Category Archives: American History

An intertwining of how three kennels created a star named Lucy!

As readers of Blyss Blog know, when my late husband and I co-owned Mikhailya with Karen Staudt-Cartabona of Majenkir Borzoi,(N5), she was co-bred to Karen’s stud dog at the time, CD BISS, MBISS, Regal By Design, “Regal”, who had proven himself to be both a great show dog and stud dog.  The litter was born on December 8, 2008.  It marks one of the happiest moments of my life.  Mikailya presented us with three male puppies, all beautiful; but one particularly outstanding that I named “Magnus”!  I told Karen in an email later that day, “He is the kind of dog  you like to take into the ring!  He is destined for greatness.”

Mikhahilya with her pups!
Specialty Sweeps, Sept. 2009.Karen Staudt-Cartabona & Lorene Connolly
Magnus shown with Karen Staudt-Cartabona and Lorene Connolly

Later, after some time, Karen had the opportunity to sell this Boy to Belisarius Kennels in Japan where borzoi are highly valued.  Mai Ozeki purchased him in place of her father, who had recently died.  It was love at first sight for each of them.  Magnus made her very happy.  He won many honors, including Best in Shows.  Then, his get went on to win, too.  One bitch, named Lucy, was co-owned by a family in the USA.  They put her out with a handler, and Lucy went on to win enormous success as Blyss Blog Encore has reported generously.  Yes, Lucy won Reserved Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Cub in 2016, and three months later, Lucy won the Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show in Kansas City, KS.  She was then taken out with the handler, Valerie Nunes-Atkinson for another year.  She won the breed again at Westminster in 2017, but not the Group.  She skipped the Borzoi National Specialty in 2017, leaving that venue to her son, Vinto who, sadly, did not place.  He is a special now but still very young.   He showed himself beautifully well though, and he will be a winner like his mother after taking some time to grow up.  Our mentor, Karen Staudt-Cartabona won this show again this year with another  bitch she co-owns, this time with Karen and Dr. Howard Spey from the Veterans Classs.

Vinto

Lucy was being shown out west, but shortly after the National Specialty Show, she was moved toward the south where, of all things, she was being shown with Valerie.  There, she won her 20, then 21, then 22nd Best in Shows!  These wins were all in a day’s work for Lucy and Valerie, but they made Borzoi breed history.  For, by winning BIS 21, she tied a world record of BISs held by a borzoi that was 83 years old, held by Vigow of Romanov, owned by Louis Murr.  She then won her 22nd Best in Show this week surpassing his record.  Everyone in the breed who is on Facebook is thrilled!  She is worthy of all accolades and praises.

Lucy is a beautiful borzoi bitch in every way; I can swear I see Mikhailya in her face!  Lucy has brought me, in my tiniest of kennels, a notable accomplishment.  I saw and had faith in Mikhailya’s wonderful qualities and wanted her to be bred so they could live on in the borzoi gene pool, and now they can! Having lost my beloved Opal in which I had so much faith and optimism, it was important to me to give Mikhailya that chance.

A Big BIS for Lucy!

A poem in Facebook brings me joy

A borzoi breeder I know posted a lovely, old poem in Facebook this week thereby sharing it with her friends. It has a simple, beautiful and wise message.  I am posting it here so I always have it to remind me of its values and to share with my readers.

I had no thought of violets of late,

The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet

In wistful April days, when lovers mate

And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.

The thought of violets meant florists’ shops,

And bows and pins, and perfumed papers fine;

And garish lights, and mincing little fops

And cabarets and songs, and deadening wine.

So far from sweet real things my thoughts had strayed,

I had forgot wide fields, and clear brown streams;

The perfect loveliness that God has made,—

Wild violets shy and Heaven-mounting dreams.

And now—unwittingly, you’ve made me dream

Of violets, and my soul’s forgotten gleam.

Alice Dunbar

 

 

A Poem for Blyss Keeping

A borzoi breeder I know shared this poem on Facebook this week.  I thought I would place it here for my readers to find.  It says so much so well.

