Our “Fat Guy In His Little Coat”

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    Dash: a symbol of continuum that connects words together, a quick move or sprint, in our case, a short stocky brown and black mutt that I drove across the state of Florida to bring into our lives, and into the picture he did, Dash, hence, his name was bestowed. He was an adorably cute roly poly mix of Dachshund/Weimaraner/ Black Mouth Cur and I thought for sure some German Shepard, and they thought possibly some Bassett Hound, though to me, I did not see it, his short legs were from his Dachshund genes most likely. I based my addition of German Shepard on his coloring his protective nature and his devotion.  

     Dash quickly pushed open the door to the room in our hearts that he would occupy, and barged in with exuberance and the pure joy of being alive.   He was funny, stubborn, brave, smart, every trait that finds its home in the positive column.  We have and have had, many other pets, I love/loved them immensely, each has their own room in my heart, something about Dash, made me hang an extra picture, paint his room a special color, he just touched me that way.   

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     When he was a puppy, my son and I would laugh, as Dash rolled like a ball, as I gently pushed him with my foot to lay down.  Instead of just laying down, cozy on the rug, his long, chubby puppy body would just roll until he stopped, such a comical chap he was,  from the very beginning.


    He got along best with our larger female dog and smaller female. Our older male, Alabama, was gentle with him when he was a pup, but as Dash grew, I thought his own pushy fearless nature in the presence of other dogs, might start a tussle, so he was usually out in our yard in the company of the females.  He would pounce on Jetta, our Border Collie/Chow mix, even though she was four times his size, or more, when he was a pup, she always was almost double his size, even when he reached adulthood.   She would endure his mock attacks, even though they were quite rough, as, she loved him too. 

  When Dash was about two, I rescued a small terrier mix, Stella.  In some way, I thought I did it for him,  as Jetta got impatient with him, and Gem, our Papillon mix rescue, much smaller than him, didn’t care for his rough play.  She was an absolute pistol, she would tear around the yard with him, he was in heaven.  I became ill for a couple months and had less contact with the dogs, when I recovered, it seemed Stella had lost interest in Dash, and preferred to dig up our yard and bark, sadly which led to me finding her a new home as I realized she just didn’t “fit”.  I think I also decided to re-home her, as Dash would look so forlorn and unhappy that she no longer played with him, it almost angered me, and I had to remove the source of his sadness.  As I sat thinking of him after he had left us, trying to make myself feel better, and convince myself that I had been a good pet parent to him, I remembered this event. I had less time for him over the last year due to family events you see, and have felt great guilt over that.  But I realized that I had removed Stella partly for him, I had taken her out of our families picture, I had tried to chase out and protect him from any sadness or hurt that came his way.  My heart felt a bit more at peace, but not much, as I could not save him from the final hurt nor pry him from its grasp.      

         Before the tug of war with Death to save Dash that I lost, an earlier struggle perhaps was a message of how short our time together was destined to be.  Our home backed up to woods, where in Florida harbor many snakes, some of them dangerous.  One day I heard our collie mix barking what I knew to be a warning.  We quickly went out to find a diamondback rattlesnake against the fence, it appeared neither of our dogs had gotten close. We got rid if and thought things were fine until I spotted Dash under a light in the evening with his head swollen badly.  We rushed him to the vet, they saved him with three anti-venom shots and hours of care, a very high financial cost but I could not bear the thought of losing Dash, not yet.  I suppose God at that time, had blessed us a reprieve.  It was about two years later that He decided that loan had come due, it was time for Him to call Dash home. That second tug of war Death and I had for Dash, the fight was very brief, Death won before I even knew there was a contest, before I even had time to get a grasp on the rope, there would be no reprieve this time, Dash was taken from me. 

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    Over the short 4 1/2 years that Dash was with us, our walks to the park, our visits to the beach, our ” toss a toy” game in the yard, I found joy and comic relief watching his actions.  We always wish we had more time to spend with those we love, including our pets, in the day to day struggle which is life.  We have many pets, and Dash was the one I gave most of my limited time to.  I have lost many pets over the years, companions that I wept buckets over, four legged friends that I still mourn, many, many years after their passing.  In Dash’s memory, I will never bring another pet into our home.  I will always wish I had spent more time with Dash, he loved us so, he would jump clear off the ground when we were together out of joy, which with his short legs was not an easy task.  He deserved more of my time, he deserved more time on the couch with me, in his ” tv” spot.  I also have felt a very deep grief that I have felt only with a couple other pets, and it simply hurts too much to bring it yet again into my life.  I love all my other pets dearly, I am sure as much as I loved Dash, and I will feel grief when we part, but losing him for whatever why or wherefore, has caused an overwhelming sadness that I will always carry.   His legacy is, he will be that last addition.  Quite a feat to halt the unending stream of pets brought in by my hand, but Dash has done it. His spot in my heart has left room for no other pet, save for the others already there.  

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Thank you Dash for protecting our home, being our companion, our walking partner, but most of all, for making us laugh. We will indeed forgive you for making us cry. 

Copyright 2018 © Thoughts From Outside the Box Shelley Ann Klukiewicz All Rights Reserved.

Discovering Our I and Me


         We all start our journey at birth, or possibly before depending on your beliefs.  We are born each holding an invisible slate, upon which the world and our experiences in it, carve a story.  Of course, our choices, our “luck” if you will, and misfortunes, share an equal task in creating this narrative.

        We each search for peace and happiness, that can sometimes be the quest of our lifetime.  This is always evolving depending on where you are in your life, to be different things, leading to various paths, each creating their own chapter in the story of our I and Me.

          In this journey, the one who is always there, who will accompany us at every step, is ourselves, our I and Me.  I have always found it interesting learning about, my I and Me.  I differentiate the two as I is the more driven declarative independant part, “I will do this”.   Me is more nurturing, emotion driven, living closer to the heart, “That makes me feel sad”.   We learn things about ourselves all the time, our feelings, our passions, what drives us, and what can cause us to hesitate, sometimes even to stop.  Being open to our complete I and Me, the parts that are easy to look at, as well as the ones that we can barely face, is what makes I and Me  finally become one in the same.


        I have always had a creative side, I sketched when younger, but was always better at writing, words were always the forte I ran to when I was searching for, or trying to understand I and Me.   Whether it was the sad “me” on the verge of tears, the angry “I” who stood “engarde” ready to protect my vulnerable psyche, or maybe the curious “Me”, trying to learn and understand, people, reasons, or sometimes just, “Why”?   My search would sometimes lead me to, at that time, pick up a pen, now it is to sit at a keyboard.   The words would come, and lead me to further understand both I and Me.  It has taken me many years, only now do I feel I have completely found both.


      Here are three poems of mine, from many years ago as well as more recent.  I have included the ones in this post that fall under the basic idea of finding all aspects of ourselves and how we see the world around us.  They all have varied flows, as each one comes from a different facet, be it I or Me.   

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  I have included some early sketching I did as well, many years ago before writing became my chosen method of expression.


Gaze at me

take me in

my face, my body


Turn to me

relish my voice

accept my words


Touch me 

my skin

my hair


Smell me

my scent

my essence


Hold me

take my vows

accept no other


Support me

be my brace

never falter


Taste me

the bitter

as well the sweet


Caress me

pull my strings

hear my music


Take my hand

leap across

don’t look down


Accept me

my past

my future

my whole life



I thought you were the sun

You more resembled the moon.

I thought you were the stars

You were just a fleeting comet.

I thought you would soothe like warmth

You burned more like dry ice.

I though you would taste as steak

It was more like ham off the bone.

I savored you rich as Godiva

You chose to be Dollar Store chocolate.

I thought you sparkled as diamonds

Guess it was just obsidian glare.

I thought you would walk beside me

Turned out, you couldn’t keep pace.

