Almost Boston Beans…

Meet Beans…

All tongue, all nose, all heart.

 Like hundreds of wonderful dogs, Beans started life in Tennessee but will soon call New England home.  Beans was abandoned here in Jackson.  It could have happened intentionally, or perhaps Beans escaped the tether that was so tight it left wounds on his neck.  Either way, Beans’ luck changed when he wandered into the Carlson family’s yard during a birthday celebration.  Rachel Carlson is a dog trainer here in Jackson, and her family owns Wagging Tail Resort, a state-of-the-art boarding facility and “day spa” for dogs, who generously assists our rescue annually with fundraising efforts, as well as educating folks on responsible pet ownership.  Rachel settled on the name “Beans” because it somehow seemed to fit this 9 month-old goofy bundle of love.  As Rachel puts it, “he was just full of beans!”

Beans patiently awaits a treat at his first vet visit.
Rachel contacted us to see if we had room for Beans…
The first thing you learn when you become involved in rescue in West Tennessee is that when you refuse to discriminate based on age, breed, or color, you are always going to be full. 
There is never going to be enough room for another dog.  There is never going to be enough money to vet another dog.
The second thing you learn is to never say “never”.  Where there is a will, there is always a way.  “We just can’t.”  becomes “We’ll figure something out.” 

"Am I handsome, or what!"

 You see the picture.  The face.  You remember why you do this.  As I’ve heard it put many times, “you don’t choose rescue…rescue chooses you.”

Rachel agrees to keep Beans for a couple of days while we figure out what to do…which turns into a few weeks, because Beans has stolen Rachel’s heart.  After a check-up and a little mending from Dr. Lisa at Parkway Animal Hospital, we posted Beans for adoption with Rescue Angels, one of our favorite rescue agencies in the northeast.  Although we do adopt dogs and cats to local homes, many of our dogs travel for adoption into more progressive states where overpopulation, abandonment, and neglect are not as common.  After several inquiries about Beans, he has been adopted by a wonderful couple who can’t wait to make him a part of their family.
Beans is on his way to his new home today, traveling on Peterson’s Transport, one of the many great transport companies whose business is taking this precious cargo to a happy destination, and we can’t wait for our first update from his new family!
It’s a good day 🙂



Happiness is two days in the mountains with Walt and my girls.

Shelby & Chaps in their carseats, ready to hit the road!
My grandfather helped build the hiking trails and roads in Cades Cove when he was a teenager working for the Civilian Conservation Corps around 1941.  I grew up visiting the Smoky Mountains at least once a year with both sets of grandparents, so this place is very special to me.
One of the many mountain streams


Chaps loves hiking…


...and Shelby wants to follow every trail.

 I always forget how beautiful this place is, even on a cloudy winter day.

In the higher elevations, at the Tennessee/North Carolina state line.


We drove to Cherokee, NC, which is almost unchanged in 35 years (with the exception of the casino nearby).
A small rain blew into the valley, bringing a rainbow!

Stormy skies

 A new friend gets in a few more bites before the rain starts.


 Taking the back roads…

Cades Cove

 Stopping to watch every waterfall for a while…

Under one of the stone bridges

Rising early for an incredible sunrise…

Gatlinburg, still sleepy

It was an amazing weekend.  And like these two turkeys…


 …we had an incredibly peaceful holiday.  For this I am truly thankful!

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I thought, “oh no…what if he puts needles in my face?”  Before I knew it, bam-bam-bam!  I had several needles in my forehead and one in each cheek.  Strange, but not painful.  Dr. Ly’s assistant told me she’d be right back to heat the needles.

Heat the needles? 

When she came back into the room, she tapped something behind my head and said, “Don’t worry.  It will feel like I’m going to burn you, but I’m not.  Most people love this.”  Not the most comforting thing I’ve ever been told.

I don’ t have a clue what she did next, and I’m not sure I want to know…but I see why most people love it.  There was a deeply relaxing, very hot sensation on my face – it felt wonderful, like a hot mask, but not.  The strangest part: though the room was dark and my eyes were closed, while she was ‘heating the needles’, I saw vivid colors.  All were shades of blue and purple, mostly turquoise.

