Category Archives: Dogs & Other Animals

A Busy Weekend

Sheltie mix
Zekie is a happy boy!

It seems like I have nothing going on for the longest time and then everything happens at once. Most of my days consist of watering, gardening and taking care of animals. Maybe picking some vegetables and cooking. And then suddenly I am a social butterfly. We had three things scheduled over the weekend!

Petting a dog
Shelby getting pats.

It started on Friday when my sister-in-law came with my nieces for lunch and a swim in the pool. This is an end of summer, pre-back to school tradition for all of us. I make a fancy lunch, lol…not! I make what I know the girls will like. We had peanut butter and jelly, cucumbers, and my older niece’s favorite, barbeque potato chips. I know the girls are growing up because this year they even ate cheese quesadillas that I made. We finished the meal off with homemade sundaes consisting of cookies and cream ice cream, brownie bits, Cool Whip, and chocolate sauce on top. Yum!

I caught my younger niece who claims to be afraid of dogs, leaning over to pet Shelby several times. Actually, she hasn’t been afraid of Shelby in a long time. Shelby has that effect on people. I have had more than one person who said they were afraid of dogs be okay around Shelby. She is so calm and reliable that people can sense it.

The girls also each got a chance to play the drums before they went home. The drums are a hit with all the kids that come over. I used the time to catch up with my sister-in-law. She is awesome. I love visiting with her. I wish everyone enjoyed their family as much as I enjoy mine!

On Saturday, I attended our annual sheltie rescue picnic at a member’s home. It is great to visit with other members in person, especially after so many Covid induced Zoom meetings. Dogs are also welcome at the picnic. I took Zekie, Shelby, and Baxter. Cassius and Claire had to stay home. I felt bad for them but three dogs is the limit of what I can handle by myself. The photo at the top is of Zekie at the picnic. He was so happy to go away with his momma. Any day that I am not out of his sight is a good day for him. Shelby went because she is never any trouble, and she is my right-hand girl. Although Baxter is not a sheltie, he has been to every sheltie rescue picnic that I have gone to, and he is the ranking senior dog of our pack. All three dogs were well behaved, and I was proud of them. Zekie even got along with all the other dogs that showed up. He wagged and sniffed every time there was a new arrival. Sometimes I see him watch Shelby and Baxter, to see what their reaction to new arrivals and unexpected things are.

The people in our rescue group are the best. They are a supportive, kind, thoughtful, caring group of people and I am honored to call many of them friend. This group of people really is in it for the dogs, not the glory.

And on Sunday, there was even more to look forward to. We went to my daughter’s house and hung out with her and her family. I love hanging out with my daughter. I understand where the saying “A daughter is someone who grows up to be your best friend” came from. We looked at flowers in her gardens, ate pizza, and talked and talked. A fine day. This time Baxter, Zekie, and Cassius got to go along. Baxter and my daughter have a mutual adoration, so he had to go. Zekie must be near me at all times, so he went too. And Cassius got to go because he had to stay home the day before. And don’t think he wasn’t mad at me for having to stay home from the picnic. When he got up on the couch that evening, he put his head in my husband’s lap and not mine which is highly unusual. You must pay, mummy!

Although the weekend was wonderful, life is now back to normal. Watering and gardening have resumed. Our efforts are beginning to pay off. Look at the size of this tomato! We tend to like the striped tomatoes best. They are juicy and sweet without all the acid of the red tomatoes. This one is a pineapple tomato and they do grow to be large. I believe this is the largest and most perfect one we have grown. I went to the garden looking for a tomato big enough to cover the bun for our sandwiches at dinner. This one was actually too big! No complaints here. We will enjoy it sliced with tomorrow’s lunch.

Peace to you, my friends.

Pineapple tomato
Pineapple tomato

Morning Musings from the Patio

view from the patio garden
My view on the patio.

