Thursday, January 31, 2008

Teabag wisdom

This morning as I was reheating the cup o' tea I didn't finish last night (Good Earth Lemon Rooibos in case you're interested), I noticed this on the back side of the teabag tag:
Being in an especially pushed-for-time frame of mind, that really sat me on my haunches. Intellectually I know it's true, but it rarely FEELS like it. I could go on and on here, but I think I will take that teabag wisdom to heart to ponder and pray over.

Before finishing this post, I got an email from friend Kathy saying she had been nominated for - and in turn nominated me (among others) - for an award:
Thanks, Kathy! It's nice to know someone thinks my blog is worth reading; it's certainly one of the things I enjoy doing with my time. In turn (because that's how it works, I'm told), I am to nominate ten blogs. I enjoy many, but hopefully among the following you will find a new place or two to explore:
A Sheep in Wool's Clothing - another spinner and knitter who loves old barns
Antiquity Oaks - on homesteading and accountable agriculture
Boston Lake Farm - fellow Shetland shepherd Sabrina says, "I have never wanted to live anywhere else" - and I think that's pretty neat!
Counting Sheep - Carol is often thought-provoking on many topics
Dances With Wool - an amazing knitting designer/fiber artist who lives in Finland
Pinewood Shetlands - I appreciate the inspirational thoughts and Bible verses
Pretending to Farm - Lauren regularly makes me laugh - and sometimes blush!
Sittin' n' Spinnin' - we have horses and sheep and spinning and dogs and kids in common...
The Three Ring Ranch - Allena has LOTS more kids than me and still keeps her sanity and her sense of humor!
Word . . . from Willow Garden - a jolly Canadian shepherd showcases his beautiful sheep and cute new grandbabies

That's it for now at . . .

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Banes and blessings

My poor horse Russell looks like a maniac with clippers got to him. In addition to a front and a back leg that were shaved for imaging and treatment of suspensory ligament injuries, he now sports shaved patches on both sides of his neck! Last week he wasn't moving comfortably; when Rick examined him, he suspected neck issues. X-rays showed some arthrosis, so yesterday Rick did ultrasound-guided steroid injections between C5 and C6 and C6 and C7 (with three-inch-long needles - YIKES!) to alleviate the neck pain. Hopefully I'll have a chance tomorrow to see if Russell feels better. It may be that I will have to turn my focus from dressage to just hacking and trail riding; Russell will let me know. Dressage is certainly not the cause of his "issues," but like any other sport pursued in a serious fashion vs. the occasional casual effort, continuing to train and show up the levels would place added strain on his physique.

While I may joke that "the cobbler's children have no shoes," I do realize what a tremendous blessing it is to have a horse vet for a husband. Rick can provide most of the "best practice" treatments for any ailment my horse may have, and he has been a lifesaver for my sheep as well. He can't "fix" everything, but I am so thankful for all that he can - and does - do.

Here's "leg news" of an entirely different sort: Jackson is starting to lift one a little in the middle of his potty breaks! I guess that means the baby-pup is turning into a boy-pup. He's also tall enough to use the toilet as a water bowl - EEEWWW! I have never had a dog do that, and I don't intend to give Jackson access so that he can make it a habit.

That's it for now at . . .

Monday, January 28, 2008

A camera-shy cat and other views of the day

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood after a bit of snow last night. The sun is shining brightly and it won't last long, but the pup (below at choretime) and boy have still enjoyed it.
Some cats occasionally visit my blog and they probably wonder why Oreo is rarely seen here. Well, Oreo is a camera-shy cat. She never poses, and hardly ever stands still. I've been wanting to get a photo of her and Jackson together to show their disparity in size, but haven't had any luck yet. When we first got Jackson, he and Oreo were about the same size, or at least the same height. Now Jackson towers over her, and at 35 pounds, greatly outweighs her. Still, they are on friendly terms and nuzzle a bit every morning when we first get to the barn. Then Jackson will do something rude like plant a big paw on her and away she goes. Here she is after escaping from the big galoot, looking down on him from a shelf in the barn.
This morning I put a halter on Braveheart to take him to pasture with the girls. Lately he's been taking his own sweet time to wander through the gate; often I've had to grab him and bodily escort him to where he needs to go. After yesterday's incident, I figured a halter would be a safer method of getting him from point A to point B. Besides, I hope to show him at Black Sheep Gathering in June so the leading practice doesn't hurt. After turning him loose to eat his bit of grain with the girls, I had to stop and admire the view. I couldn't ask for a nicer hind leg set or more perfect tail!

