Posts tagged ‘Ben Baker’

A Furry Friendly Family

A beautiful Newfoundland

As you may know, I have always been a lover of animals.  From the time I was a small child I had a connection to all animals so it is logical that in my retirement I would end up being a Pet Nanny, loving and caring for these precious furry companions. 

What you may not know is when I was a young girl living in the small town of Wenatchee WA, some neighbors of mine had several Newfoundland’s who needed to be exercised several times a week, so my sisters and I took on the job.  We were to take the big dogs out to the large orchard behind their house, walk them around and bring them back home. Now I have to admit I did more cuddling on these big gentle giants than walking around, but I loved the time I spent with them.  Gwyneth and Bruce Mitchell were the neighbors, and in 1967 they donated their home and land and founded the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society, fulfilling their dream of giving hope and homes to homeless animals in the Wenatchee Valley.

The story and connection continue with my family and this Humane Society.  I love the fact that my family shares my love of animals and have committed their lives to them.

The Mitchell home was converted into a thrift shop and my Aunt Fern volunteered there for many years, supporting and helping to fund the Humane Society.

My son Ben Baker became involved in working at the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society when he was in high school. Always an animal lover, this was the perfect fit to further his love and understanding of them. Over the years he has rescued several dogs in need, giving each of them a loving home.

One of the many poems my son Ben Baker has written

Ben Baker with his constant sidekick Angus

Little did Ben know that his son Christian would find his way to the same Humane Society many years later to achieve his passion as an Animal Control Officer.

Christian Baker heading out on a call

My grandson Christian Baker is a Wenatchee Valley Animal Control Officer serving the animals and residents of Chelan and Douglas counties.  Its mission is to help protect the safety and well-being of the citizens and animals of its jurisdictions through compassion, education and law enforcement.  There is no one better qualified for the job than Christian.  He has always been a sensitive, compassionate person towards people as well as animals which has made this occupation perfect for him.

Christian has shared a few stories with me.  Some heartwarming, some sad.  But all showing his compassion for this very important journey he has undertaken in his life.

Jordyn Baker with her horse Ahsoka

Christians wife Jordyn is also an animal lover who enjoys her horse Ahsoka whom she has broken herself! 

Jordyn also finds time to do some pet sitting in her spare time and of course Hilly, her close companion and sweet little partner in crime is always by her side.

Jordyn Baker and Hilly

My daughter Heather Kalinowski has always loved animals since she was a little girl. She wanted to be a veterinarian but when she shadowed a veterinarian in high school she almost fainted from the blood and realized, to her great disappointment, that veterinary medicine was not in her future.

Ava welcoming Heathers son LJ into the family
Little Ava with my daughter Heather

Over the following 15 years, while focusing on a career in journalism, she volunteered her time fostering and caring for dogs. She fell in love with the Italian Greyhound and spent years dedicated to fostering and finding forever homes for this very special breed.

In 2010 she joined a pet insurance company as a blog writer and found that the company was not just focused on ensuring pet owners could afford the very best care for their pets, but it was also a company dedicated to pet health and veterinary wellness. She stayed with the company for over ten years, even managing the non-profit organization the company’s Chief Veterinary Officer founded, MightyVet.

MightyVet is dedicated to supporting veterinarians and veterinary staff members in their career and personal well-being. Did you know that veterinarians are among the most likely professionals to commit suicide? You would be surprised at how stressful their job is, dealing with pet owners who may not have the money to afford the very best treatment for their pets. They get yelled at daily, are under tremendous financial strain with school loans, work around the clock, and don’t make much money (relative to other professions). MightyVet aims to help reduce the suicide rate among veterinary professionals by ensuring they are aware of and prepared for the challenges they face in practice.

My daughter Heather Kalinowski with her family and two latest rescues Molly and Lucy

Recently, Heather left her job and is pursuing other opportunities. I just found out she is planning to go back to school to pursue a zoology degree and will be celebrating her upcoming 40th birthday with a trip to South Africa to volunteer with an organization that supports the conservation of African wildlife, including elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and zebras.

Me with my newest little fella I’ve been looking after, 7 month old Louis.

And me? Well after 14 years, I’m still pet sitting and loving every minute of it!

April 17, 2021 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

Hawaii…in style!