I thought your door was open

You closed it with a deafening latch.


Some words cannot be spoken

they have to be kept to oneself.

Some feelings cannot be expressed

they have to be locked deep inside.

Some heartaches cannot be shared

they have to be suffered in silence.

Some anger cannot be unleashed

it has to be quietly dealt with.

Some injuries cannot be healed

they have to be taken in stride.

Some events cannot be altered

they have to be used as a lesson.

Some tears cannot be dried

they have to be swept away.

Some people cannot be forgiven

they just have to be forgotten.


Copyright 2018 © Thoughts From Outside the Box  Shelley Ann Klukiewicz  All Rights Reserved.






Know Your Bandwagon


      This post was prompted by some recent “bandwagons” that have been in the news and my desire to delve into the psychology of them and those who gleefully jump on, most without really knowing why:   

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         Thank you, englishnotes@mail.com. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

       All causes and crusades usually have noble beginnings, or at least the thought is pure.  Some stay that way, others become ” bandwagons” that when researched properly, are found to be detrimental to their chosen cause in some way, or at the very least, no real help at all.  They take on a life of there own driven by false applause and the shallow mindset of those who want to be thought of as crusaders, but are really just looking to put forth a mirage of caring and compassion so they can climb aboard and gain some of that applause for themselves.

       Most of my causes or crusades involve animals, not all, but most.  I think because while many human predicaments are worthy,  and I have always been an advocate of any underdog, or person I felt needed my help, animal causes hold a special place in my heart.  This reason being, that although they certainly speak, it is not a language we all understand therefore help is harder for them to ask for, and not all will hear.

       The loudest bandwagon that got my attention recently was the bill introduced in New York State, my former home, to outlaw the declawing of cats.  Now, in a perfect world, this would not be necessary, but our world is not perfect.  In my home over the years, our pet cats have literally done hundreds (actually thousands) of dollars in damage to our furniture, drapes, rugs, anything they decided to sink their formidable claws into.  Yes, we have always had multiple cats, so our damage was worse than those with one or two.  We have always had scratching posts. but for all cat owners, we know, they like the things we DON’T buy for them the most.  Yes, of course they help, especially if you spray catnip on them, but they don’t STOP all damage.  There are also those that say, ” cats can be trained, just do it”, I 100 % agree.  All the cats I ever owned have come running to me when I call, save for my beautiful RIP Zelda who lived in her own wild world, where she bowed or catered to noone and our Theresa, named for the town our lovely Splendid Isolation still inhabits, our thought is being she was half feral, and her yowl is like no other of our cats, she has a bobcat gene, and they don’t answer to names.   So, yes I have trained my cats, but stretching and sharpening their claws is instinct, which you can not remove.  

       We have owned three declawed cats, two of my husbands, who were happy and healthy  as much as any clawed cat, they lived inside. Our Lucy who we were blessed with for 15 years, was declawed and even though we had planned to keep her a house cat, she would have none of that.  She ruled the neighborhood with her declawed front paws, no dog or other cat dared enter her turf, she fought off foxes and ate rabbits whole, she lived a glorious happy healthy life as a declawed cat.  I would not recommend declawing most cats that go outside though, as they are not Lucy.  My point is they might have had sore paws for, it seemed one day with Lucy, but they suffered no other malady or pain or problems. Declawing is most certainly not the evil deed these bandwagon junkies try to paint it. 

       This is extremely important to me and should be to all, as it is only reasonable to realize that many people have generous hearts and would love to rescue a shelter pet and save it from euthanasia, but they cannot afford to replace furniture or other valuables, they don’t want to let the cat outside where so many dangers lurk, and contrary to these bandwagon jumpers, even the most docile cat can turn into a slippery cagey beast when you attempt to cut their claws.  

       These bandwagoners list all these alternatives: cut their claws, get scratching posts, let the cat outside, or simply don’t get a cat.  One even was so naïve (or stupid, I’m still trying to decide) as to say that “If declawing is outlawed, people will not get as many cats, breeders will stop breeding them, and there will be less going to shelters”.  After I stopped ripping out my hair, I posted back to her (this was on Instagram) “My dear, number one: breeders are the most greedy heartless creatures on earth, they breed for money, they don’t care about the animals, they will never do anything that would actually HELP, number two, most cats in shelters come from people not spaying and neutering their pets” (a subject for another post). We learned much about breeders after our Zelda suffered and died at two due to breeding practices she was an innocent victim of, which led to my crusade against breeders. 

        What the supporters of this bill do not realize, is the reactions of their actions.  If people lose the option to declaw a cat to make it an easier fit into their household, there will be less adoptions, more kittens and cats put to sleep, or gassed, simply because there are millions in shelters and not enough homes for them now, this bill will make it even harder for some people to want to add a cat to their home.

         The anger and hate that was hurled at me via this thread on Instagram when I tried to reasonably state the reality of this bill to people who just want to wave their ” look at me doing something that will help animals” flag and will stop at nothing to silence those that point out the REAL truth of what this bill would do, was astounding.  I don’t respond to attacks well, so I gave it back to them, but it did no good as some people refuse to take the “self” out of what they think is selfless.  My way to help is to use social media, where if a few agree with me, they will bring in a few more to my side, those few will bring in a few more,  etc. etc. etc.  I have protested for years on foot, in the fray, now it is more this media where my crusades are fought, though I will never pass up a protest dear enough to me if I can get to it. 

         The second  animal bandwagon is the outlawing of tethering your dog, same blind self centered look at mes ride this one, and outcome is the same: most people work, they don’t have time to walk a dog as much as it should be, especially the large or active breeds. If they cannot tie their dog out in the yard, of course in comfort, with shade shelter and water for part of the day,  something we did, something that has been done for generations, they will just chose to not rescue a dog. Another life lost due to false good done by false people. 


         The third noisy bandwagon, that I noticed quickly disappeared when it was found out that one was only started due to of course, money and greed,  was the protest against horse pulled carriages, this particular stunt was in New York City.   Horses are meant to run, to pull, to carry, again, with reason and good care.  A well treated  carriage horse is not an abused animal.  Most of them also provide a way for people to feed and house their families, so most of them are cared for acceptably, and there are laws to protect them.  This protest was started when a real estate developer wanted the land that the stables were housed on, it was found out that if this law passed, most of the horses would be sold to slaughterhouses as there would be nowhere for them to go.  Thankfully, when it was discovered that greed led that false cause, it went away.  The people that jumped with glee on the bandwagon, again, did no research, or just didn’t care, that the horses would be slaughtered if that law went through, and people would lose their source of income.  Again, the noise and glitz of the bandwagon was all they heard and could see.


       In all these cases, no real good would or will be done by these laws passing, only animals and people will suffer. Those who have the love to rescue an animal but are not allowed options to bring them comfortably into their home will miss out on the happiness a pet can bring, and more animals in the now far far too overcrowded shelters, will have their life ended before it ever really began.  Let the circus of these bandwagons pass by, ignore them and let your silence make them fade away.  Know your cause, and make it a real one. 


Copyrighted 2018 © Thoughts From Outside the Box  Shelley Ann Klukiewicz All Rights Reserved.

Images: pastandpresent.com  tropicalcyclecross.com  gypsysisters.com 


Creative Determination: A Pathway To Idols

       We all have our idols, those we look up to, admire and sometimes emulate.  Many times they act as our guidance, our support,  or in some way shine the flashlight that illuminates our dark and unseen path. My idols come from all walks of life, some as close as to be within my own family, some are of the rich, famous and usually unapproachable. Many of my idols are musicians.   They speak through their lyrics and this is how we get to know them, to connect and share beliefs and experiences.   This post is about some of my idols, how I got to meet them and what I took from those amazing encounters.