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Strike one, followed by a tackle

Yes, I'm mixing my metaphors here; but hey, they fit. Yesterday morning during chores Braveheart rammed me for the first time. Not hard enough to hurt (he is, after all, hornless and small, and we were in the confines of the sheep fold), but it was still a hit. I was on top of him in a flash, yelling "NO!" and kneeling on him for a good minute before letting him up to shake off the dirty bedding and think about what had just transpired. I, too, need to think about what happened, and remember to keep an eye on him.

Jackson got hit last week, too. After putting the sheep in their little pasture, I let Jackson off lead and, as usual, he visited the sheep through the fence. Dinah took exception to his forward behavior and rammed him. I wasn't close enough to see just where he was hit or how, only that his head was partially through the woven wire when it happened. He came kiyi-ing back to me at the barn, and hasn't been nearly so anxious to fraternize with the woolies ever since. It will be awhile before he is able (and willing!) to help keep Braveheart at a respectful distance!

That's it for now at . . .

Friday, January 25, 2008

Yes Suri!

I finished spinning the llama roving Tammy sent me (I can't believe I've been getting in a little spinning nearly every day!), and got the bright idea to add on the Suri alpaca sample I got from Alpacas d'Auxvasse. This was a much easier way to get acquainted with a new - especially a rather slippery - fiber, instead of struggling with a leader and getting a new bobbin started. It means I'll have to ply the white alpaca with something before I can access the brown llama, but that's okay with me. Anyway, I'm finding the alpaca a delight to spin, very similar to but even softer than the llama. Plied with a wool single, both camellid fibers should contribute to soft scarves with beautiful drape.

That's it for now at . . .

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Standing pretty; standing down

When I pulled Brava's coat Tuesday to put on a larger one, her fleece looked like one big mat of felt. On closer examination, though, it isn't felted - just very compressed. When parted, delicious fiber presents itself:I am pretty sure that Brava is musket (brown with the fading Agouti gene), but she is fading much slower than Braveheart. His fleece is basically white at the skin now, while Brava retains a delicious latte color. I can't wait to spin it!

I don't have many good photos of this pretty girl, so I asked Brian to hold her while I tried for one. I was amazed; she stood up like a little show sheep!

Meanwhile, Jackson's rakish ear has decided this week to "stand down." Now my friend Debbie will stop grumbling about getting him a "do-rag" to make him look presentable. Personally, I loved the way that ear flopped over his dome; it made Jackson look so jaunty. Now he looks, I don't know, more bland and submissive. (But don't let his looks fool you!)

That's it for now at . . .

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Pay It Forward" fun

(It's another frozen-bucket, clean-paws morning at Boulderneigh.)

Yesterday I read about the "Pay It Forward Exchange" on the blog Knit and Run. Giving and receiving little presents is so much fun; why wouldn't I want to join?

The "Pay It Forward Exchange" is based on the concept of the movie Pay it Forward, where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return, just in hopes that the recipients of the acts of kindness will also pass kindness on. (Although I haven't seen the movie, I must say that ever since I got Shetlands and started blogging, LOTS of wonderful people have been "paying it forward" to me. My cup runneth over!)

So here’s how it works. I will make and send handmade gifts to the first three people who leave a comment saying they want to join this PIF exchange. (I have no idea what to make; I'm thinking of letting people choose between edible, wearable - think small; I'm a slow knitter! - or useable.) I promise to send your gift within two months. What YOU have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. I will ship to anywhere in the country, but you'll have to email me (there's a link over there on the right) your snail mail address.

