Friday, August 27, 2010

Puppy size

This is another great story sent to me by my friend Jack. When my own dog, Pugsley came into my life 9 years ago, it was love at first sight. We have been inseperable since. So I know where this little girl is coming from....

Danielle keeps repeating it over and over again. We've been back to this animal shelter at least five times. It has been weeks now since we started all of this,' the mother told the volunteer.

What is it she keeps asking for?' the volunteer asked.

Puppy size!' replied the mother
Well, we have plenty of puppies, if that's what she's looking for..' 'I know..... We have seen most of them, ' the mom said in frustration...

Just then Danielle came walking into the office

'Well, did you find one?' asked her mom.

'No, not this time,' Danielle said with sadness in her voice. 'Can we come back on the weekend?'
The two women looked at each other, shook their heads and laughed 'You never know when we will get more dogs. Unfortunately, there's always a supply,' the volunteer said.

Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door. 'Don't worry, I'll find one this weekend,' she said.

Over the next few days both Mom and Dad had long conversations with her. They both felt she was being too particular. 'It's this weekend or we're not looking anymore,' Dad finally said in frustration.
'We don't want to hear anything more about puppy size, either,' Mom added.

Sure enough, they were the first ones in the shelter on Saturday morning . By now Danielle knew her way around, so she ran right for the section that housed the smaller dogs.

Tired of the routine, mom sat in the small waiting room at the end of the first row of cages. There was an observation window so you could see the animals during times when visitors weren't permitted.

 Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling periodically to take a closer look.. One by one the dogs were brought out and she held each one.

One by one she said, 'Sorry, but you're not the one.'

It was the last cage on this last day in search of the perfect pup. The volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully picked up the dog and held it closely. This time she took a little longer.

'Mom, that's it! I found the right puppy! He's the one! I know it!' She screamed with joy. 'It's the puppy size!'

'But it's the same size as all the other puppies you held over the last few weeks,' Mom said.

'No not size... The sighs. When I held him in my arms, he sighed,' she said.

'Don't you remember? When I asked you one day what love is, you told me love depends on the sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger the sigh!'

The two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom didn't know whether to laugh or cry. As she stooped down to hug the child, she did a little of both.

'Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy come home from work and hug each other, you both sigh. I knew I would find the right puppy if it sighed when I held it in my arms,' she said. Then, holding the puppy up close to her face, she said, 'Mom, he loves me. I heard the sighs of his heart!'
Close your eyes for a moment and think about the love that makes you sigh. I not only find it in the arms of my loved ones, but in the caress of a sunset, the kiss of the moonlight and the gentle brush of cool air on a hot day..

They are the sighs of God. Take the time to stop and listen; you will be surprised at what you hear. 'Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.'
I hope your life is filled with Sighs!!!

Appreciate every single thing you have, especially your friends! Life is too short and friends are too few.

Life is too short to wake up with regrets.

Love the people who treat you right and forget about the ones who don't.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Good days

The one thing "bad days" have over "good days," is that they're completely optional.