I had no thought of violets of late,

The wild, shy kind that spring beneath your feet

In wistful April days, when lovers mate

And wander through the fields in raptures sweet.

The thought of violets meant florists’ shops,

And bows and pins, and perfumed papers fine;

And garish lights, and mincing little fops

And cabarets and songs, and deadening wine.

So far from sweet real things my thoughts had strayed,

I had forgot wide fields, and clear brown streams;

The perfect loveliness that God has made,—

Wild violets shy and Heaven-mounting dreams.

And now—unwittingly, you’ve made me dream

Of violets, and my soul’s forgotten gleam.

~Alice Dunbar

This is all so true of the shallow life I live without thinking until I remember what lies just beyond my back door, in the nearest field.  There abounding are every kind of “violet” and wild flower one may seek, only a step or two away off the rocky and inclining, twisting trail.

And while I am at it, let me add another I found on my own once:

Life is for the living

Death is for the dead

Let life be like music

And death a note unsaid.

~ Langston Hughes

Perhaps if death is a “note unsaid”, then death will never be.  I can say it over and over like a mantra so my borzoi Tresor and Jelly will never die.

 

Still January at Blyss Kennels; the day of the new President

 If there was a day to be glued to the television, this was that day.  For it was the historic transition of power from one administration to another, and in this case the two could not be more disparate. Instead, I could not sleep last night and was up too late to rise early enough to see it from the beginning.  I was indifferent at best and found it to be just another big news day for television, even if it was one with more pomp and circumstance than usual.  I can only pray for the best possible outcome by the newcomer to politics.  I am sure it is not as easy as his predecessor made it look.  And he did that part very well, indeed.

Here at Blyss Kennels, it is still winter although we have had some warmer days.  We have even had everything from a blizzard like snow storm that mandated me shoveling the driveway myself and cleaning snow off my car, with the assistance of Jelly watching on.   No sooner did it melt did, the temperatures rose to sixty just a few days later, and then I did not know what to wear.  That day dawned bright and clear.  It brought its own special brand of joy.   For, we were visited by a very gracious gentleman, N34, whom I have known about six moths.  He recently bought a borzoi bitch from my very own breeder and mentor herself, N5.  His borzoi’s name is Blondie.  The question of the day was how my Tresor would behave toward her, another dog in his home.  I am proud to say he was a perfect gentleman and Blondie was treated like the borzoi royalty she was.  A wonderful day was enjoyed by all.  There is no word to described how happy his visit made me.  I’ve harbored a serious crush on him for about six months.

I was careful to play it very cool, just being friendly.  Seeing him in my own house was very overwhelming, to say the least.  I went into “hostess” mode and just tried to relax.  I cannot imagine what he thought of me.  He seemed to smile a lot though, and Blondie seemed relaxed and happy, too.  We had a nice lunch that I prepared, and he seemed to appreciate all of my efforts on his behalf.  I could not get over that he was really here.  To make his trip a bit more worthwhile, I drove him to the Watchung Reservation’s main parking area known as The Loop, and we walked along the paved pedestrian walkways, in the area of the new Science Nature Museum, and the road that leads to the Scouting Field where the dogs all run off lead.  I told him there was much, much more to see but it would have to wait for another time.

My sister has taken steps to grow closer to me recently.  She has had reason to be very afraid for her health and I was helpful to her in getting through it.  I appreciate the improvement of our relationship enormously.  After the lonely place I have been since the separation from a friend with whom I had been close for three years this is appreciated.   A difficult recovery from my broken shoulder in May only underscored how isolated I was.  It was, however, a catalyst for change.  I never would have undertaken the separation from that man or met N34 if that event had not happened.  As  horrible as my accident was, it was a wake up call to make something better of the rest of my life, rather than wallowing in misery.   It’s nice to know there have been some good outcomes from it.

