Be a Covid Warrior!

Selfie

It is becoming safe to go out into the world and do a few things again for those of us who have been fortunate enough to receive our Covid vaccines. Life is no where near a return to normal though. Still, I am glad for those family members that I have been able to see in these past two weeks.

I went five months without seeing my daughter and three months without seeing my brother. And it was hard. I know others have had it so much worse, but at times this seemed like a lifetime. Time between visits was longer during the winter because it was too cold and snowy to meet outside often. This is the first year ever that my brother and I have celebrated our December birthdays outdoors. Mercifully, it was in the mid 50’s that day when we met under a park pavilion for cake. And our families were so glad to see each other that we were thrilled! After that, visits became farther apart while we waited for either warmer weather or vaccines, whichever came first.

One trick that I used to make myself feel better when my brother and I could not get together for a visit, was to wear this purple sweatshirt (above) that he gave me as a gift a couple of years ago. Wearing it makes me think of him and feel a little bit closer. It reminded me of getting together and knowing that we will do so again. Ditto, for a pair of earrings my daughter gave me.

Yes, these are just physical things but they are symbols. Signs of caring and hope. Do you have any coping mechanisms that seem silly like this, but help you?

My husband and I have received both doses of our Covid vaccines (Moderna). We are blessed and relieved. After the first dose, my arm hurt for two or three days but didn’t interfere with any activities. After the second dose, I had a headache and felt chilled during the first night. So I just went back to sleep. The second day I had a headache. The headache wasn’t that bad. I have had much worse.

This was the price to pay for freedom. And we have the knowledge that we are directly helping to stop the spread of the pandemic. Each one of us who receives the vaccine is a warrior against disease and possible death from infection. We need an army of warriors to emerge victorious.

Will you be part of the solution? Be a Covid Warrior!

My Favorite Super Hero Is…(and a few other heroes I have gained along the way)

Aquaman (from Bing free clipart)

Who is your favorite super hero? Mine has always been Aquaman, even before the days of Jason Momoa. And he certainly confirms it!

As a child, I liked Aquaman because he always saved the world with his ability to communicate with the underwater animals. Whenever there was a crisis, he used his under water sonar to call for help and the sea creatures always came to save the day. Aquaman would have been no one on his own. He relied on his animal friends. This was something I could relate to.

I also have always been drawn to undersea life. It fascinates me. Growing up, I made sure to watch Jacques Cousteau, Marlin Perkins and Jim on Wild Kingdom, and any other underwater shows I could find. Even Bedknobs and Broomsticks was intriguing with the bed floating through the underwater encounter. There is a whole plethora of organisms living their in the murky deep, and I wanted to know what they looked liked and how they lived.

I suppose it wasn’t that big of a stretch then, that my college major was Biology and my favorite part of my water treatment career was looking at organisms under the microscope lens and doing stream studies. You never knew what you were going to see there either.

My fascination with animals and iconic figures did not stop there. My favorite Saturday morning cartoon was Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle. I never wanted to be Jane, the female character. I wanted to be Tarzan himself who swing from vines and talked to the animals and called on them in times of need.

The focus of my life has always centered around animals. There has only ever been a few years of my life in college when I did not have a dog. I was between dogs after the loss of my beagle-mix Captain Sizzle, until I got another dog as soon as I could rent an apartment in college that would allow pets. (That was when I got my first Shetland Sheepdog and the rest, as they say, is history).

My younger years were spent watching cartoon characters and television personalities who worked with animals, because I didn’t know any people who did this in real life. As I grew up and my world became wider, my heroes changed. I discovered that there were real people that I had been unaware of, who were making animals their life’s work.

My first role model, who I saw as a regular person who had a life with attainable goals was Jack Hanna. As a Kent State University graduate, I moved to Columbus, Ohio for my first summer out of school in many years. I was newly graduated and didn’t have a job yet, so I bought myself a membership to the Columbus Zoo. It was only three miles from my townhouse, so I went to the zoo several times each week. Some days I would pick an animal exhibit and sit there watching the same animals for an hour. I noticed that on the days I wore a khaki colored cargo shirt that the animals in some of the exhibits would follow me along the fence line. I later figured out that shirt was similar to what the zoo keepers wore and the animals were hoping I was there to feed them!

That summer was 1985. It was when I first heard of Jack Hanna who was Curator of the Columbus Zoo. That was before he went on to have his own television program. He had made some guest appearances on The David Letterman Show and others. I saw him walking around the zoo a few times. I was so impressed with the fact that he had taken a love of all animals and made it into a career. A career with the intent to educate about animals and improve their chances for survival. He is still one of my heroes.

