The prodigal cat returns

You know how when you lose an animal and you might wish from time to time that you could stroke it’s fur again or just look into his eyes one more time? I get that way anyway and when I am feeling those feelings I often get a visit from that beloved pet in a dream. I feel comforted and maybe a bit sad when I wake up. I like to think maybe my pets spirit visited me in my dream and that we are still connected. 

Well this morning my wish came true in real life. Our very first barn cat SHELDON the one we called Shell at first BC we found him at the gas station as a kitten and I misdiagnosed his sex as female -then we realized she was a he and he became Sheldon (deep breathe) he returned! Yes he came back after over TWO years. Closer to three. 

Sheldon was always a wanderer. He shared the barn with our two other barn cats Mango and momma. Sheldon would come and go and sometimes was gone for a couple weeks. Once he was at the neighbors and was stuck in their shed. That time -BC he had been gone a week -we had put flyers in local mailboxes with his photo. He was lucky that the neighbor decided they needed a tool in the dead of winter or he may have been dead. When that door opened Out he shot -the neighbor reported -and home he came. 

We got used to his absences and didn’t get too worried BC they usually only lasted a day or two. Then a weird thing happened. We had gotten chickens and had had them for over a year. At the time they were free range.  I had gotten a new batch and had just let them out to roam free. Well we realized on hen was really a rooster. Sheldon didn’t seem to like this at all. He was the car that would lay on top of the coop and watch all the hens and ducks.  He kind of backed off as the rooster grew.  I never saw an altercation but I did notice that the cat wasn’t watching the hens like he had been. Then one day Sheldon was gone and he didn’t return. We were used to this but his normal time away extended into a week and just as I was considering putting some flyers out again we got a note in our box from a family who found a cat. They lived two houses down and their land touched ours out In our pastures. 

Kevin went over and sure enough there was Sheldon. Kevin brought him home but in three days he left. Maybe he was put off by that rooster. We decided that maybe life was better at the neighbors. They had fed him so yeah there was free the food thing and no chickens and no rooster. So we left it alone. If the neighbors didn’t want him there they knew where he lived. 

Barn cats are an odd bunch. They live a tough life. Our cats (we have had only one for a while) have a big bin of food at their disposal. They don’t have to find food but they do live in our barn. They come and go. Our cat Mango lives a secret life. Sometimes I see her head in the field looking into the crops waiting for some vermin to kill. She lives in the rafters in the barn and on the hay. She loves to be petand gets  overstimulated  and will scratch when you stop. She comes out when she feels like it -she’s her own “person”.   

Over the last couple years since Sheldon has been gone we all wondered about him. We missed him. One day after he had been gone maybe a year my neighbor on the other side of us told me she found a dead cat in her shed. She though it may have been ours. I chose to believe it wasn’t and that he was living at the other neighbors but as time went on I wasn’t so sure. 

The neighbors where we hoped he was living had been in upheaval for a while as the older resident there Lou had been very ill. There was a lot going on there. I often wondered if Sheldon was still there. But we just felt that if he was still alive he had chosen where he wanted to live and I respected that but I sure hoped I would see him again. And today I did! 

I heard the buzz that says I had a new text on my phone at about 6:55 am. I suspected it was my daughter letting me know one of my sons had missed the bus-but instead there was a photo of a cat with a caption “is this Sheldon?”  Holy cat! It sure looked like him. She had to get in the bus but told me he came from across the street and was rubbing up against her. 

I yelled to my son Luke who wasn’t feeling well today and is staying home that Sheldon might be outside. He ran out but didn’t see him. I was still in bed (mom doesn’t get up that early BC mom doesn’t have to catch a bus!) I heaved myself up got in sweatshirt fully determined to find this cat. I open the door and there was Luke sitting on the porch with the cat in his lap. It was Sheldon! No mistaking him as he has a half mustache that is his most identifiable feature. Our cat was back. 

