Thursday, December 29, 2011

Look Who's Talkin'

Our barn is like Charlotte's Web at night.  I just sit and listen and take pictures.  

Oh my gosh! I had no idea! Dried chicken poop is delicious!
I know, right?!! 

You're welcome. 
I don't think this thing is supposed to be eating our food.  

I'm not gonna stop it.  Those claws are sharp! YOU stop it!
That winter fur coat makes you look fat. 

Hey, you did it! Look at him run! What a big baby! 

Ahem! We're trying to sleep up here! Keep it down!
Why, Mom? Why did you have to get those things?
Was I not enough for you?

Come on! That big dog's over here!
Let's get her!  

Seriously! Can we take them back?! 
What? Only one Christmas toy? It's MINE! 
No way! Give it here! It's MINE! 

Fine! I'll just chew your ear instead.
It comes with a squeaker! 
Get off of me, you maniac! 

What's all the commotion over there? 
What? Huh? 
Holy Cow!! That thing is huge!
It's a...I think it's a....T-REX!!! 
Be perfectly still.  Don't move!
It can't see us if we are perfectly still! 
I won't move! I'm NOT going to move! Not. Moving!
Is it gone?!

I think I can.  I think I can. 
Forget it cat.  I'm three times your size.
Besides, I've got something for you.  Look out below! 
I'm glad Mom got two of these things, cuz there's no way
I'm sharin' this.  No way! 

Goodnight, Mom.  You can go now.  I'm kinda busy. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Your Love Is a Mountain

You know the feeling you get when you stand before something amazing that God has made, something like a mountain, or the ocean, that just takes your breath away and makes you think, "Are you kidding me? Is this real? Could anything be more beautiful?  Could His presence be more obvious?"  That's what being truly loved feels like to me. I never get over the marvel of it.  I originally wrote this poem about Ted.  But clearly, Ted's love for me, as amazing as it is, in only a pale reflection of God's love for me and my words are for Him all the more. 

Your Love Is a Mountain
By Lisa Marie Harmon

Your love is a mountain
It’s the vast, deep, rolling sea
The Milky Way

Your love is a quiet wood
It’s a trickling, summer spring
An ancient twisted oak tree root

Your love is the grandest canyon
It’s a raging unforgable river
A glacier

Your love is a windswept Kansas prairie
It’s never ending, purple, wild flowers
The silent blood orange moon

Your love is the blinding winter sun
It’s a skyscraping redwood
A hummingbird

Time after time
Not once yet diminished
It stops me, shocks me
Draws my breath in
Hypnotizes, tranquilizes
Stands me in awe

Your love is a mountain

He Is Mine

Twenty nine years is a long time to be with the same person.  It's a very long time.  I can't imagine what it'd be like to be in a bad relationship for that long.  It must be horrible.  Maybe even inversely as horrible as it is wonderful to be in a good relationship for that long.  I only know about the latter and the longer I am in it, the more amazed I become...the more amazing it is to know this person and be loved by him and receive the blessing of him.  The longer I am with him, the more time and opportunities he has to be all the things I need him to be, to prove himself, to surround me with his presence and essence.  He is not perfect.  He is not even all these things all of the time.  He would be the first to say that he could never live up to all the words I write about him.  But that is not the point.  The point is that he inspired me to write them.  Maybe not all the time, but certainly often times, he has been all of these things to me as he faithfully lives out the manifestation of God's love for me that he is.

He Is Mine
By Lisa Marie Harmon

He is steadfast, constant, always
He is a rock
He protects, defends, guards
He is a shield
He strengthens, supports, sustains
He is steel
He rises, works, persists
He is sacrifice
He comforts, encourages, uplifts
He is shelter
He holds, keeps, cherishes
He is a cover
He fills, refreshes, surrounds
He is water
He warms, radiates, melts
He is fire
He struggles, tries, stays
He is a contender
He is sorry, repentant, forgiving
He is humility
He is loyal, honest, trustworthy
He is friendship
He is faithful, committed, unconditional
He is love
He is a gift, a surprise, undeserved
He is my bounty
He is mine

In His Loving Arms

I have physical, human, loving arms to rest in.  And even more wonderful, I also have supernatural, all powerful, all knowing, all forgiving, unconditional, divine, loving arms to rest in.  I am so blessed! This poem is about both.

In His Loving Arms
By Lisa Marie Harmon

At the end of a day
When nothing at all has gone my way
I know I can rest in his loving arms

When I’m tired and dejected
Frustrated, rejected
I always find peace in his loving arms

If my day’s been good
And I’ve gotten it right
My joy is shared in his loving arms

But oh, in those times
Of no reasons or rhymes
I’m so blessed as I rest in his loving arms

I don’t have to wonder
I have no concern
I know they’ll be there, when toward them I turn

He’ll gather me up
And hold me so tight
Tell me gently, "Everything's alright"

Because, tonight,
So faithfully,
His arms are waiting just for me

The troubles of this day will fade
 His warmth and strength will soon invade
And I’ll rest, in his loving arms

Monday, December 26, 2011

Nature VS Nurture

Nature VS Nurture hasn’t worked out too well for me in the past as far as dogs are concerned. 

