SkunkORama !!! Dog’s Curious, Not Smart

Nocturnal Bark

… has been rare this summer, not only amongst my two dogs, but from other dogs in our woods.  The bigger, more profound, exception (with the nocturnal bark) would be when the bear comes near.  Our dogs have a distinct “bear howl-and-bark” when a bear gets close.  And the other dogs would be in league with ours, a passionate vigilant howling flying out of their bark-boxes through the rocks and trees.

Last night, I heard the Nocturnal Bark, somewhere between 5 and 5:30am. Stash was the only one barking.  I was holding out for the possibility that the barking would stop.  I was not meant to be so fortunate, it appears.  I went outside to the deck, over the garage.  It took a couple of seconds … only a couple of seconds … to recognize one of the most disgusting scents I’ve ever encountered: the spray from a skunk.  You can imagine my first thought.



Scientific name for the Skunk, which also means


I stood on the deck, calling our dog, Stash (Stosh – – – with a short “o”).  I could hear her, but could not see her, in the darkened woods.  I was dreading the possibility that Stash’s focus was on a skunk, and she had no intent of leaving her post to come in.  Shortly after my calling began,  I heard Stash emit what sounded like a playful growl … All I could do is roll my eyes.  I thought to myself:  “She is either getting ready to get sprayed, or … she has already been sprayed, and she thinks that this skunk is playing with her.”  I kept calling, and she kept refusing to come in.  So, I came back in a half-hour, and resumed my calling.  Finally, I heard her rustling / thrashing through the trees, making her way toward me.  She climbed up the steps, through the gate, with the appearance that she had enjoyed playing with someone new in the forest.  I didn’t want to smell the air around her, to determine if she had been successfully targeted by SkunkORama.  I got the gate closed so that she couldn’t go back out to the woods.  This morning, I walked out, cautiously took a whiff, and, to my disappointment, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my dog had been skunked.  I know that one of the next things that needs to happen is that I have got get Stash into counseling, so she can push through these issues of acting like an idiot.  Anyone have a referral for a dog counselor?

By the way, here is a picture of our dog, resting.

Dog Stash
Stash Dog, resting, when not upsetting skunks.



Leave The Children Alone … Men, Be Good Men

Top secret 

 My heart truly goes out to the countless goodhearted, wise, godly, Catholics  … angry and saddened … for fellow-Catholics who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests / nuns.  Another story in the news: victims of sexual abuse, perpetrated upon by Catholic priests, get a settlement (Seattle).

*”The Archdiocese of Seattle … to pay about $12.125 million to 30 men who alleged they were sexually abused as children and teens at two Seattle-area schools from the 1950s until 1984, their attorney said.”

“The agreement comes weeks after Pope Francis said the Roman Catholic Church had to take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”   (Same article:

Those words from Pope Francis stir up many questions:

“(The Catholic Church should) … take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”

Pope Francis’ words came, according to the article, within the last several weeks. And sexual abuse has been happening since … the 1950’s (?) … but they have made a profound observation that there needs to be more action taken regarding the priests and nuns who are sex offenders.  Pope Francis’ words refer to the Catholic Church being “disgraced”.  Surely this does not suggest that the Catholic leadership is more concerned about how the Catholic Church is viewed, than the hearts / minds / souls of their victims of sexual abuse?  I wonder: if the sexual abuse was not exposed, would the Catholic Church still have been disgraced?*l9nXy8hPltdUzY5JITwIO-MlakVQAYMB8kbYXHpehDEoYtmDy1IM0Q9BN8LQ88-nmMjVA91LeFhHWWkuFb4bqw2/secrecy.jpg 

And if the Catholic Church had not been disgraced, then would their really be a problem in their eyes?  The words “Hush Money” have been used in articles / news referring to funds for victims of sexual abuse to be quiet about their abuse.  “Hush Money”, therefore, is for keeping the Catholic Church from disgrace.  Did the sexual abuse victims feel “disgraced” after they had been abused?  I think anyone would feel disgrace after being violated in a sexually abusive way.  Many victims kept silent for a long time.  Why?  Shame? Fear of reprisal?  Concern that no one would believe them? “Disgrace”?  And yet, the Catholic Church communicates their concern, more about the Catholic Church’s disgrace, than with the victims of the sexual abuse from Catholic priests.  For the cases that have been exposed, it was no longer “Hush Money” … but instead a pitiful rationalization, my paraphrase: “If we pay you this money, then its all settled.  You go your way, and we will continue to do what we do.”

The Church (globally) in America calls people to live with integrity, to be safe, to be honorable, to be virtuous.  At least, there is some good news: the “Hush Money” is exposed; the sex offender priests are being exposed; the numbers (settlements and victims) are being made known.  All of this as opposed to the secrets continuing.

  • Secrecy …
  • Is a predominant theme …
  • In the depravity / violence of …
  • Sex offenders …
  • And the fear / shame of …
  • Victims

When the secrets are told, the secrets lose power.

Here are some numbers, some of many, that are staggering.

*Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007, alone.
*$85 million in September of 2003 (just that month).
*$100 million in 2005, January.