The other real life hero of my adult life is Jane Goodall. What an amazing woman. She has loved animals for her entire life too. As everyone knows, she started her career studying chimpanzees in Africa. She has taken it so much farther. She has published multiple books and documentaries on saving our planet and the plants and animals that inhabit it. She even has foundations to promote these causes. And at her current age of 87, is still doing all she can to inspire hope and let us know that we can make a difference. She has taken a break because of Covid, but until then was still touring and speaking many days each year.

You can see a theme throughout the list of all my heroes, both fictional and real. They are defenders of animals and people. They know they were put on this world to make it a better place. Although my presence is small, I want to join them and follow in their footsteps to make a difference.

You have the ability to do the same. Won’t you join me in making a difference?

My Completed Reading List: April 2021

Library Books

The books below are all ones that I checked out of our local library. Libraries Rock!

  1. Scratch the Surface-Susan Conant

Felicity Pride, cat mystery writer, finds a body in her own home and must solve the crime. She acquires two cats along the way. I love Conant’s Holly Winter character and dog mystery series. If I see a new one, I grab it off the shelf. I did not find this character as endearing, but it was still an interesting book, and it took me a while to figure out who did it.

2. Becoming-Michele Obama (Non-fiction)

This is the story of Michele’s life through her own eyes. She is a caring, hardworking lady who has made her own way in life. I had no idea of all the accomplishments that she has achieved on her own merits. She grew from a young, poor black girl living in the south side of Chicago, into the impressive lady she is today.

3. The Daughters of Erietown-Connie Schultz

The timeline of this novel starts in 1957 and continues through the early 1980’s. It focuses on the story of Ellie and Brick McGinty and their families. The tale gives a glimpse into the lives of working class families during this era. Connie Schultz teaches classes at Kent State and is an award winning author. She is also the wife of Senator Sherrod Brown.

4. The Forever Girl-Jill Shalvis

Maze, Walker, Heather, and Cat all return to Wildstone, California for Cat’s wedding. The first three were foster children with Cat’s family until life altering tragedy struck. They are together again to work out their issues and cement their relationship as a family. I never read a Jill Shalvis book I didn’t love. In my opinion she is the queen of relationship writing, and not just romantic relationships although she is great at those too. I always feel like I know the characters when reading one of her books.

5. The Lost and Found Bookshop-Susan Wiggs

After a family tragedy, Natalie goes home to take care of her grandfather and The Lost and Found Bookshop which he owns. After many struggles, both financial and emotional, she finds her way in life. The books also has glimpses of Natalie’s family through several generations in San Francisco.

6. Paws for Love-Mara Wells

Danielle runs a greyhound rescue and works as a vet tech for her father. Knox is home from the Marines because of an injury and working with his brothers’ construction company. They were high school sweethearts that went their separate ways. And now they are encountering each other again in their hometown. Dogs and romance, you can’t go wrong!

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite recommendation from this list. Going with my gut reaction, rather than weighing out which book has the most merits, I would tell you to read Paws for Love. I read through this book quickly because I was enjoying it.

Cranberry Orange Scones with Maple Icing-Gluten Free Version

Scones
Gluten Free Scones

When I made the Cranberry Orange Scones with Maple Icing https://sanctuary-acres.com/2021/04/29/cranberry-orange-scones-with-maple-icing/ , I also made a gluten free version. Here is the recipe I used from Pinterest for the gluten free version https://feastingonfruit.com/vegan-oat-flour-scones/

I did make a few alterations to the gluten free recipe. Of course. I used chopped cranberries for the fruit and added the maple icing. I also used regular sugar and butter. The texture was a little on the crumbly side but the flavor was good.

Scones
Left: regular scones, Right: gluten free scones.

I have been experimenting with various gluten free recipes so you may be hearing more about this from me. Baking is my forte and it appears that there is nothing that reacts the same way as wheat gluten. There are substitutions but they don’t work in the same way, so the results are different. This usually means a different texture and in my experience a flatter product. Gluten appears to be necessary for the rise.

When I make some other gluten free baked goods that I am happy with, I will share the process with you!

Scones
Left: regular scones-iced, Right: gluten free scones-iced.

Cranberry Orange Scones with Maple Icing

Cranberry-Orange Scones
Cranberry Orange Scones with Maple Icing

I posted a picture of these scones and had several requests for the recipe. I had to type it up to include my alterations as I never prepare a recipe without making some changes. I figure, I know what I like so why not adjust the recipe accordingly?

