Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dear Grandpa - Update on Nick

He's still in the hospital at Twin Cities Community in Templeton, CA. He's hoping to get out by Friday. They're giving him "platelets" and he's feeling a bit better. He was enjoying his dinner when I called tonight. Sharon and he were both having rice and some kind of orange pork. Sharon got some cobbler but Nick didn't. The hospital people are watching him carefully.

Twin Cities Community Hospital
Ph: 805-434-3500



PS - Sorry to barge in on Mary-Margaret's blog but this is the only way I can communicate effectively with my Dad who doesn't do email or hear very well. MD

To Grandpa from Mom

Dear Grandpa - Sharon called back about 9:45PM last night. Nick had an adverse reaction to one or more of his meds from his chemotherapy treatments. He was in terrible pain and his white cell count "was down to two" according to Sharon. He's been on morphine - higher dose than he's used to - since he was admitted on Saturday. He's at Twin Cities hospital in Templeton in an isolation room due to his extremely low immune system's inability to counteract any infection.

Sharon has been staying at the hospital 24-7 with him. She doesn't know when he'll be released.

You now know as much as I do. You should have Sharon's cell phone number but if not, call me for it.



Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Truth" - Sunday, July 24, 2011

(Another installment in the Yorkie Brigade Chapel series)

Welcome to Chapel this BEE-YOO-TI-FULL Sunday. It's so nice to see you all again. Today we'll be talking about "Truth".

Sir Winston Churchill once said “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened “.

Two pups are discussing their view of the Grand Canyon. The first pup describes it as the biggest hole he’s ever seen and he hopes he doesn’t get blamed for it. The second pup describes it as a river surrounded by sheer rock walls all around, as high up as he can see. Both are describing the exact same scene but one is at the top of the canyon and the other is at the bottom. Both are telling the truth from their own point of view.

Last week, Mom saw me hunched over something and heard me barking like crazy. The something (actually a rat)ran over to the fence and I followed it. When we both reached the corner of the yard, the rat died and Mom assumed I killed it. Not wanting to burst her bubble I played along. That was her truth, and no harm was done. My truth, though, was that I had an encounter with a sick rat and I was comforting him. Everett, our exterminator, tends to side with me.

Seriously, folks, rats are nocturnal and this was in broad daylight. I still have the original squeakies in my baby toys. I’m just not a murderer. I barked for Mom to come fix him but she didn’t understand. I tried to help and I failed, so I prayed with him. I guess you could say I was giving him “last rites”?

The truth depends on perspective. One believes a truth based only on the information they have in their possession, but an entire truth consists of a kaleidoscope of facts, some requiring research and deep thought to understand.

“Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.”, said Benjamin Franklin. The vision of me sitting over a dead rat was only half the story. As Galileo said almost 400 years earlier, “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”.

Once the pieces of a story come together, the truth became apparent and is evidenced and proven by hard facts instead of by assumptions. “A lie told often enough becomes the truth”, as Lenin once said. Let us all be more like Diogenes of Sinope, one of the Cynic Philosphers (412BC to 323BC) and search to discover honesty and truth in it’s purest form.

Please turn to your neighbors and wag your tails (or fluff your feathers) as a sign ofpeace. Again, I am asking for volunteer speakers for upcoming Sundays. We want to hear from all of you about your history, your family, your lives and your loves. Email me privately if you are shy. I look forward to talking with you.

The Ladies of the Leather Collar have been experimenting with freeze dried salmon treats. Please stop by their table on your way out and let them know what you think.


Mary-Margaret O'Brien
Chaplain - Yorkie Brigade
"A dog has so many friends because he wags his tail and not his tongue!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Trophy is Missing!

Wow! Talk about depressing. We got home and Everett still hadn't called. Mom hooked me up to my leash (drat-double drat) and I dove out the doggie door without thinking about it. Ooops! We have a slight problem. Mom reels me back in like a trout on a line, and we start over again by opening the big door so we can BOTH go out at the same time.

My first stop was the grass and....oh, the joy of it! Sheer relief. I hadn't gone since about 8:30AM this morning. On top of that, I had a case of the ...er...squirts. That took a while to clean out so Mom patiently looked over the yard while I was taking care of my business. Nope! No rat. Everett must have come by and forgotten to call.

