Halloween – Colonoscopy (Never a Treat/Always a Trick)

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Full Moon Rising

Hi. It’s so nice to see you again. It’s me, Ollie, James’ Old English Sheepdog. And today is Halloween.

I couldn’t make up my mind how I wanted to go Trick or Treating. My first thought was to go as a Dalmatian after Trek, my first friend, but none of the costumes fit, as they were too small. I then thought an Irish Wolfhound would be cool after seeing pictures James showed me, but all the costumes were too big. So I decided to go as James (even though his shirt was a tad on the large size).

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Ollie as James

I’m so looking forward to the tons of treats I’m going to receive.

Speaking of treats, James had a colonoscopy this past week. How, might you ask, is that a treat? Well, James informed me that before his first colonoscopy, while the nurse was attempting to get an IV in a vein, he fainted. I about bust a gut suppressing my laughter. He went on to tell me that he woke up on his back; splayed across the hospital’s cold, tile floor; with the hospital gown wrapped around his lacerated, bruised neck; butt naked for the whole world to see. Now I’ve seen him naked, so this was when my gut really started hurting from my crushing, silent laughter. He said when he came to the doctor and two nurses were at the door staring down at him, debating whether to go through with the procedure. That’s when James said, “We’re doing this, cause I’m not going through this again.” James is so funny – I love him (he said he loves me too).

On a more somber note – after all it is Halloween – James believes that he had a near death experience that day. He wrote this poem based on that occurrence:

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Near Death Experience Tunnel

I Died That Day

whether the black hands were reaching out for me
or they were trying to push me back
today it's unclear
but in the moment
I could have sworn they were warning me away
          it's not your time
there was the sense of movement
towards a radiance
          was it up or down
in the distance
beyond the murky forms and their hands
while the hands attached to the shadowy forms
were all motioning me to remain
          don't come any closer

was the glow coming closer to me
or was it I
who was floating
approaching

I seemed to have had no feelings
simply an awareness of peace
Nirvana
shredded stress

so I went back
          or did I stay in place
I awoke
my heart having started
having stopped
briefly

I believe I died that day
on the floor of the clinic
as I lay on the cold tiles
naked
except for the hospital gown
twisted around my neck

We hope you like the poem. Oh, and be sure and let me know in the comment section what your favorite Halloween costume is, what you wore this year, and what you think I should go as next year. Or if you have any questions for me (or for James).

Until next week – Trick or Treat,
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Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)

Paw Prints courtesy of www.pawsitivelyloved.com
Photos “Full Moon Rising” & “Ollie as James,” and poem “I Died That Day,” © 2015 James Stack
“Near Death Experience Tunnel” source unknown other than Google Images
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Short Stories – Author Webpage Help Needed

Illustration of “Short Stories” used with permission of Nishant Choksi – www.nishantchoksi.com    

Hello again. It’s me, Ollie, James’ Old English Sheepdog. I can’t believe a week has already gone by. How time flies.
That reminds me, have you ever chased butterflies? It’s one of my favorite pastimes. I’ve never caught one, but losing oneself in the abandonment of the moment is pure joy. Of course, I’m an Old English Sheepdog, so it’s easy for me to disregard all the stimuli that pounds on James’ door each day. He’s told me that he does enjoy abandoning himself in his writing (how well I know since it’s when he forgets about me – bummer – except, as he has reminded me, when he is writing about me).
Speaking of butterflies, this time last month, James was in France, flitting around from place to place, enjoying himself, while I was cooped up in a kennel with my girlfriends. Did I tell you I’m a Daddy, having had fun with (okay, James says I need to stay on topic).
James was researching one of his short stories that will be part of a collection connected in one form or another to Popplewood Farm, his first home in Vermont. This particular story takes place before and during World War II. It’s about a boy, in love with a girl who used to live in the farm. The boy runs away to fight the Nazi’s and lands on Omaha Beach on D-Day. Once James has it edited, and, more critically, published or, alternatively, has a webpage, he’ll let you know where to find it. If anyone out there would care to help James build his webpage, I would be eternally grateful (I won’t have to listen to him complaining about it anymore. Of course, he has to listen to my barking and whining, so I suppose we’re even).
It seems ages since James was last in France, in 2010, long before I was born. While there he wrote two short stories. One primarily takes place on the Île Saint-Louis in Paris where he was staying. The other begins in Marseille and ends on the TGV (France’s high-speed trains) to Paris. Again, if he can only get his website built you’ll be able to find them there. He’s hoping not too much time goes by before he has that in place.
Yes, time flies, but there are no flies in Vermont during the winter. Okay, there are those pesky indoor flies that buzz around the windows during sunny hours and die a thousand deaths each day. But I prefer chasing butterflies. And since I can’t send you to a website where you could find one of James’ short stories, I thought I’d offer up one of James’ poems he wrote about me when I was a little whippersnapper – we hope you like it.

