Dogs just wanna have fun. (Think the Cyndi Lauper tune here.) Not that they are never serious but they know when it is time to work and when it is time to kick back and let loose. You can tell from the expression on Baxter’s face that he is having a great time even if Shelby is the one with the Frisbee at the moment. He’s nice, he shares.
Here is Princess, one of our foster dogs from a couple of years ago. That girl knew how to have a good time. She would chase the Frisbee with Baxter and Shelby and the three of them got along like they had been together all of their lives. Sometimes I regret letting her get adopted. She was a perfect fit for our pack. But you can’t keep them all. Or so I am told.
Phoebe, the greyhound, also knows how to play when she can muster up the energy. Greyhounds are couch potatoes 98% of the time but when they decide that they want to play, look out! Tearing up mouthfuls of grass and flinging them in the air then running at full speed for about 30 seconds is one of her favorite pass times in the summer. Note this lasts 30 seconds. No need to get carried away.
We can learn a few things about how to have a good time from dogs. But at the end of the day, don’t forget to relax. And if you can do it with a friend, even better!
As I was driving to work in the morning I thought the midnight blue color of the sky was so pretty that I should take a picture of it to share. Later I looked at the photo and the view was pretty. But then I thought, I have already shared some winter photos this week. Let’s look forward in anticipation of how pretty and full of life spring is! So above is a picture of one of the flower beds, beside the house, from last spring. And, oh it is beauty for the soul. Knowing that we will see this sight again is enough.
This is the same bed from another angle. I love coming home and wandering around amongst all this lush greenery. Some see the start of the new year as a time for change. To me, spring is a time of re-birth and a chance for new beginnings. If life erupts from the dormant, brown beds, then new growth can erupt from me as well.
And this photo of the peonies is just because I love them so. They are my favorite flower. Their beauty is so pleasing to me that I go outside just to stare at them. And they are the most heavenly thing that I have ever smelled. When walking dogs on the paths at the cemetery near our house, I will smell the peonies along the way. Each variety has a different scent. Some are strong and clean smelling, others are soft and light in fragrance. And the colors are a feast for the eyes. The dark reds, the brilliant pinks, the pastel pinks, and the whites, some with pink centers. They come with blooms that are single or doubles. I love them all!
I took a brief walk outside yesterday so that I could see some of the beauty that nature has to share. I love this little pathway through the pine glade. It is so peaceful with its offer of shelter and stillness. And below you can see the beautiful rusty red leaves of the witch hazel. They provide us with color all winter. The leaves seem to hang on forever and then one day in the spring they just magically disappear. Witch hazel is an odd plant. It blooms in the winter. It is a reminder to me that we can bloom even in the toughest of conditions. And the bench is waiting for us to come and sit to admire the plants that will bloom again the spring.
Today I had another one of those magical experiences that I am occasionally blessed with while doing rescue work. Our current foster dog, Miss Sassy Pants, met her future family for the first time. We are keeping Sassy while she undergoes some medical treatment prior to her placement. We anticipate she will be ready to go in about two weeks.
Her new family is so eager and excited about getting her that they wanted to come visit her now. They arrived along with the sheltie they already own. It was amazing. Sassy immediately went up to them and started sniffing. She wanted them to pet her and jumped up on the couch with the lady and gave her kisses. She played and rough housed with the husband. She tried to get their sheltie to play with her. She brought a stuffed toy and squeaked it and dropped it at our feet. I have never seen Sassy so much as touch a toy before and rarely does she try to play with our dogs. Sassy is nine years old and was so happy when this family came that she acted like a pup.
This is one of the miracles of rescue work. Sometimes the dogs just recognize their new family. They act as if they have been waiting all their lives for this person/people to show up. It makes allowing them to move on so much easier for us when we see the dog is happy and ok with it.
Do we miss the foster dogs when they go? Most certainly, but that is how there’s room for the next one. And there is always a next one. At last count we have fostered over 40 shelties! It will be a glorious day when there is a shortage of dogs for us to foster. I think it is possible that day will come. And I look forward to it. Not to the absence of the foster dogs but to the fact there is none available because every one has a home!!!
