Category Archives: American History

Censorship, beware! Upset at Blyss Kennels over so many things.

I see in the news today, in an attempt to be politically correct, a corporate giant, known for it’s long history and many levels of accurate information dissemination, has enforced censorship on its subscribers rather than letting each of its world wide respected universe of subscribers decide for themselves. This clearly reveals a corporate superiority complex, contempt and lack of respect for us all, by its action of removing the Hollywood icon of 1939, Gone With the Wind (GWTW), from its offerings today. In so doing, the entire country’s First Amendment Rights of Free Speech under the U.S. Constitution are violated.

This was called censorship the last time I looked. GWTW is one of Hollywood’s all time great masterpieces on many levels.  It deserves to be seen for many reasons,  especially from being entertaining, beautiful to watch, to being historically accurate and thereby edifying.

GWTW was a brutally realistic depiction of the South’s punishment and destruction for its slavery based economy by losing the Civil War. It accurately captures the South in decay and then being destroyed, with burned out fields devoid of crops. In addition, all the main characters suffered enormously for their southern, slave based economy. There are no winners here. The loss of the Southern way of life based on slave labor is clearly and unequivocally depicted.

Moreover, tragedy, symbols of moral punishment, follow the southern main characters to the film’s long end:

Scarlet and Rhet’s young daughter dies in a horrible riding accident,

Scarlet suffers a miscarriage,

Scarlet and Rhet, husbands and wife, hate one another and are both alcoholics,

Melanie dies horrifically in childbirth leaving a small son and a grieving husband behind,

Scarlet then realizes that her long time and illicit love for Melanie’s husband, Ashley Wilkes, has always been unrequited, and

At long last, Rhet leaves Scarlet when she wants him to stay with her with his most famous line of all:

“Frankly, My Dear, I don’t give a damn” , racy words for 1939.

There is no victory lap here for the South and many lessons to be learned for getting it wrong. Yet to this day, while handling perhaps our county’s most sensitive period in our history, I do not believe a film as beautiful to watch as it gracefully depicts terminal punishment on the loser has ever been created again in Hollywood.

A stunningly beautiful young, English actress and a newcomer, Vivien Leigh, won a Best Actress Oscar her first time out playing Scarlet O’Hara with her heart and soul on constant view. Hattie McDaniel, an American of color, won Best Supporting Actress.   This was the first time a person of color won an Oscar.  The film also won a Best Picture Oscar and several others. GWTW stands up as well today as it did when it was released, and it is as respected and revered today as it was when it was made, as is the novel by Margaret Mitchell, a Southern woman, upon which it is based, when it was published. The film is a huge Hollywood icon of excellence that subsequent films tried to emulate but failed.

So sad and sorry to see this happen. This is a loss for HBO that I hope other services do not emulate.

Tears for America.

Lorene Connolly, M.L.S.

Blyss Kennels, Mountainside, NJ

 

 

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Sheltering in Place at Blyss Kennels for three months; with Kensie

I have been quarantined in my home since the end of February. And although I have gotten caught up on many chores and my “To Do” list is short again, I am deeply saddened for all that we are going through as a human family. Even church is not open for Sunday services, you have to watch it on Zoom or Facebook, and I have not seen my son and his family, including my grand-daughter, since Christmas Eve. This all feels like a very long time ago. There have been no dog club meetings since the end of February, and all the dog shows I was to have attended have been either postponed or canceled. I keep up with close friends and family by phone, email and FB, but that is not the preferred way. I rarely if ever go to a store, and I am fortunate that my town has a team of volunteers put together by the town to shop for the senior citizens, and I am very lucky and grateful for that. Then, my new dog, Kensie, a Silken Windhound, arrived at the end of January. My predicament would have been much worse without her. Now that spring is here, there is the lawn and garden to keep me busy. But I want all my friends whom I would normally see at the dog club meetings and the shows, to know they are missed. I feel badly that no one has met Kensie yet outside of the neighborhood because I have not left town. I thought I would share some of my Blyss Kennels photos, even though my 10 days of sharing is over. I realized I have so many beautiful photographs, especially of my one litter. Perhaps no one but me really cares, but they were just such happy times here. Because they were so ephemeral, I am grateful for the many photos I have, and the beautiful portraits done by Maxine Bochnia of DigiArt.  I am so glad I took the time to remember to take them. They are also at my website, Blysskennels.us. I am open to phone calls to reminisce about the shows 20 years ago when so many people, borzoi breeders, were there whom I truly loved but are gone now, when many people traveled far in their big RVs to come to borzoi specialties or large clusters, when the borzoi entries were large at the specialties and there seemed to be more owner-handled borzoi than there are today.