The borzoi, Lucy, the grand-daughter of our Blyss Mikhailya, continues to be shown in the south, after being shown at the AKC National dog show in Orlando in December, which she did not win.  She is still in the country though and in a discussion with a reliable source, I have learned she is entered in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show coming up on February 13 – 14, 2017.  She will also be entered in the Borzoi Club of America’s National Specialty Show in Hunt Valley MD on May 12 – 20, 2017.  I plan to see the borzoi judged at Westminter on Monday, February 13,  and will be in the stands on Tuesday night, Febryary 14, 2017 as well for Best in Show with my son and daughter-in-law.  It will be a wonderful experience to be there in person, since it is a show I have watched annually on television my entire life.    It is my prediction that she will continue to do well.

I think I will chose to believe that at this very early part of 2017, with a new President, new friendships, and a new and different kind of relationship with my sister, I will count my blessings and be optimistic for the future.  I wish everyone well and may everyone’s efforts, from the personal to the national level, result in a successful outcome.   As recently as late October, Jelly suffered severe injuries to her neck and legs but I am pleased to report they have all healed nicely.  Even Tresor is doing well being Tresor, even better than expected.  He was so gracious during Blondie’s visit to Blyss you would never believe he ever had a bad day.

Blyss Kennels speaks about the Presidential Election of 2016

I posted the following on Facebook the day after the election.  I do not  customarily comment about the outside world and I never wander into the fray of politics but I felt  I would have been remiss to say nothing.  I felt it was sad to see the country so bitterly divided along partisan lines, with each side believing they and they alone had the true answer and the contender, with the opposing viewpoint, would lead the country astray.  What do you do when something like this happens?  Especially when the losing candidate won the popular vote?  That does not help because many on the losing side believe that should be the vote that counts!  So, this is what I wrote on Facebook after reading many toxic, ugly messages from my “Friends”.

“You know, I am not going to allow anything to take away my bliss today. The process worked. I am living here, in the town where I grew up, in my house that I own, with two beautiful champion Majenkir borzoi of which I am so proud and that I love. At this point of my life, I have learned life is about adjusting and accepting, getting along and wishing everyone well, even those on the other side of the argument. In the meantime, let’s take good care of those creatures that have been entrusted to us, borzoi, other breeds, other species such as horses and donkeys, whatever. Good luck, America.”

Home with Tresor & Jelly
Home with Tresor & Jelly

I cannot help but be reminded of a song that has an optimistic and happy message about America without being too silly about it, by a talented man, Steve Goodman, (1948 – 1984) sadly taken way before his time by a then killer cancer that could probably be cured today.  Perhaps we would all benefit from going back and taking some time to listen to it.   I am speaking of the 1985 Grammy Award posthumously bestowed song, City of New Orleans.

Early November, Blyss Kennels, Mountainside, NJ. Musings about the Mountain

This time of year, early November, one cannot look away for long and not see the spectacular beauty of the mountain along which Mountainside is located.  And, a large part of the town is stretched out along the bottom, so one cannot help but notice as the town’s people go about to and fro performing their life’s work, they feel surrounded by a wall of forest behind them or that they can look up to, a wall that changes colors with such consistency and accuracy you can base your life on it.  Moreover, contemplating the constancy of the mountain, I always recall the following words:

“I lift my eyes up into the hills, for from there comes my help!”  Psalms 1:1

  We are just now, in early November, somewhat past the peak of fall foliage, however I want to comment how lovely a season it has been and how grateful I have been for that.  When driving around along many of the town’s roads or on the highway that cuts across the town at the southern point, US Highway (Rt.) 22, you are driving parallel with the mountain.  There are three main roads that take you from Rt. 22 through the town and into the mountain with the preserved forest at the top, “Watchung Reservation”. They are Summit Road, Central Avenue, and New Providence Road, like Rt. 22, ancient roads.  These days, Blyss Kennels today is located in the vestiges of an old farming neighborhood on Central Avenue.  My house, built in 1920, is a small cottage along side a large field giving the impression that it is my own front yard.  It is not, alas.  Many photographs of myself with my borzois have been taken in this bucolic setting perpetrating this illusion shamelessly.  It is worth mentioning because I have a strong sense of place, and I believe my borzois, those currently living and those deceased, are and always have been happy here.