Romeo passed on yesterday evening. This makes me very sad. We had been together for 14 years. One of the guys at work found Romeo and his sister China in the back of his truck during the work day. The mother must have been moving them but we don’t know from which of the many stops they appeared. The kittens were about two weeks old and the operator brought them to me at the end of the day when he found them. He said I would probably hurt him if he didn’t.
I bottle fed both kittens and kept them in a cardboard box for easy transport. If I went any where for more than two hours, so did the kittens. The box sat on my bed at night so that I would hear the kittens crying and wake up to fed and potty them. Kittens this small can not potty on their own and need help. The kittens also went to work with me in that box. It sat in the bathroom and I would go take care of them every two hours. It didn’t take them long to start meowing for food when they saw me. Shortly after that, when they saw me, they would launch themselves at me and climb up my pants leg. When I started feeding them they were so small that I used an eye dropper. We progressed on to an animal baby bottle and then I cut the tip off of that so the formula/wet food mixture could get through. As they learned to lap up the mixture from a saucer, things became messier. They liked to stand in the food as they ate. Romeo became my shadow. Wherever I went in the house, there he was. He would sit outside the shower door waiting and calling for me. When I came out, he followed me to the sink and sat on the counter so he could stand up and pat my face with his paw. His name suited him well.
Sadly, China passed a number of years ago. But Romeo has been with me these many years. I was always his momma in the true sense of the word. We went through moving, family changes, comings and goings of other dogs and cats, and all the changes that life brings. It turned out that Romeo had a fine ear for music. He would come whenever he heard whistling. It had to be a classical tune though. He wouldn’t come to other whistling. He had his standards. He wasn’t always an easy cat. He would follow us around yowling for food that we had, especially tuna. He liked to sit at the sink and demand that we turn on the faucet so that he might have water that was properly aerated to suit his taste. But he was always my Romeo Kitten.
So what is a fitting tribute for my fine Romeo Kitten? I think to mention the fact that he taught me about the gifts of life and death. I received the gift of watching him grow and knowing that I had made a difference by giving him life. I received the gift of having him as a part of my life and having the joy of spending these past 14 years being adored by him. And at the end, I had the gift of being with him for his last time on earth. That was a gift that we shared, it went both ways. It was a gift for him and for me. Romeo gave me the chance to live my favorite saying. “I shall pass this way but once. Therefore, any good that I can do…or any kindness that I can show-let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again.”
The lessons of Romeo Kitten live on.
This is the view I see while preparing dinner. It occasionally changes as to which animals are present but the overall feel is like being swarmed by sharks. If you’ll notice in the doorway there is a cat and another dog waiting for something to drop. Our dogs love fruits and vegetables. They love it if you toss them a piece of cucumber or bit of apple. They will take just about anything. The cats are slightly pickier. They prefer cheese, meat, or sauce from something that we have cooked. Trying to prepare dinner is rather like an Olympic event or an obstacle course. You must repeatedly navigate around bodies as you go back and forth from refrigerator, to stove, to sink. One of Phoebe the greyhound’s nicknames is Road Block.
Above are Shelby and Sassy the foster dog in prime begging mode. Shelby takes this begging work seriously as she does everything she attempts. You can tell from the grin on Sassy’s face that they are sometimes successful in their quest for bits of food. While dinner time would be easier without all these shenanigans, it would not be nearly as much fun. Life would get boring and empty for me without these furry assistants that help in my daily life.
I love these green bowls! For one thing they are green. And a very pretty shade too. They collapse for storage so they take up less room. What a nifty idea. Or you can use them in the collapsed state with something like taco dip in the center and tortilla chips in the outer ring. Usually I use them for parties since they are large and hold a lot of food. So these bowls make me think of fun.
My favorite thing about these bowls though is that they were a gift from my sister-in-law, so every time I use them I think of her. She has a set of them and liked them so well that she thought I would enjoy having a set as well.
