Well done is better than well said. — Benjamin Franklin
Momentum begins gradually and then accelerates suddenly. Bessie’s notoriety seems to be progressing that way. Since the original book signing event at the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, CT in late October we’ve sold over 800 books and been featured at five book readings with more scheduled in January. Here is a listing of Bessie’s appearances to date and scheduled events for January 2019:
October 26, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT – Over one hundred people attended the launch event for BESSIE’S STORY – Watching the Lights Go Out.
October 29, Rumsey Hall School, Washington Depot, CT – Students and teachers in grades K-9 were introduced to Bessie through a personal appearance, a sequence of inspiring videos and selected readings. The kids LOVED her, and learned some things, too.
December 9, Acworth Silsby Library, Acworth, NH – Bessie was allowed to participate in this well-attended event in the beautiful reading room of this historic building.
December 13, Disnard Elementary School, Claremont, NH – Bessie visited with the fourth grade students and charmed them with her subtle, powerful spirit. One little boy was moved to tears by Bessie’s bravery and irrepressible joy.
December 22, The Village Store, South Acworth, NH – This historic general store has been in continuous operation since the 1860s. Bessie was right at home at this reading/signing gathering, sleeping soundly on the wide board floors in the midst of a group of new best friends.
January 8, Aspen Elementary School, Aspen, CO
January 15, Reading/signing hosted by Woodcrest Village, New London, NH.
TBD, Newport Montessori School, Newport, NH
If you would like to schedule a BESSIE EVENT please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Why do grandparents and grandchildren get along so well? They have a common enemy.―Sam Levenson
When friends and family gather one of the best measures of their collective love and appreciation is the ease with which the group resumes familiar patterns and interactions. It’s the “pick up where you left off” syndrome and it doesn’t matter if it’s been two weeks or two years, there is instant synergy. Ashley, Bessie and I enjoyed one of these engagements recently when various members of three families shared a small house for two nights. Of course dogs were included.
The ages of the people involved ranged from three years old to sixty eight. There were grandparents, young parents and young children, along with nine-year-old Bessie and the group’s newest member, Boomer, a ten-week-old black lab who seemed to grow larger by the hour. One interesting observation was the stark contrast between the way the young and older adults interacted with the children when they were misbehaving. It was fascinating, a bit like colliding cultures. Grandparents, the smart ones anyway, have to walk on eggshells in these situations.
We had some wonderful laugh sessions that brought us to tears discussing useless parental threats we’ve all thrown out there in moments of frustration, such as “If you don’t stop misbehaving Santa won’t visit our house this year”. Or, “If you don’t calm down and finish your lunch, I’ll put you outside to eat”, delivered when it’s 38 degrees and raining. Among my favorites, one almost all parents have delivered while driving in a car is, “That’s it. Keep fussing and you’ll have to get out and walk home”. Yeah, right, when you’re three miles from the destination? Of course all parents, or at least most normal, loving parents have offered similar, unenforceable ultimatums. It goes with the passionate territory where parents of young children live.
Meanwhile, the canine members of this large assortment of characters established clear, easily understood guidelines in the first few hours they were together. When cuddly little Boomer pestered or annoyed Bessie the old girl snarled authoritatively, bared her teeth and the message was clear. “I’m the boss here, got it?” Rather quickly young Boomer, a smart pup, jumped on board and they got along just fine, playing together occasionally and taking side by side naps. Meanwhile, over on the human side of the fence familiar patterns of testing between the kids and adults continued in the most normal, predictable way.
There are things my mother did to my brothers and me when we were naughty or fresh in supermarkets, in full view of other shoppers, that would probably get someone arrested today. And my father had no issue offering his brand of discipline, even in the middle of a sandlot baseball game, with dozens of spectators. I should add that I was never in question about my parent’s deep, devoted love for me, not for a moment. And I’m sure my grandparents would refer to them as soft, and my great grandparents would have even stronger comments. On it goes as theories and practices evolve and change depending on the latest research and trends.
There will forever be one topic on which all grandparents can agree. I’m referring to the “I certainly wouldn’t have handled it that way” phenomena. This of course is in response to attempts by the younger parents to keep their children in line while trying to impart important life lessons. As I think back to the dogs in my life, beginning with a cocker spaniel named Zippy when I was three and continuing all the way through Bessie, the old and the young established the rules of engagement exactly the same way Bessie and Boomer have. Smart animals, these canines. Perhaps we humans will get it right someday. In the meantime, behave or your stocking will be filled with coal.
Fame will go by and, so long, I've had you, fame. If it goes by, I've always known it was fickle. It's something I experience, but that's not where I live.―Marilyn Monroe.
Bessie made her first public appearances since being featured on the cover of our book “BESSIE’S STORY - Watching the Lights Go Out”. She attended a book signing at the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, Connecticut and starred in a presentation at Rumsey Hall School in the same town. In the process she picked up lots of new friends and cemented her notoriety. Bessie must have received a thousand pats and scratches―people just wanted to touch her. It was amazing. She now knows what the Beatles felt like in the 1960s.
It was comforting to witness the calm, controlled way Bess handled her temporary celebrity. During the book signing she came over and nudged my arm. “I’ve had enough of this,” she seemed to be saying. “Let’s go somewhere fun.” Three days later she fell sound asleep in an auditorium with 300 people watching from their seats. There she was, ignoring her fans like some bored Hollywood star, except she wasn’t pretending to be aloof. It was genuine. From her perspective the room was empty.
Two moments stand out from the student assembly. We showed a video of Bessie carrying a long stick in her mouth which she tried to negotiate over a fallen tree. There were oohs and ahs from the kids as she struggled to find a way past the obstacle without giving up her treasure. Finally, when she figured it out after a full minute of trial and error, the crowd erupted in an unexpected, enthusiastic roar of approval. I’d like to think that the students were resolving to have the same perseverance when they returned to their classes, friendships, families and other interests.
The second thunderclap of applause came at the very end of the assembly. I woke Bessie from her nap and called her up on stage. Sitting alertly, she faced the audience as I placed a cookie on her nose and told her to stay. For Bessie, that cookie was the absolute center of the universe. When I said, “okay”, she snapped at it and… missed. Three more times she failed to capture the treat as the groans and encouragement escalated with each attempt, blending like tea and honey. On the fifth try Bessie caught the cookie in her mouth and the audience exploded. It sounded like one of those class cheers at the end of a graduation ceremony. The place went NUTS! It’s a good thing Bessie can’t sign autographs.
Here is what Bessie and I hope the students (and teachers) took away from our meeting that day:
We all have insecurities and flaws that can hold us back if we let them. Accept your weaknesses, deal with them and move on.
Asking for help and giving help are essential to being successful and happy.
Being around people with physical or intellectual handicaps or disabilities should bring out the same characteristics Bessie elicits. Share your genuine interest, offer assistance and show affection.