All posts by cindyhazelett

About cindyhazelett

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".

Good News-A Somewhat Calmer Zekie Bear

Zekie Bear

It’s been a while since I posted an update about Zekie. That’s a good thing because it means he hasn’t been in too much trouble. He continues to be a sweet dog, whose life would be perfect if he could be with me every second of every day. The problems begin when my husband and I both go away from home.

If I go away, such as to the grocery store or to visit someone, Zekie lays on the back of the couch looking out the window at the empty spot where I park my car. The report I receive back from my husband is that Zekie spends hours there waiting for my return. Or if he takes Zekie to the workshop with him, Zekie will lay on the porch watching the road to see if my car will come pulling in the driveway. My husband says Zekie often looks like he wants to stop people in passing cars to say, “Have you seen my mommy? She left me and I fear I’m an orphan!”

Zekie gets upset when my husband goes away too, but not to the same degree. When hubby puts his shoes and coat on, Zekie grabs a bone or other toy and shakes it at my husband, trying to get him to stay home and play instead. He will lay in the back hall and look out the window for a while after my husband leaves, then he returns to my side and lays down. He will check out the windows frequently waiting for hubby’s return.

Zekie really has been doing better relative to how he was before. Mostly this is for two reasons. One, we rarely go away at the same time or even at all. Covid and retirement have kept us at home. The other reason is Prozac. At first, I wasn’t sure if it helped at all. I think it just took a long time to see any change because Zekie’s behavior was long standing. He has been on the meds for 9 months now.

I have tried many things to calm him on the occasions when both of us go away and he must stay in his crate because of separation anxiety. None had previously met with success. Not the Xanax, not the stuffed Kongs, or the frozen treats, not even the CBD oil. Well, last week I tried giving him a large basted bone made specifically for dogs. It worked! Zekie did still do some nervous drooling but he didn’t chew his crate! I gave him the same bone the next two times we went away and he didn’t chew the crate those times either. This is a minor miracle.

I find it hard to believe it is just the bone as we have given him many other types of chews. I think it must be the combination of the Prozac and the bone. He was finally calm enough to realize that chewing the bone is a better option than chewing an aluminum crate and wearing your teeth down.

Whatever the cause, I am immensely grateful and relieved to have found something to help Zekie feel calmer.

Zekie with ears down asking, “Mom, why are you taking my picture?”

Banana-Pineapple Blueberry Cake

I baked this cake yesterday. I was feeling lazy, so I used a box mix and added things to it to use up a bunch of leftovers, which made the result even better!

Ingredients for Cake:

  • 1 boxed cake mix, vanilla flavored
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 cup water, part juice from pineapple
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup or half a can crushed pineapple
  • Blueberries, about a handful
  1. Add the cake mix, eggs, oil, and water/juice and mix. The eggs, oil, and water were to make the mix per package directions on the box I used. Use juice from the pineapple and top with water to make 1 cup of liquid.
  2. After mixing the above ingredients for about a minute, add the bananas, mashed if using fresh.
  3. Also add the pineapple now. Mix for another minute.
  4. Fold in the blueberries by hand. If you add them to the mixer, you will end up with blue batter that turns grey as it bakes.
  5. Split the batter among two greased 9″ cake pans. Bake per package directions. (Usually, 350 degrees in a pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes.) You will have to add another 5-10 minutes to the baking time because of all the additions to the batter. Start checking with a toothpick at the listed time and check in 5-minute increments thereafter.
  6. When done, remove from oven and cool in pans for 15 minutes. Loosen and remove from pans, or you can put them back in the pans to finish cooling. Let the cake layers cool completely before icing.

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2-3 cups Confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 Tablespoons milk, or almond milk
  1. Beat butter, cream cheese, and vanilla with a mixer.
  2. Add Confectioner’s sugar by half cups, until incorporated.
  3. Add 1 Tablespoon milk. Add as much milk as needed to reach desired consistency.