So these bowls serve two metaphorical purposes for me. One, they remind me to be grateful for the common, everyday things that I encounter in my life. They remind me to see more than what is in front of my face. And two, they remind me of love. I think of the kindness and thoughtfulness that was involved with the giving of them. And how awesome it is that I have a sister-in-law that I love. As I used to tell my daughter when she was in school, your actions can make or break someone’s day. You can be the bright spot that affects how they feel. Your actions, be it a smile or a kind gesture, can have far reaching effects, quite possibly more than you will ever know.
Today I was going to make an unkind statement about someone. The person wasn’t present and the statement was true. Then I asked myself, “Why?” Why say it? Sometimes venting is good but was it really necessary in this case? Would it serve any purpose, would it improve on the silence? And would it be kind? So I bit my tongue and remained silent. It was hard.
This sent me on a philosophical trip through my mind. It tends to get crowded in there so this took a while. If it took so much effort to stay quiet and not make the comment, was it worth it? Why not just say the idea, be done with it and move on? I have Gandhi’s “10 Fundamentals for Changing the World” posted near my desk. I looked at the list and by not making the statement I was honoring 8 of the 10 items on the list. I want to change the world. Please, note that I mean for the better! So this time I prevailed and made a minute difference in the universe.
But it was not easy. Is it easy to do the right thing and make good decisions? I conclude that it is not. If it were, the world and everyone in it would be happy, upstanding, and contributing to the betterment of society. Sadly, we know this is not the case. So I believe that it is worth the effort to make the hard decisions. Hopefully next time, this type of decision will be just a little bit easier for me.
The barely there look seems to be in fashion around here. Both Romeo Kitten and Miss Sassy Pants the foster sheltie are showing some leg. The shaved leg is to accommodate an IV port in case there is trouble during surgery. Luckily all went well for both of them.
Romeo came into my life about 14 years ago. He was a kitten that I bottle fed from the estimated age of two weeks. Once he got to be a couple weeks older he would launch himself at me and climb up my pant leg when it was feeding time. As he grew older he followed me around the house meowing when I was out of sight. He would wait for me outside of the shower and then follow me to sit on the bathroom sink and pat my face with his paw. His name fit him well. Romeo’s surgery was a dental and he lost his remaining teeth. Hopefully this will give him several more years with us.
Sassy’s surgery was a spay to get her prepared for her new home. She did very well. She’s a joy of a little girl and I’m so glad we have the privilege of getting to know her. She is a character though. She’s a bossy girl too. If we finish dinner without giving her a bite, she barks at us to tell us off. She also doesn’t like forks and barks at those too. After I picked her up at the vet’s today and we pulled into the driveway at home, she barked with happiness that I brought her back home. Sassy has a home waiting for her. We just have to get her past some medical issues and she will be ready to go. Her new family is eager for her to join them. Sassy will be 10 in April but you’d never know it as spunky as she is.
With luck there won’t be any more surgeries around here for a while. It’s a little too cold for the bare legged look to become the newest fad.
A good muffin is a beautiful thing. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. You can make them quickly and with things you have available. I decide what kind to make depending on what I have on hand. If I have bananas in the freezer that I’ve saved for this purpose, I use those. Or it might be pumpkin or orange juice.
I have the above basic muffin recipe taped onto the inside of a cabinet door. The dry ingredients are always the same. The brown sugar, oil, and egg are always the same. You can use the vanilla or substitute any other extract. I often use almond extract but you could also use anise, rum, or any other to suit your taste. The original recipe called for milk as the liquid but I have also used almond milk, soy milk, or orange juice. You can add in anything that doesn’t change the consistency of the batter. I use chocolate chips almost every time. Other possibilities in addition to or on their own are berries, nuts of any kind, pineapple, orange zest, cranberries, date, raisins, coconut, etc.
Sift the dry ingredients together. Mix the wet ingredients together with the add-ins, then add the wet to the dry ingredients. Stir just until mixed but no longer! Stirring longer makes the muffins tough and they will not be light and fluffy.
You can make the topping on the recipe, which is like a streusel, or leave it off. I have done it both ways. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray and portion out the batter. Then just bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 18 minutes.
I make these about twice a month. It’s nice to have something delicious and homemade rather than something not so good and probably full of preservatives. And you can make them quickly after you’ve done it a couple of times. Enjoy!