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.
Like so many Mays before, this is the time for the borzoi clubs in the area to hold their specialty shows. This is also the first weekend that there are dog shows held outdoors. It gives me a good reason to get away from home, even if they are a long distance away and the weather is not predicted to be its best. Nothing can really take away the excitement of being in Tinicum Park in Erwinna, PA, when it is full of dogs and their exhibitors. It brings back many memories for me, including one of showing Opal when she was a puppy. She even won her class!
I used to find out in advance when this show was held years before we had our borzoi and I even knew Bob by finding the dog show schedules published in Dog World Magazine, (I did not know about the AKC Gazette then). I would set out by myself when I was in my thirties to attend this show, that being the Bucks County Kennel Club Show. I also attended the Hunterdon County Kennel Club Show held on the Flemington Fair Grounds off Rt. 31, NJ. That has long since been sold and paved over and the dog show moved to a sight off Rt. 29 in Ringos nearby. But the Bucks County Kennel Club Show remains where it has traditionally been held.
I knew that all the doors into the dog show ring were closed to me. There was no obvious way to me how one got from one side of the ring (outside) to the other side of the ring (inside). You knew your place by some unwritten text, and you followed it. Everyone was always very nice and smiled at you as they walked their dogs to and fro but you knew you were always an observer, as if you were at the theater watching a well performed play. I always bought a catalog, which helped it make more sense to me, being so rich in information as it was. Still, I was a single, working girl, and had no time or means to buy a show dog, nor would I know what to do with it if I had the wits to even buy one. Eventually, I began to feel acutely lonely at dog shows and stopped going as often. I married Bob in 2000 and he had no interest in acquiring a show dog whatsoever. However, in 2002, we were offered an opportunity to enter the dog show world with a male borzoi named Casanova. His breeder, N-23, was looking for a show home for him. Without even thinking, we said yes. That was how it happened.
It was then I learned that a person is sponsored or invited to join breed clubs. It is usually by the breeder of the first show dog you acquire. That is how we were able to participate in dog shows; it was through the kindness and generosity of “Casanova’s” breeder helping us to become members of the Borzoi Club of Central New Jersey, a membership that I hold to this day, and I consider a great honor. That is how a person meets breeders with whom to make friends and purchases high quality show dogs to get started. We did it that way and it brought us great joy. We achieved many wonderful accomplishments from our endeavors. It was more challenging and expensive than we thought, and it included a heartbreaking tragedy, but we never would have turned that opportunity down. My only regret is all the years I lost by not knowing how to break into the dog show world sooner. I probably would not have had a borzoi, but a terrier breed. I adored terriers but our opportunity came with a borzoi. My husband did not care for terriers, so I did not look back. I became enchanted with borzoi then, as was he, and now I cannot imagine having any other breed of dog.
Mikhailya and Opal Ringside, January 2008
We were a happy family. The story of our kennel and how it grew is on the Blyss Kennels website (www.blysskennels.us) for all to enjoy. My only regret is losing Opal from a devastating illness as a youngster. Also, there were challenges and problems raising Tresor”, our pick puppy from our only home bred litter. However, his littermate, “Magnus”, made up for that. He was taken as pick puppy by the co-breeder, N-5, and he turned out to be one of the best international show-dogs and producers in many, many years. She sold him to Belisarius Kennels in Japan, he went on to sire the magnificent all-time show-bitch, “Lucy” of whom we are all proud. And our “Mikhailya” was the bitch who started it all:
“Lucy”, the grand-daughter of our bitch, “Mikhailha”, and “Tresor’s” niece, went on to become one of the greatest show borzoi ever in history in 2016 – 2017. She won Best of Breed twice at Westminster; in 2016 she won Reserve Best in Show at Westminster; in 2016 in April she won the Borzoi National Specialty Show; and in 2017 she won the Breed again at Westminster and Group 4 in Hounds; but became the Number 1 Hound in America, a first time achievement for a borzoi. In a few weeks, she will be entered in the Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show for the second time. She won the show last year. It would be so exciting to see her win again.