For example, this beautiful dog…….


was lost to his “Nature.”  My Nurture could not overcome it.  We adopted this “lab mix” from the animal shelter at barely 6 weeks old.  He was such a sweetie!  We took him to obedience class, for car rides, on long walks.  We named him Gus.  My daughter showed him at the county fair and he did great! 


Gus loved his family with a fierce devotion.  But although he spent his entire puppy hood going to weekly classes and meeting lots of new people and other dogs, at the age of 9 months, he became so territorial and aggressive to strangers that we had to put him to sleep.  We consulted with our trainer.  We consulted with our vet.  Everyone agreed.  He was too dangerous.  Nothing about Gus’s life experiences led him to this behavior.  It was just in him.  (The vet thinks Gus was part Chow because of his color and the fact that he had a blue spot on his tongue.  We had no idea.  He certainly didn't look Chow at all to us.)

And Gus is not the first dog we’ve lost to Nature.  Many years ago we adopted a mixed puppy of unknown breeding that also became aggressive to our children at about the age of nine months and had to be put down. 

Then some years after that, we purchased a purebred Doberman of the highest quality.  He was a surprise gift from my husband – a puppy for me to train and compete in obedience with.  I LOVED him!  He cost a fortune – shipped all the way from New York state from a breeder who was also an AKC judge and obedience trainer.  We named him Moses.

Moses started puppy classes at 8 weeks old.  He was valedictorian.  At the end of our last class, the trainer said to me, “You’re going to have some trouble with him.  I can see it in his eyes.”  I got a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.  It couldn’t be true.  My sweet puppy had just won valedictorian of his class!  He was so well behaved! We continued our training, going to weekly classes for many months.  My puppy was very obedient.  He was crate trained.  He was socialized.  He was AWESOME!

And then it happened….. Moses growled.  At my son. Who was just sitting next to him watching TV and eating a bag of chips.  Moses was nine months old.  We took immediate action.  Consulted with his breeder, our current trainer and the vet.  Worked with him daily.  Put a muzzle on him just for safety’s sake.  But his behavior only worsened and the time finally came when we realized that this dog would not ever be safe in a house with children.  We had to ship Moses back to his breeder, who gave us a full refund after admitting to us eventually that he came from a line of “sharper” dogs.  That breeder couldn’t refund me all the love and time I had put into that dog.  He couldn’t heal my broken heart when I finally said goodbye to Moses at the airport. 

Moses’ Nature won.  My Nurture lost.

Not all of my dog stories have ended like this of course.  I’ve raised  many puppies over the years and very successfully: two rough collies, two male bull mastiffs and two Anatolian shepherds mixed with great Pyrenees.  I’ve raised a miniature poodle and a beagle X basset mutt and a chocolate Labrador. 

All of these dogs turned out just fine.  Some were adopted as pups.  Some purchased from breeders.  Some found on the street.  All have been loved and well cared for.  All have been trained obedience to varying degrees. And all turned out just fine.  They had been Nurtured well.  But also, they had great Natures!

So now I have two new puppies…..six weeks old…..of unknown, possibly (okay probably) Rottweiler breeding……adopted from the same animal shelter where we adopted Gus several years ago.  They were found wondering the street.  No one ever claimed them.


I didn’t plan it.  I just saw them in this kennel and took them home.  I did want puppies.  I had been thinking about finding puppies again since I lost my Bo to cancer in August.  But I hadn’t planned on these puppies.  I just saw them and took them home.  I shouldn’t have done it.  I should have done the safe thing – safe for me anyway.  That would have been to look for puppies from a breeder that I knew would have a certain Nature……maybe puppies whose parents had proven themselves to have the kind of Nature I am looking for in an adult dog.  At least that's the advice I always give to others......

But then….what would happen to these guys if everybody looking for a puppy did that?


Copy of PC230050

To be completely honest, I wish these puppies didn’t exist at all.  I wish that people didn’t breed dogs together unless there was a really good reason with purpose and plans for each puppy produced.  I wish that people didn’t want to own or breed a certain type of dog just because it is tough or cool or tenacious.  I wish people were more responsible and had their dogs altered before unwanted puppies were produced.  I wish people who had puppies didn’t dump them on the street to be picked up by the animal control officer or worse, to be hit by a car, starve or die of disease. 

But since none of this is the case, what do we do with these guys? What do we do with puppies like these with completely unknown heritage who could turn out to be the best dogs we’ve ever owned, or..……..not. 

No one knows what their Nature will be like as they mature into adult dogs or weather that Nature combined with my Nurture will produce an adult dog that will be a successful fit for our family (or any family for that matter).  Maybe my old trainer would be able to “see it in their eyes.”  I know I can’t.  It’s a risk - a risk for them and a risk for me.  Adopting any puppy involves this same risk but adopting stray pups of completely unknown parentage and history is a much bigger gamble.  My Nurture may mitigate their Nature, but it won’t eliminate it.