Have a great day and Pay It Forward!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shearing decisions and cold weather

Yesterday I trimmed everyone's hooves and dewclaws, and changed coats on Braveheart's girls. (Brava needs her coat changed, too, but I'm going to wash the one she needs first.) I LOVE to see and feel that pristine fleece when I pull coats off! But I was a bit surprised at the length of wool under the coats; it wasn't as long as I expected it to be. Now I'm rethinking their shearing date, which is scheduled for Feb. 27. I'll go ahead with Bella, Brava and Braveheart, as they all have a full year's growth and I want Brava and Braveheart to have good growth for the Black Sheep Gathering in June. The "ladies," though, will only have five months' growth, and unless they grow a lot in five weeks, they won't have the length I'd prefer. I'll wait six more weeks for the farrier's next visit, and just trim them up if it looks like we'll have lambs before then. This past year was an experiment in shearing twice a year, and it may be the last time I do it!

If anything is going to send my sheep into overtime wool production, it should be this weather. No, we're not even close to the extremes that other parts of the country are getting (no thanks; been there, done that!), but it's quite cold for here, and windy, too. It's rather nice, actually. There's no mud, the horse stalls and yard are easy to clean when the all the turds are frozen, and our woodburning insert keeps the house comfortably warm instead of too hot. Being from the midwest, we have all the bucket and tank heaters we need and Rick installed them last night before the temperature took a nose dive.

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Miserable yarn

This is my current knitting project. My step-mother wanted to buy me a special skein of yarn from our local yarn shop when she and my dad were here in December. This soft, shiny, silky stuff caught my eye - and it was on sale! It is SilkyChic by Colinette (100% polyamide) in the 70/raphael colorway, made (and hand dyed) in Wales. Exotic, huh?

Last week I finally had a chance to cast on a bias-knit scarf. Had to rip it out three times, losing some yarn because the hairy stuff became impossibly tangled. As you can see, I haven't gotten very far in my current attempt because this is NOT an easy knit. The stuff is so fine and hairy that I have to wear my reading glasses to see my stitches clearly. I'll consider this a good education in what NOT to buy! I do think I'll like the scarf, though, once I suffer through the knitting of it.

Yesterday I gave our good friend Bryan the basketweave scarf I made for him. My timing is good; this week we are forecast to have our coldest temps of the season!

That's it for now at . . .

Friday, January 18, 2008

Puppy fluff and sad stuff

Jackson is growing like a weed, barely fitting into his crate now. (I might as well put it in storage; he rarely uses it anymore.) For a size comparison, I've tried to get Brian to pose holding Jackson as he did below when we chose our pup eight weeks ago today, but he won't (I think he's afraid of sharp puppy teeth!).
Jackson has no shortage of toys to play with and chew on, but of course people - especially squealing boys - are MUCH more fun! Alas, after the boy goes to bed, one must settle for what one has.

When he is especially alert, Jackson gives a TWO-eared salute!

I learned today that Puddleduck Eva, my sweet Valentine's dam, has died. She was nearly 15 and doing quite well until the end, so was obviously blessed with good genes - and wonderful care by Lois and Brook at Stonehaven Farm. For Lois' touching tribute, go here.

That's it for now at . . .

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dreaming of lambs?

Lots of shepherds are these days. Recently Allena, with help from Tammy, did quite a long post postulating what colors and patterns she might get from her many pairings. She's hoping for spots. That seems to be a desire of many Shetland breeders. I don't have a particular love affair with spots, although I must admit that blaze-faced, white-stocking-clad sheep are very striking and I wouldn't mind seeing one of those "HST" (stands for white on Head, Socks and Tail) Shetlands in my little pasture. But more important to me is breeding for polled rams, which is why I am using Valiant Braveheart on my girls this year.He has very little horn material, and most of what he had he has knocked or rubbed off this breeding season. Ideally, I would replace all my ewes (except Valiant Brava, who has a decent chance of carrying polled ram genetics) with ewes that are known carriers of polled ram genetics. But when I can't sell a nice, young ewe at a lamb's price, that ideal may be replaced with the reality of a small spinner's flock that I don't breed, rather than risk overrunning my limited sheep facilities with too many woolies and straining my marriage.

For 2008 at least, Boulderneigh should have a lambing season. Rechel, Dinah and Valentine have been living with young Braveheart since the end of October, and I witnessed breeding activity with the last two ewes in late November. I am hoping Rechel was bred earlier; time will tell. When I begin to feel udder development, I'm going to start a contest to see who can best guess the number, sex and color of the lamb(s) that arrive first.

