, the barn cat, makes sure to hiss a warning and show his claws every time Jag invades his personal space. And skunks, well, they see him coming...
The first time Jag encountered a skunk, my husband was knocked over by the stench as the dog crossed the threshold into the house and made his way to our bed....I was woken from a dead sleep by the assault on my senses and kicked them BOTH out of the house.
If you have never experienced the smell of a true skunking, you are grossly unaware of just how life altering it is OR how strongly your smeller is attached to your gag reflex. It's one thing to drive by skunk road kill - it's quite another to have skunk oil permeate your skin, every fiber in your home, even your jewelry. (a week after this first episode I grabbed my watch and bracelet off a high shelf in my bedroom and donned them. A few hours later, in a meeting with my employer, I was sniffing and distracted by a stench. I finally narrowed it down to the jewelry on my arm and was MORTIFIED. I had to explain to this skeptical city boy that I did bathe on a regular basis.) A bad skunking burns your eyes, your nose, your throat....and it makes kids home for some parent pampering run back to school.
When my husband witnessed Jag putting his nose in the rear of a skunk again yesterday morning, he knew better than to let this boneheaded dog back in the house.....he also had the sense to create a work emergency and leave as quickly as humanly possible. My poor older daughter, Cameron, was home for Jag's first tango with a skunk and again for this one. We both considered leaving Jag home alone and heading with Tank to Hotel Zaza.
Instead, I put on my de-skunking uniform (rubber boots, rubber gloves and throw away clothing) and she went into home freshening mode, mopping the floor with orange oil, lighting candles, buckets of Febreeze... I put Jag in the playpen we used when he and Tank were puppies - WAY out in the pasture under a tree. You couldn't even see him from the barn and somehow I felt better - like if I couldn't see him, surely I wouldn't have to smell him. Cameron, an old pro at this point, mixed up the vet suggested combination of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and Dawn liquid. (The scientist in her decided that vinegar would be a great addition to this formula - and she was right - except for the explosive effects. It was a little like uncorking a bottle of champagne without the buzz.)
I proceeded to hop in the playpen with Jag and bath him with Cameron's concoction while she and Tank looked on. Tank was clearly disgusted with his brother. He also had a bit of a cocky look because he knew what this meant - Jag would get no snuggle time in the near future - more for him! After the 15 minute "processing" requirement, we let Jag out and went to the pond to rinse off.
We're a long way from the end of this cleansing - the effects linger for what seems like eternity. Jag knows he screwed up AGAIN and he's keeping his distance. After all, he smells the consequence of Skunk Wrangling much more intensely than his human family. Tank won't even sleep next to him! But has this experience improved Jag's decision making skills? Probably not. We will no doubt have to pull out the hydrogen peroxide again.
Jag is not unlike a lot of us. Why do we not believe people or circumstances when they prove to us time and time again who or what they are? Like the perpetually late friend - why do we get frustrated that they are late when they have never been on time for anything? Haven't they already shown you what their plan is? Or the "true" liar - you know the one - that person who would make up a tale when the truth fits better. Why do we give them the benefit of the doubt when they've already proven they prefer fiction? How many of you have walked up behind a skunk and yelled "BOO"... TWICE?!
Good old Dr. Phil says, "When people show you who they are, believe them". I think this applies to situations as well. Like Jag with the skunk, believing what we are shown removes a lot of unnecessary drama from our lives. Why be disappointed with that late friend you adore when you can just smile and ask them to meet you 15 minutes before you plan to arrive?!
I'm feeling pretty exposed. I've been experimenting with this blog thing for three weeks. I’ve talked to a few friends about how uncomfortable I am with this whole process and they unanimously suggested that I address this issue with you, whoever “YOU” are. In truth, I don’t even know if I have an audience or how to go about getting one.
I thrive on relationships – family, friends, the lady at the Exxon that tells me Milkduds stick to her teeth, horse, dog – all kinds. I have definite opinions. I love to learn. I get great pleasure from taking a photograph and even more when someone viewing it is touched. But writing my thoughts and thinking someone else might be interested in reading them?…..well, that’s a presumptuous and vulnerable place for me.
So why am I doing this? Simple and cheesy answer – I am trying to grow. Maybe this is my version of a mid-life crisis, although I’m pretty certain I’m past my personal mid-life. I prefer to think of it as me finally doing something that requires me to take a chance, risk embarrassment, hold my breath!
