Category Archives: Thoughts On Life

Two Dogs, Sheltie

Shelby and Zekie Got Mail!

Something happened a few days ago that put smiles on the faces here at our house. Shelby and Zekie got mail! It was addressed to them, as was the card inside. As you may know, these are two of our dogs who were attacked by two other loose dogs while hiking about a week and a half ago. Encounter With Loose Dogs, Gone Bad

Get Well Card
Card received by Shelby & Zekie!

The card was signed “Love, Foxy and Wolfie”. These are two shelties that are owned by a friend of ours’ from the sheltie world. Foxy and Wolfie say they are glad that Shelby and Zekie are feeling better and send hugs, and to their mom too (me!).

What a blessing the friends I have made in the dog world, and elsewhere, are! My posts and updates about the incident garnered tremendous amounts of Facebook likes, hearts, and hugging cares. We feel loved. I hear comments about how social media is bad for people and results in stress and anxiety. I say, those people are not using it properly or perhaps associate with the wrong people. I have made wonderful, supportive friends who make my life better. When I have a trauma or upsetting experience, I post it (as long as it will not harm someone else), because I know my friends, acquaintances, and followers will share words of kindness and lift me up. This happens 99.5 % of the time, making it easier to ignore that one. That one was not my friend anyway, if they are “diss-ing” me.

The card that Shelby and Zekie received also points out how one kind action can change someone’s days. It certainly did for me. I feel lighter and more cheerful knowing that people have my back. It makes me want to be kind to others and share the positivity. It created a ripple that will spread to others and make the world a little bit better. Thanks Diane!

By the way, Shelby and Zekie are feeling much better. Shelby has been off pain meds for days, and finished the antibiotics yesterday. I still gently massage her wound area to increase blood flow to promote healing of the deeper tissues. On the surface her wound looks good. Zekie is a miracle, like the whole thing never happened. The prayers everyone sent have been answered. The two of them are doing great.

I thank you for your thoughts, prayers, support, and good wishes. I can feel them.

Why Do We Love Bernie’s Mittens?

Mittens, Love
Mitten Love! (Free Stock Photo)

Bernie Sanders started a craze of memes across the nation with his mittens at President Biden’s inauguration last week. What is it about this cold, winter wear that has caused the mittens to go viral?

Yes, they are just mittens. But, they represent so much more. In this time of cold, both wintery and emotional, they represent comfort and warmth. The mittens were gifted to Bernie and he obviously appreciated them. They may bring memories of caring gifts to our own minds. I remember my Aunt Ruth who gave me handknitted mittens and slippers on many Christmas’. She made them for all the nieces and nephews because she loved us and wanted us to stay warm. I always thought of her when I put them on. And even though she has been gone for many years, I still think of her sunny and caring personality.

We like the idea of nurturing that the mittens bring to mind. The idea that we can reach out and take care of each other sits well with us. People are in special need of extra compassion and thoughtfulness during these hard times. There is political animosity, racial unrest, even people becoming confrontational about how to deal with the pandemic. Someone to reach out with kind actions and provide warmth is what we all need right now. We need warmth of body and soul. Our souls are tired and it is time to lift each other up. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be caring. There has rarely been a better time during my lifetime to employ the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. These mittens represent so much as their image goes viral around the world. They represent what we all need.

Bernie’s mittens were repurposed from an old sweater. That they found new life as hand-wear pleases our utilitarian urges not waste, but to give new uses to old things. Old things can have beauty and still serve. The wool from the original sweater is still doing a job and serving a purpose. The fleece lining is made from recycled plastic bottles. These are some of the values that have served our country well. And the Bernie memes show that government officials can be down to earth, just like us.

We also like the coziness of these mittens. At the inauguration, all around were people in finery. Beautiful long coats, stylish scarves, slim leather gloves, fancy footwear. As it should be for such a formal and momentous occasion. But there was also room for comfort and things that are meaningful to the wearer. We are nothing, if not a diverse people.