      My lifelong concertgoing started when I was 14, Elton John at the incomparable Syracuse War Memorial, a place where my young musical memories started and to this day, a place that holds a special room in my heart. This small icon made of stone, glass and tile would set me on my path of finding solace and strength from the unparalleled experience of connecting live with a musician that through their words spoke to my spirit and soul. That first show of watching Mr. John strut out in his signature big glasses and long robe, which was his attire in his early career, opened a door for me of  fun, excitement and adventure, adding priceless memories to my life.  I became hooked on this “drug” then and at 62 have not given it up, and never will, it is an innate part of who I am. Over the years, my girlfriend and I, sometimes just her and I, sometimes with others in tow, would see a multitude of famous musicians, all in their prime, all well known and at the top of the charts.  My partial list as I recall, some I know are left out, forgive me: Elton John, Alice Cooper, Three Dog Night, Grand Funk Railroad, Ten Years After, Badfinger, Rod Stewart and The Small Faces, J. Geils Band (numerous times)  Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes, Uriah Heep, Grateful Dead, Bad Company, Sonny and Cher ( this one my Dad working as police security, got us stage side) I know I am missing some, those were just at the War Memorial where it all started, many more were to come.

      I like most people, never thought much about meeting any of my idols, but in 2001, the first chance came to me.  I had entered a contest online on ” Why I would like to meet Bad Company. ” Contestants were asked to write out why and what it would mean to them, lo and behold, I won!  The show was to be  in Chicago at the Tweeter Center, a wonderful place and a city that had special memories as my husband and I had taken our honeymoon there.   At the time, I was very sick with a flu, even had missed some days of work at my new job.  This was very unusual for me, but I had laryngitis and was an office manager, how do you run an office if you can’t talk?  I was so ill my crazy mind even wondered if I could make it.  I then thought, “Are you daft, this is Paul Rodgers!” I gathered my strength, we took the kids to their Grandparents Klukiewicz, and off we drove to our adventure.  After the concert, we were taken to the backstage meeting room with Dawn, the woman who had put on the contest, along with a small group of others.  I was extremely, nervous, I saw Dave ” Bucket” Caldwell, who we met later, then in walked Simon Kirke. I knew others would jump in front of me and take up his time if I did not act fast so I quickly walked up to him and introduced myself, my husband not far behind. We talked for about 20 minutes, he was very kind and humble.  We then asked where Paul Rodgers was, he said Paul was meeting very few people but that he would find him for us as we had driven 11 hours.  I told him as fans, that was nothing but he was quite impressed by it.   He tracked down Paul, came and waved us to follow him, and in we walked to this tiny back room to see Paul Rodgers himself.  I was quite starstruck, barely able to speak, but as the time went on, I did manage to talk and got to hug Paul twice, which he enjoyed so much he wrote me a special autograph about it!  He was extremely warm and kind to my husband and I, nothing pretentious or phony about him, a true legend.  He listened to us patiently as we excitedly told him we have been fans since Free. I proudly told him Free is and always will be my favorite band. We even  found out later, he took my husbands advice when he told him he had been a DJ in college and that in his opinion, Paul should hand out his ” Now and Live” cd at concerts as it is such dynamite.  We read in later weeks he was doing just that! We had taken a picture with Simon and Dawn, but were so starstruck that we forgot to take one with Paul Rodgers, but we did get great conversation and wonderful autographs.  After we left Paul, we hung out with Simon for about an hour longer just chatting and enjoying the moments. Both of these men were true gentleman and humble despite their worldwide fame.




    My next Rock and Roll Fantasy came in 2009, when as a fan of Extreme, I learned they were appearing on VH1’s, That Metal Show, with Eddie Trunk, filming in New York City.  Again, it involved sending in a request to be in the audience and meet the guys afterwards.  They asked for pictures, I suppose to make sure we were cool and hip enough looking. I sent my daughters and I in as we were going to go. We were accepted but due to school, she was unable to go, my husband took her place.  What fun that was!  We saw a couple good shots of us that are in the show when it aired, we were famous!  I even got Nuno to wave at me from the stage.  I was on cloud nine.  It was Valentine’s day so I had bought some PETA chocolate candy to give to Nuno.  After the show there was a line, which again, I had to really push my way in as there is only so much time allotted, and other fans will if you don’t.  At these events you need to claim your spot quick,  I had to grab my husband by the collar and pull him next to me in line which was quite funny to onlookers. When my turn came, again, I was quite speechless.  I told Nuno what an honor it was to meet him, he took a great picture with me, and thanked me very much for the candy.  He also signed my favorite CD of his, LOVE, in the exact spot I asked him to.  I am a bit of a control freak, it HAD to be written a certain way as I knew I was going to frame it!  We met Eddie Trunk and Jim his cohost who were also great down to earth people.  We still have our That Metal Show tee shirts as another momento. 





     The next pathway again, led to Extreme.  I am a huge fan, Nuno is to me THE best guitarist on the planet, as well as a great singer and songwriter.  They are one of the best live bands I have ever seen, pure raw energy and talent.  They were going to film a live DVD in Boston of their concert at the wonderful House of Blues, so of course we said, ” Let’s Go !”  The show was amazing, they also had a show the night before at Hampton Beach Casino in New Hampshire that we attended, and met them afterwards in the parking lot.  I was able to talk with Gary and Nuno, both so humble kind, and Nuno is quite funny, in a sarcastic way.  The DVD show was a total blast. Again, we managed to get on film for a few seconds being right up in front.   My blond curly hair at that time can be seen bopping around, it was SUCH fun.  I still have a black towel Nuno tossed into the audience, its around my neck in photos, a real-time concert memory!




     That year, 2009, was amazing in that we met Extreme, during the summer, again at Hampton Beach Casino, a great venue for concerts, we saw Paul Rodgers solo show where my son and I got to meet the fantastic Lynn Sorenson, Paul’s bassist at the time.  I had called to him as he walked by, he came over and kindly took a picture with my son and I, too bad my husband had the flash off, but it is still a good picture and great memory.


      Later that year I met the man that has been my idol for decades, Jackson Browne.  Now this one took some doing but me being the never say never creative thinker that I am, made it happen.  We had tickets to his show in downstate New York, I had seen Jackson numerous times, I lose track of what number this was.  I kept up with his page and saw that it was also a political fundraiser for a local politician in that area running for Senate.  It mentioned that there was a meet and greet after the show, the cost was quite high.  My wheels got turning.  I called the number from his page listed for information and talked to the campaign manager.  I expressed what a fan I was, that we already had tickets, and that we would be willing to pay extra to be included in the meet and greet.  It was a tough sell as we have a budget and I could only offer him what was within it, my angle to him was, “This was a fundraiser yes, you might not be getting the big bucks the meet and greet cost those that got it from the get go, but you will be getting a decent donation and isn’t that what this is all about?” He couldn’t argue with my logic, and we were in!

After the show, we spent almost two hours with Jackson as it was that long and you could stay as long as you want.  I spoke to him about his music, politics, how I admire him to the core, how his music has spoken to me in so many ways, for so many years.  I do believe he is the best lyricist of modern music, bar none. He truly has an aura ahout him you can feel.   He was like my “Jesus”, he has this ethereal calm and other worldly peace that you just feel soothed in the presence of.  We walked out with him and a few of his staff plus a couple other fans, it was absolutely a dream.  Later that night, I had not slept, was dehydrated, still nervous and could not believe I had met him, I got home took two Aleves (which you should not do) along with my sleeping pill.  Needless to say, I woke up heart racing feeling faint, we called 911, I spent a few hours in the hospital.  I tell it as almost being  “Death by Jackson”, though not that dire, it was a bad reaction to the above actions.  A true night I will never forget, as they all were.


