After a year of canceled dog shows due to COVID-19 in 2020, it does not look much better for them in 2021. There are some dog shows, but the conditions under which they must occur precludes any enjoyment by spectators, in fact, spectators are not permitted at all. In addition, no vendors or selling of catalogs will be allowed. Considering it will be expensive for me to attend some of these dog shows, I recently canceled my hotel reservations rather than deal with these disappointments at shows for days on end. As of today, I still do not know the status of the Somerset Hills KC show, in September which is where the Borzoi Club of Central NJ holds its annual specialty show, but I am not optimistic. Westminster KC dog show is supposed to take place in June at Lyndhurst, in Tarrytown, but I do not see how it can be a “benched” show as it usually is. Since the show is usually a hub of vendors for many kinds of merchandise, without food vendors, and attended by the most devoted in the dog show world, it does not look very pleasing.
I would like to share from “Notes from a crazy soul” on Facebook:
“There comes a time in life, when you walk away from it all, the drama and people who create it. Surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. Love the people who treat you right. Pray for he one’s who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is part of life. Getting back up again is living.”
With that quote in mind, I realize how much I fail to succeed in living a life of wisdom. Instead, I am tested with tragedies that fly by with the speed of a tennis ball I cannot see, but only hear the Hisssssss of it speeding across my face, just missing me, barely. The impact would be damaging, somehow fortunately it misses me, but the effect is the same. This pattern has followed me throughout my life. It began with my parents who created their own domestic tragedy of a marriage and imposed it on their children. It left us, their children, stuck in the place where they failed, unable to go back or unable to move forward. The accuracy of this pattern in my life is stunning. In every relationship, all I have to do is sit back, smile, and wait for it to happen.
One day in 2002, I had the opportunity to buy a young male borzoi. He was very sweet and beautiful, and I embraced him to my heart. I felt a love I never thought I knew. He was followed by several others, including two bitches, and we bred a litter and kept a male. After a short while, I realize I had been changed by this experience and felt protected for the first time in my life. Love had found me at last and changed me forever. When one of those first borzoi died suddenly, in 2008, I became very ill. I had never grieved like that before. In 2019, my last borzoi passed away. I told myself I was fine and was doing well. A myth. A year later I was diagnosed with anorexia and bipolar depression and had to make serious choices regarding my treatment. In addition, between 2013 and 2020, I had cancer twice, each one requiring surgery. My parents’ legacy was still alive and well. They won after all.
Unexpectedly, I met a magical and new man in 2020 who swore his undying love for me after finding me and my dog pictures on Facebook. He told me I could trust him. I was his everything, especially, his future. One evening, a simple conversation turned suddenly aggressive and he left me. It took about one minute and he was gone. Although I begged him to return, and he did, he created another dramatic scene few months later, leaving me alone again. I felt like a fool for trusting him, but he put on a great show of a man in love and I believed it, even in the face of many contradictions.
It is experiences like this that I must be wary of, and not just me, but everyone. I don’t care if you are a man, since I am sure there are insincere, manipulative, ingenuine women in the world, as well. But I have accrued such a long list of men covering the last ten years of my life that I have been a widow trying to exploit me, men who had no love in their hearts for me whatsoever, that I wonder if I should end this quest once and for all. They all had nothing to offer beyond smoke and mirrors, and when they grow tired of their game, they create a scene and leave. I know I have many true friend and it is to them that I must turn. I have Kensie, my new Silken Windhound, by my side, to replace my former borzoi, and she makes me smile. Life is hard but there are little things that make it sweet, and downy pillows on which to rest my head and dream.
This has become another rather difficult time, and a cold, snowy winter at that, a time of having had to make a change that I had no input into making, it was imposed upon me by someone else who really over reached his boundaries in how his decision impacted me. No, I did not get to choose but it happened anyway as it has many times before. The one unifying trait of these former friends, mostly men but the phenomenon occurs with girlfriends, too, is the sudden, unforeseen, cold, silent treatment I receive. I am not worth a syllable. Two men in my past were so determined to get away from me, they died. The others looked at me and saw damaged goods, and they fled.
The only truly happy love I have had in my life was when my husband and I had our borzoi, and bred our one litter. However, when life was at its best, he was taken out with an illness that was terrible and swift. Much has been written about my joy living with my borzoi, and yes, it was a profound and perfect joy, free from the treachery of human love, so often based on self serving motives. They are gone now, and not to be returning. Today I have a new dog, a beautiful Silken Windhound bitch from the Wind ‘n Satin kennel. Her name is Kensey (CH GCH Wind ‘n Satin It’s My Party) and she is lovely. She comforts me with her love. But I am as lonely as ever, doomed in romances that repeat my failures of childhood. As with my parents before, I evoke terrible rage and disappointment in men, and I cannot imagine what all the fuss is about. If they wanted to break up, all they had to do was say so and be a gentleman about it. Instead, they blame and slaughter me for alleged unforgivable wrong doings towards them. And it just goes on and on and on.