What was it?  I’m not quite sure.  It had not happened during my other treatments. I wanted to ask, but Dr. Ly had moved on to other clients and the clinic was extremely busy.  In other words, I was too chicken to say, “So, do people usually see strange colors when you do this?”   I went on about the day and forgot about it.  But I was thinking about the colors today and remembered several years ago when my neighbor, a reiki master, asked if I would take her class and let her give me an attunement.  She had to do a certain number of attunements to attain master status, and way back then I had free time and thought, “what the heck?”  I’ve never really pursued the reiki further, except to return to my friend for a couple of treatments to help me relax.  I convinced myself that the strange colors and shapes I “saw” with my eyes closed during the attunement were my imagination, but it was much like what happened yesterday at Dr. Ly’s office.

I left the acupuncture clinic with my headache gone and my sinuses completely clear.  I’m sad to report the sinus/allergy problems did return within the hour and are still plaguing me.  Despite my determination to let Dr. Ly heal all my ailments, I gave in this afternoon and took antihistamines and decongestants.  But whatever he is doing for my weight-loss is working.  I’m down 7 pounds and I don’t want to eat much.  Really.  And I’m a total stress eater.  I walk by the assortment of candy in my office that used to call to me several times a day, and it now looks like some alien thing that I don’t want to touch.

I’m not sure yet that acupuncture is a cure-all, but there is definitely something to it.  I’m going back after Thanksgiving for more.


“Summer makes me drowsy; Autumn makes me sing.” -Dorothy Parker

At "Hatchie Bottom"

Stream at Hatchie



South road frontage at the Mt. Pinson farm

Behind our house


Another incredible view behind our house

Adventures in Acupuncture

 Back on May 11, Walt and I started a lifestyle change (a.k.a. diet).  We were mostly faithful to this lifestyle change for about a month, and I lost 12 pounds before falling off the wagon and back into bad habits.   With the exception of some typical 3 pound fluctuations here and there, I have managed to keep the 12 pounds off…but I still have a long way to go to be anywhere near my goal weight.  We’re eating worse than ever, and dealing with more stress.  Walt continues to fight high blood pressure, and the nasty side-effects of his medication.  I’m totally lethargic, and getting more tired by the day as winter approaches and the hours of daylight dwindle.  
We need to take steps to feel better, and fast.
 For a jolt of motivation, I decided to consult with a local acupuncturist.  Many of my friends and family have tried Dr. Ly  for diet and various ailments, most reporting some level of success.  So today I took the plunge into the world of Eastern medicine.

If you’ve ever wondered about acupuncture, it really is relatively painless.  After a brief consultation with Dr. Ly about what I hoped to accomplish, long, thin needles were inserted into my ankles, stomach, forearms, and the upper portion of my ears.  With the exception of one or two, I never felt them.  Electrical stimulators from a TENS unit were attached to the needles in my stomach, producing a barely-detectible tingling sensation that quickly subsided.  I was then left alone in a dark room with soothing music for several minutes while the needles work their alleged magic. 

After removal of those needles, four different needles resembling tiny thumbtacks were taped to my stomach, where they will remain in place for 2 weeks.  So far, I have noticed no irritation, and barely realize they are there.  These are supposed to stimulate digestion and the breakdown of abdominal fat.  Now things become a little more bizarre…

My ear on mustard seeds

Five mustard seeds were taped onto various acupressure points on my left ear.  Several times throughout the day, I’m supposed to press on each seed for a few seconds in order to stimulate the pressure point beneath.  One is there to relieve stress, one suppresses appetite, and the other three improve the function of my thyroid, liver, and pancreas.

This weight-loss effort is not totally without work on my part.  As expected, there is a diet to follow.  It’s unlike other diets I’ve tried, in that foods are divided into those that are alkalizing to the body versus those that are acidifying.  Like most things in life, the old 80/20 rule applies.  For restoring health and well-being, alkalizing foods are “good”, and those foods should represent at least 80% of dietary intake.  Acidifying foods should be limited to 20% or less.  I was surprised to see many of the foods I thought were very healthy on the 20% side, but this approach to health and diet is all about balancing the body’s pH, and avoiding an overly acidic state in the body…so the normal dietary “rules” don’t apply.

