Barbie Perkins-Cooper, Author

Living Life in the Country As A Writer, Photographer

For many years, when I’ve attended writing workshops, the facilitator’s have stated writers should free write daily for five to ten minutes. What exactly is free writing? In my definition, free writing is a way for someone to simply write, without considering grammar, spelling, plot, actions, characterization or anything. ‘Just write,’ they say — without consideration of anything except the cognitive thoughts flowing from your mind.

OK — sounds simple enough, but I confess, I’ve fought with it since while writing, I continue to correct mistakes, edit and rewrite. It is 7:32am in Charleston, SC. I am sipping my first taste of coffee while listening to the morning news. Now, another story about Charlie Sheen. Oh. Woopee! Charlie Sheen and his “Goddesses.” PLEASE! Someone just take this maniac and his bimbos away! They are interviewing Charlie Sheen now. Apparently the officials removed his twin sons from his home, and the care of his ‘Goddesses”. Isn’t it about time! Children need role models, not an environment such as this.

OK. Enough about Charlie Sheen. His stories change every two minutes!

It is a beautiful morning today in Charleston, SC. Brisk, with a slight breeze I noticed when I let my precious babies outside. My babies are my ‘children’ — Prince Marmaduke Shamus, Sir Shakespeare Hemingway Cooper, and Shasta Daisy Shampagne. No, Shampagne is not misspelled. That is her name because after we rescued her, we changed her name from Mitzi — she failed to respond to it, to a beautiful name of Shasta Daisy Shampagne — because she is white like a shasta daisy, bubbly like champagne. I wanted her name to be symbolic and so, we changed it and she responded immediately.

I’ve been free writing for six minutes now, and I continue to correct my errors as I type. This free writing isn’t easy. ‘Simply open the cognitive thoughts in your mind and let it go,’ speakers at seminars have said. No theme. No notations. Simply writing, as it flows from your mind. Oh-h0h0h! That could be dangerous!

I am challenging myself to write on a regular basis on this blog. Make it interesting. Make it fun. Make it something that fans will enjoy and return to. Just what do I write?

Perhaps about my children – my rescue babies. They are so beautiful. I adopted Shamus in 2001, two years after my dad died from esophageal cancer. At that time, I had another doggie named Muffy Sue. She was a soft, precious black doggie, a blend of terrier and perhaps a bit of schnauzer. Never did she need to be groomed professionally because her coat was the type of softness that only needed brushing on a daily basis, and bathing regularly. We adopted Muffy after losing a dog one night. Boomer jumped the chain link fence after dinner and when we couldn’t find him, my son walked around the neighborhood looking for Boomer. It was unusual for Boomer not to return. Phillip found him lying in the road on Simmons Street. His body was limp and cold. Boomer died, a victim of hit and run. Tears are in my eyes while writing this. Tears for losing Boomer. Tears for the lost look in my son’s eyes, and tears because those years were such unhappy years for me.

I hugged my son, cried with him, encouraging him it was OK to cry and to grieve for Boomer. “But he’s a dog,” some people say. Maybe to you, but to my son and I, Boomer was a part of our family. We gave Boomer a proper funeral and for several days, we grieved. During this time, I was contemplating a possible ending of my marriage, so it wasn’t a good time for me, and I suspect for my son. 1986 was not a good year for this family.

Weeks later, Phillip and I went to the ASPCA. Staring into the eyes of Muffy, the wagging of her tail, the screaming ‘take me home’ way she barked and how kissy sweet she was, we chose her to come home with us. Her coloring matched the colors of Boomer. Her eyes glared intensely into mine. I’ve always been told that if a dog looks into your eyes, that is a symbol of trust and Muffy stared into my eyes with such love and trust. Little did she know what she was teaching me.

We were blessed to have Muffy for fifteen years. Her last years were not healthy years as she suffered with a repeated reoccurrence of tumors. Three surgeries and still the tumors returned. Back and forth visits to vets could not heal her and in 2001, after remembering how much my father suffered while his body melted away, we took Muffy to the vet only to be told it was time to let her go. That was truly the most painful decision I have made in my lifetime. Holding Muffy close, kissing her and telling her how much I loved her. She lifted her head, looked at me, staring with such intense trust and kissed me goodbye. Her body language told me, ‘It’s Ok, Mom. Let me go so I can eat and drink and play again. I’ll be OK. Mom.’ Still, I cry, remembering how much it hurt to let her go. That evening, after her funeral, I rushed to my computer, to write a poem in memory of Muffy.

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