I scooped him up and holy heck he was like lead! I realized our cat had been well taken care of in his absence. He was very friendly but not sure he wanted to be held. I am very allergic to cats but I wanted Kevin to see him. (And I wanted to take him further from the road)   Kevin was training in our gym so I walked in with the cat and the look on Kevin’s face was priceless. 

Sheldon didn’t want to stay in the gym but he was interested in checking out the barn. He didn’t seem to want to run off too quickly. We got to pet him and hug him. And notice how freaking fat he is. We joked that he had been sitting in a cushy window for the last two years looking out at the world getting fat. Then he broke free. We laughed BC he had trouble jumping down from the work table where the cat food is in the barn. A feat that would have been nothing to him a couple years ago. Our boy got soft. Did he even have barn cat sense anymore ?  He didn’t have a collar on but that was no surprise the the couple years he was with us he shook every collar we got him.  We decided finally that barn cats may be safer with no collar. 

Will he stay? I’m not placing a bet on that. I am pretty sure he will go back to whoever has been caring for him after realizing the barn cat life is pretty hard. But maybe I’m wrong       I respect the choices of barn cats (or former barn cats). They are never really “ours”. You can’t make them stay.  But I’m sure glad he came back for a visit at least. It’s like a gift -the chance to touch a being you really missed and it wasn’t a dream. 

Thanks for reading. 

It’s what we do. 

 This is Ridley. I have hesitated to write about him. Partly because I tried to be in denial that we were actually getting a 5th dog – yet again- after I said no more dogs! The other part is because this is an Old English Sheepdog and if you might recall we tried to rescue another OES about 1.5 years ago and that turned into a disaster. That dog bit me on the second day we had him and after I decided to let that go as a stress thing- two days later he attacked my husband. He suffered severe bite wounds- and despite being seen at urgent care he became very ill with an infection from the bites. He nearly lost a part of his finger and to this day he has stiffness and bad scarring on his hand. I suppose he fared ok seeing as how the bites were all over his hands and legs. He was lucky.

The hardest part of that experience aside from seeing your husband crouched in the bathtub allowing the blood to go down the drain as he tried to rinse off the wounds and not pass out was how the rescue group treated us. They never asked how my husband was doing and acted like the dog was the victim – and they implied we must have done something to make the dog attack my husband. This really was upsetting on so many levels. They did take the dog back and as far as i know he is living in a separate building on a fosters land. But blaming us ignored a dog with a serious problem. I was contacted by a number of rescues groups after I wrote about the incident that the dog should be euthanized. Maybe we should have done that – in hindsight I cannot say I wish we had – bc the entire event it hurts my heart still – but if one looks at it logically that dog should probably have been put down. I have prayed that he never ever bites anyone again- especially a child. I can say that in hindsight I wish we had never dealt with that rescue and for a while I wasn’t sure I would ever rescue again – especially an OES.

Since 1993 there has been 12 dogs that have been part of our lives. Ten of those were rescues the other 2 pups we bought from breeders. I am no dog trainer but I know dogs. I think after the experience with the sheepdog and the reaction of the rescue I was hurt and discouraged.  I wasnt sure I could handle going through that again. I thought puppies would be the only way I would go if I brought another dog here again. All of our dogs now are young. Ages 6 and under. We did not need a puppy.

And we didnt need 5 dogs again. We don’t. For a while finances precluded us from adding to the group but that has been lifted as my husband has gotten a new job that will allow us to loosen our belts some. We still don’t need 5 dogs. We don’t. I kept telling myself we needed to downsize the number of dogs we have because we want to move to the beach in a few to sometime years (we have no idea is what I am trying to say) and I couldn’t figure out how many dogs would fit on any of those little lots at the beach. So I thought after each precious dog in our lives left us we would not get another one. Two would be the optimum amount for us I thought -and for many two  is too many—for me two dogs just seems like an empty nest! But I had to be practical and financially careful. But that stress has been lifted so maybe there is room for more.  But we don’t need five dogs- we don’t…

But I miss having an OES and I miss having a senior dog.