Last Thursday was a good day (from my perspective). Although I had to work my midnight job both Wednesday and Thursday nights, I had the morning on Thursday free to pamper myself. I found myself home alone on a beautiful 85 degree day with sun and no clouds as far as you could see. It's days like this that make me glad that I work nights, because I get to enjoy the mornings while others are cooped up in their offices doing whatever it is that "normal" people do. I was enjoying the day so much that I lost track of time and stayed up a little too late. 2pm late to be exact. That would be like 2am for those of you who exist during the day. I had opened up the house to let in some of that fresh summer air and to give the air conditioner a much needed break. I finally forced myself to lie down and get some sleep when there arose a horrifying noise from just outside my open bedroom window. It was the neighbor. He decided that it was a great day to finally rent that stump grinder and get that old dead tree stump out of his yard. I must say that it looks a lot better now. So that only took a little over an hour.
I believe that I drifted off to sleep at around 3:30ish. I had some wonderful dreams as I lay there with a warm summer breeze blowing across the room. And then around 7pm is when I was awakened from my bliss by the tornado siren. The township thought it was a good idea to place it just a block away from my house so that I would be able to hear it, in case of emergency. After hitting my alarm clock and throwing my phone across the room, I realized that this was something more. I thought about the fire alarm.... No, that's not it. Oh, it must be the first Saturday of the month and they are testing the system. No! that's not it either. What's going on?! I thought in a groggy state after only 3 1/2 hours of sleep. So I got up to look out the window at a huge black storm cloud headed my way with my name all over it.
As the wind started to blow, I saw my drunk neighbor go into his metal tool shed and pull up a bucket to sit on. Then he pulled out his cell phone to call his girlfriend. The rain started coming down sideways first from the North then the West. Then back from the North again. The maple tree in the yard ran and took cover behind the pine tree, all bent over with it's branches reaching East. The willow tree out back with it's long wispy branches, was reaching straight up into the sky, and I thought, this is not good! The hail hit the skylight like a drum and it sounded like someone was throwing rocks at the side of the house.
Pugsley and I went to the room in the center of the house and sat under the desk. It's a single story wood frame house, so there is no place to hide.
Fifteen minutes later, it was all over. The neighbor was still sitting in his tool shed (that was amazingly still there) and there was a beautiful rainbow coming out the top of it.
Power was knocked out all over the area and damage was done to many homes and businesses. The tornado touched down three miles just North/West of my house and again three miles South of my house. So it basically bounced right over head. There thankfully, was no damage done at my house or in our neighborhood.
By the end of it all, it was too late to go back to bed. So, off to work I went until 6am. After which I had a funeral to do on Friday morning. This funeral was for a very prominent woman in a nearby town. She was only 42 years old, had two teen age children and a husband that she left behind. She was a member at the local yacht club, golf club, tennis club and any other club that meant money. Cancer had devastated her life for the last two years. It turned out to be a very large service. We had over  150 cars in the procession out to the cemetery and many more people that just came for the service. We filled the parking lot, the water run-off field and two empty lots near the funeral home with cars and still had 30 more on the street. It was a wonderful service where everyone who could was able to share a memory. Out at the cemetery, we had everyone putting a rose on her casket after it was lowered into the grave. We went through hundreds of roses. We also had a releasing of doves. The husband and both children held them and released them together. It is always very touching as the bagpiper plays to watch the white doves circle the cemetery twice and then fly off. Truly a wonderful send off for a young lady who died way too early.

I was completely exhausted by the end of it. Driving that Cadillac back to the garage can be quite the task when you've had no sleep and a very exhausting two days. Thankfully, I don't work Friday nights. Once I made it home, I didn't wake up until well into Saturday. Then in the afternoon, the husband and I treated ourselves by driving out along the shore to a quiet restaurant on the bay for a very nice seafood dinner.
With all the noise and the ruckus of the previous days, it was delightful to watch the seagulls and the boats while we enjoyed  our meal.

It would have been very easy to let everything get to me and proclaim it to be a "bad day". But then I probably would not have ended up having a nice romantic, much needed, dinner in the end. It's up to us to decide how to react to everything. Getting upset and having a bad day, just doesn't get you anywhere good. So, I like to think that it was a good day(s). The stump is gone, everything has been power washed, a woman is no longer suffering and I got a really good meal.

Until next time... look on the brighter side!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I think that we've all felt a little worthless at times in our lives. What we need to realize is that those times are what makes us better for what's still to come. A very good friend of mine seems to be a great source for stories like this. So I have to say thanks again to Jack for submitting this. I hope that it speaks to you as it has me.......

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, Who would like this $20 bill? Hands started going up. He said, I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple the $20 dollar bill up. He then asked, Who still wants it? Still the hands were up in the air. Well, he replied, What if I do this. And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled, and dirty. Now who still wants it? Still the hands went into the air.

My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.

Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or whom we know, but by WHO WE ARE.

You are special - Don't EVER forget it. You may never know the lives you touch the hurting hearts you affect, or the hope that you can bring. Count your blessings, not your problems.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Thought to Ponder

You will outlast, outsmart and outlive anything that doesn't please you.
Just be careful not to wish to change even the slightest thing about a loved one, without first understanding how it might change the rest of them.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A poem from Emily Dickinson


I heard a fly buzz when I died;
The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry,
And breaths were gathering sure
For that last onset, when the king
Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away
What portion of me I
Could make assignable,-and then
There interposed a fly,

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,
Between the light and me;
And then the windows failed, and then
I could not see to see.


The death in this poem is painless, yet the vision of death it presents is horrifying, even gruesome. The appearance of an ordinary, insignificant fly at the climax of a life at first merely startles and disconcerts us. But by the end of the poem, the fly has acquired dreadful meaning. Clearly, the central image is the fly. It makes a literal appearance in three of the four stanzas and is what the speaker experiences in dying.