Although some things do not always work out as you plan, and that is very difficult to accept, other things happen that are beyond your wildest imaginings. One may receive the worst of heartaches but the greatest of joys by loving dogs and having a show kennel.
However, nothing was worse than losing Bob suddenly in 2011. It required me to sell our special house that we had that was so perfect for our borzoi, and I had to place Tresor in a loving home. In 2012, I downsized in a comfotable home nearby with Mikhailya, Casanova and Paris. Much has been written about this on the Blog and the website. One by one, my beautiful borzoi succumbed to old age and died. However, in February 2015, I bought a beautiful retired show bitch, “Jelly”, from a dear friend, the breeder, N-24.
Then unexpectedly, five months later, “Tresor” came home to me, after four years of living with another family. By getting him back, I felt blessed and vindicated for so much that had gone wrong in my life. Having him back was like being given a great gift. I was so happy I had a house of my own, with a well fenced back yard to offer him. I felt I made up to him something I had taken away – my presence and my love. It was inconceivable to me that I had placed him. Fate left me with no choice. I was and still am very grateful to his family that had him for four years and cared for him so well, but even more grateful that he is back home with me and he is mine.
A great deal of what I have written today is looking back. I don’t know what made me do this today, and perhaps it is not a good idea to do it as much as I do. I am often told to look ahead. There are many things I do not like to reminisce about. However, when I look back on my dogs: their lives, their stories, my life with them, their spirits that feel so alive here with me, I feel as if I am sharing a contemporary story. For me, it is a story rich in memory and I cannot escape it, for it envelopes me. I miss them all so much, every day. By reminiscing about them, I feel their spirits close to me, as they were when they were alive! It is the thing that gives me the strength, that kind of strength I need that is so basic It is the strength that enables me to get out of my bed in the morning, to put one foot in front of the other, and have enough energy to get me thorough the whole day ahead as I am alone…..except that they – Jelly and Tresor – and even all the others that went before – are there!
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.
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.
I cannot seem to overcome my negativity about being alone in the heart of winter and so I feel no need to write about it in my blog. We are all well at last. Jelly had a serious injury last October that kept her in pain until well into January. I am so grateful all of her problems appear to have dissipated. Now I have to work harder on mine.
Now, it is only mid-February. So much snow is still expected to fall. A kind neighbor snow-blowed my driveway last week when we had a large snow-fall. I do not seem to be able to shovel anymore. My body tells me, “No”. I listen. My mind tells me things, too, and although I do not know what to make of them, I listen. They are not good. But not only do I listen, I believe.
But all is well with Tresor and Jelly now. I have fun with them, and I can truly say they are my only joy. I live alone now, friendless, and as they say, even when I meet someone, “The Song Remains The Same” by Led Leppelin, or like the B side of a 45 with a bad needle stuck in a groove.
This week was the 141st Westminster KC Dog Show. Again, for the second year in row, Lucy, my Blyss Kennels’ “Mikhailya’s” grand-daughter, won Best of Breed. Sadly, she did not win the Group. She was robbed by Norwegian Elkhound handled by a very old, frail woman with a strong presence in past Hound Group rings whom the Judge acknowledged. Lucy was given a Group Four instead. My son and I were there in person Tuesday night to see the Sporting Group, Herding Group and Terrier Group judging, and Best in Show.
Somehow, we got over that Lucy was not there and had lot of fun. I got to stay overnight in his new apartment in the East Village. It was a happy and fun occasion. Then, Wednesday I had to take a taxi to Penn Station to catch a NJ Transit train that would take me home to the Summit, NJ station. A girl-friend picked me up. We had lunch in Summit and fantasized we were on the Upper East Side instead.
I don’t know how any of this has happened to me. Why am I here in such a lonely place, I ask myself? I am beginning to believe true happiness is not meant for me in this world. When my borzoi both pass away, I will a have to reevaluate what I am doing. But for now, living with perfect love, borzoi love, this is as happy as it is going to get. For now, they can make me smile.
I came late to dogs, although I loved them passionately all my life and owned several. When I say “I came late to dogs”, I am referring to purchasing pedigree dogs from reputable breeders, being involved with the sport of AKC conformation, and being an active member in several kinds of dog clubs.