The popularity of these simple mittens goes far beyond what they are made of. They are a symbol. They represent things we have and things we want, in the figurative sense. Let’s hope that in the coming days and weeks these mittens will foster a kinder America. A place where we can all feel at home again.

Are You Still Contemplating Where the New Year Is Going?

Garden Gate in Spring
Spring Time in Our Garden

On January 1st, I wrote Contemplation on a New Year. Now it is January 27. We have been through a Capitol Riot, other political upheaval, an inauguration, and continued deaths, infections, and societal closures to avoid virus spread due to the pandemic.

And yet, I feel like I am still waiting for the New Year to start. I feel like I got cheated out of last year too. Since last March, one day is much like the next for me. Getting up in the morning, drinking coffee, hanging out with dogs and hubby, reading a little. Late morning is for blogging, baking, or cleaning. Cleaning is always last on my list.

Lunch splits the day up for us. While we eat, we stream the television show My Name Is Earl. Earl is trying to make the world a better place by righting past wrongs he has committed. And boy, did he excel in the “wrongs” department. Trying to make the world a better place is a worthy goal though, so we persist in watching.

A couple hours of our afternoons consist of walking or hiking with the dogs. This has sometimes been tricky to pull off with the January weather. Our winter has been mild so far. We rotate our walking locations depending on the weather and day of the week. If the weather is dicey, we walk on the campground entrance nearby. It is plowed and rarely salted which is better for dog feet. By then, we require tea! And of course I must follow this with a little reading .

Late afternoon is time for a little more work of some sort. I pick a job or two from the list I keep and knock those out. Then it is time for supper, and tv, and more reading!

What is missing from my existence is family and friends. And so it is for many across our country, and indeed, the world. Until now, I was not able to imagine how much I would miss everyone. And the new people I have encountered through dog rescue, Facebook, and other ways. Some of you, I would have invited over and gotten to know better. I miss our yet to be forged closer friendships.

Many are in the same boat as me. Truth be told, I am luckier than most. I have the option to stay home without losing a job and everything else that would follow. I have dogs and cats and a spouse to pass my days with. I have a warm home, food, and lots of books. (I have been so much happier since I have figured out the selection system and curbside pickup at the library! E-books just don’t do it for me.)

I can’t wait until I am eligible to receive the Coronavirus vaccine. As soon as they tell me, I will be there! I know very few people who have received it so far. My mother-in-law did get her first dose this week. My own mother is long gone, so I don’t have to worry about her. (What I Chose to Do the Day My Mother Died, my most read post of all time!)

Looking back, I guess if I feel like I am still waiting for the New Year to start, that is on me. I need to do some things that make me feel productive and like time is moving forward. What are you doing to make 2021 into a good year? I would love to hear in the comments below.

Poop Is My Life! (Or gone to the dogs?)

Black and White
Contemplating My Life

In my life before retirement, I was a Water Treatment Scientist. My days consisted of testing various components in water and giving feedback and advice on how to adjust the treatment systems. I worked hands on, in the treatment of wastewater and drinking water. Drinking water is self explanatory. Wastewater, is basically anything that goes down your toilet and other pipes for disposal. Some businesses discharge chemicals and other wastes that must be dealt with, but for the average homeowner, your wastewater consists of poop, pee, and some “gray water”. So, my professional career involved dealing with other peoples’ poop.

You would think my dealings with poop would end there. Not so! I deal with the poop of other beings on a daily basis at home too. We have two cats and two litterboxes. Cats are fastidious creatures for someone who poops in a box. And we greatly hope that they continue to use these boxes. So every single day, I scoop the litterboxes. Cats, being the fickle creatures that they are, want a clean litterbox. You DON’T want to see what happens if you don’t keep up with the scooping. Every afternoon I scoop “the biscuits” into a plastic grocery store bag, carry it outside, and hang the bag on the fence to scoop dog poop into it too. I also sweep up the floor so the cats don’t get confused by any stray bits of litter on the wooden floor boards.