Good morning, readers! This is my view as I write from the patio. I usually work outside in the gardens during the mornings when it is cool, but today I am doing something different. The patio is shaded in the morning and gets sunny after noon when the sun crests. This makes it hot and much harder to find a shady spot. So, the dogs and I are taking advantage of the beautiful morning.

Not only are the flowers a beautiful sight, they smell good too. With the humidity, the air is heavy and in addition to the usual roses, I smell the gardenias! We have a full-size gardenia, and a button gardenia which gets lots of small flowers. Their scent is heady and divine!

Dog with flower.
Zekie being a good sport.

I rarely spend time on the patio without the dogs. Above,Zekie is patient with my attempts to get a photo op. As long as he can be my constant companion, he is content. His separation anxiety and behavior are improving with the aid of Prozac. I spend a lot of time outdoors gardening and sometimes it is just too hot for the dogs to be outside. I have begun leaving the dogs loose in the house when I go out to work, going in to check on them every half hour or so. Zekie is getting used to it and handling it well. He lays on the landing at the top of the steps and watches me out the back door. Sometimes, I go out of sight, but he seems to be doing ok with it. He is always at the door to greet me when I open it and gives me a sniffing over to determine what I have been up to.

Big smile on a happy dog on the patio.
Being outside gives Baxter a big smile.

Baxter doesn’t like to have his picture taken. If he knows you are taking it, he turns his head to the side. It works best to zoom in from a distance and snap the photo. He has a great smile, so it is well worth the effort. He loves the futons but sometimes they get too hot for him. His second favorite place in the patio garden is under the dawn redwood tree where the cool soil is exposed. This makes a fine napping spot for a 13 year old dog.

Smiling dog in the patio garden.
Claire pauses to give a smile.

Taking pictures of Claire is rather like photographing toddlers. You have to take a lot of pictures to get one that is usable. About half of them are blurry because she is moving. Many of the rest result in her looking anywhere besides at the camera. She just has a very short attention span and is constantly turning to watch a bird or bee or running after a chipmunk. I am convinced she wouldn’t hurt them. Yesterday, she walked up within two feet of a wren that was getting a caterpillar from the ground. She stood there and watched the wren until it flew to the top of the fence, smacked its caterpillar on the fence a few times and then flew to its nest box on the opposite fence and fed its young. Claire has a busy mind. This is why she’s not the most obedient dog. She has too many other things to think about.

Greyhound sleeping on a futon. Patio garden.
Cassius relaxing.

This is Cassius’ typical position when he is on the patio. He loves the futons. Greyhounds do like to relax. And who can blame them with those bony legs? Cassius comes to me for pets from time to time but mostly he lays around napping and watching life go by. Not a bad deal.

Napping sheltie in a patio garden.
Shelby having a nap.

And this brings us to the matriarch of our pack. Shelby often joins us on the patio. She almost never goes out to the pasture with the other dogs, but she will deign to join us when we sit on the patio. Shelby doesn’t like to hang out with dogs. She will join us when we retire to the patio because I am always there too. And spending time with mom is life’s goal for her. She is a good companion and a true working partner. I can always count on her for therapy dog work and public events with our dog club such as volunteering at the county fair. Reliable is her middle name. She is 12 years old and slowing down. Now I direct her with hand signals to assist with her failing hearing. She is happy to respond, and we continue our work with these minor adjustments. That’s what teamwork is all about.

As I write this post, on the patio surrounded by our five dogs and many flowers, listening to the morning sounds of birds, I realize that I am blessed. I wish blessings to you also, my friends.

Peace be with you.

My Helper

Zekie posing for the camera!

As much trouble as Zekie has been over the years, he is a great dog. Read about some of his antics at the following link. Zekie the Wonder Dog

His major problem is that he can’t stand to be away from me. At all. He starts to get worked up if I so much as go outside to get the mail. He is a little better since our vet put him on Prozac last year. Now when I go outside without him, he no longer jumps on the dining room table to watch me through the window. He just flings himself at me and jumps on me repeatedly upon my return, reveling in the joy of seeing me again. He is so ecstatic to see me that this often results in bruises for me, sometimes in the shape of a pawprint! It is hard to get too upset with him in the face of such adoration.

