Category Archives: Family

Wayward on Water: What Happened to this Boat?

Somewhere in the waters between New Zealand and Australia, this boat is lost.

1928 schooner

The historic 1928 American schooner called Nina departed on May 29, en route from Opua to Newcastle. The journey was estimated to take a minimum of 12 days.

No communication has been received from the boat – or any of its seven passengers – since June 4. On that day, one of the crew members sent out a text message during a storm, although the boat has never called out for help, nor has its emergency beacon been activated.

Search and rescue missions have scoured hundreds of thousands of miles of water over the past few days but so far found nothing.

The Rescue Coordination Center of New Zealand has “grave concerns,” but friends and family of the crew are hopeful.

My cousin Kyle is on that boat.

crystal n kyle

Kyle is one of the cousins I have been getting to know more as an adult than I did as a child. He is handsome, fearless and so much fun. He lives for adventure, and his curiosity has taken him all over the world.

The family hopes the current adventure ends soon, with Kyle safe and sound and back to tell us all one hell of a story.

Another rescue mission is happening today, a joint effort by both Australian and New Zealand officials.

Kyle’s sister, my cousin Megan, is keeping family and friends informed on the blog Universe to KBJ.

If you are in the part of the world where my cousin is lost, please keep an ear out for local reports that you can share. Comment on this post or tweet me.

Dogtique: Rescue of a Lost Friend

Before there was Lassie, there was this dog:

Rescue of a Lost Friend print

Howling for help.

This faithful collie is part of my late grandfather’s collection of dogtiques.

According to my grandmother, this print belonged to my grandpa’s mom, which means it has been in the family for a very long time.

Unfortunately, the part of the print with the artist’s name and the picture title was trimmed to fit into the frame so many years ago. However, a little online research helped me learn a bit about this popular image.

What artist is responsible for this picture and what it is called are all up for debate.

The artists Walter Hunt, Edgar Hunt and Albert Schenck have all been attached to pictures that look like this but have been commonly called “Found,” “Shepherd’s Call” or “Rescue of a Lost Friend.”

My grandmother, who has dealt in antiques for most of her life, swears she has come across this picture many times over the years, with the title “Cry for Help.”

Whatever the truth may be, I enjoy this picture. What do you think of it?

To learn more about the controversy, click here.

For a fun collie blog, check out Collies of the Meadow.

Beer Paws on the Range

Are there any horse lovers out there?

If so, then the following videos are for you. And they’re also for you if you like cute cowgirls, cute cowboys and cute doggies.


Big thanks to my friends family Tyler and Sevy for making these videos. What an awesome surprise to find them in my inbox yesterday!

Ready to get a Beer Paws bottle opener for your four-legged friend (of almost any species)? Three styles, including glow-in-the-dark, are now available at my online store!

New Zealand goat

Kiko likes the turquoise.

Dogtique: Last of the Litter

Where could this little puppy be headed?

Last of the Litter print

This print is from my late grandfather’s collection of dogtiques.

I haven’t discovered much history about the print, entitled Last of the Litter. It is also represented online in a collection of prints commissioned by the Wilson Chemical Co. on a page managed by the Tyrone Area Historical Society.

My grandmother said that Fluffy, the dog she got in high school during the 1940s, once traveled across the country in a crate much like the one in the print.

Incidentally, a few days before snapping the photo of this print, I also encountered a similar old timey dog kennel. It was in the back room of a new antiques and curiosities shop in my neighborhood.

Check it out:

antique dog kennel

Can you make out the dog’s name?

antique dog kennel

Solid construction but not a posh accommodation.

antique dog kennel

For times of thirst…

My grandma said her Fluffy was pretty ragged by the end of her trip in this kind of crate. I’m not surprised.

I’m glad pet carriers have advanced since this model.

How do your pets travel?

Party Time with Mom

It’s her day.

mom wearing a spuds mackenzie apron

Who’s the real party animal in this picture?

This is the woman who taught me how to love unconditionally and that your baby, no matter how many legs it has or how ill-mannered it can be, should be doted on and cuddled as much as possible.

Case in point: Tori the rat terrier who’s giving the camera the stinkeye.

Today, I’ll be spending a good part of the day with my mom, celebrating our relationship and dining on tasty, locally prepared food.

Our ultimate hope is to get tickets for a  tour of Boulevard Brewery, the internationally renowned craft beer company based in Kansas City.

She better leave that Spuds Mackenzie apron at home, though.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there! Whether your puppies have two legs or four, you deserve some appreciation for a job well done!

Another Farewell

I feel like every time I promise a follow-up post or start a themed series on this blog, something happens and I end up leaving my readers hanging.

Thanks for putting up with me.