In addition to following the food plan, I’m required to walk 30 minutes per day, preferably in the morning.  Dr. Ly says that morning exercise is more ideal for promoting wellness in the body, as the body is most oxygenated when we awaken.  I am also to aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, and take two supplements per day.

I must admit, the supplement part has me a little wigged out, as the packages resemble something “as seen on T.V.”   The scantily clad babe on the “Fruit & Plant Slimming Capsule” box does not give me the warm fuzzies.

However, life is short, and it is flying by more quickly than I ever imagined it would.  I want to feel good for the ride.  It took a month to get this appointment, I’m financially invested, there are needles in my tummy and mustard seeds taped to my ear…I’m going to give this experiment in healing an honest effort. 

“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.”  – Buddha

Cotton Pickin’

If you blink, you’ll miss it. 

Walt and I were lucky enough to catch cotton-picking in progress at dusk one evening last week.  Three men, each in their own modern marvel of machinery, picked our entire 400-acre field in a matter of hours. 

One picked, baled, wrapped, and dropped each bale out of the back without ever slowing down.  It would have taken over 300 laborers to hand-pick what this alien-looking machine did in one day.

The picker utilizes GPS technology, so that the operator never has to slow down to align with the rows.

Without missing a beat, he drops each completed bale out of the back of the machine…

 …and a tractor outfitted with a forklift rushes in to move each bale as soon as it is dropped.  The entire process of unloading and moving the bale took less than 30 seconds.

This bale is lined up with the others, precisely in a row, and the driver moves on to wait for the next.  Meanwhile, another tractor methodically cuts the now empty stalks to the ground.

Bales in the Moonlight

The bales have already been transported to the cotton gin for processing.  Long gone are the days when giant trailers holding loose cotton in which to jump and play would have provided days of entertainment for a little curly-haired country girl…but that wonderful freshly-picked cotton smell evokes memories that will never fade.

Quinn the Hedgehog, following his blessing & a sprinkling of Holy Water.

Despite my religious upbringing, (or perhaps, in part, because of it), I often struggle with matters of a spiritual nature.  But I have come to realize that even after many years of doubt, I still have a strong faith that is always going to be a part of who I am.  There is spirit here, around us and inside us, pervading every living thing.   I still believe there is a Creator, a Plan…and there is Love.

So often I have sought comfort in organized religion, only to find it lacking in forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion…the very tenets on which it was built.  Yet from time to time, I’m reminded that real love for ALL of God’s creatures is alive and well.  One of the most moving events we attend as a rescue group each October is the Blessing of the Pets at our local Catholic church, St. Mary’s.  This year, we were fortunate enough to attend a second blessing at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

Brother and sister team Daniel & Mira socialize after the ceremony.

Among the young dogs of velvety fur and puppy breath, the older but wiser canines with their grey muzzles and gentle eyes, and the occasional pretentious cat, you never know what you might see.  This year’s hedgehog sighting was a first for me.  Quinn was a little shy, but seemed to enjoy the attention.  This was also the first time I’ve seen a turtle receive God’s blessings.

"Speedy" is Blessed

 There is a reverent calm among the animals as they are receiving the sacred blessing.  It’s almost like they know, as animals so often do, with an awareness superior to our own.

JT, blessed by Msgr. Kirk: “Creature of God, be blessed in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

The writer of this poem gives credit to “the Lord God” for “all things bright and beautiful”, but I believe her words of gratitude are fitting to all, no matter what you call your Spirit, your Creator.

Maker of Heaven and Earth
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.
The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.
The purple-headed mountain,
The river running by,
The sunset, and the morning,
That brightens up the sky.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.
The tall trees in the greenwood,
The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water,
We gather every day;
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell,
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
-Cecil Frances Alexander