The true goal here is to create children’s books. My passion for fueling a child’s literary appreciation comes directly from my mother. She didn’t encourage my brother and me to read – she required it. For her, it was as necessary as breathing.
Learning fueled her and she could find a lesson in anything. (There were days as a teenager that this was incredibly annoying!) She read to me from as far back as I can remember. Books were gifts to be treasured around our house.
My brother was much better at showing her appreciation for this important lesson. He always had a book in hand and amazing drawings came from his reading. For me, I’m not sure she understood her influence on me until I had children of my own. My girls can tell you that I followed my mom’s example when they were little – I was on autopilot. It was ingrained in me and I was determined to ingrain it in them! I still tear up when I recall the first day that my oldest read confidently out loud to her dad, her voice getting stronger and more excited with every word….or the memory of my youngest sitting up in her crib before she could talk, jabbering away while she turned the pages and made voice inflections just like I did when I read to her. As they grew up, I remember the complete joy I would experience when walking into a room to find one or both of them engrossed in a book.
I have a terrific family. It’s made up of a colorful, loving husband who is the happiest redneck I know, a daughter that is the most focused and determined individual in my world, another daughter that makes no concessions that would
cause her to lose her stunning individuality and who is unknowingly influencing me to do this, two Welsh Corgi pups that make me laugh every day, eight horses that are still trying to figure out why they aren’t invited in to watch TV with us and a barn cat named Gibbs that is crafting his way into my heart. My life is full. And I am happy.
So we’re back to why – why am I putting myself out there when life is good and I am so uncomfortable saying “Look at ME” (the true social media curse)? My motives are selfish. I want to make a child say, “Look, Mommy! That horse is blowing bubbles!” while pointing to a moment I captured with my camera. I want to share my love of animals and the happiness mine bring me. I want to encourage observation and the use of it to increase appreciation of the every day journey. I want to take Mary Oliver's advice from her poem Instructions for living a life that I referred to in my first blog attempt: "Pay attention. Be amazed. Tell about it."
This blog was suggested by my friend Leslie who believes in me probably more than I do myself. She is the energy, the organizer, the motivator I have needed to make this step. She has suggested that networking through the social media is the best place to start. And although this self-promotion makes me feel completely vulnerable, she has convinced me that I need an audience to get to know me and trust that I have something to offer. The old saying, “nothing ventured, nothing gained” is indeed true. Failure is not a possibility if I don’t even try.
SOOOOOOOO, do you “like” me? (Okay, that made me LOL at
Our dogs are the perfect example of polar opposites. If you’ve visited the Corgi Boys page on this website or read some of the past blogs in C4 Chatter then you have had a small introduction to our boys’ personalities.
Tank appears to be laid back and nonchalant but quietly demands attention and affection. Jag is a wild thing if you are opening the cleaning closet or playing a game of fetch but the first to settle down at the end of the day. If we sit on the sofa, Jag finds his place on the back near our heads - close but separate. Tank cocks his head and whines until you make room for him, jumps up next to you and puts his head ON you.....your leg, your shoulder, somewhere ON you. (Let me try to give you a visual: If Jag is in your lap, it's his whole body sitting up straight and it feels like you're holding a two pound Chihuahua. He doesn't lick you or invade your space. If Tank is in your lap, he has his head clamped down on some part of your body and feels like a 200 pound Saint Bernard. If you attempt to move, he increases the pressure. He only needs a sign that says "MINE!" to finish the picture. Oh, AND you're getting a bath whether you need one or not.)
Jag is extremely sweet and affectionate but he seems to understand that Tank is needier in that department and graciously allows him priviledged access. Even in bed (yes, they sleep with us and we KNOW this is a no-no and frankly don't care), Jag is at our feet and doesn't move. Tank's face will greet you on the pillow and he periodically gets up to rearrange the covers. Even during the day he will go to a room to take a nap and literally cry for you to come hang out with him. In other words, Tank thinks he is a prince and should be treated like royalty. Jag is perfectly comfortable stepping aside and allowing Tank his throne INSIDE. (Outside royalty is another blog subject.) This hierarchy is the general rule.