Butterflies
Running with abandon
through the newly mowed
or tall grass
you frolic
dash
jump
at the white
yellow
multi-colored
butterflies
hoping against hope
chasing against chase
Darting left
then right
changing direction
the winged creatures
flit
flirt
flutter
up
down
overhead
At eighteen weeks you relish the joy
in a flash it passes
into the grass or
doubles back over your head
never even aware it’s being dogged
searching for nectar
pursuing a mate
while you hound in vain
or for the fun of the hunt
It’s merely amusing
an exercise for you
for what would you do with success
A moment of pleasure for me
bringing a smile to my face
as I watch you romp
with a spontaneous toy
brought by Mother Nature
during early autumn
Let us know if you have any questions for James (or for me), and if you like the poem. And if anyone wants to help James build his author website with advice or actual input, please let him know in the comment section below.
Until next week – au revoir,
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)
Photo and poem “Butterflies” © 2015 James Stack
Paw Prints courtesy of www.pawsitivelyloved.com

Social Media: Facebook & Twitter = Time Vortex Holes

This past week has been puzzling for James and me (I’m his Old English Sheepdog in case this is the first time you’re reading my – his – blog). In-between taking feeding me and taking me out, James started a personal Facebook page and an author page for his writing. He also started tweeting again, having substantially slowed down over the past couple of years. I have to admit that the week started out pretty rough for both of us.
James never wanted to be on Facebook. People kept telling him he should be on it if for no other reason than to promote his writing. But the other day he looked down at me and said, “Well, this Oct Challenge from Writer’s Digest says it’s a great way to network, as well as making it easy for people in the publishing business to find me. So I think I have to at least give it a try.” And he has, to both our detriments.
He started to spend more time on Facebook than with me, forgetting when to feed me and take me out to play, and laughing and crying at odd times and not telling me why. Even when I put my face in his lap, or on his arm to stop him from scrolling through Facebook, he would simply pat me on the top of my head without even looking at me. And the same happened when he was on Twitter – it was as if nothing else existed.
So I barked, “Get a grip, dude!” Which apparently woke him up out of his social media stupor. He looked me in my china-blue eyes and said, “You’re right. I’ve got to stop this obsession.”
And it came at the right time (I’ve often heard James say, “Timing is everything”). The task from the Oct Challenge on that day was to create a time management plan. James already had his editorial calendar in place. It helps him manage which day he will focus on certain aspects of his writing. But he wasn’t using it as he should have. So he thought he’d use his editorial calendar as his paw-print and create a daily timeline of things he would do, such as out how long he would spend on Twitter and Facebook, and when. It would need to be flexible enough to accommodate the unexpected (like while we’re outside if I were to roll in some wonderfully odoriferous scat that James finds otherwise, and he then thinks I need a bath, which I don’t, but I’m evidently arguing with myself here so I’ll let that be).
As Robert Lee Brewer said (and I paraphrase), writing is not a sprint, but a life-long investment. James was happy he had learned to pace himself when he was competing in triathlons. It was key to finishing the race, and vital to finishing a story/poem/novel/play.
Now he only goes on either site, Facebook or Twitter, twice a day (okay, sometimes he’s sneaking peek, but withdrawal can be painful). His time management plan, in conjunction with his editorial calendar, guides him as to when to post or tweet, and about which broad topics. He no longer lets the social media vortex sweep him into its dark, deep hole. He even has on it time when he’ll take my dictation for this blog (I love that he does this for me).
He told me he isn’t going to follow people on Twitter who aren’t tweeting about his interests. Nor is he going to accept friends on Facebook who are rabid posters about everything that has nothing to do with things he wants to know – like cats (I think cats are funny so I hope he doesn’t stop looking at them altogether). And he is going to make sure he checks people out he doesn’t know who request to be his friend. I simply nodded when he told me this last one (I didn’t say, “I told you so”).
I hope you like my blog. If you do, and if anything I’ve said is helpful, let me know in the comments section below. Also, if there’s anything you’d like to know, you can tell me there as well. I’ll check back, and James will read them to me so I can reply. He’s good that way, and in others, like fetch, and treats, and belly rubs, and that kind of stuff.
Until next week,
Sir Oliver of Skygate Farm (you can call me Ollie)
Photo © 2015 James Stack