This brings me to today’s Zekie Tale. My husband has been hand digging a trench for a home maintenance project. He digs just a little each day and then goes on to another project. For the last week or so, the part he is digging crosses a corner of the dog pasture. The dogs are usually outside with my husband while he is digging. Hubby put up snow fence at my suggestion to keep the dogs, especially Cassius, a crazy greyhound prone to getting the zoomies, out of the construction site. I feared that in one of Cassius’ loops sprinting at top speed around the perimeter of the pasture, he would fall in the two-foot-deep trench and break a leg. Hence, the snow fence went up to prevent this. The dogs can still get to the trench area but have to go around the fence and past the piles of fill dirt to get there.

This portion of the project is nearing its end. I went outside today to help my husband with the last ten-foot section crossing the pasture. I was down in the trench, first doing a little shoveling of loose dirt out of the trench, and then just for fun, I tried picking with the mattock for a while to see what it was like. A lot of work, that’s what it was like!

The dogs have shown no interest in the project the entire time my husband has been out there working. Today, since I was out in the trench, things changed. Zekie watched me for a while. He got down in the end of the trench about 30 feet ahead of me. He looked around and then got out of the trench. A little while later Cassius came over to check out the trench. He looked at me a bit, hopped in the trench and soon jumped back out. Hubby and I looked up a bit later to see Zekie lying beside the trench with his head down in it. Shortly thereafter I checked on Zekie again. He was down in the trench, and he was using his front paws to dig. His efforts were making the trench longer. He looked up and saw us watching, so he kept digging. It was obvious he was helping us!

I told my husband, “Zekie is a people person”. My husband asserted that Zekie is not a person. I don’t think Zekie is aware of this. His mama was working on a project, so he joined right in. He wants to be a part of everything I do. If I could explain to him that if he kept control of himself, he could go more places with me, his would be a happier life. I have not given up hope. Zekie is eight years old now. That is the age my wonderful dog Duncan was when he went from being referred to as the sheltie from hell to my best friend.

Zekie gazing at is mama.

Metamorphosis of a Garden

2013 vs. 2022

Hard work pays off! When I moved here in 2003, our current patio area was nothing but a side yard of grass. Shortly thereafter, my brother built me a small pond with a liner, some nice stones around the edge, and stocked it with goldfish. It was lovely. May you be blessed with such a brother. Some frogs moved in, and a blue heron occasionally stopped for a snack of goldfish (not the crackers!) before we could chase him off.

Fast forward 10 years. My husband changed the pond to photo number one above. It went through a few iterations before it got to this stage. At first, we had the fountain/pool, but it was not chlorinated. The water was a little green which the frogs were fine with. I would get in to cool off even with the frogs. We don’t have air conditioning and the frogs were willing to share. There was even one frog who became tame. He would sit on my shoulder as I walked around in the water. There were other frogs who would sit in my hand. I loved my frogs. I know, I’m a dang weirdo.

As the area was transitioning from grass to enclosed patio, my husband decided to start chlorinating the water, so it would be more hospitable to guests. Apparently, not everyone enjoys swimming with frogs. Any frogs that were left that spring were transitioned to our neighbor’s pond and our fountain/pool became a more maintained setting.

Baxter enjoying patio time this afternoon.

After the footers were poured, every year a new section of flagstone was installed by my husband to increase the patio area. New sandstone flowerbeds beds were added one by one. Sections of wall and fence went in over the years. I started spending significantly more time there the year the section of fence was added that made the enclosure complete. This meant that the dogs could join us and no longer had to stay in the house or their pasture. It’s true, everything’s better with dogs!

