Pamwla Wetterman

Friday, October 18, 2013

Parden Me While I Brag

Author,  Bill Wetterman Receives Critic Review From Writer's Digest

Being his biggest fan, I had to share this wonderful review with my friends. Meet Bill Wetterman, my very talented writing husband.


Judges Commentary*:

MADNESS: THE PEACOCK TRILOGY - BOOK 2 by Bill Wetterman has everything fans are looking for: intrigue, adventure, danger, excitement, conflict and romance. A great read!

The front cover is masterfully executed and I believe it would compete with any other book cover on the shelf today. The colors are lovely and certainly appropriate to the title. The model is gorgeous and has just the right expression. The cityscape is awesome, and the peacock feathers worked in -- Wow! Shows up great on Amazon, too. Fantastic, in my view. Works nicely with the first book in the series. Be sure to stick with this artist.

The back cover does not disappoint. Though peacock feathers are still used, I had no problem reading the copy over them. The story is outlined very well. Readers looking for this type of story are sure to investigate inside, whether in person or on Amazon. Nice author photo and bio.

Inside, the font is pleasant and easy to read. I think the author should put the copyright in his name.

The writing moves the story along well with considerable skill. The tone is unflinching, but appropriate to the story. Although the main character is a female, I think men would still enjoy the story. In fact, because of the tone and the fact Peacock is tough herself, I imagine the story might actually find more male than female readers.

All in all, a satisfying read with great elements. Kudos.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Barkleah Steps Up His Watchdog Efforts

Barkleah, our Toy Fox Terrier, Is On Guard

As if Mr. Barkleah does not have sufficient work to perform, his  job description has increased to include other duties as assigned.
Being the only watch dog in the family brings challenges. Two weeks ago, we happily welcomed our grandson back into the homestead. Naturally, his companion, Carlos, the Maine Coon Cat, returned as well.  Carlos and Barkleah have a spotted history. Carlos plays like a cat--biting, scratching,, and creeping behind furniture until time to pounce. His favorite game is to sneak up on Barkleah as he sleeps and attack.
Add to the stress of any dedicated watchdog the introduction of strangers arriving daily. He has seen two to four workmen moving furniture, removing wood flooring, taking down ceilings and walls, who can blame Barkleah for being short on patience.  The workmen are to be in our home daily for a minimum of four weeks. Yep. Arrival date October 15th and completion date to be November 15th. And they are at least one day behind already. And today is only October 16th.
Barkleah spends his days locked up in our master bedroom with Bill and me. We have set up our computers and will devote this peaceful month to our writing, quieting Barkleah, and hoping Carlos will be safe in the upstairs bedroom until his daddy returns from work. To help his time pass, Bill and I take turns visiting Carlos everyday. We continually promise him free range of motion after four pm daily.
The two pets are beginning to spend more productive time together. Afterall, a familiar face is much better than four strangers banging on walls and tearing up the house.
More next week on the reconstruction.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gracie, The African Gray Parrot

Gracie is growing up

Miss. Gracie Bird jumped into her terrible two's several months ago. One Saturday, our son brought her over to our home. She is comfortable with us, and Bill and I have had fun babysitting for her if  needed. Upon her arrival, she began greeting me with "Gracie, goes to mommies' house. Gracie goes to see Bill and mommy." She spoke  in a soft, inviting voice. However, as I approached her perch to dote on her, her eyes grew defiant and she attacked her perch with her beak. "Ah. Ah. Ah." 
Realizing this was her need for new independence, I moved back a few inches and said, "Yes. It is your  perch. Mommy will not touch your toys." She eyed me one more time, hit her beak on the bamboo branch, and repeated her warning. Once reassured that I was not going to play with her toys, she took a quick flight around the room and settled in.
Before she turned two, we  relocated her from the perch to her carry cage , where she ate her meals. With an extended hand and the command to step up, she would hop onto the back of my hand and allow me to take her to the cage.
Now she ignores the request. Her goal is to make her own decisions. So, we place the food on top of the cage, offer a hand, and then if she is reluctant to step up, I inform her that it is time to eat and she can fly to her cage.  This allows her to make an informed decision. Yes, she is processing the situation  and selecting her choice. At times, she elects to fly and other times she happily steps up.
She clearly understands the conversation and makes a personal choice. When she is hungry, she verbalizes "Gracie wants carrots, corn, and potato." If she is tired, she tells us with "Gracie, go night  night., Gracie sleepezz."  Whenever she is thirsty, she requests "Gracie, want water."
She role plays her daily routine. When my son is getting ready for work she begins. "Daddy go to work. Daddy be back. Daddy love Gracie. Gracie be okay."  By the time he leaves, she is happily playing with some of her toys. She is an amazing bird.

