Monday, March 28, 2011

life goes on...

When we got home, it seemed things had decided we needed cheering up. Everything had decided to bloom. It was so nice to see how life can continue as normal...spring is always magical, anyway...

A friend sent this gorgeous arrangement over the weekend...

We finished planning the funeral and reception. Because Be was a WWII veteran he will have the gun salute and taps at his internment.

I can't get behind the idea of wearing black for a year (or longer) like they used to, but I do like the idea of those arm bands people used to wear -- something that shows the world that people are grieving and just need a little consideration; a bit of compassion in this harsh --at times--world...

Friday, March 25, 2011


While we were away a guy stopped to ask Corey (Excy's son, taking care of the place), if we'd take in his horse. He said it was rideable but he couldn't keep it any longer. C explained the Sanctuary isn't an 'open' sanctuary for horses, but for wild mustangs only, and domestic horses wouldn't be welcomed by the 'wild ones,' and we didn't have the resources or land to take in any others, anyway. Apparently the guy didn't like what he heard.

A few days later C was over at the property at dusk and a truck pulling a rusty horse trailer pulled up to the entrance and stopped...when C stepped out of the shadows the truck sped down the road and but then turned around and stopped again at the lane. The same guy and a woman got out of the truck, and he launched into more of his sob story about how they were broke and couldn't afford to feed the horse, how it had a broken leg and couldn't be ridden, and how it needed a home. They had intended to just dump it in the corral and go on their merry way. Knowing it would be in peril and there would be fighting among the mustangs didn't seem to bother them in the least, I guess.

I wish C had gotten their name and number. As annoyed as I was to hear yet another case of someone dumping a helpless animal off on someone -- and it happens all the time, but with horses it's a bigger problem, as you can imagine -- I can think of a dozen ways this innocent horse can be saved, and it sure deserves better than the people it's with now. I hate to think of it with a broken leg, too...


Some people aren't fit to own a gerbil.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Bye Be

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Be had a full life...he was improving and we were looking at assisted living facilities when he took a turn for the worse in rehab - a combination of being released from the hospital too early and being given the wrong drug at the rehab facility - not sure if this happened due to the doctor error or at the rehab but by the time we got him back to the ER it was too late and he died the next day...we are on the way home - about 10 hrs away now -- planning the service and all it entails and driving back out in 2 weeks' time -- now I know why the bereaved are so shell-shocked -- when do you get time to decompress and grieve?? Thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers..p.s. we learned the doctor wanted to leave town for 'march madness' and made the wrong judgment call -- and had no one on call in his practice! Amazing. Just amazing...this will run in both Santa Fe papers and the Baltimore Sun...

James Houston Eccleston Johnston, died age 90 on Friday, March 18, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Nick-named “Be” (family lore: as a child he couldn’t pronounce ‘me’ and would say, “Give it to Be”), Be was born into a historically prominent Maryland family at their summer home ‘Burnside,’ where his grandfather started a 500-acre dairy farm in the Green Spring Valley, in Stevenson, MD (formerly Eccleston, MD), outside of Baltimore. He was a member of the Society of Cincinnati, whose members are direct descendants of officers of the American Revolution.

Be’s formative years were spent on Burnside with five siblings, where adhering to the propriety and social mores of the upper echelon did not prevent him from youthful adventures and high-jinks, such as spending summers working at a family-owned mine panning for gold, or driving a car with friends cross-country.

When World War II broke out Be was at first unable to join up due to poor eyesight, so in 1942 he volunteered for the American Field Service, serving with the British 8th Army, and driving ambulances across the African desert. Though he seldom discussed the war except for humorous anecdotes, exploits of his valor are described in the book Ambulance in Africa, written in 1945 by Evan Thomas, who mentions Be by name. Following service with the British Army, Be was finally able to enlist in the U.S. Marines in 1943. He was assigned to the 5th Marine Division, which went to Iwo Jima. Fortunately, Be was left behind in the rear echelon in Hawaii. Be received an Honorable Discharge in 1945.