I was fifty, a time that I saw would be “for me”, my childhood having ended precipitously in my parent’s home and adult life and responsibilities commenced soon after. My parents took great care not to “spoil” their children, and to only “kiss them when they sleep”. It was a childhood with virtually no memories at all, and it just blended into an adult life of harder work. I did not complain. Yet, I dreamed of someday living as I wished, with some land well fenced so my dogs and perhaps even horses had a place to safely run.
It did not quite turn out that way, dreams never do. With time and hard work, my life came as close to that reality as possible and I am pleased to say I have come rather close. I established Blyss Kennels on the first ridge of the Watchung Mountains in Mountainside, NJ, near the Watchung Reservation. Then and there, my imagination created what I lacked. Looking back today, I see them all in a long line of beautiful borzoi, they form a crystal clear vision of beauty: Casanova, Mikhailya, Paris, Opal, and Ebony. Then there were Mikhailya’s three puppies, Tresor, Magnus and Zephyrus. And then at the end after my husband’s premature death, Casanova, Mikhailya, and Paris moved with me to a much smaller house nearby. Interestingly, I never noticed until after I moved into the house that the property next door consisted of a very large tract of land that was undeveloped and kept as a beautiful field, as if it were a part of my very own property. I felt as if my dogs and I had arrived home.
Almost fifteen years later, I look back upon my dogs and what I have learned. Coming late to the table, I partake the wisdom of others and I found I have learned so much. One good thing about belonging to so many breed clubs is you get to attend meeting and thus be among the breeders. From there, you only have to listen, and eventually they talk about their dogs and what is happening in their kennels. If you are patient and listen well, you find there is much you can learn. But I read a great deal too. Following are some of the writers who taught me a great deal.
One favorite author of mine who had the self discipline to be a prolific and detailed author about dog training and his favorite breed was Richard Wolters. He wrote passionately about the Labrador Retriever and left the world one of the most beautiful dog books ever published, The Labrador Retriever, the history….the people. (Los Angeles: Petersen Prints. 1981). I have a first edition. A reproduction of a painting of a black Labrador carrying a duck in its mouth adorns the cover, and it gets better with the turning of every page. It is a walk through history along a different byway, through the eyes of those who love the Lab. I am blessed to be among those people.
Another writer who was pivotal in helping me understand the sport of AKC conformation, who tied together so many seemingly disparate facts and parts of the dog listed in each breeds’ standard, so many that they seemed incomprehensible to me, and brought me to clarity was Richard Beauchamp, a great AKC judge. I am speaking of his book, Solving the Mysteries of Breed Type (2008). Solving the mysteries it did. And answering that ever elusive question to me of “What is ‘Breed Type’?” What does “typey” mean in a dog? Or, how does a Group judge judge a group, or a Best in Show Judge select the winning dog? The book answered those questions for me forever, or at least helped me sit ringside and understand what was happening on the other side of the ring. Anyone who reads Blyss Blog or Blyss Blog Encore knows that sitting ringside is something I enjoy immensely. Richard Beauchamp is a huge part of the reason for that. Because of him, I know what I am looking at.
A fiction writer with a different approach who was also a breeder under the affix “Sunnybank”, known for its literary famous collies, especially “Lad”, was Albert Payson Terhune or Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. He was a prolific writer as most people know but he also wrote a great deal of letters and non-fiction. I have the pleasure of being a member of an organization that is committed to the preservation of Sunnybank and celebrates the memory of Terhune and his collies through an annual “Gathering”. The organization publishes a quarterly newsletter and I had the pleasure of receiving mine this week. I was drawn to read it today. I discovered the issue was devoted to a most important topic: puppies. (The Lookout, Spring/Summer 2015, p.16.) Here is what he has written: “…Show me a breeder who can pick them out, infallibly, at an early age; and he can name his own salary to act as consultant at my Sunnybank collie kennels. I am safe in saying that. For such a man is not born yet. Or else, he died the day before I was born. It is all a gorgeous gamble, this breeding of pedigreed dogs. Therein lies its lure. When our prophecies come true, it is fun to boast. When they fail – which is oftener – silence is very golden indeed”.