She practices new words and phrases until she is comfortable. This week she has begun singing the ringtone of my son's cell phone and then responding with a big "Hello." No secrets can be hidden when Gracie is around.
By taking time to explain what we want her to do and allowing  her choices, she has become a much happier pet. Sound strange? Those of you who reared children remember those terrible two's. The African Gray is a highly intelligent fowl from the wild. They can not be dominated or domesticated. But they can be wonderful companions. 
At times, I wish Barkleah could speak. He uses his eyes and body positioning to tell me what he wants. More about that next week. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Presenting Author Pamela Wetterman

My dream came true

Dear readers, friends, and family

Today my journey begins as a published author. After five long years of study, writing conferences, and critique groups, I took the biggest step of my career.
A special thanks to all those who encouraged, and supported me. I selected Women's Fiction to encourage women as they multitask their career and role as wife and mother. It is a rocky path, but I believe it is the most valuable and enriching life.

A little about me

As a first-born, my role in life flourished. Developing into a leader, decision maker, and morality compass fit my personality to perfection. Although overly naïve, my instincts to understand and protect others developed at an early age. By junior high, my network of close friends extended to all walks of life, many differing viewpoints, and both males and females.
Being a good listener, able to understand both sides of most situations, presented the vision of a good listener. One who would help without judging, maintained confidences, and offer honest advice.
These personality traits supported my success as a customer care manager and allowed me access to the painful reality of many friends and strangers. People shared their deepest secrets. This contact with real individuals with major issues drove my desire to become an author of Women’s Fiction.
My novels search complex women’s lives, ask difficult questions, and provide honest answers. Based on real people, the stories are lightly sprinkled with humor and guest appearances by Mr. Tubbs, the Toy Fox Terrier (The Artist’s Paradise September 2013), Carlos, the Maine Coon cat (Whispers In The Wind 2014), and Gracie, the African Gray parrot (Alone 2015).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Barkleah, The toy Fox Terrier Who Rules The Neighborhood

Barkleah Has A Life Changing Experience

July 16, 2013. It was a perfectly quiet evening. Barkleah  nestled between Bill and me in our king-sized bed. Just before midnight, the storm attacked and changed his life forever. The hurricane-force straight-winds howled. The hale assaulted the windows behind our bed. Barkleah shook from the tip of his nose to the end of his stubby tail. Where to hide?

He spent the entire evening on guard. Standing on the foot of our bed, his eyes glaring into the darkness, his life's calling had been established. He was now the family protector.

The following morning, several angels of mercy responded to our call for help-the roofers had arrived. However, Barkleah refused them entry. He had never formally met any of these men and they were not going to walk in and bound upstairs to repair rafters and place the coveted blue tarp on our roof. Finally, in desperation, I nudged him into his crate and locked the door behind him.

Over the next six weeks, we have had  contractors from all fields try to win him over.  He has barked fiercely, attempted to bite the extended hands, growled at the kind "Hellos." and lunged at  the more  experienced craftsman who  just  ignored him. No one gets in. So, Barkleah is spending his days sleeping in his favorite "Happy place.

Everyday Barkleah positions himself on the back of the couch so he can peer out both the front and back door. No one will enter without his knowledge. Barkleah rules.

What he doesn't know, is that the next five weeks will be filled with reconstruction, painting, wood floor replacement,  new  carpeting, and wallboard and ceiling repair.  With the knowledge that his behavior is fear based, we will help him feel safe and secure. He will be spending a great deal of his daytime sleeping in his crate.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013



One day, our son called to ask a favor. Could we provide a temporary home for Barkleah? He had the opportunity to work for the United States State Department. The assignment would be for twelve months in Romania.  Of course, we said yes.  
The first evening we assumed custody of Mr. Barkleah, we carefully followed instructions for bed time. Placing him in his crate, we gave him a treat, and covered the crate with a blanket. He was to happily fall asleep with no protest. Wrong! He instinctively knew he had landed in the home of softies. 

We settled into bed and turned off the lights. Immediately, he began to wine, a soft, lonely whine.
Whispering, I questioned, “Does he sound cold to you, Bill.”
“No. He sounds fine. Now get some sleep.”
“He is shivering. Perhaps, our bedroom is chilly for him.”
“No, he is a con artist. Forget it. Good night, Honey.”

Barkleah’s whimpers turned to full out crying. From the sounds coming from under the blanket, it was clear he stood up-right, trying to open the crate door.

“Bill. He’s freezing. Can’t we warm him up in the bed with us?”
“NO. Once he gets into our bed, we will never get him back into the crate.”