Assemble the cake with frosting in between the two layers. I spread some melted orange marmalade onto the surface of the bottom cake before adding the frosting, for some extra pizzazz. Ice the rest of the cake and voila!

Notes:

  • I used a vanilla cake mix, but you could also use white, yellow, or even spice cake mix. Any flavor that tastes good with your extra add-ins will work.
  • My add-ins were bananas, pineapple, and blueberries. Use whatever you have available. Applesauce, apple slices, and pecans. Oranges, bananas, coconut. Zucchini, walnuts, and cranberries. You get the idea. I work with whatever is in my freezer and pantry.
  • I always freeze my bananas just before they get too ripe, so I have some for baking when I need them. I keep them in a large Ziploc bag and take however many I need out. I microwave them and they are pretty soupy by the time I use them. If yours aren’t frozen, you will want to mash them before adding to the batter. This allows me to bake whenever I want to, and have the time to, rather than having my schedule dictated by the state of my bananas!
  • I always put the cake layers back in the pans to cool, so I can move them around the kitchen. This is helpful because our kitchen is small, and we cook a lot. It also makes it easier to move the cakes to hide them from counter surfing dogs and cats!
  • Bonus tip-I find it much easier to frost a layer cake if you can put it on a lazy-Susan, or rotating cake platter for frosting. The icing comes out nice and smooth with this method. I also get smoother results with a metal butter knife vs. a silicon spatula.

I would love to hear what kind of goodies you add into your cakes! Feel free to share them in the comments. Also, you can sign up to get notifications of new blog posts at the top of the page.

Books I Read in March 2022

I am perfectly capable of petting animals while I read!
  1. An Irish Country Yuletide-Patrick Taylor

Dr. Barry Laverty comes back to Ballybucklebo for the holidays. You’ll enjoy this tale of 1960’s era doctors in a small Irish village. Rather like James Herriot books but with people instead of animals as the patients.

2. The Blue Zones Challenge (Non-fiction)-Dan Buettner

The blue zones are areas around the world where populations live longer than average and maintain good health. This book shares the things these groups have in common, and how you can implement them into your own life. Fascinating.

3.The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost (Non-fiction)-Rachel Friedman

Rachel travels during a college summer. After graduating college, she continues traveling on two more continents. I learned a bit about travel, hostels, and adapting to other cultures.

4. Fodor’s Travel Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire (Non-fiction)

Fun to peruse remembering places I have been as well as places I still want to see or revisit.

5. A Virgin River Christmas-Robyn Carr

Marcie Sullivan wants to find the fellow marine who saved her late husband’s life when he was stationed overseas. Ian disappeared once the unit returned stateside. She finally tracks him down and finds an emotionally wounded man who is not happy to see her. Can it be a peaceful Christmas for them? I enjoyed this book as I have all the Robyn Carr books, I’ve read.

6. Killer Research-Jenn McKinley

Lindsey must find a way to clear Miss Cole of murder suspicion as Miss Cole makes a bid for the position of town mayor. Another delightful installment with our friends from Briar Creek.

7. This Must Be the Place-Rachael Ray

Although this book has plenty of recipes, it is so much more than a cookbook. Rachael talks about her life and lessons learned during Covid. She had quite a few serious challenges that I was not aware of. She weathered them well.

Magazines:  Food Network Magazine, the Cottage Journal, Cottages and Bungalows, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens Cozy Cabins and Retreats

From this month’s list of books read, I must recommend The Blue Zones Challenge as the one with the most potential to improve your life. If you make even one or two of the changes presented in the book, you are likely to be a healthier person.

If you are looking for a book to take you away and immerse your mind elsewhere, read A Virgin River Christmas. Don’t feel it has to be Christmas time to enjoy this book. It is more about people and relationships than it is about the holiday.

I did manage to get a few more books read in March than I have been averaging. My husband went on a road trip with his mother while I stayed home with the animals. I got a big stack of books from the library the first day and the cats and dogs are perfectly content if I read while I pet them, so we were all set!

