Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The rubber band

New pages

     We all know that life's journey is fraught with peaks and valleys. Ebbs and flows. Defeats and triumphs.  I believe our character and fiber are defined on how we respond to these moments in time. I try not to spend much time in backward reflection of my life other than to not have to repeat lessons already learned. This past year, although a beautiful year of living and experiencing, has been a year fraught with challenges on a very personal level.

     I am now an elder in my family. Not quite a half a century old yet. I am now the eldest generation alive.  All of my familial elders have passed. Good friends, teammates, and classmates are now making their journey to their eternal resting grounds. This past year I lost my biggest fan, confidante, and pillar, my Mom.  Thank God for the life I have create and the love and ties around me. If not for that, I would be fully untethered.  

    Painstakingly, in the past few years I have jumped up and down on the scales of 'life balance' to see if I could regain a personal life in harmony.  I over poured my heart and soul into a professional life that was all consuming. (I still believed in it passionately) I did so extensively, moving toward an end of an empty or dwindling cistern of a being. Boundaries!!!  Balance!!! I proclaimed as a personal battle cry to the world.

     In making boundaries, I found personal happiness and fulfillment.  It was the undoing of so many personal 'friendships'. Some of which were a scrape across the pericardium of my heart. Since then readily scarred in and healed over. I was so much like my canine companions - Labrador-ish- in my unconditional essence. Very much like my artist Italian mother. Free and unconditional with no boundaries. Now, I have found balance.  Fairness of balance.  I have surrounded myself with people who would do for me, as I would do for them. Now I am more like a bordercollie. More discerning, but happy and passionate for the things that sing to my authenticity.

     Pink. If you've known me for more than a minute you will know it has been my all time least favorite color.  I've been told I look good in it. But it has never been a color that I have acknowledged or embraced.  I live in a gambling state. I do not gamble. Always believed that there are two types of gamblers, losers and liars. The odds are either one-in-eight or one-in-six depending on who you talk to, anyway I was lucky enough to land the diagnosis of breast cancer. There I said it. And pink is my new color. 

     I have gone through the rubber band pull back and forth these last few months. Physical pulling against emotional. It has been a whirling ride. I will conquer it. I am lucky. Not unscathed. However, I believe I will emerge on the other side a better human being. I was born with an existential crisis I have been fighting my entire life. This helps to put things into perspective for sure.

     I had looked forward to this year. I wanted to do something epic before I rolled into the next decade.  Run a marathon.  Maybe a half marathon, for the love of Pete, I am a sprinter by nature.  I had lost my sense of vision, basking in the 'stay in the moment' reality. There's a balance in this as well. Where I stand today I can see the end of the surgery - therapy, of traditional human medicine. This year, I have a new set of pages ahead of me. Pages that I am writing. What I have kept in my side pocket is the long history in my family of cowgirls and cowboys. I will ride this storm out with my chin up and my heals down.  Probably wearing a dash of pink.

Saturday, January 14, 2017



                    A dusty corner of a fibrous sanguineous chamber

All in a blink
a MURMUR on the breeze
the spirit

An eyelash
a flicker of a flame

sweet drifting

A sneaky shadow
glittering by the corner
of your vision

Translucent glimpse

Only the skinniest string 
woven through a faded tapestry

Of cobwebs of diamond dust 

Transient curtain drift


Tuesday, September 20, 2016


A story of one little dog
With one big spirit

     There was a big plan for this little pup way before she was ever conceived. Her Mom was one of the best female sheepdogs on the North American continent. Dorey was living in the Northeast of Canada on a quaint charming farm, and competing and winning open field trials across the continent, including the Canadian National Championship, USBCHA Nursery championship, Soldier Hollow Classic Championship, to name a few.  Zolas' father Cap was an Irish chap who was winning across the pond. He was reigning Supreme International Champion. It wasn't quite moving heaven and earth for the idea to be consummate, but close.

     Long at last the litter was delivered. A shining star stood out to stay on the farm and hopefully continue the legacy of her Dam. There was Zola. Intrepid by nature. Fearless. Bold. Inquisitive. Pacing along with the pack. A tiny shadow absorbing every experience. Part of bringing along great thinkers are to let them figure things out. Action and consequence. 

     Sadly the day came when her boldness tipped her scales into the danger zone. She didn't realize the danger of the big tractor until it was too late. The big tires caught her hind end. Zola was saved by her local veterinarian.  But the news was bleak as far as her pelvis and femur were concerned, shattered.  Stoic by nature, the tough little girl underwent repeated orthopedic surgeries. Transferred from one specialist to another to give her back her best potential for a sheepdog.  Things weren't going well. Zola might lose her leg.

      Winter was starting to roll in on the great North. Physical therapy and rehabilitation would be stifled by the ice and snow.  Zola hopped a plane to the west coast of the US. It was a dire act. But there was still a thread of hope.