Bill was right. Once he placed Barkleah into our bed, he nosed under the sheets, and permanently claimed his portion of our bed. 

Barkleah also taught us a new game. We call it “Show me.” He surfs the floors searching for dropped pencils, scraps of paper that missed the trash, and credit card receipts that blow off the desk. Once he has a treasure, he moves in for the deal. Hopping like a rabbit, he locates one of us, shakes his head to show us the treasure in his mouth, and then runs under the bed. He wins the game when we crawl on all fours with a treat calling, “Trade.” The score is Barkleah - 1,000. Pam - zero.   

Upon his return from Romania, our son discovered we had bonded with Barkleah and faced separation anxiety. How would we survive when Barkleah moved back to our son’s home?  Like any reasonable adults, we established joint custody. We agreed to weekends with his Daddy, and the week days with his Nana and Papa.  
Although Barkleah loved the arrangement, over time, we agreed to have Barklean with us full time. When travel calls, book signings, conferences, and lack of pet friendly hotels, Barkleah is cared for by his daddy. And as many of you know, our son also has Gracie, the African Gray Parrot. Bill and I are trained and ready to Gracie sit at any time. We are parrot friendly, with a six foot tall bird cage in our living room, and a five foot high perch for her comfort. 

Yes. Barkleah may be spoiled, but so are Wendy, Bailey, Carlos, and Gracie.
Our lives are full of laughter, as we care for our pets. 

Do you have a funny story to share? Please leave a comment and I will make sure it is shared with my readers.  



Thursday, August 15, 2013


NO, Barkleah is loved.

All  our adult years, Bill and I had medium to large dogs as pets. In fact, my knowledge of small dogs was a bit lacking You might even say, I had many preconceived ideas about those tiny little pets. My world changed in 2006 when my son announced that he had purchased a Toy Fox Terrier.

I spent a few days imagining this 6 foot 4 inch man caring for a 2 pound baby. His hands were large enough to close around little Barkleah and make him disappear. Convinced that all little doggies were spoiled, difficult to care for, and too small to play with, I adopted a wait- and-see attitude.

The first time we met Barkleah, his ears flopped on either side of his head, his coal black eyes stared at us in fear, and his little body shook. It was a cold winter day and he wore a tiny blue sweater to protect him from the elements. He snuggled into my son's arms and crawled into a small flannel cuddle sack. Yep. He must be spoiled already.

During one of my doggie-sitting afternoons, I discovered that Barkleah loved to race around the kitchen trying to see if he could keep from being stepped on. Noting he was a drama-king, I worked hard to protect him. When a foot came too close, he screamed as if killed. In order to keep him alive, I no longer wore shoes. At least my bare foot gave me the ability to sense his presence, and look down before moving.

If he was awake, he was continually playing with his squeaky toys. It amazed me at how well he could entertain himself. When he required rest, he insisted on a human lap inside his cuddle sack. If it was really cold, he crawled inside your sweater and nestled on your chest.  Yep. I was getting the idea. Mr. Barkleah would rule our lives.

Barkleah was crate trained. To this day, he goes to the closet every morning to make sure his crate is there. When there's thunder, lightening', or other forces of bad weather, he races to his crate. When he had surgery, he placed himself in the crate and did not venture out until he healed.

It was amusing to see him interact with our black lab, Bailey. Bailey was a beta dog. Easily the sweetest, non aggressive pet in the neighborhood.  She  imparted knowledge to Barkleah. He soon learned to jump out the dog door. Problem was, his size. The door was installed for an 85 pound lab. He nosed the door opened and jumped out, scraping his tummy on the frame and landing ten inches below. Ouch! He worked on his technique and eventually mastered this Evil Knievel..

Bailey taught Barkleah how to protect the family from intruders. Bailey took the lead, but Barkleah was the lookout. He could hear the UPS man sneak onto the porch, the neighbors walking their dogs half a block away, and the Schwan's truck pulling up across the street. The awesome dodo kept us safe.

Naturally, Bill and I fell hard for this sweet mischievous clown. Are you one of those special people who have had their heart stolen by a little doggie? Please share your stories. We all love to hear about pets.

My next post, I will share how Barkleah came to stay for a visit and never left again.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Gracie Bird and Barkleah Make Friends

Who Knew Toy Fox Terriers and African Gray Parrots Could Be Friends?

On Gracie's initial visits, we guarded her diligently.  Barkleah spent every waking moment shadowing her. He perched on the back of the sofa as his coal black eyes glared intently. When she attempted flight, often misjudging her landing, she sought refuge on our wooden mini blinds. His first instinct was to jump off the couch, race to the window, and stare up as if he might catch her when she fell.

