Broken Pieces

Even broken shells are beautiful. Shellbelle's Tiki Hut: Driftshell Hearts:

One of my favorite things to do in Florida is walk the beaches searching for shells. I never realized shells have specific names- like turretella, yellow land snail, florida welk, scallops, telescopium, angel wings or concus aulicus- to name a few. I simply call them clam shells, conchs, spiral shells, and pretty ones. Once I found a sand dollar and a starfish. Friends enjoy showing me the shells they found.

Of all the shells I find, the ones I treasure most are the broken ones. I find more fragments of shells than perfect, whole shells. I collect the fragments of shells to add to shell crafts because I think they are still beautiful.

The broken shells remind me of me- broken and imperfect. So many times I catch myself saying exactly what I did not want to say. I wish I had the opportunity to relive moments and do them better a second time around. Why did I become impatient? Why did I give someone the impression I had no time for them? Why did I need to feel superior to someone else? Regretting moments is an ongoing battle. New Year’s Eve is approaching. I want to be better. I want those around me know how much I appreciate them, how kind and helpful they are to me and how they make my life better just being in it. I want to choose words that let them know they are valuable and worthwhile.

Sometimes the broken shells remind me of people I love. It seems easier to accept imperfection in myself than those around me. I want them to know I see the beauty in them, the value in them. This New Year’s I want to be patient and kind. I want to believe the best in all around me and never notice if anyone does wrong to me. I want them to know they are special to me- every moment, every day. I want to be there to share their struggles as well as their celebrations.

A thanks- to those who have seen me at my best and at my worst and cannot tell the difference because they love me so much. I want to love everyone else the same.

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Baby Gorillas

Image result for images of gorilla baby

During my last year in veterinary school I chose rotations that allowed me to ride with the zoo veterinarian. The Columbus, Ohio zoo had 2 baby twin gorillas. We were taught that it was not advisable to touch the gorillas due to the possibility of disease transmission, but the temptation was more than I could bear.

One day I stood outside the twin gorillas pen and watched as they delighted in swinging around the tree branches and patting their chests. They would stop and look at me to make sure I was still watching them- and I was. They played for a while, then one of them came to the front of the cage and put his arm through the bars stretching as much as he could trying to reach his little hand my way. Priceless. I wanted to reach out and grab that little hand. I did not see cameras, but am certain they were around that enclosure. I imagined bells and whistles going off if I dared touch that little guy. I did not touch him or his twin, but I wanted to.

On another trip to the zoo, I learned the zoo employees wanted to repair a broken structure in the outdoor exhibit of the gorillas. The females were inside, but the males refused to come in. When the zoo veterinarian and the few students with him (I was one of them) stepped out of the truck, the male gorillas began running full speed into the indoor enclosure. We laughed stating, “Doc, it looks like they know you.” He had his tranquilizer gun in hand and, indeed, they did know him- even from the distance we were away from them.

I was told that when the veterinarian shoots the tranquilizer into the gorilla, they must be very careful because the gorilla is able to pick the syringe off their body. They throw it back at the veterinarian. This can be dangerous because the medications used to tranquilize the gorilla are very powerful and can cause harm and even death to a human. We found it amusing they were intelligent enough to do this. Then, as we were told the gorillas throw the darts back at the veterinarian, we were told they hand the syringe to their caregivers. “Awe,” we said, we wished we were their caregivers instead of their veterinarians.

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In Search of Christmas

Nativity scene Seaglass nativity picture by Suzziesbitsandbobs:

I love Christmas. I decorate trees, find a special new ornament each year, set out my nativities- a collection I am proud of, and send Christmas cards to family and friends. I decorate the outside of the house and bushes and scan magazines and library books for Christmas crafts. I spend hours in front of the television watching holiday movies and look forward to family time as well as time with friends. I enjoy finding the perfect gifts for everyone. My radio station plays non-stop Christmas music – a treat I look forward to each year. In short, I love it all. I am one of those who wishes it could be Christmas 365 days a year!