“According to Donald Cozzens, ‘by the end of the mid 1990s, it was estimated that… more than half a billion dollars had been paid in jury awards, settlements and legal fees.’  This figure grew to about one billion dollars by 2002.”  http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Settlements_and_bankruptcies_in_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases

Between 1994 & 2009,there have been over 1,835 victims of sexual abuse.
Settlements / legal fees between 1994 & 2009?  $1.269 billion.

Here is the last piece in the story that brings about great disruption and immeasurable sadness from the link,

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in a statement on Tuesday (6/24/14), according to the Seattle Times newspaper,

“Our hope is that this settlement will bring them closure and allow them to continue the process of healing.”

REALITY CHECK, people.  Let’s not be so naive as to think that there is going to be significant healing with all of these men and women who have been victimized.  For some, yes.  For some, no … for some there will be no healing.  And its possible that some individuals are hearing Sartain say (my paraphrase) …

“Hey, here’s the money; and its a lot of money; so, since we are paying out a lot of money, then we expect for there to be a lot of healing, and then we won’t feel so bad.  And we don’t want to hear anymore about this.  Now, get out of here.”

Now, I know; I know, I know, I know … that those were not the words from the archbishop from Seattle … but if I was a victim of sexual abuse from the Catholic Church, I might just think that way about what Sartain is saying.

The money …
d o e s   n o t    c h a n g e …
what happened.
The money …
d o e s   n o t    g u a r a n t e e  …
full healing.

Last question, maybe irrelevant:
Is there any correlation between victims of sexual abuse and suicide?

Those are just a few links to go to if you are interested.  All links are unanimous in their research: yes, there is a correlation between childhood sexual abuse and suicide. So, healing?  No, not for everyone.


Problem Solving, Men

“Bro: yes, there is a problem. 

Now, what?”

A friend from the distant past had a sign above his door: “Now, what?”

I connected with the question, my thoughts and my strategies a part of “Now, what?”

Hypothetical: a man asked, “Well?  Is this a problem?  Or is it an opportunity?”  I smiled at the older codger, filled up with himself.  I slowly moved my head left to right, and simultaneously said Yes“.   A confused look appeared on to his face.  “What the heck do you mean?  You are shaking your head, which means ‘No’ … and you are saying ‘Yes’, which means … “Yes’.  Which one is it?”

Fortunately, my mischievous tomfoolery was hidden, knowing that I had managed to bring some disruption to the man.  Yes, the old motivational quip most of us have seen for years and years does apply, to some degree. 

“A problem is an opportunity in disguise.”

But, if a fellow is in deep yogurt, his anxiety alarmingly high, chances are he is not thinking of a motivational poster with a cool picture and words about a problem being an opportunity.  The wilder man may just want a solution to his problem, have no interest in an opportunity. 


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Some of us men have found ourselves in a  crazed-pickle, with the only opportunity we saw was the opportunity to get our butts kicked, in some form or fashion.  For those who have the problem-solving “opportunities” wrapped up like a Christmas present, congratulations.  But some of us have not yet fully arrived at this state of transcendence.  Here are some out-of-the-box thoughts that I have come up with while walking down the Rolling Creek Trail:

  1. Two are better than one, especially when the yogurt is deep … depending on who the “other” one is, obviously;
  2. When problems, or “opportunities” come up, this is a serious place where negativity rises up like a bunch of hoodlums going after a wilder man;
  3. Admittedly, opportunity comes with problems, but we may be oblivious to such unless / until we change our thinking for the better;
  4. Denial and procrastination are both options, but not good ones, and fear often fuels both of these thugs.

Within this realm, of “opportunity-solving”, there are perspectives close by that can help, or hinder.  Here is one: “A problem is not a problem if there is no solution; it is a situation … and I have no choice but to deal with the situation.”  A dangerous move is to embrace the phrase “I have no choice”.  We always have a choice.  And if a problem is (also) a situation, that does not mean that we quit looking for a solution.  The solution may in fact show itself, but not immediately.

The journeys of good wilder men mean that we bring our tools with us: initiative, courage, confidence, teachability, good relationships, wisdom, realism, optimism, vision, creativity, a sense of urgency, and sharpened awareness skills.  Oh, and two more things: humor and hope.  Until next time. T

My Heart Goes Out To You

For so many parents: my heart goes out to you.  Not much needs to be said.  At times like these, an excess of words can be maddening . . .  for parents who are grieving . . .  to hear.  Unexplainable heaviness threw me into this post.  Yesterday one innocent young lady in high school was shot, in Denver, by a school shooter.  Claire Davis is in critical condition.  If you do pray, please send one up for her, and her parents.

Today, parents mourned the loss of their kiddos at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.  It is believed that at least 24 school shootings have claimed at least 17 lives since what happened in the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Grieving, and hope.  My heart goes out to all of you who have lost children, regardless of what the circumstances were.





Men Who Are Pre-Suicidal

Many men have these types of mantras:

  • Leave dust, or eat dust;
  • Nice guys finish last;
  • It sucks to be you;
  • Its a harsh world;
  • Each man for himself.