Our instincts caused us to panic. She was so fragile, so young, and a novice at flying. Often we all ran to the window at once. Our son Jeff took the lead. He shouted, "Barkleah, no." Then he offered the back of his hand and invited Gracie to "Step up, baby." Relieved to be rescued from the blinds, Gracie obliged Jeff and he returned her to her cage or perch.

In the mean time, Bill and I were chasing Barkleah around the room, attempting to pick him up, and move him from the area. He, of course, loved this game and allowed us to chase him from room to room with a smile on his face.  

We had no idea if Barkleah would chase Gracie, but that was his normal action when seeing a bird in our back yard. We could take no chances with little Gracie's life.

Gracie, fascinated by this ten pound Toy Fox Terrier, first words were "Barkleah, doggie.  Grrr.  Arf. Arf. Arf." She also realized that Barkleah loved to eat.  Gracie quickly learned to push her food off onto the floor when she was full. She alerted him with her special signal, by calling out, "Don't dump your food bowl." Then she would shoved the bowl off her cage and onto the floor. Her next comment was , "Gracie is a stinker.".

Barkleah appears to love bird food. he has gained two pounds since Gracie joined the family. It appears that Gracie likes her role as diet breaker. These two have run us ragged. Do you think they are communicating with mentally? l

Monday, July 29, 2013

Did you say "Hurricane?"

Hurricane Hits Oklahoma

Yes, you heard it here first. Last Tuesday our weatherman mentioned 60 MPH wind gusts and an inch of rain was possible.  Being in a heavy drought, we listened casually and tucked ourselves into bed. Around midnight we awoke to sustained straight line winds of 90 MPH, hale the size of golf balls, and torrents of rain.

Poor Barkleah shook so hard his teeth chattered. After wrapping him in a small blanket, we tucked him under the covers, and promised him safety. Then we turned on the TV and heard the words low level hurricane winds. Yep. It was true . After years in the Midwest, we understood tornadoes, but the sound of this wind was an eerie wining   so loud that we never heard any of crashing damage hitting the front of our home. We finally settled back into bed to rest, leaving Barkleah on guard duty.

The next morning, Bill wandered outside to gather up the morning newspaper. Thirty minutes later, he returned with a shout. "Honey. We lost the front roof." For the next hour we surveyed our home.  "How could the roof decking be missing without making a sound?" I asked.

We discovered broken rafters, huge holes, and rain damage from the attic, through the second floor, and ending on the first floor. The next two days, were spent mopping up rainwater, tearing out carpets and pads, and drying  flooring and furniture. The insurance adjuster is scheduled to arrive a full eight days after the storm.

We count ourselves blessed. No one was hurt and we do have good insurance. Barkleah has forgotten the scary storm and is contented to bark at walking dogs and strangers entering our home. And where else can you have a hurricane in the middle of tornado alley?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Gracie, the African Gray Parrot

Gracie, the African Gray, came into our lives two Christmases ago. She hatched, under the loving care of her parents, and spent eight weeks learning how to be a bird. Then she moved into her first home, a breeder's cage. My son, Jeff, selected her to be his while she remained in the safety of her egg. His year long search for the perfect companion completed, he took her home two weeks before Christmas.

On Christmas eve, 2011, Gracie joined our holiday celebration. Traditionally, we attend church services as a family, return home for a special meal, and then open gifts. Gracie arrived in her two foot by 3 foot travel cage. Her trip across town unnerved her. Grays are slow to change and even slower to accept strangers. Their instincts protect them in the wild.

Gracie reluctantly abandoned her cage and settled on the perch set out for her. She trembled as she gazed around at the room full of humans.  Her feathers puffed up and her eyes grew to small ovals. Jeff assured us she only required time to adjust to so many strangers.

We allowed her some space, trying to move around the perch in the center of the activity.  If any one of us approached, her fear caused her to fly off. The poor girl, being new to flight, circled the room looking for a safe haven. Her ability to assess her location was in development. Her favorite landing sight was on the top of our mini-blinds.

That evening, we all learned how to approach her as she clung to a wooden slat, offer our hand, and ask her to "step up". She attempted to avoid our help, but soon realized it was best to get a ride back to the perch.

Like many families, we grew louder as the evening passed. In response to one deafening outburst of laughter, she took off again. This time she flew into the kitchen and slammed into the wall. Reacting in fear, we all raced to her rescue. Jeff gently scooped her up on the back of his hand and said, "She's okay. But it's time for me to take her home." 

Over the past two years she has safely visited us many times. She is now very conversational, with a vocabulary of over one hundred and fifty words. She not only speaks, but she understands what she is saying. I will share some of her stories in the next few weeks.  Gracie and Barkleah have become great friends. But more about that later.

