Saturday, March 22, 2014

Keep the gates closed, please!

There’s nothing like looking out your window to see a parade of critters marching by. 

Betsy watches as Jazzy & Molly trim the bushes.
Yesterday I let my llamas, horses, donkey and goat out of their three-acre pasture to roam my remaining 25 acres. I used to do this once a week to relieve their boredom and allow them access to the grass by my pond. But I had to stop a few months ago when I got a 6:30 a.m. call from a deputy sheriff at my gates. “Ms. Miller, your horses are out,” he calmly informed me.

Apparently Mallory, Jazzy or both had tripped the underground sensor that opened my gates from the inside. Theoretically, it opened only when something heavy, such as a car or truck, rolled over it. But that blasted electronic gizmo could be as annoying as a toddler in a toy store. Whenever the critters were grazing by the pond, I had to be extra careful, because the sensor would trip going out and coming in. Rather than wait for the gates to close when I left, I would use my electronic key to close them. Coming in, I had to drive just above the spot where the sensor was buried before pointing my key at the gates. All of this to ensure that my critters didn’t escape.

I kept after my gate-man, Fred, to dismantle that widget. Guests can open the gates as they leave via a doorbell mounted in a birdhouse, a clever contrivance that Fred installed when we ran the wiring that supplies electricity to the gates and light fixtures. (Another of his crafty ideas was the doorbell that opens the gates from inside my house. Anyone with a cell phone can call me from outside the gates and I can buzz him in. This sweet little button keeps me from having to give everybody and his uncle my not-so-secret code.)

He finally listened to my plaintive pleas this week and disconnected the sensor wires. Now, my critters can nibble on the fresh shoots of grass by the pond without my worrying about another call from a deputy sheriff. As a bonus, they can keep my azalea bushes trimmed (see photo above). Maybe Betsy the goat will rid my woods of briars on her way to and from the pond. One can dream.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two-dog nights

My queen-size bed gets mighty crowded some nights. That’s because I often sleep with two dogs. One is the size of a small pony, while the other is just medium sized. I read recently that you shouldn’t allow pets in your bed if you want a good night’s sleep. That could explain why I feel like a zombie some mornings.

Moses prefers to lie across the foot of the bed, and growls when I try to stretch my legs out and wiggle my feet into position. Maggie likes to cuddle so closely I can feel her fur against my cheek and smell her doggy breath. Some nights, Moses wakes me up with the thumping of a hind paw, as he dreams of chasing squirrels through the woods. When I turn over, one of them growls, the other whines. Both shift positions, leaving me a sliver of space about half the size of a crocheted scarf.

The head of my bed is elevated by four-inch wooden blocks due to my acid reflux problem. Sometimes, my dogs have trouble jumping onto the bed, even though it isn’t elevated at the foot. It’s not so bad helping 60-pound Maggie up, but 115-pound Moses is another matter. I’ve thought about getting one of those pet stairs advertised for aged, arthritic dogs. I doubt my dogs would use it, though. They don’t adjust well to change.

I have a log bed with four huge, round posts. For some reason, the posts keep slipping slightly off the wooden blocks. This never occurred before I replaced the bedroom carpet with pine flooring. If I don’t come up with a way to attach those blocks to the bottom of the bed posts, they are going to slide right off one night and I’ll find myself in the floor with two dogs on top of me. What a rude awakening, and probably a dangerous one.

What I really need is a king-size bed. It would come in handy on the nights my two grandsons sleep here, too. No, the dogs don’t share my bed those nights, but two small boys can take up just as much space as two dogs.

It’s a good thing I don’t have a husband. Would husband plus two dogs equal three-dog nights? Just wondering.

Friday, March 7, 2014

In Memoriam: The day the earth stood still

Jack Edward Miller
January 5, 1940 -March 4, 1996
I still get a chill when I recall that horrible phone call on the morning of March 4, 1996. I had just returned from taking our 13-year-old daughter to school. “Jack’s on the floor in the back, there’s blood everywhere, and a note on the door said to call Sheriff Flemming,” came out in a hysterical rush from my husband’s head pharmacy clerk. 
For years, I could recall in minute detail every thought, every conversation, from that day. During the first few months that followed, I’d wake up every morning repeating the same mantra. “Jack’s dead. Jack killed himself. No, not Jack.”
Through the years, a black cloud would envelop me during the month of February, as that infamous day approached. March became a heavy-hearted month for me, too, with the anniversaries of Jack’s death, our wedding  and my father’s death all occurring during that same section of  the calendar. Two years ago, however, the month became a cause of celebration when my second grandson was born on March 14th. (My first grandson was born on Jack's birthday in 2007.)
On the first anniversary of Jack’s untimely death (he was 56), I placed an ad in the local newspaper in Bibb County. That’s where he started the drug store that I continued to run until 2012. Allow me to quote from that memorial piece.

It’s hard to believe you’ve been gone a whole year. A lifetime has passed since we touched you or heard your voice. Or was it just yesterday?
We still don’t understand why you chose to leave us. Perhaps we never will. So we try to remember the way you lived, instead of dwelling on the way you died. You were a loving husband, a devoted father, a generous benefactor to people in need, a compassionate pharmacist and a loyal friend. You were one very special man.
We’ll never “get over” your death, but with God’s help, we’re learning to adjust, one day at a time. We still miss you terribly, and we’ll always love you. We take comfort in knowing that we’ll meet you again some day, and that you’ve finally found the rest you so desperately sought, and so richly deserve.

Reading those words makes me sad all over again. I don’t cry much about Jack anymore, but I think of him every day and sometimes those thoughts do produce a brief shower. At least, they don’t bring on the crushing torrent they used to.
Folks often ask me why I’ve never remarried. I have several quips that I alternate using, depending on the mood I’m in. But the fact is, when you’ve had the best, it’s hard to settle for second place.