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 1/3 cup cranberries, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I substitute regular milk or almond milk with a splash of white vinegar)
  • 1 Tablespoon orange zest, freshly grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda. Use a pastry cutter to cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. The butter melts during baking and allows air spaces for a soft interior texture. Stir in the chopped cranberries. The dough may require a bit of kneading to come together. Knead as little as possible, so you don’t melt the butter and lose the air spaces.

Pat dough into an 8 or 9 inch diameter circle on a greased cookie sheet. Score the circle into 8 wedges with a serrated knife, or adjust the size and number of wedges as desired.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and move to a serving dish. Frost (or not!) when mostly cool.

Maple Icing

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted and slightly cooled so it doesn’t melt the sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup

Mix above ingredients together. Add more sugar to thicken, or more syrup to thin. The ratio may need to be changed slightly, depending on the temperature. Spoon mixture evenly over scones and frost with a butter knife.

Enjoy!

In Honor of Earth Day

Ice at West Branch State Park
Lake Shoreline

I started this post on Earth Day, but got sidetracked because we were working on starting a fruit orchard just outside the back door. We now have five blueberry bushes and a plum tree there. Two of the blueberries went in last year and we just added three more, plus the plum tree. We still want to buy two peach trees and add those to the mix. Elsewhere on our property we already have serviceberries, plums, a pear tree, heirloom cherries, and black raspberries.

Blueberry Bush

So, although I missed publishing this post on Earth Day, we did honor the day by planting and that benefits the planet. Yay!

Newly transplanted plum tree

And this post is a two-fer, a two for one if you will. It includes below, what I wrote with the intention of posting on Earth Day.

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22, with its inception in 1970. Earth Day started in the United States, but has grown to be acknowledged worldwide. It’s goal is to make people aware of environmental issues. That is also the year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came into being, so focus then was obviously on our environment.

It can be a bit frightening to look around our world and see the state it is in. So many animal species are extinct, endangered, or threatened. Even some of our favorites, rhinoceroses, gorillas, lions and tigers, to name a few , are in danger of leaving this world forever. Many plant species and ecosystems such as the rainforests, seem to be on their way out of this world too.

The outlook feels grim. But, it is not too late. Most of these changes have occurred because of man and his impact on our small blue sphere. Men (and by this I mean Homo sapiens, men and women, humans. Us!) have behaved in a very egocentric way. For generations, we have thought only about what is good for us. Our immediate selves. We didn’t consider plants, animals, or the planet as a whole. Heck, we rarely even thought about other humans unless we knew them.

We can no longer afford the luxury of this way of thinking. The planet will soon no longer be able to sustain us in the way we have become accustomed to, or eventually, at all. But as I said, it is not too late. One of the heroes of my adult life is Jane Goodall. She was one of the first female field researchers of modern times. I suspect everyone is familiar with her story. She studied chimpanzees in Africa, fulfilling a childhood dream. She went on to be a spokesperson for saving our world and the environment. She has made it her life’s work. And after devoting a lifetime studying these things, she still has hope. And I believe her! She is after all, a scientist.

Jane has programs, works, books, and teams with the goal of helping our world. She has programs for children, conservation, primates, and even one to promote hope. Home – Jane Goodall’s Good For All News You can check out what she has to say at the link. My point is, if she believes it is not to late to save our world with all she knows about it, let us do what we can too.

I realize that we can’t all do historic acts like Jane. But, we can all do something!

A Disjointed Morning

Zekie assisting momma during her on-line college class.

Today is one of those days. My activities are varied and unrelated. Do you have those days too? There is no flow and they don’t make any sense.

View of our burning bushes over the dog yard fence.

First off, remember how I said Mother Nature was confused? Mother Nature Is Confused Well, was she ever! I woke up to three inches of snow this morning. On April twenty first. In Ohio.

Azalea blanketed in snow.

We were more fortunate than others. I saw on my Facebook feed this morning that some of my friends who live closer to Lake Erie had seven inches of snow. Ours’ is mostly melted now that it is mid-afternoon. So far, our plants don’t seem to have sustained a lot of damage. We will be better able to tell when things have thawed out again tomorrow.

View out the back door this morning.

So, more about my morning. Since I didn’t want to go outside, I thought it would be a fine day to our our dog rescue’s taxes, so I did. I worked on the filing and figures for a bit the previous days. Non-profit taxes are due on May 15th, so don’t worry, I wasn’t late. And non-profits don’t actually pay taxes, at least for smaller groups. There may be a filing fee on a sliding scale, but mostly the filing is to make sure you are legitimate.