To give you what hints I can, here is what I know or suspect of my breeding group members' genotypes (for a review of genetic abbreviations, go here):
Valiant Braveheart - Ag/Aa, Bb/Bb, S?/Ss (musket; you can see above that he has a dusting of white on his forehead)
WSR Rechel - Ag/Aa, BB/Bb, S?/Ss (grey; she has dark spots when sheared and her sire is listed as moorit flecket)
WSR Dinah - Awt/Aa, Bb/Bb, S?/S? (white)
Stonehaven Valeria (Valentine) - Aa/Aa, Bb/Bb, SS/SS, probably modified (fawn?)

Based on the above, I know I will get brown (solid, modified or fading) lambs from Valentine. Dinah should only be able to give me white or brown (fading or solid) lambs. Rechel could give me black or moorit lambs, fading or not; I may get spots with this combo, too. Rechel is my wild card.

The used replacement for the resurrected camera (that's still kicking, by the way) arrived from its eBay seller yesterday, and do I have a learning curve ahead! This model has TONS of settings, including video, that my old camera doesn't have. I'd better start studying the owner's manual now, so I'm ready for those adorable lambs!

That's it for now at . . .

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

We are enjoying a spell of clear, cold days, so it's time to set the alarm clock and deal with our growing pup's energy level and my growing middle-age middle. Nothing works as well for me as lacing up my jogging shoes and hitting the road, so that's what we did this morning. Besides views like the above (this morning's sunrise near Mt. Jefferson, the valley filled with fog), I know that doing this on a regular basis will have multiple benefits: weight control, increased energy, better health, and improved attitude. I don't know that it will have much effect on Jackson; he was just as playful and ornery after our two mile jaunt as he usually is!
After getting our exercise, we did chores. The sheep do not like the livestock blend feed that I currently have, so rather than running for their feed pans when I open the sheepfold gate, they have taken to moseying around before my big piglet Dinah leads them through the pasture gate. It would be handy to have a dog's help in these situations!
That's it for now at . . .

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Indelible ink

When Jackson and I went out to do chores this morning, my "landscaping challenges" were in the island flowerbed (and I'm NOT talking about the snow!). They moved off a bit when they saw us. If only Jackson would CHASE them and bark! Today, for the first time, Jackson did actually trot towards them, so maybe there's hope. Goofy dog - he barks at people, runs in fear when he hears dogs and coyotes, ignores deer and wants to play with sheep!

About his desire to play with sheep, my dear friend and mentor Lois said, "It sounds as though Jackson might be interested in being a herding dog. If you think that you might ultimately want that, I would distract him from playing with the sheep - if you can. Don't tell him "no," however; that would discourage him.... In my experience, herding types are a clean slate, written on with indelible ink!" So now when we turn the sheep out, I make sure Jackson is on a retractable lead so I can keep him near me.

That phrase, "a clean slate, written on with indelible ink," has stayed with me. It has changed some of my interactions with Jackson, as I don't want to tolerate certain behaviors now if I can't fix them later. What about us humans? Aren't we all written on with indelible ink? Everything we experience has a permanent impact on us. Not that those experiences have to control how we think or act, but they do have an impact. Lots of food for thought there regarding how I treat others, who I choose to spend my time with, what I choose to view in print and on the screen, even what I eat or choose to think about....

That's it for now at . . .

Monday, January 14, 2008

Off the needles and on the bobbin

Yesterday I bound off this basketweave scarf and wove in the ends. It's made from two skeins of Lion Brand Wool-Ease that I had in my stash, which was very enjoyable to work with. It's a generous size and should help keep our good friend Bryan warm. Hopefully he'll pose in it for a photo next week at church. Below are detail shots of the front and back of the pattern (click to biggify):I think this pattern would make a handsome sweater; don't you? I'll have to look around....

My current spinning project is another new fiber for me. Tammy sent me two ounces of beautiful chestnut llama roving (along with some Shetland roving) when she sent the yarn for the shawls. This fiber is deliciously soft, but not as frighteningly slippery as the alpaca sample I got recently. Maybe after spinning up the llama I'll feel up to the challenge of alpaca!

That's it for now at . . .