Be attended high school at Saint Andrews in Delaware (featured in the movie The Dead Poet’s Society), and Trinity College in CT before the war. After the war he attended Georgia Tech on the GI bill.

Be lived all over the country, ultimately preferring the west to life on the east coast. The majority of his career was spent with the Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Co., where he was sales rep/field agent for TX, AZ, and NM, receiving numerous awards before retiring in 1992 after 25 years.

Among Be’s many interests were horse racing, racing chariots, and driving his team of ‘minis’ in parades and to area nursing homes, to the enjoyment of the residents.

Be is survived by wife Jean Johnston, son J.H.E “Excy” Johnston (Amy), of AR, sister Caroline “Carrie” Gardiner, of AZ, and numerous stepchildren, nephews, nieces, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and many, many friends. He is preceded in death by first wife Rozenia Dunn Johnston and daughter Martha “Mattie” Johnston, and his second wife Flo Watkins, as well as his parents and four brothers.

An honorable man with an infectious sense of humor, Be saw only the good in everyone he met, and cultivated friendships of all ages. A life-long Episcopalian, both Be’s brother and Uncle were noted Episcopal priests.
Services will be held on April 9 at 11:00 a.m., St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, 1601 S. St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, NM 87505. Telephone: 505 982 1133. A reception at the church will follow immediately afterwards.

Memorial contributions may be given to the following nonprofits: Wing Spur Wild Horses (; and the von Hippel Lindau Family Alliance (

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Westward, Ho...

Tomorrow we are on the way to Santa Fe. Be now has a feeding tube and had a reaction to narcotics, so is just on a mild drug, so he's still in pain and refuses to move...he's asking for Excy...I am taking the laptop so hope to find a way to keep connected...but may be away for a week...take care, all...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fabulous Frodo and The Alien

Frodo found his forever-home this afternoon. Our housecleaner mentioned she was looking for a "tiny kitten" to be a companion to their adult cat and also for her daughter. She didn't think she'd be interested in a young male, but agreed to go to the studio to meet him before she left. I watched as Excy and R walked down the lane....and then walk back up with Frodo nestled in her arms! Soon after arriving home she called to say Frodo would not be returning to us and he and her daughter were having a love-fest on the porch. Excy came in and said that as soon as they had walked in the door Frodo made a bee-line towards her. He quickly worked his magic. This is the 30th cat we've found homes for...I feel so happy (and relieved) every time...
and the Alien...
Corey's cat is our resident alien. She's moved with him from Texas, Chicago, Arkansas, and soon, probably this summer, California. A peripatetic traveler.

He doesn't know how old Dixie is (Dixie Lou Ellen Johnston). Someone shoved her in his arms when she was a young cat. He's had her ten years, though. For an older cat, she is as active and playful as a youngster, forever wandering around trying to get one of our three rousted from their snooze on the bed for a game of chase.

Having been an only cat, and having lived briefly and unsuccessfully with two dogs and another cat, C was convinced she wouldn't acclimate to our household and kept her in the guest room the first 6-8 weeks. When we finally got home from Excy's surgery in Cleveland, I started opening the guest room door. She'd venture out and stealthily explore, darting back to 'her' room at a moment's notice.

Her big discovery was our bedroom cat door to the screened porch. She's never been outside. After watching longingly the others go in and out, she screwed up her courage. Now the porch is her favorite hangout. That and a sunny window ledge in our bedroom. Despite her occasional rambunctious, Dixie is a timid cat -- think Don Knotts in The Ghost and Mr Chicken -- but she's slowly coming into her own.

She and Togo agreed to tolerate each other. By some unspoken agreement they merely ignore the other's presence. Phoenix she mildly dislikes for the simple fact Phoe has taken to sleeping on C's bed. Dixie dislikes sharing 'her' person...C can wear her on his head* or tease her, but she adores him and she lives for when he comes home, greeting him at the door any time of the night.

But she and Lenny -- well, they're a revelation. It may be because he's male, young, and friendly to all cats, but they romp and place chase all over the house. Usually he runs and she chases him. He runs looking backwards to make sure she's hot on his tail.