The room is silent except for the fly. The poem describes a lull between "heaves," suggesting that upheaval preceded this moment and that more upheaval will follow. It is a moment of expectation, of waiting. There is "stillness in the air," and the watchers of her dying are silent. And still the only sound is the fly's buzzing. The speaker's tone is calm, even flat; her narrative is concise and factual.

The people witnessing the death have exhausted their grief (their eyes are "wrung dry" of tears). Her breathing indicates that "that last onset" or death is about to happen. "Last onset" is an oxymoron; "onset" means a beginning, and "last" means an end. For Christians, death is the beginning of eternal life. Death brings revelation, when God or the nature of eternity becomes known. This is why "the king / Be witnessed in his power." The king may be God, Christ, or death; think about which reading you prefer and why.

She is ready to die; she has cut her attachments to this world (given away "my keepsakes") and anticipates death and its revelation. Are the witnesses also waiting for a revelation through her death? Ironically the fly, not the hoped-for king of might and glory, appears. The crux of this poem lies in the way you interpret this discrepancy. Since the king is expected and the fly appears, are they to be associated? If the fly indicates the meaning of death, what is that meaning?

Does the fly suggest any realities of death--smell, decay? Flies do, after all, feed on carrion (dead flesh). Does this association suggest anything about the dying woman's vision of death? or the observers' vision? Is she-- are they--seeing the future as physical decay only? Does the fly's fulfilling their expectations indicate that death has no spiritual significance, that there is no eternity or immortality for us? There are other interpretations of the fly. The fly may stand for Beelzebub, who is also known as lord of the flies. Sometimes Beelzebub is used as another name for Satan; sometimes it refers to any devil; in Milton's Paradise Lost, Beelzebub is Satan's chief lieutenant in hell. If the King whom the observers and/or the speaker is waiting for turns out to be the devil, is there still irony? How is the meaning of the poem affected by this reading? For example, does the poem become more cheerful? What would Dickinson be saying about eternity? Can the poem support more than one of these interpretations of the fly?

What is the effect of the fly being the only sign of life ("buzz") at the end of the poem? To extend this question, is it significant that the only sign of vitality and aliveness in the entire poem is the fly?

For literal-minded readers, a dead narrator speaking about her death presents a problem, perhaps an unsurmountable problem. How can a dead woman be speaking? Less literal readers may face appalling possibilities. If the dead woman can still speak, does this mean that dying is perpetual and continuous? Or is immortality a state of consciousness in an eternal present?

"I heard a fly buzz when I died" is one of Emily Dickinson's finest opening lines. It effectively juxtaposes the trivial and the momentous; the movement from one to the other is so swift and so understated and the meaning so significant that the effect is like a blow to an emotional solar plexus (solar plexus: pit of the stomach). Some readers find it misleading because the first clause ("I heard a fly buzz") does not prepare for the second clause ("when I died"). Is the dying woman or are the witnesses misled about death? does the line parallel their experience and so the meaning of the poem?

Saturday, August 14, 2010


This hundred and sixty year old church had already served 52 years of service before the young lady that we buried today was born. She had turned 108 two months ago. I always enjoy hearing about the lives of the people that get to make it that long. The changes that have happened over the years have been astounding. I overheard an 80 year old speaking of when they let women start working in the factory where he worked. Her 93 year old cousin said, "she was a teen age girl when I was born". These people had no room in there lives for such things as video games and Internet. The funniest part of this service was a floral arrangement that was delivered. The card read "With deepest sympathy, you are in our prayers. Congratulations!" We were left wondering... Congratulations? for what? for making it to 108? for making it into heaven? congratulations that you are in our prayers? what? what does it mean?

As for this church, to people on the East Coast, it may not seem old. But this and the funeral home that I was
working at today are about the oldest things that we have here in Michigan. Before that, there just wasn't much around here. Even the graves in the cemeteries only date back to the mid 1800's. I was in awe when I visited Cape Cod last year and found graves dating back as far as the Colonial War and older.
Someone needs to tell the people at this church that they invented something called air conditioning. With temps in the high 80's and humidity so thick you could taste the lake water, we were all drenched before we even got started. This old church sits two blocks off of Lake Huron where it drains into the St Clair River. The bridge to Canada is right next to it (behind /above me in the picture). Being so close to the lake, there was a very slight breeze to cool me a little. I was happy to stand outside and help park cars, getting a little air conditioning in my face as each person put thier window down to talk to me. The director was inside where the air was just stifling. Just inside the door is a set of narrow stairs leading up to the sanctuary, which is always fun when carrying a casket. When you get pallbearers on both sides and then try to pick it up and carry it, things get interesting. These old buildings are built to carry sound because they were built before microphones. So you can hear every squeaky board in the floor as people walk. You can hear every cough, sneeze, whisper, everything.