Let Peace Prevail

I found something wonderful that I decided I wanted to be a part of. In my internet perusing’s this morning, I found a site called Blog4Peace on a friend’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/Cat-Chat-With-Caren-Cody-208923585790514/ If you like dogs and cats, you’ll enjoy her page.

The new website I found is at this link. https://mimiwrites.blogspot.com/2022/03/blog4peace-ukraine-dona-nobis-pacem.html. It’s a website called Blog4Peace. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that? Right now, the page is promoting Blog4Peace4Ukraine. Or, if you don’t blog, make a Facebook post for peace for Ukraine. A worthy goal. Who can be against peace?

Even many of those aggressors who are being told to fight, I hope want peace. We are all human beings (or as my daughter said when she was little, “I’m a human bean!”) This war on Ukraine has brought most of the rest of the world together like nothing I have ever experienced in my lifetime, and my lifetime is more notable than it used to be. I will be 60 years old at the end of this year! The reasons for this war don’t seem very justified to the rest of the world, so we imagine how we would feel if it were us in the shoes of the Ukrainian people. Our visual connections via television, streaming, and many public medias immerse us in the suffering of the Ukrainians, and we are a part of it every day. We can turn it off and take a break, they cannot. They have no choice. They are living it every day. And so much of the world feels united by their desire for peace.

My husband made this replica of the Ukrainian flag in his workshop and planted it proudly in our front yard. All who pass can see our support for Ukraine. I encourage any of you who feel so called to do the same. A piece of paper with blue and gold colored on it will suffice. A plastic sunflower in your yard or window will also serve the purpose as the sunflower is also a Ukrainian symbol.

As you blog for peace, post for peace, share a symbol for peace, or have thoughts of peace, don’t forget to send up a prayer for peace. Be a Peace Warrior. Today, I sign off with my frequent wishes for my readers, which today I extend to the world, “Peace Be With You”.

When I Was Young, I Wanted to Be…

Dad, mom, and me on a trip to Montana.

What did you dream of being when you were a kid? I mostly dreamed of…well, just being a kid. I didn’t look much beyond what outfit to put on my Barbie next or what horse book I would read. Unless it was to remember what time the next episode of Tarzan the cartoon or Mary Tyler Moore was on.

I fell off a bike and broke my arm the summer after third grade. This resulted in the neighbor lady from two doors down getting me a book about being a nurse. I pondered what it would be like to be a nurse but that’s as far as it went. I was too busy being a kid to spend time on such ideas.

I fell into my first jobs. I babysat the two youngest kids that lived next door, Marc and Janelle. That was fun because although they were quite a bit younger than me, I enjoyed playing with them sometimes anyway. I just stayed up later than them and was old enough to call for help if it was ever needed. I’m sure the fact that my mom was always next door was a big factor.

My second job was from the same neighbors. Their three boys each had a paper route. They were also in a variety of sports-basketball, wrestling, football, baseball. Our town’s newspaper was published as an evening edition, so the stacks of papers were dropped off for delivery in the afternoon. This interfered with the sports which were all after school. So, I started delivering the papers for whichever boy was currently enrolled in a sport. When their entire family went on vacation, which luckily was only once a year in the summer, I would deliver all three paper routes. This covered most of our small town. With the boys being in that many sports, I was delivering at least one route a good portion of the year. I remember one or two days during the winter of The Blizzard of 1978 when their mom took pity on me and took me around in her car to deliver the papers.

When it was time to sign up for college, I felt the need to pick an actual career so I would know what to study. I don’t think it came as a surprise to anyone that I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian. Vying for second place were forest ranger and zookeeper. But being a vet stood way out in front.

My last job before I started my professional career was at a pet store. I worked at Pet Kingdom during a college summer and over breaks. I loved that job! It was a small store so only one person worked each shift and I got to do everything. Dusting and rotating stock wasn’t so great, but dealing with the fish, small animals, and birds was right up my alley. We also sold puppies and kittens, but most of them were given to the store by local people who had accidental litters and needed to find homes for them. One of the perks of the job, at least in my mind, was that I could come to work early and walk the puppies.