However, they say there is an exception to every rule. In the case of the boys, it is the Thunder and Lightening Escape Clause. Tank, like us, thinks a storm is a great time to relax and listen to the sounds of rain and thunder. Jag, on the other hand, thinks he has stumbled into a war zone. It's at this time that Tank takes a distinct back seat. He makes a conscious effort to back away and make room for Jag to have a whole lap. OR if Jag finds a dark spot to hide and tremble, Tank will lay in front of him as if to say, "I'm right here if you need me".
I witnessed this with awe when we had the tornado scare a couple months ago and again last night during the storm. Rain was coming sideways at the windows and the pounding on the tin roof was loud. The lightening was very close and the thunder following was deafening. We lost power and all the horses were hovering under the porch overhang. (They have the option of their stalls, but apparently like to be close to us when the weather is wicked. Rey literally plasters her nose to the door window begging to come in!)
Jag was terrified. In preparation for the rain, we had gone outside to check the barn and I tripped over him twice in his attempt to become one with me. When we got in the house, he jumped in my lap, alert and trembling. The normally invasive Tank jumped up next to me, but not ON me, and faced the opposite direction. Every now and then he would turn and lick Jag's face. His concern for his brother was obvious and touching.
This went on for a couple of hours. Not once during this period of Jag's terror did Tank even request any attention. I kept reaching over and petting him with a smile on my face because I was so proud. My selfish little Tank was acting like a protective big brother.
Eventually the storm was over and all was right in Corgi Boy World. Jag helped my husband close up the barn by making sure that our barn cat Gibbs' feet didn't touch the ground and barking loudly so the neighbor's cows would know that he survived. Once inside, he took his spot at the foot of the bed. Tank quietly jumped to his place near the pillows and rearranged the covers before settling in for the night. Tomorrow was another day and Prince Tank had some throne time to recoup.
Belle's life reads like a script from a Lifetime movie - you know the ones - lots of drama and tears that result in a happy ending. I like to believe that I would sense this about her even if I didn't know the truth behind her eyes. She has MANY stories to tell, all of them proof to me that animals are loving, loyal, intuitive and not immune to emotional pain. There are too many tales to put in one day's blog - so I'll start at our beginning.
I "met" Belle at a barn where we first boarded Sugar and Beau, before the C4 Ranch existed. She came to the barn with a beautiful filly at her side name Skeeter. That little girl was adorable! She was petite and playful, quite a contrast to her cautious and protective dam. Belle allowed only a few people to interact with her foal and she was only truly comfortable with her owners. It was obvious that she had trust issues. Her owners spent some time telling me her incredible life story to date which included kidnapping, abuse, and subsequent rebellion. It was their goal to be kind and gentle with her and prove to her that the world was not a bad place.
Skip ahead a couple of months to an awful accident at the barn that left Skeeter with permanent brain damage. The owners of these two horses did all they could to save Skeeter but sadly Belle came home from that last trip to the vet alone.
I was managing the pasture horses in exchange for board of our two so I was on site a lot. I remember the next four days like it was yesterday. Belle was released into her pasture and proceeded to run and scream until she had no voice. At first she would have nothing to do with me. She was crazed with anguish and continued searching and calling out for Skeeter. I sat on the fence for hours at a time watching over her and doing my own share of crying. There was real concern that she would hurt herself so we all pitched in to help the owners keep an eye on her.
On day two she noticed me. She changed her path, which was worn in the ground from the day before, to come by my spot at the fence. Even with her at a dead run, our eyes would meet. She continued to cry but almost no sound came out of her mouth. She would run until she was foamy with sweat and then run some more. I didn't see her sleep at all. She wasn't stopping at the trough. She wasn't grazing. Her grief was palatable.
On the morning of day three, she watched me as I climbed to what was now my place on the fence. She would run at me full pace and stop like a reining horse right in front of me, staring intently at me as if to ask why I cared and daring me to be afraid of her. This day, I was armed with a small bucket of water and a rag. After several passes and angry snorts, I think she realized I wasn't going anywhere. She stopped to sniff and thoroughly check me out. She slowly began to allow me little opportunities to touch her face with the cool cloth before she would take off again.
By the end of that day, she had taken a carrot from me and drank a little from the water bucket. She had been so unpredictable that I had known better than to get in the pasture with her, but now she was walking and tired and she invited me to join her. I'll never forget how overwhelmed with emotion I was when she leaned her heavy head into my chest and just stood there. I rubbed her neck and her face for what seemed like an hour and she didn't move. I honestly think it was the first time she had rested in 3 days.
