Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chapter 2- The Show Dog

On our second trip to the pound, we decided to take some of the different dogs out for walks. We wanted to get to know them..."we" being very generic. I just wanted "my dog."

We walked one or two other dogs and then came "my dog's" turn. Her shoulder was at knee-height and she had a beautiful black coat with a white chest, brown legs with white feet, and a tiny white snip down her face completed with two brown "eyebrows." She practically danced on the end of the leash. We all took turns holding the leash. I could tell my sisters were starting to be won over. The dog didn't have a name. We thought about it and came up with one- always a sign that you're attached to the animal. "Bonnie" was what we picked. Bonnie suited her.

One of us (it could have been me) accidentally let go of the leash. Suddenly, we watched in horror as Bonnie sped away towards the small corral that housed a horse.*

We began to call the dog and our voices raised in pitch as the following happened:

Dog slipped through fence rails at about 30mph.
Horse spots dog.
Horse screams in fright and begins to run.
Dust clouds kick up and the dog is no longer visible.
We can just see the top half of the horse as it kicks out with it's back legs.
Horse trots away from dust cloud.
Cloud is clearing with no sight of dog.
Black streak comes racing at us.
Dog sits at our feet panting and smiling.

As we recover from the shock of that, we then urgently tell my Dad, "Look! She came back to us!" We had fallen in love with her.

"I don't know, girls." He said.
"Please, Dad!"
"Let's take her home. Now."
"What if someone else wants her?" -Little did we know how true that statement was about to become.
"Let's think about it." Dad said.

We barraged him with questions and pleas. All the while, Bonnie patiently sat at our feet, ears pricked forward, listening. We finished our walk with her and returned her to the volunteer at the pound.

On the drive home, the pleas and defense arguments about Bonnie continued. Dad got us home and told us we'd sleep on it. The next day, we were thrilled when he agreed to go get Bonnie. He decided to swing by the pet store for a carrier and some basic supplies after work and bring her home with him.

All day we waited impatiently. The phone rang towards the evening. We could hear my Mom talking to my Dad. We heard her say something along the lines of: "I'm sorry. The girls will be disappointed." And fear crept into us. What had happened?!

My Dad came home that night and explained that another couple had already requested Bonnie. They were in the process of adopting her that evening. He had spoken with them.

Apparently, the couple was from Arizona and looking for a show dog. They were struck with Bonnie's breeding. (Even though no one knew where she'd come from.) Having looked her over, they had made a decision on a whim to take her with them. My Dad had told them that he had four little girls waiting anxiously for Bonnie- they were expecting her that very hour.

The couple got his number, said they'd think about it, and then my Dad had called my Mom.

We cried. "We want Bonnie!" we moaned. "She was perfect!" we sobbed. "There isn't another like her!" we insisted when my Dad mentioned finding another dog. It was a rough night in the Beard house.

*The pound in Omaha, NE had so many different kinds of animals- not just pets, but farm animals as well! Pigs, goats, ponies, sheep, chickens, rabbits, cats, dogs, birds, reptiles...they were busy!! That horse Bonnie chased was one of theirs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chapter 1- First Meetings

There are many important facets to my life- things that have helped to mold me into the person I am today. A very special one is about to disappear and I want to speak about it- her.

I believed myself to be a cat person. (And a tiger person. And a dolphin person. And a horse person...all those common animals that so many little girls fall in love with...)

Never did I dwell on dogs. They were funny animals that made messes and were cute when they were puppies...and there my opinions stopped. I enjoyed seeing the neighbor's dogs, but so many I met were poorly trained- they'd jump up on me, drool on me, bark at me; which of course, explains my occasional distaste for the creatures.

When we moved to Nebraska, my Dad decided it was time to get a dog. He had grown up on a farm with dogs- they were special creatures to him. Seeing that we were going to get one, I resigned myself to the fact and began to get interested in the process. (After all- it was an animal...and I love animals.)

My Mom was NOT pleased with this new development. She did not like pets. She was afraid she'd have to care for it. But my Dad was firm on this. (Thankfully!) And assured her that we girls would be responsible for the dog- feeding, watering, walking, picking up after, bathing and training.

I was really lonely in Nebraska. As a 13 year old, it was hard enough to go through the process of moving- but I no longer had even the ocean to play in. I missed the beach. It was hard fitting in at church- one girl took a distinct disliking to me because she thought I was trying to steal another girl's friendship- truthfully, neither of them wanted anything to do with me at the time. I decided my best form of defense was to become a shadow. Church was not the place for me to find friends, just then anyway.