To my knowledge, the store only ever had one litter of two purebred puppies for sale. They were supplied by a lady who lived in a nearby town. These turned out to be Shetland Sheepdogs. One of the puppies sold. The other did not. Our area was not wealthy, and the price of the mixes was a better fit with the local economics. The second puppy was set to be sent back to the breeder.

Anyone who knows me, knows where this story is going. That was my first sheltie, Bream. (Pronounced Bree-Um) Bream went off to college with me and many adventures thereafter. He saw me through a couple failed classes, several moves, marriage, and divorce. He was my rock. He cemented by love for the sheltie breed. More on this in a future tale.

My career? I never did end up becoming a veterinarian. There were only 17 veterinary schools in the United States at the time, so the competition was fierce. I experienced this in the classes I had with pre-med students and there are a lot more med schools around than vet schools. I remember asking a pre-med student in one of my classes if I could copy his notes from a class that I had missed because I was sick. He said no.

I couldn’t really decide what else I wanted to be. Zookeepers barely made any money and were all located in major cities. I wasn’t aware of many forest ranger or conservationist positions at the time. So, I settled for majoring in Biology. It was a general science with a wider range of options.

After graduating college, I hung out with my live-in boyfriend, and worked at Sea World of Ohio for a brief time. I was only tagging merchandise and cleaning for the park’s season opening. The best part of the job was at lunch time, I could go into the viewing area and watch the penguins in their exhibit or wander by the beluga whale tanks and touch them if they swam near. My best friend Becky worked there too, so I could see her before and after our shifts.

I had only worked at Sea World a few weeks when the opportunity for my first career-related job came along. I occasionally stopped by Kent State main campus and checked the job postings in the recruiter office. This was before such things were computerized. There was an opening in my county for a laboratory technician in a water/wastewater laboratory. I applied and soon interviewed with my future bosses and soon-to-be friends, Bill and Howard. Thus began my career in the field of water treatment. I just sort of fell into it. It suited me well. The department was composed of a small number of people who were close and hung out and helped each other outside of working hours, as well as during. It was an opportunity to help the environment and I ended up working that job and retiring from it after 32 1/2 years. I found it rewarding and feel I served a purpose.

Would I choose the same career again if given the choice? Actually, no. I should have stayed the course and tried to become a veterinarian. I never lost that love of animals. I did eventually find an outlet for that love. After taking in a number of animals, I realized I could not save them all on my own. So, I got into animal rescue work. I volunteered for a number of groups over the years before finally founding Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue. It takes a village as they say, and I found my village.

I do use my career choices to encourage young people to pursue the careers of their dreams. The working years are many. Follow your passion!

Hiking-Off the Main Trail

Hiking with Baxter

I have been on my own for the past few days while hubby is away. It was so beautiful today that I couldn’t pass up taking my boys, Baxter, Cassius, and Zekie for a hike. Unfortunately, the girls had to stay home. I cannot handle that many leashes in the woods. It was 73 degrees and sunny, our first spring-like day for the season. And so, we hit the trail. We went to one of our regular areas, but we also ventured onto some of the side trails that we hadn’t been on before. The day was so beautiful that I wanted to go for a long hike to take advantage of it.

Baxter and Zekie being photo bombed by Cassius’ back end!

The first side trail we took involved fording a small stream. I was wearing my waterproof hiking boots and there were rocks in the shallow stream bed, so it wasn’t too bad. We made our way to the end of a little peninsula and found the area to be well used. I even found this chair that someone had left behind, upturned to keep the seat clean. I covered it with a plastic bag since it was damp from a morning rain and sat in it while I ate my lunch. Unfortunately for me, (fortunate for Zekie), I dropped half of my piece of leftover frozen pizza while leaning forward to get a picture of some geese. See below. I couldn’t really blame Zekie, I did drop the pizza on the ground. Since Zekie had a snack, I felt the need to give the other two dog biscuits. I put the chair back as I had found it before we left, so the next hiker can enjoy it too.