Do you have a favorite pet?  Please share your stories.


Monday, July 1, 2013

Free, Free, Free At Last

Barkleah was released from his cone after two very long weeks.  Although he never complained about the soft collar, it became apparent when we removed it, that he'd thought it was to be a part of his life forever. If a dog could smile, he did.

As the collar fell to the floor, his coal-black eyes gazed up at us. Then he jumped up as if preforming a jig, raced out of the room, and ran through the house, tail wagging. Then he returned to offer us the "Play-bow" , and jumped into my arms. Yes, I would say he was pretty happy to be a free little man.

Now with total independence, he is testing his boundaries. Due to his propensity to cancer, he must wear sunscreen when he is outside or stay in the shade. Barkleah considers any scented product to be poison.  If he sees the sunscreen in my hands, he runs under the bed and refuses to come out, not even for a treat. So he has supervised trips outside. If you turn your back, he will race into the grass and flop down for a quick sunshine fix. He understands this is not good for him, but he insists it is a compulsion.

Given the command to go lay on his dog bed, He slowly drags himself into the shade. It becomes apparent his plan is to wait for escape. He has turned us into the secret police. 

He is also focused on regaining his position as top dog in our home. Since he is the  only dog we have now, Bill and I are  the target of his domination. He favors one technique for all of his desires.   His STARE. He stands on his back feet, leans his round tummy against my leg, and gazes into my eyes. HIs eye Contac is perfect. He does not look away until I say, ""Okay. Show me." Then he turns and leads me to the desire of his heart. It can be a trip to the cookie jar, a path to the Greenies, or a hopeful request for a walk  by racing to the hall where his leash hangs. 

Yes, you might say I have  given in to his demands.  You would be right.  He sleeps in our bed, eats before we do, and gets treats for doing almost anything. But in return, we receive unconditional love from  the most charming and amusing clown in all of Oklahoma. Bill and I feel like we are the real winners in this relationship.

 Do you ever find yourself spoiling your pet?

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Dreaded Cone of Shame

Barkleah faces the Cone of Shame

In the past, I smiled at the phrase and wondered who first came up with such a term. Have you ever seen those poor doggies wearing a hard-plastic, cone-shaped collar, tight around the neck and flared out to extend the full length of their muzzle.  Three weeks is a long time to face the cone of shame.

Barkleah, our fair-skinned Toy Fox Terrier, developed pre-cancerous lesions.  In discussing this condition, his dermatologist, his primary vet, and the surgeon all called this a very nasty disease that could travel into the body through  his veins and turn into deadly cancer in his internal organs.  His surgery occurred three weeks ago.

We brought him home the same afternoon of his surgery. Drowsy from anesthetic, he slept the balance of the day. He appeared unaware of the dreaded cone tied around his neck. However, once awake and hungry, he attempted to push off the cone. The design is perfect for preventing the patient from scratching or biting the incision. It is NOT perfect for eating, drinking, or crawling into your favorite safe-haven, the beloved crate.

Once Barkleah realized his predicament, a deeply sand gaze appeared in his eyes. The look could only be described as shame. His tearful stare, asking "What did I do wrong, Mommy? Being softies, Bill and I agreed it would be fine to remove the cone for meals, drinks, and time outside in the backyard. Wrong! Once the cone is removed, his short-stubby body raced under the bed and refused to come out. Knowing  this hideout as a safe room, once under the bed, cone removed, his tongue began to lick those itchy stitches. It took three cookies and two long armed adults, stationed on either side of the bed, to catch the escapee.

For the next two weeks, he learned to survive with the cone. He eventually learned to eat and drink without banging the end of the cone, but sleeping was truly difficult. He became a recluse, hiding in the back of his crate and ignoring the world. Finally, one day nine, he woke up crying and shaking. I pulled him into my arms and rocked him for over an hour. He fell into a fitful sleep. I gently place him in our bed, between Bill and myself and rubbed his back as he slept.

The following morning we put him into the car and drove to Pet smart. I had heard from a friend, that they had a soft inflatable collar that worked well on small dogs and could replace the cone. We were ready to try anything. The online reviews were great for small dogs, and less impressive for larger breeds.

Once home with the new collar, Barkleah's  mood improved. The shame gone, he raced and jumped around the house. He turned the soft collar into a pillow for sleeping and he was still not able to reach his stitches. Wen we returned for his two week check-up, we were  excited to hear he was healing well. However, the news that he must remain the collar for another week was a huge disappointment.

He continued to accept  this inflatable collar.  But on the last day of his three-week adventure, we removed his collar. If a dog could smile, he was grinning from ear-to-ear. He jumped for joy, raced around the entire first floor of  our home, and returned to give us his very best play-bow. The ordeal was over. We all survived.