     I continue to go to concerts, will for the rest of my life as long as I am able, as to me it is like nothing else.  The feeling of sharing music you love, with the artists you admire, and others who feel the same, is one big euphoric event that once you experience it, you want to do it again and again.  It is uplifting and has always brought me great joy.   Our idols are just people like you and me, but they have talents that bring us together, give us memories to last a lifetime.  It takes attention to detail, perseverance, creative thinking and just the right touch of pushiness to reach these many times unobtainable people, but it can be done.  Create some determination, your idols are waiting.

These two poems came to me not long after our lovely night at Extremes DVD filming.  It was such a phenomenal time, my brain was working overtime.  Though I have been to countless concerts, I was never a “groupie”, but I understand the mindset of where true groupies come from.  The first one was inspired by Gary and Nuno, told from a groupies point of view.   The second one comes from my great attraction to any wonderful voice, it was inspired by Nuno’s marvelous soothing yet seductive croon.  I phrase and put my words together in ways that hopefully help the reader flow through the poem  with the correct pauses I want.   It just comes to me that way, and I write it.  I was never formally taught, its just natural. Enjoy. 

Heaven On Four Wheels

Let us in

your den of sin

including him.

My, My,

with that addition

don’t even try

to erase

my ear to ear


No need to look farther

No need to wish harder.

You take one side

I the other

no preference, though

I may prefer the left

as is closer to the heart

of the man

the god

the ethereal Angel?

Maybe best to combine

the former and the latter

leave the middle out

as is the one that seems

to cause the most trouble, sometimes.

Lest not forget

our circle maker

our nightdream chaser

our sunshine keeper,

Two a couple

three a crowd

four a wall.

No one enters

noone leaves

Heaven on four wheels?

You’ve got yourself

a deal.

Sex Through a Microphone

Pied Piper, work your magic

the mic set low

softly start

your grand crescendo.

Paint with your musical art

Seduce with your musical passion

Leave me breathless

Leave me spent

Leave me touched

by sex through a microphone.



Helpless in its onslaught

I close my eyes,

bring up the image

all eyes and lips

Vulnerable yet erotic?

Strong yet delicate?

All at the same time.

Quite the package…fret not withstanding

How sweet.

What just happened

was somewhat sudden

The notes were sweet

The voice like velvet

I touched the tuner

and once again became

A victim of your sensuality

and your ability to perform

Sex through a microphone.

With quickened pulse

I took my stance

Parted lips, familiar touch

I braced myself

for sex through a microphone

My knees are weak

My thoughts are scrambled

Can I speak, not likely

I just had

Sex through a microphone

All images and writings property of Shelley Ann Klukiewicz Copyright (C) 2018 Thoughts from Outside the Box. All rights reserved.




Adversity: Does it Strengthen or Destroy?


           Adversity, a word with a meaning I and mine understand all too well.   This post will explore my thoughts and feelings on how it affects the lives it touches, how it has affected mine and those I love, and what I feel it has brought to us, and taken away.  This post is also not a scorecard if you will, of who has endured more, overcome more, or whose hurdles were higher to jump.   First line Adversity Warriors face serious obstacles: illness, high end stress occurrences, deep felt family struggles, personal demons and daily fights for survival in many forms.   Second line Warriors face minor daily stresses, small family quarrels, passing work problems, low end stress events.  We all know which level we stand on, though not all will admit it.  

          My adversity started pretty much out of the womb, born into what would become a smorgasbord of just about every family struggle invented.  We are all tossed into the ring of life to land in a certain spot, be it by God, the Universe, whatever entity we each chose to believe has flung us there, we are there, nonetheless. through no fault or doing of our own.  

         Through my life I endured and fought through, as did my siblings and half-siblings, though all to different degrees: many family dysfunctions.  Alcoholism, domestic violence, neglect in many forms.  I do not blame my parents totally, as they were, as we were, a part of what I call ” the victim upon victim syndrome”.  Rather self explanatory, but for the layman, I simply mean, many are victims of what came before them, and they in turn place it upon those in their care, and so forth and so on.   Victims of abuse, neglect, hurtful actions and habits, often unknowingly foster and act out on those same impulses that they so distained when they were the recipients.   It takes a very strong individual to completely stop this “circle of victims”, I myself will not claim to be that person, as in some ways I am, but in many I am not.   So, for my first look at adversity, no blame is placed, it just was.  A place my soul landed, a place I was meant to be, my place, the beginning of my journey.


          My life as it unfolded had bright spots, and dark clouds, as most of us do, some more than others.   I fought to keep depression at bay, always more prone to anxiety and worry, depression was more of an easy fix for me, the other two were not.   Though depression would visit me in later years, requiring more of a frontal attack to chase it back behind its walls.  For those of us that fight these parts of our personalities, sometimes it seems normal, they are so ingrained in our beings, ourselves.  To those that are lucky enough to never see the dark faces of those traits, I sometimes wish they could step inside one who does, and see the true face of real adversity, and understand.  I believe the world would improve immensely,  if this occasional  “changing of the guard” could take place.

        I have noticed as the years have gone by, every adversity shapes you.  Some may strengthen a part of you, your resolve, your stubbornness, give you new insights into yourself and how to fight against lifes curveballs.  But there also are those that actually are only there to weaken, to cripple, to make you stumble and ultimately fall.   You only notice the latter when you have faced many of the former.  Most of us will face some adversity, many will face it all their lives. I do believe there are some that though they live many years, face very little.  I do not know why it sometimes seems lopsided.  No person I see living an easier life is no better than a person living a hard one. I have questioned God on this many times,  maybe that’s why he throws so much of it at me.  I will say, much of mine has ended up with the sun shining, the hurdle cleared, and I give thanks for that.  But it did not come easily, and never came without a price, heartache, pain, days that I just wanted to end, and nightmares I just wanted to wake from, the costs were usually high.

         In conclusion, I see adversity as both a friend and a foe.  A friend: one who makes your arm stronger by throwing you many fast balls, building muscle and style.   A foe: one who tries to trip you with ice under your feet, and if you happen to slip, laughs and certainly does not reach to help you up.  We have to decide what persona each adversity we face will be.   Sometimes the choice is not ours, and all we can do is slip on our Warriors T Shirt, and let the game begin realizing:  Adversity always both builds and destroys, no matter how you play, in the end its always a tie.

A poem about Obstacles from many years back.

My Unexpected Obstacle

You were a warm blast

Of swirling air

The force of which

Brought me to my knees

Somewhat to my delight.

For what is life without



People whose only purpose

Is to fall across your path

and insist that you armwrestle them

For your dreams

your desires

Your sanity?

I always did my best

to hold my own

Against my distinct and may I say

some quite lofty, obstacles to happiness.

As each one appeared

Descending sometimes slowly

Blocking my way

Sometimes subtle as a freight train

With as much steam and noise as such.

I sometimes had no problem

pushing them aside

I sometimes barely made it past

Feeling their cold touch

Losing grip upon my ankles.

The strongest one of all

Of course,

Came not with a cold grip or stare

But with a warming smile

a soothing voice

As velvet feels to skin.

I was caught off guard

I felt no need or urge to fight

The dreams and images

so long sought after

but never found

So I lay where I have fallen

Defeated at last I fear

Not by the cold and numbing Wind

But by the melting warmth of the sun.


Copyright 2018 (C) Shelley Ann Klukiewicz  All Rights Reserved

Images : Quotesgram.com  lightforcenet.com

Attraction To Angst: Life In The Intense Lane


         Angst is an emotion some may wish to avoid, after all:  “A feeling of anxiety or dread about the world in general or having  a specific cause”, doesn’t sound like too much fun.   For me though, I have always been fascinated by it, drawn to those who exhibit it, I suppose because it is a shared feeling?   Whether its a real life scenario, or on the movie or television screen, in literary form or expressed in art, it acts as a magnet for me. Experiencing angst is proof you have strong feelings and deep emotions, intense enough to unfortunately cause you pain, but also strong enough for you to appreciate all things at the highest level.