We walked over to the corner where we last saw the rat and it was most definitely gone. Not a hair...not a flea...Nothing!! Poof! Darn that Everett. I am totally depressed. I just lay on the patio gazing over my hunting ground and sighed.

After supper we get all relaxed and Mom puts on her nightgown around 7:30PM. Then the phone rings and it's Everett saying, "OK! I'm on my way over!".

"Very funny!", says Mom. "You've already been here!". He says he hasn't because he got called on an emergency in DeLuz, which is way up back in the hills and there's no cell signal there. "But the rat's gone!", she says.

Everett laughs and explains all about nature to her in 25 words or less, suggesting that maybe one of the feral cats from the hillside, or an owl or a bird or a squirrel or a possum or a.....(you get my drift, right?)...came and took care of the problem.
I guess I can't get mad at Mom for my trophy disappearing, or at Everett. But DARN those hill dwellers. DARN DARN DARN!! I am bummed.

We are getting sprayed tomorrow. The lawn, the garden (such that it is), and around the house. No more Mr. Spidey sneaking up on Mom or hiding behind our toilet. And then Everett will do some web removal. This makes me happy!

Love and kisses...


PS - I also got my teeth brushed pretty good last night. I'm allowed to kiss my Mom again. :o)

Rat Update!

First off, Mom called an exterminator but we got his voice mail. Then Mom called Riverside County Vector Control. They're the company that used to come out and place bait traps for rats in the old days. Mom was hoping that they'd remove the body and check for diseases, too. No such luck.

"We don't do rats!", was their response. Asked "Well, then, what DO you do?". She got put on hold and transferred to another person. That man person responded by confirming that they "don't do rats!". Instead, they "Comb through the fur of live squirrels looking for fleas, check the blood of the fleas for disease, and release the squirrels back into the wild!".

Last I heard her, she was grumbling something about "spending our tax dollars on the care and grooming of wild squirrels". Hmmmm...I wonder if they get pedicures, too??

Ah...! We just got a call back from the Everett of Rancho Pest Control. He said he remembered us and he'd go take care of the disposal of the body. I suppose taxidermy is out of the question? No Mounted Meese heads on my doggy house wall?



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

First Blood - The Mighty Hunter

The back yard is getting more and more interesting every day. As I'm piddling around my plum tree I notice I'm not alone. "Hello?", I say. "Have we met?". Oh..apparently not, because I'm given a quick glance and then ignored. Someone is munching on MY plums without MY permission.

"Hello?", I say again. "Do you know that you're in MY yard?". Still nothing. So I launch into attack mode. I get the critter between my paws and I study it. It starts to run so I immediately go into "bark mode".

Mom comes to the back door and says, curiously, "What ARE you doing?". I'm busy so I ignore her. And then she sees a critter scampering toward the fence, with me in hot pursuit. I charge and then pull back...then charge again. By the time me and the strange critter get to the corner where the two fences meet, my mom is yelling her fool head off screaming "NONONONONONO...MARY-MARGARET! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Yuck...BAD!!". I'm still ignoring her, and by the time she gets her shoes on her feet my quarry is finished. I am declared the winner.

(Double click the picture to enlarge and see what I bagged on safari!)

Here comes my mom, camera and all, still not quite getting it. "ARRRRGGGH!!", she squeals. "A RAT!". Then comes a stream of NONONONO's and BLEGHs and YUCKS!! She takes the picture and then I get scooped up. There's some pink on my tummy and she checks me out. It's plum pulp and maybe a bit of juice. I'm sticky but fine.

Back in the house she tries to tempt me with my dinner but having tasted rat I'm not into chicken tonight. I go to the back door and squeak to go out. "In your DREAMS!", Mom says. "Not until the neighborhood cats take care of that RAT!!". Then she says (to no one in particular), "Tomorrow, I'm calling the exterminator!"

So far I haven't heard one "Thank you!" or "Nice job, Mary-Margaret!". Not one.




PS - I don't think I'm getting kissed on the mouth tonight, either!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17, 2011 - "Be Careful What You Wish For"

Good Sabbath to you all, and welcome to Chapel this beautiful Sunday.

Today, I yield the floor to my mom. She got sidetracked today and totally forgot about my needing her services until almost 10:30PM our time. By then I was totally wiped out and I told her that SHE could be the guest speaker. I hope you don't mind, but honestly I think maybe this will teach her a lesson.

