Seize the opportunity!

In my January 22 blog post titled “When was the last time . . .” I mentioned having worked for a lucrative feed and grain brokerage firm in southern California prior to going to Lomalinda, Colombia.

The very distinguished, tall Dutchman who owned the prosperous business was Herbert V. Nootbaar. After just two months at H. V. Nootbaar & Co. and continuing throughout my nearly three years of employment, it was very clear that Mr. Nootbaar was the most generous person I’d ever met. He made rounds to every work station and personally handed each employee an envelope with an extra paycheck while commending them for jobs well done. What incentive for employees to strive to do even better! In November, Mr. Nootbaar sent every employee home with a substantial turkey and all the fixings for a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner. I was still living in Sierra Madre with my parents and maternal grandmother who were completely blown away by Mr. Nootbaar’s kindness. On employees’ birthdays, they were treated to lunch with other employees at a Pasadena restaurant of their own choosing—along with a gift certificate from Bullock’s Pasadena—a very upscale department store. And the list goes on and on.

Mr. Nootbaar retired and lived in a lavish home in Laguna Beach, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He had been married twice and lost both wonderful wives to illnesses. During the expanse of time since I had last seen Mr. Nootbaar, it had been on my mind to call him at the phone number listed online. Finally on August 1, 2016, I picked up my phone and entered his number. His caregiver answered and politely said Mr. Nootbaar was in the restroom and asked if I would please call back in 15 minutes. It took two more calls before Mr. Nootbaar was able to speak with me. He was 107 years young then—understandably, his memory was slightly cloudy. I briefly introduced myself, thanked him for offering me a job in 1972, and expressed my sincere gratitude for his many kindnesses—telling him he was the best employer I’d ever had. He apologized profusely for not remembering who I was, and then said, “Thank you for calling. I love you for telling me this.” His heartfelt words still warm my heart today. Four-and-a-half months later, he passed away after 108 trips around the sun!

Is there someone who needs your thanks?
Please don’t put it off.
I almost waited too long.
So grateful to have heard Mr. Nootbaar’s
cheerful voice one more time.

How’s it going with us?

Last Thursday, January 30, we loaded both dogs into our car and headed north to Monterey, California, for my appointment with the UCSF ALS satellite clinic—offered to patients twice yearly. We are thankful it was a much easier drive than anticipated. Not until we were halfway to our destination did Jon tell me that Annie had fallen into our rain-filled pond just moments before we left home. Oh no! After he managed to drag her out of the pond, he hoisted all 72 pounds of her soaking wet body into the back seat. Poor Annie was not doing well but slept for nearly the entire two-and-a-half hour drive and continued to doze in the car throughout my three-hour appointment. We were so grateful our daughter, Kathryn, was able to take the day off work and drove south from San Francisco to attend with us. Sadly, it would also be the last time she got to spend time with our special Annie.

The ALS team evaluated me and offered suggestions on how to continue coping with the disease. My speech and swallowing have deteriorated since my previous visit. My limbs still function well, however, my breathing capacity has weakened which prevents us from taking the long walks to which we were so accustomed. The neurologist was reluctant to provide an estimated amount of time I may have remaining on this earth since each ALS patient progresses at different rates and in different ways. She does think I may still have at least one year.

Jon is doing a remarkable job of helping me with my tube feedings, changing the dressing once a day to keep the area surrounding the stoma clean and dry, doing some shopping on his own, and simple cooking for himself. His favorite food is microwaved chicken pot pies from Trader Joe’s. I can still eat soft foods with no lumps and pureed soups. For example, chicken noodle soup with peas, onions, celery, and other vegetables is wonderful, nutritious, and completely edible as long as it is pureed into one smooth texture. There’s a restaurant on the embarcadero in Morro Bay called Dockside. They make some of the best New England clam chowder. We purchase a quart size, puree it in our blender, and it turns into a nice meal for several days.

We appreciate and need your prayers as we navigate this uncharted course with our Ultimate Guide shining His light on the path He has chosen for us.

You are blessing our hearts❣️

You are touching our grieving hearts with your compassion. 