I promise to get back to sharing my late grandfather’s amazing collection of dogtiques very soon.

In the meantime, I need to share something else.

My beloved Uncle Bruce passed away this week.


That’s my dad on the left and his big brother Bruce on the right, circa 2011.

Bruce’s departure from this world was not unexpected. His big, old heart had been failing him for a while.

But it is never easy to say goodbye to someone forever. Bruce’s absence is felt profoundly by the family, his community and beyond. He was a legendary man, much like the son who beat him to heaven.

In the near future, I look forward to sharing a bit more about my dear uncle and his impact on my life.

For now, here’s a picture of his granddog Harv, who brought smiles and comfort in the final days.

Harv the silky terrier

A dog in the lap is great therapy.

I will always miss you, Uncle Bruce. 

The Saddest Picture in the World

When I was a little emo kid, I would stare at this picture every time I went to my grandparents’ house.

The Lost Playmate

“The Lost Playmate” by Gustave Henry Mosler

This framed 1902 print of Gustave Henry Mosler‘s painting “The Lost Playmate” originally belonged to my great aunt Vera, a kind and hunchbacked old woman I can barely remember.

Upon her passing, my grandfather acquired this piece of Victorian art and it became a central piece in his collection of old dog prints and figurines.

My grandfather has been gone about a dozen years now, but most of his collection still decorates the house he shared with my grandmother.

“The Lost Playmate” will always be my favorite, but come back tomorrow, and I’ll show you more of his beautiful collection of dogtiques.

Out of Darkness


The kindness of strangers and friends alike has helped warm my heart over the past few days.

I am still processing the loss of Charlie Machete, as well as other unrelated family matters that I will not go into here.

Yet, even in dark times, there are reasons to rejoice.

A kiss from an old man, the squeeze of a sister’s hand, new life emerging on my doorstep – so much beauty abounds.

Joy to all on this spring Tuesday.

How I Spent My Spring Break Staycation

Today, I clock back in at the office after a whole week off.


As much as I love my colleagues and enjoy my job, leaving Zach and the dogs at home is going to be extra hard this morning.

Our first “vacation” of 2013 did not involve a plane ride to the Pacific Northwest or even a bike ride through Missouri’s wine country.

But the time spent together, in our own city and with our beloved dogs was pretty amazing.


Staycation 2013 highlights:

1. Replenishing our supply of homemade, non-toxic household products, including DIY laundry detergent, dryer sheets, dishwasher detergent and citrus-scented all-purpose cleaner.

2. Warming ourselves by the fire of tree branches and twigs that fell down during Kansas City’s recent big, bad snowstorms.

3. Taking time to explore Red X, a big store in Riverside, Missouri, that is part hardware store, part grocery store, part liquor store and part purveyor of antiques and weird animal statues.


4. Having Zach’s sister and brothers over for dinner and taking an extra plate to our neighbor, who brought us a lovely bouquet of flowers to say thanks.

5. Challenging one another to consume the super hot sauce and dried pepper flakes that Bethany brought us from her trip to the Philippines.

6. Going to a movie – Oz the Great and Powerful – on a weeknight.

7. Getting into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit over Irish eats and a Bloody Molly drink at neighborhood dive bar Swagger.

Have you ever stayed home for your vacation? What did you do?

The End of an Era

Valentine’s Day hit a sad note yesterday.


My cousin Sonya texted me in midafternoon about a family horse.

Stormy, the very tall palomino, had been found dead in the pasture.

He was old. He had been sick. But these things always come as a shock.

Sonya got Stormy when she was 8 years old. He was 8 years old, too. I was only 5, but I remember.

Big and proud, Stormy looked like a real life version of the Johnny West buckskin horse figure we played with.

We only knew of Johnny West because of this antique toy, a lasting remnant from our mothers’ shared childhood.

Stormy carried Sonya into countless show rings through her teens. The whole family would cheer from the bleachers as he weaved at top speed between barrels.

On the weekends I visited my cousins’ farm as a kid, Sonya and I might both hop on Stormy for a quick ride through the fields.

Sometimes it was scary. The horse was so very many hands high with a name that matched his disposition.

palomino and goat

A more recent photo of Stormy with his goat friend.

As he was ridden less, Stormy became more independent. My last experience in his saddle was terrifying and short, circa 2006.

But he was always eager for a handful of grain or an apple if you offered.

Although in recent years, the only person Stormy saw daily was my aunt Sandy – who found him cold yesterday – his passing is felt by our entire family.

Life can seem so long, but as you blink, the horse races around another barrel.

For 26 years, that yellow horse was there. Now, he’s not.

RIP, Stormy.

Share your horse stories in the comments.

%d bloggers like this: