Category Archives: American History

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.