Category Archives: Thoughts On Life

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!

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.

The Famine of Togetherness

One of my nieces getting her groove on!

The Covid pandemic has changed me in ways I never thought possible. So far, I have remained healthy and disease-free. I have gone to great lengths to make sure this is the case. I am vaccinated, boosted, and hubby and I have spent a lot of time in isolation.

One of the biggest blessings of 2020 was being able to spend time with family again after the vaccines became available. I will never look at spending time with family in the same way. I always enjoyed it and looked forward to those times. Now, these gatherings bring me great joy. It is like a miracle every time one of my nieces’ crawls into my lap or we run around the house doing goofy activities. Hugging brothers, daughters, and other extended family is a treat. I feel like I am the survivor of a Great Depression. It was the Great Depression of solitude.

I know I am not the only person to feel this way. We watched a newsclip this morning showing people reuniting after being separated from loved ones for months and others for more than a year. The ones that reunited where one party was surprised are priceless. Watching so much joy literally brought goosebumps up on my arms.

Silly times with my other niece.

Early 2020 was the famine of togetherness, the drought of connectedness, the desert of social gatherings, but also taught us the importance of camaraderie and community.

Let us not soon forget this lesson. Time together is what makes our lives whole. Relationships with others help to fulfill us. Even encounters with strangers can be a precious thing. It is our chance to make a difference for someone else. Make it a good one. So, as we get back to a new normal, remember the great gift that the people in our lives are.

If we become annoyed or impatient with that person in front of us in the check-out line don’t take that for granted. We are in a store, in a check-out line, not reduced to using curbside pickup to avoid contact with others. (Although what a blessing curbside pickup was when we needed it. Thank you, workers!)

And we are all adjusting to a new normal. So, remember to be kind. Always.

December Birthdays

Morty hanging out under the Christmas tree.

People with December birthdays feel like they belong to a different club. Some may get shortchanged because everybody is focused on Christmas. I even had one Aunt tell me that she couldn’t get me much for my birthday because it was almost Christmas and she had to buy me something for that too. I was nine. I understand the financial pinch, I really do. What would I have preferred? To be given whatever gift was affordable with happiness and sincere wishes for a happy birthday.

So, you can imagine that I wasn’t a big fan of having a December birthday as a child. Also, my mom always made me take candy canes to school to pass out to the class for my birthday treat. She said it was festive. I have nothing against candy canes. I just wanted to take cupcakes like all the other kids. On the bright side, I was always allowed to put up the Christmas tree on my birthday which made me exceedingly happy!

My little brother was born the day after my sixteenth birthday. My birthday is December 9th and his is the 10th. Thereafter, we always shared a birthday cake. For my eighteenth birthday we had a Cookie Monster cake. I was not delighted.

But then you grow up and things change. You can make your birthday into whatever you want it to be. These days I enjoy the fact that my brother and I have such close birthdays. In fact, now I refer to it as our birthday and I think it’s awesome. Having a celebration for two people seems almost like a holiday! And it ensures that I see my brother which is always a wonderful thing. It will be especially appreciated this year. Last year we met outdoors at a park and maintained social distance because of Covid. It was better than nothing. This year we are gathering at my brother’s place, and you better believe there will be hugging!

I also think it is pretty cool that so many people put up lights and decorations for our birthdays! You can see them all over town as you drive around. Just kidding. But it is a blessing to be able to see so many pretty displays as you are celebrating your birthday. Over the years I have grown to think that maybe the children of December have the best birthdays of all.

My Favorite Part of Retirement

Hanging out with the kitten
Spending time with the kitten.

One of my favorite things about retirement is the end of the day. I used to put off bedtime as long as I reasonably could when I was working. Bedtime meant that my evening was over. Once I went to sleep, it seemed like no time had passed and then it was time to go back to work.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked my job as an environmental scientist. It just got in the way of my life and what I wanted to be doing at home. Now, at the end of the evening when I am tired, I just happily go to bed, knowing that when I wake up I can pick up where I left off. Or do something else of my choosing. I don’t have to put in 8+ hours at work before I can come home again. It’s like endless summer vacation!

I have talked to a few other retirees about this and they feel the same way. Time freedom is a grand thing!

There are many other wonderful aspects of retirement that I touched on in a previous post. You can read about them here. Retirement: Run by Dogs! If you would like to share in finding out more, don’t forget to like my blog and follow along.

Retirement: Run by Dogs!

Claire, Zekie, and Mommy

There are many good things about retirement, if you couldn’t tell by my happy face! I knew one of the best things would be that I could spend more time with my dogs every day. That was a given.

Another thing that I knew I would appreciate, is not having to worry about planning my life around my work week. I had no idea just how great this would be though. I no longer deal with the dread of Sunday evening being the end of my weekend and making sure that I pack my lunch and my work bag for the next day. I don’t worry about wrapping up family get togethers early enough to go home and rest up and prepare for work the next day.