We were watching a movie on TV today and one of the moments that stuck with us was when someone said "People make plans and God laughs!". Turns out this is an old Jewish proverb. No matter how carefully we plan our lives or how fervently we wish for an event to occur that will (we think) change our lives forever, God knows exactly what is in store for us and he smiles. Personally, I think anyone that could make a duck billed platypus and keep a straight face has GOT to have a great sense of humor. But I digress....!

My mom is an Investigator. She used to actually have time to play Bunko with the girls once a month many years ago. One of the ladies in her Bunko group was going to be turning 30 years old in about six months. Several times she mentioned how she'd like to find her biological Dad before her birthday and she asked if Mom could help. All she she'd been told about him was that he was a Navy SEAL who had a one night stand with her mom, a dance teacher, the night before he was shipped off to Viet Nam during the war, and he never knew her mom was pregnant. Her mom knew him only by his nickname and his last name, but she had no idea where he was from nor anything about his family, or if he even had one.

Mom's Bunko buddy was a happily married, stay at home mom, with three kids, but this was her everly most heartfelt wish. Mom caved and said she'd see what she could do. After hunting high and low, she found that Spanky (name changed for privacy purposes) received a traffic ticket in Ventura County, CA several years earlier, and from there she got an address, then a SS#. She also found out he was driving a RV and had mailing addresses were that were campgrounds. At the last one she found the manager said Spanky was planning on driving up the 395. She called campgrounds going up the 395 and hit the jackpot. The heartwarming part is that this man had no idea he'd fathered a child, and the only other child he had and would ever have, had been recently killed in a car accident. He was absolutely stunned and delighted. He cried, his daughter cried and they both had a happy reunion!!

Not all stories maintain their happy ending, though. This particular "find" gave everyone chills when the daughter reunited with her birth father. She never thought it could happen based on the fragments of information her mother could provide. She had only hoped that maybe she could at least meet him by the time she turned 30, a few months away from her giving Mom the assignment. She and her father were both initially ecstatic.

They traveled back and forth several times hoping to establish some sort of bond. Spanky met his three grandchildren and it seemed like a miracle had taken place. Coincidentally, the husband of our client and Spanky had identical leopard tattoos on their forearms (same arm, too), smoked the same brand of cigarettes and drank the same kind of beer. Almost seems like heaven stepped in, doesn't it?

But a year or so after the initial reunion, the father and his newest wife went back to their vagabond ways. Although the lines of communication had been opened, they gradually fizzled out. The daughter, having had "closure", began to see that she wasn't "discarded" and "valueless". Her self esteem blossomed. She ended up taking a full time job, leaving her husband and three children, and taking off with a business man who was exactly the opposite from her father and husband. We lost all contact with her after that.

This definitely gives credence to the old saying "Be careful what you wish for!" She had what most would say was an ideal life, a happy marriage and three beautiful children. Within a year of her wish coming true, she lost it all and began a new life. Was this God's plan all along? Did Mom and the Bunko Buddy meet because it was destined to happen? Did the father find peace and closure knowing that he had a child that would carry on his bloodline? Did the end truly justify the path to get there? How many lives were shattered or redirected because of one innocent little wish coming true.

There's another saying we like and that's "Let Go, and Let God!". Have faith that your destiny is a given and you will be given choices to make as part of the journey toward the end. How you will be remembered will depend on the choices you made and the trust you placed in God. You can fight and argue and deny that which God has placed before you but ultimately you must trust in the Lord to show you the way.

Mom's mother-in-law (rest her soul), when confronted with a situation, would say "Is it my will or Thy will?". When the answer came to her, she knew what path she had to follow, and she did so in peace and confidence.

Thank you so much for letting my mom share. I edited a bit as she tends to ramble, but I think we got a pretty good inspirational message out there, don't you?

Before we go today, please take a moment to thank God for your friends, your family and the others in your life that provide you with love, comfort, and unconditional acceptance. Think about how you are all intertwined in your existence, and how grateful you are to have each other. Then, turn to your neighbors and wag your tails or fluff your feathers as a sign of peace.

We have a new member today. Her name is Amber from Hesperia. Please join me in welcoming Amber and her mother, Cynthia, to our Chapel. I hope we can talk Amber into telling us something about her life in the near future.

The Ladies of the Leather Collar have been experimenting with freeze dried beef and chicken treats. We've already had some of the liver variety and they are simply FABULOUS, and to die for.