And with the passing of time I realize that I am less effected by the last fiasco with the biting dog and the nasty rescue. I also realized that I am not a practical person. I have never been one. I have no idea if we will move in a few to sometime years…and I cant start living like that now. The more I thought about leaving my farm the more I didn’t want to leave it. The more I looked at my hens – whose numbers were dwindling after the loss of a number of my old girls over the summer and fall- and realizing I said I will not raise anymore chicks or ducks bc we are going to downsize in a few to sometime years- I realized this was living for the future and I wasn’t living in the now. That made me sad…because after having dealt with cancer I try to embrace the now more than ever.

So I began to make contact with some OES rescues that I know- I had been too impatient before and used a rescue I had not heard of and as it turns out had a bad reputation among other OES rescues country-wide. So this time I knew who to contact and we began a dialogue. But the dialogue also had to happen with my husband- Kevin. After all it was he who suffered the most the last time I tried to get an OES. But hes an amazing guy and he doesn’t harbor resentment and he has moved on. He knows how much I miss my OES Dave and how I fell for the breed and he knows how much I miss having one- so he is on board and not reluctantly…he looks forward to a new friend. If he lived alone he definitely would not have 5 dogs-  that’s all on me. But I think Kevin – who grew up with no animals- loves the life we have created and is up for adventure. We are in this thing called life together and for that I am blessed.

My wants for dog number 5 were pretty simple…I wanted an older dog 7 yrs plus and I wanted an OES and a male- and I didn’t want a biter. I love old dogs and we have rescued a number of them. They often get euthanized if they are put into a shelter bc they aren’t the first in line for adoption. So sometimes it isn’t as easy as it sounds to get an old guy. But once I put the feelers out I got a line on Mr Ridley in the picture above. Ridley met my criteria…he is a male and OES and hes old between 8-10. He is said to have a wonderful temperament – no known biting and has done very well in his foster home that he shares with other dogs.Tarheels OES Rescue in NC was pulling him from a shelter in WV. The owners could not keep him anymore bc they had young kids and no time for him. I think he was loved enough at some point but the kids became a priority and Ridley was relinquished to the backyard (he was quite matted and flea bitten) and then they took him to the shelter. From all I hear he is a happy guy.

I have known about this impending addition for weeks now. I think I was afraid to post bc then it would seem too real.. I am still nervous about all of it—my PTSD from before. Is writing about it making my life to much of an open book? Will people flame me if it doesn’t work out for some reason? But I can’t let fear deter me. I have a lot of support with this one. Belinda- the rescue director- has my back. She has been very careful to get me a dog that had an incredible temperament. I have my friend Betsey who did OES rescue for years and gave me my first beloved OES Dave years ago. At first Betsey wasn’t going to give him to us bc we had young kids- but she liked that we were at home most days and Dave needed that for health reasons. I am so glad she took a chance on us – I fell in love with Dave and the OES breed. There will never be another Dave but I do look forward to having an OES in the house. I am nervous and hoping this placement is a good fit. I am sure I will be reporting about this journey.

So tomorrow at 3pm we will meet Mr Ridley and bring him home. We were able to get a transport all the way to Hagerstown, MD 50 minutes away from us. Everything is falling into place. We have his food and his bed. Tomorrow we will have 5 dogs. We don’t need five dogs….but I am not living in the future – I want to live in the now. And giving a home to an old dog who lost his first home- to give him a second chance- is part of who I am (and now who Kevin is). This is the life we chose to live. It’s what we do.

Thanks for reading…..


Things I tell my daughter. 


Dear KCS-

I consider myself so very blessed to have found someone like your dad to share my life with. I kissed some frogs before I found my prince. But I did learn a lot along the way.  Here are some things I have learned that I want to share with you.

1. I don’t want to say this because it hurts me to even think about it-but you probably will experience a heart break in your life. Don’t let it scare you from love. Let it teach you something. Give yourself time to recover and go out and love again.