Canada geese enjoying the water.

After stopping for lunch and enjoying the water view for a while, it was time to get back to hiking. We headed back toward the main trail. I was going to get a picture of the stream we crossed, but going up the bank, I slipped and got distracted trying to keep track of all the leashes and forgot. Oh, well. This was an area where I picked up some handy walking stick-type branches to help me keep my balance along the way.

West Branch Reservoir

I did get the above photo from the opposite side of the peninsula where we stopped for lunch. Things are still pretty grey looking in the woods but once the trees fill out, you lose the view of the water.

A beautiful Baxter smile!

It didn’t bother Baxter any. He had a wonderful time. He found some nice soft moss to lay on while I ate my lunch. Would you guess Baxter is 13 years old? We don’t know exactly when his birthday is but it’s around now. He showed up as a pup, so we can’t be far off on our estimate.

Back side of WBSP Reservoir

We hiked on the main trail for a bit until we came to an old homestead driveway. The houses aren’t there anymore. They were lost to make way for the reservoir and park. Some foundations and driveways still exist though. We walked back an old driveway and followed a “trail”, more of a deer path with young trees and brush to wander through. It was a bit of a challenge with three leashes to keep track of, but we made it. We passed some old fence posts, remnants of a couple outbuildings, old tires, a couple picnic tables, and an old doghouse. Or maybe a really small chicken coop. We ended up in a clearing under a bunch of pines that ran alongside the water. The photo above is the view we saw. We will definitely be going back to this spot to see the view as things green up.

Cassius enjoying the view.

The dogs enjoyed the view too. You can tell by the big smile on Cassius’ face. Of course, Zekie had to walk on the ice near the shore. Baxter tried it and was surprised when he fell through the ice because he weighs more. Don’t worry, he was only about six inches from shore, and they were all leashed. I have no doubt that Zekie would be the dog to run out onto the ice and fall through. That boy loves water in all forms. In the summer, he drags me to every puddle so he can walk through them and drags me to every stream so he can jump in. Now he walks on every patch of ice and snow that he can find even though the roads and trails are clear.

Cassius is watching the water.

As we headed back to the woods in the direction of the main trail, we found some lush, green beds of moss. There were so beautiful, I had to get a picture. As we navigated our way back out of the area, it became apparent that many people had been there before us. People really should pack out all their waste rather than leaving their stew cans, Gatorade and water bottles, and snack wrappers out in the woods.

Zekie says “This is fun, mom”!

The dogs and I both had a wonderful afternoon. We only went 2.86 miles, but it took us two hours. I guess, fording streams, climbing muddy hills, and wandering through brush does slow you down. I have to say, all the things you notice along the way are well worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Books Read in February 2022 and Why I Didn’t Read One, or Maintaining Peace

One of the books from my home library.

My reading list is rather scant again this month. I expect next month’s list to be longer as I will be on my own for the next few days and intend to do lots of reading. The first thing on my list? A trip to the library! Hope I don’t hurt myself getting all those books and magazines to the car. My daughter is coming over on Saturday and we are going to look at books and magazines and have pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes. The Kent Free Library always has lots of fun specialty magazines. So, below is last month’s list, slim as it may be.

  1. My Love Affair with the State of Maine-Scotty Mackenzie with Ruth Goode: (Non/fiction) Scotty and her friend Dorothy vacation in Maine. They end up buying a store and becoming part of the community. A dream shared by many of us. A nice snapshot of 1950’s coastal Maine. This one is a keeper from my home library.
  2. A Rant of Ravens-Christine Goff: Rachel Stanhope goes to her aunt’s ranch for a long visit. The ranch is also a bird sanctuary. Aunt Miriam is scheduled for a trip to the Middle East, but a murder throws a monkey wrench in the plans. Aunt Miriam soon disappears, and it is up to Rachel to figure it out and set things right.
  3. RFD Vermont-Marguerite Hurrey Wolf: (Non-fiction) The author shares insights about her daily life in Vermont and her writing is magical. The style is reminiscent of Gladys Taber. I picked this little gem up at a library book sale. I will be keeping it to read again.
  4. The Nightingale-Kristen Hannah: A good book that I could not finish right now. I will pick it up again later.