Go in peace and let the Ladies know your thoughts on their new recipe before you leave. We are fortunate to have such creative ladies to provide refreshments while teaching the little ones some indispensable baking skills.

Blessings to you all... See you next Sunday

Mary-Margaret O'Brien
Lt. Chaplain - Yorkie Brigade Chapel
"Yorkie prayers are Angel's wishes!"
"Pups for PPL"
"A dog has lots of friends because he wags his tail and not his tongue." Anonymous

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10, 2011 - "Discouragement"

(Another installment in the series - "Yorkie Brigade Chapel")

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Chapel this 10th day of July 2011.

It's hard to believe we've been holding services for almost five months now, and our parish is growing. I'm sure you all remember the "pup tent" we started in, when we borrowed someone's water bowl for a Baptismal font. And here we are, all comfy cozy, in our permanent digs constructed with the vision and imagination of us all.

We have a couple of gardens, a parking lot, a church bus, a bright purple and yellow fire hydrant (thanks to our Kindergarten pups) out by the curb, and several active social groups in addition to our regular Thursday night bingo and potluck in the social hall. The Ladies of the Leather Collar and the Fachsie Dachsie Brownie Troop #411 have been working their little fingerettes to the bone to provide yummy goodies for you all after services. I sometimes shake my head and wonder what we will achieve in the next five months.

We have a special guest speaker today - Miss Buffie, who is Gizzie's two year old 2 pound 'sissie'. She is a very big help to her mom, Merry, especially when Merry is in pain and needing some comfort. Miss Buffie has prepared a special presentation on "Discouragement" and I'd like you all to give her a warm welcome.

(applause...applause....clap clap...."Welcome, Buffie!"...more applause)

(Buffie steps to the microphone and the parishioners gradually quiet down and all eyes are on Buffie!)

Do you feel stuck in discouragement? If so, you are not alone.

At some point everyone experiences dashed hopes. Disappointment—an emotional response to a failed expectation—is the normal initial reaction. But allowed to linger, it can turn into discouragement, which hovers like a dense cloud. When that's the case, there is no sense of joy or contentment, no matter what you do.

The circumstances that trigger these emotions may be unavoidable, but the way we respond is a choice. We can either let sadness overwhelm our souls or face the situation with courage and bring it before the One who can help us.

Living in discouragement will divide the mind, making it hard to focus on anything besides our pain. Then as anger becomes habitual, we'll look for someone to blame—whether God, people around us, or ourself.

Frustration that isn't handled well may develop into depression, which in turn can estrange us from others—people do not enjoy the company of someone who's bitter and defeated. This isolation leads to a low self-esteem. Finally, in a fog of discouragement, we can make poor decisions based on crushed emotions instead of truth. Obviously, choosing this self-destructive path is not God's best for our lives.

Though we'll all face disappointment from time to time, believers are not to wallow in it. Instead, God wants us to trust Him with everything—even our unmet expectations and deepest sadnesses. Remember, there is divine purpose for everything He allows to touch His children's lives (Rom. 8:28).

(the congregation is silent as they let Buffie's words sink in....and then gradual applause, some tears, and vigorous nods of enthusiasm and agreement. The parishioners rise to their feet - all four of them - and arf their appreciation and approval)

Thank you SOOOO much for that, Miss Buffie. Such wise words from such a young pup. You are an inspiration to us all. I hope you will stay for a while while we meet for Spring Water and Great Danish out in the garden. I know so many of us would like to speak to you in person.

Everyone is invited to be a guest speaker and we encourage you to volunteer. Just email me privately with your presentation and we will incorporate it into one of our Sunday's services.

Now please turn to your neighbors and wag your tail or fluff your feathers as a sign of peace and love. Remember to always be as you wish others to be.

Go in peace...

Mary-Margaret O'Brien
Lt. Chaplain - Yorkie Brigade Chapel
"Yorkie prayers are Angel's wishes!"
"Pups for PPL"
"A dog has lots of friends because he wags his tail and not his tongue." Anonymous

Friday, July 08, 2011

Little Boys times THREE

First off, little boys have fathers. This one is one of my most favorite clients, Mr. B. He has THREE little boys: Kevin, Sean and Aiden. Aiden is too little to put on the ground but two out of three ain't bad, huh? Mr. B and Mrs B came to see Mom for a notary so that Kevin and Sean could travel. The boys are going to Hawaii with their grandparents.