Even on week days I would be sure to wrap up my evening and have all in order to leave the house by 6:00 a.m. the next morning. And there is always the wondering if you need to stop for gas, or will I have to get up early enough to defrost the car or allow time for snowy roadways. Or, was there a need to make a stop at the grocery store on the way, so as not to make an extra trip back to town?

No more. When it’s time to go to bed, I just go! When I’m rested, I get up. (Often this is pre-empted by a dog announcing that it is time to get up, but still, it is usually way later than I got to sleep when working.) When I need to go to the store I go. Snowy roads? I get there when I get there.

My life is my own again. I haven’t felt this kind of freedom since summer vacation as a kid! Ok, ok, we all know my life is run by dogs, but at least I’m happy this way.

Remember to Enjoy the Sparkle in Your Life!

Hanging out with Claire on the patio

You may remember that during the heart of the pandemic, I started keeping a little notebook that I titled Things to Do Post Quarantine. Every time I had an idea of something I wanted to do but couldn’t, I recorded it in the notebook. This way I wouldn’t be missing out, just postponing the experiences. The idea being that once Covid was under control, it would be safe to go out into the world and do them. The link from that post follows. Ways To Deal With a Pandemic

The Covid pandemic is not over, and things are not back to normal. However, we have learned ways to deal with going out in public and have adapted ways to make things safer. I don’t yet go about my business like normal. What is normal anyway? I do go to places that I avoided during the worst of the pandemic and before vaccines were available. I do have a bit of a life again.

This made me wonder. How am I doing at enjoying the activities that I recorded in that little notebook? Am I doing some of the things and catching up with what I put off for another day? I got the notebook out and here is what I found.

I have done some of the things but not others yet. One of the most important to me was to be able to spend time with my nieces again. I have done this. In fact, the very first thing my husband and I did after getting our vaccines was to attend my youngest niece’s fourth birthday party along with her grandparents. We were all vaccinated, but had been under pandemic lockdown for so long that it took a little while for us to remove our masks. The masks disappeared when the food came out and did not go back on that afternoon. When it was time for us to go home, we all hugged each other. All six adults and two children. It was the first time in over a year. It was such a big deal that we were all taking about it. How we had avoided this and it was the first hugs for all of us outside our immediate household in so long. We were all in shock that we had been so brave to hug each other. I wasn’t concerned about getting sick because we all had our shots, but I had trained myself for so long to avoid physical contact that it was a big deal. But it was glorious! That day was the turning point for me in feeling like a normal human being again.

I have been able to see my nieces several times a month since then. I have done babysitting, gone on walks and to playgrounds with them, and spent a couple holidays together. It never gets old. I think I will have great appreciation of spending time with them until the day I die. We did come out the other side of the pandemic, but it has changed me forever.

Another item that I have done from the notebook, is invited a friend over for lunch on the patio. Granted, I have not done enough of this. This is due to the weather rather than any fear of being around people. It has been so rainy the past few weeks that fungus has become a real problem for our plants. This also makes it hard to plan more than a day ahead of time as far as inviting anyone over to hang out on the patio goes. Even the day my friend came over, we had to dry off the patio furniture. But still, the visit was an enjoyable time. To share the company of someone outside the family by choice is now a rare and wonderful thing.

An other item that I checked off my list is spending time at the library! This is something I am back to doing regularly, but that first time after being away for so long was food for the soul. To peruse the books, touch them, read the summaries inside the front flap, choose the ones I want and put them into my bag, was close to a religious experience! The library holds a special place in my heart. It is a place of knowledge, sometimes magic and adventure. It can take you to new lands as well as improve you and the place where you are. My daughter and I share a love of the library. One of our favorite activities has always been a long trip to the library, followed by a stop for ice cream at Katie’s Korner.

The last item in my notebook that I have completed so far is to hug the neighbor kids! We have two really great neighbor kids that live across the street. (Their parents are pretty great too!) We kept our distance as best we could during the pandemic. We met in yards and talked from a distance just to keep in touch, figuratively speaking. Of course, it wasn’t the same. And all the while I was thinking about when it would be safe to hug them again. They are really good huggers! Well, it was finally safe. They probably didn’t think I was ever going to let them go. We even had an opportunity to go watch the oldest play in her softball tournament recently and to have them come over and swim.

There are quite a few things in my notebook still to be done. The important thing is that I have begun. The Covid pandemic was and is a terrible thing. But as with many bad things in life, some good did come out of it for me. I no longer take so many things for granted. I realize that time spent with family and friends is a precious gift. To be fair, it always was. I appreciate it so much more now. I must take steps not to become complacent and return to my old ways. I need to enjoy each encounter for the treasure that it is.

Remember to enjoy the sparkle in your life and appreciate it!

Be a Covid Warrior!

Selfie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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