The pergola went up a few years ago, thanks to you know who. Thanks hubby! We are growing grapes on it in an attempt to provide some shade near the pool. People ask me whether this is a fountain or a pool or exactly what it is. I never know how to respond. It is a fountain. The centerpiece (designed, poured, and installed by my husband) splashes, mixes the water, prevents mosquitoes (which won’t hatch unless the water has been still for two weeks), and makes a nice noise. It is also a pool. The water is four feet deep. We get in and out via a ladder that we put in and take out when not in use. We swim. We have pool lounge chairs that we float around on. I drink iced tea and read books while I float around. I guess the only answer is, it is all of those things. It only depends what purpose we are using it for in the moment.

Last but not least, I will share a few flower photos that I took today when I was done swimming. Admittedly, I wasn’t actually swimming. I was standing the water while reading a book and cooling off. This was our first time in the water this year. I was so hot from running the mini tiller to weed the vegetable garden that I couldn’t resist. The water temperature was 75 degrees and it felt so refreshing after hauling the tiller around the garden.

Our patio and gardens have undergone a metamorphosis over the years as you can see from the two photos taken nine years apart. It is a labor of love, requiring dedication and hard work. We hope to be able to share it with more people as Covid slows down. It was an oasis for us during those rough times. I hope it can be an oasis for others as well.

White mandevilla
First hibiscus bloom of the year!
Two drift roses with lavendar in front.
Urn with verbena and zinnia.

Walking into the Storm, and Out Again

Turkey Vultures at West Branch State Park.

We couldn’t decide whether to go for a walk or not the other evening. The weather looked iffy, it was cloudy, breezy, and looked like it might rain. It had looked that way all day though with no precipitation. After checking the weather radar, we decided to chance it. It looked like any inclement weather would go to the south. Besides, we hadn’t been for a walk for three days and the dogs acted like they were ready to riot.

We decided to walk the West Branch State Park Dam Trail. It is paved, with a parking lot nearby, although the path out and back is three miles roundtrip. By the time we were about halfway out, the winds had kicked up and there were storm clouds in the distance. You could see bands of rain coming from the clouds far away. We decided to go for it and see if we could finish our walk before the storm hit. We should have known better when we saw some turkey vultures taking refuge under the bridge for the spillway gatehouse.

We made it to the far end of the trail and then the storm broke. Of course, this is the point as far from the parking lot as you can get. The place where you turn around to make your way back. There was thunder and then the rain started. It was quickly followed by small hail. My husband was the one with a brilliant idea for shelter that kept us mostly dry. We descended off the trail, past a guardrail, picked our way through some rocks, and down an incline to a concrete abutment. The dogs were not a fan of this and kept trying to go on the opposite side of the guardrail to stay on the path, causing the leashes to tangle. They also didn’t like stepping amongst the rocks. Come guys, you are dogs. They let us know that they are spoiled house dogs and not some wild miscreants! The concrete wall was tall enough and the wind blew at an angle, so that we were able to stay mostly dry and avoid the hail by standing close to the wall. The rain only lasted for a short while and then it blew over.

Lovely water view on our return trip.

The walk back to the car was sunny and pleasant. In fact, we had a great time. The sun was reflecting off the water. The sound of the waves was soothing. And we saw quite a few birds lofting in the wind. They looked like they were enjoying the breeze, just circling or floating in place, riding the air currents. We saw one dive for a fish. Most of the birds were the turkey vultures we saw earlier. There were also a couple large seagulls. The turkey vultures really are impressive birds. Their wingspan is five to six feet, and they can weigh up to five pounds.

Rainbow after the storm.

We were halfway back to the car when we were blessed to see a rainbow appear. It was beautiful and bright. It grew in intensity as we walked. I could so distinctly see each color that it reminded me of the acronym, ROYGBIV, that I learned in school to remember the order of the colors in a rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

By the time my husband and I made it back to the parking lot, we decided this was one of our favorite walks that we have taken recently. We survived the elements and experienced some beautiful sights along the way. From adversity comes growth. May you see a rainbow after your next storm!