2. Choose someone who treats you like you are the most important and cherished person.

3. Choose someone who supports your dreams and makes you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to.

4. Choose someone who will hold your hand during the very hard times.

5. Choose someone who makes you laugh and gets your jokes. Laughter can ease many things.

6. Choose someone who speaks to you kindly and who cherishes your heart. Someone who doesn’t try to hurt you and will want to protect you from hurt. Choose someone who isn’t afraid to say they’re sorry and who is forgiving too. These things are quite important.

7. Choose someone who is your best friend. Someone you love spending time with, and talking to. Someone you can be your most true self with. Someone you feel safe enough with to bare your soul.

I had #1 happen a few times – I got hurt -but I never gave up on love. And then your dad and I found each other and he was numbers 2-7.

Love is the only thing that matters in this life. The world tries to tell you different but Love is the truth. I hope you find it with a loving partner – and in all other aspects of your life.

Remember you deserve to be loved and accept no less.

I Love you ,


The Creative War 

I have always been at war with myself. Maybe it is because I am born on a cusp between Sagittarius – the more creative sign- and Capricorn the more practical sign. But I always have felt there is this inner creative who wants to come out. She wants to wear bell bottoms and grow her hair long and keep it in a braid and maybe get a few more tattoos. She wants to have a studio where she makes cool art. The practical side of me had tried to squelch creative Anne. Miss P wants to do the more left brained things like have a proper job and be all serious. The right brained me has been writing since I was a young. I wrote poems and also I wrote for my high school newspaper. I didn’t always get published but I tried.  I never thought I would ever be a real writer it just wasn’t practical. How would I pay the bills?  That Miss P- she can be a downer.

In my mid- twenties I fell in love with photography. I got my first camera in New York City. I began taking picture of New England. I lived in Boston at the time- I worked in a practical job at a mutual fund company. But the photo bug hit me hard and when I moved back down to Maryland I began taking courses. I even took a class taught by National Geographic photographers.  This was all before digital photography came about and I wasn’t great in the darkroom and my focusing left a bit to be desired but I persisted. I even got paid for a couple small jobs for friends.

Creativity took a back seat to kids. I still felt that inner artist within and I loved to decorate the house and paint the kids rooms. I kept taking pictures but mostly of my kids and of their growing up- and really what better art is there when you are taking pictures of those you love?

I once wrote a piece for The Washington Post- just for the Health section it was a personal piece but it got published- that felt great! I still want for something more in my creative life. I love blogging and  Love taking photos. I have entered photos in fairs and won a few ribbons. But I feel like there can be more- that creative person in there is the real me. I still feel she is afraid to come out and really try. Miss P likes creative Anne to play it safe.

I think as I have gotten older the inner artist has cried a little louder. I am not sure where this will go. I have some ideas. Will they stick? I am not sure. I have been enjoying my newest creative hobby..painting furniture. I am learning a lot. I have a number of projects completed. I have a studio and I feel very calmed when I am painting pieces. It was born out of nessecity – but it touched the artist within. I never thought I would be much good at painting anything but walls- and I am very messy at that!  And maybe I am not that good at it but I am enjoying it. I think the more I try the more I tap in to the creative Anne. She wants to write, and take pictures and she wants to paint furniture and maybe fuse glass..maybe more. I want to listen to her more. I want Ms. Practical to shut up for a bit – there is a time for her but maybe it is ok for creative Anne to live out front for a while. Maybe I wont get to grow the long braid or wear bell bottoms but I sure as heck can give this inner call a listen and see where she wants to go…thanks for reading.

Here are a couple of my projects- I have many more waiting for me!


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Some dates you don’t forget

As much as I don’t desire to celebrate cancerversaries or many other dates that mark my cancer journey, today is a date I will never forget. It was two years ago on this day that I had my lumpectomy to remove the nasty cancer from my body.

I remember the entire long day as my surgery was scheduled for 2pm. I was nervous because not eating for that many hours was going to be hard for me. There was also the issue with my frequent potty breaks. For some reason I had to go so many times while waiting for the surgery and I trotted across the hall to the restroom dragging iv lines while trying to hold closed my gown. There was also the wire that had to be placed in my breast and then a radioactive substance was injected there as well. The nurse came in carrying the stuff with large gloves. It was out of a sci-fi flick and I kept thinking “they’re going to put that in my body?”  Yes they were. The things we endure to try to become well again.