        Angst can come down many different avenues, from a personal slight, a hurt or a worry you have experienced, sometimes surfacing in the struggle during a family crisis.  Lest we not forget, sometimes the worst, which is the searing almost physical pain caused by a loved one facing their own demons.

       We all handle this fiercely strong emotion differently, depending on our make-up and our philosophies.  Some face it head on, searching for a solution to the root cause at every turn, in every dark corner.  Some find ways to live with it on a day to day basis.   Many times it does pass, as the seed that gave it life goes through its cycle, then withers.  Other times it becomes a permanent part of our psyche, some days almost nonexistent, other days raging at our door like an apocalyptic storm. 

       We seem to be able to handle this emotion the more we have been exposed to it, like a virus to the soul that we build antibodies to.  I base this on my own experience with it.   I seemed to walk hand in hand with it often as I grew up, and as years passed, it never did fully loosen the grip. Working with the cards life had dealt myself and my loved ones, on that occasion when I drew the angst card, surprise was not my reaction, and I played it, the best I had over the years, learned how.

      I feel that those of us that are familiar with this emotion, deserve much credit.  It is a difficult one to process, to work through, and if we are lucky, to banish.   It is strange how though it causes great emotional upheaval at times, when we see it in others, we are drawn to them.  Strength in numbers I suppose.  My favorite writer and poet is Edgar Allan Poe, my favorite films and characters are torn and troubled stories and the people who inhabit them.  My favorite art pieces are strong abstract images that wring out of me, excitement, joy, sadness and grief.  Salvador Dali of course is one of my favorites.

      For me, I have found a way to incorporate the dose of angst that it is my destiny to have, into using its grip on strong emotions, to my advantage.  The intensity it has brought to my life, makes colors brighter, music more beautiful, the world more interesting, and my part in it more meaningful.   It has made me listen more closely, and hear much better. To use my beloved metaphors again, I have never been a pale pastel girl, or a jeans and tee shirt fashionista in any walk of life. Bright bold intense colors and out of the ordinary funky garments are more my style of life and living, so I guess it’s just natural that when a bright bold intensity such as angst decides to toss me a few emotional curveballs, I put on my catchers mitt and say, ” Let’s Play”.  

Let all of us Angst Players give ourselves credit for playing so well on such a tough field.

My first image is one of my favorite paintings.

My second image is one of my favorite fictional embodiments of angst, though I have many. 

Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller Sons Of Anarchy  FX Original Series

Copyright 2018 SA Klukiewicz

Image Copyright Pinterest.com  Sons Of Anarchy FX Original Series

“The Scream” Edward Munch

When Rose Colored Glasses Don’t Fit


The donning of rose colored glasses, something that in some ways can make life simpler, but who said simpler is better? I myself never was even close to a pair. My life was never easy, I saw everything at face value. I never sweated the small stuff as was unfortunately too busy with the big stuff. If you have struggled through anything of significance, the rose tint of those glasses never come to rest on your cheeks.

I can always spot the ones who own a pair very easily. They have an unnatural cheerfulness. Small everyday occurences seem like mountains to climb in their world, and they act like only they faced that task. They usually dont get involved in any important causes because then they would have to face the harshness of the real world. They like to stay in a bubble of their own creation, often making much of their life seem like its simply perfect, all is right with the world, it couldnt be better. To those of us who prefer reality, as cruel and barren as it sometimes is, those simplistic views seem childish and silly. I also have found that those that wear their rose colored glasses so well, despite their frequent smiles, are quite shallow and unkind. They lack empathy and compassion. They turn their backs on all of us that have faced harsh realities because they have not. They dont want to reach out or understand, as it may shatter the safe little world they have created. Rather than remove their glasses to help a cause, right a wrong, change an injustice, they hold them tightly to their head, refusing to let the real world in. The rosy hue to me, makes them blind.

Life is full of challenges, worries, heartaches, as well as if your lucky, joys and happy times. To see all if it, the bad as well as the good, and lend a hand to those who stumble, or a shoulder to those who weep, you need to have clear vision. Rose colored glasses strip away the humanity of those who wear them. They distort what the world truly is just as they muddy its real colors with their own. I know those that wear them wish this to be so. They dont want the hardship of others to change the narrative of what they have made their life. They wear their fine pink glasses proudly, and have no desire to remove them. Me, I’m glad mine never fit.

No Option To Sell


       I have always been interested in real estate, it was never a career path I took, though I did sell one of ours.  The worth of properties, the potential of diamonds in the rough, intriguing with actually quite a complex art to it.   It’s an interesting game and if done right can be very profitable.   The option to sell is a tough decision, one many choose to make at some point in their lives, but others do not, they stay firmly planted where they stand.   This post is about a different kind selling, the auctioning off not of a home or a property, but ourselves.

       All throughout our lives events and reasons come up that offer things we want or feel we need, for a price of course.  Sometimes the cost is a mere penny of what we are, though sometimes much much more. Many times we buy into it, without even realizing we are. Sometimes we weigh the pros and cons of a particular instance of selling out.  It may come in the form of keeping our mouths shut, swallowing our pride, or accepting an injustice, all things that I never had an easy time doing.   When I was younger and less confident in who I was, as we all are in youth, I can think of times when even I sadly sold myself out in some form.   It never makes you feel good, it never brings anything positive into your life.  It may bring a fleeting peace or acceptance, but the price to your psyche is never worth it, even if it feels like a bargain at the time.  After a few episodes, you begin to feel weaker, less focused on what you really believe, and many times angry, usually at yourself.  After all, there will always be false self-serving friends, uncaring relatives, disingenuous people in our workplaces, neighborhoods, communities. We have to be the ones who decide if we stand for ourselves or fold to anothers whims, wishes or demands.

      No one forces us to sell out and join them, or the crowd. Whether it comes in the form of a phony clique of shallow friends who gossip incessantly,  an abusive family member wanting you to accept their cruelty in silence, or a intolerable career ladder that you refuse to pay the cost to climb.  There are many types of attacks on who we are, what we stand for and believe in, and how we choose to live our lives. Only we should decide on how we react.


     Selling out to others demands may seem to bring happiness as we all want to feel we belong, but its false and is never a real joy.   Once you realize this, you become much more at peace. We must stay true to ourselves and not deviate from our own feelings.   At times it may seem lonely, as people don’t like it when those they seek to bend, stand up straight.   In time you will find acceptance for who you are.  You will find respect for your bravery in the face of many bombardments, tricks and deceits from those who wanted another notch in their belt, another sale.   You will find others who, like you, do not take the path of least resistance, which is always to follow the crowd and accept the mob mentality.   We speak up when attacked, we refuse to go along with certain behaviors, we see our own path, and we walk it.   For us, the option to sell, gets taken off the table.


Copyright 2018  SA Klukiewicz

The Power of Pawprints – Four Legged Friends I Have Known


       I have always loved animals of all kinds, and felt a kinship with them.  From the four legged furry type, to the scaly cold blooded, they have all left rooms in my heart, and each one holds their own private key.                                                  

     Four legged friends I have known:  A short sentence for such a lifetime of joy.  Companions, protectors, jesters, and teachers, I found all these things in my smorgasbord of pets.  To me, a home without pets will always be missing something.  Pets bring with them that “ other “.   That which is basic and free.   That which has no judgements or predetermined clauses.   That which is given expecting nothing in return.   Joy, friendship, protection, sorrow, heartache, sadness.   The same things we share with our humans, we also share with them.  I  feel they give us something special, a connection that makes us complete within the natural world.  Us, animals, Mother Earth, truly a Circle of Life.  I shall start at the beginning:  

 Cricket – When I was in fourth grade my mother brought her home to us.  A mixed breed hound/something who had a mind of her own.   She had the wonderful bay bark that only hounds do, as well as the desire to follow her nose, and as there were no leash laws in effect back then, that she did.  She roamed the streets with her pal Happy, a beautiful, though sadly neglected English Setter belonging to a neighbor before she was taken from us at the ripe old age of barely two due to an untreatable case of demodectic mange that my parents simply could not afford to treat.

