I live in the country and spend much of the year enjoying our gardens and outdoor activities. Also, I have been involved in dog rescue for over 15 years. I have been a volunteer for numerous rescue organizations, do therapy dog work, and pretty much all things "dog".
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I always assumed I was left brained, which is the analytical side because my degree is in Biology and I spent my career as an environmental scientist. Lately, I have been wondering if this is so. I also do a number of creative or right brained activities. I make felt ornaments, design gardens, do very amateur sketches, and of course, write among other artsy things.
I began to wonder if perhaps I was really right brained and just became a scientist as the result of hard work. I did have trouble with chemistry and calculus in college. Maybe that was why it took so much effort on my part? I passed calculus after much frustration and many tears.
Yesterday evening, I found a test on-line that tells you which side of your brain predominates according to your answers to their questions. Care to venture a guess how mine turned out? I was a little surprised but should have expected the outcome. I fall in the middle with 46% of my thinking being left brained. I discovered upon further research that apparently falling in the middle range is a common thing.
37 percent of Americans are left-brained, while only 29 percent are right-brained. In 34 percent of participants, the two hemispheres exert equal influence on decision-making. -excerpt from a Huffington Post article
I don’t claim to be normal, and by the way, I think “normal” is highly overrated. In this case, there is no normal or abnormal. I find the concept fascinating, nonetheless. We all know those people who analyze every area of their lives and those who can barely focus enough to string two thoughts together.
During my career I was proud of my analytical thinking. I still am. Now, I have decided that I am also proud to have my thought processes fall in between analytical and creative or artistic abilities. Although different, both have value. By having two ways of thinking, it gives a wider range of ideas for problem solving. It allows the ability to appreciate the beauty of things as well as how they work. I think being able to see things both ways, has the potential to enable us to understand different points of view. And we all need to make the effort to understand others’ perspectives, even when we disagree with them.
I hope you all enjoy pondering this issue as much as I did. Peace to you.
We have started hiking portions of the Buckeye Trail (in Ohio) near us. The Buckeye Trail (BT) runs through West Branch State Park and volunteers have begun trail improvements. Some sections are new, and others were in need of maintenance. That blue blaze on the tree (see above) is an indicator that you are on the Buckeye Trail. Follow the blazes. We saw folks out doing trail upgrades during the winter and I wish that we had gotten their contact information. I wouldn’t mind putting in a few hours to help the cause. I’m sure if I keep looking, I can find the local group.
We hike a different place every day and once in a while, we try out a new section of the BT. We generally limit ourselves to 2 to 3 mile sections. On Tuesday, we hiked a 4 mile section which was what it took to get back to the car. Once we learn the distances from section to section, we can take two cars and leave them in different parking lots, so we don’t have to hike out and back.
Above is the route one of our hikes took last week. We went out the A-section of the Mountain Bike Trail and then onto a portion of the BT that we recently discovered. It is always fun when we discover a trail that is new to us. Especially at West Branch. Before the area was a Reservoir and State Park, people lived there. It is thought provoking to come upon the foundations of old homesteads. In the spring, you can often tell where a house was from the border of daffodils or other domestic flowers that still bloom there.
You can see from the mapped hike above that Shelby was with us that day. She also hiked with us on Saturday and Sunday. Those will be her last hikes, at least for a while. On Monday morning, she was limping terribly, and more than one leg seemed to be involved. She does have arthritis, but this seemed to be something more. I called our vet right away and they were able to get us in that morning due to a cancellation. Four hundred dollars later, we know that Shelby has arthritis in her left front carpus (ankle) causing fluid retention, two significant areas of arthritis in her spine, and a completely collapsed spinal disc. The collapsed disc was a surprise to us all. This is a condition that can be managed. Shelby received a steroid injection and will be on oral steroids and Tramadol, a painkiller, for three weeks. She will have a follow-up appointment in a month and then be on Rimadyl, a different painkiller, for the rest of her life.