The last thing I remember before going into surgery was begging for something to take the edge off. The nurses kept putting that off and it wasn’t until the anesthesiologist came in and saw that I was in a state (from nerves and not eating ) that I got a shot of some very nice stuff. I recall happily babbling all the way down the hall into the operating room and saying something to Dr Bahl my rockstar surgeon. She laughed and then I was waking up in recovery. Cancer gone.

Two years later. I’m ever so grateful for this time I’ve had. I’m was so thankful for the clear mammo I had in August. The intense pain of  the 3D mammogram-where smashing the boobs down as far as they can crank the Machine is mandatory- was worth the “normal/benign” finding that came ten minutes later.  Note to anyone facing 3D for the first time:Take Advil or something before and after. It helps some with the discomfort.

So two years later. Life hasn’t been the same. It’s so much better in the most important ways and harder in others. And the funny thing is some of the hard things have actually blossomed into good things.

Case in point. My brain. Somehow my brain was affected by this whole thing. I’m not able to multi-task like before. I get overwhelmed easily and my brain is foggy a lot. There are so many things that play a role in this. The cancer treatments themselves. Radiation and the anti-cancer meds I take now can play a part in the change to my brain. I’ve also been in peri-menopause and now full blown menopause (well I hope but can’t say for sure until May 7,2016). This can wreak havoc on the brain. I take piles of natural things to combat this fog and to keep my body as healthy as possible. But the brain thing is still there. It is frustrating. It makes working at my job hard. I can’t keep focus. But I’ve come to realize that it’s ok. I had to finally admit to myself that I really dislike the job anyway. It’s a business that has been struggling and I’m tired of it and the stress of it. It took a lot to admit this but my new brain made me realize that sometimes you have to let go before you can move on. And I really want to move from that to something else. I’d like to continue to work from home so I suppose I’ll see what happens as I think in those turns. Karma (or God) has a way of bringing things to light. So I imagine one day the next thing for me will become clear.

There have been been frustrations with my new brain but there have been huge blessings too. As I mentioned above I realized I didn’t want to work in my job anymore and that is big but there is more. When I had my old brain I could multi-task and I was always bouncing from one thing to another. I had little down time. Now I find I can stop and chill.  At first I didn’t like it – I could sit and do nothing and 45 minutes would just be gone…so not a thing I would have ever let happen when I had my old brain. But now I see the good things about this change. I hate cleaning the house now and am not bothered like I was before with clutter and mess. Before I couldn’t fathom letting the house get too unkempt- I would vacuum and swiffer daily…now once a week works for me. Its freeing and maybe a bit embarrassing if someone pops over and we have some dust bunnies and crap piled up on tables- but only mildly. And there is more! For years I liked the idea of baseball but I couldn’t settle my mind to watch a the long game. I even went to local games and would drink a beer and eat some food and chat with people never paying much attention to the game. I had a hard time waiting for the pitch -yawn yawn- just throw the ball. Now- I love baseball. It just happened one night while sitting and watching a game with my husband I became all things baseball. I now have the MLB app on my phone and get my team line up sent to me daily. I know all the names of the guys on the team and understand lots of the radio chatter on the sports stations. I love the stats and the all the strategy and nuances that go into the game . I will talk baseball on and on with my husband and I must say he considers this blip in my brain a great coup for him!  And because we have a business partner that works with the my the team I love, we have gotten to go to a game and sit in some awesome seats. I saw one of the best games of the season with Bryce Harper scoring three homers. And we are going to see the Baseball Hall of Fame very soon. I like this part of my new brain. Who would have thought I would love baseball?