My friends and family do a cookie swap each year. I am always assigned the oatmeal cookies because everyone is aware of my baking limitations. I enjoy the great meals with pumpkin and apple pies. We attend church on Christmas eve and include others to share our holiday who may not have family to spend time with.

But when I think about Christmas, I realize the reason I love Christmas so much is because of the real meaning of the season. It is the time I get to thank God for sending His very best. My search for Christmas does not take me to a palace with plush royalty and all the comforts of wealth. My search takes me to a much different and unusual place. In find Christmas in a manger-  where my Savior was a Baby born to a peasant girl who believed the angel of God who told her she would be the mother of Jesus and not to be afraid. There was no room in the inn, so I find Him in that stable one quiet, holy night thousands of years ago. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and visited by a few shepherds. Wise men traveled far to see Him.

I have found Christmas. I have made the choice to be one of the wise people that still seek Jesus. I know the reason for the season. He is my King and the Baby born to live and die for all to live. Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth, peace and good will toward men.

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Henny Penny and Cock a Doodle

Chicken Breed Focus - Japanese Bantam:

I wanted fresh eggs every morning. Obviously, the only way to have this is to have a chicken. But where to get a chicken?

One of my favorite clients knew where to get chickens. He hatched eggs and seemed to know everything you could imagine about chickens, ducks, geese, and many other birds. I shared my problem with him and, since he was going to an auction where chickens were sold, he offered to buy a chicken for me.

When he brought me my chicken, he brought what he called 6 chickens and one rooster. He said a rooster among the chickens helps the egg laying process. What did I know? As an unexpected surprise, he thought I would like a little Bantam hen and rooster. They were tiny and cute. I took them and instantly fell in love. I named her Henny Penny after children’s stories I read, and him Cock A Doodle-for obvious reasons.

Having cats that were bigger than the Bantams presented a problem. The cats treated the Bantams like toys. When attacked by the cats, they ran and flew to me. Sometimes they flew on the backs of the horses. Surprisingly, the horses did not mind them on their backs. I scooped them up and held them safely from the cats. It was obvious these two little ones were someone’s pets and hand raised.

One day we could not find Cock A Doodle. We thought the worst happened. I left for work sad to say good – bye to him. Later that evening, my friend called to tell me he was working in the vegetable garden and suddenly he heard a cock a doodle doo and turned to see that little rooster strutting his way. He was fine and had been hiding from the cats.

There’s amazing math involved in chicken procreation. These two little birds had many little Henny’s and little Doodle’s. Eventually I had 30 chickens and roosters.

Also, the six chickens and one rooster I was supposed to have received turned out to be six roosters and one chicken. She did lay wonderful and delicious eggs, but the boys did not stay, they fight. So much for someone knowing the difference between chickens and roosters at that young age. It can be challenging.


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New Contest for Writers

Invite all your friends- $50.00 cash or gift card for the winning story about your favorite holiday memory. Contest if for 200-800 words. Deadline is December 20, 2016. Submit all stories to The winning one will be posted on Facebook.


Cocker Spaniel Puppy Pictures From Our 2004 Litter:

I found my Cocker Spainiel pup, Harvey, in Amish country. Unfortunately, he was never vaccinated. I am usually careful to avoid exposing young pups to older dogs or dogs that are not well until the pup is older and vaccinated, however, it was a busy time in my life. When Harvey came to work with me at a local veterinary clinic, he became ill with parvo virus.