Shelby is feeling a little better already. Her limp is only minor now and she’s not nearly as grumpy. Our vet will sign off on Shelby’s annual paperwork that allows her to perform therapy dog visits during her follow-up appointment. Unfortunately, the vet has also suggested that it may be time to think about retiring Shelby from hiking. Definitely no hiking for the next two months. After that I may be able to try her on our walks that are on level surfaces. We’ll have to see how she does.
By taking this approach, I can put any gifts towards supplies for the upkeep of our furry family members. The dogs and cats do always get more deliveries than I do! And you can know that the gifts are supporting our animals, and not my grand lifestyle. Seriously, we live in an old farmhouse that was built in 1830 and our day to day lives revolve around dogs. If you are unable, or choose not to contribute, please keep reading anyway. You are valued.
I was talking to my brother and his wife recently and mentioned that I have certain clothes that I wear when I anticipate I may need emotional comfort. I don’t know if this is something other people do or not, but it has always been helpful for me. It is usually clothing that was a gift from someone I know, who will always have my back. Often times it is something that my brother has given me, such as the purple sweatshirt I’m wearing above. It might also be something from my daughter or from my dear friend Becky. (See post about the ring Becky gave me posthumously Dear Friends Make Life Worthwhile.)
In the instance of the sweatshirt, I know my brother will always be there for me to help in any way he can. He also believes that I am a strong, intelligent, capable person who can handle most things. Somedays, when I wear this shirt, it is like putting on armor that protects me from negativity and gives me additional energy to face the day. Other days, it is just a shirt.
Now, I know that the shirt has no actual special power. But the fact that it reminds me of a loved one, makes me feel better. What the shirt really is, is something that channels my thoughts toward positivity. It gives me focus when I need it. And having something that brings us focus, does indeed make our minds work better.
When I was in college, I made sure I always wore my opal ring on exam days. The ring was a gift from my mother. We were shopping at the mall one day shortly before my high school graduation when I saw this beautiful opal ring at the jewelry store. It had a lovely opal in the center with smaller opals on each side in a gold setting. I remember staring at its loveliness for a long time. My mom told me that as a graduation gift, she would buy me a set of luggage or the ring. I immediately chose the ring. As I wore this ring on exam days, I imagined it had magical powers and that by focusing my mind on it, it would draw through the light of the universe and show me the answers to particularly tough exam questions. I know what the ring actually did was calm me and give me focus on the matter at hand. Isn’t that part of what good test taking skill are? Remaining calm and drawing on your knowledge? Worked for me.
Silly? Yes, definitely. Who cares? These potential talismans have assisted me with passing classes, graduating college, to survive tough times, and pursue goals that I made for myself. In actuality, I did these things for myself, sometimes with the help of others. The power of the mind is an amazing thing. We just need to harness our individual ways to use it.
Everyone must draw on the resources they have to make it through life in whatever way works for them. This is what works for me. I hope you have found something that works for you. And as we make our way through life, let’s all do our bit to leave the world a better place than we found it. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote, a copy of which hangs on my wall.
“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.“
I didn’t read many books last month. It was a short month, and I spent some time doing other things. I was fortunate to be able to spend time visiting with family and friends. I got to hang out with my daughter for a whole day, I saw my nieces a few times, and other family members as well. I even met an old coworker for lunch and caught up with her. February is usually a slow month for me but not this year. I even put together two jigsaw puzzles! I haven’t worked any puzzles for a few years because of, well…cats! Puzzle pieces are not safe from cats, especially the young kitten we had. My mother-in-law gave me a puzzle case for my birthday this year. What a great gift! I am back in business. By the way, she also gave me the puzzle for my birthday last year.
I promise to read more books next month, but here is what I have to report on.
A Frog in the Fjord-Lorelou Desjardins (Non-fiction)
Lorelou moves to Norway for the ideal job and has hilarious adventures learning to acclimate to the culture she finds there. The book is rich with her experiences of beauty in this foreign land. The social cues and norms are very different, she has quite the time learning the language and trying to fit in. If you’ve ever been curious about a different culture, I think you will enjoy this book. The author also has a blog about her ongoing adventures in Norway.