I will look ahead to the May dog shows that will be held first in Bethlehem, PA, where I will be among friends for a few days. I will have had my second COVID-19 vaccine so I should be safe to participate. Later, during the third week, I will be in Wilmington, Ohio for the Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show. I will put the winter with its painful cold behind me. I will be all smiles and hold my head high. I am not like the other ladies who have to be married to survive, no, I can be quite the survivor on my own, as I have these long, past ten years. Yet, I believe somewhere, out there, there is somebody worthy of my love, I just have to find him, or he to find me. I am working on it, a work in progress, for as long as I draw breath. If not, I know I am enough of a self reliant person to go on, to do the right thing, and be happy alone.
I keep coming across this beautiful poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye, so I decided to make a copy of it for my Blog. I believe I will feel this way when I die. And, I want to think that the people I love will be in this state, as well. I just wish I could feel this comfortable about the death of my borzoi, but of course, we all know that is too terrible a thing for me. I cannot accept that. I am nothing; they are everything I ever had worth anything good. If I was ever good, it was because of them.
“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on the ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn rain
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there. I did not die.”
I am frequently amazed by the truly great pieces of writing that end up in my Facebook feed. It is as if the writer were sitting there in the room with me and looking deep into my very heart and knows exactly how I feel and expresses it with perfect clarity. So it is with the writing of Stephanie Bennett-Henry, especially one particular post, that I will share on my own blog, here that she posted on August 2,2015:
“I want the weirdos, the clumsy, fumbling, awkward ones who call themselves a big mess. That’s where it’s at. Give me the one whose eyes are colored with shades of madness. Throw me in a room with the loners, the ones who never found their place. Sit me down at the table with the dreamers, the ones who feel with their eyes and see with their hearts. Surround me with the extraordinary souls who inhale passion through their fingertips and exhale creativity from masterpieces in their bones. I want to dance with the ones who will break their own hearts because they only know how to love too hard or not at all. Build a path with the pieces of the broken ones. I will follow the trail and carry each piece back to its owner, showing them the stained glass pieces of their beautiful, broken magnificence.”
Stephanie Bennett-Henry. Copyrighted.
So yes, there is dignity and loss in defeat. There must be, be some positive dimension for humans since it is so ubiquitous and it does not kill us, it just keeps coming. Is this a realistic interpretation of the human condition, flailing around, coming up short, losing everything, “dying” even, when you are still very much alive? I am a master at surviving deaths. I have had several reincarnations: surviving my childhood, surviving my first and second marriages, and coping with the tragedies that befell my kennel. First, a puppy died unexpectedly. I had forgotten puppies died, as I was so focused on breeding them and on their subsequent arrivals! After, the puppies from my only litter were sent far away by my co-breeder, the one I got to keep was very sickly his first two years of life and was not emotionally sound. This was challenging and I was focused on these events more than it was warranted until the punishing hand of God delivered its final blow: taking my darling husband, prematurely young, from cancer. The only mercy to the story was it was swift.
My dreams of an adult life, happily married with a child and a houseful of dogs, Llewellyn English Setters come to mind since I did not know what borzoi were then, a show kennel and horses in a pasture, and never at a loss for love, was a bitter delusion that I never stopped pursuing long after it was feasible. I pursue it still, and I am a very old woman.
And there lays my psychosis. It is what places me in the room with the eyes colored with shades of madness, thrown in a room with loners who never found their place, who feel with their eyes see with their hearts. And yes, I have wanted to “dance” with the ones I knew would break my heart because they, too were flawed and could not love, so like my parents before them. My life is lived on a path of broken stones and every step is painful. But I see no magnificent stained glass portrait of myself to hang in the window to catch the sun and celebrate my life. I am in a very dark place. The pieces of my life lie on the ground like broken stones, and an urn will hold my ashes in a mausoleum when I die.
I read this on Facebook a long time ago, and recently a Facebook Friend reposted it. It touched me as much now as it did when I first read it. I am sharing it on Blyss Blog Encore with my readers who will probably enjoy this as much as I do and be glad I came upon it again.
Because of Love!! “This is a true story”!
A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre- Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up and it had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farmhouse. Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their lives, and called them away to a different life.
The old folks no longer showed the horses, for the years had taken their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to live. They sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day’s end.
Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks “Why do you not at least dispose of The Old One.” She is no longer of use to you. It’s been years since you’ve had foals from her. You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves. How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep her anyway?”
The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed at the barn floor and replied, ” Yes, I could use a pair of new boots.”
His arm slid defensively about the Old One’s neck as he drew her near. With gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied quietly, “We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love.”
Baffled and impatient, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley.
The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that filled their hearts?
So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed the smell of the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the “Old One”.
In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire’s fury. His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.
By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief, huddled together in front of the barn. They were speechless and stunned as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulder as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandana. Brokenly he whispered, “We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us.
And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old, withered hand.
The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they paused to rest, looking up to the top of the hill, the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.
Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top- most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. They were breathless as the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.
Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy. Amazed and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward. There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows glistening in the night light.
Bedded down around the “Old One” close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.
At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new years crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the “Old One” as she moved calmly up the hill to safety beneath the pine. And now she lay among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife.
Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift —LOVE. Because of love. Only Because of love.
Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy… And again the peace of love filled their hearts.
This is a true story.
This is an Inspirational message sent to a small group of people on Facebook. My hope is that it will make your day just a little bit better.
October 24, 2018
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.
Once again in a most unexpected way it is words from a stranger on Facebook that someone shared to my feed that has caused me to take pause and reevaluate my psychological outlook and my interpretation of the most painful events of my life that have transpired starting in childhood, culminating with the death of my last borzoi in 2019. It was a long run on tragedies and I have been beaten down by them, almost to nothing, Yet am very physically strong and resilient beyond anything one should expect to be able to do. Yet here I am still standing if not shattered and shaken to my core. How sad it is to have had to live through these tribulations, most of which were unnecessary. I was not alone in my misery, it was due to profound parental dysfunctionality resulting in our suffocation, and all of my siblings endured the pain with me, none coming out any better for the experience. It threw us into odd directions as adults, along tangents that could never intersect, leaving us lonely and alone forever. In my untouchable wretchedness, God, and my husband, Bob, gave me my borzoi. The year was 2003. By January 2005, the jewel of the kennel, my most beloved Opal (Raybo Opalesque of Byss) arrived. I never saw, nor have ever seen, such an exquisite creature, Nor had I ever loved anything more than I did her, canine or human. She was the daughter I never had. My great love was reciprocated in kind and then some. But perfect bliss was not to be for I am me, and by 19 months she had passed away from an obscure, rare congenital disease. Breeding is not a straight line. The event took place fourteen and a half years ago but it is like fourteen minutes. I ruminate, I cry, I grieve, I write, I speak of her and of my never failing love and the loss I suffered by losing her. I know it is wrong but I could not help how I felt. Fourteen years of grief wrestled me down and I am drowning. I have almost died of grief related issues by becoming anorexic and having cancer twice in seven years. Opal wasted and so have I. I have longed to be where she is. Life is not livable for me without her. I needed her spirit to keep me going but it is gone, and has been gone a long time now.
However, today presented me with something that perhaps made me see it another way, and perhaps made me realize I was wrong. Opal is the best thing I ever had, and the best thing that ever happened to me. It was put this way by a writer, Elizabeth Ammons, from Lessonslearnedinlife.com. She writes as follows, and it appeared in my Facebook feed on December 2, 2020:
“You can shed tears because they are gone, or you can smile because they lived.
You can close your eyes and pray they will come back, or you can open your eyes and see all that they left for you.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see them, or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday, or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember only that they are gone, or you can cherish their memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind and feel empty, or you can do what they would want.
Smile…. Open your heart…. Love…. And go on.”
These are words I need to read, study and hear. My grief of 14 years diminishes Opal. I should celebrate her. Her memoir, and that of all my borzoi, should bring me joy, not make me wish for my death. Yes, she is gone, as are they, but in time we will be together again as if no time had separated us. I must have more faith in destiny. My ugly childhood is over. My borzoi loved me unconditionally and gave me back my happiness, or perhaps gave me a measure of happiness I never had. I hope my story touches others who grieve and cannot be comforted, or others who know the hell of a childhood devoid of love.
As I moved along last month, in spite of my desire not to, in order to put myself out of my predictable, future misery, I perceived in the far distance a white flag of peace. It could almost have been missed it was so remote and brief. Could it be I see the words in a text message after a month of deafening silence, apologizing and wishing to return to my love? Yes, the very same lover who melted down and disappeared when I needed him and his love and strength the most….. But that was then and this is now….. Could I forgive him, he asked….. I replied there was nothing to forgive, please come back.
It would not be what many would have done, but I cannot be lead around like a cow in a herd. I take the risks, the unwise endeavors, the degrading gestures, show my tears, bear my breasts. It does not matter if it is a borzoi or a lover. Love is love for me. Once I love, it will not end pretty. Love charges me a huge fee but in spite of being willing to pay the price I often lose my investment.
But today, he has returned, transformed as if by magic, to the lover he was before he was seized by his own rage and exited the scene, not even knowing why or where he was going. His journey took him back to me. I love him unconditionally, like my borzoi, and took him back. He is my Adorable One, my Little Rock Star, since we spend so much time watching YouTube videos and he knows so much about 1960s British invasion rock music and the derivative bands it spawned, not to mention his guitar collection. I admit I have an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject myself, although my knowledge of classical music and opera equals it. We focus on our love and watch the music videos and rock documentaries of the musicians, amazing how many there are, and just escape our pain for the laughter hat comes from silly things. Someday, one of us will die first, and will leave the other shattered and heartbroken. Until then, we are blissfully in love. We are happy to share our joy with Kensie, although I know how much we are missing by not having a pair of borzoi to watch over things here. He does not get it though, and I believe it would be, how shall I say, “Too, too much…..”. Fortunately, Kensie does a wonderful job behaving just like a borzoi, and that is a very nice, endearing quality of hers.
For a year that commenced in a very bad way, a year that saw COVID-10 descend upon the Human Race and kill hundreds of thousands of people, well over 220,000 Americans, I can look back on it and see stars against the black background.
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.