Mom was telling them about there being no squirrels in Hawaii but there were "Mmmm...Mmmmm..." (and she couldn't remember the name of the animal). "I know it starts with an M", she said. And next thing, both Mom and Mr. B were looking it up on the internet. "MONGOOSE", said Mr. B. He won the race and Mom felt so silly not being able to say the word. I worry about her sometimes, you know. So if there is more than one mongoose, is it mongeese? Or mongooses?

This is Sean (on the left) and Kevin (on the right). I got them all to myself. I even got asked to babysit. Hah (I said) As if...? But they were very good. I figured out all I had to do was sit and stare at them and their eyes would say "Yes, Ma'am!", just like the little kids in Puppy School used to do when I mentored there.

What can I say? It's just my calling!


Chaplain, Mentor and Babysitter

Thursday, July 07, 2011

My Visit from Andrew

I was totally stoked. Yup. Me! Andrew came back to visit MEEEEEEE! Remember last March 28th? When I told you about Ashton and Andrew, the little twin boys that I played with? Andrew remembered me and asked his dad to take him along when his dad came back to see Mom on business.

We had the best time. Andrew gives great belly rubs. That's Andrew on the left side (I think...hard to tell) and Ashton on the right. Andrew's dad even brought Mom a Starbucks mocha coconut with whipped cream. Andrew got a yogurt with fruit and granola, and he SHARED with MEEEEEEE. My first ever yogurt. YUM! Double YUMMM!!

So we played around for about an hour and a half, and I was everly so sad to see him go. He promised to come back though.

I just LOVE little boys.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011 - A Time for Remembering

Good morning, everyone. It's nice to see so many here, especially on this holiday weekend.

Today, I'll make it short. This has been a weekend for remembering for us.

(Ludmila Safonova and George Safonov in approximately 1940)

Mom's Grandmother's birthday was on July 1st. She passed away about 28 years ago on July 26, 1983 but we still remember her. In that way, she lives on through our memories. We have her photograph on the wall to the right of our computer desk as she looked when she was about 30 or 40 years old. She was born into nobility on July 1, 1897 in Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution, married and had her first son before she had to flee with whatever she could carry to escape the slaughter.

She gave birth to my mom's father (my Grandpa George) in Basra, Iraq as they were traveling to India in order to board a ship for China, and from there they entered the United States on a Mexican visa, obtained through some friends who already resided here. It was in China that she and her two sons, ages 2 and 4, watched her husband, an officer in the Russian Imperial Navy, crash a plane that he was test piloting for the Chinese into the sea.

Alone, practically penniless and in a strange land, she prevailed and provided for her children. She had been taught five languages, she could sing and play musical instruments, and so at times she would make her living by interpreting or by singing. We remember her strength and courage, and her humility and kindness to all. She valued her family above all and did whatever she could to insure their education and eventual success at whatever their goals were.

One of my favorite bank tellers, Marilyn Burd, had been sick with pneumonia. She was born on 5/3/1948. She'd been with the bank for years, and then they closed her branch and she transferred to another one in town. But she got sick and took a couple of weeks off to get better. Every time we'd go to the bank, Mom would ask how she was and when she would be coming back. And every time the tellers would say "Next week...she'll be back next week!". Except for yesterday....we asked and they finally told us she passed away on May 27th. Mom started to cry in the drive-through line, and I felt very sad. We always appreciated her and told her so. We loved her very much because she was so bright and friendly and made us smile.

And today, little Timmy passed on to the Rainbow Bridge. He was a rescue but he knew he was very much loved when he finally left his forever home.

It's so important to let people and pups and ducks and ...well, whomever and whatever means something to you...how you feel about them. You never know when that will be your last words...your last hug and your last kiss. When we leave this world, love is all we have to take with us, and memories of our deeds and our kindnesses are really all that will remain behind.

Please take the time to tell your family, your pets, your friends and our service men and women that they are loved, they are appreciated and they matter to you. And now, please turn to your neighbors and wag your tails or fluff your feathers as a sign of peace and love.

Remember to be as you wish others to be.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July. Enjoy watching planned fireworks events from a distance or on television.


Mary-Margaret O'Brien
Lt. Chaplain - Yorkie Brigade Chapel
"Yorkie prayers are Angel's wishes!"
"Pups for PPL"
"A dog has lots of friends because he wags his tail and not his tongue." Anonymous