2. The Light We Carry-Michelle Obama (Non-fiction)
This is the second book Michelle Obama has written since leaving the Whitehouse. The first was an autobiography and an excellent book. This one is a different type of book but also very good. It’s more of a how to survive our current times and make a difference book, covering survival in the modern landscape. It focuses on two major areas, investing in our children and continuing to “go high”. There were times when I found myself bogged down by the details, but there were other times when I was greatly inspired. An encouraging read by a classy lady.
3. The Twelve Topsy-Turvy, Very Messy Days of Christmas-James Patterson & Tad Safran
This is a fun book! Henry the father, and Will & Ella his children have been living in a funk since the death of their wife and mother, five years ago. Henry has not celebrated Christmas for the children since her passing. The children sign their dad up on a dating website and odd things begin to happen. The events from the 12 Days of Christmas song begin to happen in quirky events in their lives. Chaos and mayhem ensue, and the results couldn’t be funnier to onlookers, but not so funny for the family. An unexpected Christmas miracle occurs and happiness returns. A silly book that I enjoyed.
4. Me Before You-Jojo Moyes
Louisa Clark loses her job and desperately needs another. Although she has never been a caregiver before, she becomes one for recent quadriplegic Will Traynor. Will had everything-a high powered job, wealth, women, exciting adventures. He is struck down in the street during a freak accident and becomes a quadriplegic. Will no longer wants to live in his failing body. Louisa takes him on adventures to make him want to live. This book is beautiful and heart achingly painful at the same time. I couldn’t stop reading it and then had to read the last few chapters a bit at a time because I couldn’t stop crying. This book has been on my mind ever since I finished it. I don’t think I will ever look at life quite the same way again. Many things we take for granted, should be cherished.
Magazines-Akron Living (2), Pioneer Woman, Real Simple, Down East, AARP
If you can only read one book from this list, make it Me Before You. This book has the potential to change how people think about those with disabilities and even how we perceive our own lives. Compassion can make the world a different place.
I just realized that I never posted my list of books read for January and that I better get to it before it is time for February’s! I guess I have been too busy watching the girls, lunching with friends, and hanging out with family to remember. This is a good thing! So, without further ado, here is my list…
Wild Maps for Curious Minds (Non-fiction)-Mike Higgans
This book was so much fun! If you see it at the library, get it! It looks at many different phenomena through maps. Where are the sunny places that could help power the world? Who eats the most fruit in the world? The most meat? Where in the world can you take the longest walk in a straight line? So many things I never knew I wanted to know, and now I do!
2. Lucy by the Sea-Elizabeth Strout
I almost didn’t get this book because I didn’t care for the first one I read by this author. I’m so glad I gave it a chance because I loved it. Lucy Barton and her ex-husband go to a house on the Maine coast to escape the Covid pandemic. A house on the Maine coast where you can walk on the beach every day is my dream, so I certainly don’t understand her complaining. I do understand thoughts and experiences she has in regards to the situation. And Lucy has some very profound thoughts and speculation that connects us all as human beings.
3. Animal Life-Audur Ava Olafsdottir
Domhildur comes from a long line of midwives. On her father’s side are the undertakers. They encompass both ends of life. The story takes place in Iceland. Quite a bit of it surround tales of Domhildur’s grand aunt, also a midwife. The main character has just delivered her 1,922nd child. A winter storm is approaching. This book was just interesting enough to keep me from putting it in the to be returned pile, but not by much.
4. Fairy Tale-Stephen King
OMG!!! This book is excellent. It’s not a horror book as you might expect from Stephen King. It is truly a fairytale. Sort of a cross between The Hobbit and Harry Potter. I got absorbed into this alternate world. Charlie Reade helps his reclusive, elderly neighbor, finding him after a bad fall. He also cares for, and grows to love, the neighbor’s elderly dog. Charlie learns about and enters the alternate world while looking to enact every dog lover’s dream. Making his dog young again. There he encounters many good people and monsters too. The adventure takes a new direction as Charlie tries to save his new friends and himself and return order to this foreign world. I can see reading this book again in a few years. I enjoyed it that much.
