Category Archives: Culture

Another day: Blyss Kennels values for “New World for the USA”

Here we are now, in new days for our country and the world.  It’s  been about three weeks now, and it still feels all wrong.  Many people have a point and are right, even though they have opposing view points.  Many people have died, many unfairly.  Any life lost to violence is a sorrow and pains me deeply.  Life is to be cherished and celebrated.  Every person is a members of the human family, and one person’s joy is all of our joy, as another person’s sorrow is all of our sorrow. Living together in harmony, sparing the use of defamation and striving for consensus is how  people should come together to resolve differences.  The current American President fails to accomplish these skills that could “unite” the multitudinous masses that comprise America and  disparate points of view, thereby only deepening the divisiveness growing dangerously wide in America.  Even Generals and great military men of our day are apologizing for showing unity with their Commander in Chief, which he accomplished.  He wanted a photo op of himself holding a bible – it was upside down by the way – in front of St. John’s National Cathedral where he does not worship – which he got.  It had the effect of boomeranging on him, making him look evil.  Where does this stop, I ask you?

If you are me, it stops in gardens, working in them, on them, or  simply admiring them.  It also includes  surrounding yourself with a pack of really huge and gorgeous dogs, like, did I say borzoi?  So, in January, I bought a Silken Windhound, although I really wanted another pair of borzoi.  It is she, Kensie, who makes visits to formal gardens or fields of wildflowers, or in expansive meadows, or taking long walk together on winding roads that were once forests on the side of a  mountain  and probably should have stayed that way, even though I have lived here on four of those separate roads over the past 70 years.  I also cheat by thinking I make new friends by getting into impromptu conversations with people who complement Kensie on these walks because of her exquisite and unusual beauty.  I did not plan to get another dog after my last borzoi, Jelly, died last May.

Today, suffering permeates into the invisible fiber of society, unable to be seen.  And, it is just not “there” to be observed by voyeuristic people who want to watch others suffer because it energizes them. The voyeurs will suffer, too.  No one will be truly energized by this suffering because it is 100% toxic.  Like the COV-19 virus, it is in our DNA now and it will take no prisoners.  No one is  free of it.  Moreover, as  the current, elected President fails to represent his people, Americans, nature hates a vacuum, and a charismatic leader will emerge to correct that mistake.  I tremble.

I conclude we need our animals,  wild flower meadows, and our gardens more than ever today!  However,  there was a time when grand words were written and sung by those of  my generation, and they may speak to us today.  Let me share a ballad written in honor of a true peace music festival, written by a Canadian song writer of the highest caliber, Joni  Mitchell and sung by her closest friends, David Crosby, Steven Stills, Graham Nash, and Niel Young, also a Canadian.

Woodstock.

… We are stardust, we are golden

We are fifty year old carbon

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Maybe it is the time of year

Maybe it is the time of man

I don’t know who I am but life is for learning.

We are stardust, we are golden

We are fifty year old carbon

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

By the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong

Everywhere there was song and celebration

And I thought I saw the bombers turning shot gun in the sky

And they were turning into butterflies about our nation.

… We are stardust, we are golden

We are fifty year old carbon

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Joni Mitchell.

 

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.

My God, can those 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, Roni Zucker 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.

c

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Another Interruption caused by TCM when I had things to do…..

I have been very busy these days after months of lethargy and depression catching up with work that had been put aside.  When the weather become warm, I want to start gardening and taking care of the lawn outdoors.  I need to be very disciplined however I can be most tempted to stray when a film I truly love comes on the schedule for  Turner Classic Movies.  Last night, when I should have been sleeping, the movie scheduled was among my top 5, Splendor in the Grass, directed by Elia Kazan, starring a very young Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, made in 1961.  Another lifetime ago, I may add.  I know I can write volumes about this movie and why Iike it so much, but now is not the time.  I will say, even having seen it a dozen times, each viewing is as new and raw and shocking as was the first time.  It is difficult to watch the growing pains of two young people who love each other trying to do the right thing while everyone around them is acting badly and the world as they know it is undergoing profound social changes, even in the Nebraska heartland.  And yes, it is excruciatingly painful to watch them as they come undone and become unrecognizable people from whom they were at the beginning of the story.  Together, once so close, they launch their adult lives in such different places, determined not to think much about happiness anymore, and say a simple good by before setting off apart.

As actors, the careers of Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty exploded with stardom and success, including Oscars.  It is always a joy to watch their films, each one so different yet rewarding.  They talents are boundless.  Natalie was taken far too prematurely with a tragedy that defied all logic, as if it were part of the plot of the movie she was making.  It never added up to me……  But the death of a great movie star usually does not.  They never really die.  The movies and the stars I love so much share my heart with the dogs and the horse I have loved so much.  I am so grateful for the technology that enables us to watch, rent or stream virtually any movie we want to watch almost anytime for a very small amount of money.  They are my companions in loneliness.

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.

October 1, 2016: Morris & Essex KC Match Show!

Tomorrow, Saturday, October 1, 2016, is the date of the Morris & Essex Kennel Club Match Show with ancillary events including Meet the Breeds.

 

"Tresor"; also known as "The Tre"
“Tresor”; also known as “The Tre”

This year it is being held near to the site of its original grounds, The Dog Field in Madison!  These were the grounds of the former estate of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, 1892 – 1973.  She was a great dog fancier in her time and established the Morris and Essex Kennel Club.  Some of the grandeur of her day will be revitalized in tomorrow’s events in Madison, NJ, where she resided.  My main borzoi breed club, Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, will be holding a Match and hosting a Meet the Breeds there tomorrow.  It should be great fun.  Hoping the weather holds out, meaning, hoping it does not rain.   Sadly,  I will not be bringing any dogs.  How I wish I could bring Tresor.  He is a wonderful ambassador for his breed, as was his great dam, “Mikhailya”, however he is  too dog dominant to be around so many other dogs and would make a grand fool of himself and embarrass both his mistress and co-breeder.