And there are other men who are:

  • Emotionally or psychologically paralyzed;
  • Wounded;
  • Having racing thoughts;
  • Isolated;
  • Hopeless;
  • Overwhelmed with futility.

Neither list is exhaustive.

The man who is pre-suicidal is not always recognizable.  He may smile when he is supposed to; make eye contact when he is supposed to; laugh when he is supposed to.

The man who is pre-suicidal may be a dad; or a husband; or a single man.

The stats show that many men who complete suicide do not tell anyone before it happens.  They don’t always give clues in their talk.

Some say that suicide is based on:

  • revenge;
  • irrational thinking;
  • depression;
  • fear;
  • anger;
  • belief that they are damaged goods.

Blogging, I believed, can be a significant means of decreasing suicidal thoughts / actions.  I say this because for some folks, blogging is the only community they have.  And community, when it is healthy, helps to keep an individual thinking healthy thoughts.

Some might disagree, understandably.  Some have a logical perspective that goes something like this: “If someone chooses to take their life, that is their decision.   I am not going to worry about anyone who may be suicidal / pre-suicidal, because I don’t have time to think about such things.”  And this makes sense.

Others worry too much about such things.

And others care deeply about the relationships with friends / family / work associates.

And what can you do if you sense that an individual is having suicidal thoughts?

  • A big part of this is that each person has their own responsibility to get help;
  • Another big part of this is the theory that some folks are so “down the road” that they don’t know how to ask for help; and even if they did ask for help there is a belief that no one cares.  And for some people, that belief is accurate.
  • Based on the above, we as peers can be (but are not obligated) attentive to any signs (verbal or nonverbal) that there is trouble brewing in the life of someone we know.

Lastly, the man who is pre-suicidal must:

  • Move in redemptive, productive, ways;
  • Grab hope with passion and intentionality, and hold on: that is a man’s responsibility;
  • Grab courage, because it is there . . . inside them;
  • Realize that it is easier to check out at times, than to check in.
  • Search heart and mind for the causes of suicidal thoughts, and make changes ASAP.
  • Build some healthy relationships that are reciprocal: investing into a relationship, not just “taking;
  • Think outside the box;
  • Pray.

Life is difficult.  Life has some purpose, and we need to find that purpose, and keep our eye on the ball.  There are honorable ways to fight.  We have to fight for our lives, our sanity, our self-care.  “For some men, it is not the fear of dying, it is the fear of living.”  Unknown







Remembrance of 11, September, 2001

The grief, the thankfulness, both happening in a place where the choices are made … to NOT forget the attack on the U.S., September 11, 2001.

That morning I walked into the men’s shelter I worked at, the chapel, and stood with a group of guys I worked with, looking up at the huge screen on the wall.  We were quiet, and stunned, watching footage of two different buildings spewing smoke; and the harsh footage replayed of the two planes flying directly into those buildings.  At some point, the news commentator communicated a report that had just come in, about a third plane that had crashed into the Pentagon.  Then John, standing next to me, his eyes expressionless, said in a low voice “Its still going on.”

I cannot fathom the courage, the thoughts of those who faced death, the first responders.  Remembering is a sacred piece of who we are.


Men and PG-13 Movies … Choose Wisely

Hey, fellas … or is it “fellows”?  I think I’ll stick with “fellas”.

I actually go to our county library to check out movies, because they are less inexpensive (FREE ! !).  Call me old-fashioned / a bit eccentric.  No problem.  Several months ago, my wife and I agreed that “R” movies were not an option, with some exceptions.   “Argo” / Ben Affleck is a good example of an exception: great movie.

Here’s my point, about choosing wisely.  Some guys are courageous, and they will watch a movie with their wife / girlfriend that has a … “tough” … ending.  And what does “tough ending” mean?  Well, I mean that the movie taps an emotional response, of sadness / tears.  I applaud those guys.  I am not one of them.  I avoid those movies like a plague.  But … every once in a while … one of those heart-grabbers sneaks by. 


A Little Bit of Heaven poster.jpg
A Little Bit of Heaven poster.jpg

Tonight we watched a movie called “A Little Bit of Heaven”.  WHAT WAS I THINKING ?

Excellent movie, as far as acting and plot.  But you learn early on that the protagonist (Kate Hudson) has a terminal illness.  So, if you want to watch this movie, I have not spoiled it for you.  But, I had to really concentrate to keep my eyes tearless.  Somehow, I was able to pull it off.  I just left for my office as soon as the movie was over with and starting blogging.  Again: I think this was an excellent movie.  But if you watch it guys, just be ready.

I wonder if there is a website for guys to find out what movies have the potential to make a man cry.  Does anybody know? I’ve fumbled with these kinds of movies before:

  • The Notebook (wife convinced me to watch it …. OOOOOH!)
  • Shadow Lands
  • When a Man Loves a Woman

Then, of course, there was “Old Yeller”.  I saw that when I was a kid.  I think that was one of the bigger mistakes I’ve made.  Such movies that can possibly make a man cry cause me to appreciate movies like:

  • Bourne Identity
  • Mission Impossible
  • The Italian Job

YES.  THAT’s what I’m talking about.