      It was a blustery early January morning that we picked up Zola from the Reno airport.  After the trauma and drama, I expected a scared shivery pathetic pup coming out of the crate. That was sure not the case.  Zola is an illustration of bravery. The little bundle of black and white stepped out with the biggest smile on her face and a tail that wagged the world around her. "Hi my name is Zola!!!"  She was self confident and proud.  My heart, however, plummeted to the depths of the Comstock Lode mine shafts when I took in her shriveled contracted atrophied hind leg. Zola could not even put weight on the foot because the toes were contracted closed.

     I truly believe that Zola is a triumph of spirit.  That little package of positive bounding energy, was always the little  engine that could.  Sandra and I set forth a very intensive physical therapy regime.  We decided to moved away from surgical interventions unless we hit a brick wall.  Her pelvis was
fairly well healed - a bit narrow and elongated. But pelvis bones sturdy and non-painful.  In the storm
of surguries and advanced procedures, she had to sacrifice her hip joint. Zola would have to heal and create one on her own if she was to salvage her leg.

     It took Zola no time to learn swimming, harness walks, and rigorous range of motion excercises.  In fact she demanded it! I know we pressed her to the edge. I realize that some of the PT was uncomforable and sometimes would make her sore.  Never a whine. Never a flinch. Never a bad day! Sandra did most of the physical work. I modified and upgraded the routines, when the time was right. Zola was happy to do it! 

     We flinched as we sometimes would wonder what her future would be.  We never spoke about it. As soon as the Canadian orthopedic surgeon performed her femoral-head/neck osteotomy it was obvious that she would not be the Dorey-Cap heir apparent.  Zola had a bigger message to deliver to
those lives she touched.

     After about eight months of finding  her way. Sharing her story with everyone who crossed her path. Zola in the face of greatest adversity, would not consider quitting. Those around her watched that shriveled up contracted chicken leg grow and become stronger and stronger. Physically unable to weight bear to nearly fully weight bearing.  Smile always big, now seemed even brighter. It was time to go home.  Amanda was headed to the USBCHA national finals in Alturas, California and she would hitch a ride home.

     No one ever discussed a limitation for Zola. Truthfully the sky was her limit. As she arrived home in Kingston, ON, she took her place aside the other nursery dogs in her training. To me it seemed surreal, but to little Zola with the big smile it was no big deal.  Amanda titrate her training magnificently. In a minute or two she was running in nursery trials.  The videos were heart warming and truly amazing.  The brilliant little Zola was truly as gifted as she was destined to be. Zola knew the job and had a very nice way with the sheep.

     I am writing this blog on the way home from the 2016 USBCHA National Sheepdog trial in Carbondale, Colorado.  I have to readily admit, even though Feist and I made the Semi-Finals, my highlight is what I witnessed over on the nursery field.  Zola boldly walking to the post along side of Amanda.  It wasn't the winning run according to the judge. But boy it was the winning run in my book. Zola got around.  She lifted the heavy tough range ewes and march d them around the course.  She was kind to them and they trusted her.  She laid her heart on the line and fulfilled her destiny as a great sheepdog. Zola drove those big girls to the pen, just like she knew Amanda wanted her to do.  Zola did it using all four legs.


The spirit of the imp
Bubbling over with happiness
Seeing only the possibilities
Herculean fiber
The focus of a magnifying glass on a sunny day
Cleverness of the muse
Armor of the dragon
Undaunted courage
A sweet lesson for those
Who might listen



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Zealand Journey 2016

Trip down under
New Zealand 2016

 View from Raumati
Donald and Ann Massie's 

Ann in her beautiful garden

Tui bird

Donald Massie overseeing his flock

Jetting the young ones
The young shepherd Branson

Pohutukawa Tree
New Zealand Christmas tree

Wellington - North Island
Ferry across Cook Strait to Picton
Headed to the South Island
(Can be the roughest waters on the planet)

South Island with the North Island and windmills in the

Beautiful sunset at our rental
house in Nelson, wrapping up
2015.  Eager to bring
in the New Year.
Mapua, South Island
Gorgeous inlet and a huge white heron
that I snuck up on for the
perfect picture.

Hamish.  The fake rendition of the
white heron that returned 15 years
in a row.

Marlborough Wine Country
Amazing Sauvignon Blanc tasting
With great friends that we
both hadn't seen in years.

Army of tractors hauling out fishing boats.

Abel Tasman National Park

Headed to our private beach.
Abel Tasman National Park.


Swimming in the Tasman Bay


Pepin Island
Les and Matt spear fishing
and diving for dinner.


Mighty hunter and gatherer

Golden Bay

We stopped at an incredible vineyard.
Peter Yealands
"Worlds most ecologically advanced
winery, devoted to 100%

Only one to have visited
from Nevada.
Smile :-)

Classical music piped over 7,000 acres of vines.
"Think Boldly
Tread lightly
and never say
it can't be
-Peter Yealands

Yealands had both
Merino and Baby Doll

Back home to North
Massie Residence

Bull Beef

Hawkes Bay Wine Region
Craggy Range Vineyard

Hawkes Bay
Church Road Vineyard

Sandra, Donald, and Daniel

Amanda, Daniel, and San

Donald and Nephew Logan

Grant and Donald

Logan and Georgia
counting steps

Won first place in show jumping that day.
Nice job.

Embracing 2016
What a stunning break