Tag Archives: Country Life

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.

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.

Transformation of a Foster Dog

Claire the sheltie relaxing
Claire hanging out at home

Claire has been with us for a year now. She came to us as a foster dog last January. She was turned in with four other dogs from the same owner. The elderly owner knew that she was reaching the point where she could no longer give the dogs the care they deserved. So she made the heartbreaking decision to turn the dogs over to our sheltie rescue group. I really felt for this lady because these dogs were members of her family.

Claire became a permanent member of our family over the summer. She was with us longer than expected because of the pandemic. When there was finally a  serious inquiry into adopting her, I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t let her leave. Luckily for me, that adoption fell through, so I didn’t have to let her go. I remember when things were up in the air. I spent an afternoon sobbing while weeding the vegetable garden and thinking about her departure. The neighbors must have thought that I had received bad news and had some dread disease the way I was crying. So, once it was determined that she wasn’t leaving, we adopted her.

She has undergone a transformation in her time with us. Not only has her coat become shiny and plush, but she has developed an outgoing personality. Upon her arrival, she was quiet and shy. This lasted the first few months. She kept to herself and didn’t interact much with the other dogs and did not seek attention from us either. Boy, have times changed. Now Claire comes up to us and pokes us with her nose for attention. She is very persistent. And she will put her front feet in your lap and sit beside you demanding that you pet her. If you don’t, you get “nosed” repeatedly.

Claire the sheltie relaxing with daddy

Claire relaxing with daddy

We are still working on obedience commands. She has mastered the sit.  And when I tell her to come, she approaches me and stops at the half way point. Any thing else is currently beyond her. We continue to work on commands and know that one day, she will get there.

Dogs playing frisbee in the snow
Claire and Baxter playing in the snow

Claire has recently developed enough skills that she is a pack member, playing with our five other dogs. At first she didn’t understand respectful boundaries in regards to the other dogs’ food and toys. Fortunately, our other dogs our quite tolerant of new dogs. They have survived enough foster dogs that they cut a new dog some slack until they learn the ropes.

I just put the dogs outside for a minute. Claire and our sheltie mix Zekie (Zeke the Wonder Dog) were chasing each other in circles and playing. And when the other dogs play frisbee, Claire tries to join in. She has yet to grasp the idea of picking up the frisbee, but she has a grand time running and barking with the rest of the pack.

I’m sure the changes in her will continue and we will enjoy watching the development. We are blessed to have her.

Books Read-September 2020

One of My Library Shelves

1. Who Rescued Who-Victoria Schade

Elizabeth loses her high-powered job but discovers family and gains a dog and a new career and life in the English countryside.

2. The Big Finish-Brooke Fossey

Duffy Sinclair lives in an assisted living facility. Life is predictable. Until his roommate’s granddaughter crawls in through their bedroom window one night and everyone’s lives change.

3. Separation Anxiety-Laura Zigman

A once successful author learns to deal with her own feelings and her dysfunctional family. This book was listed as funny, but I only found it to be sad and painful. I finished it but wish I had stopped when I thought about it.

4. The Banty House-Carolyn Brown

Three senior ladies living in Rooster, Texas take in a teen expecting a baby. They develop friendships and become a family.

5. Howloween Murder-Laurien Berenson

Melanie Travis and her standard poodle Faith search for who has poisoned the Halloween treats, causing the murder to look like it was committed by their friend.

6. A Walk Along the Beach-Debbie Macomber

A book about the Lakey sisters, their family, and love interests. A bit heart wrenching for a Debbie Macomber novel, but a good read.

7. The Geometry of Holding Hands-Alexander McCall Smith

Read about 100 pages and decided to give it up. Found myself wondering what I would read next every time I picked it up. Just not in the mood for it.

Magazines:

Yankee

Several of these books were excellent but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Who Rescued Who. It made me wish that I lived in the English countryside.

A Proud Moment

The three boys-Zekie, Baxter, Cassius

This morning I took Zekie, Baxter, and Cassius for a walk. It was just me and the three boys. I didn’t take any other dogs because Zekie is often leash reactive and I knew this was the amount of dogs I could handle if that happened.

There wasn’t too much traffic today. Two cars passed us. And there was a large paving truck and a pickup truck at the intersection where we turn to walk to the park. Zekie did not bark or lunge at any of them! He also did not bark at the two workmen on the corner or the men working on the entry to the township hall. We walked right on by! I was so proud. Just me out here walking my well behaved dogs.

I wish I knew why Zekie was good today. Dealing with reactive dogs is challenging. But I’m so pleased he was good. It can be done!

Zekie having a proud moment

Retirement Is a Lot of Work

This has been my foot ware for the majority of the summer instead of my new sandals. Why, you might ask?

Generally these are my gardening clogs because they can be washed in the shower. I’m wearing them most of the time now because of an encounter with the spud bar gone bad.

We were working on a drainage project and I needed to break some PVC pipe to fit in the trash can. That ended with a score of pipe-1, foot-0.

I’m finding that retirement is a lot of work with helping with projects like laying the drain pipes. Also notice the paint spots on my clogs from painting new siding panels.

Ahhh, country life.

On Not Lounging

Well, today I was NOT sitting in a lounge chair enjoying the patio. And not just because it was so hot.

First I helped tie up some loose ends from a construction project. Then I picked up nails from said project. After that it was time to pick green beans. Picking beans seems to be my new hobby. Either that or cleaning and snapping them.

This afternoon consisted of making rice pudding for this evening’s dessert and then working on cleaning up the office. I never did get around to writing which was the whole point of cleaning up the office.

Oh well, as a line from a great movie says (in a wispy southern accent), “Tomorrow is another day. “

Dogs On the Patio

This is how we have a relaxing day on the patio at our place. We do it with dogs. We have it all fenced in so we can relax, knowing the dogs are safely with us.

When we open the door from the side porch, our dogs know which way to go depending on if we say pasture, fountain/patio, or car. If they have taken off too quickly, they will do a big u-turn to go to the proper place.

As our newest dog, Claire has been on leash in the patio area most of the summer since we tried two times off lead and she went tearing through the raised flower beds. We tried her loose over the weekend and she did good! She seems to have the idea. So far she is only free when we can supervise, but she seems to have it.

This makes her, and us, happy!