My new brain has also brought out a new creative side. I’m taking more chances and trying new creative things. My most recent endeavor is furniture painting. I am new at it but it is fun and I am learning a lot. And many of our crappy pieces have been reborn. I think my entire family is shocked that I have the patience (I still deal with impatience but in some areas it is better) for this – my old brain would not have been. I would not have taken my time to get it just right- I would have just wanted it finished. Finding this new outlet has been good for me. I can see that even though my new brain had impediments – it had gifts as well.

Physically I still suffer. Before the cancer – physically I was more whole than I am now. Now I am in some ways- broken. I have pain each day and since it is not extreme pain I am able to deal with this pretty well. I have lymphedema which is uncomfortable some days- I have gotten a pump to deal help manage it. It is a condition that will not go away but it can be well managed so it is not a daily bother. I have frozen shoulder and this has been a bigger issue for me. Not know which way to go with treatment has been a challenge. I have some type of nerve damage that has the doctors puzzled and this damage is exacerbated by the shoulder. I am not sure if I have this damage from surgery or lymphedema or what. I do know that from the first day after surgery I had a stiff shoulder and I also know radiation made that worse and I know that I made it worse by shoveling ice and muck during the winter following treatment.

No doctor understands why I feel the way I do and that is frustrating. I have gotten to a point where the symptoms are tolerable and I am not sure having shoulder surgery to release the capsule is a good choice when the doctors who don’t know why you get the painful sensations (that lead to chronic coughing) in your upper body – and who cannot assure you that you would be cured from said discomfort- nor can they guarantee it would not be worse. So here I sit. I have my own stretching regime and I have seen some thawing in the shoulder but I still have the nerve discomfort.  For a long time this really got me down.

I have to admit the after the cancer has been worse for me physically than the during. Before the cancer I had some back issues but physically I was strong.  I worked out daily and I was in good shape and I need these workouts for my sanity. Before the cancer I could get up on my horse and ride without thinking. Now there is more planning involved…but hey I can still do it. I can still work out – again I am limited and there are more things to consider – but I do it. Before the cancer I didn’t feel sick. I didn’t feel sick on the day I was told I had cancer. The after is different. The battle leaves you with scars. For a good while after i suffered with depression and issues with fear. That eventually ebbed. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I may never be without some issues – thats a hard pill to swallow sometimes. But so many people walk around each day and live their lives with issues. Before cancer I dealt with anxiety and issues with an auto-immune disease. We all deal with stuff. I know I am not alone in that and I don’t want to wallow in a pity party for myself. So instead of putting off doing things until I felt a certain way I vowed that I would get busy living my life. You never know, the way I feel today might be what I long to feel at some point in the future -we don’t know what the future holds for us-and we only have today to really live. So living is what I have been doing. When I flip through the pictures on my phone over the last ten months or so I see a life well lived. I have done more than I ever could have imagined. No I haven’t scaled a mountain or been on a safari but I have done things that I may have never done before the cancer because my anxiety would hold me back. I still battle with it but I battled cancer and that was harder so I push anxiety aside and try to live the life I have now the best I possibly can.

Some days are hard…my nerve issues have been bugging me lately and the shoulder is bothersome- but we all have good days and bad days. The old me could not accept this about myself. Even then when I would not do something bc the beast anxiety had a hold over me I would beat myself up for having a bad day. Now I love myself more and though I don’t like having a bad day where I am not feeling up to snuff I try to allow it to just be and accept it.  It is hard bc sometimes I have found that living life after cancer makes you want to speed life up. In that you want to check every item on your bucket list off for fear that you will never get to do it. Two years out from cancer that has subsided some and my new brain in its inability to deal with too much input shuts down – so I have slowed down the manic “I better do this before it is too late” mantra. Because when you are living manic you aren’t really enjoying the moment.

Two years later. I find that my life is sweeter and better than ever before. There are challenges. We all have them. I have found that we will never be without them and it is how we face them and deal with them that makes a difference in our lives, Each day I try to live a good life. I try to find joy. I try to learn something new. I try to laugh. I try to be better to my people. I try to love well. I am not exactly where I would like to be in some aspects of my life but I am happy and blessed to be right where I am.

Thanks for reading…..