I've lost three beloved dogs to tragic, unpreventable early death, one just recently.  I've lost three over the years to their aggressive, inborn Nature. I am definitely gun shy.  The fact is, another broken heart (or two) could be just 7 1/2 months away and that fact weighs heavy on me.  But I do have hope.  I know that I can give these guys a chance and one of the best chances they have is with a responsible owner who is willing to do the work while they are young and raise them right.

So, here I to work with my new puppies with my treats and leashes....and also some butterflies in my stomach that I know won’t go away entirely until they are grown.  I shouldn’t have done it.  But I did.  And I’m glad…even though I’m scared. 

Post script 01.06.2011: Sadly, Ranger passed away of unclear causes today.  Sniper is healthy, but lonely.

Post script 12.28.14:  I've been very blessed indeed!  Sniper turned out to be one of the best dogs we've ever owned, a truly beloved family member and trustworthy with all people and pets.  We adore him and are SO glad we took the chance and adopted him.  We'll never know how Ranger would have turned out, and as Sniper grew, I came to believe that he and Ranger were not actually litter mates.  They were just too different in every way.  I believe things happen for a reason and that Ranger was just not meant to be part of our family.  Sniper is the Bomb and I am madly in love with him!  And he with me!  

Sniper at 3 years old.  Most awesome dog ever! 

Please, have your cats and dogs spayed and neutered so that other people and innocent animals don't have to bear the negative consequences caused by your irresponsibility.  Very few dogs are of good enough quality to justify allowing them to reproduce.  Please.  There are too many dogs and cats in this world already and consequently, more then enough suffering.  Try your best to eliminate some.  Don't be one of those who adds to it.  And if you can, adopt a stray or abandoned dog.  Take the risk.  Give them a chance.  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

2011 Christmas Morning

Josh wasn't too enthusiastic about starting at 6:00 AM.
Neither was Dad.
Not pictured: New Visio Sound Bar for his TV., and a Kindle! 
Lily and Josh got a "name frame" from Alphabet Photography.
 It's so cool, I want one! 
Kate got a new puppy! And some movies and clothes.  
Jes got lots of exercise stuff.
She actually got up at 5:00 AM, showered and put on makeup.
She's the only one who looks decent for the pictures!
Josh and Lily and their stash.
ClaireAnna was beside herself with excitement
over the new tack for The Grinch.
 Didn't you know? Blue is his color!
My kids gave me some lovely gifts! But most of all, I was
happy that we were all together to celebrate 
the birth of Christ!  

After gifts, we shared our traditional Christmas breakfast.  But first, just one glitch! I was out of eggs! So Lily, sweetly ran to the gas station and bought some.  We stuffed ourselves on scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, fresh pineapple and juice.  And the last tradition of Christmas morning.....nap time!


2011 Christmas Eve And Fifth Annual Christmas Bingo Game

All seven of us were together for Christmas Eve as is our tradition: Mom & Dad, Jes, Josh & Lily, Kate and Claire.  We were also blessed with the company of Lily’s brother, Greg!
The older kids came over pretty early in the day, so we decided to go to the shale pit and do some shooting.  Josh got an AK47 for Christmas and Josh and Jes both brought their hand guns.  I guess it’s not a traditional Christmas eve activity, but all our older kids like to target shoot so that’s what we did!  Even Mom and Claire took turns!  I wasn’t too sure about shooting the AK47 but actually, it was awesome! 
Our redneck target range.
Josh, showing mom how to site the AK 47.  I couldn't do it, but I did shoot it. 
Copy of PC240016
I really, really like this picture! 
Copy of PC240019
Ted showing ClaireAnna how to shoot Jes's handgun. 
Greg shot at a small explosive and made a big puff of smoke and some really loud noise!
     After shooting, we had a yummy dinner.  Home grown smoked pork loin, grilled home grown lamb chops, smoked turkey from Old Post, mashed potatoes, corn, asparagus, sautéed mushrooms and rolls. PC240140
   Then we played our fifth annual Christmas Bingo Game. 
PC240144We played Bingo till everybody won 5 cards.  Then two extra cards were played for.  Jes got one and Lily got one.  Each card represents a prize! PC240150These duffels are full of prizes!  After all the cards are won, Dad calls out the suite and number for each prize! Everybody gets something! There is a booby prize and a grand prize and lots of prizes in between. PC240162PC240157PC240151PC240152PC240155PC240154PC240156After the game, there was lots of trading till everybody had something they liked.  We all talked about new rules for next year’s bingo game and decided that no one has matured enough to allow steeling yet! (We’ve learned that the hard way in past year’s games!)  After Bingo, we watched movies till each of us wandered off to bed.  It was a great Christmas Eve!