 Kirby – He was a family pet, from a neighborhood litter of collie, spaniel and possibly basset hound mix which accounted for his short stature.  A spirited but loyal dog, we had a good relationship, he had a tendency to bite if you crossed him, I guess I never did.   He lived a long though somewhat sheltered life.  When he left us at 18, I like to think he finally got to run and roam those meadows he missed out on in his mortal form.

Sam – In my early years I was extremely allergic to cats, it still shows up in any allergy bloodwork I have though symptoms disappeared many years ago, the day Sam came into my life.  A solid grey take no prisoners Russian Blue guy that came from a family friend, he was my first strong connection with an animal.   Though he was a family pet, we quickly formed a strong bond.   He slept with me at night, growled from my lap when he heard the doorbell ring, and soothed my teenaged nerves.   He also left us at two years old, he had no longer wished to go outside, which previously was his domain to rule, when one day he collapsed and died in my arms as I in a panic rushed him to the vet.   I’ll never forget how he gathered the last bit if strength he must have had, to climb into my lap from the car seat seconds before he died, a stubborn fearless King to the end.  He opened a door for me as stated in my first post, that never closed.    

Toby – He was Sam’s offspring, a result of a pairing of Sam with my girlfriends cat.    When she told me of a litter of kittens that Sam had sired, I immediately went over to see them, and Toby entered my life.   His were the the most vivid green eyes I had ever seen.  I was blessed with him for 15 years, until FELV claimed his life, along with two other pets that were my husbands, Mike and Bugs.   He had been very healthy all of his life except for an occasional cold that quickly passed. Toby was an aristocat.   He would sit on the edge of the shelf looking out the window like an unmoving sphinx.  He loved sitting on the farthest corner of the garage roof, whilst the bluejays swept down at him as they tried to guard their nests.  How he fell off I will never know.  He loved to swat at the birdhouses my parents had under the eave of the roof, I would tell him to get down, he would promptly go to the tree and climb down to my feet.  Elegant, beautiful, extremely smart, like his Dad, wary enough to survive so many years spending much of it outside.   He played games with the squirrels and was an extremely skilled bird hunter, though he never lowered himself to actually eat them.  He preferred his dinner served on a glass plate from a shiny new can. He listened and obeyed me as if he understood every word, because of course, he did.   At eleven he was moved to his new home when I married.   He showed me he was not happy, using my shoes as a litter box, though he spent so much time in his beloved out of doors , he never needed one. He was always the Prince you see,  and was not happy sharing a home with other cats.  He stubbornly adjusted and lived happily for four years, until they all crossed the Rainbow Bridge together.   The afternoon he was quietly sent over the bridge, I suddenly turned as I saw him out of the corner of my eye, in his usual spot where I knew he could not be, my heart told me he had came to say goodbye on his way.   My daughter told me one morning, as her bedroom was years before we had children, ” Toby’s Room”, that when she woke up she had seen a grey and white cat on the bed, I guess he had come to visit one last time.

     There was a space of close to two years before another pet appeared as our grief from losing three companions all at once needed time to lessen.  The next pet came bounding into our lives in the grand form of :  


Zeke – all my pets I have loved and grieved equally for, but Zeke, well, though all were loved and cherished, he certainly had his own pedestal on which to pose.  Zeke was the only purebred dog I ever had.  He came from a local man who was a cruelty officer I got talking to while at the local SPCA looking for a puppy.  He said he had a litter of golden retrievers, to which we promptly went out and picked the biggest puppy.  This was to be my first dog of my own, I wanted a special one, he fit the bill.  He became the fourth wheel of our family who at that time consisted of myself, my husband and our three year old daughter.  His life and what he brought to us, which three years later became one larger when our son came into this world, encompassed twelve beautiful years in which we shared love, protection ( he once made a six foot 250 pound rubbish collector dive straight into the back of the garbage laden truck, when he felt they came too close to my children and I in the driveway), and joy, he was simply a fun dog.  He and I often played soccer in the front yard, of course he with four legs, me with two, he always won. He loved our lake front camp, he would swim across the lake following our boat if we did not take him with us.  He would catch fish in his mouth at the shoreline and bark ferociously at any boat that wandered into our bay, warning them away from his territory and my children who played nearby.  He learned to obey me just through gestures, no words were needed, so strong was our bond. He had started having fits at three, something not uncommon in goldens, he was on medication for years.   When suddenly he didn’t respond to me at camp, we rushed him to the vet to learn he most likely had a brain lesion causing him to start having fits not controlled by medication.   We were told he would not improve but to up his medication to lessen them.   He improved for a few days, then became much worse.   I knew as I stood by him one night as his frequent fits attacked him and he refused to walk, and had most likely gone blind,  that he was suffering and the next day led him over the rainbow bridge.   The buckets of tears we cried over him drenched his fur like rain.  We as a family mourned him greatly, he was indeed special.   We still had his feline companion that I had brought into our lives when Zeke was about three, which leads me to her:

Lucy – rescued from the SPCA for my birthday, a gorgeous tabby calico, she was with us for 15 years, during which time she, being declawed in the front nonetheless, was the undisputed Queen of the neighborhood and she ruled it with an iron paw.   She reminded me much of Toby, same intelligence and wary nature, but she was much more brutal.  She hunted mice, moles, birds and rabbits, and ate them all like her wild cousins.   No neighborhood cat would pass her as she lay in the yard, she chased off a pitbull, and fought off foxes.  She detested other cats, though loved dogs.  She often slept next to Zeke and played with our neighbors husky.   She was a loving cat, but would give a gentle bite if you tried to pet her for too long.   She had a close bond with my son, who I would sometimes find sleeping with Lucy on the same pillow.  She would be gazing at him, inches from his face,  as if guarding him while he slept from any unseen monsters under the bed or creatures lurking in his closet. In the Winter when her coat grew thick, she appeared as a glorious snow leopard, pouncing about the backyard drifts.  She left us one evening when after being let out, we believe she knew it was her time and like the Queen Lioness that she was, found a quiet place and gently padded over the Rainbow Bridge.  

     After Zeke had left us, we went a few months but the house had become so accustomed to a dog, I felt a piece was missing so one day in the paper, I found:

Jake – a fearless black rottweiler/chow/lab and due to events that unfolded, behaviors, the wilds I had purchased him in,  we believe coyote as well. He was very smart, but trusted no one except us, his wild genes surfacing we later realized.  He never had any fear when we took him camping in the Adirondacks, even as a young pup.  He slept outside our tent with wild sounds all around him.  We know now that he had felt at home.  He was the best behaved dog in the house and though always dominant, learned manners and for three and a half years he was a good dog.  I always felt safe with him there, as no one would ever get past him. When he was about one and a half, we rescued Buddy, a lovely collie/hound who I will speak of next.  Sadly as Jake matured, his dominance turned to aggression, for no reason other than I felt, a volatile mix if breeds, including a wild cousin.   He had shown aggression to myself and my husband for a time that we managed, but it became worse and we could no longer trust him with our family, or anyone.  He was 90 pounds of muscle and extremely strong.  Heartbroken but resigned, we had no recourse but to end his short though action packed life with us.  

      It was this sad event that gave me the resolve to understand , and led me to delve into dogs and what really makes them tick.  I was so heartbroken and confused as to what would make a dog you raised from a puppy, with love, care, and gentle discipline , turn so viciously against someone he should totally trust?  I became a student of Cesar Milans teachings because I would not let Jakes early death be in vain, I would honor his memory by learning all I could to help me truly know a dogs nature, which I did and that led me to having the confidence to save more lives and enlarge our pack.