5. Everything, Beautiful-Ella Frances Sanders
This is a beautiful book! It teaches us how to see beauty in our lives, in expected as well as unexpected places. The book is a combination of prose and drawings/watercolors. I may have to buy this book for my personal library. It’s one of those that I can see reading again from time to time.
6. Vegan Cooking for Two-America’s Test Kitchen (Cookbook)
A number of these recipes look good to me. I made two of them and was pleased. I didn’t have the ingredients to make some of the others, but most of the recipes do have normal ingredients. Give it a go if this is your thing.
7. The Lost-Jeffrey B. Burton
I love this series. It’s about Mason Reid and his Human Remains Detection (HRD) dogs, aka cadaver dogs. This story comes with a murder, a kidnapping, the Russian mafia and a host of other mysteries. Lots of excitement.
Magazines: Dogster (2), Country Home, The Home Edit, The Cottage Journal, Martha Stewart Living, Magnolia Journal, Mother Earth News
Lots of good books this month. If you have time for an 800 pager, I suggest FairyTale as my favorite on this list. It captures that sense of magic that reminds you of being a kid.
I hope you all had an enjoyable Valentine’s Day. This past Saturday, we hosted the annual family Valentines meal that my husband puts on every year. Lots of good food, treats, and memories were made and shared. Until next time!
My first post about never getting too old for dogs generated enough feedback and comments that it got me thinking and I have more thoughts to share on the matter. They will come later in the post.
I was using old profile pictures in my posts that I have taken over the past few years because it was easier. I didn’t want to mislead though, so this one is of me at 60 years old, as is the one in the last post. (Never Too Old for Dogs) If you’re wondering how I got my hair so much less poufy in this one, here is my trick. I put my hair in a ponytail when it is still wet and leave it that way until it dries. I have thick hair, so that is sometimes the next day. Once my hair is down, it does get “bigger” as time passes. Especially, if it is rainy or humid out.
I got to watch my nieces over the weekend. I was so excited to see them! It was supposed to happen last week but didn’t work out. I had a flat tire on one car and transmission trouble in the other car. Both discovered in the same afternoon! It was not my day and let me tell you, I was none too happy that something came between me and seeing my girls. Both vehicles are repaired and roadworthy again. While watching the girls, I got more of those flexibility experiences that I was talking about last time to help keep me young. We again played hide and seek. The game is a favorite of theirs’. I took Zekie with me this time. He seems to understand the concept of Hide and Go Seek. Or he at least sits with me and quietly waits until we are found. This does not work with Shelby. She stands in front of where I hide and stares a hole into the spot, so that I am found almost immediately. All the girls have to do is look for Shelby. When I hid under the computer desk, Zekie crawled in with me while I crouched in the knee hole waiting to be found. All I had to do was point at the spot beside me and make a down motion and we were hidden. Zekie was the perfect guest on our visit. He really is a good dog if I am with him.
On to why I will never be too old for dogs. The main reason is that I think it would kill me to be without a dog. How could I survive without a constant companion who thinks everything I do is wonderful and is happy to see me at all times? Dogs are mental health aides! So, what are some ways to pull this off for the older individual?
One. Stay healthy and active as much as you can. The better your health and activity level, the longer you will be able to care for a dog. (Or any animal.) The dog comes with built in health benefits. You should exercise and walk your dog. This will help to keep you both moving longer. There are studies that prove that people with pets age better than those without. Not just physically, but mentally as well.
Two. Downsize to a smaller or less active breed or mix of dog. Note that the two things do not go hand in hand. A French Bull Dog and a Jack Russell Terrier are similar in size, but you are not getting the same level of dog. The terrier is highly active, mentally and physically. They are a lot of dog in a small package. Many young people cannot handle this type of dog. Shelters were full of them after the television show starring a well-trained Jack Russell, Wishbone, rose to popularity. The Frenchie on the other hand is a low energy dog that needs only short walks. And then, you have the greyhound (approximately 55-80 lbs.) who is affectionately known as a couch potato. Do your research. There is a dog who is appropriate for nearly everyone.