I first learned of the devastating disease of parvo in dogs in the early 80’s when the virus was first identified. Vaccines were quickly created and decreased the incidence of the disease as well as decreased the loss of pets.
Parvo is a virus that infects the cells in the intestinal tract of a dog. This causes severe diarrhea with blood, vomiting, and loss of appetite. The intestinal damage is devastating in itself, however, parvo is a virus that attacks and lowers the white blood cells in a dog’s body. Since white blood cells are the cells that help fight infection, dogs with parvo are at risk for serious infections- such as pneumonia or sepsis (infection in the blood). These infections are the usual reason pets infected with parvo virus are lost. Parvo virus may also attack a young pup’s heart. When this happens, there is no treatment for the injury to the heart.
Harvey became sick. I was worried. He not only had diarrhea, his pooh was pure blood. I started his therapy- IV’s and antibiotics as well as medication to stop the vomiting- which is not usually effective. Harvey battled parvo for 8 days. He had an IV in one front leg for 4 days and then the other leg for the next 4 days. He held his little leg out and let the fluids go into his body. I watched him day and night. I placed an IV pole by my bed, placed plastic on the bed to prevent soiling, and shined my flashlight at the fluid bag to make certain the IV’s dripped all night. For days, Harvey sat on the side of the bed heaving and vomiting.
He was sick so long I did not think he would survive, but after 8 days, he stopped vomiting, his stool improved, and he began eating. There were no obvious indications of damage to his intestines or heart after he recovered. He played and enjoyed a normal life. He beat the odds.
I have treated many pets for parvo virus infection. Some are happy endings like Harvey and some endings are heartbreaking for owners. I always advise owners Ito vaccinate all pups. Even with controversy over vaccines, it is the best way to prevent this major disease in dogs.
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The Most Beautiful of All

Gregory Sweeney - Cute Baby Manatee

When I first came to Florida, everything was new and exciting fabulous. After years of being here it is all still exciting and fabulous.

There are scary things like poisonous snakes- coral snakes, rattlesnakes, and others – along with alligators and bears, but there are also sweet little critters. During one visit to a local spring and walking on a boardwalk, mom and I spotted an Armadillo rooting around in the leaves. As he made his way towards us, he looked up at everyone looking down at him, seemed to wonder what we all were looking at, then nonchalantly proceeded to continue his quest to find bugs and other meal items in the ground and surrounding foliage. I thought he was darling. He was not as enamored with us and we were with him.

Turtles are another of my favorites of the day. I have watched gopher turtles come in and out of their holes as well as rescued babies off streets. I also love painted turtles sunning themselves on logs and rocks. Once I rescued an alligator snapper from the dangers of the road. He was quite quick at snapping my shoe when it was close to his mouth. I was wise enough to keep my fingers away. While kayaking in a spring run near Gainesville, I spotted a baby turtle- he was about the size of a silver dollar. Cutest little guy. I wanted a picture, so I pulled my kayak close- he darted under water because he had no idea I am the nicest person and would never dream of hurting him. He periodically surfaced to see if I was still close. When he saw me, he immediately withdrew back under the water. Even with constant assurances from me, he refused to allow me to take a photo. Sea turtles hatching and running to the ocean are also my favorites. I guess I have many favorites.

We see eagles everywhere. One day I saw one land on Daytona Beach. Others suggested I had seen an Osprey. I was certain it was an eagle. The all white head and feathers on his legs that looked like trousers and a stance that is unique to the eagle- like he means business- are all clues I had spotted an eagle. Gorgeous is a word for these creatures. One bird rescue in a town around Orlando has eagles as well. One of their eagles was found as an orphan who was 1 day old when found out of the nest. They raised him and cannot turn him safely to the wild, so they care for him. We have the wonderful opportunity to visit this beautiful guy.

Pelicans arrive each day at the ocean to fish for breakfast. They glide in the sky and over the waves. When they spot an enticing meal, they dive directly into the water. I could watch them all day. When visiting the Florida Keys, we stay at a campground that has pelicans close. They wait for us and other campers to bring our fish for cleaning in hopes for an easy meal.