I only use Tidy Cat litter. This seems to me to produce the least amount of dust and to do the best job of containing odors. You don’t want anything to strike the cats as being unpleasant. We want them to keep using their giant toilets in our front hall. Which reside behind a baby gate to keep the dogs from using them as a buffet. But that is another story.

I mentioned dogs, so you know my poop story isn’t over yet. We have six dogs. They eat twice a day and so they poop AT LEAST twice times a day for a total of twelve times. Often more because, hey sh*t happens! You would think it would be as easy as scooping up the piles, throwing them in the bag and being done. HA! We have two dogs who think that poop is a fine delicacy to be enjoyed at every opportunity. One of us humans must go out with the dogs to be “playground monitor” each time. Otherwise, these two dogs will partake of the buffet. If you are lucky, the dogs will “leave it” when you yell at them. But mostly not. This results in me running around with the poop scoop trying to pick up sh*t as it happens. And you may think this sounds easy too. Again, not so! With six dogs, there is usually more pooping going on than I can keep up with. So, it deteriorates to me running after the offenders who have picked up the poop, yelling “drop it”. Sometimes this is effective. Other times, I must give chase and shake the poop scoop in the air as if I am going to bean the poop bandit over the head. (I only threaten, I never actually resort to violence.) I’m sure the neighbors must think I’ve gone insane.

The dog doing the pooping does not take kindly to all this activity taking place near his rear end. He often ends up finishing the job while waddling across the grass leaving a trail.

This used to be the end of the story. Now I have another saga to share. Oh, joy! One of the baby rabbits that was born some where in the vicinity of our vegetable garden in the spring time, has grown up. And apparently decided that the clover growing inside the fenced area where the dogs do their business is quite delectable. I never see him, but this bunny comes inside the fence and after dining, deposits his little bunny pellets in the dog yard. The dogs, of course, find this to be the caviar of their buffet. Even some of our dogs who don’t eat canine poop, will chomp on what the bunny leaves behind. I hoped that as the bunny grew, he would no longer be able to fit through the slats on our fence, but so far that has not happened. I suppose that is why the heartworm preventative that I give the dogs also contains other types of wormers. Living in the country rabbits, squirrels, mice, chipmunks, and so on, are always around.

Such is my life. And, you know what? I wouldn’t trade it.

Can You Take the Small Town Out of the Girl?

Portrait/Photo from 1964
Photo of yours truly from 1964.

Every so often an advertisement for a sweatshirt comes up on my Facebook feed that says “You can take this girl out of Beach City, but you can’t take Beach City out of this girl”. I would have to say this is fairly accurate. Our roots are something that stay with us for our entire lives. The experiences that we encounter growing up play a part in helping to form who we become.

Beach City is a small town near the southern border of Stark County, Ohio. I grew up there from the time I was born in 1962, until I moved away to attend college in 1983. It was a village of 1,200 people, give or take a few.  Even now, the population is just over 2,700. I thought we were “city people” because we lived on one of the two main streets that went through town.

I walked across the street to attend the local elementary school, and home again at the end of the school day, from kindergarten through 7th grade. The only exception to this was on my first day of 1st grade. Kindergarten was only for half a day, so 1st grade was my first full school day. I got in the wrong line at lunch time. I was supposed to eat lunch at school, but got in the line with kids who were sent home for lunch. Oh, the horror! So I dutifully marched across the street to my house. My mother was surprised to see me, especially since I was in tears because I got in the wrong line. My mother fed me a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli and sent me back to school. These things are earth shattering when you are six years old. Enough so, that I still remember it clearly.

In case you have not guessed, my world was very small. I did not realize this. Like most youngsters, I thought everyone’s lives were this way. Three of my five aunts and uncles lived within walking distance in the same town as us. The other two lived the next town over. They and my cousins were a frequent part of my life.

Most of my time outside school was spent playing Barbie’s, riding my bicycle, walking my dog around town, reading, or sitting on the front porch swing watching the cars go by and daydreaming. Evenings were spent watching television with my mother. That was pretty much what happened every day of my life.