Three. Who says you have to get a puppy? There are adult dogs who are in need of a home. Many through no fault of their own. Rescues and shelters have staff or volunteers who can help you choose a dog that fits your lifestyle. They know the personalities and habits of the dogs in their care and can guide you in picking a new best friend who is suitable for you. Some rescues even have Seniors for Seniors programs. This is when a senior dog is paired with a senior person. The rescue retains ownership of the dog and covers vet bills. The senior person provides a home for the dog and all daily care including food, walks, general grooming, etc. The person keeps the dog for the lifetime of the dog. Another benefit of this situation is, if something happens to the person, they know the dog will be taken care of. Someone from the rescue will come get the dog in this case and it will be rehomed or remain in foster care. It’s a win-win for all involved. Harder to place senior dogs get loving homes and the older person has a dog for companionship without the worry of expensive vet bills that can plague an older dog. The rescue I am involved with, Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue (NEOSSR), has such a program. Public donations make such programs possible. Here is a link about our rescue, complete with a donation button! https://www.neossr.org/ Our rescue tries to help in whatever way is best for the individual and the dog. Some of our senior families have needed temporary help in caring for their dogs. We have had a team of rotating volunteers show up to walk a dog for someone recovering from surgery until he was back on his feet. Right now, we have a dog in foster care because the owner was hospitalized from a fall and is in a facility for rehab. The foster mom takes the dog the facility to visit its owner occasionally. We hope the owner and dog can both go home again but if not, we will be here to care for the dog. By the way, the foster mom was on her way to pick up this dog from a neighbor within hours of NEOSSR receiving the call for help. Our members are awesome!
Four. Consider being a foster parent rather than having your own dog. You get the joy and rewards of having a dog around without the full-scale commitment. This option would also have veterinary care of the dog covered by the shelter or rescue. And though it may be painful when the dog gets adopted, you know that you gave the dog love and a home while he was waiting for his forever home. Most groups do give their foster families first rights to adopt if you happen to fall in love with your pup while you have him. And this happens often enough that there is a term for it. You are a foster failure. I have been a foster failure with several dogs. It is a term of endearment in the rescue world, and I am proud to be a member of this group. In fact, Shelby, Zekie, and Claire are foster failures. It can be a good way to try out a dog to see if he is a fit for your family. Many groups have a foster-to-adopt option. If the dog absolutely is not a fit for your home even on a foster basis, the group will take it back. It is helpful if you can keep the dog until it gets adopted or at least until the group can find another foster home. There are usually those of us crazy enough to foster most any dog. I have had to put up some foster limitations since we’ve had Zekie, and he is so much to handle. I would take them all, but sometimes you have to do what is best for the family and this includes the whole family, canines and felines as well!
Thanks for sticking with me to the end. My route can be rather circuitous as I have lots of random thoughts that get recorded along the way. Sometimes those can be the most valuable, and I hope, enjoyable. My goal was to give you options and lots to think about. May peace, and good health, be with you.
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I turned 60 years old recently. I did not see this as a big deal. After all, I’m not even old enough to qualify for Medicare. I fall into that donut hole that catches some of us between retirement and age 65. If the government does not see me as being of concern for health care, I should still be young, or at least middle aged, right? I’m going with it. I’m young! All in all, I do feel pretty good for my age. I don’t suffer too many aches and pains or other concerns. I do feel blessed about this.
I credit part of still feeling young to the fact that I have a little brother who is 16 years younger than me. When he was in college, I was in my mid-30’s. Since I was his sister, it seemed natural for us to run around doing things together sometimes. We spent many a Friday night hanging out at the local Borders bookstore together. Ok, maybe mentioning Borders, dates me a little. That store has been gone for years and a sad thing it is. My brother and I also spent some afternoons at Lake Erie and took a trip to North Carolina to see the Biltmore and Colonial Williamsburg. We went to local festivals and events in northeast Ohio where we live. Including a few trips to the local Buzzard Festival when we would get up at 4:30 in the morning to be there for the first sighting of the turkey buzzards returning to the area for the season.