In the homeschool group, I loved playing soccer. But that only happened once a week. Fitting in was very hard and a very slow process.

I remember our first trip to the pound. Dad had told us that we were NOT getting a puppy. An older dog would be great since we were probably only keeping it for a couple of years. My sisters and I hoped to change his mind. After looking at the cats and kittens, I slowly followed my sisters and Dad into the dog hall. It smelled. Bad. I was unimpressed with the idea of cleaning up after one of these creatures.

I looked at every dog, thinking up problems for each. Reasons we shouldn't get them. Suddenly I spotted her! She was beautiful. A very alert, young Austrailian Shepherd. She didn't have a tail- just a 3 inch stub gracefully covered with fur- similar to a deer's tail. Her triangle ears were tilted towards me and her warm brown eyes sparkled.

"Hello." I said and she instantly began to wriggle in excitement! There was a wooden slab sticking out from the wall, a sort of bed-off-of-the-floor, and she proceeded to bounce from the board to the floor- tirelessly. Sticking my fingers through the chain-link to pet her I marveled at her downy soft fur. I liked this dog. If we HAD to get a dog- I wanted it to be this one.

Turning to see the next dog across the way, I saw a mom dog with pups. Excited, I knelt to try and touch the puppies through the fence. That was when the dog I'd been admiring barked. As soon as I looked at her, she stopped.

"Is she jealous?" I wondered. I tried it again.Turning my back to her, I spoke to the other dogs and she barked until I turned around. Pleased that the creature actually wanted my attention, I pet her again. "Wait." I told her as I went to get my Dad and sisters. She seemed to understand.

They were engrossed at the far end of the hall with a German Shepherd- Husky mix named Teddy. "Isn't he cute?" "I think he's perfect!" "And it's a boy dog- Dad won't be the only boy anymore!"

"Well, he's nice, but I have one I want y'all to see! Please! She likes me." I was immensely enchanted with something liking me. It felt as if no one did (besides my family).

Urging them back down the hall, I could see "my dog" watching me as we drew closer. She gave equal attention to all three of my sisters and my Dad. I could tell they were impressed. But they still liked Teddy. How was I going to convince them that she was perfect?

"We're not making a decision today." my Dad said. Panicked I looked at "my dog". I prayed. I prayed hard.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Stinky Satan"

"Stinky Satan." Those were my coworker's words in an e-mail this weekend. And I echo them.

It has been a rough year. Honestly? I don't understand some of the things God has allowed to happen. But I have to remember He has my best interest in mind, and when I realize that: all of my NEEDS have already been/ are being met, I really have to end my complaining. God loves my friends and family better than I do. He knows what He's doing.

I have been stressed out due to an event at work. It came up suddenly- wasn't thoroughly discussed with me (events coordinator) and I have felt like I've been swimming against a strong current all month. There have been glitches in the main registration program which have caused chaos. We have no idea who's going to show nor how many to prepare for- but I have to make a good guess for the caterer by tomorrow.

As I struggled with answering the various e-mails and phone calls- consoling harried customers and soothing frazzled registrants, I have just wanted to give up, go home & sleep it off. Keeping up a good face and even teasing about it with one of the ladies who helps with our website, I explained my hypothesis for what was going on:

"It's Satan. Since this whole event is focused on God and what He is doing in the world- His master-plan- of course Satan is against us! Any little thing he can do to frustrate the people who need to be there, he's done. He's gonna lose. We'll figure this out!"

She responded: "Stinky Satan." And we've moved on.

I still will be glad to have the whole thing over and done with, but I'm glad that the details are finally falling into place! :) So fight on, Satan. In the end, we all know you lose.

Monday, January 9, 2012

40 Pounds of Determination

Have you ever heard of the phrase: "an ounce of determination"?

Well, I'm sitting here with my foot propped up. I dropped a 40lb cement slab on it and can't move my big toe...not too worried...yet. And why would I be dropping such things on my foot? Well...have I mentioned that I'm stubborn? And when I have a project that I'm working on, I REALLY like to get it done. Especially if I happen to love the project.

To make a long story short: we're re-doing the front flowerbed and putting in stepping stones. This is what I studied in school. This is what I have studied just for the fun of it. Naturally, I was thrilled with the project!

I spent 5 hours in the yard yesterday and another 4 today, transplanting large bushes, planting roses, grapes, blackberries & irises. But the last 30 minutes I spent working on the stepping stones. I hauled all of those stones from the shelf to the cart, from the cart to the truck, and my Dad had unloaded them for me today. You would think I would've smashed my toe yesterday!