Magazines-Country Living (2), Yankee Magazine, Smithsonian, Real Simple (2), Best Friends

You might wonder why I could not finish reading The Nightingale if it is a good book. I made it 180 pages before I stopped. It is a long book, over 500 pages. The reason I stopped reading it, is because of the war in Ukraine. There are so many parallels. The Nightingale takes place during World War II when France surrenders and the Nazi occupation occurs. Shortly after the book opens, one of the main characters flees Paris to join her sister in the French countryside. She is one of many escaping the city. She becomes hungry and battered and bruised.

When I watched the news, I saw many being interviewed as they fled from the Ukraine, looking for safety. I saw the bombed-out buildings and the bodies and the hungry, hiding underground. I see the Russian troops moving forward under direction from a dictator, moving towards occupation.

A similar thing to what was happening as I read the book, was unfolding before my eyes on my television screen. It became too much. The book and the reality were too similar. It made me feel surrounded by war. And so, I returned the book to the shelf for another day.

One of the reasons I read, is for down time. It has a meditative quality for me. I may be too sensitive on this, but hey, we all need to do what is necessary for our wellbeing. I moved on to the book about Vermont. It did the trick, and I perceived my life to have balance once again. And so, in these trying times…

Peace be with you, my friends.

Today Is for Living

I recently read a magazine article suggesting that we learn about our family’s history and everyday experiences by asking our parents, grandparents, and other relatives about these things. I suppose this is a good idea in theory, but the concept is so foreign to me that I only comprehend it in a somewhat fictional sense.

My father died when I was nine years old after a lengthy illness. My mother was incapacitated for the last 30 years of her life. My stepfather died a month shy of his 51st birthday. My last grandparent died 40 years ago. My grandmothers were gone by the time I was a few years old. Granted, I am 59 years old now, but hearing stories from my parents or grandparents has not been an option for decades.

I do have some knowledge of family history. My parents used to tell me stories about long passed relatives as we would plant geraniums on grave sites when I was a young child. I even occasionally had a face to go with them. We had a giant box of old photographs, some going back to the 1800’s. There were even a handful of tin types. They really weren’t much different to me than some of the books I would check out of the library though. I could relate better to Laura Ingalls from Little House in the Big Woods than I could to the stern looking folks whose images were recorded in those black and white photographs.

If you have family around to talk to about these things, go for it. You never know how long you will have that opportunity. And I’m sure it will be an informative and bonding experience.

If that ship has sailed for you, as it has for me, there are many other rewarding relationships in life. Don’t forget about siblings and children. And the love we have for friends can sometimes be equally dear. None of us is a lone ship adrift. We form relationships as we go through life. And as we acknowledge those relationships, let’s make them matter.

It’s not only about the histories that we have. The legacies that we leave are equally important. I hope that during my time on this planet, I am able to make people feel special and loved. I want people to feel worthwhile and know that they are important after they spend time with me. I think it is important to make a difference in the world and in people’s lives. To leave the world, a better place than we found it. History is important, but today is for living. Live well. And peace be with you.

Three Season Hiking, and one of them is NOT summer!

Baxter, resting after a walk.

How did Baxter get so sleepy? Winter hiking!

We hike more in the winter months than we do during the summer. The reasons are many. In the summertime, it is just too hot. For the dogs, and for me. Not only is the air temperature too hot, surfaces can be dangerous for the dogs’ paws.

And then there are the bugs. Mosquitos, gnats, and the dreaded biting flies. Not only are mosquitoes pesky, but they can also carry diseases like West Nile Virus or heartworms. The gnats are mostly an annoyance. But who wants gnats flying in their eyes or mouth? For biting flies, we may encounter enormous horse flies, deer flies, or three corner flies. Their bites are painful, and I appear to be allergic to them and swell up in unattractive and itchy, painful ways.