If you have a small dog who is facing the cone of shame, check into a soft collar. On a scale of one to five, five being all stars, it was wonderful.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Barkleah Is A Good Doggie

My son visited on Memorial Day and Gracie, his Gray Parrot, joined our festivities. She and Barkleah share a mutual admiration. Gracie will be two soon. She has developed a vocabulary of over one hundred and fifty words.  Her first words, "Barkleah doggie, grrrrr bark bark bark." created confusion. Her ability to capture words and sounds is amazing. We actually thought Barkleah was at the door announcing strangers approaching.

Gracie prefers mixed vegetables with a splash of scrambled egg for her meals. Like any child in their terrible two's, she nibbles the corn, carrots, and peas after the egg is devoured. She then relocates her food bowl
to the edge of her cage and calls out, "Gracie, don't dump your food bowl." Hearing the warning, Barkleah races to her, poised and excited. Miss Gracie then uses her beak to shove the stainless-steel bowl so it will crash onto the floor.  Her next remark is, "Gracie is a Stinker!"

Barkleah, continually hungry, quickly gobbles up the spilled meal and sits next to the cage in anticipation of seconds.

Gracie loves to sing, chatter, and address each of our family members by name. She greets us with her version of a short story. She arrives in a travel cage. Once inside our home, she begins with "Gracie goes in car. Gracie goes to see Mommy(that's me) and Bill . Gracie wants veggies." She then opens with her version of Jesus Loves Me, Bird, Bird, Bird, Is the Word, or You Are My Sunshine.

All the while, Barkleah sits in awe. He seems to understand that she is part of the family and should be treated with respect. He rarely leaves her side. When she moves from her cage, perch, or travel cage, she manages an excursion, flying from room to room and then back to her intended landing. Occasionally, that landing can be the top of one's head. Being tall, Bill is often her landing strip of choice. He diplomatically waves his hand across his head and she gently resumes flight.

Gracie, a wonderful addition to our menagerie, is a life long commitment. She has the life expectancy of around fifty years. Her level of intelligence will reach that of a five year old child. And never say anything around her that you do not want to have repeated. She does not miss ONE word.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Moving On

With Miss Bailey, our black lab, transferred to the Rainbow Bridge, our lives became less active—initially. With her eighty-five pound frame, Bailey’s role as protector of our home developed naturally. After Barkleah came to live with us, Bailey taught her everything she knew about home security. She and Barkleah made the perfect duo.

Barkleah, an eleven pound Toy Fox Terrier, protected his home. He listened for intruders with his tall–bat ears. Performing periscope-like precision, his head pivoted toward unwelcome sounds. He barked the alert. His ability to catch the UPS man slip away without ringing the bell was perfected. Then Bailey marched to the front door and joined in the barking announcement. “Don’t try to come in here.”

Now Barkleah has assumed both roles. He is quick to announce the uninvited guests. He races to the front door in record time.  But to my surprise, he progressed to attack dog. 
Last week, the UPS driver stealthily placed a package by our front door. Barkleah raced to give him the warning bark. As the UPS truck pulled away, I opened the front door to pick up the package. Barkleah uncharacteristically continued barking and pushed past me. Charging out the door, he raced across the yard and ran to the street. Fortunately, he stood on the curb and informed the deliveryman not to try coming up on his porch again.

With this new behavior, I now scoop Barkleah up in my arms before opening any outside door. He almost got promoted to Bailey’s assistant at the bridge. He is needed here. He takes me on walks twice daily, he warms me as I snuggle with him in the bed, and he keeps me smiling with his antics.  

Stay tuned for more stories about Barkleah, Carlos the Maine Coon cat, and Gracie the African Gray parrot. What kind of pet do you have? Are your pets as silly as mine?  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Evenings with Ellie

I have missed blogging for the past few months. Most of you know I lost my dear sweet labb, Bailey last summer. But I had not shared my other pain. My dear friend of over twenty years passed away on August 16th, 2012.

For me, itwas time to share my greif with others. Here is our story.