I’ve visited Hawaii before. My friend and travel partner took a cruise there in 2011. It was an amazing trip. We visited four of the islands, snorkeling on the Big Island, kayaking on Kauai, swimming on Maui, seeing whales as we sailed into Honolulu, and watching lava flowing into the water as we were departing the islands (check out my blog from March, 2011). But this trip was totally different!

When my son and his wife decided to take a trip to Hawaii, I was thrilled when they asked me to come and join them for part of the time they were there. Now I know that they like to travel in style, but I had no idea how high in style they were going to take me!

Elegant entrance to the Halekulani Hotel

Tuesday, October 30th – When I arrived at the magnificent Halekulani Hotel my daughter-in-law Wendy met me and took me to a private elevator. I should have had a clue then what was in store for me but it still didn’t register. The elevator opened into a foyer where a desk sat for their personal butler (which I’m happy to say they declined to employ) and to the left was a beautiful suite complete with a queen size bed, sitting area, desk area, veranda with a plush lounge and a table and chairs overlooking the water, a magnificent bathroom with a dressing area, soaking tub, cozy terrycloth bathrobe, special soaps and lotions, and the list goes on and on. I thought this was our room. That I would be sleeping on the couch and I was happy! This room was bigger than my studio apartment I live in and I thought, man this is luxury!

My bedroom

After admiring the beautiful room, Wendy walked me through the double doors off the foyer. When I first peeked in I was confused. Here was this huge room with a formal living area complete with a grand piano, a cozy TV area, a full kitchen and dining area to accommodate 6 people, a wraparound deck with a view of Waikiki Beach and Diamondhead. I thought she had taken me to an elaborate corporate conference venue to show me what was available in this beautiful hotel. I was still puzzled at what I was looking at, and why she was showing it to me, when my Son Ben walked out of the kitchen. WELL, this was the rest of the suite! I hadn’t even seen the huge master bedroom off the living room with its grand bathroom with a walk-in closet and dressing room. This was crazy! The “suite” Wendy had shown me in the beginning was MY bedroom. And this was the rest of the Royal Suite, all 3300 feet of it!

The Royal Suite looking towards kitchen and foyer top picture, and TV and dining room bottom

The Royal Suite Livingroom and veranda

Next on the agenda? A spa treatment of course! Wendy had arranged to have massages for the two of us in the room. Soon the two masseuses arrived and set up massage tables in the master bedroom. We lavished in the calmness of a 90 minute traditional Hawaiian relaxation massage while Ben left to explore other things. What a glorious way to start out a visit to Hawaii!

Master bedroom

When I returned to my room, I found a lovely welcome basket of fruit and chocolates waiting for me. I devoured the delicious papaya and rested in my big fluffy robe until showering and dressing for the evening.

Welcome fruit and chocolates

We started out at the elegant L’Aperitif cocktail bar at the LaMer, Halekulanis 5 star, 5 diamond upscale French restaurant. The bar is famous for their craft cocktails paired with high end snacks to compliment the drink. We all ordered something different and sipped on our fancy drinks and snacks while sitting in the richly decorated, dark paneled décor with a view of Diamond Head through the open doors. Afterwards we went to dinner at A House Without a Key enjoying delicious prime rib and lobster dinners while listening to traditional Hawaiian music. As the sun set below the horizon, we finished our dinner with the light and creamy traditional Haupia coconut cake. Pure heaven!

Drinks and high end snacks at L’Aperifif

I returned to my room to find turn down service with a pair of terrycloth slippers by my bed, a small gift, a lovely quote for the day and an ever present orchid flower. I was pleasantly surprised to find that each night I found a new gift and quote. How lovely is that! I sank into my comfy bed with dreams of what a wonderful day I had.

Coffee on my veranda

Wednesday, October 31st (Halloween) I ordered room service to have my coffee on the veranda while watching the beaches come alive with walkers, surfers and sun bathers.

Halakulani Orchid pool

Then we put on our suits and headed to the pool. We spent most of the day lounging by the Orchid pool with the beautiful mosaic design of an orchid on the bottom, created from over a million blue, white and green imported glass tiles. The staff brought by little tidbits every hour…A mini muffin in the morning, a bite of pineapple, frozen grapes, little bites to enjoy while basking in the sun. And of course we had to have a Mai Tai which the hotel says it’s famous for. And I must admit it was pretty good!