Buddy – one of our prettiest pets, I rescued Buddy at four months old.   Cute as a button but stubborn and aloof as hounds can be, he pranced around our hearts for eight years.  Of course upon first sight, Jake wanted to kill him, but with time and patience, they became like rough and tumble brothers and Buddy mourned Jake when he was gone. He once almost jumped off our boat when he spotted a big black lookalike onshore and thought he at last had found his long lost brother.  I watched him with great admiration as he would track porcupines in our woods, his nose in the air, he found anything and everything.  His hound genetics were strong, he was an amazing camp dog. He loved the woods, as all of our dogs did, his true nature felt at home there.  For a time when he was our only dog, deer would wander closer into our bay no longer kept away by Jakes fierceness, Buddy would bound through the long grass after them wanting to play, his long legs and talented nose helping him to keep up, but not quite. I brought our next pet:


Mocha – into our world when having only one dog didn’t seem right.   She was a thin mangy stray that blossomed into having the most magnificent seal like coat.   She was smart as a whip, sassy, and a true escape artist.   Within two minutes of bringing her home, she had already figured out the dog run latch and out she was.   She loved camp as well, she rode on the back of our pontoon boat poised like a statue, taking everything in.   We had Buddy, Mocha, my pack leader skills were such that I figured its time for one more.  We had a large fenced in yard and a dog run in the garage so room was aplenty.   I found a wonderful rescue that brought dogs up from the south at a cost less than local shelters. Pennsylvania was the pick up point which was no problem for me.  


Alabama – named for his home state, was an absolute dollbaby pup.  A cattledog/pitbull mix, he is certainly one of the most well behaved and devoted to me of all.  We call him our “gentleman dog” as he is calm and steady, with impeccable manners.   I started his training the day I brought him home, and it shows.  He to this day will stay by my side whenever we are together.  He has tangled with porcupines at our former lake home, as all our dogs have, but his pitbull gameness made him a “ in it to win it” type who simply will never back down from a fight that he decides he wants to enter. So, he had the worst case of “ porcupine face” we ever saw, though the tenacity of his breed made him still able to wag his tail during the ordeal.  At this time we had Lucy and Chief.   Chief, who we lost just recently, a big beautiful furball, that I fell instantly in love with while innocently petting the cats at a rescue site.  He was a devoted laid back warm wonderful addition to our family.  He and Lucy were our resident cats at the time I decided, since my husband had always wanted a Maine Coon cat, I felt he should have one.   I searched until I found our perfect fit in New Hampshire in the form of the regal:


Barron – hence his name.   What an amazing animal he turned out to be, big, gorgeous, great nature and intuitive to a degree you don’t often see in cats.   When he looks at you with his huge yellow/ green eyes, you just know he is gazing straight into your soul and sees things even you do not. He will demand attention by butting with his huge head, “talking”  or meowing for you to turn the faucet on as he prefers that to a water bowl.  He likes watching tv or following my sons video games, he truly is a magnificent animal.

      So at this same time, we had Buddy, Mocha, Alabama on the dog side of things. All big dogs who spent much of the time outside.  So I felt it was time to bring:

Gem – into the mix as a housedog.   Little did we realize she would be one of our best scout dogs.   She trapsed our woods fearlessly, many times in the lead.   She is a Papillion mix who came from the same wonderful rescue Alabama did.   She’s smart as a whip, a great watchdog.   Our thought with pets is to have as many as we have room for and can afford, we always had room, big yards and a lakefront cabin, and I am a master at finding good pet care at a good price, our pet combo that blessed us to save many lives. We then added the one and only:

Dexter – a black beauty of a cat from the SPCA, who was the most loving animal I have ever met.   He would often share Gems crate, only his amber eyes peering out of the blackness told me he was there.   He tragically got outside and not being the wary type, but trustful that no one and nothing in this world would hurt him, was struck by a car and killed.   I believe I heard his plantiff goodbye as he lept quickly over the Rainbow Bridge as I was woken up from sleep by a cats cry, and found him on my way to work.  We buried him in our back yard with tears and regret of his short time with us.  

     We all so loved Barrons uniqueness, one Christmas I decided we deserved another, I then found:


Zelda – our true Warrior Queen.  She was the opposite of Barron though.   Where he was regal and dignified, she came bursting into any room she pleased, latched doors meant nothing to her as she easily opened them with her giant skilled paws.  Barron seemed to recognize immediately that they were different yet the same, as he was instantly in love.  Their favorite spot to sleep was on the top bunk in my sons room. What had attracted me to her was the wild untamed look in her eyes that came through even in a photograph.   Her look was that of a creature that has one paw in our world, the others in one much more mysterious.  She represented Wild Mother Nature to me, a big fluffball of fearless grey dynamite.   She left us most tragically at the age of two we learned later from a practice called linebreeding that made her become deathly ill and we lost her.   I was totally and absolutely heartbroken.    It was so sudden, so tragic, I thought she was so tough and would be with us for many years.  To this day her pictures always bring tears. My legacy to her is to educate people about greedy breeders and the heartache and suffering they cause just to make a buck.   We had a tragic run of losing a few of our furbabies.   We lost Zelda, not long after, Buddy, who though Alabama and he lived respectfully together, they had a few fights if the spirit moved them.  Buddy was very tough but Bama was too strong for him.  One day Buddy ran off when I was bringing him in for the night and despite intense searches, we never found him.   It was another very confusing event to me, we loved him, I know he trusted me, I guess he just grew tired of living in fear of Bama, though he didnt show it.   I like to think he found some kind old man to live a quiet rest of his life. We then lost Lucy, and later that year, Mocha developed a cancer in her leg that was inoperable.   I had learned even though always a hard lesson, to somewhat roll with the life and death of pets, being through it many times, but so many in a short time span was tough.   I had brought home:


Claudia – a five week old black panther when she was dumped on the side of the road with her littermates.  She was the youngest animal we had ever rescued, hardly able to walk and having to be given milk supplements.  I believe she will always look upon me as her mother.  All our pets come to their names, yes even our cats.  I’m not sure how I taught them, food sometimes is a part of training, I think they just trust us.  She is the only cat that will come bounding into the room from wherever she is when I call.   She is elegant and classy, loving to people but not a big fan of other cats unless its on her terms.

     I had come to realize four was our perfect pack size for dogs, we were short one when we lost Buddy, so, into the picture, from the same lovely rescue that brought us Bama and Gem, strode the glorious:


Jetta –   Another jet black beauty, hence her name.  A magnificent-coated princess with the longest coat if left to grow, that I have ever seen, it will hit the ground in its length.  A border collie/ chow mix, another smart as a whip, very strong willed but sweet addition, and a great watchdog.   She fell into line as to what I expected of her very quickly. She rules as Alpha of the dog pack, which I knew she would.  Since she’s a female, Bama allows it.  We still had Mocha when her six month self came to our home, as she matured they had some dominance tussles that I quickly broke up, sometimes Bama joined in. Mocha trusted me to keep her safe in our home and I would never let her down.   I made sure they all knew their place and felt safe within it.  Jetta would often sit on the hill at camp, alert and looking out,  as if guarding her ” herd” , true to her collie nature.

      Our unconventional pet side started with the sleek green form of Dina, our inherited from our daughter due to moving , 11 year old iguana.  She and my sweet Chinchilla Pikachu who I was blessed with for five years, were our out of the ordinary pets.    Dina came to us on our daughters 16th birthday, a gift from her boyfriend after I refused to allow her to keep his original gift, a handsized rose tarantula that my neighbors from five doors down heard me scream “get it out” when I saw it creepily crouched, as only spiders can,  in a too small glass container in her room.  Dina was its welcome replacement.  When our daughter was on the move for her career, knowing that iguanas need dedicated owners to survive, I decided our home is where she would stay.  She shared our living room with Pikachu, my 50th birthday present to myself.  They both had huge cages, each one in their own corner.
To some our living room looked like a zoo, to me, it was wonderfully exotic.