Evenings With Ellie
The cell rang. Pam grabbed it on the second ring. “Hi, Ellie. Did you hear back from your doctor?”
“Yes, we met with him today.”
“Would you and Bill come over after dinner tonight?”
At the sound of Ellie’s voice, her eyes moistened. “Of course, we’ll be there by seven.”
“I know it’s bad news,” Pam said to her husband as they drove over to Ellie’s house. The February evening chilled to a brisk forty degrees. She fought to warm herself ash she crossed her arms around her body. .Please God, calm me.
Ellie’s’ husband, David, opened the door and they tiptoed into the living room. A warm fire crackled in the fireplace, providing the only light. David settled onto the sofa. Ellie remained silent, as if gathering her thoughts. With her jaw set, and her back straight, she projected a figure much larger than her ninety-four pound frame. “Thank you for coming,” Ellie said. “Before I start, you two are the only people we are sharing this with.” She re-positioned herself against the cushion and swallowed. “I’ve been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.” She clasped her husband’s hand. “I have a mass that, if not removed, will cause me to starve to death in a matter of weeks.” Her voice lowered. “I don’t want to die that way.”
Ellie stood and reached out to Pam. Six inches taller than Ellie, Pam wrapped her arms around her friend. Ellie silently held on with the strength of a bodybuilder. Had it only been two months since Ellie began mentioning the pain?
“How can we help?” Pam asked.
“I’m teaching nights this semester,” Ellie’s husband said. “Once the surgery’s completed, Ellie will be alone unless you can stay with her in the evenings.”
“I’ll do anything you need. We can have some girlfriend time.”
Ellie smiled. “One more thing, my lungs are weak and damaged. Even if I survive the surgery, I may not be able to get off the ventilator. Pray for me.”
“Of course, and Bill will ask our Sunday school class to do the same, if that’s okay.”
 Ellie whispered. “I’d appreciate that.”
“My class’s full of miracle-working Christians,” Bill said.
The first Monday after Ellie was released from the hospital, Pam prepared to spend evenings attending to Ellie. Ellie’s husband and a home-healthcare nurse took care of Ellie during the day.
Pam’s first evening visit found Ellie propped up in the queen bed, barely able to hold up her head. Her sandy blond hair, normally worn short, hung to her shoulders. Unable to shower, the limp locks clung to her.
 “I did it,” Ellie said. “I told myself I had to breathe for David. Over and over I chanted, breathe, breathe. The doctor had me off the ventilator before I went to recovery. I survived for my David.”
“You’re an amazing woman. David’s lucky to have picked you out at the teachers’ dance all those many years ago. How long have you been married now, forty-one years this August, right?”
“Yes, forty-one wonderful years.”
“Last night, David shared your song with Phil. How romantic—Across a Crowded Room.”
“It’s true. I sat at a table with two of my teacher friends. David glided across the dance floor and scooped me up. We danced all night. I didn’t even know his name. But I knew I loved him.”
“He told me the two of you eloped. Some couples are just meant to be together.”
Ellie smiled, but remained silent.
After several minutes, her color brightened as she leaned forward and whispered, “I made him have the talk. You know—the one about my funeral. I insisted. He finally agreed. If I’d died during surgery, I wanted him to know my wishes. Now it’s all written down. Even who will sing the songs.”
How courageous she was. “That must have been a difficult discussion.”
“Yes, but don’t you see, if anything happens to me, David needs to know what to do. This way, he has a guide he can use if…”
“You’re right. Knowing your wishes will help ease his mind.”
“I love my dear husband. It’s just been the two of us since we met. You and Bill are our closest friends. We have no family in Oklahoma. Our parents are deceased. We never had any children. He’d be lost if anything happened to me. Promise me, you and Bill will look after him.”
They joined hands and shared tears. “Nothing is going to happen to you, Ellie. The operation’s over and the mass has been removed. It’s time for you to heal.”
One evening, Ellie smiled as she described her process of managing their funds. Being a retired teacher and one hundred percent analytical, her financial records were complex and detailed. She tracked every penny, planned for all current and future expenses, and balanced her bank statement. “David fusses and insists I’ve developed a process only a genius would use.” She gave me her impish grin and added, “But he’s learned it and now he pays the bills and tracks our income. This way he will always have the money he needs.”
“You’re evil. David doesn’t have a chance. You’ve got his whole life planned.”
“Yes. I’m glad he’s a fast learner.”
About four weeks into her recovery, she announced that David was planning an exciting vacation. “He wants to take me on a trip back to Maine. We were hippies when we met. We spoke our vows by the ocean in Algonquin.” Ellie hugged her chest. “Our hearts belong to Maine.”
“You and David vacation in Maine every other year. Is it time to go this year?”
“We went last year. But we want to revisit all our special places. It could be our last trip.”
“Are you strong enough to travel?”