After that was out of the way, I moved on to baking. We were out of sweets, except for ice cream, which is nearly always in the freezer and it is too cold to eat that today. I baked cranberry-orange scones with maple icing. They turned out to be very tasty. I will provide that recipe another day. I also baked lime-ginger cookies made with spelt flour because hubby is on a low-gluten kick. The cookies taste good, but they are very flat and dark in color because of the spelt flour. Not the best thing I have ever made but they serve the purpose.

Refer back to the first photo in this post. This is how Zekie decided that I should attend a portion of my college course on The Science of Well-Being this morning. It’s ok, the lectures are pre-recorded so no one knew. Apparently, I was paying too much attention to the computer for too long to suit Zekie. I get a kick out of this dog. He is so interactive. After I petted him on my lap for a while, he got down and went back to sleep. A few other dogs nosed me for pets throughout the class too, but none are as insistent as Zekie. This is the major benefit of working from home. There are dogs.

And that is how I passed my morning. Once again, life is good.

Mother Nature Is Confused

Garden Entrance on a Spring Day. Dogwood in foreground.

This is the time of year when Mother Nature can’t make up her mind. Should I be warm and sunny or warm and cloudy, perhaps rainy, or should I make it snow? It has been mostly warm and spring like and our plants have taken off and produced beautiful blooms and leaves. The overnight forecast is for 27 degrees and snow.

Blossoms on one of our plum trees.

We are not happy about the cold temperature and the possibility of snow. Mother Nature wreaks havoc on our yard. Frost now is likely to kill off any potential fruit for this year on our plum, cherry, serviceberry, mulberry, and pear trees. Not to mention the flowers that will suffer. We got a late freeze last year too. Even the hydrangeas in the walled garden were set back and didn’t bloom until later in the summer.

Redbud tree.

Before I invested so much effort into gardening, the weather didn’t matter so much to me. It was, what it was. If it was cold for a night, then the heater ran in the house and the next day was better. It wasn’t on my mind. Now, one night like this can do irreparable damage for the growing season. For us, this is mostly an inconvenience. For farmers, this can be catastrophic. Their livelihood relies on plants and trees. A late frost can drive up prices for the next year as produce must be shipped from far away until next year when we can try again. I notice these events even more since I retired and spend so much time gardening.

I have blueberry bushes to worry about this year too. From what I read, they should be ok since they are just getting their leaves for the year and don’t have flower buds yet. We planted two blueberry bushes last year and I am picking up three more bushes on Thursday. I hope to be inundated with blueberries in a few years.

Viburnum blossoms.

So, we enjoy the blooms while we can and hope that the weathermen are wrong!

Sanctuary Acres: The Meaning Behind the Name

Our Home-Sanctuary Acres

As you know, the name of my blog is Sanctuary Acres. Today I’m going to share with you the origins of this name.

Sanctuary Acres is what I call my home. And this house is not the first Sanctuary Acres. I picked this name when I was a single divorcee living at my last house in Mantua, Ohio. After my first husband left, one of the things I decided to get into was dog rescue to spend time making a difference. I volunteered with a few different rescue groups. These covered the gamut. I was: a Board Member for the Portage County Animal Protective League, and volunteered for Northeast Ohio Collie/Sheltie Rescue, and Greyhound Adoption of Ohio. I did these concurrently.

I wanted my home to be a place where any who came, felt safe and cared for. This included animals as well as friends. I wanted it to be a place that all felt safe and welcome. I thought the name Sanctuary Acres covered it. I took in a few dogs on my own and found them new homes, before fostering for any organized groups. I fostered dogs and a few kittens while at the first Sanctuary Acres.

I was in the process of founding Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue, Sheltie Rescue in Ohio (neossr.org) when I moved to our next and current home. I wanted the same feelings of safety and welcome to apply to my new home, so I kept the name. Sanctuary Acres is as much a feeling as it is a location. Shortly after moving to this home more than 17 years ago I gained a husband and a daughter. We have fostered over 50 dogs, mostly shelties with a few others sprinkled in for good mix. And I continue to hope this is a place where all feel welcome and safe. One of the hopes as we work in the gardens here, is that we have the opportunity to share the joy they bring with others.

So, when it came time to pick a blog name, I thought Sanctuary Acres summed it up best. I wanted to write and share various things that make my life what it is. This gives me the freedom to decide with each post if I want to write about dogs, cats, rescue issues, cooking and baking, gardening, books and reading, or share thoughts that I happen to be having. They are all part of my Sanctuary Acre’s life.

I hope you take joy in following along with me on the journey, whether it happens to be with an every day happening or one of the crazy occurrences that is bound to happen around here!