As my brother became an adult and had his own family, complete with his wife and my two nieces, they all continued to keep me young of heart and mind. When you are playing with two little girls, it is hard to feel old. There is so much laughter and excitement. And all that crawling around on the floor and playing hide and go seek probably helps keep me flexible. Crouching behind furniture and hiding beneath clothes behind the closet door is sure to help. In case you haven’t guessed, my brother and I have always been, and continue to be, quite close. I’ve heard it said that everyone needs a “bandaid” person in their lives. Someone who thinks you can do no wrong and supports you through everything. We are that person for each other.
Now that my daughter is an adult, she helps keep me young too. It is true, a daughter is someone who grows up to be your best friend. And when you have a daughter who is supportive and always willing to listen and cheer you on, you have a built-in support system. When my daughter, who is the next generation, wants to hang out with me and do things together, doesn’t this mean that I am young? We are enjoying the same things, so this means I have interests of a young person, right? I choose to believe that it does.
I also believe that having five dogs, and three cats, keeps me young. The number of dogs varies sometimes, if we are pet sitting or fostering another dog or two. I read a book a while back that had the following quotes. I’m sorry, I did not write down the author’s name, just the words, but they are not mine.
“I’m ten years older than when I brought home my last dog…and I hope I have it in me to be there for one more… I am almost sixty. What if I just don’t have the energy to keep up with the physical demands of a young dog?”
I read this and I thought, wait, what? I am not having trouble handling my dogs and I am nowhere near done having dogs. In fact, I am still rescuing dogs and my specialty is dogs with behavioral issues. This is a part of who I am, and I don’t see that everchanging. I can’t even imagine ever having only one dog. (Don’t worry, my daughter says if anything ever happens to us, she wants ALL the dogs. Yes, she is definitely my daughter.)
I will concede that there may come a day when I can no longer handle the large or troublesome dogs. I have a plan! When that day comes, I will get Pomeranians, and maybe a whippet and a French Bull Dog. It’s good to have a plan, isn’t it? Actually, our most difficult dogs have never been our biggest ones. And the most difficult dog of my life (Zekie!) has been a 35 pounder! Size is not a precursor to ease or difficulty. Small dogs are of course, easier to pick up when needed.
And in reference to the above quote, I do not find it necessary to get my dogs when they are young. Young dogs are fun, but old dogs are equally rewarding. Bottom line, I have always been, and will ever be, a dog girl.
So, from this 60 year old woman, you’ll have to watch and see what I get up to next. Because I am nowhere near done making a difference in the world. I have many things to do and try and see what trouble I can get into next.
I have to warn you up front, I can’t pick a favorite from this month’s book list. They are so different from each other and have value in different ways. But I can tell you that I had fun perusing through my stack of Christmas magazines. I always enjoy a good magazine, but I especially love Christmas magazines. Looking through Christmas magazines brings back the magic of being a child for me. I find it to be very much like going through the eagerly awaited Christmas catalogs with the huge selection of toys in the back. In addition to the Sears catalog, we had the JC Penney’s and Montgomery Wards books. I spent hours sitting on the couch, paging through each book, turning down the page corners on the items I decided to put on my list for Santa Claus. It took me so long because I wanted so many things and knew I had to limit it to a few. I would go back and forth over which items to leave off my list to arrive at a reasonable number. I hope each of you have equally fond holiday memories.
Without further ado, here is my list of magazines and books that I read this December.
Magazines: Country Living (2), Good Housekeeping, Taste of Home Christmas edition, HGTV Christmas Idea Book, Taste of Home regular edition, Taste of Home Holiday Baking, Woman’s Day, Country Living Christmas Spectacular, Better Homes & Gardens Farmhouse Christmas
The Plot and the Pendulum-Jenn McKinlay
Librarian Lindsey Norris is back solving another crime in coastal Briar Creek Connecticut. This is the 13th book in the Library Lover’s Mystery series. The library becomes the beneficiary of a considerable collection of books from the town’s Dorchester mansion. Lindsey stumbles across a skeleton in a secret room while packing books at the mansion. Thus surfaces the unsolved case of “the runaway bride”. This book had a very Nancy Drew vibe for me, and I loved Nancy Drew. I snatch up each new release in this series as soon as I can find it at the library.