So yes, I was very blessed to have known these three men, all now sadly deceased, however I had the wisdom to seek them out through their books. I know nothing can make up for my lost decades, the childhood spent alone and lonely, isolated for inane punishments for imaginary deeds in my parents’ unhappiness together. Much comes from the unhappiness of others, and their severities pushed me inward toward myself where my imagination created an imaginary world where a dog was my best friend. Decades later, I would begin to live out those fantasies, and as I could, do so more and more until I found my first borzoi, Casanova, whose story is told on
Tomorrow morning I am leaving for Huron, Ohio to attend the Borzoi Club of America’s National Specialty Show. I will be going out with Jelly’s breeder, and we will be showing her two new puppies, the male and the female, Jezebel and Hunter, who are Jelly’s half-brother and half-sister. They are both exquisite borzoi puppies with a great deal of promise. They will be shown in Futurity, Sweepstakes, and Regular classes. It will be hard work all week, ring time is 8:00 AM, and I am not a “morning person”. But I will be all next week because of the pups and the early ring time. There is nothing like being ringside when your own puppies are in the ring!
Nobody likes to be attacked, especially by people close to them, such as friends, family, lovers or co-workers. And for myself, it is especially painful to be attacked over something I wrote on Byss Blog or Blyss Blog Encore because I write so honestly and make myself vulnerable. And it is a very rare incident, happening only one other time before today. It was by a woman who had a lovely Majenkir borzoi whom I had befriended, been very kind to and always would have always been there for her.
There seems to be no end to the permutations of friends’ malevolencies. In my case, it began with my own mother, who could not help herself from ripping up her young. It was sad to experience that for so long, since she only died very recently. Yet she began a pattern that others so easily slipped into and I let them, and it never stops.
There is one thing I must always remember. People behave badly. They do the wrong things. They inflict emotional pain in the process and do not care about it one bit. It makes them feel good in so doing so they do it again.
When I enter into these relationships they are so happy and full of promise yet in a short time fighting over misunderstandings begin and emotions turn raw. I have surrounded myself with my beautiful borzoi as a buffer and a distraction from it, as I have currently done. I am grateful for Jelly for her love and beauty, and her breeder,N24, for her generosity of spirit toward me. Other breeders, too numerous to mention here, have lavished me with support and kindness. Thinking of them should be my new focus, not relationship disappointments.
I reacted strongly to my mother’s recent passing away. It made me emotionally very ill and I foresaw my own imminent passing. I received treatment for this condition at the time but wonder now, why – what was the point? I should have been left to fate and perhaps died. But people meddled and pulled me through a dark tunnel only to emerge for more of the same betrayal from weak imitations of her acts, painful nonetheless. So as the friends whittle away in number, my grasp on Jelly and my borzoi friends strengthens and I am grateful for them. I owe it to Jelly and my good friends in the borzoi breed to rally myself and be strong against the attacks of others who want to criticize and tear me down.
I will say my life has a certain rhythm, or perhaps it is a “schedule” that makes it feel as if I have one, by which I live and determines what I do and when. It is so important that I squeeze everything I must do into the schedule for the day and the calendar for the week or month, either one. And who is the guardian or keeper of this circadian rhythm, one may ask??? It is certainly not me. I can procrastinate and make excuses for putting things off. It is Miss Jelly herself. All she has to do is throw me a sideward glance and that says it all: the command is delivered!
There you have it! The look is the command.
Many fun things ensue because of it. First, there are long walks in fields off leash. Jelly enjoys them immensely. She is obedient and comes on recall. She does not bother other people or their dogs, causing me distress or discord. Whatever we do it is fun. However, after 4:00 PM, she knows that is the hour when I am to stop all activity of mine and take her into Watchung Reservation to the Scouting Field and its environs to enjoy the daily outdoors she needs so much. The expansive fields one finds there, surrounded by towering pines and overgrown trees are bordered by dense shrubbery. Within it, there is an assortment of wild flora that will begin blooming soon until the first frost in November that will keep even me continually enthralled while Jelly “hunts” for squirrels and rabbits, the small game that environment contains. With Jelly, as with most dawns of spring, it is as if I am experiencing this for the first time. I’ve been showing her around for several weeks now, and her joy is palpable.
