Category Archives: Culture

Blyss Kennels on the phone and on Zoom

It is the first Sunday in 2021 and here I sit  home alone.  I am alone because my boyfriend has left early to go home to visit his son and grandchildren whom he did not see over Christmas.   However, I had something nice to look forward to, a Zoom meeting of the Borzoi Club of Greater New York.  It was lead by the President  Elisabeth Szymanski, who did a superb job.  The Club plans to hold Specialty shows in May and September.  Coming up soon is another Zoom meeting of the Central NJ Hound Club Association, also planning upcoming shows.  And what about the Borzoi Club of America’s National Specialty Show in May, 2021, in Wilmington, OH?  But will they happen, I ask?  Will we all get our vaccines to adequately create herd immunity and make it safe to mingle in public places?  So many questions.  So few answers.

But here in the United States there are fabulously wealthy, very successful people and their wives who have been interviewed on television who believe our vaccine should be given to people who live in other places first, meaning, on other continents.  They have no sympathy for what happens to those of us living in the United States.  These are individuals who were able to amass great fortunes here, in a country with their talents in the fields of technology and computer science were valued, and were able to market their products  around the world.  Yet, they have no concern or appreciation for the country who made their educational or professional opportunities available for them to garner their success.  It was not a coincidence their spectacular success occurred here where it did.  Yet, they feel no need to appreciate or give credit to their own country for their success in any way, and they look down upon it and its ordinary citizens with a repulsed disdain.  They lost my respect and admiration long ago.    I regard those kind of opinions that are hurtful to Americans to be traitorous.

Other thoughts that have entered my realm of consciousness concern the ongoing saga of my health, the various parts of my body that do not work properly, causing me discomfort and concern.  There are two big doctor appointments with specialists on my calendar already for January 2021.  This, added to the travails of the world, can truly break me down into despair.  Somehow, I am eating better and gaining needed weight.  I am reaching out more to friends by writing, emailing or calling.  Let my messages be what they are, welcome news or poor intrusions, so be it, whatever.  At least I care enough to reach out and perhaps touch the tip of another’s finger with that of my own to let some soul know they are not alone.  We have viruses and neoplasms floating around us and in us but we must live on regardless of the horrors we are asked to endure.  I have seen death, and watched people die sitting at their bedside.  It is not pretty.  Medicine as a profession is still helpless  many a time when you might expect it to succeed.  Give me strength the next time I must encounter it, even if it is that of someone I love, one of my dogs, or for myself.

For the New Year, may I be blessed with tranquility and the comfort of silence and peace.  May my thoughts be serene and my love rewarded in kind.  I love my Silken Windhound, Kensey, and my boyfriend of ten months, with whom I am still happy.   Life has a way of going on from unhappiness and trauma, and I am in some place away from all of that now.  I wish the same for all who take the time to stop and read this Blog.

Home with Tresor & Jelly
Mikhailya with me at Delalware Bay

At Blyss, at home, everywhere: walking to death.

I feel like  how a dog from the past must have felt trying to enter England, in a long, seemingly endless quarantine.  But no, I am a human being in the USA and I never left home.  I just cannot go out anywhere safely.  To be safe, I must stay home and be alone.  However, walking around town is allowed if safe social distancing of six feet is maintained.  Still, that does not satisfy my never ending gnawing need for intimacy.  With so much time on my hands and because I am so good at procrastinating leaving my lawn not mowed and my flower beds not weeded, I have decided to write on my blog at Blysskennels.us tonight.  I have been procrastinating writing on my Blog, too, showing how bad I have really been and how low my spirits have sunk.

Walking to Death

April 7, 2020

I am told it is a remedy, but tell me,

What is it that I see on my walks that makes for improvement?

It began in mid March and now it is early April.  Hateful spring.

No one knows when it will end.  It could be a very long time from now.

Although it remains cold and windy from winter,

I see there are splashes of color now: yellows and pinks, from flowering bushes and trees,

Breaking through.  I contemplate them.  They bring a hope or sorts

Having seen only grey, dark branches for so long that appeared to be dead.

It was an illusion, I thought, that this was a death of the flora, on the shrubs, on the flowering trees, and especially on the mountain.

Do I see a tiny splash of green there?  I am not sure…..

I know it will be there soon,

And then there will be the miracle of  tiny white Dogwood blossoms scattered among the green

Where they were once abundant…before their own virus came for them.

We live in the day of viruses, and all we can do is walk to death.

Walk them off, walk them away,

Walk them until we tire, walk them until we die.

Walk them with our children, walk them with our dogs,

Walk them with our friends, with our fathers, with our mothers and with our lovers.

How can there be so many places to walk to and so many places to walk from,

And learn so many people’s stories along the way that don’t do anyone any good

For each and every one has one, a story that is

And not about the virus that always lurks behind us now taking souls away.

 

Coping at Blyss with more than COVID-19 with my Kensie

However in the world are  we going to go on living with a pandemic that is infecting exponentially more people every day and killing a million people globally, and at least here in the USA, there is no realistic plan or a consensus between the medical community and political leaders how to approach a solution.  Why the politicians are second guessing the medical experts while cases and deaths increase at a terrifyingly alarming rate, I cannot imagine.  Then, there are many people who write on Facebook that Dr. Fauci is part of a Communist plot to close down the country to allow it to destroy our economy so Communism can take over, and something like a Revolution can succeed,  demonstrates that there is a very strong delusional right wing core of fanatics trying to destroy the very efforts we need to make as a country to keep its citizens safe from a horrible illness that could lead to a premature death or horrible suffering.  When you are ill, do you consult a physician or a politician?  I like to contact a physician!  I wonder why.

I wrote the following on Facebook today.

In response to the current debate over whose idea is right about how to flatten the curve in countries or US states with increasing cases of COVID-19, in March, activities and places were closed or shut down, and people were advised to social distance, self quarantine & wear masks to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the population and flatten the curve. It was very effective in accomplishing that when citizens heeded the advice.
What is there not to understand here? Medicine is a hard science based on theories proven with experimental results that are statistically significant. Politics is a social science, which is a soft science, lts data makes it more difficult to prove theories that reach statistical significance because the variables in designing social science experiments are more difficult to control. If I were going to follow the advise of either President Trump or Dr. Fauci, I would choose Dr. Fauci, our country’s leading Infectious Disease specialist. Medicine is a hard science and its facts, when studied, always yield the same results.
To repeat the advice of Dr. Fauci:
Do social distancing,
Avoid large gatherings.
Wear masks and
Self quarentine.
We disregard this advice at our peril.
They are ALL the right thing to do.
Kind regards,
Lorene
 Yvonne McGehee, Barbara Binder and 15 others
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I want to follow the science, not the politicians.  Something to think about, for sure.

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.

 

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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Yvonne McGehee, Charlotte Wyda and 9 others

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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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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