       Pikachu was an adorable gorgeous Chinchilla that I took many hours of many days of many weeks to get him tamed to trust me, he and Dina were wild animals after all.  You have to build trust at a much slower pace and make it a strong bond as no matter how tame a wild animal is, in times of fear or stress, they will always follow their instinct over all else.   I learned this after Dina gave me a foot long deep scratch down my arm when she got spooked when I was taking her out of her cage.  Pikachu was always gentle with me once he was tamed, though he did bite a visiting guest.   He lived to five years, he was always very healthy and I read up on his care diligently.   He developed a gastrointestinal problem and despite a visit to Cornell, where I was not impressed, given their supposed reputation, he went downhill.  I took him to a local vet next day who tried very hard to save him, to no avail.   I missed his sweet face, little paws that held onto the cage rail, and the way he’d jump, wild with delight in his dust bath, which is how they keep themselves clean.  Dina is still with us today at the age of 15. We brought her from the brink of death a couple times due to infections, with injections, syringe feeding and warm baths,  she’s a tough scaly bitch, and we  love her.  

      In October of 2014 we left New York State for the balmy skies of Florida.  We had sold our camp, Splendid Isolation, in her honor, I had adopted a tiny half feral tabby kitten:


Theresa – named after the town our camp was in.  She still today is tiny, and always has a wild not quite tamed look in her eye, and is the only pet of mine that will not come when called, only her wild crossed over sister Zelda had done the same. She yowled like a crazy cat when I picked her up from the back porch she called home, but quickly realized she liked the warm soft blanket in her carrier and quieted down. In tow when we left for our new life in  Florida  Bama, Jetta, Gem, Chief, Barron, Theresa, Claudia,  and Dina.   I would shortly add:


Dash – as mentioned how four was our perfect dog pack number.  Another rescue, the only type of pet we will welcome now.  A weimaraner/dachshund/ black mouth cur, he looks like a short Scooby Doo.  Loyal, funny, fierce when needed, he survived a rattlesnake bite with treatment, his tough genes and his youth bringing him through. He is our only dog who is not too fond of the cats, his hunting cur background no doubt.   He is not overly fond of strangers and has a mean bark, bigger than he is actually.   He is a total baby with me, but walks down the street like a boxer, waiting for any other dog that dare take him on, 54 pounds of sass. 

      Of course, my thinking with cats is, once you have the set up, litter box, toys, food, various cat trees, what’s one more. So we added our Florida cats:


Simon – a stunning all white blue eyed Siamese mix.  He is a ladies man all the way.   He is also our biggest troublemaker of the feline type.

sheba 2.jpg

Sheba –  a gorgeous kaleidoscope coated beauty, the most “ girly” of all our female cats, my son put so accurately.  A sweet addition to our feline pride.  Lastly:


Zakk – who I was offered as a kitten when I donated food to a local shelter.  They had literally hundreds but his stunning orange eyes against his grey suit of a coat made him the one.  He leaps across the tops of our couches in agile bounds when you least expect it but is one of our gentlest pets. We now share our home with four dogs, six cats, an iguana and two aquariums.  Alot of work, yes.  Messy house, no, I am quite the neat freak.  Holes in the yard, no, my dogs are content.  They spend much of their days chasing squirrels, and lounging in the warm sun. 

       Some people cannot take care of even one pet, them I pity as to me, they are missing out on a truly great connection and learning experience. Some can care for many pets, who when the world is dark and dreary, can be the calming spirit that soothes.   Animals don’t want rewards.  They only know how to be real. They live in the moment, but learn from the past.  They have given me comfort, joy, loyalty, and lessons.  All that have passed through my life left something special and unique to each one of them.  I loved them all and each one added another facet to my life.

They all walk with me, in spirit or in the now, the power of pawprints, plus one.  



The Fatality of Favoritism

      This is a trip to the darker side, but one which for me, is essential to visit.   One of the psyches many defenses when you are in bad situations, is to lock damaging feelings or memories away, to be dealt with at a later date.   Though I remember perfectly each and every incident on this subject  from my childhood to the present, most of them I did choose to lock behind a door. I mean, who wants to deal with being constantly disparaged and disregarded by the ones who are supposed to be your biggest fans, your parents.   It was this choice that allowed me to become who I am.  Not listening became my greatest ally.  


     While everyone can probably relay some remembered slight, a lifetime of it is something that needs to have a light shown upon it.  The paper that was taped to its windows to hide it from any onlookers, needs to be stripped away.  What was always a given in the household I grew up in, and sadly still exists with a vengeance today, is that the males were always put before the females, being done with no rhyme or reason, as such a thing has none.  Not to say that they were always treated kindly, but their place was never behind the girls. At times, it was also distributed unfairly amongst the girls, though never to such a degree. I always being the one who was placed last in line.   I knew it was inherently wrong, and fought against it with unending determination, as is gracefully my nature.  The fault of such behavior in my opinion, falls solely on the  perpetrator of the crime, the parents. Siblings may suffer amongst themselves, some of them feeling they must constantly compete, some think they are never good enough. While some may fault the favored few, and I will admit some do in essence “ eat it up” for want if a better phrase, most are just recipients of a parents twisted logic, and no real blame should fall at their feet.    Whatever demons may exist in a parents own upbringing or marriage should be called to heel long before children are brought into the fray.

      My refusal to submit never did stop or halt the progress of these profane actions.  In actuality, it intensified over the years and became so unbearable to me, once I saw it was also being enacted upon my children, I had to light that match and burn that bridge.  I could no longer allow such toxicity into my world, I would not subject my own children to the emotional abuse and poisonous envy that I had endured, be it from my parents, or any sibling that would sadly choose to follow their example in some shape or form.   I have shared my stories with others of similar backgrounds, though not to my surprise, I win the first prize for amount of examples I can toss into the ring.  

    From simply being ignored, to blatantly being told  “You cant drive the car but your brothers can” of the past, to the current,  “ everyone gets Christmas, birthday and any other monies and goodwill except for you and your children”.  What kind of parent gives nothing to some while supporting others with such monies that work is an option, not a necessity?  To some the phrase “ combat pay” may come to mind.  But is this a remake of “Glory”,  what was well earned by all, is given only to a few ? In such a world goodness is rewarded with evil, generosity rewarded with selfishness, and kindness rewarded with cruelty.  So many hurtful examples, from wearing rags to school along with one sister, as my mother outfitted the other in expensive clothes and lavish attention, why only recently being answered. From seeing barely there or incomplete Christmas gifts that paled in comparison to hills of gifts others of the house received. From listening in tears as my parents compared me to someone my mother detested, and discussed well within earshot that I was incapable of driving after I proudly obtained my license, while they tossed the keys to my underaged unlicensed brother.   From being thwarted and discouraged when bettering myself with further education, to never being acknowledged when two successful careers were under my belt, as others were put on pedestals they had yet to climb.


     We all do what we need to in life, to be as happy, fulfilled and at peace as we can, all the while trying to add something to it that we can be proud of and may help others. I turn the page on the atmosphere of neglect doubt turmoil and putdowns that was the air that I breathed as I grew up, my nightmare to escape from as an adult.  A few bright spots lit my path enough for me to find it, though they were few and far between. I have chosen to drag the vampire into the sun.  The light of day has exposed the facade, dealt the fatal blow, and finally, mercifully ended it.  

I include a picture I sketched years ago in my twenties from a favorite album cover.   I feel it connects with this post in that I am that which is part of a pack, yet different.




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Copyright 2018 SA Klukiewicz

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