Sunday, January 13, 2008

To dye or not to dye, that is the question

Last week I got the chance to ply the Dorset (from Gracie) and the Blue Texel singles. My intention was to dye the resulting two-ply with Sarsaparilla (blue) Landscapes dye I picked up at Woodland Woolworks (it would be my first foray beyond the Kool-Aid Kingdom). I'm still tempted, but the natural colors also woo me. I only have around 100 grams of yarn, so there's not enough to leave some natural and dye some. Carol did a project with overdyed black Shetland and white Wensleydale that is striking. What do you readers think? To dye or not to dye? And then, what to knit with it?

Awaiting your feedback at . . .

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My little Sabbath miracle

Early this morning as I checked my email, my eyes wandered to my digital camera laying next to my computer, its lens frozen in the extended position ever since it took a tumble out of my purse on Wednesday. "Lord," I prayed, "it really would be nice to be able to take photos today." Karishma, one of my friend Pam's Fijian daughters, was getting baptized, and I knew Pam would want me to take pictures. Plus, I was taking Pam's birthday shawl to her today, and I wanted a photo of her in it.

I picked up the camera. "Lord, if it could just work for this morning." Earlier this week I had already tried tapping on it and manipulating it every which way, but the lens refused to move. The camera would turn on and off, but the display said "zoom error," and the camera could not focus or capture an image. But with that little request in my heart, I turned it on once again and proceeded to pat its bottom, each side, and finally the top. And with a little mechanical groan, the lens shook off its stupor and began to function!

Since our pastor is handicapped, he uses a "back-up man" in the water; that's Rick on the left.

And that's my dear, camera-shy friend!

As soon as I got home on Wednesday (the camera jumped out of my purse - seriously! - when I was getting out of my car to have lunch with my sister in Salem), I got on eBay to look for a replacement. I found an auction for a used camera with lots of extras, the same brand (and therefore same memory card) but a higher-end model than mine, that ended in 11 minutes. I was able to snap it up for a good price. Do I feel bad about spending the money? Not really. The last time I dropped a digital camera it ended up trying to self-combust, so I figure, like Lazarus, the camera I dropped on Wednesday has been resurrected only to die again sooner or later. Today was a gift; I am thankful.

That's it for now at . . .

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Old Man and the Dog

(Someone emailed this to me today. Somehow, it touched a cord. Is it the challenging relationship I have with my son? The thought of parents reaching this stage? My belief that animals truly are a gift from God? I don't know, but I wanted to share it with you while I wait for a digital camera replacement.)

"Watch out! You nearly broad-sided that car!" My father yelled at me. "Can't you do anything right?"

Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn't prepared for another battle.

"I saw the car, Dad. Please don't yell at me when I'm driving." My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then turned away and settled back. At home I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil. What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon. He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions, and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn't lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age, or when he couldn't do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. An ambulance sped him to the hospital while a paramedic administered CPR to keep blood and oxygen flowing. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived.

But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor's orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned, then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad's troubled mind. But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered. In vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, "I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article." I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs - all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one but rejected one after the other for various reasons - too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world's aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

I pointed to the dog. "Can you tell me about him?"

The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement.

"He's a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him. That was two weeks ago and we've heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow." He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in I turned to the man in horror. "You mean you're going to kill him?"

"Ma'am," he said gently, "that's our policy. We don't have room for every unclaimed dog."

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. "I'll take him," I said.

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch.

"Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!" I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. "If I had wanted a dog I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don't want it." Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples. "You'd better get used to him, Dad. He's staying!" Dad ignored me. "Did you hear me, Dad?" I screamed. At those words Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate.

We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when suddenly the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.

Dad's lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently. Then Dad was on his knees hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne. Together he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad's bitterness faded, and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then late one night I was startled to feel Cheyenne's cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe and ran into my father's room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

Two days later my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad's bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad's peace of mind.

The morning of Dad's funeral dawned overcast and dreary. "This day looks like the way I feel," I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And then the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers."

"I've often thanked God for sending that angel," he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article . . . Cheyenne's unexpected appearance at the animal shelter . . . his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father . . . and the proximity of their deaths. And suddenly I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.

That's it for now from . . .