Books I Read in April 2022

Hello Friends! Another month has come and gone already, so here is my list of books read. I did read more than I usually do in April, and I have Mother Nature to thank. Most years I am too tired from my spring gardening to read much in the evenings. With the snows and cold weather, we have had, I was inside a lot. I didn’t get much done in my flowerbeds, but I did read a lot!

  1. The Restoration of Celia Fairchild-Marie Bostwick

Celia is an advice columnist looking to adopt a baby. She inherits Aunt Calpurnia’s house. Her life takes a turn, and she moves back to Charleston and gathers the family she longed for. I really enjoyed this book. It’s a make you feel good book.

2. Show Me the Bunny-Laurien Berenson

Another delightful adventure with Melanie Travis and her standard poodles. The murder she must solve this time involves her Aunt Rose, a former nun, now married and a new character in the series. Someone murders the benefactress of Rose’s women’s shelter, making her a suspect. Melanie and poodle Faith are on the job.

3. The Twelve Dates of Christmas-Jenny Baylis

Kate Turner signs up for a series of12 dates through a dating service since there aren’t many opportunities in her small British town. Her series of dates provides a humorous backdrop for her true love. I enjoy Baylis’ novels because of the way she portrays life in small British towns.

4. The Family You Make-Jill Shalvis

Jane has had only herself to rely on for most of her life. She has a near death experience during a storm and things begin to change. For starters, the man she was trapped in the gondola with called his mother when he thought they were going to die and said he had a girlfriend. He knew this would make his mother happy. He later asks Jane to pretend to be his girlfriend for a family dinner. Things progress in an entertaining fashion.

5. The Pig Did It-Joseph Caldwell

Professor Aaron McCloud returns to Ireland where he spent time with Aunt Kitty as a child. He’s escaping from unrequited love but never gets time to mourn as a pig he meets along the way keeps distracting him. After following him to the family home, the errant pig uproots a skeleton in Aunt Kitty’s vegetable garden. Things go from bad to hilarious with all the characters he meets along the way.

6. The Suite Spot-Trish Doller

Rachel Beck gets fired from her job at a Miami hotel when a wealthy guest gets grabby. She is offered a job at a startup brewery hotel on a Lake Erie island. The job is too good to pass up so she packs up her three year old daughter and moves to Ohio. She ends up with a new life as she overcomes the tough things life throws at her.

7. Aunt Ivy’s Cottage-Kristen Harper

Zoey arrives on Dune Island to take care of her aunt. She also takes in her dead sister’s daughter for the spring and summer. She helps both while dealing with her cousin Mark’s future plans for the aunt’s house he intends to take over as a high-class resort. Zoey has feelings for the handy man working on the house, but can she trust him? Zoey also needs to find a job after losing her’s. Will it all work out?

Magazines-Country Living

I can’t really pick a favorite to recommend from this list. None are likely to make an earth-shattering difference in your life, but all are a fun time. Enjoy yourself!

By the way, you may have noticed that I read Christmas themed books all year long. I love a good Christmas book. Not only are they great to read near the holidays, but I also enjoy them in mid-summer when it is hot out. Reading a book that takes place in a cold climate, somehow makes me feel cooler. The power of suggestion.

Spring at Sanctuary Acres

Elizabeth Magnolia

Hi Friends! It is spring here, sort of, so time to share a few pictures of what is currently in bloom around our yard. Warmer weather is slow in coming to northeast Ohio this year. It has been much cooler than normal with a few days of warm weather thrown in. Enough to confuse the plants and set them back in their growth. My Facebook memories shows plants in full bloom at this time last year that haven’t even begun to make an appearance this year. But they will!

