Why Aren’t You Like the Humans on TV? – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. Lady Human, QUESTION!

Me:        No need to yell.

Stella:    I am not yelling. I simply have a big mouth. Get used to it. Why don’t you act like the humans on that Picture Box you call TV?

Me:        For one thing, those are mostly actors and actresses. And advertising people who are selling stuff. And politicians. And news reporters.

Stella:    Okay, so everybody is putting on a show. Got it. Why can’t you act more like them?

Me:        You like what you see in humans on TV?

Stella:    They smile a lot.

Me:        You want me to smile more. Like this?

Stella:    Ew, no! Stop smiling!

Me:        Aw, you don’t like my smile.

Stella:    It looks phony. I want you to smile like those TV people.

Me:        And you think their smiles are less phony than mine. Okay. What else do the TV humans do that I don’t?

Stella:    They tell jokes all the time and lots of invisible people laugh.

Me:        Those invisible people are either a studio audience or taped laughter.

Stella:    Yes. Exactly. That’s how our house should be. Lots of laughing all the time. Bulldogs are hilarious. You should be hilarious, too.

Me:        That might be too much hilarity.

Stella:    No. Just be funny and get some of those invisible people in here to laugh.

Me:        What else?

Stella:    We can turn the humans on TV off any time we want to.

Me:        So, you want me to…

Stella:    Turn yourself off from time to time.

Me:        Oh, thanks.

Stella:    You have been staying up later and later which means that we have been staying up later and later. Turn off the Picture Box, the big one and the little one you carry around, and turn yourself off. Go to bed so I can turn myself off and go to bed. Then you will be a true TV human. You push that button and turn them off so they all go to sleep.

Me:        Actually, pushing that button just turns the TV off. The people aren’t affected.

Stella:    You mean they keep on moving around inside that dark box, stumbling into each other, and are never allowed to sleep? NO!

Me:        Don’t freak out, Stella! That is not what happens. The TV people are not in the Picture Box, ever.

Stella:    Are you sure? Maybe we should open it up and see.

Me:        Trust me.

Stella:    Like we trust the people on TV? Sure thing.




Copyright 2017 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.





Tight Places – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. It was a dark and stormy morning. Rain rattled the windows as I set off for my special rainy-day bathroom spot by the driveway in the side yard. I entered the shadowy garage. Suddenly, the way before me stood blocked.

Me:        Not really. Substantially narrowed, I’ll grant, but still passable.

Stella:    Are you a bulldog?

Me:        No, I think we have established that.

Stella:    Try to see it from my point of view. To the left of me lurked a barrel monster, menacing my every step.

Me:        Not a barrel monster. That is the same short grill that has been there every day that it hasn’t been in use.

Stella:    Once again, Lady Human, try to see it from my point of view. Bulldog. Wide. Remember. To my right and squeezing my path was an I-don’t-know-what. It was huge, towering above me, threatening to crush me if I tried to pass by.

Me:        That is a large cardboard box. Tall Man has to cut it up before he can put it in the recycling bin. Did you notice that you were able to pass between those two impassable objects?

Stella:    Only after you led the way.

Me:        A lesson for all of us. Why were you willing to follow my lead when you weren’t willing to go on your own?

Stella:    I don’t want to say.

Me:        Was it because you trust me?

Stella:    I don’t want to say.

Me:        Aw, Stella, I’m touched.

Stella:    Yeah, you would have been touched if that tall box had fallen on you. In narrow places, always let somebody else to go first.



Copyright 2017 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.



Watch Out! What’s That Up Ahead?

The warm weather arrived just prior to the annual air conditioning launch. We turned the ceiling fans up to maximum, but even without cooking or baking inside the house, it wasn’t quite enough. Oh, we and the cat and the heat-sensitive bulldogs were going to live all right. Our ideal comfort level eluded us though.

We gathered the portable fans from their various locations around the house, plugged them in, turned them on high, and let them buzz their mechanical hearts out. The dogs accepted the stirred air graciously and settled down, tongues back in mouths.

The fans twirled all night and still ran strong when the cooler morning came. Nobody appeared disturbed by their presence until Tiger had to go out. She darted past me as she usually does. She has “grown up”, matured during the past few weeks. Gone are her incessant attempts to feud with Snoopey over who’s in charge of the pack. I’m not saying that is over and done with, simply that Tiger has cooled her efforts in that direction for the time being.

Tiger came back in the house and scooted past her crate, running her nose over the floor in case she had missed any food crumbs from her breakfast. When I asked her to go into her crate so I could run my errands, she backed away and glanced at the odd little round thing nearby. One of the fans, happily whirring at full blast, aimed its current of air across that side of the room.

The bulldogs are always sensitive to oddities and new items that suddenly appear in their paths. I realized right away what Tiger was trying to avoid.

I thought for a moment about moving it farther away, but I opted for an exercise in trust – her trust in me.

I called her. She hesitated and stayed back. I extended my hand. Still she waited and refused to pass the fan. I stepped forward until I could reach her and I stroked her head and neck, telling her the whole time that everything was all right and that she was safe with me. She walked a few steps toward me and the crate. She stopped alongside the vicious fan and let me pet her.

And just like that, the fan was no longer a problem. It never really had been, but Tiger didn’t realize that. She took a step of faith in me and finally trusted me enough to let me help her past her fear.

I should know better than Tiger. I don’t.

I cringe and pull back when there is something strange in my path. I am supposed to trust God to walk me past it, but I don’t. I hesitate, hold back, delay, wonder, and try to figure it out myself. And then, eventually, I take one step toward Him and His hand is there. He was there the whole time.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 KJV


Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

The First Thing is Don’t Panic

Maybe that title should come with an exclamation point. Naw. That’s really the whole issue in this post. Sometimes a crisis (or a perceived crisis) doesn’t need an exclamation point. It may need the light turned up or the volume turned down so you can understand what the matter is or whether there is a matter at all.

Stella, our “queen” bulldog, posted her Monster Alert before she had all the facts. (See Stella’s Blog – Monster Alert – Special Edition from March 29, 2016 for the details from her point of view.) She wasn’t alone in her panic. She was joined in her barking frenzy by the whole crew. Snoopey was actually the first dog to see the “monster”.

I felt sorry for them. I knew that what they saw was no monster, but I could not let them out to show them because my son, a.k.a. the Tall Man, was mowing and spreading diatomaceous earth in the yard and the dogs could not be allowed out there until everything settled. He was wearing goggles and a large breathing filter so that his lungs would not be affected. None of the bulldogs have breathing apparatus.

I’m sure he did appear like a strange creature to them. His head was covered by the equipment and he was running the loud mower.  An insect-headed interloper from a non-bulldog planet. I told them everything was all right. I tried to calm them down. I was telling them the truth. They didn’t believe me. They believed their eyes.

When my son came inside and took off his protective gear, they saw his face. All fear vanished. All barking stopped. All panic ceased.

The dogs’ panic would not have contributed to their response to the monstrous threat had it existed. Getting all wound up doesn’t help any of us answer a challenge.

The key is not to start with panic. Alertness, yes. Observation, yes. Eyes wide open, yes. Maybe even a quick step to safety until the situation is clear. Panic clouds those responses. And I wish they would trust me more. I’m the one who knew what was going on.

Oh, well, I should remember that, too.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.”   (Isaiah 26:3 KJV)


©2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.