“Yes. The doctor won’t approve flying, so we’ll drive. We’ll stop if I get too tired, and I’ll use my walker. I’m going to give him this trip.”
The June trip, planned for eight weeks in the future, would require a miracle—and the miracle happened.
After their return from Maine, Ellie grew stronger and more active. Her strength improved as did her appetite.
Anytime David had an appointment, Pam dropped everything to stay with Ellie. The two friends worked together in Ellie’s kitchen to make small meals. She taught Pam where her pots and pans were stored, and her method of cooking. Pam spent more time in Ellie’s kitchen than her own. They laughed, cried, and enjoyed each other.
In late July, Pam teased, “Are you ready for our pedicure yet? My poor feet are starving for pampering.”
“We’ve been too busy for a pedicure, lunch out, or a movie in months,” Ellie kidded. “ Want to go?”
“Oh yeah.”
“Good. I’ll pick a movie. We’ll get our pedicures, then after lunch at Mimi’s Café, we’ll see a show. You be ready to go tomorrow at ten.”
And go they did. Ellie drove the car for the first time in six months.
Pam and Ellie relaxed in the salon, pampering their tired feet. They snickered as if teens. The owner, relieved to see the two back in his shop, offered extra services to both. “Just a plain pedicure, please,” Ellie said. “We have places to go and things to see today. No time to linger here.”
Lunch included huge blueberry muffins, and chicken salad—delicious as usual. The two dragged themselves out of the booth and slowly crawled into the car. “I can’t believe we ate the entire muffin” Pam said. “When will we learn?”
They chuckled as Ellie attempted to park in the narrow space at the theater. Ellie finally located a pair of parking spots and slid onto the center line. She hung her handicapped parking sticker. “Just let them try to give me a ticket for parking in two spots.” Their day was perfect.
In early August, Elli suffered several serious setbacks. She was in and out of the hospital ICU. But her spirit flourished—bright and hopeful.  Ellie’s positive attitude provided unwavering hope.
A week later, Ellie was rushed to the hospital. After one night in ICU, she was sent home. The prescription—Hospice. The doctors had spoken. She had days to weeks to live. Too weak to walk, Bill and David carried her into the bedroom and settled her onto the loveseat. She smiled at the three of them, too weak to carry on a conversation.
The next two weeks, Ellie slept. David stayed by her side day and night. He administered her pain medications every two hours and cared for her with all his love and strength.
At six the morning of August 16th, Pam’s phone rang. She heard “Its time. You’d better come.”
“I’ve never been able to cry,” Bill said.” I’ve lost both of my parents but I couldn’t weep.” He sat on the edge of their bed, staring down at the floor.
“Everyone grieves differently. You were reared to hold in your emotions but they’re still inside of you.”
He sighed, shook his head, and took her hand. “Don’t I need to show my grief?”
“Sure, tears help heal us. But if you don’t cry, it doesn’t mean you don’t care.”
Bill and Pam braced themselves and reached Ellie’s home within fifteen minutes. David had set up two chairs next to their bed. Bill dropped onto the loveseat across the room and they prayed. Ellie’s breathing labored. Her body shook as she moaned, but death delayed.
“Thank you for the most wonderful days of my life,” David whispered to his wife. “Please understand it’s okay for you to leave me. We’ll be together one day”
Her small frame raised and fell as she fought death.
Pam leaned closer to the bed and brushed her cheek. “Ellie, you’ve been the most wonderful friend. I love you but it is time for you to be with God. He will give you a strong, healthy body with no more pain.” Pam wiped the tears from her cheeks. “We had such wonderful times together. I promise that Bill and I will take care of David until you two are reunited.” Pam sobbed as Ellie moaned through intermittent breathing. Six hours passed. A small tear trickled down Phil’s cheek. He rose from the loveseat and settled into a vacant chair closer to Ellie. He spoke softly, prayed, and stroked her hair. “Ellie, God is waiting for you. Let us take care of David for a while. It’s time for you to enjoy your rewards in Heaven”
Had she heard him? They’d have to ask her when they got to Heaven. Her body relaxed. She was gone. Her flesh became a shell—no spirit within.
With tears shed, final words spoken, a sad quiet filled the room. David bent over her still body and tenderly removed the necklace from around her neck. He turned to Pam and whispered, “This is now yours. Ellie would want you to have it. We picked it out during our last trip to Maine. It’s from her favorite jewelry store.”
With trembling hands, she clasped the delicate silver and pearl necklace around her neck. “Thank you so much, it’s beautiful. I sense her presence. This’s a perfect reminder of her—delicate, and yet strong and resilient.”
With strength and resolve, Ellie wrapped the three in unfailing love. She knew she would be leaving. She fought death as the cancer consumed her. She taught David how to live without her and presented Pam with a friendship that death could never destroy.
For Phil, she gave the ultimate gift—permission to show his grief. Ellie walked in pain that day waiting for a grieving friend to say goodbye. Even in death, she put the needs of others first.
Pay it forward. Be a friend like Ellie.