Moreover, I know it now with certitude, my  borzois are happiest with me and  me alone.  We do not need anyone else.  Oh yes, sometimes I may want a dog-sitter or another dog-walker for them from time to time.  Otherwise, I am sufficient.  And I have come to realize I only want them, with their perfect love; their pure love; them and God.  We need no other.  Yes, like the wild meadow fields that one comes upon hiking in the Watchung Reservation, the land formerly cultivated for corn and other crops, my field is a spectacular beauty here at home, enjoying it together with them.

“……Even though the moment passed me by I still can’t turn away.”  Goo Goo Dolls.  Name.

How interesting it is that when contemplating the beauty of nature, even a relatively small mountain in a suburban community, how much one learns about oneself if they take the time to consider it’s presence and beauty.

Coda.  I may have the misfortune of outliving my “field” while living here if it is sold to developers.  Its owner died two years ago and his heirs want to sell it.  I can’t do anything about that and  I don’t have the means to purchase it myself.

Blyss Poetry by Langston Hughes – Wisdom In Considering Grief

A Poem by Langston Hughes

Life is for the living

Death is for the dead

Let life be like music

And death a note unsaid.

Sadly, at this time in my life, I know of others who grieve very badly, and one woman with whom I am close in particular.  I have had to endure the deaths of several significant others in my life, including some very close friends, most recently, my mother last November.  Once, I entered into a long and complicated grief over the death of my youngest borzoi, Opal, triggering a long and deep depression for which I had to see medical assistance.  Perhaps those seemingly lucky people who rarely lose a close person are lucky, at least seen from my eyes, but perhaps not.  I am more practiced at it, so when it happens I put well applied defense mechanism into play that help mitigate my suffering.

There will be nothing to stop the pain in the beginning or stop the seemingly endless flow of tears so let it be.  In time though bring it to a close before you are damaged by too much sadness.  I know it is an addiction, no safer than heroin, to which you make a strange bedfellow, that is very hard to break up with.  Let it go in time and not too long at that.

Following are some suggestions:

Reach out to joy, or something or someone that gives you joy.

Pray or meditate

Visit the ill or shut in, or residents of assisted living facilities

Join clubs, churches, groups that do activities

Look for a substitute in your life to replace the one you have lost.

There can be no more “birthdays” or “anniversaries” with someone who is gone.

Stop thinking in terms of “anniversaries” and “birthdays”.

Find another companion with whom to celebrate new milestones.

I believe every day spent in grief after a short while, such as 3 – 6 months, is a loss to the living person.

Nothing is gained by excess or complicated grief.

Seek medical care for complicated grief because it underlies depression.

Blyss Reminisces: Puppies and Books, a Retired Librarian After All, Comments

05.01.2015 . 02 Hunter & Jess

I have enjoyed much time recently visiting Jelly’s breeder, N24, who lives in upstate New York  near the Connecticut border.  She lives in a house very much like the one I had before I moved here. She has two older female borzoi who live upstairs, and two puppies who live downstairs in her dog room. One of the females is the mother of the puppies, and the other female is Jelly’s mother. The puppies are still being trained and are too rambunctious to be upstairs all the time. It is a great deal of fun for me to be there, enjoying both the older ones and the puppies. Also, the puppies are now being shown, and they are doing very well in the show ring. I am going to co-own the male puppy with her, and we will share in his expenses, and my name will be on him as a co-owner. His name is Hunter, and I could not be happier about that. By the time Jelly passes on, he will be a middle aged borzoi and I should be able to bring him here to Blyss to live.

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I have spent my down time this summer reading some old American classic novels, most that I have read a long time ago. So far, I have read Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger, and now I am reading Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. I wanted to read something by Faulkner, and Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath but I got side tracked.

I see the literary world is in spasms over the controversial sequel to Harper Lee’s jewel, To Kill a Mockingbird, called Go Set a Watchman, where the main character, “Atticus”, is a racist. This is totally illogical, and it is difficult for me to accept she wrote it. However, it does support proof how much time changes us. Even 180 degrees, as in this case. Inexplicable other than sheer senility. We can only wonder how time changes us, who we are and who we are becoming, and hopefully we are not letting ourselves down to ourselves and in the eyes of the world.