2. Death of an Ice Cream Scooper-Lee Hollis
This is the 15th in the Hayley Powell series. She and her friends live in Bar Harbor, Maine. She writes a food column in the local paper and owns a restaurant. Her ice cream supplier finds an employee dead in the ice cream shop. The question is,” Who done it”? These are light-hearted mysteries. I do wish she included more about what it is like to live in Maine as that is one of my favorite places.
3. Make Space for Happiness-Tracy McCubbin (Non-fiction)
This book was not what I expected. I thought it would give me ideas on how to store and organize belongings. Instead, it was about why we collect and hang onto things and how to overcome it. Interesting.
4. The Lost Summers of Newport-Williams, Willig, and White
Just finished this one and, wow! The story is told in three different time periods, about three different women a family line. This is a book about sins of the father, class, right and wrong, and so many other things, not just a shallow story about rich people as I had feared. With every chapter change in character and time, I decided each was my favorite. I highly recommend it.
5. Starry Night-Debbie Macomber
To heck with Mariah Carey, maybe Debbie Macomber should be called the queen of Christmas. She writes a new Christmas novel every year. In this one, reporter Carrie Slayton is looking for the story that will get her off the society page and on to serious investigative journalism. If she can get an interview with reclusive Finn Dalton, her editor promises her the new job. Dalton is a survivalist type living in Alaska. Carrie is able to track him down and get the interview but will publishing it be worth the cost to their budding relationship. The story is not very realistic, but it is a “feel good” book and I enjoyed it.
6. Driving Miss Norma-Tim Bauerschmidt & Ramie Liddle (Non-fiction)
Ninety year old Norma is diagnosed with cancer as her husband is in the hospital dying. Rather than undergo surgery and further treatment with months of painful recovery and unlikely success, she decides to go on the road with her son and daughter-in-law and their standard poodle. They travel across the country in an RV and make the most of Norma’s remaining time. This is not the most exciting book I have ever read, but there are lessons to be learned.
7. Out of the Clear Blue Sky-Kristan Higgins
Lillie Silva is going through big life changes. Just as her son is due to go far away to college, her husband leaves her for a gorgeous, much younger woman. Lillie is a nurse-midwife and ends up delivering the new wife’s baby. At first, I thought the women were immature and a waste of my time with all the stunts and dishonesty that took place. As I read on, the characters developed and matured and, in the end, I really enjoyed the book. There are lots of female characters and we see a support system that is there during the tough times. I recommend the book. Some of Lillie’s antics will give you a laugh.
8. The Blue Zones American Kitchen-Dan Buettner (Cookbook)
Another Blue Zones book about long-lived groups of people. Apparently the diets of most Americans have not been good for a long time. They did come across some local native dishes that fit the pattern of what long-lived people eat. Most of the recipes in this book call for things I don’t stock and would have trouble finding. The scientific findings are still interesting. And, I did find one recipe for garbanzo beans involving coconut milk and turmeric that I made and will make again.
Happy New Year, my friends! As you can see, we have been keeping up with the hiking. We missed three days when the temperature was below zero and there were high winds, plus a couple for rain. Other than that, we continued hiking every day right through the holiday season!
I love this picture of the frozen reservoir with the frozen ice mounds created where the waves crash into the shoreline. I like winter scenery. This photo amuses me because if you look closely, you can see that someone built a seat from some large rocks and big sticks that were detritus on the beach. The chair even has a stone back. It looks like a throne to me.