But no. I put in three stones with no problem, but it seems only three is the charm...any number after that can be quite dangerous! After smashing my toe and kneeling there in the flowerbed for a few minutes, I decided to carry on. (I'm not boasting- I SHOULD have gotten off my foot immediately.) I wrestled that fourth stone until I had it level and then smacked it for good measure. After that I started on number five...only to have the heavens open up and get soaked! As soon as I had 5 level, I hobbled out of the rain and have given the soggy garden my disdainful perusal all evening. How dare the rain not wait until I was finished?

Anyhow, the one thought that crossed my mind today and made me sad? I won't be able to wear my new boots now for a couple of weeks. I bought my first-ever pair of real cowgirl boots and the new leather has my room smelling like Cavendar's! I only got to wear them once- Friday- to work, and now I have to wait until my toe is no longer the color of a berry and the size of a lemon.

Oh well. Regardless of my toe, I have a party on Saturday and the remaining 6 stones are going in the ground before then... if I have to crawl to finish the job!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Big Fudge

In honor of the New Year- which has already brought a new engagement for a special friend and the death of one of my baby sister's two days. Bring on the rest!

I was nine when I discovered recipes. It was in a doctor's office of all places!
Whenever one of my sisters got sick (it was rarely ever me), we'd all pack up our schoolwork and go spend an hour or more in the doctor's office. (That's the life of a homeschooler- you adapt to many locations.) It was there that I developed the habit of copying recipes from the waiting room magazines into my school notebooks.

This developed into an obsession with baking cakes, pancakes, cupcakes, and cookies. If it needed flour, sugar, butter & eggs...I was interested.

When I was 15, our church decided to do a silent auction with goods baked by the youth. I was ecstatic! There was finally a time and a place for me to share my special skills! How bitterly disappointed I was about to be...

I decided to tackle a new recipe (never a good idea when you're trying to make a good impression...) and chose the recipe for See's Candy Fudge. I went shopping with my Mom at our base commissary for the ingredients and skimmed the recipe before beginning.
Things were going smoothly. Everything was combined and melted in the pot. I was only one step away from success!

The last line read: "When the fudge forms a ball in the water, then it is ready to be moved to the pan to cool."

Hmm...I don't remember ever seeing Mom put the fudge in water. Really? Pour all of this into water? Won't that dilute it?

I'm sure if there were such a thing as a "Fudge Fairy" she would have been fluttering near my head in a panic screaming, "NO!!! Don't do it!!!" I wish there had been...

I had to find a giant bowl that would hold water AND all of the fudge. Then I filled it partway with water- leaving space for the fudge. Hoisting the heavy (and hot!) pot of fudge over the edge of the bowl I poured it in!

Waiting expectantly for the magical fudge to form a ball as the recipe said it would, I prepared the pan that I would put it in. After a few minutes, I began to re-read the recipe. No. There was no time limit for the fudge to form a ball. Confused, I finally sought out my Mom. "It hasn't formed a ball yet, Mom!" I said anxiously, "When does it do that?"

"Where is it?" asked my Mom, peering into the empty pot on the edge of the stove.

"Right there!" I said, gesturing to the giant bowl filled with my now very soup-like fudge.

"What did you do?!" my Mom asked.

"Followed the recipe...?" I said, now very concerned for my fudge. And my reputation with the youth group...

"No! Sweetie, you're only supposed to put a tiny bit of it into some water and see if THAT forms into a ball!!"

"Oh no! What am I going to do? We need to go back to the store!" I said in a panic.

Stirring the pitiful fudge that would never be, my Mom decided to try something. "We'll can it and call it 'Fudge Sauce'! Then people can put it on ice cream and such."

I was NOT keen on the idea at all. It was grainy, a little watery, and nothing I wanted on MY ice cream...

As I watched people that knew me buy the cans of 'Fudge Sauce' I cringed. I knew it didn't taste that great. I felt like Anne Shirley in "Anne of Green Gables" when her precious teacher comes to visit. As she watches her teacher about to eat the pudding, she panics and cries: "Don't eat it Miss Stacey!" and confesses that she'd removed a dead mouse from the pudding earlier that day. Ew. At least my mistake wasn't THAT gross...

That was one of my big fudge moments. There have been plenty more- though few related to cooking...I am very careful with recipes!

Happy New Year! May your year be skim of fudge moments- but if you have them? Share! :)