Random Musings on Dogs, Photography, and the Vagaries of Life

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Sweet Surprise

In an effort to post more regularly on my blog, I’ve decided to select a photo each week from my portfolio as a source of inspiration. Depending on the subject, the post may be inspirational, educational, amusing, poignant…or just a photo with a caption.

My first photographic point of departure is an image I captured with my phone while eagerly awaiting a pot of English breakfast tea and a scone. I was not however in the Cotswolds, the Lake District, or anywhere else in the British Isles. Rather, I was in the heart of the Loire Valley, enjoying a short vacation with my sister and my 15-year-old niece. (More about that in future posts.)

We had just spent an hour or so exploring the Abbaye de Fontevraud, the largest abbey in Europe and burial site of Henry II of England; his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine; their son King Richard I (the Lionheart ) of England, and others. We emerged into a light late-March drizzle, awed and inspired by this spiritually and historically important site, wanting nothing more than a pleasant place to sit, enjoy some refreshment, and share impressions.

That place—just a short walk down a side street from the abbey—was Chez Teresa Tea Rooms & Chambres d’Hotes. Attracted by the cluster of colorful furniture and objet d’art outside, we poked our heads in the door, and said to an apparently empty hallway, “Bonjour.” And from behind a rattan folding screen, tucked under a stairway, a woman emerged. “Do you serve tea?” we asked. “Of course,” she replied, leading us into a room in which Alice’s Mad Hatter would have felt right at home.

From floor to ceiling, the room was chock-full of tea pots, cups, and saucers; British memorabilia and foodstuffs; and bric-a-brac of every possible size, substance, and description. The only unoccupied spaces were the chairs in which we were invited to sit.

Left alone with menus to peruse, we exchanged bemused glances. “At first,” my niece said, “she [our hostess] made me think of the witch in Hansel and Gretel, the way she suddenly appeared as if out of nowhere, and invited us into what looks like a candy cottage. But, actually, she seems very nice (and she's too pretty) and it’s cute and cheerful.”

And the food—from the quiche to the scones to the cake (all homemade)—was delicious! Just what we needed to fortify ourselves for our afternoon agenda.

So if you find yourself at Fontevraud, looking for a place to eat—or even stay—check out Chez Teresa Tea Rooms & Chambres d’Hotes. And if you don’t speak French, don’t worry. It’s owned and operated by English ex-pats Tony and Teresa Dolan, who will greet you warmly and welcome you to their adopted country.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Faces of Fostering

As a writer and photographer, I employ both words and images to communicate. For this post—in honor, appropriately, of the dog days of summer—I’ve chosen to rely primarily on images…of some of the wonderful dogs my husband and I have fostered over the years while they waited for their forever homes.

Most of these temporary canine companions arrived in good health; others had health or medical issues, such as demodectic mange or injured limbs that required surgery or even amputation. Some were outgoing; others, more cautious. Some shared our home for mere weeks, others several months. But no matter how short or long their time with us, each and every one of these dogs—from Lab mix pup Cooper, our very first foster, to rat terrier mix Taz to Plott hound mix Darla—found their way into our hearts and left us with wonderful memories.

People sometimes say to me, "Oh, I could never foster a dog; I'd want to keep them all," and ask, "Don't you feel sad when they leave?"

I always explain that we take in foster pups knowing that their stay will be limited and that having our own dogs makes their departure easier. And, yes, I feel a bit sad initially. But on the advice of a wise friend who has fostered many more dogs than I have, I treat myself to a glass wine once they're safe and sound in their new home and toast them and their new families in their futures together.

At the moment, my husband and I have no foster dogs. We're still enjoying the arrival of a new permanent canine family member. But I'm sure the day will come when we decide to once again become a "way station" on the way to a new life for another homeless dog.

Because, seriously, just look at these faces. How could we not?


Fostering saves lives and brings great joy! I encourage you to share in this joy by contacting your local shelter or rescue organization and asking how you can become a dog or cat foster parent.