But my all time favorites are the manatees. I visited Florida for years trying to get a look at one in person. Finally, I have seen them up close and personal. In fact, one morning mom and I walked over to the  spring near our home- the fountain of youth, as Ponce DeLeon described the springs in Florida. While standing on the boat dock,  a family of manatees came close- a male, female, and baby. What a unbelievable treat. Right in front of us- a reach out and touch moment. The gentle sea cows are social and beautiful. I understand it is a federal offense to touch them, but some things can be very difficult to resist. These are memories for a lifetime.

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Tammy from Miami

Another Miniature horse, don't know why but these little guys just put a smile on my face:):

Tammy’s Sable was a birthday gift. She was a Standardbred horse born for racing. I guess most would consider this an odd sort of gift, but to me, it was the best gift ever. She only cost $550.00 because she was tiny, though- not as tiny as the little one above- but tiny.  Everyone ridiculed me for wanting her. I didn’t care.

I loved her like she was a big and talented racing horse. The funny thing was, she moved like the wind and she had a heart as big as a big horse. Her small size made my partner comfortable. I was new to training harness racing horses. As a matter of fact, I really didn’t know how. One day I was at a continuing education meeting for my veterinary license. The speaker was a whale trainer from Sea World. I find most seminars boring, but I will never forget this one.

The trainer – who trained whales to jump out of the water with him standing or sitting on their noses- mentioned training racing horses and what to do while training them. I decided that if he knew how to make whales do what he made them do, I would do what he advised about training racing horses. I did and it worked. Tammy was my guinea pig- so to speak.

She raced so well other horsemen wanted to buy her from me. They would tell me how they watched her jut her head forward, flap her lower lip, and pace away. I enjoyed watching my horse, but it was pretty nice to know others did as well. She was so small our driver told us he had difficulty keeping her from sneaking under the arms of the start car before the start car passed over the start line to let all the horses go. She won at the racetrack and at county fairs. She raced for 5 years.

The announcer would make comments like, ‘Here comes little Tammy Sable with her legs just a churning,’ and ‘Watch out, there racing Shetland ponies out there tonight,’ and ‘Here comes Tammy Sable to the winner’s circle- making her driver look ten feet tall’ because he was a shorter man. I never met that announcer, but I wanted to tell him that was MY horse he was talking about that way. I know he was just having fun and so was Tammy.

One race I told her driver to not let her get locked in- she needed to be out on the outside of the pack of horses or she would be trying so hard to race she would hurt herself. No one believed me until they drove her. She won a race in Delaware, Ohio leaving the gate first and came across the finish line first- I was so excited, you would have thought we won the Little Brown Jug- the race like the Kentucky Derby for harness horses.

One particular night another horseman bragged all day his horse could not be beat that night. We were in his race.  A groom walked by me and Tammy in the race stall and I heard him loudly say, “DID YOU SEE HOW LITTLE THE FOUR HORSE IS?” We were the 4 horse. I covered Tammy’s ears and told her she was going to have to ignore all those guys and beat them all tonight just to show them all she was not just the littlest horse in the field tonight- she was the best. When she raced, she was so small we couldn’t see her behind the other horses, but when she made her way around the last turn, we saw her little nose out in front and those little legs were a churning and her lower lip was flapping and she pulled away from all the boys and all the big horses as she led the pack down the last stretch and she was first over the finish line that night. Everyone saw how little the 4 horse was that night.

She was my Tammy from Miami- this was my little pet name for her when we exercised. I think of all the fun we had and how she was just my little tiny birthday gift.

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The Day Things Went Wrong

Could be one of our little girls (1962-63) on our John Deere or Oliver tractor. Good thoughts.:

Having a thirty acre farm can be quite challenging at times. With horses, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, and a goat, organization is a must.

One chore I actually enjoy is grass/field cutting. However, being ‘just a girl,’ tractor maintenance has never been on the list of one of my many talents. Once I neglected to put gear oil in the gear box of my brush hog mower and, needless to say, it locked up and has never mowed again. Another time, a friend came to check on me. He noticed I had not added water or antifreeze to the radiator. Very bad. I managed to add these prior to ruining the engine of my tractor.