With me, Dixie's figured out I can't chase her, which is her favorite game. So she'll engage me by flopping on her side and yelling "braaaccckkkoooo," and then racing off into another room and hiding. I stomp off after her and clap my hands when I 'find' her and she runs to another hiding spot.

Sometimes she gets lost for real -- the house is bigger than the apartments she's used to -- and she'll caterwaul until we call back to her. When C's gone a long time she'll pace and cry for him. When we come home she always comes to greet us but looks rather crest-fallen it's not C.

Dixie can't stand the black stray -- despite being male and friendly. I think she feels there's 'no room at the Inn,' and she worked hard to get here and doesn't want to be displaced by an interloper. I've grown fond of this strange alien girl. I'll miss her one day. I think she'll miss us, too.

*see my halloween post (2010 halloween WOW) to see Dixie being worn as a hat...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Way to Go, Woody

Even the most mediocre Woody Allen movies are better than most. We find them all entertaining, funny and at times suspenseful. My favorites are the wry and tender (and amusing and poignant and sarcastic) Hannah & Her Sisters, the excellent Annie Hall, the Purple Rose of Cairo, Radio Days, Deconstructing Harry, and Melinda & Melinda. Oh, and Match Point.

I'll always have a soft spot for NY Stories, a trilogy of segments from three directors (Allen's was the best, the entire movie was rather dull). We saw it on our first real date after meeting initially for lunch the week before. We were in love by the end of the night.

Some of the middling ones (IMO) that are still great to watch include Midnight Summer's Sex Comedy, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Alice, Everybody Says I Love You, Shadows & Fog, Stardust Memories, and Broadway Danny Rose.

The only one I couldn't watch because of hand-held jerky camera movements was Husbands & Wives. His earlier ones are just too silly but sometimes in a silly mood they're a hoot, especially Sleeper, or Take the Money and Run, or Bananas. The only real bore, to me, is Interiors.

Last night we watched You Will Meet a Tall, Dark, Stranger. While not top drawer, it was a fun way to pass the evening. The cast was excellent. It was interesting.

Footnote: Excy's 90-yr-old dad, 'Be,' has been in the hospital since Sunday -- he had fallen last Wednesday and the pain was getting intolerable. This Thursday he had a pacemaker put in and after stabilizing him some more, today they performed hip surgery, as he had fractured it in the fall. Excy will go out in a few days when they take him to a rehab facility, and I'll follow when I can help him out and cook and freeze some meals....

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Truck Fever

Excy's got new truck fever. Or at least, new to us. As in a '09 Dodge diesel he found on Craig's List that resides in Texas. But at this point, almost any Dodge will do as long as it pulls 1500 lbs.

I don't blame him. The '03 Ford has given us nothing but financial and other headaches for two years. No one will take responsibility, but the same parts need fixing, and my mechanic cousin says there is no way it could keep happening unless it was 'fixed' incorrectly. Regardless, it's cost us around $4000 so far, and left us stranded on the side of the road for two days on the way to Santa Fe, using up all the money I had saved for Indian market and then some. To hell with it. Excy doesn't feel comfortable driving it long-distance especially pulling horses. He doesn't fit in my little Vibe, and it can't haul a trailer anyway. We need a tough vehicle.

We don't have the money to repair it this time so it's sitting at the service center. Knowing they caused the problem when they 'fixed' it last time, and would charge $800 to replace a part we can buy wholesale for $400 leaves a bad taste in my mouth, anyway.

He's been talking about selling it as is and using the money to finance another one. Or leasing. He's a smart man. He'll figure it out. It is a model that people like and if they are a mechanic, it'd be a good deal.

All these financial pressures are building, as we knew they would after the 'year of surgery' last year. Selling the house is a given. More people are interested in the property. I'd rather keep it so we have the option to build across the street if a move west doesn't pan out. I told him when we'd go out in a few weeks I'd keep an open mind but I don't want to be backed into a corner.

Sigh. In the meantime, it's a lovely day...