On the fourth day Belle was hoarse, exhausted and sad. She would take off every now and then, running and crying that guttural scream, but she spent most of my time there that day looking straight into my eyes or laying her head on my chest. She let me brush her and put water on her hot face and neck. She cautiously allowed me to lead her to the trough. She was communicating volumes to me by letting me take care of her. Her sadness was profound but she had grown to trust me - and I had fallen in love with her.
Skeeter and Belle - Easter 2004
Today I am grateful for the patience Belle continually practices with Jag by snorting loudly and stomping her hoof forcefully on the ground instead of on his head. He barks and dances in front of her every time she walks by and most times she looks at me with the question in her eyes, “Can’t I just squash him?!”.
I am also grateful because my older daughter is feeling much
better and is looking forward to starting an externship in her chosen field tomorrow…..I am grateful today that my youngest daughter called me to chat and had a smile in her voice because she’s started painting again…..I am grateful that my husband, who had my mouth watering with thoughts of the meal he was planning to grill tonight, knew that I would be just as happy with peanut butter and crackers after he wore himself out mowing in this heat all day…I am grateful that Rey wanted to hang out in the corral with Beau so he wouldn’t have to be alone…..I am grateful that I have clean sheets to crawl between tonight and that we have a “sleep” button on our TV remote because I love the comfort of both…..I am grateful for the strength and accuracy of my hands today that allowed me to use the death slap on the three horse flies torturing Kit….I am grateful that the C4 turtle showed up today to entertain Tank and Jag and give us something to laugh out loud about….I am grateful for the view of the pasture and eight peaceful horses that I am looking at right now....and I am grateful to you for reading this blog and giving my words an audience.
You may be wondering what kind of blog post this is
purpose my gratitude list could possibly be serving. I just wanted to share another tool I’m using in my attempt to pay more attention. One of my husband's cousins has used a gratitude journal
for years. (There are days she’s grateful that the car won't start so she can’t run over her husband on his way out the door - but grateful is grateful.) It has become part of her daily routine and the focus she has on her surroundings is astounding. She is so aware of her own strengths, weaknesses, curses and blessings that she is able to avoid imposing harsh or quick judgments on others. She looks at things in a unique and positive way and has empathy where it’s warranted. She is my “go to” person because she approaches life logically and with appreciation. I have watched her grow immensely since starting her daily gratitude journal routine. Now I’m FINALLY starting my own in hopes of a similar journey.
You will be amazed at the guidelines and examples you’ll find if you GOOGLE “Gratitude Journal”. I’m still figuring out exactly how I want to structure mine but I’m determined to make a habit of writing down at least ten things I’m grateful for – and why –each day. I may include some of my entries here occasionally but I promise this is not turning into a “Gratitude Blog”! I’m simply sharing this goal with you in the hopes of inspiring you to do the same. After all, Wikihow says, “A gratitude journal is a great way to keep yourself in a thankful
and positive state of mind". Who are we to argue with Wikihow?!
Can one look from you make a 1200 pound Tennessee Walker go back in his playpen? Yea, me neither. I have watched our smallest and oldest mare, Sugar, run the show around here for years in complete awe. Horses have come and gone but the one constant has always been the mare in charge. I tried to employ her techniques with my kids and husband but they do not respond well to head tossing and stern looks and I could never figure out how to flatten my ears back. She hardly ever resorts to physical contact but the threat is there if a member of the herd does not get the message.
Our gelding Beau towers over her but his massive size does not intimidate her even slightly. From the very first day we brought them home together, she has been the ruler of his universe. When she got ridden and he was left behind in the pasture (with nine other horses for companionship I might add) he would pitch such a fit that we feared he was going to hurt himself. I, being a complete and total softy at the time, would halter him up and take him to where he could SEE her and he would immediately calm down. Sugar practically rolled her eyes at him as if to say "Silly boy", but you could tell she enjoyed the spell she had over him. Back then she was his whole world. It's been years now. He has found his place in the herd and can survive with her out of sight, but he still adores her and Sugar continues to remind him daily who is in charge.
Beau is susceptible to grass founder, a condition that has painful and possibly deadly consequences. It is brought on by the high levels of sugar stored in seed heads in Spring and Fall. Because of this, Beau's pasture time is limited during these crucial times of year. The daily routine has been memorized by the herd. When it's time for Beau to be released, they are gathered by his gate. When I call for him to come in, no one else rushes the entrance.
However, there is always that herd mate - like that friend of your child's that thrives on mischief - that figures out a way to get them both into trouble. At the C4 Ranch, that little devil goes by the name of Derby. ("The Devil in Derby" may be a future blog title.) Just yesterday I watched from the window as Derby worked for twenty minutes unlocking the latch to Beau's corral. He anxiously observed her skills from inches away and practically danced with Derby when the gate swung open......
She had been grazing a few acres away when she witnessed this great escape. She quickly made her way to the scene of the crime. Both Derby and Beau froze in their tracks when they saw her coming. She scolded them, tossing her head around, and herded Beau back into the coral. Her rear was pointed at Derby in a threatening manner just daring her to intervene! However, the stance was unecessary.Derby's head was already hanging low in shame. Sugar stood guard at the gate until I got out there to lock it again, this time with my extra special Derby-proof loop.
Sugar waited for me to offer my thanks in the form of a hug and a kiss on her graying face and then went back to grazing. I was, as I always am, amazed at her confidence and conviction. She knows her "job" and she does it well. She is mother to our herd and she loves them all with a firm hoof.
Most of us would benefit from going through life with Sugar's philosophies. She pays attention to what those around her need and realizes that what they want is not always what's best for them. She takes care of things quietly and with authority. She demands and gets respect because she operates with common sense as her guide. She is the epitome of an alpha mare.
I, for one, should take to heart the lessons I have learned from observing her. What about you? Are you paying attention?
First line in my Gratitude Journal on May 23rd was "thank you for Tank and Jag because they make us smile every day". The boys turned three this week and they are the ones that first made me appreciate the meaning of Mary Oliver's Instructions for a Life (refer back to day one). They demand my attention so they've taught me to be attentive. Whether Jag's happily jumping in the air for the 100th time to catch the Frisbee or Tank's gently laying his head on my shoulder while we watch TV, they amaze me.
To celebrate their birthday, we took a good size watermelon out by the pond. We sliced it like cake and scooped it like ice cream. We had as much fun watching them as they did eating it. It was even worth getting up to go out with them four times during the night! My youngest daughter (who just turned 21) said it was only fitting - that in dog years, it was their 21st birthday and it was tradition to drink too much.....
I learned yesterday that Carl Moser, Sr. of Hickory NC is preparing his family before taking God's hand. You may know him as the talented photographer whose works have been featured in The Kodak Collection, The Smithsonian, National Geographic, The Mint Museum and The Hickory Museum of Art. I know him simply as Uncle Carl - my mother's oldest brother and the heart of his family.
He did not start out this life with a camera in hand. It started as a hobby and grew into a passion. He told my mom that he discovered that he liked the honesty he got through the lens. It was once written about him that, "He took photographs to get to know people and have fellowship over the camera." I love that wording because it really captures who I think of when I think of my Uncle Carl.
He is a handsome man and a family man. He loves God and country with enthusiasm. He is gentle but direct. He is someone I truly respect. I've paid more attention to just who he is in recent years. This quiet, gentle man (unless of course you talk politics) has nurtured a relationship between the two of us and let me get to know him. He doesn't say much but he gets his message across. He's told me twice that he loves me and although I already knew it, the truth in his voice has made invaluable memories.
He loves his family. He considers his ability to take a photo and have us see a masterpiece a gift from God. He thinks that loyalty is a given in friendship and in love. He finds nature and people fascinating.
Now don't get me wrong. Uncle Carl may read this and consider it "sap" if I don't tell you that he has not always been the most eloquent or disciplined with his words. Politics and religion are dangerous territory in the Moser family and there's not one of us that hasn't lost or given up on a discussion with him! They say we mellow with age and from the stories I've heard and some of what I remember, I would have to say this is the case with Carl Moser, Sr.
What has remained constant is the pride he has in his family and the unconditional love he had for my Aunt Helen. Theirs was a true love story. He has always been bright and talented and drawn people to him. But, for me, the respect and admiration he showed for her was the true measure of a man.
My prayers are with our family and all that have been touched by him. May your journey be brilliant, Uncle Carl. Your time here certainly has been.