Drinking Mai Tai’s at the pool

For dinner we went to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. I’ve never been and have heard how good it was but really wasn’t convinced that a meal could be THAT good. After all, I’ve had some really delicious steaks in my day. But believe me I was wrong! I have never had a filet minion like I had that night. It was absolutely melt in your mouth tender! Add the creamed spinach, mashed potatoes and side of succulent shrimp and wala! Dinner made for a queen!

Dinner at Ruth’s Chris

After dinner I walked along the streets going through some of the shops and watching all the fun people in their Halloween costumes.

Thursday, November 1st – Snorkeling day! One of my absolutely favorite things to do is snorkeling. There’s just something so magical about being in the quiet, serene waters and watching the sea life below you. And every time I go I think about my cousin Bruce who introduced me to this beautiful activity so many years ago. So of course Ben and Wendy arranged a day of snorkeling! We boarded the catamaran and cruised out to Turtle canyon where many, many resident sea turtles hang out. Not only did I see dozens of turtles up close and personal, but there were hundreds of colorful fish skittering around as well! I will NEVER go snorkeling without an underwater camera again!

Ben & Wendy on the catamaran

I could have kept snorkeling for hours longer, but since everyone had returned to the catamaran except me, I reluctantly made my way back to join the others. We then sailed around the bay having a great view of Diamond Head, the Waikiki beaches and a Hawaii 5-0 helicopter flying overhead as they were filming. SO Hawaii!

A happy snorkeler!

Friday, November 2nd – Our last day…We walked around the area finding the mall and a path to Waikiki Beach. Along the way we ran into some men and women picketing the hotels next to ours. Their grievance was that the hotels wouldn’t hire them full time so they weren’t eligible for benefits. The cost of living is so high in Hawaii and they couldn’t afford to work only one job to survive and pay their bills, most had at least two jobs. We sympathized with the situation and wished them well. And of course my generous kids gave them some money to help with their cause.

Picketers next to our hotel

We then whiled away the afternoon at the Tommy Bahama 2nd floor restaurant enjoying the cool breeze coming through the big open windows overlooking Kalakaua Ave. below. We watched people and birds in the park below, the traffic of tour busses, unique motorcycles, limos, and all kinds of vehicles passing by while enjoying drinks and the best scallop sliders on earth! Wendy re-created them when she returned home and served them as appetizers for Thanksgiving. I have to say she nailed it! SO DELICIOUS!

Last night in Honolulu enjoying scallop sliders at Tommy Bahamas

That evening I listened to the sounds of the ocean as I drifted off to sleep for the last time. What an experience of a lifetime!

Aloha Hawaii!  Mahalo Ben and Wendy! I love you so much!

My lovely daughter-in-law Wendy and son Ben


December 1, 2018 at 12:05 am Leave a comment

On Bended Knee

My son is such a thoughtful, caring human being who has rescued many dogs in the past and given them a home full of love and compassion.  I’d like to share a poem he wrote several years ago when he was still a teenager.  I think it’s just beautiful.

Ben and Angus

Angus with Ben

On Bended Knee

To the human, with the life that I spent
how I grew to adore your scents.

You’d let me run so I could feel free
and gained my trust on your bended knee.

Sometimes I’d forget from time to time,
could see the frustration within your eye.

Needing forgiveness, my neck I’d bare
and every time, my life you’d spare.

And even more you’d come back to me
showing forgiveness on bended knee.

And in reflection looking back,
I just want to thank you for that.

Sometimes learning as you go
that I would never put on a show.

For what I feel is what I am,
I had no need for fame or glam.

And in the times I saw pain in your eyes
I’d give you your space to talk to the skies.

Until the time you came back to me
again we had laughter, on bended knee.

I finally learned the job in my pack
to be gentle with young, I got the knack.

With the old I’d lay, and the young I’d play,
but time caught up, began to fill with pain.

I have grown old and I can’t understand
that I can’t walk, and you’re still a young man.

And in my last carry through the door
you gently set me on the floor.

With tears in your eyes, and the sound of good-bye
you comfort me, on bended knee.

The gift you seemed to understand
I thank you for being a compassionate man.

By Ben Baker

June 14, 2013 at 10:19 am 2 comments