Because of these deterrents, we do most of our hiking in the fall, winter, and spring. There may be a few days we skip when it is dangerously icy, but when it is just cold, we bundle up and go.

We take all five of our dogs with us. Until last fall when we lost little Nikki to old age, we had six dogs, but Nikki hadn’t been able to join us for the last couple of years. Miss Nikki Pouncer Pants: A Tribute We have been hiking with five dogs for some time. About the time Nikki began staying home, we added Claire to our pack, so we still hike with five dogs. Don’t worry, any time the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, we put coats on our two shorthaired dogs. Hiking gives the dogs exercise and mental stimulation, so they are better behaved in general. I guess it does the same for us.

Our hiking route options had become more limited lately due to multiple heavy snows which later turned to ice. Most of our normal haunts developed unsafe footing. That’s why we were excited when we discovered some new options. Most of our hiking is done at West Branch State Park (Ohio) in the winter which is near our home. The park has areas that receive less use in the winter, and we found that some of the dedicated park roads are a good option for walking. They are plowed, but not salted. The road surface is good for walking most of the time and melts off quickly when there is sun or milder temperatures.

West Branch Reservoir

Above is the view from one of our walks. The reservoir is iced over, and you can see tracks from cross country skiers along with footsteps. This is a popular place for ice fishing. Sometimes you see people fishing from a chair and others put up portable ice shanties and make an afternoon of it. Visible in the distance is the marina.

West Branch Dam

Here is another view from one of our recent walks at West Branch State Park. This is the view from the back side of the dam. You can see the gatehouse on the far shore. We do sometimes walk on the dam access road that is off in the distance. We tend to avoid it in colder weather because the winds are so strong and cold coming off the water.

We have logged 50.54 miles in the past 30 days and 615 in the last year. I am rather proud of this because we do it with five dogs, and that includes very few miles between the months of June through August. We still get plenty of summer exercise. We spend many hours gardening, in both our vegetable and flower gardens and maintaining our various fruit crops. The dogs spend lots of time in our fenced pasture. They have fun sniffing things, playing frisbee, and barking at items of interest.

If you have any fun winter activities, feel free to share them.

Books I Read in January 2022

  1. Love at First Bark-Debbie Burns


Mia and her son are adjusting to their new lives after her husband dies. She has to deal with the fact that he was unfaithful, and her son now has a half-brother. Her husband’s friend, who is also her son’s godfather, has always been there for them, and it turns out he still is. In fact, he has been in love with Mia from the beginning. Mia volunteers at the local animal shelter and they are all caught up in helping out when a dozen border collies are dumped at a local park. Romance and dogs, of course I enjoyed this one.

2. A Season for Second Chances-Jenny Bayliss

The Nook is a home and one-time business on the English shore. It doesn’t take long before Annie fits in with everyone except the homeowner’s nephew. Annie opens up a coffee shop and adds café services. Soon, she can’t imagine ever leaving. Loved this book! I love British humor. Where else do you hear such great lines as “I wanted to slap her in the face with a wet cod.”?

3. Piglet-Melissa Shapiro, DVM

This book is actually about a tiny blind deaf pink puppy and not a baby pig. Piglet is a doxie-chihuahua mix of double dapple heritage. This double dapple genetics often results in birth defects. This also happens in other breeds when two merles are bred. Dr. Shapiro takes Piglet in to foster him. You can imagine how that goes. The family adopts him. He got his name because he was pink just like a baby pig when he arrived. This story tells the tale of dealing with a blind and deaf puppy and teaching him how to communicate with his world.

Magazines: Country Living (3), Best Friends (2)

If you are wondering how I read multiple issues of the same magazine in one month, it is because I have a backlog of issues to catch up on. I fell behind while working and am trying to catch up. Yes, I have an issue with throwing away publications without having read them first. Don’t judge me!