Can those Halcion days be really over? Can so many special dog women I know have really died of breast or ovarian cancer recently and one more entered hospice this week, expected to die any day ….. And my most loved mentor and friend of all gone, after suffering for a year in a nursing home in PA. Cumulatively, it really is all too much. Hold your borzoi, Silkens, and other dogs, horses or donkeys you may own tight at all times.  When they are gone, they are gone forever, never to return.

 

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Lucy’s Farewell

After having written about Lucy and her many accomplishments over the last two years, the Grand-daughter of our Blyss Kennels bitch, Mikhailya, from the one litter she had, you are no stranger to her  phenomenal list of accolades.  However, if you have not followed the story or are new to the Blog, allow me to reproduce the post that Valerie Nunez-Atkinson, her handler of two years, wrote about her on the eve of putting her back on the plane to Japan.  Upon arrival, she will return to Belisarius Kennels to Mai Ozeki Hirai, her original owner and breeder.   Her great sire, “Max”, Mikhailya’s puppy, sadly passed last August and will not be there to greet her at her homecoming.  Valerie’s Facebook post follows, documenting Lucy’s show career and accomplishments:

May 8 at 9:52pm

 

See you soon…..on her way home to Japan

 

The time has finally came, forced to say our goodbyes, The Lovely Lucy is on her way home.

We’ve dreaded this day as we have done in the past and no doubt will in the future. It’s the hard part of opening our hearts to those that come to us, those that we welcome and take in as family.

Lucy, with us for over 2 years exceeded all expectations…2015 Top Dog All Breeds in Japan with her great handler Shota, AKC’s All Time Top Winning Borzoi, the #1Hound in 2017, National Specialty BISS, 3x BOB winner at the Westminster KC, 2x Hound Group Winner at Westminster KC and lastly RBIS at the 2016 Westminster KC….and she has also already produced a National Specialty Winning Son (WD & BOW)….All of that aside, she was just our dog that we loved and adored. She smashed every record and set more but for us she is the dog that stole our hearts with her sweet soft nature, silly snorts, scootie butt zoomies, her glamorous self and her heart that gave us her all every single time she stepped into the ring. And, that says it all considering she IS a Sighthound bitch, lol;)) When she came to us we didn’t know if she could withstand or have the want to show for what is expected here in the States….we were ready to accept that reality if it wasn’t in her heart. But, after her breathtaking USA debut at Westminster KC and her heart stopping RBIS from Famed Breeder Judge; Richard Meen we decided to see what she could do….. she readily and happily stepped up to the plate and the winning began….her National Specialty came from another Breeder Judge; Ron Spritzer (Carol Spritzer) with her Son, standing behind her, another Honor. Her AKC All Time BIS record was awarded by none other then Icon Mr. Frank Sabella, truly special in that he was a unexpected judge change that day and so thrilled to have USA owners Risky M. Molnar (Michele and Jamie Danburg on hand to celebrate the day with us.

Lucy gave Antonio his FIRST USA BIS with CJ going RBIS, another memorable day. She and Antonio went on to be awarded another 9, 10 in total for the Team of Antonio and Lucy. Her BIS total 28 in USA and 13 in Japan, career of 41 All Breed BIS’s. Much of Lucy’s success is a credit to Antonio , it was all on him to keep her in tip top shape mentally and physically. Her muscle was hard, her coat glorious (when in coat after all she is a bitch and was never ever on Cheque drops) she naturally came into and out of coat as any coated female would. When out of coat and breaking the all time record under Frank Sabella….his comment was “all the better to see all her beautiful curves, both a perfect Topline and Underline” from the Man that knows it was indeed a huge compliment to her outstanding quality and type. So, Antonio thank you, thank you for all you have done for Lucy in her time with us. She adores you like all the others do a true testament to your soul. For that I’m forever grateful.

To Michele and Jamie , we were so honored to have you join our team. Without your help, encouragement and never ending support Lucy would not of had this amazing career. We all love you both.

To Shota Hirai, Mai Hirai, Kyoko Ozeki, ?? ? Minoru thank you for choosing us. There have been many others in the decade of showing for you and no doubt many more to come but there will only be ONE LUCY. We love you all;)

To all that cheered us on through the years, we thank you. The fellow breeders that supported us we are forever grateful. And to all that was on Team Lucy, thank you??.

We have cried tears of joy many times with her, today the tears of sadness from our hearts, as she heads home to Japan.

The accolades are many indeed but today our hearts are breaking as we must say ….see you next time Lucy, forever Team #welovelucy.

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I will admit it is difficult for me to read this.  An era of historic borzoi conformation annals comes to an end with Lucy’s return to Japan.  My one comment about Mikhailya’s breeding has been consistent:  It proved to be very important to the borzoi breed  history, and it  made so many people so happy.  Then why am I weeping?  As I often write on Facebook, “Tears……”

 

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.