It is because of the joy she gives me and the reasons she gives me to experience beauty on a daily basis that I love her so much. One should have a reason to be so happy every day of one’s life.
After a long wait, a respectable passage of time, an appropriate period of grief, grief for the passing of all the Blyss borzoi, and much soul searching and wondering if I really could do it, I have taken possession, thanks to the generosity of a dear and long time friend, a borzoi breeder in upstate NY, of a beautiful borzoi bitch, almost five years old, to be my companion dog. Her full name is: Ch Kasharra Bibikov Moscova, “Jelly”.
When she was just a pup, nearly five years ago, her breeder called me and told me she had a puppy bitch that she believed would be just perfect for Blyss, and she wanted me to come and see her. The puppy’s name was “Jelly”. My husband said no, basing it on the amount of room we had and the number of borzoi currently living with us. We could not take on another one and do it right, the way we both said we would want to do it. We had avoided the temptation of impulse purchasing of borzois, crowding, not being able to afford premium dog food and top of the line veterinary care when necessary. Having too many borzoi at once would impact that. I had to respect his wish to say no, and it was a very sad day when I delivered that message.
I would often see Jelly at the shows. She was truly lovely in every way. I often wondered what it would have been like if we could have had her. I only heard good news about her, how easily she had finished her Champion Dog title, and how much breeders and judges alike held her in such high esteem. Recently, I spoke with two breeders who had handled her in the ring for her breeder. She is well on her way to being a Grand Champion. It all seemed surreal but the idea entered my mind one day to inquire regarding her to her breeder, so I gave her a call. We spoke for a while, then I brought up the real subject of why I was calling, that being “Jelly”. I knew she still had her, Jelly had never been sold, so I asked her if she would still want to place her with me. I was overjoyed when she said yes.
With the health problems I had been burdened with over the last year, I wondered if I could have a dog. I was in treatment for an eating disorder at the time this conversation took place, and I asked if I could put off taking her until after I was released. I made being healthy enough to have a large dog a goal for my own wellness, and there were times when the idea of owning Jelly was the only reason I got out of bed in the morning, or went to a food store. I have problems doing the most basic of things, whereas I can do difficult things with facile. I forget to eat and sleep and get very sick as a result. With owning Jelly as my goal I got my priorities in a healthier order.
It has been one week since I have had her. My boyfriend, LT is back, and Jelly loves him, too. He adores her, so we are a very happy family together. Jelly seems to be very bonded to us, and I adore her. She eats well and enjoys her walks. I have even taken her to Watchung Reservation and let her run off-leash in the Scouting Field behind the old Trailside Museum. There are two fields there, actually, with acres and acres of open land divided by a line of trees, and dogs love running in them, and they are rather safely located, away from roads.
When the warmer weather comes, I will see to it Jelly is properly introduced to all the neighbors. Everyone in the neighborhood is expecting her. I love her so much already. It’s like I have gone back to the beginning. Before there were the Blyss Borzoi, even before Opal. It is a new start. Jelly is a new day. I have a new life now. It is hard for me to believe I was ever the person I wrote about in the original Blyss Blog.
I have learned sadly that life is not all about me. My concerns pale next to those of others whom I know even casually. It is wrong for me to care so much about myself. This is a lesson I am coming to learn late in life. I can only try to think less about myself, to reach out more, to give more, to be more to others, even if they do not ask. I see the flaws of others around me but instead of being repulsed I wonder why, or how they came to be that way and I feel only compassion. I know they must suffer, and perhaps a great deal more than me.
I have met with a new challenge, as if there could be such a new thing for me to encounter – yes – even I am shocked. I shall give it voice and veritas because I know I am not alone. I have no reason for shame, only sadness and grief because the prognosis is often terminal. I am the creator of an eating disorder, in my own form of it, and am in a program along with others, each one of us with our own version. Together we are trying to get well by sharing, supporting one another and finding ways of putting this behind us and it is not easy.