Once a week we would “go to town”. This meant driving to the larger towns of Dover and sometimes New Philadelphia in Tuscarawas County, to shop at department stores and grocery stores. Before doing the shopping on those days, we would often “go visiting” first since we were already in town. We often stopped to see my mom’s second cousin Janice where I got to play with her three children while the grown ups talked. Or perhaps we would see some family friends. Driving 12-15 miles for shopping seemed like a big deal in those days, so it was reserved for once a week. 

Other evenings, mom and I would ride bicycles to visit one of my cousins and spend a bit of time playing. This was big excitement once my cousin Eddie got a swimming pool. That was also the summer I finally learned to swim, despite having taken swimming lessons in previous years. You don’t learn to swim by getting in a pool five days a week, once a year.

Self Portrait
Me, about 56 years later.

Despite living in the country now, and being a few years older, my life isn’t all that different. I have a few more dogs but still take them on walks and hikes. I spend lots of time reading and sitting on the porch or patio and watching or listening as the cars go by. Evenings are often spent watching television with my husband.

In the photo from my childhood, although we lived in town, I was dressed like a country girl in my cowboy outfit complete with the boots. I called it my “cowby” clothes. The Sundays of my childhood were often spent going to the family-owned woods, adjoining the family farm and “running the dogs”. The farm was originally owned by my grandfather, later run by an uncle, and then the uncle’s son. I think that although we lived in town, this is where my country roots began.

So, I guess it really is true, you can’t take Beach City out of the girl.

With Positivity, You Can Change the World!

Book of Positive Quotes
A Wonderful Book of Positivity

In these difficult times, we can all use more positivity in our lives. I came across this gem a number of years ago when a family member posted a page from it on Facebook. Thanks Jim Z! Once I read the page, I knew I needed a copy of the book. I was able to get a copy on Amazon Used Books for 12 cents! Plus the $3.99 shipping, of course. I checked and you can still get a used copy for under $1.00. It is the type of book with a one page entry for each calendar day.

I used to keep my copy at work and read each day’s selection in the morning so that I could reflect on it and start my day in a positive way. On Monday’s I would read the weekend’s pages along with the one for the current day. It served me well and got me in a good frame of mind for the workday. Sometimes, after I had the book for a  while, I would take a year off of the daily readings and just read a random page when the mood struck me. I always benefited from my reading.

With the upheaval we are experiencing in our daily lives due to the coronavirus, as well as political unrest, I thought this would be a good year to spend reading the entries in this book on a daily basis once again. It was a wise decision for multiple reasons. The entries are helping me to get a perspective on our current times and not feel so sorry for myself.

This is also the first time that I have read through the book as a retiree. It makes me look at many of the entries in a different light. I have time to go back and read the quote at the top of the page more than once during the morning and refocus and give more thought to the meaning and how it may or may not apply to my own life. I recommend this practice for anyone. If you are feeling down, or like your life could be better, spending time thinking about positive quotes would be a helpful activity.

And if you are in a good place in your life, then spending time focusing on positive thoughts is an investment in keeping your life on track and staying in that good place. Life has its ups and downs and working at staying on the up side is time well spent.

Although this book is a good starting place, it is not the only way to go about it. You can find lists of many positive quotes on the internet. There are lists of quotes by many wise people. One of my favorites is Ghandi’s Top 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World. Don’t you want to change the world? I know, I do. And each and every one of us has that ability. So, go out and get busy changing the world!

A Bit of Pandemic Relief

Snowman
We can build a snowman

Today provided a bit of relief in my pandemic world. My husband and I drove up to visit my nieces and my brother and his wife. We met outside and stayed socially distant for a brief visit of about 40 minutes. This is Ohio and it was cold.

What do you do on an outdoor winter visit? You have a snowball fight and build a snowman! It was rejuvenating for me to watch the girls run and play, and to hear them laugh. The sound of their joyful laughter makes me laugh too.