Prior, I indulged myself in some contemporary fiction, although finding good writing was difficult.  I started with Amy Tan, one of my absolute favorite writers, and enjoyed and anguished over The Valley of Amazement.  The novel was a slow burn.  By the end, it pains you simply to think about the characters and their lives.  I found another such work, although in a completely different setting, equally incendiary by an obscure Hungarian or Romanian writer, Miklos Banffy who wrote a colossal work known as The Transylvanian Trilogy.  It was on the scope of War and Peace.  Authors like Tolstoy come to mind.

When I am not reading great literature, I read silly tabloids or watch Turner Classic Movies on the cable TV to relax.  There has to be a way to relax somewhere in the universe.

The Blyss Days with Jelly of July 2015

There seems to be no end to joy as Jelly is my constant companion and loneliness, my most constant challenge, is banished by her mere existence.  Boredom, another bane, is kept at bay by our frequent destinations together to the Watchung Reservation.   I do not seem to disappoint her as I find interesting trails for us to hike.    I manage to find trails that make a round loop so we do not have to turn around and turn back the way we came.   I am also good at finding trails that pass fields abundant with wild flowers and being July 1st, these fields are a robust panoply of blossoms.   And I know they will remain so through summer and into early fall.  Why, you might ask, am I made so happy by such a simple pleasure?  The reason is very simple to explain.  I worked during many fine summers throughout my adult life, days full of fresh air and sunshine.  Instead, they were days spent in long commutes to buildings with windows sealed shut and recirculated air.  I prayed at the time I would someday have the chance to enjoy the outdoors someday.   Now that I am retired, I do.

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Still, my mind is never at rest or peace.  Demon daggers still rise up out of the ashes of the past to wound me.  Where, I wonder, was my mother when I needed her the most?  Why did she say what she said, and do what she did to me?  It was so pointless and unnecessary.  She recently died.  Before she did, she spent several months apologizing for how badly she treated me, and righting many wrongs.  But she lingered only a short time.  We only had three short months to love one another and be happy together.  It’s sad, but as a child I remember hearing her say how much she did not want to “spoil” her children, and she believed, “You should only kiss your children when they sleep.”  It is sad to me she lived those beliefs, and now she loves us, my sister and me, but it is she who is asleep forever.  -During our three months of reconciliation, one of the saddest parts was that I did not have a borzoi at the time, so she never got to meet any of the Blyss borzoi, or even Jelly, whom I have had since February this year.   Some things are just wretched, and this story is one of them.  I wish I could think of my mother with more peace, but she is still a subject that recalls too much pain.

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Sometimes I wonder how my mother has affected me.  I know I am always good to Jelly, but I am not always good to other people, such as my sister or my boyfriend.  I can be mean, too.  I believe being with Jelly makes me better, makes me a better person, makes we want to give more of myself because I must give so much to her, as if she were a baby.  And, Jelly makes me happy and she calms me down when I might otherwise be tense, depressed or lonely.  But I know I am a very flawed person who has had many fractured relationships in my life and many have been my fault.  I have even lost most of my girl friends in recent years and I don’t even miss them or give a damn about them one bit.  If people do not touch upon my lifestyle centered around my borzoi, it is hard for me to care.  The only exception is my activities with my Church that means a great deal to me.  Perhaps prayer or activities centered on church life, in addition to my happy times with Jelly, are the only safe zones for me going forward.  I feel more secure in these arena, happier, less likely to stumble and fall, or crash and burn.

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It is critical for one’s equanimity to find emotional safe zones  to achieve serenity.  Perhaps it is through pet ownership, being in nature, academic or career accomplishments, or achievement of cherished goals.  For me, it is to step onto that trail, the special one beneath the sheltering canopy of interlocking leaves, walking in the dimension of ancient places like Watchung Reservation and all the  ridges of the Watchung Moutains in North Central New Jersey that rise up from the sea.