Back at the funeral home, we've smoothed out the floors and tried to make it quieter. But it is a 160 year old house. Which is part of the attraction for the business. The owners have done a great job of keeping the place up so that it has never needed a restoration. Just the occasional fixing is all. This is the staircase as you enter the home.
Then there is the elevator. This is used to get bodies and caskets up and down from the basement, where the prep room is to the garage level and the main floor of the house. Since the building was built in 1850, the elevator is not electric. It is operated with a series of ropes and pulleys and some counter weights. Going down is easy, just keep tight on the brake. Going up is the challenge sometimes, especially if the person weighs very much.

This leaded glass window is part of  a grand doorway between the original sitting room and parlor in the home. Which I think demonstrates well the atmosphere that this old home embraces.
I hope that you've enjoyed this little peek into the world that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of. Have a great day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meteor spectacle 'set to dazzle'

Tonight I am working until 6am. However, I will definitely find time to get outside and witness this for myself. I live in an area right on the edge of the city lights and am hoping that they won't be a hindrance. If nothing else, I will head further outside of town for the after show on Friday night/Saturday morning.

The annual display is caused by debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle

Sky-watchers could be in for "fantastic views" over the next two days as the Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak.

According to Nasa, the shower could produce a display of up to 80 meteors per hour.

"A waxing crescent moon will set before the shower becomes active, setting a perfect stage for meteor watching," said the US space agency on its website.

Experts are urging people to head away from city lights for the best views.

John Mason from the British Astronomical Association (BAA) told BBC News: "Weather-permitting, we should be in for a very good show across the UK.

"The shower has been ongoing for a week now and we have already seen some very bright meteors whizzing overhead."

The Perseid meteor shower is caused by debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle.

Every 133 years, the huge comet swings through the inner part of our Solar System and leaves behind a trail of dust and gravel.

When Earth passes through the debris, specks hit our atmosphere at 140,000mph and disintegrate in flashes of light.

The peak of the meteor shower occurs just two days after a new Moon, meaning that Earth's natural satellite will not provide any extra light pollution to spoil the view.

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) said the relatively warm summer nights would make this meteor shower one of the more comfortable to watch.

The meteors are called the Perseids because they appear to fly out of the constellation Perseus

The best views of the meteor shower are likely to be in the Northern Hemisphere..... My apologies to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere. You'll have your own, I'm sure.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How's your bank account?

This story has been going around the Internet lately and I thought it worth passing along to those that are interested in the brighter side...

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably combed and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.
His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home,
he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.

As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.

I love it,' he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait.'

'That doesn't have anything to do with it,' he replied.
Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.
Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged ..
it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it.
'It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice;
I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.
Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away..
Just for this time in my life.

Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in.

So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories!

Thank you for your part in filling my Memory Bank. I am still depositing.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

I don't know who authored this story. I do know who sent it to me though. Thank you Jack for your always positive feed back. Even when I'm not so sure. You have made a very large deposit in my account and you help to keep this the brighter side.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My date with Gladys

The year was 1999. It was February 14th, Valentine's Day. I had been emailing and IMing a cute guy on the Internet from a nearby town for a couple of months now. Niether of us had been OUT before, so this was something new for us both. We had met briefly two previous times in person very recently and decided to pursue whatever was happening between us. Through our conversations, and our two previous dates, I had learned quite a bit about him. Amongst other things, I knew that he was into gardening and canning and he was a proud papa to a dozen or so chickens. This would be our third date and being that it was Valentine's Day, I brought a gift for him. It was sort of a joke, I placed a TY Beanie baby chicken into a canning jar and gave it to him. It was received well and has somehow metamorphosed into a collection of over a hundred chicken items that are now displayed throughout our kitchen.