The drive there took as long as the visit lasted but it was so worth it! And I scored a pack of hazelnut chocolate Oreos out of the deal. In my pre-Covid life when I would babysit the girls, I would always sample each of the flavors of Oreos on hand during my visit. Since it has been some time since I have been able to deplete my brother’s stock, he gave me some Oreos. No wonder I love him. (Truth be told, I would love him even if he were Oreo-less. Don’t tell!)

It was great to see my sister-in-law too. She is so nice and kind and thoughtful. God, I miss her.

I am blessed to have wonderful family that I truly enjoy spending time with. For now, that time must come in bits and pieces, but this will not always be so. Next goal, see my wonderful daughter. I am missing her too.

But for today, building a snowman and having a snowball fight is enough. Take joy where you can find it.

The Passage of Time

Ice at West Branch State Park
Ice at West Branch State Park

My husband and I are still keeping isolated from other people as much as possible in an attempt to stay Covid-free. So far, so good. This puts us in an insular world. Each day is similar for us, but I do not always feel the same way about each day. Sometimes, they go by quickly. Other times they do not. It is not the days that are very different. It is my reaction and interpretation of them that changes.

Some days I miss my family with a longing that is all consuming. I think about them and all that I am missing with the growing up of my nieces. Lives are being lived and I am not a part of them. I know the Covid vaccine is being rolled out now, so we will be able to catch up and share in each other’s lives again. This is a great comfort. Each gathering will be that much sweeter because we will revel in the privilege of spending time together. By staying apart and safe for now, we will be blessed with much more time together. I guess one way to look at the past year’s isolation is that it is an investment in our future. We will be able to have a future and I can’t imagine a time ever again when I will not be grateful to spend time with family and friends.

Other days I am able to appreciate being at home with my dogs. Being free to spend time hiking and communing in nature. Being immersed in the environment, watching birds fly overhead, while walking beside the water is a good thing. Hearing the lap of the waves and the call of the birds is soul soothing. There are so many sounds, if we only listen. The wind blows through the dry leaves creating a pleasant rustle. The earth has it’s own sounds.

West Branch State Park

When I get back home, I am ready for a cup of tea and the warmth of the fire. The dogs are content to nap. I pass some time with a book and become immersed in another world for a bit. Then on to something a little more active. I bake several times a week. We are spoiled having homemade baked goods on hand at all times. I may write. And the routine of household cleaning and laundry is ever present.

It is amazing how these simple things, and a few others, expand to fill an entire day. I don’t know how I ever had time to work. I know the thing I missed out on the most while working a full time job was sleep. A good night’s sleep then was 7 hours. Usually I got only six. Now I sleep for the time that I choose, it is usually 8 to 8 1/2 hours of shut eye. The big difference is that I rarely nap and I don’t fall asleep while watching television at 9 o’clock each evening. Something that I was infamous for doing!

No matter how the days pass, pass they do. It is our job to take advantage of the time we are given. To live, to experience life. To appreciate the things that we encounter. To live a life that you are proud of. And it is never too late to begin.

You Can Make the World a Better Place

Good luck with that!

This meme came across my Facebook feed this morning. And while at first glance, it looks like a good idea, it is not a viable option for any of us. We have all been struggling because of the ongoing and increasing outbreaks of the coronavirus. And now our country, the good, old US of A is in political distress in a way that it never has been before. Just when I thought things could not get any worse, here we are. (Giving you something positive here Good Things in a Pandemic World ).

My ever problem solving mind insists that I try to find a way to fix this. Realistically, I realize that I can not fix this. But surely there are things that we can do to make the world a better place. I will list a few things that I have come up with to make the world a little more pleasant for at least a few people. Maybe you can join me and we can improve our corner of the world for a handful of folks. It is a start. And a small change can make ripples that chart a new course.