Paw Prints courtesy of pawsitivelyloved.com

Foliage

This past week in Vermont was wonderful – sunny and warm during the day and chilly and clear at night. Then yesterday it rained – but we needed it, so it was okay.
James and I went out for a long walk in the rain. Actually, I did tons of running and James did the walking. We were soaked when we got back. My red leather collar colored my neck a pinkish color, and James said, “Look at what I’ve done – raised a redneck. My South Carolina upbringing is coming through on you.”
Speaking of rain, James is reading a book by Cynthia Barnett entitled Rain: A Natural and Cultural History that he says is fascinating. He reads portions of it to me from time-to-time. You might like reading it, even if you live in South or North Carolina as it might help explain all the rain you received this past week.
Outside many autumn leaves are on the ground, and yesterday in the rain James said, “It looks like huge colorful raindrops have fallen from the sky.”
James wrote a poem, “Seasons of Vermont,” that has a part on autumn. I thought I’d share it with you (James gave me permission, but told me I had to say it was included in his collection of poetry: Pleasures& Seasons of Vermont).
IX.     Foliage
Boreas forces October home on cold, wet, gray clouds
portending an untimely arrival. Temperatures plummet, skies
crystalline, the smell of organic compost permeates the air.
Changing from pleasant emerald to hearty bullion – even fiery
ginger – some when wet glimmer violet, vivid leaves flutter in
spiraling sails like dancing emblems, as trees sway in rhythm.
Onerous tempests split spindles, supplying cuttings for vases.
Tubers are rescued, vegetation wilts below skeletal, straw
maize rustling in the bluster. Hoary nights, bleak days present
a constant challenge. Indian summer teases, creating a forged
optimism that the final fretful icy covering may never appear.
Yet come it must, turning life giving foliage into mush.
Rush, reap pumpkins, melons; cut sage, thyme, parsley, basil
and hang to dry; transport ruddy rosemary indoors.
Once discarded our vivacious maple, fir, ash, beech logos dot
the ground like confetti – rustle, crackle, dazzle under foot.
Tourists are enchanted even when wicked gales capture the
vistas, stealing our auburn, burgundy and carroty charms.
Hummers depart leaving other migrants to pluck hanging
sunflower husks. Their songs denote storing window boxes;
pruning fruit trees; cleaning and covering stalwart perennials.
We buttress against a cold onslaught, Persephone’s absence.
Sunrise sees rust and umber trees secreting a wine-colored hue,
an autumn bouquet, undercurrents of spring growth. Aerated
vines rotate into thick blood like exposed cells of naked limbs.
Ah, pumpkins pop in strategic places to ward off evil.
Midas touched Tamarack needles drop, decorating hillsides
for a last dab of color. Relics remaining at tops of oaks and
aspens shimmer, sound a light twinkling, travel like strands
of reddish-brown and fair-haired fog across forest tops.
October’s closing days are loaded with hibernacula activity.
Inhale night air of sugary smoldering wood. Lashing squalls
put a period on the month, hammering rain and corpulent snow
distributing needed moisture for the interminable winter.
© 2013 James Stack 
We hope you and yours are having wonderful autumn. Today is sunny and gorgeous.

BTW – if you liked “Foliage” you can read more of James’ poems by clicking this link: Pleasures& Seasons of Vermont

Introduction

Welcome to my blog. I’m an Old English Sheepdog, aged 16 months on 26-Sept – yeah, I was born on 26-May 2014 in Youngstown, Ohio. But this blog isn’t about me. It’s about James Stack, the man who I live with and love dearly. So, let me begin by telling you a little something about James.

James is a writer, and spends a great deal of time in his study at his laptop. I spend a great deal of time under his desk resting my chin on his feet. But again, this isn’t about me, but about James. So, back to James. He used to work for a bank, and before that on Madison Avenue in advertising, and before that on Park Avenue in a law firm, and before that he was in Boston and before that in Spartanburg, South Carolina (he told me to put in the state as most people know where Boston is but don’t know where Spartanburg is), and was born in the mid-west.

He wants me to let you know that he has self-published two books: World’s Fair, a memoir, and Pleasures & Seasons of Vermont, a collection of poems (the poetry book makes a fantastic gift). They are both available on Amazon.com. I read them and loved both of them. World’s Fair was reviewed by US Books & Review and can be found at http://www.theusreview.com/reviews/Worlds-Stack.html#.VhAjN9YXzHh (you’ll have to copy and paste the web address).

James takes me out to play after he feeds me my breakfast, and again after he’s eaten his lunch, and then after I’ve eaten my supper. I like to go outside and run. Oh, yeah, this is not about me, but about James, so here we go again. What was that? Oh, he wants me to tell you that he has guests visiting (I love it when people come over. These people are Baron and Sue from North Carolina, which James tells me is next to South Carolina. They are so nice, and Sue gave me a strawberry today – I’d never had a strawberry – it was delicious!) so he needs to go back to visiting with them.

Okay, he’s gone now so I can tell you how much I love James. He’s so good to me. Oh, he’s coming back. How do I erase this? Oh, no, I’m caught. But he says I’m not in trouble because he loves me too. We both have to go now. Look for our next post real soon. Ciao!!!