Dogs have been and continue to be such a meaningful
addition to so many of our lives.
They care about their people just like we care about them.
Mutual affection.
God is the One Who so thoughtfully created domesticated dogs.
Those of us who have rubbed shoulders with our canine buddies
know that our lives are all the richer because of
their trust, friendship, and loyalty.

We extend our deepest appreciation to
the staff of Los Osos Pet Hospital
for making room for our Annie in their
very busy schedule yesterday (February 1).
Dr. Richard O. Knighton, Tony, and Windy
were beyond caring and compassionate.

It is a blessing to have them serving our community—
especially during such deeply troubling circumstances.

Super Sad Saturday

Annie – 2009 to February 1, 2020

Our dear Annie is now buried in our yard alongside our beloved Agatha and Walker. In mid December, she went from being a very alert, nimble bloodhound to exhibiting never-before-observed signs of confusion. Two weeks ago, her symptoms multiplied and worsened—

Trouble seeing, especially out of her left eye
Deafness
Escalation of confusion
Stumbling in and outside the house
Running into previously familiar objects
Falling off our deck
Incessantly turning tight clockwise circles to her right
until she was exhausted
Difficulty eating and drinking
Unintentional fall into our rain-filled pond and could not get out
and perhaps the most alarming symptom for a bloodhound—
Ability to smell—GONE!

No more wagging tail
Absence of joy
Worried expression on her face
No more games with, Emma, our 18-lb. terrier (her best friend)

This morning we took her to see our veterinarian who gave her a thorough examination and believed all of her issues to be intracranial. She was about 11 years old; but since we adopted her from Woods Humane Society, we’ll never know her actual birthdate.

We made the difficult decision to have her euthanized and are beyond exhausted and emotionally drained. We have not slept in many nights because Annie had to be let outside throughout the night.

Now she’s resting peacefully.

The many faces of adversity

Joni Eareckson Tada is the founder of joni&friends.
A recent Daily Devotional—Hand-Tailored Hardships
has been so helpful to me.
I’m sharing it here hoping it will
prove insightful for you, too.

God’s grace is the only thing that’s getting us through this!

Note: If you’d like to receive Joni’s Daily Devotional in your inbox,
click on this link joni&friends — select Help & Inspiration–
Daily Devotional–scroll to
Receive the Daily Devotional via Email.  😊

When was the last time . . .

A friend of mine would say, “Leslie, you can’t make stuff like this up.” She’d be right! What you’re about to read is my firsthand account. Good thing ALS hasn’t messed with my memory!

When was the last time . . . you encountered two hefty male iguanas? My first and hopefully last time was 1976 in the central plains of Colombia (Llanos Orientales), South America. Keep in mind . . . my idyllic childhood took place within the backdrop of the small southern California town of Sierra Madre where the only reptiles we observed were small lizards.

You might be wondering what I was doing in Colombia? During the early 1970s while employed by a lucrative feed and grain brokerage firm in southern California, I began sensing God nudging me to volunteer in Colombia as a short-term assistant (STA) with Wycliffe Bible Translators. My home church in Sierra Madre had an engaging program for young people who wanted to experience missions work abroad. My accuracy and speed in typing could be of value to linguists who develop reading primers while translating the Bible into languages of indigenous people.

After submitting my resignation to my employer, I boarded a jet at LAX in September 1975 for what would become a yearlong, life-changing adventure in Lomalinda, Colombia. There were many “firsts,” but what I’m about to share ranks right up there with one of the most harrowing incidents of my entire life!

On a picturesque afternoon under the canopy of a brilliant blue sky accentuated by unforgettable puffy, white clouds, I was walking alone to my resident house through an open field along a well-worn trail. Minding my own business—probably in thought about the remainder of the afternoon and evening—I was perplexed to sense the damp clay soil beneath my feet begin to vibrate. Simultaneously, coming from behind me, there was a bizarre sound resembling the deep rumble of a locomotive. I stopped in the path and with much trepidation, slowly turned around. To my utter horror, not one, but two very large iguanas—at least three feet in length—were barreling down the same path at full speed—aimed straight at me! It happened so suddenly, there was no time to process what was unfolding. Not enough time to think, to run, to scream . . . and no one except God could have heard me scream anyway. So I just stood there—frozen—no doubt with the expression of outright panic on my face.