The most recent addition to our flowerbeds is the Elizabeth magnolia. My husband has been wanting a magnolia for some time and found this variety he had been looking for when we were out searching for a plum tree! We never did find the Toka plum tree that we were looking for, but we did find this magnolia which went into a bed in the walled garden last week and is currently flowering as seen in the photos.

The new Elizabeth magnolia is putting on a show!

We found another type of plum tree that will do the job. We already had a Superior plum tree that we put in last year. We discovered that you need two types of plum trees for successful pollination and fruiting, preferably two different types of Japanese plums. They should be of different varieties, not the same variety. Who knew? Probably lots of people but I was not one of them. The plum trees must flower at the same time so they can cross pollinate. We already had American plums, which are more of a bush, but we were not sure if they would do the job. So, I expect bushels of plums this fall! Ha! Not really, but it would be nice if we got a couple small plums this year to see what they taste like.

We also found a small cherry tree that is self-pollinating. It bears sour cherries that are good for pies and jellies. We… ok, my husband…it would take me an hour to dig a hole big enough, planted it behind the house in the area where our plums and blueberry bushes also reside. We have one other fruit bearing cherry tree behind the garage. It was here long before I bought this house. It has sustained a lot of damage over the past few years from other trees falling on it. We hope to find one of its young offspring to cultivate. It has the type of cherries that are yellow with a red blush and very tasty.

Service berries starting to bloom.

We also have service berries that are starting to bloom. They are planted along the road. We bought them as six inch sticks from the County Extension agent a number of years ago. The goal is prune them after fruiting season this year. The yield was lower last summer and most of the berries are so high up in the trees that only the birds can reach them. You have to pay close attention to get to the fruit before the birds. The berries are a coveted item. I have had birds sit in the top of the tree squawking and carrying on as I stand below picking berries and tossing them into my colander. A colander is my preferred container when I pick berries of any sort. Mine has a flat bottom that sits on the ground while I use both arms to reach the higher branches. And I can transport it directly to the sink for rinsing and sorting the fruit.

Hellebore flowers

We have other things besides fruit trees in flower now too. This hellebore was given to us by my mother-in-law last summer. It was a sprout from a large plant she had. They don’t like to be moved, so we are pleased that it is blooming in its first spring here. Another name for this plant is the Lenten Rose because it blooms so early in the season. They will even bloom with snow hanging on the leaves. Don’t be confused by the leaves in the bottom of this photo. Some stray pachysandra got transplanted with it.

Daffodils blooming in a raised bed.

And of course, we have the obligatory daffodils. I moved these to one of the raised beds surrounding the patio two years ago. They did not bloom the first year but are in fine form now. I wanted some early bloomers for us to enjoy on the few days we have that are warm enough to sit on the patio. I do enjoy looking at them while I am doing the early spring cleanup jobs in the patio gardens. Normally, I bring lots of daffodils indoors to enjoy in the spring. I have foregone that this year because we have an 11 month old kitten who knows no bounds. I will have to figure out a kitten proof set up before peony season arrives because I refuse to have a year without the scent of peonies in my house! It will be a tall order. The house plant and its ceramic pot that I had on the mantel bit the dust. Jasper kitten can reach the mantel via the desk that sits underneath. I am the human, I can outsmart him, right? The jury’s still out on that one. Time will tell.

Shelby by the hyacinth.
Baxter taking his turn by the hyacinth.

I didn’t feel this post would be complete without a picture of dogs, so here are Shelby and Baxter posing in front of the hyacinth at my brother’s house. They went along to celebrate my niece’s fifth birthday. We can rely on these two to be well behaved. When it was time to leave, we had to go find Shelby. She was having a nap in a corner of the sunroom where we had been sitting earlier.

Spring is just starting here and there will be more pictures of flowers, trees, and vegetables to come. And it is a certainty there will be pictures of dogs. Join us and follow along. You can sign up to receive updates at the top of the page!

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?”

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!

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!