  1. Call, text, or email a friend, family member, or acquaintance that is isolated and/or could use cheering up. We can all benefit from a little more contact from our fellow human beings these days. You may save someone from thoughts of despair. Or, you may just make someone’s day happier. Either is a win.
  2. Send a letter or card with the same intent as above. Everyone loves to get mail. The written word can be read over and over to extend that feeling
  3. Smile at people and be kind when you go out in public. We don’t see others much these days but even curbside pickup gives an opportunity for interaction. With your mask on, a smile still extends to your eyes. And a few kind words delivered along with a thank you can make everyone feel happier. The recipient and the giver.
  4. Cut people some slack. We are all under extra stress. People forget things, and get grumpy and snap. Be kind. We’ve all been there.
  5. Try to understand other people’s point of view. You don’t have to agree with it. But trying to understand keeps us all human.
  6. Adopt a pet. This will make the world a better place for the animal. (Make sure you can make a lifetime commitment to the animal so its world continues to be better!) You will likely be happier and feel a sense of purpose. And as for making other people happier, I’m sure those shelter or rescue people will be having a better day too!
  7. Pray for those you can’t help. Feelings of goodwill are certain to benefit them and you.
  8. Share. Numbers 1 through 7 involve feelings and goodwill in one form or another. If you can’t get to that point yet, share something physical. Donate clothing or other items to a homeless shelter. Donate food. Share books that you have read. If you want to remain totally hands-off, donate money by mail or on-line.

None of these actions is earth shattering. They are all relatively easy to do. You may think that none of them will change the world, but who are we to say? Kind words at a pivotal time can affect a person’s life altering decision. And that person could in turn have an affect on another’s life altering choice. And so on.

It is especially important to be kind in these unprecedented times. Just take the next right, or in this case, kind, step. Peace be with you.

Hanging out with Claire waiting for better times.

Better Times Are Coming!

Hanging out with Claire while waiting for better times.
Hanging out with Claire while waiting for better times.

I have spent a lot of time recently focusing on how to survive in a pandemic world. In retrospect, most of these ideas are good to apply to our lives in general. But most of us are searching for extra help and guidance right now. When we are spending so much more time and energy just to slog through our daily lives, there is little left over for getting beyond that. See my post giving you some ideas on how to cope. My Top 10 Ways to Deal With Isolation During the Covid Pandemic!

Rather than offer more ideas on how to cope, I would like to offer some words of comfort here. Life is cyclical. There will be good times and there will be bad times. Neither will last forever. The trick is in remembering that. The ecstasy that we feel when we are just married or newly in love, is a beautiful thing. We need to cherish moments like these as they occur. They are a positive experience that we can put into our emotional bank account. Something to draw on and relive when times are tougher. Because they will get tougher.

I think of life experiences as a mathematical sine curve. Positive and negative events go up and down balancing each other out. If time are rough, I think of the curve and know that they will swing up again. Life is not static. Times will get better.

I think it is safe to say that times and events are in a low part of the curve right now. Life is harder for almost everyone. I can’t imagine anyone that Covid 19 has not touched in some way. Those who have become ill or lost a loved are the most affected. But others’ lives have altered too. Businesses have lost income, people have lost jobs. Something so common as going out in public to get food has become a changed thing. There are now masks, sanitizers, and social distance to consider. Nothing is as easy as it used to be. Even when my husband and I take our pack of dogs out for a hike, we worry when a fellow hiker passes. How close did they get? Were they breathing heavily and expelling lots of breathe? Is the air movement good? We carry masks with us and use them as we deem they are necessary.

Hiking with Dogs
Hiking with Dogs

I feel confident that we are at a low point on the curve now so that means that things are going to get better. The roll out of a vaccine is a stepping stone to moving on to better times. Hold on a little longer, better times are coming. I will offer one coping mechanism here that can be used to get you through. Rather than wallowing in the negativity of our current low, spend time thinking about the blessings to come. Make plans for them. I made a previous post about that here. Coping Mechanisms

Our lives will be changing again, mostly for the better. We will be able to safely go out in public again. Not all at once, but each step along the way will be a return to normalcy. We will congregate with friends and family members again. We will share hugs, and I know mine will be long ones! I can see these times in my mind’s eye, even now. Hang on, I know you can do it.

Until then, good health and peace be with you.