Just when the massive creatures were within a mere 18 inches of my feet, without slowing their pace they made an abrupt turn to their right and headed into the adjacent brush. What ensued was hair-raising snarling, growling, and snapping of jaws unlike anything I’d ever witnessed! Two male iguanas viciously fighting—apparently over the right to mate with a certain female. Horrific. She must have been a real piece of work!

Perhaps one day I’ll learn whether there were angels—commissioned by God but invisible to me—to fend off those enormous iguanas. In the meantime, what is certain . . . I’m still alive 44 years later to share the vivid memory with you!

My short list . . .

It’s easy to forget or downplay my reasons to be thankful—even more so when I’m not firing on all cylinders. So here’s my short list to help remind me of God’s countless, undeserved perks.

air
arms
art
babies
bakers 
bats
BIBLE
birds
books
brain
breathing
cell phones
choices
clouds
clothes
communication
computers
creeks
crops to sustain
doctors
domestic animals
electricity
emotions
eyes
Faithful Husband
feeding formula
feet
fences
fingers
fish
fog
food for dogs
food for hens
fresh eggs
friends
fruit trees

GOD Who loves me
grass
grocery stores
hands
happy hens
hearing
home health service
hot water heater
hugs
jets
joy
kisses
laughter
legs
life
love
medicine
memories
memory
moon
music
new car tires
ocean
oven
paint
paper
parents
pencils
pens
piano
narcissus blossoms
pictures
pilots
Prayer
property taxes paid
rain

redwood trees
rivers
roads
schools
sea mammals
sidewalks
sight
silence
soap
soil
sorrow
special dogs
stairs
stars
streams
sun
sunrises
sunsets
teachers
tears
toothbrushes toothpaste
towels
trash collectors
vacuum cleaners
vehicle
voices
warm home
warm showers
washcloths
washing machine
water
wifi
wild creatures
wind
windows

Continue reading “My short list . . .”

Distractions and diversions . . .

Horse Blinders

. . . compiled from information on the internet

Unlike the name suggests, horse blinders, also known as blinkers or winkers, do not blind horses. Horse blinders are firm leather squares or plastic cups that attach to a horse’s bridle or hood and prevent a horse from seeing behind and beside him. Horses that pull wagons and carriages wear blinkers to prevent them from becoming distracted or panicked by what they see behind or beside the wagon.

Horses have peripheral vision. A horse’s eyes are located on the sides of his head, allowing him to see a panoramic view of the world. In fact, horses can see a nearly full circle around themselves except for a small blind spot in front of their noses and behind their tails. Blinders cover the rear and side vision of the horse, forcing him to focus only in a forward direction. The reduction in vision for horses wearing blinders is significant and can reduce a horse’s vision from >180 degrees to as little as 30 degrees, depending on the size and depth of the blinders.

Continue reading “Distractions and diversions . . .”

Who should you trust?

What does trust look like? Consider again my first bloodhound, Agatha. The girl with such potential began her life in Las Vegas. She and her mother were picked up together as strays and impounded. When they were scheduled to be euthanized, someone from Nevada SPCA rescued both girls and brought them to their no-kill shelter. Soon after, Agatha’s mother was adopted; but Agatha remained at the SPCA for seven long months.

Agatha was transferred to Bloodhounds West in Laguna Beach, California—that’s where we found her in 2001. We weren’t aware of her deep-rooted insecurities and the challenges we’d face. Agatha didn’t know me and vice versa. She had been through tough situations that resulted in her “shutting down” emotionally. It soon became clear that many new experiences and unfamiliar sounds terrified her. So we began learning that while having me by her side, she could begin to realize the frightening things weren’t too scary and she could get a bit more brave each day. It was a golden opportunity to prove myself trustworthy so Agatha could learn to trust me. A process that cannot be rushed. It takes dedication and time.

One by one, we tackled her fear of—

Big boxes
Boats
Bottom drawers, including file cabinet drawers

Buses
Dogs
Large culverts
Noisy, stinky trash trucks
Open stairwells
Trains

Continue reading “Who should you trust?”