We were enjoying a nice lunch together, when his cell phone rang. Knowing that he ran his own business, I patiently waited while he took the call. He jotted some notes on a scrap of paper then proclaimed that he had to go. After what seemed like forever, but I'm sure was just a few seconds, he asked me if I'd llike to go along. "It should only take a few minutes" he said. In a flash, we payed the bill and were in his old woody wagon (a staion wagon with the "wood paneling" aka contact paper or sticky back plastic, on the side. Since he was dressed in a suite for our date, he didn't need to go back to his place to change. So minutes later, we pulled up behind a nursing home, he pulled the stretcher out of the back and headed in with a "I'll be right back".
Sure enough, a few minutes later, he showed up. He quickly opened the rear door and slid the stretcher inside the car. Pushing it all the way in until the head of the stretcher bumped the back of my seat, he said, "Stew, meet Gladys".
On the ride to the funeral home, we hit every light red. And with each one, he would hit the brakes gently, except once that he had to brake harder and sent her sliding into the seatback again. Upon arrival, he offered to show me inside. Gladys was covered and I had not yet met her face to face. So when the cover came off, I was surprised at how yellow she was. This is someone that just died, moments ago. So the thought of her being that yellow meant that she looked like that when she was alive. That's when it hit me. These are real people, with real feelings. This woman suffered her last few months and is now better off. It wasn't the dead woman before me that freaked me out. It was the sick woman that had finally passed away.
I was trying to stay out of the way as Ed and the director transferred her to the prep table, so I took a few steps backward. Then the director says to us, "Look at how that one from this morning turned out" and points in my direction. That's when I turned and bumped into a gentleman that had died earlier in the day. These dead people, they don't make a lot of noise and thus can sneak up on you.
After finishing up at the funeral home, we then reconvened our date as if nothing had happened. But something did happen. I was fascinated. The way that everyone conducted themselves, the way that I fit right in. I was surprised with how easy it all was.
I thought to myself, even if things don't work out with this guy, maybe this is something that I should be looking in to. Well, I'm happy to say that things have worked out quite well for the most part. And that, my friends, is how it all started.
I'm a lot more hands on now and know quite a bit more about the business. But we all have to start somewhere, and that's mine.

Poetic Sunday

This poem is used frequently in committal services, but when you try to spread it on the Internet, Author Linda Ellis blocks it. Even when you give her full credit. Anyway, since this is one of my favorites, I wanted to share it with you. It really reflects how I see life.

Hopefully this link to her site works. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The scariest funeral ever

It was a beautiful funeral for a very nice 86 year old woman. All her relatives and closest friends had gathered to pay tribute. At the end of the service, a musical rendition of the Lords Prayer was played. Soon everyone filed out to the parking lot where I had arranged all the cars neatly to proceed to the cemetery. Then the pallbearers carried the powder blue metal casket containing their beloved mother, grandmother or aunt slowly out to the waiting hearse (my  hearse). When everyone was in their cars and all the lights turned on, we took our places in the lead car and hearse. That's when I realized, the hearse won't start!!!!!!

A look of panic came over my face as I calmly rushed up to the director. When he realized that I was not joking, his mind began to scramble. In no time at all, we had the van on back up and jumper cables on the way from an employees car. The next problem was that we didn't know how to jump a Cadillac. The battery is located under the rear deck.... (under the casket). When suddenly out of nowhere, a guardian angel appeared. The deceased woman's neighbor was a master mechanic and knew exactly how to jump start the high-tech beast. After a minute of charging from the directors car, the hearse started right up.

At the cemetery, we left the hearse running, just in case. I heard the family joking that their mother didn't want to go to the cemetery and that she always got the last laugh. Well know this Mrs. , that wasn't funny!
Rest assured future dead people, everything is fixed and running smoothly and I won't fall for that twice.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quote to Ponder

"Vice, Virtue. It's best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much *life*. Aim above morality. If you apply that to life, then you're bound to live life fully. "

A quote from Maude  in the movie Harold and Maude. c.1971

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Poetic Sunday - Last Impression

Today I'm sharing a poem penned by one of my favorite nieces, Robyn.
I think it really shows her own personality, and I'm quite proud of her talents.

Feeling a bit stiff today
Provincetown, MA cemetery
Woke up on my back
So I decided just to stay
Because movement I lack

Enjoy the softness of my bed
My sheets are made of satin
My pillow under my head
Filled with cotton battin'

And though my eyes are closed
I stare up at the sky
I'm wearing my favorite clothes
And I am not sure why

All around me I hear voices
Some are happy some are sad
They keep talking to me of choices
And of a life I've had

I want to get up and tell them
Please just leave me alone
Quit singing that old anthem
And just all go home

And then someone closed the lid
They all walk away
And my memory is hid
And buried under clay