I did, however, learn to change the oil in the tractor. Anyone who knows me knows this is quite an accomplishment. I was proud of myself for this even if no one felt compelled to reinforce my outstanding talents in tractor maintenance – I guess something everyone else took for granted.

One day, after changing the oil, I began mowing grass. All of the sudden, the tractor just stopped. I knew I had gas because I had just filled the tank. As I looked around the tractor parts, I noticed the bolt holding the oil in its compartment was gone and all the oil drained from my tractor engine. I saw oil dripping on the tractor and in a line along the grass I had just mowed. I searched the grass everywhere the tractor had just passed over and never found that bolt.

My neighbors always knew how to help me when I was in a jam. They are veteran farmers and told me to contact a tractor supply company about 20 minutes from my farm. I did, they had the bolt, and I started to the store – me and my ‘everything always goes wrong for me’ bad attitude.

While waiting for the salesman to finish with his other customers, another farmer came into the store. He struck up conversation and asked what happened. When I shared my story, he apparently picked up on my grumpy attitude. In a wonderfully casual and direct way, he said, ‘You know, anytime you do anything, something is bound to go wrong- unless you just sit at home in a chair. But even then, you could fall off the chair. ‘

Immediately I was reformed. My bad attitude melted away as I realized I was not the only one challenging events happened to and just like everyone else, I could deal with things that did not go perfectly. I could fix things and get on with my chores. I thanked him for taking time to help me see my unfortunate events a little differently. I often think of that day, especially when things don’t go as easily as I had planned, and I remember the only way nothing is going to go wrong is if I sit at home in a chair- and I laugh as I think I could even fall off the chair.

The salesman sold me the bolt, I purchased oil, arrived back home, replaced the bold, put the oil in the tractor- luckily it started – and mowed the rest of my fields. Good day after all.

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The Season for Giving Thanks

30 things to be thankful for in November:

I graduated from High School when I was 16 years old. I started teaching nursery school children during the day at my church and attending night school at the community college two streets from my home. I was a biology major. I had no actual plan, but I had a dream. I wanted to be a doctor.

My first college class was general biology. Everyone in class worked during the day like I did. They had plans too.  I was naturally shy, but because everyone seemed to understand me and my dreams, we all became friends. One man in particular and I talked about our plans. Decisions became confusing during that first year. Since I started night classes, I decided to pursue a career as an ambulance driver. I told my friend about this and how my friends and family wanted me to study nursing, but I still wanted to be a doctor. He said, “Don’t stop at being an ambulance driver, and don’t stop at being  a nurse, go all the way to being a doctor. You can do it.’ His words encouraged me for all the years I studied. I am thankful.

My family left Ohio and my Grandfather allowed me to live with him. He was patient and kind and allowed me the freedom to attend my college classes and work when I was able. He took care of me and protected me for many years. I was able to attend nursing school at a large hospital near our home. After graduating from nursing school, I began pursuing a career in veterinary medicine. It was because of his care I was able to do so.

My Grandfather was an immigrant and only had an eighth grade education, but he was the smartest man I have ever known. He supported all my educational endeavors. After attending graduation from veterinary school, he told me how proud he was of me. He told me it took a lot of courage to do what I did, but it was only possible because of him. I think it took a lot of courage for his family to come to this country and for him to roll steel every day for many years and raise a family and take care of the people he loved. I am thankful beyond any words to express how much to this man who taught me everything about courage and doing the right thing and always taking care of family.

Over the past years, my Father and Mother have helped me in many ways. They gave me a home in a foreign state, helped me find gainful employment, pay off all my bills, and have the courage to find a new life enjoying the ocean, rivers, manatees, pelicans, sea turtles, and many more things. I am truly grateful.

Friends and family always make a difference.

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