For those of you who are not the winter afficionados that I am, here is a hike from a sunnier day last week. This is the opposite side of the reservoir from the first picture a few days later. Still no boaters. Believe it or not, we saw boaters out fishing just a couple days before the icy photo was taken. Apparently, this is where serious fishermen go! We sometimes see them unloading or loading their boats and they often say hello and comment on the five dogs we are walking. Yesterday, we walked past the boat ramp and saw someone unloading fishing supplies from their car. There was a cold wind blowing and he commented, “We’re both crazy,” and laughed. My husband and I told him, “Yes, we are!” We have walked just over 57 miles in the past 30 days, and we are happy with that.
We hike in the afternoons during the winter. My husband jokes that the bus leaves at 1:30 pm. The dogs know when it is nearing 1:30. They start milling around the living room where we are doing our after-lunch reading. They become peskier as the hand on the clock nears departure time. If we are late, they stand in front of us and stare. Or they may prance around to get our attention. Claire may lay on the floor and roll around on her back, snorting. She is the resident clown and hands down our happiest dog.
In the spring and fall when it is warm, we hike at 10:30 am before it gets too hot. Not only is it too hot for me by afternoon, but the pavement gets too hot for doggy feet on days we hike on pavement. Dogless walkers probably wonder what we are doing when we bend over to feel the asphalt with our hands for a few seconds. I’m sure other dog walkers know. At least I hope so.
The past couple of years we have not walked in the summertime because it is too hot by the time, we are ready. This summer we hope to do better. Our goal is to get up early leave by 7:30. We’ll see how that goes.
It is always a tossup, what we do in the mornings around here. The nicest time to sit on the patio to relax is during the morning. Most of it is in shade until noon. But that is also the coolest time of day to work in the vegetable garden or do other outdoor chores and projects. Quite the dilemma. Maybe this summer we will walk in the mornings and enjoy the patio when we get back from our hikes. We’ll have to see how that plays out!
I love Christmas time! As wonderful as the present is, it’s nice to revel in some nostalgia and revisit old traditions. I think Christmas reawakens a little bit of the child in all of us. I remember Christmas’ past and experiences I shared with my mother who is long gone. I so enjoy getting out the Christmas decorations. They bring back so many memories.
The photo above is a time capsule of sorts. The Santas were given to me by many people and as I set them out, I have fond thoughts of each person who gave them to me. Several are from Lucinda, one of my group of college pals who met at Kent State University, Tuscarawas Campus in the early 1980’s. There were four of us girls who hung together over the years. We got together every year with families in tow, for a Christmas party up until a few years ago when two of the original four were no longer with us. Another of those Santas is from Tina who is one of the friends who has passed. There is a Santa and tree that is actually a salt and pepper shaker set. Those are from my stepfather Sam, who passed in 1995. The Mongolian Santa and the Nordic Santa are from my sister-in-law Annie. I am no longer married to her brother and don’t see her as often as I once did, but still consider her to be a great friend and all-around wonderful person. The little Noah’s Ark tree is from my husband’s family, and I find it to be adorable.
By the way, the painting on the wall was done by my husband. He made the frame too. Is he a talented guy, or what?
This scene above resides on one of the two mantels in our house. Again, the Santas and the snow globe are from my friends Lucinda and Tina. Tina gave me the one holding all the puppies. She said it reminded her of me. Yes, my friends knew me well! I found the bells in my parents’ basement when we were cleaning out their house. I took them home because I loved them. The copy of the Currier and Ives print in the back is from Mumsey’s house. She was my first grandmother-in-law and I remember her fondly every time I look at this picture. This picture is in my office the rest of the year. I have always liked Currier and Ives (and winter), so I never put it away. The Santa holding the puppies is out in my office the rest of the year too. Just because it makes me happy.
And speaking of Christmas memories, I used to ask for a Mr. Potato Head, but I never got one. I think my mom just forgot about it. Well, my nieces got a Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and what fun I had! The creation above is mine. This is what happens when you let a scientist play with toys. You end up with something weird and non-traditional looking, just because.
My friends, I wish each of you the magic of Christmas, whether it comes from fond memories or new experiences. I hope you are blessed with both with holiday season.